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R.C. Ordinariate

October 19, 2010

Bishop John Broadhurst, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of London with the title of Bishop of Fulham, has just announced that he has decided to become a Roman Catholic. He is going to do this by joining the new Ordinariate set up by the Pope for unhappy Anglicans.

I wish him well in his new Church, but cannot understand how he can with a clear conscience take any more confirmations or ordinations in the Church of England. The Bishop of London should have accepted his resignation the day he made his announcement (during which he described the C of E  as “fascist”, while saying he was leaving  because  it had become too liberal for him).

He must know that in the eyes of his new Church he is a mere layman and that if he wants to be a Roman Catholic priest he will have to be reordained. So is he already exercising that prized Anglican right of private judgement and saying Rome is wrong about his Anglican orders? Maybe that is one of the “treasures” that the Pope has said he hopes Anglicans will bring with them into the Ordinariate – and here was I thinking it was just their wives!


October 17, 2010

The new address for this blog is

Please update your bookmarks.

Don’t worry, all postings and comments have moved as well.



New Title: “Reid and Write”

October 12, 2010

The results of my challenge to my gentle readers for a new title for this blog were many and varied. Most of them were kind, though I wasn’t sure of “Reid’s Rambles”, “The Bells are Ringing” (for me and which Gal?),” and Loose Canon on Deck”. However, I liked best the ones that used puns, and so have decided to rename the blog simply “Reid and Write”. I was tempted to adopt the further pun of “Reid and Rite”, but all my postings will not be about the Liturgy (God forbid!); no, I’ll stick to the inspiration of the moment and write about anything that interests me. Then there is a good chance that at least some of the entries will interest some of my readers some of the time.

The mysteries of how the name change is done, and how you will get to the blog under its new name are beyond my tiny grasp of computer science. But Marc Coleman, St Clement’s diligent web master, will do the necessary soon.

Copies of “Merrily on High” and “Walsingham Way” will soon be winging their way to Fr Jonathan, and also to “Stacey” if she will give me her address. They both suggested variants on this title.

Now all I have to do is post some thoughts – maybe tomorrow!

Michael, Raphael, Gabriel etc – all E.T’s

September 29, 2010

All orthodox Christians believe in angels, but what are they?

“How many angels can dance on the pin of a needle?” is the ultimate nonsense question from those who have tried to define the angels. But we do have to ask questions about them, for they are a vital part of the record of the Gospels, to say nothing of all the other parts of the Bible where they pop up (or pop down, rather!)

From the host of angels who sang “Glory be to God on high” over the astonished shepherds of Bethlehem, to the bright, shining beings who proclaimed that Christ was risen from the dead, these non-human servants of God mingle their actions with human beings.

So all Christians believe that there exist in this universe beings who are not human but are full of a different kind of life and intelligence, and that they worship and serve the same God as we do.

The angels are the original Extra-Terrestrial beings, and it seems to me that the existence of many other non-human beings scattered throughout this Universe is statistically enormous. It has always been accepted that we shall share the heavenly life with angels, archangels, cherubim and seraphim, but how much more mind-blowing will it be to share eternal life with a million different intelligent and God-worshipping aliens!

The poet Alice Maynell touches on this when she writes in “Christ in the Universe”:

“Nor, in our little day,
May His devices with the heavens be guessed,
His pilgrimage to thread the Milky Way
Or His bestowals there be manifest.

But in the eternities,
Doubtless we shall compare together, hear
A million alien Gospels, in what guise
He trod the Pleiades, the Lyre, the Bear.

O, be prepared, my soul!
To read the inconceivable, to scan
The million forms of God those stars unroll
When, in our turn, we show to them a Man.”

Makes some of our little disagreements seem pretty insignificant, doesn’t it?

Blog Development and re-Christening

September 26, 2010

Well, it has been three weeks since I posted a blog entry, but you will be glad to hear (I hope) that it is not because I have become fed up with being a blogger. Not at all. The gap has mainly been due to the time I have had to give to recuperating after my hip replacement operation.

But it has also been due to my rethinking what I want to do with my blog. I started it to astonish and confound my critics who claimed I was computer-illiterate. (They were right, but I thought a blog would confuse them!) Then I found that the blog was useful for getting across the message of some of the things St Clement’s was doing. And then I found that I enjoyed the blog for giving me the chance to write about many subjects, and especially things drawn from the various places I have ministered and lived.

These last few weeks of idleness have given me the time to review the whole content of the blog, and to plan its future.

I think I must find a new name for it, because it has developed far beyond just the everyday doings of St Clement’s, or even of the whole Church. In a way, I would like to see it develop into more of an autobiographical account of my life and ministry, in a way similar (though far less original) than my beloved Colin Stephenson’s churchy autobiography “Merrily on High”, which I caused to be republished last year, along with “Walsingham Way”.

Our web master will add a link when I have come up with a suitable new name, so that those of you who read this blog will be able to continue doing so easily.

So I am setting you a competition: find me a snappy new name for my blog.
The winner (and maybe one or two of the best suggestions) will receive twin copies of “Merrily on High” and “Walsingham Way” (They are easier to send through the mail than champagne).

US versus UK Health Care

September 5, 2010

Now I have experienced hip replacement in both English and American hospitals, friends have asked me to compare and contrast them. I will try to, but remember that my UK experience was 10 years ago, and also that it was in a private hospital in Chelsea, not a huge University hospital in Philadelphia.

And that is the first thing I have learned about the US health system. For all its boast of a range of choice – denied, they say, to Europeans, suffering under “Socialized Medicine” – I have discovered that America has no easy access to private hospitals. You see, if all the hospitals are private, none of them is.

I had my first hip replaced when I was Dean of Gibraltar; the second a year later when I was Archdeacon of Italy & Malta. The Diocese in Europe had a group policy for private health care in the UK for all its priests. Some of them were ministering in much less salubrious places than I was, places (in Eastern Europe, for example) where health care was less than satisfactory. So with our private policy we could come to the UK at any time and get whatever we needed immediately.

So I went to the Lister Hospital in Chelsea Bridge Road in London which I found quite similar to a five star hotel! There were only a dozen or two patients on each floor, mostly ordinary Brits like me, but some more exotic ones like the Saudi diplomat in the next suite who was visited by a stream of ladies (wives?) who had clearly whiled away the time by shopping in some of the most expensive shops in the world. They were uniformly clad in black sacks from head to toe (and rather alarming leather face and nose masks in some cases).

But the Lister took everyone in its stride and got on with its business, which was to assist its patients in getting better from their operations. That is what Pennsylvania Hospital was doing too this week with me and many others. But their methods were very different. And the atmosphere is very different. Most of this difference is about money.

In Britain (and I have been in National Health Service hospitals as well as private ones) money is never mentioned. In the NHS, everything is “free”, operations, treatment, medicines, food, equipment. Of course it is not free, but has been paid for over the years by one’s National Health Contribution coming out of one’s wages month by month ( and not a great amount). The rich and middle classes who choose to have additional private health insurance all have to pay for the NHS as well. There is no opting out.

But in the USA, all the talk is about money and payments. I was horrified to be asked if I wanted to pay a fee for having the television activated in my room, and took delight in refusing, on the grounds that hospital was harrowing enough without the noise and inanities of television. And at every level of pain, people would bustle into the room and ask me to sign piles of papers about responsibilities and payments.

Eventually, it came to me that the whole business (and I choose the word advisedly) was being run for the benefit of the insurance companies, drug companies, and the medical staff. The patient’s needs and benefits were way down on the list of priorities. In the UK I had had tests before and after the operation, but nothing like the vast number I had here. And I was seen here by a great many doctors and nurses and therapists and social workers, each of which checked off their lists and no doubt then submitted their bills to the insurance.

I expected, in this day and age, that my vital statistics and medical history would be carefully recorded on a computer, and that would be available to any subsequent care givers who needed it. But No! I had to recite my date of birth, address etc literally dozens of times, and also (more worryingly) the medicines I was taking before I came in, allergies, previous illnesses etc. And for all this repetition, sometimes they got it wrong and asked me how my knees were recovering! There is a vast lack of communication between staff.

Ten years ago in England, everything was recorded on paper (too early for computers) and this one file was used by all medical staff, whose number was tiny in comparison, probably because there was not the same terror of being sued for mistakes as there is in the USA. Last week, one doctor frankly told me that my visit to him (when out came all the old questions yet again) was only for insurance protection. However, I believe that malpractice suits are growing commoner in the UK too.

One other great difference was the noise level. In the UK hospital, noise was kept to a minimum; visitors were told to speak quietly, since other patients were sicker than the friend they were visiting and needed peace. But in hospital last week, I was grateful for a thick door to my room, though even that could not keep our the manic laughter and shouting that seemed to go on at almost all times between the staff. There was such a racket from the room next to mine that I thought someone was being murdered but it was “just” a dozen or two family members whooping it up, screeching over the television which was on at top volume. I was sorry for myself but even sorrier for the poor lady who was lying exhausted in the midst of a raucous family.

All of this, I am aware, is very subjective, and I would be interested to hear from others who have had experience of both UK and US medical systems.

New hips for old

August 19, 2010

On Tuesday of next week I am going into the Pennsylvania Hospital to have what my surgeon calls “a hip revision”. I had one hip replaced in 1999 and one in 2000 in the great luxury of the Lister Hospital in Chelsea, London, and oddly it is the newer one that has worn a bit and is giving me quite a bit of pain. So, after looking at X-rays, the surgeon decided it must either be totally replaced or at least “revised”, whatever that means.

He estimates that I will be in hospital for three days and then in rehab for a few more. So I should miss just one Sunday at St Clement’s, and maybe not even that, if I am fit enough to sit in Choir, while Father Sipe, our Honorary Assistant Priest, celebrates. Thereafter I can no doubt limp around the altar, as the priests of Baal did in their competition with Elijah on Mount Carmel.

London Times Crossword

August 14, 2010

Today I finished the London Times Crossword, and the first thing I wanted to do was to phone Pat McBryde in Scotland to announce this unusual event. Pat could sit down with the Times and solve the crossword in half an hour or less – every day. Several times she came close to winning (and once won in the pairs section with Bishop Ted Luscombe) the Times annual national crossword competition. It was she who got me hooked on what another Scottish Bishop (Alastair Haggart) called sheer time wasting.

But Pat died last year, and I can only hope my triumphant whoop was heard in Heaven.

Bishop Haggart may have been right about wasting time, but I doubt it. A crossword like the Times’s covers such a range of subjects and requires such a lot of lateral thinking that I am sure it helps keep my mind from total stagnation.

In today’s (successful, remember!) crossword, I had to have at least some knowledge of Greek mythology, pastry-making, computers, proverbs, card games, Near Eastern history, Italian geography, English novels, French composers. Now, those who know me will laugh at such claims (at least as far as computers and pastry-making go) but I hasten to add that it is not a deep knowledge that is required but more a mind that is “a picker up of unconsidered trifles”. That may explain why Bishop Haggart disapproved – his was a mind that knew some subjects deeply and brilliantly, but had no idea about lots of others.

Ah well, when you next hear me say “I have a lot of paper work to get through” you will know that some of it is the Times Crossword – well it is printed on paper!

Bishop Bennison wins his appeal

August 5, 2010

The news that a Church appeal court, consisting of eight Bishops (a ninth recused himself) has reversed the findings of the verdict against Bishop Bennison has burst upon an astonished Church.

But I cannot understand why this should be so. As the appeal court said, the Bishop was never at any time accused of an immoral act, and it has now been shown (as he always asserted) that he had no knowledge of his brother’s crime until long after the event. Then, he remained silent at the request of the parents of the girl involved, who felt that publicity would hurt her.

It may well be that Bishop Bennison should have been more suspicious of his brother and made more vigorous attempts to find out what was really going on, but this hardly constitutes condoning immoral (and criminal) actions.

In the appeal court’s judgement, it is interesting that they make it clear that it is quite improper for those who disapprove of a Bishop’s theological opinions or use (or abuse) of Church funds to use an accusation of “conduct unbecoming a clergyman” as a way to remove him, which makes me think that they saw some evidence that this was what was happening. After all, it was only when another court found that there was no evidence of Bishop Bennison’s misusing Church monies that the present charges were brought.

The Bishop may choose to return as our Diocesan, or he may choose to retire and pursue his ministry as a Bishop of the Episcopal Church
elsewhere. I, for one, am glad that the ludicrously severe sentence of (purportedly) reducing him to the lay state has been shown for the nonsense it always was.

God’s Apology

August 1, 2010

When a relationship is broken, the only way friendship can be restored is by one of the parties saying “I’m sorry”. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But these words are among the hardest things we ever have to say.

And sometimes it is the innocent party who has to say “I’m sorry.” The one who caused the breach in the first place may not have the strength or the courage to summon up these words, so the stronger partner has to be the one to do it, even though he or she was the one sinned against.

This is what happened with God and Mankind. We caused the mess of sin by our pride and selfishness, but we were trapped in human weakness and could not say Sorry in our own strength. So God, in the Person of his Son (the totally innocent party), came and said Sorry for the sin and evil and hatred and wickedness which had broken off man’s relations with God. And the costliness of this love was demonstrated by the form of the Apology – the Cross of Calvary.

I preached on this subject this morning, because our Gospel reading was the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. I love the way the story says “The Pharisee prayed thus WITH HIMSELF” – not a word of his smug prayer got through to God. And all the Publican could do was say “Kyrie eleison” and this prayer winged its way to the throne of grace.

That’s all we can do too, but thank God we now have the strength to do it; now we can say “I’m sorry” to God and to anyone we have hurt, because we do it in the strong union of Christ. Then love jumps like an arc of electricity from person to person, healing, reviving, glorying in the freedom of God’s life.