I’m still waiting for you to send me material for this page. So I continue to write all the comments and reflections myself.
I know that many of you, despite the advanced average age of our Congregation, are web-literate. Send me your photos, and your comments. We have a world-wide reach.
Gary the webmaster
Bob Mann, one of my ex-colleagues at the University of Auckland, sent me this URL concerning the persecution of non-Muslims in Pakistan: (Cut and paste into your browser if it doesn’t coe up.)
“The best way I know of to respond to this awful, urgent need is by donations to The Barnabas Fund, aid agency for the persecuted church. Their founding great eminence is ex-muslim Rev Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, as good a critic as you can find of Islam.”
Why such a rudimentary website?
From time to time I hear, second-hand, criticism at the basic nature of this website. As I have said
before, I would be quite happy to have it taken over by somebody else. I started it about a decade ago, after asking in Church whether we needed one, and whether it would be useful. Feedback from the Congregation was largely neutral or negative, but I decided to start this simple one anyway, surmising that some web expert might come out of the woodwork to continue it, and compile it using more sophisticated software, of which there is plenty available.
It has, sometimes, been useful for visitors from other Centres wishing to find a local Church, and occasionally I get comments from casual viewers from other parts of the world, always positive.
I had hoped that our Congregation would send thoughts, comments, photos that I could include, but with a very few exceptions, this has not happened. So now almost everything you read has been composed by me. Neither is it clear that many are reading it, a conclusion echoed by other Church website maintainers around the world, and I have asked many. I get almost no feedback.
Yes, it is a simple website. This is because I use free Website generating software, easy to use, which is hosted by a group dedicated to supporting Church websites in New Zealand. There is a monthly charge for hosting it, which I pay myself.
If you want to take it over, it’s yours. Otherwise, I’ll continue to run it. Better a simple website than none at all. So don’t beef if you’re not prepared to step up to edit and upload it every week.
Gary the Webmaster.
An Odd Hymn
This morning we heard the Hymn “Jerusalem” played on “Hymns on Sunday Morning”. The comments about it on various websites, from a variety of commentators are respectful. It is well-known and much-loved in the UK. And yet I have always thought that it was nutty. Excerpts from a commentary on the web say:
“The truth about Jerusalem is that it isn’t a patriotic poem at all. Parry’s music gives the hymn an upbeat tempo – especially with the booming orchestration by Edward Elgar – but William Blake’s original words are as laced with resentful irony as Shostakovich’s Leningrad symphony. Famously, Blake asks four questions in succession, and the answer to each is a resounding no. Christ’s feet never trod in England; the Lamb of God didn’t gambol – preposterous as the image is – around the Cotswolds; the Holy Spirit wasn’t regularly spotted in London fog; and most directly of all, there was no sense of Jerusalem in the dark Satanic mills of the Industrial Age. The consequent fantasy of building a New Jerusalem in England is widely understood by anyone who studies Blake to be a stonking parody of Napoleonic Era nationalism. Even in 1804, no one sung and danced about their own ‘mental fight’ and expected to be taken seriously.
Instead, Jerusalem encapsulates Blake’s fears about the all-too-easy suppression of the individual spirit. The ‘Satanic mills’ may refer to the Albion Flour Mills, large-scale mills near Blake’s home which were burned down anonymously after they threatened to put smaller millers out of business. (So, Jerusalem as an anthem would celebrate anti-capitalist arson. Which makes us virtually French.) But when Blake wrote about ‘mills’ elsewhere he usually used them as a metaphor for institutionalised religion – which, like Marx after him, he considered the natural ally of capitalism and monarchy. (He was wrong, of course, but that’s another fight for another day).
The poet and mystic William Blake, who wrote it, was a follower of British Israelism, and his works are filled with religious symbolism appropriate to this odd sect. Which is why, if you think about the words carefully, they don’t make a lot of sense in 2018.
This is not the only hymn I find tooth-gritting, and perhaps I may comment on others in future. Many of them still appear in our Hymnbooks, but wisely, we no longer sing them. Other hymns however, still resonate. Two which I find still very meaningful are “At even, when the sun was set”, and “Precious
Lord, take my hand.” I have commented previously on the circumstances under which these were
written, and perhaps may do so again.
This morning (25 February) a small group of us participated in the Service in the wonderful chapel at North Shore hospital. In the absence of Anne, staying behind to continue playing for the Saint Andrews Service, I was required to play the piano - an excellent grand, donated by a supporter of the Chapel. It would be nice to have had more of us there, it’s an opportunity to talk to the small number who regularly attend, and to support the very dedicated Chaplain.
Next time we are rostered, think about coming along - we provide transport to and from, and drop our singers back at their homes afterwards. The patients who attend are often worried and perplexed, and really appreciate our coming. It makes a difference.
Gary the Webmaster.