Saturday, April 15, 2006


Anne was determined that we were going to go to a church service on Good Friday. Unfortunately, I had had a rather sleepless night the night before so I woke up a bit after 8am. But when I did, there was Anne hovering over me all dressed up for an outing -- complete with red sandals. So I knew it was going to be a happening morning.

Most churches have their Good Friday services at a rather unearthly hour from my point of view but somewhere deep in the ratlike recesses of my brain was a conviction that the Prebyterians would be more humane about such things. So after a good face-washing, a hot-cross bun and a cup of tea we headed out in the direction of the Ann St Presbyterian church, which is for both of us our old church.

I had hoped for a 9.30 am service but it was unfortunately a 9 am service so we were a few minutes late in arriving. As we were walking from the car to the church however I sang the Doxology by myself -- so that got us started in proper form. I sang it in full voice so it is lucky the streets were fairly empty at that hour. Anne of course is used to my eccentricities. We arrived about half way through the opening hymn, "There is a green hill far away", so I was a bit peeved at missing the whole of such a good hymn.

Much to my surprise the old church was packed and we had to do that which all churchgoers avoid -- sit up the front. Sitting up the front meant however that I noticed a few things I had not noticed before. In particular, I was a little surprised to see a plaque beneath the pulpit bearing the legend: AMDG. I thought that to be a bit "Popish" for a Presbyterian church but I suppose Latin is the property of all humanity. It is of course an ancient ecclesiastical abbreviation for "Ad Majorem Gloriam Dei", or "To the Greater Glory of God".

The congregation was of course mostly elderly but it was pleasing to see some young people there too. There were even a few babies! And there was one lady wearing a rather impressive big black hat. It is amazing how hat-wearing seems to have gone out of style among women in congregations these days -- from Catholics to Jehovah's Witnesses. Very strange in the light of 1 Corinthians 11:13. The minister, Archie McNicol, wore his academic gown throughout of course -- though supplemented by a large and attractive royal-blue stole. Wearing an academic gown is of course an expression of the traditional Scottish reverence for education.

Mr. McNicol gave the expected long opening prayer in his delightful Edinburgh accent. There was rather a lot in it that I liked. His petition that people be saved from the "delusions of the Devil" certainly made it clear that we were not in an Anglican church. There is plenty of that sort of lsanguage in The Book of Common Prayer but it is not heard from any Anglican pulpits these days that I know of. Though perhaps you would hear it in the Sydney diocese. Mr McNicol also very traditionally prayed for blessings on the Queen and the members of the Royal family and prayed also for divine guidance for the "authorities that rule over us" -- An allusion to Romans 13: 1, of course. Particularly pleasing however was that he prayed for members of the armed forces overseas who were fighting "for freedom and liberty" -- A genuine appreciation of reality that one expects from a conservative Christian.

You will note that I refer to the minister as "Mr". That is the Presbyterian way. Presbyterianism is a very democratic form of Christianity -- with the congregation and its elders being supreme rather than the minister.

Being Easter, it was of course a Communion service and in the modern way all were invited to partake. But although I have much more appreciation of traditional Christian culture than most atheists do, I did not. I am not that much of a hypocrite. Nor did I join in the recitation of the Apostle's creed or the Lord's prayer. I certainly joined in the hymns however, and our final hymmn -- "Rugged Cross" -- was one of my favourites.

Rather oddly, throughout the service, the organ was supplemented by a solo violinist and, instead of an organ voluntary at the close of the service, the violinist played "He was despised and rejected" from Handel's Messiah -- which was great to hear.

When we got home, Anne cooked us some smoked haddock for a late breakfast, which was at least very Scottish, though not, of course, to everyone's taste. We had it with toast, Rotkohl and pickled cucumbers.

Afterwards we put on Bach's Passio secundum Mattheum, with Fischer-Dieskau singing baritone. You can't get better Easter music than that. When we got to the great aria "Mache dich mein Herze rein" ("Make my heart pure") I was moved to tears as I usually am when I hear it. The combination of supreme Bach music rendered in the incomparable voice of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is just too perfect.

And so began our day.....



A narrow escape from British Fascism: "The Government has backed down over the so-called “dictatorship Bill”, which would have allowed ministers to bypass parliamentary scrutiny. This comes after trenchant criticism from a cross-party group of MPs, peers and senior lawyers, including six Cambridge law professors, who gave warning in a letter to The Times that it would allow the Government to rewrite almost any Act. The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill, which the Government said would help to cut red tape, also provoked a grassroots revolt when nearly 2,000 people signed up to a Save Parliament campaign. Jim Murphy, the Cabinet Office Minister responsible for the Bill, has now indicated that he will amend the legislation to make clear “beyond doubt” that it will be used only to tackle red tape, known as better regulation. The Bill was drawn up to give ministers the power to reform legislation or introduce recommendations of the Law Commission, which suggests updates to the law, “by order”.

U.S. Army recruiting: "First, there is the myth that recruiting is down, or as many opponents of the war in Iraq like to say, "Bush can’t find enough high school graduates to send to Iraq." The fact is recruiting is up. If we look at four of the past five years, the Army – which usually struggles more than the other services in terms of recruiting – has met and exceeded its goals for active-duty recruits. But that fact is often ignored because it runs counter to the myth that young Americans, who might have considered military service as a viable career option, are avoiding service like the proverbial plague... The Army’s actual numbers tell a different story. For fiscal year 2004, the Army’s recruiting goal for active duty recruits was 77,000. That number was met and exceeded by nearly 600. The Army’s active duty goal for 2005 was then upped to 80,000 – an increase of 3,000 over the previous year’s goal. And with 73,373 new recruits for 2005 – granted, less than 2004 and 92 percent of 2005 – the actual numbers were still high, and no one was lowering numbers to try and make goal".

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Practically all policies advocated by the Left create poverty. Leftists get the government to waste vast slabs of the country's labour-force on bureaucracy and paperwork and so load the burden of providing most useful goods and services onto fewer and fewer people. So fewer useful goods and services are produced to go around. That is no accident. The Left love the poor. The Left need the poor so that they can feel good by patronizing and "helping" them. So they do their best to create as many poor people as possible.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch)

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