Thomas Ken, Nonjuror

Bishop Edward King Chapel

I think there are two types of people in this life.  Those who read labels, instructions and recipes before opening packets, boxes and proceeding to start assembling, cooking or whatever – and those who don’t.  For those in the middle, like me, it is not so much an antipathy for reading these things as it is failing to make any sense of them.  IKEA are the worst.  ‘IKEA’, as you know, is a subtle Swedish mnemonic for ‘invite your neighbour round, who has a toolkit, and who may actually know what they are doing’.  I do not.  The phrase ‘flat-packed for your convenience’ is to me, a cruel taunt.

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What Kind of Saint Are You?

Bishop Edward King Chapel

You may not know it, but this week sees the church remembering and celebrating the life and example of Saints Barnabas, Ephrem of Syria, Ini Kpouria (founder of the Melanesian Brotherhood), Thomas Ken, and of course our beloved Columba, today – to name but a few.  Saints come in all shapes and sizes.   Granted, it is easy to get to be humorous with hagiology – the study of Saints.  There are saints for travellers, sore throats, children, pets and television.  Their benefaction leaves nothing untouched.  Yet to focus on their patronage misses their point.  Saints serve a far more serious purpose in life, and we ignore their function at our peril.  On a cautious note, society seems to need Saints as much as it needs Sinners: people to praise, people to blame.

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Barnabas, Encourager

Bishop Edward King Chapel

One of my favourite writers, Anne Lamott (Travelling Mercies, 2002), has helpfully reduced the Daily Office to its bear essentials.  Just one word is needed for Morning Prayer, apparent: ‘whatever’.  And just two for Evening Prayer: ‘ah, well…’.  I would also add my own version of a Midday Office – and here again, just one word: ‘Help!’. 

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Hauntology – Ghost-Hunting in the Church

Hauntology

Almost thirty years ago, French philosopher Jacques Derrida minted a peculiar term that has come to have an ambivalent value as a currency: Hauntology.  Derrida introduced the word in his 1993 book, Spectres of Marx.  Hauntology was his portmanteau term (i.e., haunting and ontology) referring to the return or persistence of elements from the past, as in the manner of a ghost. Derrida wrote his book after the collapse of communism, and his term was meant to refer to the atemporal nature of Marxism – and chiefly its propensity and to be able to “haunt Western society from beyond the grave”.

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