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Diary: Glyn Paflin

06 April 2018


Graham’s legacy

EVENTS soon stifled the debate in our letters section about whether Billy Graham was a good egg, as our obituarist had concluded (Gazette, 23 February).

We can’t reopen it now, but it brought forth many reminiscences. The Revd Dr John Bunyan of Campbelltown, New South Wales, for example, recalled his speaking at a rally in Canberra in 1959, which the broad-church Bishop Burgmann and many of his clergy could not support. But at the end of the rally, Graham came to “a happy and friendly supper” with the Bishop.

Dr Phillip Rice recalled being a transport co-ordinator for Mission England in 1985. “So, on the day I was on a full London Transport red double-decker bus which was on a special hire to the stadium. . . As the journey progressed, the driver, who had been somewhat antagonistic to this private-hire job for a church, became amazed at all the other buses that were seeking to converge on the stadium at the same time.”

George Oliver recalled the Harringay Crusade in 1954, when his wife-to-be and his sister were counsellors. “We joined one of the street prayer cells which met beforehand, and so had the privilege of meeting Mrs Barker, then in her eighties, whose simple lifelong Christian commitment both humbled and encouraged us.”

He arranged for Graham to address a meeting at UCL to which about one third of the undergraduate body came; and remembers “a young baker’s boy whistling ‘Blessed assurance’ as he cycled on his round in Woolwich. . . Throughout my career in the work of religious education, I continued to meet people who traced their personal Christian commitment back to those meetings in 1954.”

Vasantha Gnanadoss, on the other hand, recalled, in response to Martin Luther King, Graham’s comment that “only when Christ comes again will the little white children of Alabama walk hand in hand with little black children.” She drew attention to the petition against granting his son, Franklin, a visa to speak in the UK.

Perhaps the Church Times wasn’t so far from the truth, after all, when it opined in 1954 that Graham might well be very successful, but that his message was part of the gospel, not the whole of it.

According to type

IT IS about a quarter of a century since the Myers-Briggsing of anything with a pulse in the part of south London where I live. At least, the Personality Indicator was all the rage, and clergymen would often tell me what their personality type was, as if we didn’t all know, though we might not have had a technical term for it.

The excitement in the C of E about using this tool for spiritual guidance has died down. Its insights may need to be revisited, however, if certain personality types’ plans to “grow” congregations, though it is God who gives the increase, and “disciple” us all, though that is, in the last analysis, up to us, aren’t to end in tears.

But you don’t need a tool to tell you that the Episcopal Church in the United States is a different kettle of fish from the C of E. I am only surprised that I never came across the lively-looking Church of the Resurrection, Wheaton, Illinois, until a few days ago, when a friend drew my attention to its Holy Week Personality Type Indicator.

This refreshingly disclaims any basis in scripture, tradition, or forms of personality assessment which come with a registered trademark. The question is, are you, for example, a St Catherine (of Siena), a Mother Teresa (St?), a St Patrick, or a St Cranmer (sic)? There are 16 types listed.

St Catherine of Siena, for example, is an INFJ. She loves contemplating “unity with Christ” and the Maundy Thursday eucharist, especially “while hiding in the bathroom during the foot-washing portion”. Only feeling a slight stirring of emotion during all of that, however, is St Aquinas (sic again), an INTJ, who knows exactly what liturgically appropriate clothing he’s going to wear for any service.

St Valentine, at the other extreme, an ENFP, has all of the feelings, hugging everyone during the Vigil. Cranmer, an ENTP, loves to think about the ways in which he can improve next year’s Holy Week services, although he may himself be “on vacation” that week.

If your congregation is large and diverse enough to enable you to have fun looking out for these types, you can find the indicator at:


April Foolscap Day

GRATEFUL thanks to the reader, Christopher J. Rawlins, who wished to dispose reverently of a first edition of Percy Dearmer’s The Parson’s Handbook which had belonged to his father, the Revd Jack Rawlins, and donated it to the Church Times last week. Most crucially, he enquired whether we would like it first.

It comes in the wake of a generous gift of archival material and clerical biographies that belonged to our former Editor and proprietor, Dr Bernard Palmer. These will enhance our reference library.

The surprising thing about Dearmer’s 1899 edition is how much slimmer it is than the later ones, which strongly influenced cathedral and other clergy who didn’t want to go down the lace-and-fiddlebacks route to liturgical reformation.

In his notes on the seasons, Dearmer has little to say about Easter itself (having said plenty about Holy Week and Easter Even) except: “It is a good plan to have sheets of foolscap on a table near the door, in charge of the verger, so that the communicants may enter their names and addresses as they go out.”

He evidently foresaw that a digital database would become a legal minefield.


Art worlds apart

THE Editor came back from the late Dr Pamela Tudor-Craig’s memorial service in Lewes with bons mots from the eulogy by her former collaborator Dick Foster, to whom “she was not just a friend: she was an inspiration.”

He first met her at a party “where she was enjoying the rapt attention of a circle of young men, most of whom, I suspect, were strangers to the embrace of woman”. As he got to know her, he realised that her world “floated a few feet above the common ground. . . The Pamela Tudor-Craig Book of Tact would have been a slim volume.”

Her ideas were often a leap of faith, but, he said, it was surprising how often evidence would be found later to bear them out.

That, surely, is one of things that made her, as a scholar, not only learned, but engaging.

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