There’s a great line in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys when one character, Rudge, defines history as “just one f…ing thing after another”. This week feels similar to me: women bishops is followed by Leveson which is followed by the Chancellor’s out-of-touch-with-most-people’s-reality Autumn Statement (more welfare cuts) which is followed by speculation about a triple-dip recession which is followed by gay marriage. Elsewhere, Egypt falls apart, Syria explodes, Mandela is ill and Belfast sees violence again.
Out and about this week in various communities and meeting a wide variety of people, most of these issues don’t even hit the radar of immediate concern. Of immediate concern, however, is how to cope with the numbers of broken people falling off society’s radar while churches and charities try to stop them falling even further. And then the charitable sector raises its voice to say that many of them are likely to fold soon. What happens then to the Big Society?
Well, I haven’t had time to put down all I would wish to; I have been out and about and one thing has followed another in quick succession. This coming week will see the House of Bishops meeting in London and on Tuesday the 2011 Census data will be published.
So, I limit myself today to three recommendations aimed at bringing a different perspective to the season.
Jonathan Veira’s Christmas album of a couple of years ago – O Holy Night – is one of the best (and least cheesy) musical celebrations of Christmas. Unbelievably powerful voice and great arrangements of familiar songs and carols. Apart from Bruce Cockburn’s Christmas and a pile of Bach or Mozart, Veira gets the repeat listens from me. (And his book is a good read, too.)
I got into big trouble a couple of years ago when I published a short book about Christmas. I apparently dissed Christmas carols – but I was far more subtle than that. Anyway, the fuss also did for the book! It is still available and offers an approach to Christmas aimed at ordinary people for whom the whole business has lost its power (or plot). I still think it is quite a good little book and an accessible read – it is called Why Wish You a Merry Christmas?
Looking ahead: Ben Quash, Professor of Christianity and the Arts at King’s College London (and soon to be Honorary Canon Theologian of Bradford Cathedral), has written the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book for 2013. I have only dipped into it, but Abiding looks as excellent as one might expect from an interesting writer and theologian.
Now off to another ‘event’…