Monthly Archives: March 2021
There is still a prevalent idea that witchcraft was predominantly a mediaeval thing, representing the remnants of pagan religion amongst the peasantry. In fact, the wave of superstitious belief in witches, pacts with the devil and so on was an early modern phenomenon beginning in the sixteenth century, and was at its height of “witchfinders general,” show trials and so on in the following century. Witchcraft was actually very rare in mediaeval times.
OK. The positive test rate for COVID in the UK has been flat all month, at around 6,400 daily. The rapid increase in test numbers has also more or less flattened off at around 1.8m daily, and COVID deaths are zero in many areas.
A BBC nature programme a couple of weeks ago showed the remarkable nest of Britain’s smallest bird (if you don’t count the tail) – the long-tailed tit. It’s a beautifully made globular structure (though still heavily predated) of lichen and feathers, designed to expand as the brood grows because it’s woven from spider’s silk.
I’ve no idea why YouTube started assailing me with psychologists’ guides to narcissism some months ago. They do that sometimes, the algorithms suddenly deciding to deluge you with clips on “carpentry tips” maybe, or some obscure Australian band. But it has become very apposite, since a possibly narcissitic relationship at the very top of society has been in the headlines for the last week or two, suspected as such by many lay people as well as pundits.
“Better get a move on Paul – we’ll be late for church.” “Uhh… if you don’t mind, Dad, I’d rather stay home.” “Hmmm – hold on a second, Son… Grace! I’ve got an issue here – you go on with the girls and we’ll catch you up! Now, what’s the problem, Paul? You’ve never missed church before.”
Looking at historical instances of mass-closure of churches, one thing is clear: it was taken very much more seriously by our brethren in the past.
If the last year has taught us anything about church, it is that at its core is “assembly” (ekklesia) and not “virtual contact.” Apart from the many psycho-social reasons I pointed to even before the first lockdown – a year less a week ago – one key realisation to many is the centrality of participation.
My predictions, that is, rather than the Government’s. The headline in the online Daily Mail just now reads: “Matt Hancock urges England to stay vigilant after major study said rate of decline in Covid cases has SLOWED.”
I had an e-mail today (as the “chief musician” of my church) from the organisation that licences worship music, headed “Enhance Your Worship With MultiTracks.” Coming off the back of recent leadership discussions after nearly a year of online lockdown virtual services, that seems worthy of comment.