Knowing one another in the things that are eternal
Quakers don't really 'do' Christmas. Partly in order to offer a sign of contradiction to the consumerism and commercialism of the season which is in conflict with our Testimony of simplicity; partly because we believe that all of life and all its days and times are sacramental; partly because there is such a wide range of views in the Society of Friends as to the nature of the man Jesus.
Since the 1970s, successive governments have reinforced a social tendency to know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Education has not escaped this destructive culture and John Heathershaw has given a chilling warning of the death of the public university. http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/13749
At first sight, it is seemed reasonable to assume that Eric Pickles had hitched his wagon to the to the 'Not Ashamed' campaign train which launches today (1 December 2010) with his claims about the “ambush of Christmas” by “politically correct Grinches” and an exhortation to local councils to “take pride in Britain's Christian heritage.”
The police frequently have difficult decisions to take. They often need to take them quickly. Failure, error or indecision may lead to serious injury or even death. It is not an enviable position, neither is it surprising that from time to time, both individual officers and the command structure get it wrong.
Last week, an elderly man attributed several unpleasing characteristics to me because I was wearing a white poppy. My efforts to engage with him and to explain my reasons came to nothing because he was too angry and upset to listen.
All that public rattling through stuff that so many people are worried about can't be easy. Probably not a lot of fun browsing the cartoons either – one picture being worth a thousand words and all that.
The Communion of Saints is not a term which comes readily to a Quaker's tongue. But an encounter with two Friends – one living and one three centuries dead - has prompted me to look past the difficulty of these words in search of their true meaning.