Lament and Longing

11 November 2018 marks 100 years since the guns fell silent at the end of World War 1. Like many others I took part in a Remembrance Service and Commemoration this morning, as I have done every year since childhood. And every year it gets harder. We, the human race, are wounded by war even when it does not destroy us. We create those wounds because, in our sinfulness, we have not learned how to live in peace with each other. And it continues to be the case that war is for some a very profitable business. Sometimes it seems all we can do is to lament.

The sonnet 'The Wound in Time' by the British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy was written for Remembrance Day 2018, to be read aloud on beaches around the UK and the Republic of Ireland, in recognition that most of those who served in our armed forces in WW1 and WW2 left by sea and many never returned. Those attending the beach events were asked to draw silhouettes of people in the sand at low tide, knowing those would be washed away…

All Souls Day

Should Christians pray for the dead?

Or simply remember them with thanksgiving?

In the Church of England the 16th century, reformers made no provision for the observance of All Souls Day (2 November) in the Book of Common Prayer. That was because of its association with abuses of that time, relating to praying for the dead and paying for masses to be said to ease the departed through purgatory, or paying for divine pardons.

Number 22 of the 39 Articles (1562)is strongly worded:

"The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Reliques, and also invocation of Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and ground upon no warranty of scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God."

Having been brought up in a Reformed Protestant tradition, I was taught that praying for the dead was wrong, but always right to pray for the living. I was critical of Catholic friends who prayed for someone after they had died. In my mid-twenties, m…


The Halloween celebrations of my childhood seem so innocent in retrospect, as indeed they were, unlike some now. In England when I was a child Hallowe'en (Eve of All Hallows) was a very low-key event. I don't remember any commercialism. I've just heard what the average spend per household for Halloween is today in the UK and I'm horrified, especially as that includes much plastic rubbish, easily flammable costumes, sweets that rot teeth and a gross waste of pumpkins by people who only use them for carving and not eating. I could go on, but that would be at the risk of being a kill-joy and I am all for people having fun in ways that don't harm people or the planet.
So, back to my childhood reminiscing. Bobbing for apples, in a bucket of water without using hands, was about as dangerous as it got at the Sunday School party on 31 October. Well, I suppose a child could have been drowned if there had been someone there of such evil intent or if the supervision had been l…