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Showing posts from July, 2017

A stain on the blood, an opportunity missed.

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Sir Kenelm Digby (pictured) was dealt a rough opening hand. His father, Everard, more from friendly commitment than conviction, found himself embroiled in the Gunpowder Plot. He was tried, convicted and hung, drawn and quartered. This was an especially gruesome form of death. When it was described to me, as a child, by my English teacher, it led at least one classmate to actually faint!

Kenelm grew up, a recusant Catholic, motivated, so Joe Moshenska argues, to make for himself a life so splendid that the stain would be removed. How he did so is the subject of Moshenska's "A Stain on the Blood: The Remarkable Voyage of Sir Kenelm Digby".

It is a well written account that introduces you to a lost figure of seventeenth century English history who, as a person, is admirable. A myriad minded man he was scholarly, adventurous, an accomplished diplomat and, helpfully, for story telling, had a deeply passionate engagement with Venetia, the woman who became his wife; and, whom …

In God there is no forgiveness

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Julian of Norwich, the fourteenth century English anchorite and mystic, writes that in God there is no forgiveness. This, on first hearing, sounds unpromising. Are we faced by a deity so uncompromising that there is nothing that we can do to be saved except the impossible practice of perfection? Or a deity so arbitrary in their judgements that salvation is a lottery?

But, in truth, Julian is expounding two simple and related truths. The first that it is in the nature of God to be unchanging and that second God's forgiveness is the unconditional ground on which we all stand. Forgiveness simply is the reality of God.

I was reminded of this whilst reading Beatrice Bruteau's "Radical Optimism: Practical Spirituality in an Uncertain World" when she draws our attention to the unconditional love that God offers and the invitation is, as Bruteau puts it, to 'relax back' into it, to allow it to unwind the complexities of our own defensive egos, with their endless, wo…