Saturday, May 3, 2014

What's the bloody point?

The last entry in Kenneth Williams' voluminous diaries is a one line entry for 15th April 1988. It reads simply:

Oh, what's the bloody point?

Within hour of writing this Williams was dead from an overdose of barbiturates, probably administered accidentally.

His diary had ended, and so has mine. For now.

Blogging has been a large part of my life for the past nine years. It has covered subjects ranging from mental health to IT to my musical work to my journey of faith. There has even been the odd recipe. Some of my writing has sparked great discussion - one post has 402 comments. There have been controversies. There have also been great meetings of minds. But there has always been freedom to discuss the things that matter.

Earlier this week I deleted a blog post because I felt under pressure to do so. It was the first time I had ever removed an article from this blog. The repercussions of this have been that I can no longer write about my personal faith in this blog or anywhere else.

Freedom is not all encompassing. Rudolf Steiner pointed out in his Philiosophy of Freedom that our ability to act freely probably lies only within our own thoughts. Everything else is subject to social norms, expectations of others, the law and cultural frameworks. So for now my thoughts must stay within my own head. My faith will remain a personal matter. Unresolved and unexpressed.

For now this blog has ended. It may return in some form in the future.

I would like to thank all of the people who have read and commented on my writings over the past nine years. Your companionship has been an important part of my life.  Until we meet again May God bless you all.


Gordon




Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Adventures in Ordination.

I noticed a while ago that the pro independence blogger Stuart Campbell (www.wingsoverscotland.org) sometimes uses the title "Rev". I haven't been able to determine what organisation ordained him. He could be a former minister of some denomination, but his biography does not mention any church activities.

Leaving this aside, it did make me wonder what you would have to do to be "ordained". I do remember someone in Edinburgh who had served as a pastor of an independent church for many years searching for a US evangelical organisation that would ordain him based on his experience. The ordination took place, I believe in absentia in the US, and he was conferred with the title "Reverend".

Ordination seems to be easy to come by in the US, usually driven by a requirement to act as a marriage celebrant, or in some states the ability to operate as an alternative therapist (ordination covers the "laying on of hands" for insurance purposes). In one episode of the Simpsons, Homer gets himself ordained through an online service, prints out his own clerical collar and starts marrying people.

The main organisation doing this is the Universal Life Church of Modesto California which can be found at www.ulchq.com. There is also a rival split from the main church which can be found at www.themonastery.org. In the interests of science and curiosity I decided to try them both.

www.ulchq.com
Submitted the form and had a very swift, and personal, email reply asking if I was the same Gordon Hudson of another address. This was, in fact, an old address of mine, and I have a vague recollection of having submitted a similar form at some time about ten years ago. It appears I am already ordained! It is as legal as any other church's ordination, but most would consider it "irregular" under their ecclesiastical laws.

www.themonastery.org
Submitted the form online and received an immediate confirmation of my ordination. There was an option to buy a certificate for $7. According to the original ULC (www.ulchq.com) this is not associated with them at all and has only existed since 2006.

I also came across a British web site selling online ordination for £35, claiming that this would give people the right to act as a marriage celebrant:

www.onlineordination.co.uk
The company United Europe Church Ltd was only formed in March this year and unlike the other two that allow any belief, this has a strictly evangelical Christian statement of faith.

I am not convinced that the Registrar General for Scotland would recognise this as valid for marriages. My understanding is that all Church of Scotland ministers automatically have the right to perform marriages in Scotland. Ministers of other denominations have to be officially nominated by their denominational headquarters and the registrar general limits the number to those he thinks are necessary for those denominations. Ministers of independent churches need to be nominated by their congregational decision making body. If you were to start your own church I suppose this might work, but you don't need to be ordained to act as a marriage celebrant, having a congregation is sufficient. For example, Brethren meetings and Churches of Christ who have no ordained clergy usually nominate an elder to carry out marriages. It is also not permitted to earn a living as a "celebrant" in Scotland, even though quite a few Humanist's seem to do this.

So, now, like Rev Stuart Campbell, I remain,

Yours faithfully,

Rev Gordon






Monday, April 14, 2014

What genealogy tells us about the accuracy of the bible.

I am an amateur genealogist, and have plotted family trees for a variety of people. It combines my interest in history with my eye for detail and research. You will find articles about my own family history elsewhere in this blog.

Before I start plotting a tree I ask people for the names and dates of their parents, grandparents and any other relatives they know of. Then I ask them for any family rumours and legends. Its interesting that although some of these legends can seem quite bizarre 70-80% of them turn up in the evidence and are more-or-less true.

What does this say about the veracity of the gospels? Well, just because the stories in the gospels appear to be fantastical we should not discount them. The gospels only tell snippets from the life of Jesus. As these were initially passed around by word of mouth, people were more interested in remembering the unusual things that happened.  So in the written gospels it tends to be the more interesting and unusual aspects of Jesus life that are recorded. There are no records of his shopping trips or toenail trimming, although he must have done those things. The emphasis is on the unusual, and because these occurrences were unusual they were remembered, passed on and eventually written down.