Sunday, 8 December 2013


On the "Sunday" programme this morning, The Rev. Dirkie Van Der Spui from the Dutch reform church in South Africa was asked whether he felt guilty about his church's complicity with Apartheid. In a disarmingly honest response, he confessed that he wished he and his colleagues had found a prophetic voice with which to tell the world that all was not then well with the way his country was being run.

This made me reflect on all those conversations we have at the dinner table - one such was Friday night's - where we skate between trivia, not confessing to any great feeling during the whole evening. Opportunities may occur, but rather than upset the rhythm of politeness, we duck them, apologising for any disquieting reflection that may slip out.

Things were easier at lunch here today, sitting with people of more passion around me. The sunshine pouring into the room will no doubt have helped; and the same sunshine enlivened our walk on Friday: we caught the bus from Charlton Kings to near Northleach, and walked back to Andoversford for lunch via five more or less small villages to the North of the A40. This photograph was taken between Hazleton and Salperton.

During the walk, I was horrified to hear a tale of what happened in a Catholic parish near Petersfield a while back: the priest fell in love with a woman and wanted to marry her. So he was forced to leave his post, and the priesthood. In his place came a new priest - a former Anglican. And who accompanied him to live in the presbytery? Why, his wife! How can the Church begin to give a credible prophetic witness to injustice in the world, when it treats its own so unjustly?

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