PCN Newsletter 7th May 2020
In our seventh newsletter we feature contributions from others.
This photo was sent by Nicola Phelan, the convenor of the Rugby group. She says of the photo, “A young boy named Ben made the small rainbow in the window forwarded to us from the care agency who sit with Mum. Tonight we spotted the rainbow outside.”
We have good news about the June issue of Progressive Voices. We have found a company that is able to print the magazine for us so those of you who normally receive your magazine by post can look forward to your paper copy as usual.
We also have news about our Annual General Meeting, after contacting the Charity Commission for advice, the Trustees have decided that we will conduct the 2020 AGM by post and email. You will receive the relevant documents next week along with a covering letter explaining in more detail how the process will work.
The original AGM was also to be the launch of the PCN films and there is a lot of work being done in the background, with specific thanks to Ian Geere, to finish the website that will host the films. We are looking for ways to launch the films and website that will do justice to the work that has gone into them. If you have any suggestions we would love to hear them.
This week we hand our newsletter over to contributions from others, please do keep sending items to be included.
I live in the Diocese of Worcester where, for the last thirteen years or so, the diocesan focus has been on our identity as Kingdom People. I have found and still find find this language unhelpful if we wish to communicate with people who are not biblically literate. Although we live in the United Kingdom, our monarch is merely constitutional. There are very few countries in the world which still have a real king or queen. The canonical gospels are of a time of kings and emperors and in three of them Jesus proclaims the kingdom of God/heaven. Given that he proclaims the kingdom of God as opposed to the kingdom of Caesar, my question is: What would Jesus be proclaiming in our day, these more democratic times? From what principalities and powers do people need to be liberated? In his mercifully short born-again Christian phase, Bob Dylan wrote a powerful song entitled “You’ve gotta serve somebody.” It’s a litany of all the false contenders for the throne of our lives.
I find myself wondering about this now because, during Easter week, I watched and listened to the English Touring Opera’s production of Bach’s St John Passion. I was arrested by the words which are John 19:15b-16: Pilate said to [the crowd], “Shall I crucify your king?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he delivered him over to be crucified.
The chief priests, of all people, say, “We have no king but Caesar.” They have really lost their way. It seems to me that, in their praise of President Trump, the American Christian Right, whether evangelical or Catholic, and anyone following their example, on either side of the pond, is saying, “We have no king but Caesar.” Like the chief priests and scribes, they are deaf to the prophets, who declare that God says that religion without social justice is bankrupt, and deaf to Jesus, who calls us to walk with him in the way of the cross, the costly way of loving our neighbours as ourselves.
Jesus and the prophets call us to a revolutionary form of service, not of the powerful or of what they promise, but of one another, with the throne of our lives occupied by no one other than Love, the One who is universally and inexhaustibly gracious and compassionate. As in the parable of the Good Samaritan, we are called not to be more religious but to be more human. So I conclude with the words of a French Jesuit, the late Teilhard de Chardin: We are not human beings learning to be spiritual. We are spiritual beings learning to be human.
Peter Knight, PCN member
Dover Beach Revisited (Now that theism is dead)
|The sea of faith||The sea of faith|
|Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore||Once more is at the full, and round earth’s shore|
|Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl’d||Lies like the folds of a bright girdle furl’d|
|But now I only hear||And I can hear|
|Its melancholy, long withdrawing roar||Its uplifting, long, forceful roar|
|Retreating to the breath||Advancing forward to the breath|
|Of the night-wind down the vast edges drear||Of the night-air down the lively edges near|
|And naked shingles of the world||And exotic shingles of the world|
|Ah, love, let us be true||Ah, love, always true|
|To one another! For the world, which seems||To one another! For the whole world|
|To lie before us like a land of dreams||Lies before us as a land of possibilities unfurl’d|
|So various, so beautiful, so new||So various, so beautiful, so new|
|Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light||Having real joy, and love and light|
|Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help from pain||Because of uncertainty, midst violence and pain|
|And we are here as on a darkling plain||And we are here as on a sparkling plain|
|Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight||Despite confused alarms of struggle and flight|
|Where ignorant armies clash by night||Where informed disciples know that love is right|
by Grenville Gilbert
4th April 2020 – During the Coronavirus
With acknowledgement of Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) and his poem, ‘Dover Beach’ which expressed the decline of religion based on an ancient supernatural world ruled by an objective, theistic God.
Ben Whitney has shared with us a powerpoint presentation (with audio) on his website (www.ben-whitney.org.uk) on the topic, ‘Who wrote the Bible? This is the presentation that Ben would have been giving at the East Shropshire PCN group meeting on May 18th. Feedback to Ben via his website is always welcome and you are even invited to set up your own Zoom (or similar) meeting and ask him to join once you’ve listened to it.
Andrew Pratt has kindly offered to share a hymn that he has
written during the coronavirus pandemic. If you would like to read more of
Andrew’s work his blog is hymnsandbooks.blog
To be sung to the tune of Calon Lan
Senses sharpened in the silence,
gently, quietly, feel your breath,
know God’s love will never leave us,
now, or in our time of death.
In this time imagine bird song,
thunder of a mountain stream,
slap of waves along the shoreline,
things for which we hope or dream.
All the beauty of the starlight,
rainbow colours in the sky,
things that we can just imagine
feed our minds until we die,
fill our hearts with heightened wonder,
strain the sinews of our thought,
soon exhausting human language,
through the images we’ve caught.
Lifted up within the mystery,
now embodied in our praise,
mystic music moves our being,
sounding notes from phrase to phrase,
raising us beyond the present,
held in loving symphony;
God inspire our hearts with singing
in one cosmic harmony.
Andrew Pratt 19/4/2020
Words © 2020 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
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Tune: CALON LAN