*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

‘Remote islands’

by
11 December 2020

FOR those who love fairgrounds, the attraction of the helter-skelter is the feeling in the pit of the stomach as they spiral downwards. For those not so keen, but persuaded to have a go none the less, there is the reassurance that firm ground —not too firm, they hope — is not far away. The political helter-skelter of the past few years has tested the stomachs of all but the most ideological Brexiters. Sadly, since Boris Johnson came to power, these latter have packed the Cabinet, so that, even were the rest of this column to be spent listing those sectors of the UK economy which are feeling sick at the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, the view from the Government would still be gung-ho for the chaos that would ensue after 1 January. Those who prefer the Government’s interpretation may substitute “readjustment” for “chaos”.

This is not the first time that Britain has been locked in negotiation with the rest of Europe. The Synod of Whitby in 664 could be termed a debate about a customs union, although the customs at issue were the dating of Easter and the ecclesiastical tonsure. In the Venerable Bede’s account, Wilfrid, arguing for the equivalent of the EU, upbraided Colman’s parochialism: “The Easter which we observe, we saw celebrated by all at Rome. . . We saw the same done in Italy and in France . . . and all the world, wherever the Church of Christ is spread abroad, through several nations and tongues, at one and the same time; except only these and their accomplices in obstinacy, I mean the Picts and the Britons, who foolishly, in these two remote islands of the world, and only in part even of them, oppose all the rest of the universe.” Those who dislike this analogy and favour the Government’s interpretation may substitute “proud defence of sovereignty” for “obstinacy”.

 

Many miracles

THE first injections of the Pfizer/BioNTech anti-Covid vaccine on Tuesday have rightly been hailed as a remarkable achievement. The biological and manufacturing marvels (in Mainz, Germany, and Puur, Belgium, respectively) have meant that doses of the vaccine were ready even before the first regulatory approval was given. Modern scientific understanding is sometimes said to have done away with miracles, dismissed by some as theologised ignorance. We don’t hold with such reductionism. On the contrary, greater knowledge leads to a more complete understanding of miracles. It can embrace context, the spark of inspiration, the complexity of nature, the industry behind such discoveries, and the network needed to spread its efficacy. It can embrace, too, each life protected by vaccination, and is not diminished by familiarity. We welcome millions of miracles.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear below your letter unless requested otherwise.

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards

 

Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available

 

Inspiration: The Influences That Have Shaped My Life

September - November 2024

St Martin in the Fields Autumn Lecture Series 2024

tickets available

 

SAVE THE DATE

Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website

 

Visit our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

 

To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)