Richard Holloway on BBC HARDTalk

First broadcast on Tuesday 27 August 2013 this is a remarkably moving and honest interview with the former Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway.

I’ve always loved +Richard. As my bishop I found him compassionate, loving, and intellectually challenging: he always encouraged me to keep searching for the truth, to keep asking questions.

taking-the-episcopalian.co.uk domain name for sale

Ruins of Whitby Abbey

Ruins of Whitby Abbey by James Nader. (Image courtesy of iStockphoto - #109404.)

Would anybody like to acquire the domain name taking-the-episcopalian.co.uk? It expires on Saturday 07 April 2012. Contact me if you would like me to transfer the domain name to you.

History

In 1997 I began a two years course of studies at TISEC, the Theological Institute of the Scottish Episcopal Church, as well as an MTh in Ministry course at New College, the University of Edinburgh.

It wasn’t long before I started editing an “underground”, satirical newsletter that did the rounds among fellow students and a few tutors, mostly at residential weekends. We called it Taking the Episcopalian.

As I wrote later, “my original idea for the newsletter was to provide a forum for a light-hearted look at the life and work of TISEC. My personal interest is in satire – no, not the woodland god with goat’s ears, legs and a tail, that’s a satyr – but, satire: ‘ridicule, irony and sarcasm’.”

Its content was contributed to mostly by the full-time TISEC students, and also a few tutors. Taking the Episcopalian was fun, and it often relieved some tensions and made light of some of the politics, which in turn helped us to cope in a more light-hearted way.

Residential weekends became our deadlines and there was always a flurry of activity in the couple of weeks before the weekend to get articles finished and the newletter typeset (in Lotus AmiPro) and a few copies printed. I seem to remember we would print only two copies to reduce the chances of it being discovered by… well, tutors who hadn’t contributed to the newsletter.

Online

After ordination, and as the world wide web became more popular, Taking the Episcopalian quietly moved online. As we weren’t aiming for regular publications, new articles were added more infrequently. We did, however, acquire a couple of new contributors from the Church of England, and began what turned out to be a very popular new series with images lifted from the pages of vestments catalogues.

This, I think, was my favourite:

Priest in vestments

I'm a Christmas tree!

I even got an email from someone who works at F A Dumont Church Supplies who said, “I absolutely love your website, especially the model section!”

Feedback

The feedback was mostly positive.

“Brilliant! More please!”

“Ah, such fond memories come flooding back when I read this post. It took me right back to those dreadful days but oh, what fun we had. Thank you for this trip down memory lane. And I stand by everything I contributed!”

Your work is brilliant and most welcome!!

I even had an email from a bishop from Norway who wrote:

Dear Editor !

I must confess that I have fallen in what St Benedict condemns as a serious sin – and your web site is the reason for it, since it gives ‘anything that provokes laughter” … which he of course “condemns to
eternal exclusion.”

Thanks a lot for a lot of really good laughters ! I specially enjoy the chasuble with a thermostat!

During most encounters with my diocesan bishop he asked me when there was going to be more content; particularly more vestments.

Take down

But not all the feedback was positive, and in the end I was strongly and politely ‘invited’ to remove the site completely; acknowledging that while I wasn’t the only person involved I was certainly the most public face of Taking the Episcopalian.

Reuben and Joshua had not long been born and I simply didn’t have the energy to do anything else. The site had moved to WordPress.com by then so it was easy to mark the site as private and effectively hide all the content.

Moving on

That was three years ago, and I’ve not had the energy to do anything more about it.

Occasionally I get asked about the site, mostly asking when it will be back. I usually say that I was asked to take it down, and that I simply don’t have the time or energy to do anything about it these days. It’s just not been a priority.

I do wish that it had grown a bit more, but there you have it.

Transfer

If you would like to acquire the domain name then please get in touch. It’s currently registered with 123-reg.co.uk (and I’ve just noticed is still registered to my old address in Inverness) and is due to expire on 07 April 2012.

Contact me if you would like me to transfer the domain name to you. You’d be welcome to (most of) the backlog of content too, if you wanted it.

Isaac’s baptism cake

20110908-isaacsbaptismcake

On Sunday morning we set off at 07:35 for Selkirk in the Scottish Borders—where I grew up, and where my Mum and sister still live—to celebrate Isaac’s baptism.

We chose Selkirk because my sister is really unwell and is unable to travel long distances, and so wanting her to be a part of it we travelled to her, to the church of St John the Evangelist where I had been baptised around 14,450 days earlier.

After the baptism the cake appeared: a magnificent Noah’s Ark cake <whisper>from Marks & Spencer</whisper>.

Reuben, Joshua and Isaac were absolute stars the whole day, I was so proud of them all.

A lovely day with friends and family, and many prayers of thanks to God.

The cup goes to the garden

lsupper

On Thursday night at All Saints’, St Andrews we celebrated The Solemn Eucharist of the Lord’s Supper.

This service on Maundy Thursday is the Eucharist of the Eucharist, the Mass of the Mass. We remember the origin of the Eucharist: Jesus’s last supper with his disciples before he retired to the Garden of Olives and was handed over to the Romans by Judas Iscariot.

Maundy Thursday always reminds me of someone I knew during my curacy at St Andrew’s Cathedral, Inverness. His name was Cathal and he was a member of the L’Arche community in Inverness.

Every Sunday after the service Cathal would process solemnly up the aisle to the west door, holding his prayer book above his head as though carrying the gospel, where he would look you in the eye and would say quite sincerely “the cup goes to the garden. The cup goes to the garden.”

“That’s right, Cathal,” I’d say, to reassure him that I’d understood what he was saying, “the cup goes to the garden”.

And it was about this service, the Solemn Eucharist of the Lord’s Supper, to which he was referring. Because after the Eucharist the priest, deacon and sub-deacon take consecrated bread and wine to the “altar of repose” (which is an altar usually in a side chapel decorated with flowers) to remind us of Jesus moving from the Last Supper to the Garden of Olives.

It showed to me how important the liturgy is. It showed me how these dramatic, choreographed parts of the service can speak to people at different levels and to people of different abilities. It showed to me how liturgy is more than just the words, and that by acting something out it can go deeper than just understanding it with the mind.

(It’s taken me three days to finish this blog post… off now to the Easter Vigil where I’m singing the Exsultet, the Easter Proclamation.)

Preparing the electronic version of the SEC Calendar and Lectionary

SEC calendar in Excel

SEC calendar readings being compiled in Microsoft Excel 2010

Update

Calendar and Lectionary 2010-2011 now available to download.

Original post

The Calendar and Lectionary of the Scottish Episcopal Church is a document that offers two things:

  1. A list of all saints days throughout the year.
  2. Readings for Sundays, weekdays, festivals (saints’ days) and special occasions (both Eucharists and daily prayer).

Each year the Church produces a guide to the calendar and lectionary which keeps mortals like you and me correct.  The Sunday readings are on a 3 year cycle (next year is Year A), while the daily prayer readings and daily Eucharists are on a 2 year cycle (next year is Year 1).

Once you add in saints’ days, and start translating saints days to adjacent days because they clash with feast days of a higher order, it all begins to get a bit complicated.

Outlook

Since 2005 I’ve provided these dates and readings (in various degrees of completeness) in a digital format that allows users to import them directly into Microsoft Outlook.  Outlook requires a simple Comma Separated Values (CSV) file which can be prepared in Microsoft Excel (other spreadsheet applications are available) with the appropriate information in them:

  • Subject (The name of the day)
  • Start and end date
  • Start and end time
  • Whether it’s an all day event or not
  • Description (Readings)
  • Priority
  • Sensitivity
  • Show time as

For the last few weeks I’ve been preparing the files, sitting for hours in front of my computer typing in line after line of readings.

Getting prepared

Most years I do it in a bit of a last-minute panic and end up creating a bespoke file specifically for that year, but this year I wanted to be organised and produce something that can be used year after year.

So this year I’m creating a master Excel file that contains all the readings for each combination of three year and two year cycles:

  • A1 and A2
  • B1 and B2
  • C1 and C2

plus a comprehensive master list of saints’ days, which should in future enable me to compile the files in just a few days rather than 4-8 weeks as it does at the moment.

Progress

I’ve just finished entering all the readings for the entire church year—from the first Sunday of Advent to the Week of Proper 34 (Christ the King)—and tomorrow morning will start on the readings for festivals, common saints’ days and special occasions.

Then I’ll be ready to compile everything for this year.  For once I may even be done by the start of the church year (which is this coming Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent).

Which readings?!

So there I was, up bright and early on a Tuesday morning ready to get started preparing to think about thinking about preparing a sermon for Sunday when I realised that during the summer months the Revised Common Lectionary (the big book with the list of readings for each service) goes a bit gung-ho! in its list of suggestions.

So this coming Sunday we’re offered two streams:

Continuous

Genesis 24.34-38, 42-49, 58-67
Psalm 45.10-17 or Song of Songs 2.8-13
Romans 7.15-25a
Matthew 11.16-19, 25-30

Thematic

Zechariah 9.9-12
Psalm 145.8-14
Romans 7.15-25a
Matthew 11.16-19, 25-30

I’m fairly confident that it’s the continuous stream that Newport-on-Tay follows but play has been delayed until I get confirmation … Ho hum.

Common?

It also doesn’t help that the Scottish Episcopal Church lectionary lists 6 July as “Week of Proper 14″ while the Revised Common Lectionary believes that the Sunday between 3 and 9 July is the week of “Proper 9″.

Not so common after all, eh!

Update

Turns out it’s the thematic readings … time to get a readin’, a prayin’ and a writin’.