Did God send Covid-19 and should we even ask that question? by John Wijngaards

Did God send Covid-19 and should we even ask that question? by John Wijngaards

Most Christians I am sure will reject this image of the Tyrant God - John Wijngaards - professor (emeritus)

John Wijngaards writing in The Tablet says: This reflection of mine will not dwell on the coronavirus – though my thoughts were sparked by a sermon on the pandemic by a Pentecostal preacher I watched on TV. Thumping the pulpit he shouted: “You ask why? Why indeed! God is chastising us for our sins! Don’t we read in Genesis 6,5 that God sent the Deluge because ‘the Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become’?!”

Most Christians I am sure will reject this image of the Tyrant God, the difficult-to-please Disciplinarian, the all-seeing Eye, the strict Master who expects perfection from everyone and unleashes disaster to punish us. But is the Testing God much better? He allowed Job to endure crippling hardships, including the death of all his children and grandchildren. He inflicts pain and suffering on people to give them a chance to gain merit, as the apostle of the devotion to the Sacred Heart, Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque, believed. Or what about the Partisan God, the God who spares us if we know how to invoke his/her pity, if we plead with tears in our eyes?

It reminds me of a college student I knew whose father died of cancer in his forties. “I begged God”, she told me. “I spent hours in church on bare knees. I cried. I implored God to save my dad, for the sake of mum and my four brothers and sisters. No use. He is dead.”
And then she added. “I will never go to church again.”

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Universal Basic Income? - Chair Adrian Alker invites your views on post Covid society

Universal Basic Income? - Chair Adrian Alker invites your views on post Covid society

What changes do we want to see in our country as a result of this awful experience of the coronavirus?

This was the invitation I gave to PCN members in the fifth of our weekly newsletters, back on April 23rd. Already we have received nineteen emails in response and we hope others may wish to take up the invitation to reflect upon what we are learning about our economy, our workforce, our environment, our priorities as a nation. I thought I would try to highlight in the coming weeks some of the wished-for changes which members have written about.

So here is one possible change!

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Of the value of life

Of the value of life

I May Be Dead, But I Will Not Have Gone

My last breath will have been given to the air around me,

So look for me in the still air of morning,

And in the rushing winds of the afternoon.

My body will have returned its borrowed substance to the world around us,
So look for me in the growing grass
And the swaying of the woodland trees.

My genes are only borrowed from the generations before me,
So look for me in the countenances of my children,
And the happy smiles of my grandchildren.

The waters of my body will have been returned to the atmosphere,
So look for me in the magnificent clouds of the day-time
And in the radiant skies of the sunset.

My love was given to me by my parents,
So look for me in the love I have given you
And in the love you give to your children.

My thoughts I have always shared with those who cared to listen,
So look for me where other folk now run their courses
And may change the world just a little.

From the stuff of stars came the atoms that made me,
To the stuff of stars they will eventually return.
I may be dead, But I will not have gone.

Patrick Coleman*

Now a Member of Truro Meeting, Patrick was for many years a Member at Liskeard and the original editor of The Fountain.

Principles for a pandemic by Joan Chittister

Principles for a pandemic by Joan Chittister

"Rules are not necessarily sacred," Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "principles are."

One thing is clear: “Rules” are not getting us out of the largest pandemic in modern history.

We’re washing our hands and wearing our masks and staying indoors and counting the number of people in every group, but the numbers keep going up regardless.

At the same time, principles, if any, may be necessary but nobody talks about them much —despite the fact that it’s principles that guide our behavior or help us to evaluate what’s going on around us. Principles are the motivating force upon which everything we do is based.

Worse, if we never ask ourselves what our principles really are, how can we ever survive, let alone resurrect the foundations of a moral, an effective society, tumbled by circumstances, felled by the deaths of the past. How can we ever change what must be changed?

That kind of spiritual ignorance is no small factor in the shrinking of the soul of a country.

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a wonderful world of exquisite beauty and of great mystery

a wonderful world of exquisite beauty and of great mystery

That leads us to believe that even a little “Somebody” matters.

In the maternity hospital where I was born in 1944 another child entered the world, I don’t now if it was a boy or girl but what I do know is that this baby did not survive. In my childhood my mother often spoke of this baby and particularly of its mother. Way back then, confinement was for ten days and babies did not stay with their mothers but were brought into the ward for feeding at certain times of the day. On every occasion that this happened, this young childless mother, who remained in the ward with all the others, was constantly being remaindered of the immensity of her loss. My mother already saddened by this baby’s death, thought it was the cruelest procedure imaginable and she spoke of it with hurt but also with disgust, throughout the rest of her life, not obsessively by any means, but this baby and this young mum always mattered to her.

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PCN Newsletter 30th April 2020

PCN Newsletter 30th April 2020

In the sixth newsletter we hear from Sandra Griffiths and share online resources.

There are times when the ground around my house looks more like a mini-meadow than a garden. And that’s the way I prefer it, especially at the moment. After positioning my chair outside with the optimum view of the panoply of colour and texture in front of me, I can start to appreciate the scene. Before long a verse from my favourite poem comes to mind, along with the realisation that nobody has ever set eyes on the combination of details from exactly the same angle in exactly the same light conditions as I am doing. What a privilege! I fell in love with Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Church-yard at school.

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PCN Newsletter 23rd April 2020

PCN Newsletter 23rd April 2020

In the fifth of our weekly newsletters we ask 'what next?'

I want to start this week with an apology; firstly, to Nigel Jones and secondly, to many of our members. It was evident from the contents of my inbox that I had not made it sufficiently clear that Nigel’s thoughts, included in last week’s newsletter, related to an excursion prior to the lockdown instruction. This has not only made people think badly of Nigel through no fault of his own, but it has also caused genuine upset to some PCN members.

Sarah, PCN Administrator

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If you want to find God buy yourself a rose, says an old Chinese parable.

If you want to find God buy yourself a rose, says an old Chinese parable.

Being vague is a whole way of life. I would form a society to promote this idea but we already have Anglicanism.

Reflections of a retired prison chaplain

Christians talk of heaven but realists know better, for such talk, as my grandfather used to say, is “nothing but kidology.” I shared a bedroom with my grandfather as a child and this same grandfather used to say to me on a hot summer’s night, “You and me shouldn’t be in here lad, on a night like this, we should be laid beneath the stars.” At the time I didn’t know what he was on about, as he was getting on for 80 and for life in me, I couldn’t imagine him every doing that kind of thing.

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PCN Newsletter 9th April 2020

PCN Newsletter 9th April 2020

The third of the weekly newsletters looks at Easter.

Easter Day and Easter week approaches and I look out of my study window across the road to the church opposite, with its doors firmly shut. The priest will soon be putting up the usual reminder to passers-by that this is the season of hope and new life, an empty wooden cross will be draped with a white cloth. Meanwhile folk walk up
the road, some wearing protective masks, families on the way to the park, children with only mum or dad to play with. No Easter outing for them. The buses are empty of passengers, pedestrians carefully avoid each other. It certainly doesn’t feel like the season of resurrection.

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May your God go with you

May your God go with you

Dave Allen (TV: 1960s-1990s) was a professed atheist, but he invariably ended his show with the words ‘May your God go with you.’

The Irish television presenter, Dave Allen (TV: 1960s-1990s) was a professed atheist, but he invariably ended his show with the words ‘May your God go with you.’

Dave Allen’s words conveyed an important truth: that ordinary people often think deeply about their faith. They believe what they believe, and like Dave Allen, not always what they are told to believe: for example, that the Holy Bible is the revealed word of God.

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Progressing towards a fully inclusive church?  - Adrian Alker

Progressing towards a fully inclusive church?  - Adrian Alker

‘We are people who…. seek to build communities that accept all who wish to share companionship without insisting on conformity.’

PCN Britain has from its outset sought to promote a fully inclusive understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus and a member of the Christian Church. The fifth of our eight points states: ‘We are people who…. seek to build communities that accept all who wish to share companionship without insisting on conformity.’ These eight points have been revised since the earliest adoption of them from our sister USA organisation and I rather preferred the much more specific referencing to inclusion which was there in the original fourth point, which read:

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“poorer fifth of society, .. most at risk when an epidemic strikes” Clifford Longley, The Tablet

“poorer fifth of society, .. most at risk when an epidemic strikes” Clifford Longley, The Tablet

Covid 19 exposes the fundamental moral weaknesses in the way modern society functions

In the public debate about the coronavirus pandemic…it is being pointed out that this deadly germ seems to have the peculiar ability to expose the fundamental moral weaknesses in the way modern society functions. And to indicate the way that these weaknesses ought to be dealt with; indeed, to recall society to higher moral standards and a change of values.

For instance, to abandon the worship of Mammon, which lies at the heart of contemporary capitalism. Mammon worship is known there as maximisation of shareholder value, both by dividends and by share price, and it has become the obsessive preoccupation of the entire finance industry.

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PCN Newsletter 2nd April 2020

PCN Newsletter 2nd April 2020

This is the second of the weekly newsletters from PCN Britain.

At times of stress and anxiety, when there seems to be a multiplicity of voices offering advice, warning or explanation, I find a great deal of solace and inspiration in poetry and I know many other people do too. Recently there has been a poem read each morning on Radio 4’s Today programme and various initiatives have arisen for sharing poems on line.

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PCN Newsletter 26th March 2020

PCN Newsletter 26th March 2020

This is the first in a series of newsletters from PCN Britain.

The spread of the coronavirus has meant that we have all had to face restrictions, on our friendship gatherings, our social life, our work, our journeys, our contact with close family. For PCN, as you know, it has meant the cancellation of meetings and conferences.

HOWEVER our friendships have not been quarantined and we can communicate with each other by email, telephone, SKYPE, social media and the good old letter! And so we have decided to make a virtue out of necessity, to find that silver lining, by sending you (if you are happy to receive this) a regular email containing a rich variety of thoughts, stories, musings, even theological debate! And we hope you will contribute by responding with your comments, opinions, articles, light-hearted and serious, via the dedicated page of our website, our Facebook page and other ways. Some of the PCN trustees will regularly offer ideas, perhaps a poem here, a book review there. Let’s turn the enforced inactivity into an active exchange of ideas. And lets also support those who do contract this virus and need our love and friendship.

So……here is my little reflection on today…….

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Thoughts on online meeting for worship by Tim Gee

Thoughts on online meeting for worship by Tim Gee

Self-isolating and unable to get to a Quaker meeting in person, Tim Gee shares some thoughts on joining his first online meeting for worship.

This week I attended my first ever online meeting for worship. To my slight surprise it was a warm and spirited experience.

In line with the government’s advice for those with a cough or temperature to stay home, I’d been in self-isolation since the middle of the week. I sent my apologies to Quaker Friends saying I wouldn’t be at meeting. When it emerged that meeting in person might not work for others either, we decided to try meeting for worship online.

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