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Beat stress! We show you how, E4

SUNDAY, MAY 6, 2012

Holding the Torch Name: Dave Ouston Location: Isle of Wight Church: Shanklin URC church Relay leg: The Needles, Isle of Wight Occupation: Street Pastor Coordinator for the Isle of Wight Other: Married with six children Background: I was brought up in a non-Christian environment in South London and went to a grammar school with very little Christian input, so would have classed myself as atheist/agnostic. I got married at 22 and very quickly had four children, two boys and two girls. Both the boys were on the Autistic spectrum, although both very high functioning. Life was pretty tough in 1995, because the furniture business that I had been running for five years had recently gone bankrupt and we had no money and were being moved on every six months due to problems in the private rental market. In 1996 we were blessed to get a council house and we found out about a place in America called the Option Institute, which works with autistic people. Suddenly we had a proper home and some hope about the future. The programme we started with our boys was running every day for around six hours, so it involved us getting lots of volunteers. One of the volunteers was a good friend who was also a Christian. She spent many hours talking to my wife and I about God’s love, grace and healing powers. We could see in front of us these so called “un-healable” children being healed; God was at work right in front of our eyes. Both my sons responded incredibly to the love and dedication shown by us all, the eldest is now at University and the youngest starts music college in September this year. Our wonderful girls were also so instrumental in the boys’ healing, and I know were blessed by the scheme too. In 2008 we adopted two wonderful girls, making six awesome children. I dared to open my heart to God in 2004, and in 2006 had a full-immersion baptism with my wife. I gave my heart to Jesus on that day in a big way. Ever since then I have worked for Christian organisations. In 2007 I started working for “Changing Tunes”. It is a fabulous company working in prisons all over the south of England, doing music workshops with prisoners, helping them learn instruments, write songs and perform concerts. It’s amazing work! Very challenging but very rewarding. I really enjoyed my time in prison, and still go back to Parkhurst prison once a month to lead worship in their chapel. In December 2008 I was given the job as Co-ordinator of the Street Pastor scheme here on the island. We now have 61 volunteers from 26 different churches, and have regular patrols going out in Ryde, Newport and Ventnor and twice a year we patrol in Cowes. It is truly awesome to be engaging with amazing people, to be helping, caring and listening, to be the church on the streets -- not with a Bible to preach, but to get alongside and care for people is amazing. People love us being out there. The police love us too. Reason for being selected: I was nominated by a lady called Julie Croydon who works at Ryde Baptist church. The scheme has been working in Ryde since the start in 2009, and really had an amazing

impact on the town straight away. Within six months violent crime was down 43 per cent on the previous year. Ever yone says how much safer the streets feel now. Ryde Baptist church is our base church for patrols in Ryde , so I would see Julie most weeks, and she saw the benefits it was having. I honestly feel the nomination is on behalf of all the Street and Prayer Pastors on the Isle of Wight. We also have a team of prayer pastors who come every week to church, and pray for the team while they are out. I have seen prayer dissolve aggressive situations in front of my eyes. The prayer pastors are so part of the team, they deser ve to be recognised as much as the stree t pastors. Reaction to being selected: Stunned. I thoug ht someone was mucking around and sending out bogus emails. When I realised it was true, mixed reactions really. I felt incredibly honoured, but also incredibly unworthy really . There are so many people doing amazing work day after day without any recognition. But I will carry the torch with a fire in my hear t for all the Street and Prayer Pastors, and all the wonderful people that we engage with every weekend here on the Isle of Wight. Aims for the future: One thing I have learn ed over the last five years is not to plan too far ahead. God has a wonderful sense of humour. If you had told me 10 years ago I would be doing this, I would have laughed in your face. I just want to keep serving, and if God wants me to move onto another project, I’m sure he will make that very clear. In the meantime, I will just keep trying to get more volunteers , so we can do more on the streets.



Andrew Carey: View from the Pew

The relentless march of Secularism W

hat can possibly be left when ‘God’ is axed from prayers? We already have Jesus-lite sermons from Anglican leaders. We also have Councils abandoning prayer in droves after the National Secular Society’s legal success against the obscure West Country Council, Bideford. Yet now we also have the supine spectacle of the Gloucestershire Mayor removing all references to God from Council prayers. A Sunday Telegraph report (‘The Council that kept its prayers - by dropping God’, 29 April 2012) found that since the Bideford

legal ruling earlier this year in which prayers were banned at a council under a technicality about the limits to council powers, 40 councils have decided to drop or ‘water down’ the practice of saying prayers. More are considering doing so. Only 21 authorities said they planned to continue their practice of prayers. As usual the government finds itself in an increasingly invidious position as far as many Christians are concerned. While David Cameron, Michael Gove, Iain Duncan-Smith, Baroness Warsi and Eric Pickles have all made supportive noises about the role of

May 6, 2012

Christians in society there is very little action from them. In so many ways the government speaks with forked tongues to Christian groups regarding traditional believers as ‘backwoodsmen’ and opposing the rights of Christians in cases of blatant discrimination. In fact, even the Government’s traditionalists apparently support gay marriage, whilst Eric Pickles’ Localism Act, which he claimed would allow Councils to decide matters to do with prayer without interference from campaigners and courts, appears to be holed in the water. The most worrying development is the situation in Gloucestershire. After a sitdown protest by three members of the council during formal prayers, Gloucestershire’s Conservative Council Chairman, Brian Thornton, decided by fiat to take out all references to God and Jesus Christ from the prayer. The prayer previously said: “May he give us wisdom to carry out our duties; the humanity to listen to those we represent; the courage to do what is right; and the generosity to treat each other with respect. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” The Councillors now declaim: “May we find the wisdom to carry out our duties, the humanity to listen to all, the courage to do what is right and the generosity to treat each other with respect.” To add insult to injury, having removed the core of the prayer they still say ‘Amen’. As if this mockery of prayer was not enough, the chairman is forced to acknowledge that the changes to the prayers have upset a larger group than the original three opponents of prayer.

Room 101 So into Room 101 has to go the myth of a neutral secularism. When it comes to Christianity, judges and politicians have made it clear that they sit in judgement over matters to do with doctrine. In successive rulings they have decided that marriage is not a core aspect of Christian teaching and that wearing the cross isn’t an important aspect of Christian spirituality and practice. In this latest case of Gloucestershire, a jumped-up local politician has decided that he can cavalierly excise the core of faith from Christian prayer. The lesson is that modern-day secularism is not ‘neutral’ and does not guarantee religious freedom.

Is he or isn’t he?

Canterbury Stakes I

Most people are not coy about their faith. Converts usually want to proclaim their new allegiance from the rooftops and encourage others to join them. George Galloway is that last person anyone would expect to be a shrinking violet. This is the man who went on ‘Big Brother’ dressed as a cat and who appeared before a US Senate Committee and got the better of them. So why is he shy about confessing his faith? According to Jemima Khan, who interviewed him for the ‘New Statesman’, George converted to Islam 10 years ago at a ceremony in a hotel in Kilburn. Khan knows someone who was present at the ceremony. George denies this ceremony took place but he is less open about whether or not he is a Muslim, saying this is known only to Allah. What is certain is that George and his fourth wife, Gayatri, could not have performed the ‘nikah’, the Muslim wedding ceremony, four weeks ago in Amsterdam if George was not a believer. Why won’t he come clean? Does he fear the wrath of the nonMuslim voters? No one should vote against a person just because he has gone through a sincere religious conversion. But Muslims, Christians and atheists should vote against those stir up community and religious divisions for their own advantage by using religion to get political support. On this charge both Gorgeous George and Red Ken have a case to answer.

‘Your think American politics is tough?’ asks the Religious News Service. ‘Check out the race to succeed the Archbishop of Canterbury’. It then helpfully provides a link to Andrew Brown’s blog on The Guardian website responding to blogs by Arun Arora complaining that some of the comments on John Sentamu were ‘racist’. Arora must be the first case of a spin doctor becoming the story before he has even taken up the job. When Alastair Campbell became the story he knew it was time for him to resign. Brown says the critics are right to focus on Sentamu’s style of leadership and adds that there is ‘nothing particularly African’ about an autocratic style. Fisher had it; Tutu didn’t. In which case, you have to ask, why did Sentamu’s critics describe his style as ‘African?’ It does suggest a degree of prejudice. Brown slyly slips in the information that Sentamu’s brother is a prosperity gospel preacher in Kampala. But what would have happened if Bill Clinton had been judged by his brother? And what is Brown’s evidence for implying Rowan Williams is against his appointment? Sentamu’s leadership style is better characterised as ‘maverick’ than autocratic. It flows from his desire to shake up the conventional attitudes that have not always served the Church of England well in the past.

. .. y r e l l a G g n i r e p s i h The W Canterbury Stakes II

New Whip

Brown still thinks that Sentamu will be appointed to Canterbury but over at ‘Prospect’ the diary is still backing the Bishop of Norwich. This reflects the influence of the magazine’s political correspondent, James Macintyre. If Paddy Power is any guide, Brown and Macintyre both look set to be wrong, although it is still close. Christopher Cocksworth is at evens, Graham James at 7/4 and John Sentamu at 3/1. This month’s ‘Prospect’ carries a review by Rowan Williams of books by Michael Sandel and by Robert and Edward Skidelsky. Members of the Crown Nominations Commission could do worse than read the section of Robert Skidelsky’s Life of Keynes in which the subject records in his diary the experiences of hearing sermons as a school boy at Eton. One preacher was an archdeacon but Keynes thought that ‘he can almost preach badly enough to become a bishop’. On another occasion he registered ‘a revolting performance. They ought to make him an archdeacon at once’. Skidelskly tells us that preaching combined the two things Keynes hated most: imprecise thought and waste of his time. CNC members, please take note.

Nick Clegg knows he is in for a tough fight when it comes to getting reform of the Lords through that august chamber. It is generally reckoned that most of the Conservative, half of the Labour and one third of the Lib Dem peers will vote against the measure. It is going to be a difficult time for the whips. But Clegg has made a wise decision in appointing Lord (Dick) Newby as the new Lib Dem chief whip in the Lords. Once a member of the SDP, Newby was elevated to the Lords on the recommendation of Roy Jenkins. He worked for both Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy (for whom he was a very loyal and efficient chief of staff). Newby is married to the Rev Ailsa Newby, who succeeded Giles Fraser as Vicar of St Mary’s, Putney, a lively liberal Catholic church on Putney High Street where the famous debates took place during the civil war. As an active layman, Newby (who grew up in a devout Yorkshire Methodist family) is a member of the Ecclesiastical Commission, body made up of 15 peers and 15 MPs which scrutinises measures passed by General Synod.

May 6, 2012


Martin Beckford View from Fleet Street

Does the Church of England have a race problem? Race was on my mind constantly when I went to Jamaica earlier this year, and not because I was planning to sprint against Usain Bolt. It wasn’t just because I was a white Englishman visiting a former colony either. I also share my surname with a plantation-owning governor of the island, and knew that it is still home to many Beckfords descended from slaves who were given their master’s name. The purpose of my trip was to interview the Church of England’s most senior black cleric, the Archbishop of York, and was made all the more poignant by the fact that he had first gone there to help the father of Stephen Lawrence tend the grave of his teenage son, who was murdered by racists 19 years ago this week. So when I sat down to interview Dr John Sentamu, in a beachfront hotel not far from where Columbus and later the English landed to plunder the island, I asked him if he thought there was racism in the Church of England as well as in British society generally (and football in particular). The Archbishop insisted that the Church was one of the first institutions in the country to adopt the recommendations of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, on which he sat as an adviser. He denied he had experienced racism from other clergy, although a man at a funeral he conducted had complained that his father did not deserve to be buried by a “monkey”. But since January, as Dr Sentamu’s chances of becoming Archbishop of Canterbury have been discussed in more The Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Rev Mike Hill, blogs: “The decision of the NHS to extend a pilot scheme which enables a 13-year-old girl to be put on the contraceptive pill without recourse to the child’s parents or even a doctor – just a chat with a pharmacist – does seem a step too far and a huge discouragement to parents who are trying to teach their children to be morally responsible. “The evidence that doling out contraception to young girls diminishes teenage pregnancy or abortions is apparently a bit patchy anyway. On top of this, the ‘pill’ might protect you from conceiving, but it won’t protect you against a sexually transmitted disease, apparently on the up amongst the young. This just does seem like another example of the clunking pragmatism that runs in parallel with a culture that is frightened to speak of morality. What is more worrying is when the Church loses its nerve on the subject!” One contributor writes: “Birth control is not a substitute for sex education and that is where we will see results.” The Cranmer blog reads: “Incredibly (or perhaps not), the Conservative chairman of Gloucestershire County Council... has eradicated all mention of God and Jesus from the council’s traditional prayer in order not to offend the (one) Green and (two) LibDems. The remaining 60 councillors, some of whom are now strongly united in opposition to the non-religious prayer, have had secularism forced upon them. In fact, Brian Thornton, the Conservative council chairman, has placated three oppo-

depth, claims of racism in the Church have grown louder. The Ugandan-born Archbishop’s former spokesman, the Rev Arun Arora, has put the allegations most strongly, writing on his blog that the “besmirching” of his old boss has veered from snobbery to “the naked racism which still bubbles under the surface in our society, and which is exposed when a black man is in line to break the chains of history”. I have myself heard people in the Church dismiss Dr Sentamu as not intellectually or theologically serious enough to take over Lambeth Palace. But do they hold this view because he sometimes takes part in publicity stunts, or because of the colour of his skin? Two bishops told The Sunday Telegraph last week that he had the “tribal” attitude of an “African chief” and “retained his African views and approach”, which could apparently sometimes be a problem. Of course he did grow up in Africa and sometimes uses old folk sayings and stories in his speeches, but it would be wrong to define him by these facts. Mention of Africa and the church reminded me of the 2008 Lambeth Conference, and not because of the Zulu concept of “indaba” or gathering that was meant to bring warring bishops together. I wrote a story during the event based on the comments of the Rt Rev Catherine Roskam, Suffragan Bishop of New York, who had told a meeting: “Culturally, many of our bishops come from places where it is culturally accepted to beat your wife.”

She denied she was referring to the developing world, and claimed she had actually singled out New York as a place where this happened. Like in the Sentamu examples, you can see why people might take offence at such comments even if the author had intended something entirely different. Why might this be, given that we’re talking about clergy who are meant to be clever, sensitive and compassionate people? Could it be because the Church has spent far more time talking about sexuality and gender than race in recent years? Or is it rather that there are so few ethnic minorities in senior positions that disparaging remarks about them tend to stand out? It is 10 years since an unidentified cleric described the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, then seen as a contender for Canterbury, as a “Paki papist” but the insult is still remembered. In 2010 the General Synod voted to ban clergy from membership of the anti-immigration British National Party. But it might have been more useful to spend the time trying to address the very real under-representation of ethnic minority clergy rather than hypothetical BNP-voting vicars. A recent Synod report found that the proportion of non-white clergy is just 2.8 per cent, far lower than the 12.6 per cent in the population as a whole. In 2010 there was just one archbishop, one bishop, one dean and one archdeacon from a minority ethnic background in the Church. Another study claimed ethnic minorities made up 4.7 per cent of congregations, but that they are better represented among younger generations. So would making Sentamu Archbishop of Canterbury help matters? No doubt some would say his fast-tracking through the ranks amounted to positive discrimination and was just a cynical attempt by the Church to look modern or woo people from fast-growing black majority churches and keep the Anglican Communion together. This would of course risk increasing resentment of ethnic minority clergy. But I believe that race would be less of a problem for the Church if it were made clear that a black cleric had been chosen for the top job simply because he was the best candidate. If it were not seen as a big deal for there to be a black man in Lambeth Palace, then maybe other ethnic minority Christians would think it normal to attend an Anglican church or become ordained. And we might be spared the smearing of a sole black bishop the next time a vacancy arises in Canterbury.

What the Blogs Say sition councillors by offending nine Tories. But he says: ‘I am very happy with it. There is now unity. I kept the words, but there is no longer a reference to calling for God’s help. It does the trick without being related to God... In this case, I don’t have to act in a democratic manner. I am a dictator in the way I control how the meeting is conducted.’ “It is evident to all who have eyes and ears that secularism is supplanting Christianity as the faith of the United Kingdom, and the tolerance of the Christian gospel is being replaced by the pathological intolerance of ‘neutral’ liberalism.” One contributor writes: “Conservatives no longer seem willing or able to conserve anything.” Another writes: “If the organization can produce only a nominal prayer then it might as well not pray at all. The ritualized prayer of unbelief is more offensive to God than the honest assertion of unbelief. Better to abolish the whole thing.” On his Telegraph blog, the Rev Peter Mullen writes: “It was a pleasure to hear an anti-abortionist from California putting John Humphrys in his place on Today this morning. Mr Humphrys was doing the only thing he knows: harrumphing. His special outrage was occasioned by the prolife man’s advocacy of disturbing pictures of aborted foetuses as a method of pointing

John Humphrys

to the scandal of wholesale abortions. Mr Humphrys objected when this man drew a comparison with the slave trade... But it was pointed out to him that it was lurid pictures of the ill-treatment of slaves on the other side of the Atlantic which encouraged opposition to the vile trade here in Britain... I do not like those disturbing pic-

tures, but if they help discourage this foul destruction of human life, then we have a duty to look at them.” One contributor writes: “Rather than trying to end the legal right to choose we should be trying to create a society where fewer people are in the position where they feel the need to make that choice.”


May 6, 2012 By Susie Kearley


survey commissioned by St Luke’s Healthcare for the Clergy last year showed that stress and anxiety was the leading cause of sickness absence among paid clergy in the UK. This reflects the growing problem of stress in society: The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development also reported that stress was the leading cause of long-term absence from work, regardless of occupation. So what is stress and why is it a bigger problem today than ever before? Stress is the perceived inability to match the demands placed upon you, with your capacity to deliver the required result within the time constraints given. Our 21st century, 24/7 pace of life is changing the way we work. Technology may help us resolve problems, but it also raises expectations and increases time pressures. Bosses expect more faster, customers expect speed and responsiveness as standard, and the workplace has become increasingly demanding. This changing culture has resulted in unprecedented levels of stress-related illness. The body’s physical response to stress is the fight or flight response, preparing you for success in battle or with the means to escape. The digestive system works harder to metabolise carbohydrates into glucose for energy. Breathing becomes deeper, taking more oxygen into the lungs. The heart beats faster, surges of adrenaline raise blood pressure, and the brain produces endorphins that temporarily block the pain of injury, enabling you to escape. This dramatic response is too much on a daily basis and it leads to burn out. Normal activities such as immunity, repair and rejuvenation, are suppressed. Adrenal glands work overtime, and you become prone to infection. Eventually you become lethargic, irritable, lack concentration, and sleep badly.

He is referring to the story of the jar, representing your life, filled to capacity with large stones. These stones represent your family and friends – your top priorities. Then smaller stones are added, which fill some of the gaps. These represent your job, home, and security. Finally, sand fills the gaps. The sand represents the small stuff - which isn’t worth stressing about. The moral of the story is that if you fill your life with sand, then there’s no room for the things that are important. It’s about setting priorities. David explained how he applies this to his life: “At the beginning of the year, along with prayer, I arrange my annual retreat, family holidays and ensure that everybody knows my day off is Monday. Apart from that, I believe in the importance of delegation and ‘Every Member Ministry’ in the church and so I’m regularly monitoring my workload and work/life balance.� David’s willingness to let others take some responsibility and help with the workload is something we could all learn from. He also makes an excellent point about setting priorities to concentrate on what’s really important in life. “For relaxation I enjoy walking up mountains,� he added. What an exhausting approach to relaxation! Some psychologists argue that we need a less demanding approach to relaxation, to enable us to unwind effectively! How to reduce stress Get a sense of perspective. Work out what’s important and don’t worry about the small stuff. Meditate on the cross as it keeps you focused on what’s important and can help you relax. Make Bible study and relaxation a priority for your health. Try to see the funny side:

Stress t n e m e g a man humour improves blood circuWhat can we as Christians do, to prevent this blight of lation, stress in our lives? boosts the God commands that we treat our bodies like temples immune sysof the Holy Spirit. But most people run around stressed, tem, and supfatigued, and living on caffeinated drinks and sugary presses stress snacks. This doesn’t honour our bodies. Instead it caus- hormones. es brief surges in energy levels followed by a slump. Learn from Good nutrition is an important tool for stress-free liv- how Jesus ing and a positive frame of mind. We should avoid stim- behaved in ulants such as sugar and caffeine, which add to the stressful sitburden of stress on our bodies, and choose nourishing uations. He whole foods such as fruit and nuts instead. Then we’ll prayed in have sustained energy and clarity of thought to help us the Garden manage the demands of our working day in a calm and of Gethseefficient fashion. mane, but he I asked the Rev David Williams, the Rector at St wasn’t always quiet and Mary’s Parish Church in Princes Risborough, Bucking- amenable – he threw traders hamshire, how he manages to juggle competing out of the temple too. He told demands and priorities, whilst still finding time for us to turn the other cheek, relaxation. David explained: “An illustration I find help- so stop and ask yourself ful is the one about the jar that is filled firstly with large what the Bible says when stones, then smaller stones and then sand.â€? faced with a stressful dilemma. Treat your body like a temple of the Holy Spirit by filling it with nutritious foods: eat whole foods that provide sustained ener43210/ /..-0. .,0+ +.**.)0 gy and help to alleviate stress. These include fruits, ('&%1'0$$#0" ".!'0 1'$&1 whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. They 10!#0'1&$)0$#0.)$)!10!#10,.'0,!!'1 won’t cause the peaks and troughs in your blood 1)1'&$.)#0.$)0210('&%1'0/..-0.$1% sugar levels, which can lead to lethargy. Reduce or eliminate stressors including: sugar, 3.0,$)0.!0*.'10&.!0210.'-0.,0& .$1%02&0&&)1#0&01)!'$1#. caffeinated drinks, cigarettes and alcohol. If giving #'$!&01* up stimulants gives you headaches and makes you feel tired and nauseous, it’s because they are dam+.)&0&)0 ..21&0. .)0  0


.)$)10 #.'!.'0 .$)0. aging your health. Optimise your intake of essential oils, which pro3210( ('&%1'0/ /..-0.$1%0 1$#1'10+ +2&'$%0 .0 0+ + .0 $*$10 %0 !&'&)110 .  vide clarity of thought, by eating walnuts, linseed, Preventing stress

or oily fish - all rich sources of omega 3. Take gentle exercise, which can help to alleviate stress, and avoid eating within three hours of bedtime.

May 6, 2012


A year on the edge… X

plore is Church Army’s gap year which provides 18 to 25-year-olds with the chance to learn about contemporary mission in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Eastern Europe. Xplore isn’t just another gap year – it will impact the rest of your life! The programme is looking for young adults who want to be motivated, trained and equipped for relevant 21st century mission and who want to live their lives to the full for Jesus. The year starts with a six-week placement in Romania where the Xplorers work among some of the poorest people in Europe and learn what it really means to live as a mission community. They will get involved in practical outreach such as: building projects, youth and children’s work and helping families. Xplore graduate, Tim Cottingham, from Wigton in Cumbria, said: “I think for the whole team, the experiences we shared in Romania were some of the

most incredible times of our entire training period. Our exposure to the poverty and injustice of life in Romanian villages was a massive blessing and has allowed the Holy Spirit to further dislodge us from our love of the world. “There is only so much that classroom tuition and Biblical theory can teach us. While our studies provided a solid foundation of understanding, it was our time in Romania that made bringing the Kingdom of God a tangible reality.

folk, graduated from Xplore last year after spending time working with vulnerable homeless women at Church Army’s Marylebone Project in London She said: “Spending time at The Marylebone Project as a Community Enhancement Volunteer was a real honour. I was given the opportunity to work in all areas of the project including the day centre and residential centre.

the women that included coffee mornings and discussions about faith and spirituality. I also really enjoyed working with a project called Sweet Notions which reaches out to deprived women through jewellery making workshops. “Overall Xplore has really helped me learn who I am in relation to God and how to live as a Christian outside a family context.”

“I helped to organise activities for

To watch a film about Xplore, please visit

“Most days were spent outside clearing land and digging trenches for water supplies. My aching back at the end of the day was a great reminder of the call to offer each day as a sacrifice of worship. “I also had the opportunity to work with people in the ghetto in the city of Arad, where I got involved in youth work, a local school and visited families.” On returning to the United Kingdom and Ireland, the Xplorers are then placed with an experienced Church Army Evangelist at a mission base. These bases work with people on the edge of society who have little or no experience of church. Alongside these placements, the Xplorers receive teaching which will help them explore the Bible further and discover what it means to make disciples of Jesus. Felicity Pennington, 21, from Nor-

‘Our exposure to the poverty and injustice of life in Romanian villages was a massive blessing’

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A different sort of role for Glenn Close A

lbert Nobbs (dir. Rodrigo García, cert. 15) tells the story of a woman in late Victorian Dublin who makes her living working for upmarket Morrison’s Hotel, but as a man. Glenn Close, chest wrapped and strapped in a corset, plays Albert, whose subterfuge is under threat when hotel owner Mrs Baker (Pauline Collins) puts decorator Hubert Page (Janet McTeer) in the same bedroom for the night. Although overshadowed by Meryl Streep’s winning the best actress Oscar®, Glenn Close was another nominee, while Janet McTeer was nominated for supporting actress (and the make-up artists also got a nomination). It’s a wonder that this very Irish film has only just been released in Ireland and the UK, but then it’s taken Glenn Close – who played the role on Broadway in 1982 – nearly 30 years to get it to screen. Based on a short story by George Moore, it depends on the credibility of its characters, as most of the action is in the hotel – though Albert does go “walking out” with chambermaid Helen Dawes (Mia Wasikowska) in a forlorn hope of some sort of future marriage arrangement. She’s also walking out (and more) with the roguish Joe Mackins (Aaron Johnson), dismissed by another hotel but getting in Mrs Baker’s good books by repairing the boiler. Albert dreams of opening his own shop, and has saved a lot of money to fund it. Without knowing how much, Joe exploits Albert’s regard for Helen to get money and gifts out of him, but the situation is heading for an awkward, and eventually fatal, outcome. Moore’s realist novels had caused some controversy in the 19th century, for dealing frankly with extra-marital sex. When “The Singular Story of Albert Nobbs” was written, around 1918, his more recent problems had been with “The Brook Kerith”, written after a visit to Jerusalem, which used the idea that Jesus had not died on the cross. The cross-dressing involved in this story must have seemed mild stuff – and James Joyce’s “Ulysses” was already half-

written. “Joyce’s Laundry” is one of the details of the background of Dublin streets, and there’s a big wide scene on Dollymount Strand as Albert and Hubert rediscover their femininity, but it’s in the confines of the hotel that the real dramas play out. Permanent residents include Dr Holloran (Brendan Gleeson), who stays around even when the other guests flee during a typhoid epidemic – perhaps because he has his own liaisons with another maid. Despite the comings and goings, it never descends to farce, as the realities behind the situation, and the respective stories of Albert and Hubert, come to the fore. Helen, having given birth to Joe’s child but abandoned by him, knows that the baby could be taken away from her and she could be put in an institution, and there’s a slight fear that the story is going nowhere toward resolution, let alone a happy ending. Amid sheets on a line and a rather modern-looking peg bag, the final scene delightfully dispels that idea with a single line. Steve Parish

Jazz, with a smooth, melodic edge Tord Gustavsen Quartet / Sheppard, Benita & Rochford (ECM)

“Suite,” from which Tore Brunborg’s sax rises and dances; the perfect form of “On Every Corner” and the title track’s cohesive interplay. Manfred Eicher always captures a pristine sound, but the drum clarity here is stunning. If you enjoy intelligent, yet emotive jazz that sets a calming mood, but bristles with melody, you cannot get better than this. It will have been a remarkable year for music if it is not on my top seven of 2012 (in all genres). Derek Walker


hese two superb modern jazz works came out on the same day, showing that ECM still has plenty of quality music to share with the world. Both are serene, instrumental works that share the label’s typically pristine sound and leave a minimalist calm in their wake. Trio Libero, by the all-age workshop of Andy Sheppard, Michael Benita and Sebastian Rochford, has a particularly spacious sound, which leaves room for the listener to fully savour every note. In honing these improvised works, the trio has grown tremendously sensitive to each other’s playing. While Benita’s double bass often follows Sheppard’s lead or trades lines with his sax, drummer Rochford succeeds in the unenviable task of adding to these meditative pieces without getting in the way. The rhythm players each get a short solo in the first two tracks, but thereafter Sheppard’s tenor sax is the dominant voice. All manner of flavours spice up this highly fluid, sumptuous and lyrical disc. There is the gently perky title track, a hint of baroque in “Land of Nod”, Sheppard’s saxophone floating in the aptly named “Spacewalk” (where he plays just 18 sonorous notes in a two-minute spell) and a touch of

the East in Benita’s “Ishidatami”. It is superb. With a similar mood, and combining commissions for 2011’s Cheltenham Jazz Festival and the Oslo International Church Music Festival, the Norwegian Tord Gustavsen Quartet gains from its leader’s sensitive piano. These works exude a minor-key beauty as clear and chilled as a fjord. Highlights abound: the bolero-like “Playing;” the low-key gospel colours of “Circling;” a Satie-like introduction to

May 6, 2012 The Life and Thought of Herbert Butterfield Michael Bentley CUP, hb, £55.00 As an historian Herbert Butterfield is best remembered for The Whig Interpretation of History and its attack on a progressive theory of history that saw a series of successive revolutions leading to the spread of freedom and democracy. When we consider such events as the Reformation or the Glorious Revolution, Butterfield argued, we need to beware of seeing them from the victor’s point of view. The contribution made by the losers should not be overlooked. The Whig Interpretation was published in 1931 but it has achieved the status of a classic, largely because it deals with a perennial temptation in all human conflicts. In 1992 I quoted it in an essay for this newspaper to argue that even if traditionalists were proved wrong about the ordination of women they still had made important points in the debate that needed to be taken into account. Butterfield came from a humble Methodist family in Yorkshire. He won a place at Peterhouse, Cambridge, to read history and went on to become Regius Professor of Modern History and Master of the college. A man who in his early days at Cambridge was mocked for his Yorkshire accent ended up as a public intellectual, well known for his radio talks and lectures as well as for his weightier publications. But Butterfield was a complex person. Like another famous historian, Hugh Trevor-Roper, he never wrote the great work of history that was expected of him. In Butterfield’s case this was a life of Charles James Fox. Critics argue that Butterfield was over-promoted as a young man on the strength of winning three university prizes. That was the pattern at Oxford and Cambridge in those days. It favoured young men of promise (and they usually were men), many of whom did not live up to their promise. Today a person is expected to have gained a doctorate and done research before being elected to a fellowship. The great strength of Michael Bentley’s biography is that he recognises Butterfield’s failings but does not let them overshadow the achievement. Butterfield may not have written the magnum opus expected of him but he did write a number of important books. George III and the Historians offered criticisms of the Namier school of historians that are now widely accepted and the Origins of Modern Science applied the historical method to an important subject. In the wider world Butterfield was seen as an archetypal Nonconformist Christian, a Methodist local preacher and the author of the very popular book Christianity and History. Among gossipy Cambridge dons he was viewed as a highly sexed womaniser. Bentley demolishes the myths but his access to private papers not made available to previous scholars writing about Butterfield makes it possible for him to tell the story of a long-term affair that has never before been revealed. It seems it was this affair that led Butterfield to stop preaching in 1936. Bentley gives us a convincing picture of Butterfield’s religious views. He never wavered in his faith in a God of love or in his belief that Christ was the revelation of God’s love. He followed Augustine in his firm convictions about original sin, warning that the notion of sin against God should never be replaced by the idea of sin against man. If human beings arrogated to themselves the right to judge, he argued, “there can be no end to atrocities. For man without God is terrible to those he chooses to regard as sinners”. Admirable though this creed is, it is arguable that it led Butterfield into naivety about Nazi Germany. He was slow to see the dangers of the Nazi creed and was even prepared to embark on a lecture tour of Germany universities as late as 1938. During the war he was by no means a Nazi sympathiser or a pacifist but there was still something ambiguous about his attitude. He longed for victory but he did not want to see a repeat of what he considered to be the mistakes made after World War I. Butterfield always suspected the sanctimonious selfrighteousness of secular liberalism. Butterfield gave us the best summary of his creed in words at the end of ‘Christianity and History’ that have often been quoted. “We can do worse than remember a principle which gives us both a firm rock and leaves us the maximum elasticity for our minds: the principle: Hold to Christ and for the rest be totally uncommitted.” Paul Richardson


Re-examining the Shroud of Turin The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection Thomas de Wesselow Penguin, hb, £20.00 This work is nothing if not ambitious. De Wesselow, an art historian, claims firstly to have proved the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin and secondly to have thereby revealed the true origins of the Christian faith. Using his expertise as a medieval art historian, he argues that the Shroud of Turin must be earlier. Its representation of Christ, for example portraying his crucifixion wounds on his wrists as opposed to his palms, goes against the dogmas of medieval religious art. If it had been an artistic forgery then it is a miraculously unusual one. Moreover, what forger to weave the

shroud in a first century Palestinian manner would endow it with pollen found only in plants from the Middle East and depict Christ’s wounds in a historically accurate manner? He dissects the infamous carbon dating that, using unrepresentative parts of the linen, judged it to be medieval. He also notes tests on the linen that place it at over 1,300 years old. Far-fetched as it may seem, de Wesselow makes a good case for the Shroud of Turin being at least from the time and place of Jesus if not certainly of Jesus himself. The author’s art history scholarship particularly enriches his book; his scholarship keeps everything at least one cut above The Da Vinci Code. He then attempts his second argument. The Shroud of Turin is alleged to be the product of chemicals from Christ’s decomposing body reacting with the starch of his burial linen, the resulting image being taken by his disciples to be the risen

Christ. Drawing on the fragmentary and dubious Gospel of Peter, it is claimed that the shroud was seen as testimony to Christ’s resurrection and exaltation to heaven. The first problem is that, as de Wesselow admits, there is no other instance of such an image being created this way. He can only point lamely to brown stains on Egyptian mummy bandages. He mocks attempted simulations of other theories, such as primitive photography, yet offers no better simulation himself. Why does this burial alone, of all burials, bear this startling result? Also, with respect to the ancient anthropomorphic tendencies and understanding of the supernatural, on which de Wesselow waxes lyrical, would the disciples have proclaimed a Gospel at the cost of martyrdom due to seeing what even the author concedes is really “just a peculiar stain on a piece of linen”? This is a stimulating but stymied book. Christopher Villiers

The pick of the new paperbacks Gordon Kuhrt’s excellent book, Life Isn’t Always Easy, looks at questions of pain and disability, in a way that the target audience, children and young people, can relate to. Drawing on his own personal experience, his book is highly recommended. When we ran an extract from the book we said it was £9.99, but it is in fact £7 (or £6 each for orders of three or more). The book can be ordered from Dr Kuhrt at 87 Churchway, Haddenham, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP17 8DT, telephone: 01844 698358. Mitt Romney’s bid for the US Presidency has focussed attention on Mormonism. Is the Church of the Latter Day Saints a cult or a part of the Christian church? Views vary but the Mormons have become active in trying to brush up their image and gain a good press. Reid L Nelson heads the church history department at Mormon headquarters it Utah. In Exhibiting Mormonism (OUP, hardback) he tells the story of how the Mormons used the 1893 World Fair in Chicago to get across a better view of themselves. It marked the moment when the Mormons stepped out of isolation and started to engage with the outside world. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir participated in a Welsh Eisteddfod and there was an attempt to have Mormons represented in the Parliament of Religions. Marian Partington’s sister disappeared in 1973 and her remains were not discovered until 1994. In If You Sit Ver y Still (Vala, hardback), Partington describes how she coped first with not knowing what had happened and then of knowing about her sister’s terrible death. She tells how she drew on Buddhist and Quaker practices and other sources to cope with tragedy and suffering. Partington works in prisons to raise awareness of restorative justice and seeks to do all she can to promote a more forgiving global society. John Young is well known to CEN readers. The Bible Reading Fellowship has published a revised and updated edition of his best-seller, The Case Against Christ. In this first-rate work of apologetics, Young looks at what Christians believe and why and draws on the help of such experts as John Polkinghorne and Richard Baukham. BRF has also published Simple Gifts by Kevin Scully in which the author looks at ‘blessings in disguise’, aspects of

life that we take for granted that are ways in which God seeks to bless us. Hospitality, tears, anger, grief, friendship, imperfection, hope, ignorance, humour and rest are all considered. Rob Bell’s Love Wins was a controversial best-seller that stirred up debate among evangelicals in both the US and Britain. What do we mean by heaven and hell? Is the way in which we understand them what is actually taught in the Bible? Bell tackles these and other questions. Collins has just published a paperback version of his book. Collins has also published a handsome paperback edition of most of CS Lewis’s major works. Surprised by Joy, Mere Christianity, The Four Loves, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, Miracles and The Problem of Pain are all available for £7.96 in the 60th anniversary of ‘Signature Classics’. If you are planning to re-read Lewis, or if you haven’t actually read the greatest Christian apologist of the 20th century, here is the edition to buy. Lewis wrote before interfaith dialogue was a pressing issue. In Muslims Ask, Christians Answer (New City) Christian W Troll looks at the questions Muslims commonly ask Christians about their faith. A very useful book, not least for young Christian students who are frequently asked questions by Muslim friends.


May 6, 2012

black umbrella that delivered Mary Poppins to number 17, Cherry Tree Lane? My current umbrella is a big Dunlop golf umbrella, the pink of the cherry petals currently being dashed to the pavements by the rain. It’s lovely, but unmagical. Though I sometimes feel at risk of being carried away on my dash to evensong.

Catherine Fox

We need the return of The Cloak!

A novel view of the week

The wettest drought? This has been an excellent week to reflect upon the difference between climate and weather. Climate is how atmosphere behaves when considered over a long period of time — for example, we are experiencing drought conditions in Britain, (arguably as a result of climate change). Weather is atmospheric conditions over a shorter period of time — for example, we are experiencing a very wet April. This juxtaposition of climate and weather provides us with a thoroughly English opportunity to joke that we’re having the wettest drought on record. Still, it makes a change from people quipping (when the weather is freakishly warm in October), ‘Well, if this is global warming, I’m all for it!’ The other thing we have had cause to reflect upon is the sheer brilliance of the umbrella. Handheld devices to keep the rain off have been around for millennia. Surprising to learn, then, that they were not much used in England until the last quarter of the 18th century, though they were common in France. One early umbrella user, John Macdonald, used to be greeted with the shout, ‘Frenchman, Frenchman! why don’t you call a coach?’ whenever he went out with his umbrella. Umbrellas were clearly viewed as Frenchified bits of poncery in 1770s London. However, by the late

1780s they appear to have been in general use here as well; presumably because the population of London had grown tired of pointing and jeering at the idiot who was keeping his expensive powdered wig dry in a downpour. In my lifetime umbrellas have become cheaper and lighter and infinitely more varied in size, colour and pattern. Forty years ago to lose your umbrella was almost as bad as losing your bike. It was an expensive piece of kit. You’d retrace your steps across the town to retrieve it. Nowadays umbrellas are practically a disposable item: you can buy two for a fiver at Sports Soccer. We barely register them as our own personal property, even. Any brolly will do in a rainstorm, just grab the nearest. There are about a dozen cathedral umbrellas that do the rounds of The Close. Poor old umbrellas — they are permanently a whisker away from being lost property. I saw one in a hedge today, flapping like a huge black bird with a broken wing. I felt like reversing over it to put it out of its misery. In contrast, the first umbrella I owned as a child was a treasured item. It was navy blue fabric, with white splodges on. I used to put it up when I lay in bed and pretend I was sleeping under the night sky. It was a magical umbrella, as all umbrellas should be. Was it not a big

I found myself wondering — given our climate — what the population of England did in the rain before we embraced umbrella usage. The wealthy presumably used a carriage or stayed indoors. But what about ordinary people? Then a quotation from one of Shakespeare’s sonnets came drifting into my head: ‘Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day,/And make me travel forth without my cloak?’ This is clearly the Elizabethan equivalent of taking your friend’s weather advice and going out without an umbrella. So cloaks were what the average person had as rain gear. You don’t see many cloaks these days. Who wears a cloak, other than Goths at Whitby, or clergy taking a graveside funeral on a cold day? Cloaks tend to have a fancy dress feel to them, and experience a surge of popularity on World Book Day, as desperate mums rummage in dressing-up boxes and scour charity shops in an attempt to kit their offspring out as Count Dracula, Robin Hood, or Harry Potter with his invisibility cloak. The cape is a slightly more common garment, which is what I would call a short cloak. Many uniforms seem to have a cape for rainy days. Now and then the big wheel of fashion turns and throws up a cape moment. The 60s saw a lot of plaid capes, I seem to remember. I blame the umbrella for the demise of the cloak. Bring back cloaks, I say. They have one big advantage over coats: there are no sleeves to negotiate. This may explain why cloaks were so popular in centuries where fancy sleeves were the norm (and also, perhaps, why clergy wear chasubles). You don’t want to be cramming your pin-tucked leg o’mutton sleeve into a tight coat. A good cloak covers everything, from top to toe. And in tacit acknowledgement that umbrellas only really keep your hair and shoulders dry, it’s possible to buy emergency plastic rain capes. I’ve seen whole coach parties of tourists crinkling round heritage sites clad in what look like snappy bags. But even these seldom reach below the thighs. This may be why the cloak makes such a good image for Christian love: ‘Above all, put on love.’ It covers a multitude of sins. Don’t leave home without it, even if someone promises you a beauteous day.

Close Encounters — Rain in Lichfield

It has felt quite odd to have so much gratuitous rain here on the Close, without anyone undertaking the traditional rainmaking ceremonies of organising an outdoor event of some kind. We have not had the Lichfield Bower parade of carnival floats trundling along the cathedral’s south side, we have not put up hospitality tents for the Lichfield Festival. Dare we hope that the Queen has decreed that all foul weather must be got out of the way before the Jubilee Celebrations and the Olympics?

Janey Lee Grace Live Healthy! Live Happy!

Love food, hate waste I know we probably all remember our parents saying to us, ‘Eat up your dinner – there are starving children in the world’ your reaction was undoubtedly ‘but I can’t package up my leftovers and send it to them, can I?’ That’s true but we could certainly use a bit more awareness of meal preparation and savvy cooking and storage to be economical and sustainable. As a nation we throw away annually about eight million tonnes of food that could have been eaten, yet again its worth thinking a bit old style and remembering that your mum or grandma

would almost certainly have had a joint of meat on a Sunday and used the leftovers for casseroles and sandwiches throughout the week. A roast chicken can also make several more meals, cold pasta salads, and of course the carcass can be used for chicken stock for soups and risotto. I’ll fess up on this one and admit that I’ve never managed it, but I’m assured that proper meal planning is a brilliant way to economise and avoid wastage. Only ever go shopping with a list or you will be tempted with all sorts of offers for things you don’t need to buy, half price offers or BOGOFs are only actually good value if you really need those items. It’s easy to get the portion sizes wrong too, but the excellent lovefoodhatewaste website has a free Portion Control guide, I’ve just learnt that if I want a serving of carrots for two adults and four kids I’ll need 18 tablespoons – that’s 480grams, very helpful – of course it doesn’t take into account that my little girl only eats carrots raw but I can put that into the equation! Its well documented that freezers should be fully stocked in order to be energy efficient, even to the extent of stuffing newspaper in there if necessary, but stuffing random items in cling film to the back of a freezer and forgetting about them isn’t ideal. Use transparent containers and label everything with a date and rotate the items so that the oldest get used first, if you are buying in bulk try and get foods that freeze well and include those items to your forthcoming menu plans. There are some innovative recipes using leftovers on the lovefoodhatewaste site too, we all know any leftover wine (although who leaves any wine?) or beer can be frozen in ice cube trays and used to add to stocks and soups. Cooking meals in batches is economical and you can freeze extra portions which means you should never have to chuck away fresh fruit and veg, if it’s going a little soft you can make smoothies. Even the pulp from fresh juice can be used up, just apply it as a facial mask, some of the live enzymes will still be there – you’ll look a fright but who cares – silky soft skin!

‘We throw away annually about eight million tonnes of food that could have been eaten’

England on Sunday  

England on Sunday