Monday, 9 April 2012

Holy Saturday Round up 2012

What a difference a year makes!  In 2011, in our review of the Holy Saturday reading group we mined a wealth of deep intellectual reasoning, thought, wittering, tangential argument and high value column inches from the great and good taking the Murdoch money, thus giving the Times the status of a newspaper of record in high society -

So, what do we have in 2012? 

The Times hard copy (£1.50) found at Luton Airport.  Not sure of origin of issue.

Ruth Gledhill writes concerning the wearing of the cross.  Given the background of the decision of Rowan Williams to resign as Archbishop of Canterbury, there was some talk concerning material culture, with the wearing of the cross as being an outward symbol of one’s profession of faith.  While one would expect Roman Catholics to preach the wearing of jewellery, trinkets and souvenirs of pilgrimage income streams, one is surprised that the Archbishop of Canterbury is being joined by evangelicals and – wait for it – the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Rt. Rev David Arnott.  John Knox would be rumbling in his grave and if the Mound collapses in a seismic heap, then we’ll know who to blame. 

We’re not sure whether Ms Gledhill’s omission of Archbishop Vince or Vin was a slight, but we can only imagine that Cardinal Keith (Frankenstein) O’Brien must be preening himself with the Britain’s Most Senior Catholic epithet status. 

Andrew Billen

There is a lot of talk about Bettany Hughes doing more of her goddess worshiping theories.  Whenever we hear of Dr Hughes I automatically think of the Green Goddess (the fire engine) as she parades with her tight t-shirt, in much the same way as a female gardener showed off her assets on a gardening show.  And why not!  The goddesses of Glastonbury are very capable and understand the importance of material culture, selling souvenirs, amulets, charms and trinkets.  If they discovered these objects in south-east Turkey thousands of years ago, it proves that nothing much has changed.  Religion, like travel, needs a handle for promotion.  Pilgrimage, souvenirs, trinkets and material culture help the economy, increase craftsmanship and are good for the well being.   

Andrew Riley

This is an amazing piece about church music which somehow seems to consider that the bulk of Anglican, with the odd mention of some Roman Catholic input from Tony and Cherie Blair no less, is worthy of a long piece in a Murdoch rag.  This was a long puff about some ghastly modern music specially written to celebrate Her Majesty, The Queen’s diamond jubilee.  This book is known by the title Choir for the Queen (Canterbury Press, £40) and some cathedrals are moaning at having to pay such a lot for the book for 20 choristers.  Some churches have spent this on buying candles for god’s sake!

This book may not rival the Eton Choir book, which was perfectly good, out of copyright and has some marvellous tunes.  One dreads to think what people will think of composers like John Tavener, Mark Anthony Turnage, James MacMillan, Richard Rodney Bennett and Judith Weir to name a few.  It is a long while since Peter Maxwell Davis has written a decent note, Judith Weir’s opera got panned at Covent Garden, James MacMillan’s stuff is truly awful and Tavener it may be recalled wrote a ghastly piece on the names of god which ruined his reputation after his resurrection during the funeral service of the late Diana, Princess of Wales. 

Rt Rev Victoria Matthews, Bishop of Christchurch, New Zealand

At long last we reach a bit of that old time religion and it had to come from Victoria Matthews, who happens to be Bishop of Christchurch in New Zealand.  They know something about the power of earthquakes, building one’s church on a rock and not on sand.  This is a piece which is well worth re-reading and one hopes that Bishop Victoria manages to bring some humility and Christianity into the Anglican Communion, which seems to have rejected the sticking plaster which Dr Rowan Williams offered. 

The best journalistic piece we could find was buried in a tv review (Saturday Review, page 44) by David Chater.  He gives a review of Bettany Hughes and a well-crafted piece of criticism and analysis.  This boy will go far!  We are mentioning some lines which delight – “Most of the world’s religions today have a distinctly masculine flavour but it wasn’t always thus …The earliest depiction of a woman was found at Gobekli Tepe in South-East Turkey…Representations of the mother goddess became larger and more voluptuous over millennia …even in Rome … men would castrate themselves to serve the cult of Magna Mater, the Polly Toynbee of the Tiber.”  It was unanimously agreed at our conclave that this David Chater piece be set to music, given that Billy Bragg is recasting some previously unknown lyrics by Woody Guthrie.  Perhaps Mr Bragg can be persuaded to outshine the ghastly choir book composers and have the cathedrals rocking in the aisles with the tills ringing and the electronic payment systems tweeting money into our cash coffers.  May you continue to monetise, valorise and vapourise!

PS: We would urge the BBC to save money and get rid off the truly awful Moral Maze and the ghastly Sunday Programme on Radio 4.  Britain has changed.  We now have a 7-day Sun shining in place of the News of the World, with many Labour MPs taking Murdoch’s money.  In the racing stakes for the next Archbishop of Canterbury, we don’t find York and London with a chance, but we are focussing on a bishop who is making the right noises.