Cornwall Cogitation #13 Saturday 29 April 2017 It’s a truism, the title is, April expires on Sunday night. Not to worry, we have now and Sunday. May will take care of itself.
A historical note: Another April 29, this one in 1380, is the date Catherine of Sienna died. She was a teacher of the Faith. God bless the fruits of her labour and bless those who are today teachers of the Faith.
Passions of the day
We’ve endlessly heard about Brexit, the decision of the UK to leave the EU. Now an election in the UK is set for 6 June. The various parties are scrambling to formulate their election manifestos. A feature in The Observer (23.04.17) reports on what young people have to say on election issues.
Here are excepts from twentysomething Britons:
Tom, 29, Leeds: “I would love it if mental health became the big issue at this election. I have close family and friends who have wrestled with anxiety, depression and psychosis for many years. They have required a range of interventions, including self-care, talking therapies, medication and detention under the Mental Health Act.”
Lucy, 25, London: “Here are some core pledges on gender equality that we need now: equal parenting and caregiving, equal pay and opportunity, equality healthcare and research, equal education and the end of violence against women.”
Joe, 20, Stoke-on-Trent: “For too long, our education system has failed young people. We are too often told that the university route is the only viable option, leaving us with a massive skills shortage. Brexit gives us a unique opportunity to improve our education system; that requires ambitious, radical reform because today the UK is placed only 16 our of the world’s 20 developed economies on technical education.”
Khadija, 22, Manchester: “I was brought up in Tameside, in Greater Manchester, one of the most deprived areas in England . . . many of my friends and peers never saw education as beneficial to them. However, I recently graduated–in law–from Manchester University. So it is not surprising that the potential for education to change lives means that I will pay a huge amount of attention to policies on schools.”
Sara, 24, London: I believe good-quality education should be accessible to all and free of hefty price tags. While Scotland and most continental countries charge nothing (or next to nothing) for university degrees, universities in other parts of the UK are some of the most expensive in the world.”
Meg, 23, Bolton: One of the topics that we continue to avoid–helped by the all-consuming Brexit–is the environment. Are we waiting for the point of no return? Human-induced climate change causes irreversible damage to our planet. Beyond its devastating effects on wildlife, it is contributing to the strain on food resources and creating the most extreme weather. If we are committed to altering our ways, we could make a difference.”
Joe, 21, Cardiff: “According to British Youth Council statistics, only one of the major parties doesn’t support votes at 16 [Tories]. . . If young people can have an impact on the future only in the future, then they will hit upon the same problems that challenge their elders . . . Slightly more broadly, will we see politicians attempting to engage young people in the lead-up to the general election? Or will the same pattern be followed: young people will be talked about, not talked to? Quite frankly, I’m becoming bored with that.”
Good for the young voices, it’s their future that’s most at stake.
If the next topic appears too boring, just skip on. It’s about how I read a newspaper. Hold on while I put the kettle on and have a chunk of Kental Mint Cake.
Here’s how I read the paper. First, I page through the lot, discard the sports section,note the headlines, and read some of the shorter pieces. Second, I read some of the longer pieces or note those I want to read at a more leisurely pace. Third, I clip pieces I want to reread.
Here’s the thing, the Observer is published on Sunday, a companion paper with The Guardian which appears the other six days. With the Saturday Guardian I plough through more than 100 pages, fewer on other weekdays. With the Observer, it’s another story. In a recent issue I went through 236 pages: Sports, 22, tossed; Food Monthly, 60, browsed; Magazine, 56, paged through; New Review, 46, given more attention; Front section, 52: given its due.
My reading includes books from the library and a few, a very few, from the bookshop, and other bits and pieces.
Back to the Guardian. On 24 April Harriet Sherwood, Religion correspondent, wrote about the concern over the financial stability of cathedrals. “As many as half of England’s Anglican cathedrals are facing financial crisis and closure cannot be ruled out,” she wrote. The Cathedrals Working Group meets in May to review governance and financial management of England’s 42 Anglican cathedrals. The group will need to take a close look at the costs of running, repairing and maintaining these venerated ancient buildings.
Susan Berry, head of fundraising at Guildford Cathedral (running costs 3,500 pounds sterling a day) says “As soon as you set foot inside the doors, you know why you’re here. There is simplicity, boldness, cleanness and space in architecture which allows reflection and uncluttered thinking. There is a big wow factor, but also a general lack of understanding of what it takes to maintain such an extraordinarily large and complex building.” Dean Roger of Truro Cathedral was in London this week at the Deans’ conference where one of the topics addressed was the financial sustainability one.
During Lent we happened to hear a few moments of the concluding rehearsal of Hayden’s Creation at Truro Cathedral. Unfortunately, without transportation options for an evening performance, we could not stay. A piece in the cathedral magazine note “The Creation is so popular that it has been performed more than all Haydn’s other choral works put together. . . the work is full of optimism and confidence in an orderly world.” The joyous sweep of the music is such tht “it is surely possible to set aside any doubts about that worldview on one side for the evening!” I’d say not just for the evening but for all time.
The writer is right to suggest that in addition to the grand affirmation of God’s sovereignty, the reality we face, that the world faces, lies in doing the right thing in care for creation. Luci Isaacson, Diocesan environment officer, suggested that during April people carry out the pledge to “buy local seasonal produce as much as possible–starting with at least 2 meals a week.” For May, the pledge is “to educate myself about the science and impacts of climate change . . . .”
In J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, Franny’s brother Zooey chastises her for the sharp division of life’s spheres she is making in compulsively reciting prayers and little else. Franny will never find the holy “if you don’t even know a cup of consecrated chicken soup when it’s right in front of your nose!”
Finally, a story to note that in our busyness we ignore the other and the world around us at our own peril. It’s a quote from The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “I know a planet where there is a certain red-faced gentleman. He has never smelled a flower. He has never looked at a star. He has never loved anyone. He has never done anything in his life but add up figures. And all day he says over and over, just like you, ‘I am busy with matters of consequence!’ And that makes him swell up with pride. But he is not a man–he is a mushroom.’ ‘A what?’ ‘A mushroom!'”
As pilgrims, we move through a world both physical and spiritual, a world of mystery charged for the pilgrim with belief and hope, a world inclusive of prayers and consecrated chicken soup.
Thursday’s walk out of Truro to Tresillian
Friday walk to the Water Wheel Inn
Saturday event at St Anta
Ask continuously where the good way is, and walk in it. Blessings.