Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Sunday

Christmas night, feeling no longer feverish, and having nothing better to do, I ventured to watch TV for the first time in a while. I find TV saps far more energy than Radio and only when I'm well rested can I give it attention for anything more than the length of the news. Having only heard the hype and seen the merchandise for 'Pirates of the Caribbean', I thought it might be suitable light entertainment. Well, it wasn't. I'm amazed that a Disney badged product can project as hero a character who is arbitrary, self-centred, amoral without conscience, vain and camp. Is the stuff of family entertainment? Propaganda for all the worst of vices. And, of course violent, playing to the theme of redemption by violence. Waste of an evening. I should have just gone to sleep early.

Yesterday was another day of letting nature take its course, and enjoying the best of Radio 4. There was an outstanding afternoon play "Tom and Viv", by Michael Hastings about the tragic and tortured marriage of poet T.S. Eliot to a woman with bi-polar disorder. The intense dialogue revealed skilfully just how impossible a relationship can become in the face of this mental illness, whose diagnosis and treatment was far from adequate until the late twentieth century. I was a bit surprised that the broadcast didn't conclude with that characteristically bland Public Service announcement "If you have been affected by any of the issues raised by this play, please contact this number..." But then it is Christmas. I hope it gets repeated.

Today, I was relieved to feel well enough to get up and go to church, although the virus is far from defeated - it's one of the strains which recur when you think they're done. I just caught the end of Clive James' masterly 'Point of View' essays before the nine o'clock news. It was a wonderful testimony to Jesus, from a self-confessed atheist and unbeliever, considerate and insightful. We heard the whole thing on iPlayer when we got back from church, and I read the text - what a marvellous information service the BBC provides. It deserves much reflection. His account of the rise of humanism and the decline of belief in the afterlife was interesting, if flawed but his account of the centrality of Christ for all humankind is impressive. It shows how a deep thinking secular man engages in wrestling with the question first posed by St Mark in his Gospel: 'Who is this man?'

It was good to return to leading worship once more. Everyone was so kind and understanding, also proud of having continued to offer worship and welcome people without their priest. All I could say was how much I appreciated being part of them. We came home, and Clare prepared a special Christmas dinner for me, with turkey leftovers from Kenilworth. Owain came over and joined us. A very special moment to savour. Then, it was back to church for a wedding rehearsal in preparation for a lunchtime ceremony tomorrow. After that, I was ready to curl up quietly for the rest of the day and continue with the recovery process.

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