Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Fresh food for thought

Another busy Wednesday, standing in for Fr Roy at school assembly and class Eucharist at St German's afterwards. Despite the threat of paralysis by snow, the teaching staff were able to get in to work, so the school was open, where for others it was impossible. The snow didn't stop the regulars turning up for the noon Eucharist at St John's either, although the tea-room remained shut for the third day in a row. It's not that Cardiff has had such a lot of snow. It's more the fear of snow creating problems for getting around, that leads to routine being abandoned.

I learned this morning of the death of Fr Ken Jordan, my friend Graham's predecessor as Vicar of St Mary's, and of Edith Cowley, a long standing attender of St James' church, a well known eccentric supporter of all the Anglican churches in Adamsdown and Splott. Edith was a great supporter of children's ministry, in church and in Tredegarville school, often popping in with gifts of biscuits or sweets. In a sad co-incidence her funeral and Fr Ken's will be at the same time on the same day. It's a pity. I would like to have attended both.

After lunch I went for the first time this season to Archdeacon David Lee's lectures at City Church. This one was on the subject of sociology of religion, and it prompted interesting discussion. It's been a favourite perspective of mine since I was a young curate, learning to look at the world and think differently about it, with men like David and Paul Ballard, then a young post doctoral lecturer in in Pastoral Theology, animating post-ordination training sessions, nearly forty years ago. I'm very glad to be back in contact with both of them, and find them as lively and stimulating as they ever were when we were all a lot younger.

In the evening I had another short walk down to the Temple of Peace, with an invitation from the local branch of the Three Faiths Forum to hear Pakistani British journalist Ziauddin Sardar speak, or should I say debunk the general notion of 'Asians in Britain' as if people from the several nations of the Indian sub-continent, not to mention other places in the region could or should be boiled down to such a misleading identity. He spoke about the long relationship between UK and the Indian sub-continent, and how mutually influential and beneficial that had been. He was most amusing on the re-invention of Indian food for western palates, under brand identities such as 'curry' and 'balti'.

He offered insight into the economics of large extended families, which have proved to be a key means of social support for expatriates in developing their prosperity. He touched on the way women of immigrant parents are emerging as a successful well educated professional class, reflecting the wisdom of their parents in sacrificing much to ensure daughters got as good a chance at education as sons. The men, he remarked, don't tend to be as high achievers as the women. There are many masculine exceptions, but it's clear that the change of expectations and development of equal roles amongst women has also had its impact on men's self image and confidence. But this is the case across society as a whole. What has been beneficial for some has called into question the worth of others, at least in their own estimation. It's an issue which will eventually need addressing across the board in Britain.

No comments: