Fr Andrew’s blog

Thursday, 4th June, 2020

In the late 1960s there was an episode of Star Trek in which Captain Kirk found himself mediating in a civil war on a distant planet where two races had been tearing themselves apart for centuries. Both races had slight superficial differences in appearance. One race had black skin on the left side of its body and white on the right; the other had white on the left and black on the right. Needless to say, Captain Kirk managed to sort it all out. The early episodes of Star Trek, though set in the distant future were, of course, commentaries on the present. This episode, which I remember quite distinctly, obviously arose out of the racial problems in America in the 1960s, especially 1968. There was also another episode set on a planet where the female of the humanoid species completely dominated the male. St Paul got a handle on things a long time ago when he was writing to the Galatians with words of enduring relevance: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Wednesday, 3rd June, 2020

About ten years ago the doctor insisted that, as my cholesterol was too high, I should radically change my diet. He was quite strict: no butter, no cheese and so on. I have generally followed that advice/instruction, albeit in a Dominic Cummings sort of way. Over the years I have bought very little butter, opting for the cholesterol-lowering spreads. I have made scrambled eggs in a non-stick saucepan, perhaps with a splash of milk. But the other day, because I happened to have some butter, I made some scrambled eggs with a small knob of butter. What a difference! I had forgotten just how delicious scrambled eggs can be if made properly. It just shows how little things: a smile, a ‘thank you’, or a little tolerant patience can make a big difference. By the way, is it just me, or are eggs getting smaller and smaller?

The reason I had some butter was that since flour is now available I decided – along with millions of others – to have a go at some home-baking. I haven’t made a cake in probably thirty years but I made a passable lemon drizzle cake. It sank a bit in the middle but it tasted very nice. I had forgotten the satisfying smell of home baking. However, I may not make another one. The sight of the amount of butter and sugar all measured out was quite sobering.

Tuesday, 2nd June, 2020

For the first time in several months now the main news was not about the virus. Channel 4 news gave a full twenty minutes to the situation in America. A relief in some respects perhaps but a salutary reminder that, for all its constrictions, the virus is not the only story in the world, nor even the only dangerous story in the world. The events in America are serious and worrying, so much so that it has led to non-socially distanced demonstrations in London and elsewhere. However, this potent and indiscriminate the virus impacts upon everything. Even this latest manifestation of a tragically age-long problem of social division in America is being played out against the backdrop of the virus. Seeing news that was neither exclusively British nor directly virus related made me wonder about the other stories we have been hearing nothing about. Where is Jeremy Bowen, Orla Guerin or Lise Ducet? The Middle East, Syria, Libya haven’t gone away but maybe travel restrictions make it impossible to report from those places. Indeed, the problems in those areas have almost certainly been made worse by the virus and no less deserving of our attention and prayers. St Paul once noticed that the Greeks had a temple to an unknown God. Maybe we need to offer a prayer specifically for that which is unknown, for what we don’t know we need to pray about – or the people we don’t know we need to pray about.

Monday, 1st June, 2020

Today, the Church returns to Ordinary Time (9th week) liturgically at least. Things are, of course, far from ordinary whether that be in the church or across the world.

Further to my beach concerns on Saturday (echoed by the BBC News last night) the following picture was taken at 7.00 a.m. on Sunday. On Saturday afternoon the side roads off Alumhurst Road were packed with cars and there seemed even more people on the beach. Every day now seems like a Bank holiday. In wondering whether this is appropriate or wise I find myself asking: Am I being mean-spirited or reasonably concerned? Am I being hard-hearted or understandably anxious or nervous? Am I being ungenerous or motivated by a wider social concern? Probably all of the above but certainly uncomfortable. At least Jesus made the disciples clear up thoroughly after the feeding of the five thousand. By the way, the toilets at Alum Chine are still closed, so the picture doesn’t tell the whole story.