Sunday, 23 July 2017

Why a Ring for Bishops.?

From "The Pilot", 1968 comes this, an interesting historical ramble.

Some Church Customs Explained

By S.G. Thicknesse

Why a Ring for Bishops?

Among the collection of ancient and mediaeval rings in Room 29 of the Victoria and Albert Museum, is a strange gold one as long as a brooch, with diamond-shaped alternating with circular panels, and each panel stamped with a letter. It is the ring of Alhstan, Bishop of Sherborne, 824-867, and bears his name.

In the first two or three centuries strict Christians seem not to have worn rings; but gradually, as the bishops began to be men of importance, they began to wear signet rings, as did men of note in the Roman Empire. This was partly because an increasing number of things needed to be marked with a recognizable and authoritative seal.

By the seventh century the ring of a bishop had assumed a dual importance, as a king's ring also had. It was at once (with the pastoral staff) the sign of his office, with which he had been invested at his consecration, and his official seal, which he set to the business of his diocese and the affairs of his growing estates. By the tenth century the bishop had become a magnate, a lord at once spiritual and temporal.

For two hundred years ecclesiastical and lay powers-popes and kings-were to struggle over the right to give the bishop his ring. The Pope claimed that the ring was the seal of a bishop's spiritual office for which he was chosen and consecrated by the Church. The king claimed that since the bishop was also a great lay lord, often a royal official, he must be chosen first by him, and receive the ring as a token of royal investiture and loyalty.

In the twelfth century a compromise was reached (in England between Henry I and Archbishop Anselm) and the ring was blessed and put by the Church on the finger of the bishop-elect whom the Church had accepted and the king had nominated.

In the centuries after this shadow victory, mystical importance began to be attached to the bishop's ring, which was often made of very costly and elaborate materials. This made it an object of attack by Reformers and Puritans, and though a ring is now worn by most of the bishops, there is no mention of it in the `Form for the Ordering of Bishops' in the Elizabethan Prayer Book.

The ring had become the symbol of the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit. It was worn on the index finger of the right hand, the middle of the three fingers a bishop raised in blessing, `the finger of God' and the finger of discretion and silence, a symbol of the episcopal claim to reveal or seal up the mysteries of God. 

Or it was worn on the fourth finger of the right hand, as a sign of spiritual marriage with the Church, or, alternatively, as a sign that the bishop was the representative of Christ, whose spouse and Body the Church was. But thirteenth-century critics thought it necessary to remind the bishop that he was not himself Lord, but shepherd.

Saturday, 22 July 2017


This week is a poem from my "back catalogue", written on 9th June 2005. The tragedy is that the world it describes could be the world today. Over ten years have passed since I wrote those lines, and we seem no nearer to finding any solutions to the misery and suffering which human beings inflict upon fellow human beings.


Just glimpses and fragments here
Of a wounded world, of despair
And time ticks on, it is not fair. 

Just for a moment, the building
Jagged edges, windows broken,
And time ticks on, alarms ring. 

Just for a second, images floated
Walls covered grey, dust coated
And time ticks on, ending noted. 

Just a warning, of empty shells
Once the way we built our hells
And time ticks on, to final bells. 

Just for a moment, this is to be
Will it be always? we shall see.
And time ticks on, none can flee.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Beautiful Britain - Jersey - Part 5

My history for the next few weeks will come from “The Channel Islands” by Joseph E Morris, B.A., published by London, Adam and Charles Black, 1911. It is fascinating because, firstly, it is a guidebook from 1911, depicting a Jersey before the Great War erupted across Europe, and secondly because it is very much an outsider looking in, and making very personal observations mingled with the history.

Beautiful Britain - Jersey - Part 5

Other Antiquities

The walk across the south coast of Jersey, from Mont Orgueil to the Corbiere, taking the train for the four dull miles, where there is nothing to see, between St. Helier and St. Aubin, will probably almost exhaust, except for the archeologist of the Dry-as-Dust school, the artificial attractions of the island of Jersey.

Of course, there are other antiquities to see : St. Ouen's Manor, for example, now recently restored, and the ancient house of the Carterets ; the cromlechs at Gorey and the Couperon ; and the seven old churches that we have not yet visited.

But when we have seen the wall-paintings at St. Brelade's and St. Clement's ; have inspected Elizabeth Castle, and the curious font at Prince's Tower ; and, above all, have made every stick and stone of Mont Orgueil our own treasured possession, it will be time for most of us to turn our attention, less to the artificial attractions of Jersey, than to its wonderful natural beauties.

The North Coast of Jersey

It is lucky that these lie mostly on the north coast, which is well out of reach of St. Helier. It would be sad indeed if this silent succession of bays, stretching in stern sublimity from Grosnez Point to the long useless breakwater on the south of Fliquet Bay, were infested with tea-gardens, and boarding-houses, and villas.

For this twelve miles of coast is both wholly unspoilt, and one of the loveliest imaginable. Brakes, no doubt, in the season, with their hordes of jolly trippers, invade for a few hours the sacred silences of Greve de Lecq and Rozel Bay. These, however, are limited to definite times and places; nor will it be hard for the quiet lover of Nature to evade their unwelcome gaieties.

Every inch of this glorious stretch of coast should be walked over, if possible ; should often be revisited ; and should be lingered over lovingly. Where else have these rose-red cliffs a counterpart, jutting out into the bluest, or most emerald, of seas, and haunted by myriads of clanging sea-fowl, unless it be on the borders of lost Lyonesse ? Waters that rest on a granite bed are always of amazing translucency -

Pleased to watch the waters sleep,
Round Iona green and deep

and those that never rest round the igneous cliffs of Jersey are no exception to this beautiful rule.

Here and there, of course, the explorer will come across some special point of interest, though the coast, to be enjoyed at its best, must always be enjoyed as a whole. At Greve de Lecq is a cave to visit which thoroughly entails some very rough scrambling, and some rather giddy climbing up an almost vertical cliff.

Less than two miles to the east, as the crow flies-it adds to the distance enormously to follow all the sinuosities of this deeply indented coast-is the Creux-du-Vis, or Devil's Hole - one of those strange, roofless caverns, connecting with the sea by a tunnel through which the tide ebbs and flows, but set back some little distance from the margin of the cliff, that are found again in Sark, in the Creux Derrible and Pot.

In many respects they resemble the famous " pot-holes " that occur in the mountain limestone of the Craven district in North-West Yorkshire, though their origin, it is clear, is wholly different.

Creux, of course, is connected with the French creuser, to dig ; and " derrible," which has nothing whatever to do with " terrible," is an old Norman word, unknown to modern French, that really expresses the same idea

“Cavite d'un rocher formee par un eboulement de terre, attenant a un precipice."

Creux is used again of artificial cromlechs. East of the Creux-du-Vis is the Mouriers Waterfall, where a little stream leaps down the rocks into the sea. The path along the cliff is rather giddy, and those who take it must remember that a slip may be followed by fatal consequences, like the accident that happened to Mrs. Guille, in 1871, at the Gouffre, in Guernsey.

The steep grass slopes in spring are plentifully sprinkled with the dainty yellow blossoms of the little wild narcissus.

Beyond Sorel Point comes suddenly the deep hollow of La Houle, guarded by granite cliffs of sheer sublimity; and beyond this, in long succession, round innumerable intervening points, come Mourier, and Bonne Nuit, and Giffard, and Bouley, and Rozel, and Fliquet Bays.

A week may well be spent, and more than a week, in leisurely exploration of this gloriously broken coast. Or the visitor who has less energy, or is weary of much scrambling, may sit here day after day in the sunshine, on promontory or cliff, watching the blind wave " at its never-ending business of feeling round its ocean hall."

There are less pleasant ways than this of spending a summer holiday for those whose brains are fagged by weeks of dull work in London. And always across the water, far-seen on the dim horizon, are the faint grey lines of the Cotentin, and the cliffs of fairy-like Sark.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

And so to bed...

I usually finish my day by putting up a quotation on Facebook, prefixed by the phrase used by Samuel Pepys in his diaries, "and so to bed...". Here is a selection of recent ones.

And so to bed...

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from John Clare:

July the month of summers prime
Again resumes her busy time
Scythes tinkle in each grassy dell
Where solitude was wont to dwell
And meadows they are mad with noise
Of laughing maids and shouting boys
Making up the withering hay
With merry hearts as light as play

And so to bed.. quote for tonight is from Eugene Field:

All good and true book-lovers practice the pleasing and improving avocation of reading in bed ... No book can be appreciated until it has been slept with and dreamed over.

And so to bed.. quote for tonight is from Terry Pratchet:

What have I always believed?

That on the whole, and by and large, if a man lived properly, not according to what any priests said, but according to what seemed decent and honest inside, then it would, at the end, more or less, turn out all right.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Alex Haditaghi:

Truth is like a bright full moon in a dark country sky. Powerful, bright and undeniable. Lies are like clouds that continually try to cover that moon. Sometimes they might be able to cover the moon, but only temporarily. The truth will always outshine the clouds.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Fyodor Dostoyevsky:

Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Krista Tippett:

Truth can be told in an instant, forgiveness can be offered spontaneously, but reconciliation is the work of lifetimes and generation

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Christopher Hitchens:

“Nihil humanum a me alienum puto, said the Roman poet Terence: 'Nothing human is alien to me.' The slogan of the old Immigration and Naturalization Service could have been the reverse: To us, no aliens are human.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Jackson Burnett:

A thousand years from now nobody is going to know that you or I ever lived. The cynic is right, but lazy. He says ‘You live, you die and nothing you do will ever make a difference.’ But as long as I live, I’m going to be like Beethoven and shake my fist at fate and try to do something for those who live here now and who knows how far into the future that will go. If I accomplish nothing more than making my arm sore, at least I will be satisfied that I have lived.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Richelle E. Goodrich:

Death lurks in the shadows, just out of view.

Those who know Death take the knowledge of his shadowed face with them to wherever it is he leads our dearly departed by the hand. All who are left behind must wait their turn to glance into the eyes of the one who will close our mouths forever.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Tahereh Mafi:

The moon is a loyal companion.

It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human.

Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Air Pollution and Sunken Roads

Air Pollution and Sunken Roads

Ryan Morrison, BBC News Online, reports on a recent study on the tunnel under Fort Regent:

“Pedestrians and cyclists should limit how much time they spend in Jersey's tunnel and drivers should keep their windows closed, that's the advice from Jersey's environment department. It comes after an air quality test found the quality at peak time was poor with the amount of pollution up to seven times higher than nearby Snow Hill.”

But the Waterfront Masterplan, as originally devised back in 2008, contains the following statement: “If we can lower the road the town will seamlessly integrate with the Waterfront ”. As anyone can see, traffic still  moves along the Esplanade, to Sand Street, to Conway Street, and the plans never addressed this fissure in the so-called "seamless integration". 

Alan Maclean, back in 2008 before the Senatorial elections, waxed lyrical about this:

"The practical and economic case for sinking the road will join the Waterfront to the town and produce the funds to regenerate St Helier."

Paul Routier also bought into the fantasy of a sunken road:

"The current plans have raised the bar to a high level in that they have a real feel of quality and vision. The sinking of the road does make sense, both practically and financially, because it creates greater accessability across the whole Waterfront and optimises the available space. "

Peter Troy was more cautious:

"I have no objection to sinking the road, but we must ensure air extractors with filters remove carbon monoxide build-up. Why TTS have never fitted extractors to the Tunnel is mystifying, as its air quality is appalling."

Ian le Marquand, also a candidate for Senator in late 2008, expressed doubts about this:

"The sinking of the main road is estimated to cost £45 million, which is a lot of money. I doubt whether the States would have agreed to this cost if it had not been packaged as part of the overall deal with Harcourt, which gives the States £50 million.”

But what I always could see from the start was problem with air quality. The underpass, as anyone notices at rush hour, is full of slow moving traffic, but the fumes dissipate in the air. If there is a large segment of road underground, what on earth will the air quality be like there?

Some move towards an answer came in a reply by the Minister for Planning and Environment, Senator Freddie Cohen, in a question asked in the States on 16 April 2008 by Constable Phil Rondel, partly at my instigation.

Question: With regard to the proposed sunken road at the Esplanade Quarter, would the Minister advise whether the annual maintenance and running cost of the fume extraction equipment is budgeted for within the suggested £500,000 annual spend, and would he further advise whether the fumes will be filtered before release into the atmosphere and, if so, the annual cost of so doing? Would the Minister further advise precisely where, and what height, the fumes will be released?

Answer: The estimated energy and routine maintenance costs for the tunnel ventilation plant are included in the suggested figure of £500,000 per annum for the total operating costs for the tunnel. There are no plans to filter the air exhausted from the tunnel. The pollution extract system will move the air through the tunnel prior to it being discharged at the tunnel portals. The air will not be filtered prior to discharge.

The sunken road, however, seems to have vanished from the Waterfront, which seems to have been taken on board by WEB and then SOJDC more as a vague guide, to be discarded at will.

As Brian McCarthy noted in 2015

“The Masterplan that was approved by the States in 2008 provides for 388 residential units, 65 self-catering apartments, a substantial winter garden, a boutique hotel, 54,000 sq. ft. of retail space, public open spaces and a new underground road. How and why are these aspects now missing from the Jersey International Finance Centre proposals?”

“The new two-way vehicular access road, from the back of the cinema building to the existing car park runs directly across the route of the Masterplan’s sunken road / roundabout and the proposals would therefore appear to conflict with each other. Can the plans for the underground proposals, their delivery and their cost be fully explained?”

It is clear from the air quality reports regarding the tunnel that the air quality fume extraction system posited for the sunken road would have to be exceptionally good, and yet no technical specifications have ever existed of this wonderful and remarkable system.

And the cost of £500,000 per annum, probably in today’s terms, £750,000, is a cost the Island just cannot afford.

Isn’t it about time to be honest and admit the new development bears little or no resemblance to that originally passed by the States in 2008, and scrap the sunken road?

Is the Council of Ministers so scared of halting the Finance Centre development that as an act of collective cowardice, collective irresponsibility, they will not revisit the plans and take out what was even in the heyday of 2008, a fantasy conjured up by Hopkins Architects, which should never have seen the light of day? 

And how will they manage to sink the road with office blocks already in place? The original plans had the road at the start, because you build over it, and there are no issues with subsidence caused by heavy buildings already in place.

It is time to sink the notion of a sunken road once and for all!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Obesity: It's not just diet.

BBC Radio Jersey reports that:

A food and nutrition strategy is being launched in Jersey today by the States. The strategy includes plans for sugar taxes, free school meals and new rules for fast food sites. Poor eating habits in Jersey could be costing the health service more than £40m a year, health experts believe. The States of Jersey is launching a new diet and nutrition strategy and experts are warning of the consequences of a bad diet.

There are four pieces of evidence that seem to support this view that eating is the root cause:

  1. Food prices have fallen substantially over the past 30 years;
  2. Real food expenditure (the amount we spend on food, accounting for inflation) has increased;
  3. Expenditure on some types of calorie dense foods, such as fast food, eating out, ready meals, confectionery, and soft drinks has increased; and
  4. There has been a sizeable increase in calories available, according to aggregate data on food available for human consumption (the total amount of food produced, including imports and excluding exports, minus food used for animal feed, agriculture, industrial uses, and waste)
And yet as BBC Radio 4’s Analysis explained, the big picture regarding food is far from the simplistic one about poor eating habits. In fact as the graph above shows, calorie input has steadily gone down over the past 30 years.

In the programme, “Is Work too Easy?”, Michael Blastland asked if it's desk-bound work, rather than over-eating, which is making more and more of us obese.

“He hears about remarkable research which, despite received wisdom, suggests that people in the UK have reduced their calorie intake. However, they are expending far less physical energy, particularly because of new patterns of work which now require little if any bodily exertion. Michael examines projects to change individual behaviour such as corporate wellness programmes and altering office layouts - but finds it's going to be a tough sell.”

The main research in question is a robust study, carried out by Dr Melanie Luhrmann from the Department of Economics along with Professor Rachel Griffith and Dr Rodrigo Lluberas of Royal Holloway.

It has revealed the surprising fact that while obesity rates have almost trebled, our actual calorie intake has fallen by around 20 per cent compared to 30 years ago.

In their paper, entitled Gluttony and sloth, Rachel Griffith and Melanie Lührmann examined the statistical evidence two different ways, and both came to the same result.

They note that “Surprisingly, we find that total calories purchased have declined substantially over the last three decades. We distinguish two periods: 1980-2007, when food prices were falling; and after the Great Recession (2008-2013), when food prices increased worldwide and real incomes fell for many people. Table 1 (see top of this blog) shows the continuous decline in mean calorie levels regardless of food price changes. In the paper we show that this decline is not just occurring at the mean, but also across the distribution.”

And they note that in fact the shift away from often fattening homemade food of past decades has actually moved towards more expensive food which we eat less of. Although there is a tendency to eat more pre-packed food, home cooking was not necessarily less calorific.

“One important reason for this decline in calories, contemporaneous with a rise in real expenditure, is that households have shifted away from homemade food, and toward market-produced food (for example by shifting from food at home towards eating out), which is more expensive. The other reason is that there has been a decline in the purchase of some high calorie foods for consumption at home, such as red meat, full fat milk, butter, and jams, and this more than compensates for the increase in calories from foods and drinks outside the home.”

And they comment:

“This leads to a puzzle: if people are buying fewer calories, and so presumably consuming fewer calories, how do we explain the rise in obesity? Weight gain arises from a caloric imbalance; that is, when more energy is consumed than expended. If there has been a decline in total calories purchased over the past 30 years, could an even greater decrease in levels of physical activity explain the rise in obesity?”

And indeed this is where the cause comes in.

Dr Melanie Luhrmann says: "Our research shows that decisions over work and food demand are related. First of all, because individuals that work substitute more towards market-produced food, for example, towards processed foods and eating out. Secondly, weight gain arises from a caloric imbalance, meaning if more energy is consumed than expended. Hence, both calories and physical activity are important in explaining the rise in obesity. People have adjusted their calories downwards, but not enough to make up for the sizable decline in physical activity. Part of this decline comes from reduced activity at work. So we should take into account the link between work and calories when evaluating policy interventions aimed at reducing obesity."

They look at the data from the Labour Force Survey, a nationally representative survey of individual work patterns. This shows that there have been significant changes to the nature of work. England has seen a marked shift over the last thirty years towards less strenuous and more sedentary occupations. In particular, there has been a substantial shift towards sedentary service sector jobs.

“The fraction of men working in strenuous occupations has declined by 8% from 1981-2009, and those working in sedentary jobs has increased by over 11%. For females the decline in strenuous occupations is over 13%, with an increase in both moderately strenuous and sedentary jobs.”

“The change in work patterns has had a big impact, because work accounts for a large share of people's time. In addition, labour supply behaviour has also changed, with different trends for males and females. Female labour force participation amongst 25-64 years olds has increased from 55% to 69% between 1980 and 2009, with particularly strong increases among younger women (aged 25-39)”

Statistics show that adults of working age may spend as much as 50% of their waking hours in the work environment. So occupational physical activity is a potential determinant of total daily energy expenditure. It has been found that professional and white collar workers have taken less steps (measured by pedometer) and have lower volumes of occupational physical activity than blue collar workers.

And there is also what they call “slothing at home”:

“Over time, working women have increased time in market work, and so have reduced the time they spend on other activities from 60% to 54%. They have also reduced the amount of time in strenuous domestic work by 4 percentage points. On average, house work is more strenuous than the kind of market work that women were doing in the labour market, so this led to an overall reduction in the strenuousness of life.”

“Men have reduced the time they spend at market work over the last 30 years. While they increased the time they spend doing housework by a small amount, they switched from strenuous housework activities like maintenance and DIY to less strenuous ones like child care and shopping.”

Children, likewise, can be seen to have substituted a lot of physical activity for sedentary ones, with the rise of smart phones and electronic games.

What implications does this research have for policy? They conclude that it does not mean that we should abandon policies that target food spending or calories, such as the recent introduction of a tax on sugary drinks.

But we should note that leisure time activity may be unlikely to contribute sufficient energy expenditure to prevent increases in the prevalence of overweight and obesity, as it is actually of short duration compared to the day at work.

This is because are eating too much given their low (and declining) level of physical activity at work and at home.

Looking at work and the systemic changes which have taken place in the workplace must form part of any holistic strategy, but as yet the studies are relatively new of how our bodies have adapated to a world in which work is actually too easy - from a physical point of view.

They conclude their study by saying:

“It does mean that physical activity and calories are linked in potentially complex ways, and it is important to better understand this and the implications it has on people's behaviour in order to inform policy.”


Monday, 17 July 2017

Shifting sands and Doctor Who

Like shifting sands, assumptions that underlie a culture change as it moves through time. The change can happen so slowly it is hard to perceive, in individual minds adjusting, children accepting and rejecting their parents’ paradigms, understanding and disseminating ideas and assumptions, a sand dune moving grain by grain in the winds of change. After a while, if we are able to compare the present with past horizons, we can see the contours of the landscape are entirely rent.
--- Emma Restall Orr

And so breaking news has come of a female Doctor Who in the form of Jodie Whittaker.

My point of view is perhaps more detached than many, either fulsome in praise, or as you might expect from Ian Levine, shouting in anger.

That’s because my Hartnell, from the ages of 6 to 9, growing up, from the first, was William Hartnell. I watched him battle the Daleks, as well as all manner of other strange creatures, and he was Doctor Who, this wonderful, eccentric old man, who was the one fixed point. Susan left, then Ian and Barbara. New companions came and went, but the Doctor remained the same.

Until suddenly, he mutters, at the end of the encounter with the Cybermen, “this old body of mine is wearing a bit thin”, and collapses, and the screen flares, and suddenly there is this younger, shorter, darker haired stranger on the floor.

And yet, I think I liked this new Doctor from the first. I had vivid memories of his first Dalek story, of Polly about to be turned into a fish creature, and suddenly, he was very much the Doctor. Cleverly, his first outing had two familiar companions and Daleks.

But I could still revisit William Hartnell of course in those wonderful early novelisations published in hardback by Frederick Mueller – Dr Who and the Zarbi by Bill Strutton (much better than the TV serial), Dr Who and the Crusade by David Whitaker, (it may have been purely history, but it was Dr Who!), and my Armada paperback of “Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks” by David Whitaker again, priced 2 shillings and six pence, and the first Doctor Who Annual, probably written by Whitaker because the prose was so good.

And yet Troughton was my Doctor – the Monster Doctor – where there were Cybermen returning to scare you (behind the sofa, of course), Ice Warriors, Yeti, a Sea Weed creature, more Daleks, and finally the War Games with the Time Lords, and the end of his time.

But it was even more than today, a great chance the producers took. If the public had rejected Troughton’s Doctor, there would be no more Doctor Who. They had toyed with other ways of doing it – the Doctor becomes invisible in the Toymaker, and reappears with a different appearance, but pulled back at the last minute. It was a massive gamble: a change of lead actor.

And yet it worked, and set the template for the future.

And in time, Jon Pertwee became my Doctor, and Tom Baker, and Peter Davison, and Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann, and then it died, until it was reborn in 2005.

This too is a different step like that of 1966, a change of gender for the Doctor, but I don’t think it is such a change now as that first change. For one thing, the climate is perhaps right now for a female Doctor, just as we had a female Master – Missy. Doctor, is however, a gender neutral term.

I still remember when there were the first TV police shows – Policewoman in the USA, Juliet Bravo and the Gentle Touch in the UK, which seemed groundbreaking, but now we would not think twice about a woman taking the lead in a police procedural or detective series. It no longer seems unusual.

The same is true of female newsreaders. Goodness, what a fuss was made when Angela Rippon and Anna Ford began on the main new channels – BBC’s 9 pm news, ITN’s News at Ten. Would we really bat an eyelid if we turned on the news today and it was a woman reading it, rather than a man. Of course, not, because society has changed. We have female news readers now, but it is no longer groundbreaking.

When women priests came in the Church of England, the Vicar of Dibley on TV addressed the groundbreaking move. But we have many women priests now, and even women Bishops, and outside a few conservative factions, it is now acceptable. The appointment of a woman Rector for St John was greeted with delight, and not with raised eyebrows.

A female Doctor Who is perhaps groundbreaking in some respects, but I’d venture to suggest that it is not as groundbreaking as it would have been back in the 1980s. In a way, the shifting sands have moved so much over the past decades, that far from being groundbreaking, it is almost a case of saying that the time is surely right for such a move, if not overdue.

[Incidentally first Script Editor, David Whitaker - one "t" - is not related to Jodie Whittaker, but it's a rather pleasing synergy]

Sunday, 16 July 2017

What are Rubrics?

From "The Pilot", 1968 comes this, an interesting historical ramble.

Some Church Customs Explained
By S.G. Thicknesse

What are Rubrics?

In England, ever since the Reformation, rubrics have I been rules for the ordering of divine service which have behind them the force not only of ecclesiastical but also of civil authority. The detailed directions in the Prayer Book, sometimes still in the red lettering which gave them their name, but usually now in italics, can in fact bring bishops and clergy into the dock as law-breakers.

The Act of Uniformity, which can be read at the beginning of every Prayer Book, recalls by the severity of its penalties the store which Elizabeth and her Ministers set on the acceptance of a unified order and form. This, it was hoped, would put an end to those religious confusions and controversies of the Reformation which had brought such terrifying political disruption in their train.

But even in nineteenth-century England, when the political significance of religious uniformity was relatively small, clergymen were convicted and penalized for practices not authorized by rubric. So, for example, in 1868 the Reverend John Purchas was convicted in the Arches Court of Canterbury among other things for standing with his back to the people when consecrating the Elements. The judgment was upheld by the Privy Council, and when Purchas neither paid the costs, amounting to £2,096 14s. 10d., nor discontinued any of the practices which had been declared illegal, he was suspended for a year from the discharge of his clerical office.

Directions and titles written in red had, according to the Latin poet Juvenal, been customary in the old Roman law books. But very few, if any, of such rubrics appeared in the earliest service books of the Church. (Pliny says that this red colour-ruber-first got its name from a coloured earth which carpenters used, to mark their wood for the cutting.)

Of two of the earliest surviving missals, for example, the sacramentary of Leo and the Gelasian sacramentary, both of which belong to the fifth century, the first contains no rubrics at all. A French missal of the sixth century contains eight rubrics, and an Irish one of the ninth, two, in the vernacular.

Collections of rubrics were made separately in special books, under such titles as Ordo, Directory or Ceremonial. Copies of these compilations were made with not less painstaking devotion than were copies of the Offices themselves, of which Charlemagne's scholar, the Yorkshireman Alcuin, reminds us.

Part of the prologue to his Sacramentary runs: `And we pray you to copy it again so diligently as to its text that it comfort the ears of the learned and allow not any of the simpler sort to go astray. For it will be no avail, as saith blessed St. Jerome, to have made correction in a book, unless the corrected reading be preserved by the diligent care of the bookkeepers . . .'

Bishops and abbots themselves used to check the final versions of the scribes in the mediaeval scriptoria. The multiplication of such books, however, and the hardening of local traditions meant that a variety both of ritual practices and of forms of prayer became common in different areas. 

St. Augustine complained of this in the sixth century, and in the eighth, in Gaul, every priest was required to describe -his own practice in writing, and to present this libellus ordinis to the bishop in Lent for approbation. In England there grew up a Salisbury (Sarum) Use, a Hereford Use, a Use of Bangor and of York and of Lincoln.

As ecclesiastical authority became more centralized - largely a matter of the roads having become safer - such local differences began to be attacked. One way of procuring uniform practice was for the Pope to authorize a collection of rubrics which he believed to be based on the best and most primitive traditions. Such a collection was the Ordo Romanus.

Another way was for him to authorize the appearance of the most important of these rubrics in the Missal itself. This he did not do until the end of the fifteenth century. Then, despite the strong opinion of many ecclesiasts that rubrics were not a matter for the laity, Burcard, Master of the Ceremonies under Innocent VIII and Alexander VI, published together the order and the ceremonial directions of the Mass in a Pontifical. This, from then on, was the glass of fashion and the mould of form.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Time for Change

A new Doctor Who coming, and we find out this Sunday. And the swansong of Peter Capaldi's Doctor at Christmas. This poem is about final endings. Of death, and looking back at the end of life. It's time for change.

Time for Change

Time for change, and everything ends
Time to let go, say goodbyes, depart
Rest at last, for the old beating heart
Farewells, last rites, making amends

Life is like a path of twists and bends
And so little time, yesterday the start
Time for change, and everything ends
Time to let go, say goodbyes, depart

Farewell, lovely world, goodbye friends
In sadness and joy, make our work of art
A venture in which we have taken part
Now comes death, and what transcends
Time for change, and everything ends

Friday, 14 July 2017

Beautiful Britain - Jersey - Part 4

My history for the next few weeks will come from “The Channel Islands” by Joseph E Morris, B.A., published by London, Adam and Charles Black, 1911. It is fascinating because, firstly, it is a guidebook from 1911, depicting a Jersey before the Great War erupted across Europe, and secondly because it is very much an outsider looking in, and making very personal observations mingled with the history.

Beautiful Britain - Jersey - Part 4

Mystery of James de la Cloche

St. Helier, we have hinted, is a somewhat tedious town ; by which we mean only that the place contains few objects of special interest, and is a trifle too large and urban for so very small an island

No doubt some of its aspects are agreeable enough. The parish church is a restored building of small architectural interest, but contains the grave of the gallant Major Pierson, who fell in Jersey, in 1781, in the conflict with the French in the Royal Square. His adversary, Rullecourt, who also perished, is buried on the north of the churchyard.

Rullecourt landed to the east of St. Helier during the night of January 5, and took the town by a sudden assault. The Governor, Major Moses Corbet, was captured in his bed; and was forced to sign a capitulation, as well as an order to Major Pierson to surrender the troops in his charge. Pierson, however, charged the enemy in the Royal Square, where they had barricaded themselves, and fell at the first assault. Undeterred by the loss of their leader, the Jersey soldiers and militia-men continued fighting, and cleared the French from the town.

St. Helier possesses yet other claims to historical distinction, in the mystery of James de la Cloche. This last was the eldest illegitimate son of Charles II., and is known to have been a Jerseyman. His story has recently attracted much attention ; and Mr. Andrew Lang, in his Valet's Tragedy, once even went so far as to suggest that de la Cloche was “The Man with the Iron Mask."

This theory he afterwards abandoned; but it is still stoutly maintained by Miss Edith Carey in her beautiful volume on the Channel Islands.

It is remarkable, indeed, that James de la Cloche disappears finally from history after November 16, 1668, whilst "The Man with the Iron Mask" makes his first appearance on the scene on July 19, 1669. De la Cloche may also, when in London, have easily learned secrets from his father, as to Romish plots, that imperilled the crown of Charles II., and may well have caused anxiety to Louis XIV.

"Doubts," says Miss Carey, " may be cast on a theory which involves an apparently affectionate father consigning his son to a living tomb, and a King of France spending money and trouble to keep a King of England's secret. But in reply it must be urged that Charles's conduct is consistent with all we read in history respecting his cowardly selfishness.

In reply to complaints made to him of Lauderdale's cruelty in Scotland, he said : ` I perceive that Lauderdale has been guilty of many bad things against the people of Scotland, but I cannot find out that he has acted against my interests.' "

Charles' headquarters, when a boy in Jersey, were in Elizabeth Castle, whither he was sent by his father for greater safety in 1646. Later in the same year he left for Fontainebleau, but returned to the Channel Islands in September, 1649.

In the meanwhile the elder Charles had perished on the scaffold at Whitehall ; and Jersey, unlike Guernsey, still loyalist to the core, was one of the few places - Pontefract Castle, in Yorkshire, was another - where his son was immediately proclaimed as King, on February 17, 1649.

Elizabeth Castle itself is another of those picturesque places of semi-insulation that are not uncommon among historical sites-Holy Island, and the two Mounts St. Michael, are other famous examples. At time of low water it is picturesquely approached by a rough and rocky causeway across the sands ; but the building itself has been greatly altered, and presents very little archeological interest.

From St. Helier westward, round the half- moon curve of St. Aubin Bay, past West Park, Millbrook, and Beaumont, is now largely a crescent of continuous houses. St. Aubin's itself is a picturesque little watering-place,  with far greater natural advantages than its bigger neighbour.

Immediately to the south of the town begins at once the fine, red line of granite cliffs, which, turning definitely westward at Noirmont Point, continues, past Portelet and St. Brelade's Bays, to the south-west corner of the island at Corbiere Point.

Portelet Bay is a charming recess, with the rocky little Ile au Guerdain in its centre. On the summit of this last is Janvrin's Tower. It is said that Philippe Janvrin, returning home from Nantes, then desolated with plague, was forced to undergo quarantine in this bay in 1721 ; and that here the poor wretch died within actual sight of home, but without ever exchanging a word with his wife and children. He was buried at first in the Ile au Guerdain, but afterwards removed to St. Brelade's churchyard.

St. Brelade's Bay

St. Brelade's Bay, nearly two miles across, if we measure from Le Fret to La Moye Point, is perhaps the most gracious on the Jersey coast. The church has a very picturesque outline, with a saddle-backed tower like that of St. Sampson's, in Guernsey.

It was admirably restored a few years ago, when the plaster was stripped from the vaulted roof that is common to most old churches in the Channel Islands, and is probably analogous to the vaulted roofs of the fortified churches of Pembrokeshire. Mr. Bicknell, however, is wrong in saying that the interior walls . . . look very dignified in their original condition."

Nothing is more certain than that medieval churches-at any rate in cases where the walls are of rubble masonry were plastered, and commonly covered with wall-paintings. Such plastering and old wall-painting may still be found at St. Brelade's in the Chapelle es Pecheurs, or Fishermen's Chapel, that remains in the parish churchyard.

These, according to Mr. Keyser, represent parts of two Dooms or Final Judgments, Our Lord before Herod, an Annunciation, the Assumption of the Virgin, and the Offering of the Magi.

They probably date from the fifteenth century, and the attendant makes them visible by the simple expedient of throwing the light on them with a mirror. The existence of this old chapel side by side with the parish church - the same thing seems formerly to have happened at Grouville - is a subject of curious inquiry.

Chantrey chapels were sometimes built in churchyards - there is still a fourteenth-century example at Carew, in Pembrokeshire, and there was formerly one at Newdigate, in Surrey - but these would be generally of later date ; whereas the Fishermen's Chapel is supposed to date from quite the beginning of the twelfth century.

In the grounds of the St. Brelade's Hotel is an ancient cross of the kind that is stated by Mr. Bicknell formerly to have " stood at nearly every place where four cross roads met in the island."

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Marine Activity: Laws but no Policing

AN investigation is continuing after a jet skier suffered a serious leg injury following a collision with a speedboat in St Brelade’s Bay on Sunday afternoon.

I was down there on Friday.

St Brelade’s Bay on Friday evening, around 5 pm, was full of people paddling, swimmers, boats meandering along, and all kinds of water craft. The photo above shows what I believe was some kind of Jet Ski, and as you can see from the photo, it was going extremely fast. I know it was going fast because I missed it with my camera on some shots because it was hard to track it at that speed.

At the speed I saw this going, it only needs two craft travelling at speed, and perhaps making a turn to go back across the bay for a nasty accident to happen, as indeed happened on Sunday. We don't know at the moment whether the speed boat crossed the path of the jet ski or vice versa, but if what I observed on Friday is any indication, it is no surprise that occurred.

It has also been noted by Jono Stevenson that there is lack of marked areas in the bay - an area to which motor craft should be confined, like they do at La Haule. There are red flags placed at either side of the safe bathing zone, but that alone does not denote that pleasure craft cannot enter. It is recipe for an accident.

I asked my friend Adam Gardiner what legislation is in place to help make the area safe? He provided this note.

Safety Regulations in St Brelade's Bay
By Adam Gardiner

There are speed limits and in fact a whole set of laws that specifically govern beaches and inshore maritime activity in general. They are policed, or supposed to be, by several agencies too.

As far as beaches go there are three. EDD, Honorary/States Police and the Harbour Office.
The relevant regulation for beaches:

Up to a few years ago, the beaches were routinely ‘patrolled’ on summer weekends by enforcement officers attached to Jersey Tourism which was then a part of EDD - a pro-active approach. Apart from policing the beaches they also reported dangerous waterborne activity to the Harbour Office who would deploy a ‘marine officer’ or the coastguard service, who (if you can recall) were often seen around towing an inflatable.

Marine activity is governed by more than one law with local regulations attached to various bays. In St. Brelade Bay there is a 5 knot restrictions to boats, jet skis and other motorised craft with 200m of the shoreline - the shoreline being the point at which the sea and open beach meet which can obviously change with the tide.

For all practical purposes that 200m has been defined under local regulations as a line across the bay from La Cotte Point and Grosse Tête – a large sea stack in Beauport Bay - the low water mean in the bay.

But as you witnessed that is not generally observed….but not policed either. The relevant laws come under Boats and Surf-riding (Control) (Jersey) Regulations 1969 Read more at 

Further information can also be found at

Jersey Ports have issued a resume of safety advice and legal obigations taken from those laws and regulations:

However, with cutbacks and successive reviews of manpower, policing has become entirely reactive - hence predictable that incidents will and do occur. The mentality of beach users and increasingly those engaged in water sports and activities is utterly amazing - and all too often aggressive and confrontational when police or other authorities arrive through complaints - ‘spoiling our fun’. They are both oblivious to and in denial of acting dangerously.

Worryingly, the Lifeguards seem reluctant to report poor and dangerous behaviour and certainly not to the Honorary or Centenier as here is no route of liaison. The lifeguards themselves have no policing powers whatsoever. If and when they do call in another authority that will generally be the Harbour Office who govern their activities. The Harbour Office are similarly reluctant to prosecute - probably because they do not have the resources. It’s therefore a situation that invites bad behaviour.

As always, it will take an incident to get the authorities to sit up and take notice that in the summer our beaches need to be policed and regulations enforced if necessary - but will probably become a sad fact that won’t actually happen once this story drops from the news and premier beaches such as St. Brelade’s Bay will remain a dangerous playground.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

As I Please: Function and Reward

Function and Reward

While I don’t agree with everything Orwell says, I have always been struck by his tale of travelling on a liner to Burma. He tells the story so:

”One day, for some reason, I came up from lunch early. The deck was empty except for the fair-haired quartermaster, who was scurrying like a rat long the side of the deck-houses, with something partially concealed between his monstrous hands. I had just time to see what it was before he shot past me and vanished into a doorway. It was a pie dish containing a half-eaten baked custard pudding.”

“At once glance I took in the situation—indeed, the man’s air of guilt made it unmistakable. The pudding was a left-over from one of the passengers’ tables. It had been illicitly given to him by a steward, and he was carrying it off to the seamen’s quarters to devour it at leisure. “

“Across more than twenty years I can still faintly feel the shock of astonishment that I felt at that moment. It took me some time to see the incident in all its bearings: but do I seem to exaggerate when I say that this sudden revelation of the gap between function and reward—the revelation that a highly-skilled craftsman, who might literally hold all our lives in his hands, was glad to steal scraps of food from our table—taught me more than I could have learned from half a dozen Socialist pamphlets?”

It always amazes me that the way professions are valued often seems topsy-turvey.

As we have seen in the recent election in the UK, nurses pay is poor, and some even have to resort to food banks, and yet bankers who engage in “casino banking” make hundreds of thousands in bonuses.

Ann Lee notes that:

"It does not make sense that most artists, teachers, and doctors - those who deliver the greatest value to society - are the least paid individuals, while investment bankers and speculators who earn the most amount of money are adding minimal value to society at best, and at worst, destroying value."

The Wire has an article by Devinder Sharma this year which looks at the contrast between rich corporations and poor farmers in India. The place is India, but the place could be everywhere.

“The Gujarat government gave a loan of Rs 558.58 crore to the Tatas to set up the Nano plant at Sanand, near Ahmedabad. The Gujarat government has acknowledged that the massive loan was given at an interest of 0.1%, to be paid back in 20 years. In other words, this huge loan was virtually an interest free long term loan. In another case, Steel tycoon, Laxmi Narain Mittal, was given Rs 1,200 crore by the Punjab government to invest in the Bathinda refinery. He also got the loan at a 0.1% rate of interest.”

“On the other hand, if an extremely poor woman in a village wants to buy a goat worth Rs 5,000, she goes to a micro-finance institute (MFI), which provides her a loan at an interest rate of 24% to 36% or even more. This paltry loan has to be returned at weekly intervals. This poor woman is also an entrepreneur and wants to sustain her livelihood rearing a goat, the milk of which she can sell. Millions of livelihoods can potentially be sustained if banks were to provide loans like the ones the Tatas and Mittal received, for poor entrepreneurs.”

And concludes:

“What needs to be seriously considered is that a terrible agrarian crisis is being allowed to prevail, primarily because of systemic efforts to keep farmers impoverished. By denying farmers the right price for their produce, the credit policy too is designed wrongly so that it benefits the rich at the cost of farmers and the rural poor. But will the banks accept their fault and redesign the credit policies? The rich corporates will continue to get tax incentives and massive subsidies in the name of incentives for growth.”

But without farmers, how would the CEOs of the rich corporations survive?

What we really need is what E.F. Schumacher called "Economics as if People Mattered".

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

The Children’s Commissioner: The First Debate

The Children’s Commissioner: The First Debate

Senator Ian Gorst signed an order approving £1.5m in funding to appoint a new children's commissioner. It was a recommendation of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry report. In recent days, the Senator has regained the moral high ground, and reminded us of how he can be a very good Chief Minister.

This is not a bolt from the blue. Senator Gorst has been a determined proponent of carrying out the Care Inquiry, and pushing to make sure it completed its task even when his fellow Ministers wanted to cut the purse strings and wind up the Inquiry at an early stage – notably before it tackled Operation Rectangle, and the actions of Andrew Lewis, Frank Walker and Philip Bailhache.

He was “excused attendance” when the matter first arose, between the whole of 4th June to17th June, so evidently not deliberately avoiding the proposition.

The debate on the proposition shows the Heath Minister trying to push the timescale into the long grass. I have seldom seen such a blatant Yes Minister response – “the time is not now”. She has since recently apologised for not doing more to support children and vulnerable young people in the island.

But I have yet to see an apology from former Chief Minister Terry Le Sueur, whose own contribution was totally dismissive, and on the morning of the publication of the Care Inquiry declared on BBC Radio Jersey that he still thought it would be a waste of time. He of course disgracefully decided to renege on his predecessor, Frank Walker, who had made a commitment for an inquiry once the police cases had been heard.

States Strategic Plan 2009–2014 (P.52/2009): seventh amendment Paragraph 2
(P.52/2009 Amd.(7)) and eighth amendment (P.52/2009 Amd.(8))

On Tuesday 9th June 2009, Deputy Paul le Claire introduced an amendment to the States strategic plan as follows:

“After the words attached as appendix 1 insert the words: “Except that in priority 9 on pages 22 to 23 in the section entitled ‘What we will do’, after the first bullet point insert the following new bulletin point: ‘Introduce a Children’s Commissioner for Jersey who will among other duties be funded and act independently to promote issues pertaining to child welfare in the local media and raise public awareness to reduce and address potential future harm to them’.

The Council of Ministers was opposed to the proposition.

Deputy Le Claire said:

“I believe we should have an independent commissioner. I believe there will be great value and there will be a great saving to the community in having a commissioner that acts as a sort of children’s ombudsman, a Children’s Commissioner. Now, it is a complex issue and I do not purport to be an expert or to understand it all, but I do get the drift of what the experts are saying. We need an independent commissioner, and I am wanting Members’ support in asking the Council of Ministers to set one up, and if we have a Child Protection Committee that is staffed and resourced by the States of Jersey, how difficult would it be to set that up under law as an independent commission? So, I make the propositions.

Deputy Judy Martin, Assistant Minister at Health and Social Services at the time said:

“We speak to the chair of the J.C.P.C. (Jersey Child Protection Committee), we speak to everyone else. We have our first independent inspection. If they then recommend a Children’s Commissioner for Jersey, I will be the first one to sign up to that”

A delaying tactic, following the lead of her Minister.

Senator Stuart Syvret said:

“There has to be a separation of powers; and having a Children’s Commissioner who would have that empowered oversight of the service, is exactly the kind of thing we want to do.”

“Again, this is one of those amendments which frankly is utterly mystifying why the Council of Ministers and other Members just will not accept it. As I said, we have a Data Protection Commissioner; is data protection more important that protecting the welfare, health and lives of vulnerable children? We must support the amendment.”

Connétable D.W. Mezbourian of St. Lawrence came strongly in favour.

“The Early Years’ Report which was looking at initially the nought to 5 year strategy for children in the Island was carried out by the Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel, of which I was chairman, and we found that there was no such thing as an overall integrated strategy for children in the Island. “

“If I may be permitted to read from the report as others have done through this debate, we made mention of an independent commissioner for children, and we stated that the commissioner: “Would be concerned in particular with the views and interests of children relating to physical and mental health, protection from harm and neglect, education and training, contribution to society, and social and economic wellbeing. The commissioner would be expected to take reasonable steps to involve children in decision making, ensuring they are aware of his or her role. The commissioner would also be expected to consult children and organisations working with children, and would have particular regard to groups of children who do not have other means of making their views known.” I think that is very important, because the reason we decided to recommend that the Council of Ministers should evaluate the need to establish the position of an independent Children’s Commissioner in Jersey was because during the course of our review we became aware that the position of Children’s Commissioner is now being adopted by many local authorities in the U.K., and they are being appointed specifically as a voice for children, the voice of the child, which is in effect what Senator Syvret has just been referring to.”

Geoff Southern endorsed those comments, saying:

“The important thing there was when she said 2 things. One, she was strongly in support of a Children’s Commissioner and the principles that underlie a champion for people, and had come to that conclusion through a spell of study in Scrutiny and the production of a report; and I really would urge Members, each and every time we have a chair or a member of a panel comes having done the research and having done the groundwork, to add to the quality of any debate, to listen very carefully to those Members who do that because this is wellfounded evidential-based opinion.”

“The second thing she said, and it was the thing that sways my mind to definitely vote - which I was tempted to anyway - in favour of the commissioner, was a missing piece of evidence from the jigsaw, that lots of local authorities are investigating or are thinking of setting up Children’s Commissioners of their own in a local setting to promote the interests of children.. So, this overall general dismissal that comes from the Council of Ministers: “Ah, well, that is one commissioner for the whole of the U.K., absolutely irrelevant to Jersey”, is not true, is not the case, because smaller units are indeed, off their own bat, promoting and investigating this possibility so therefore exactly perhaps what we ought to be doing”

Montfort Tadier said:

“So I will not labour the point too much; I would simply say to Deputy Le Claire, let us not bring this back another day. I think it is quite clear that certainly in principle we are all behind the idea of making sure that our children from today and in the future are clearly well looked after. So let us just get this done. This is simply asking us to make a commitment which may not happen straight away to appoint an independent commissioner for Jersey and I think that it is something we should all subscribe to.”

But the Health Minister, The Deputy of Trinity, Anne Pryke said:

“While Deputy Le Claire has been very vocal in children’s issues recently, it is too early in looking at children’s issues to think of a commissioner and all that it entails. We need to take one step at a time, making sure that step is focused and right for all children involved, is properly funded and resourced and, more importantly, gives them the service that all children need and require at grassroots levels. Not to be distracted by setting up a high-level commissioner. If, in the future, a commissioner is thought appropriate, and that might be the case in years to come, then it needs to be properly looked at and its remits and its terms of reference worked out; perhaps a commissioner for the Channel Islands. But that is way ahead. We need not to take our eye off the ball and implement the Williamson Report as soon as possible. I urge Members to reject this proposition and allow us to get on the job which we want to do and make our service much more improved.”

Deputy J.M. Maçon of St. Saviour was very succinct:

“Everything I wanted to say has already been said.”

The Connétable of St. Mary, Juliet Gallichan said:

“What I do not want to see is new generations of children missing out on other opportunities because a commissioner or something like a commissioner had not been considered in time. Our report was lodged on ... this is a very long report, I might add, took us a long time to do, it was lodged on Tuesday, 20th April 2008. That is a whole other year’s worth of children going through without having anything. I just think, I normally agree very wholeheartedly with what the Deputy of Trinity and the Deputy of St. Lawrence have to say – they are very sound people I think - their judgment I greatly value. In this case I think they need look again. We do not want to wait longer.”

The Chief Minister Senator T.A. Le Sueur commented:

“We are talking here about someone dealing, in the context of an historic child abuse inquiry, in the context of the Williamson Report, about vulnerable children. In that context a Children’s Commissioner in this respect, when we already have a Child Protection Committee, I see as totally irrelevant and unnecessary and for that reason, I for one, will not be supporting this amendment”

The vote was against, but the Constables were divided. As is more often the case, it was the Senators who delivered a “block vote” against the proposition with the exception of Stuart Syvret. I have emboldened current States members.

POUR: 21
Senator S. Syvret
Connétable of St. Ouen, Ken Vibert
Connétable of St. Peter, John Refault
Connétable of St. Lawrence, Deidre Mezbourain
Connétable of St. Mary, Juliette Gallichan

Deputy R.C. Duhamel (S)
Deputy of St. Martin, Bob Hill
Deputy R.G. Le Hérissier (S)
Deputy G.P. Southern (H)
Deputy of Grouville, Carolyn Labey
Deputy J.A. Hilton (H)
Deputy P.V.F. Le Claire (H)
Deputy S.S.P.A. Power (B)
Deputy S. Pitman (H)
Deputy M. Tadier (B)
Deputy of St. Mary, Daniel Wimberley
Deputy T.M. Pitman (H)
Deputy T.A. Vallois (S)
Deputy M.R. Higgins (H)
Deputy D. De Sousa (H)
Deputy J.M. Maçon (S)

Senator T.A. Le Sueur
Senator P.F. Routier
Senator P.F.C. Ozouf
Senator T.J. Le Main
Senator S.C. Ferguson
Senator A.J.D. Maclean
Senator B.I. Le Marquand
Connétable of Trinity, John Gallichan
Connétable of Grouville, Dan Murphy
Connétable of St. Brelade, Mike Jackson
Connétable of St. Martin, Silva Yates
Connétable of St. John, ?
Connétable of St. Saviour, Peter Hanning
Deputy J.B. Fox (H)
Deputy J.A. Martin (H)
Deputy of St. Ouen, James Reed
Deputy of St. Peter, Colin EgréDeputy of Trinity, Anne Pryke
Deputy of St. John, Phil RondelDeputy A.E. Jeune (B)
Deputy A.T. Dupré (C)
Deputy E.J. Noel (L)
Deputy A.K.F. Green (H)

Senator A. Breckon

Monday, 10 July 2017

Einstein and the Letter Never Written

Einstein and the Letter Never Written

As Albert Einstein once said, "Don't believe every quote you read on the internet, because I totally didn't say that."

There is a letter which purports to be from Einstein which is a wonderfully crafted piece:

”When I proposed the theory of relativity, very few understood me, and what I will reveal now to transmit to mankind will also collide with the misunderstanding and prejudice in the world. I ask you to guard the letters as long as necessary, years, decades, until society is advanced enough to accept what I will explain below. There is an extremely powerful force that, so far, science has not found a formal explanation to. It is a force that includes and governs all others, and is even behind any phenomenon operating in the universe and has not yet been identified by us.

This universal force is LOVE.

When scientists looked for a unified theory of the universe they forgot the most powerful unseen force.

Love is Light, that enlightens those who give and receive it.
Love is gravity, because it makes some people feel attracted to others.

Love is power, because it multiplies the best we have, and allows humanity not to be extinguished in their blind selfishness. Love unfolds and reveals.

For love we live and die.
Love is God and God is Love.

This force explains everything and gives meaning to life. This is the variable that we have ignored for too long, maybe because we are afraid of love because it is the only energy in the universe that man has not learned to drive at will.

This is frequently shared and quoted but it was certainly was never penned by Einstein.

In that sense it is like some of the New Testament Pseudepigrapha, which claim to be written by apostles but which, while sometimes exceptional - the Hymn of the Pearl in the Acts of Thomas being an example - are clearly not genuine.

Einstein's beliefs were more in a wonder that the cosmos was understandable and rational than any God. His letters and statements on religion do not mention love.

Someone has cleverly taken an element of truth – a 20 year embargo, and used it to fashion a reason why the letter has not been seen

The Albert Einstein site records that:

"Albert Einstein's step-daughter Margot had stipulated in an agreement with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem dating from 1984 that letters in her possession, inherited from her step-father after his death in 1955 would be given to the Hebrew University but should be kept sealed and away from the public's eye for 20 years after her death. By the beginning of 1986 the material had arrived in Jerusalem. Margot had passed away a short time later, in July 1986. By July 8th, 2006 the 20-year period since her death had lapsed. Now the time had come to make the letters available to the public"

But Snopes records that:

“We found no reproduction of, or reference to, this alleged letter in print or online prior to its seemingly sudden appearance on the Internet in April 2015.”

And Huffington Post reports on their investigation of the matter:

“As director and editor of the Einstein Papers Project - which just last December launched The Digital Einstein Papers, making 5,000 documents spanning Einstein’s first 44 years of his life available online - surely Dr. Kormos-Buchwald would be able to provide some clarification regarding the authenticity of this letter.

Her response?

“This document is not by Einstein. The family letters donated to the Hebrew University - referred to in this rumor - were not given by Lieserl. They were given by Margot Einstein, who was Albert Einstein’s stepdaughter. Many of those letters were published in Volume 10 of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein in 2006 and in subsequent volumes, in chronological order.”

These are genuine quotes by Einstein which show a very different religious viewpoint:

"I believe in Spinoza's God, who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings."

And a genuine letter states:

"The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text."

"For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them."

And also elsewhere:

"Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in fact, religious."

"To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I am a devoutly religious man."

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Deaf Church in America: The Beginnings

"Deaf Heritage: A Narrative History of Deaf America" by Jack R. Gannon is a fascinating book, and one I'd recommend. It is available second hand for around £10 for a large hardback edition, which is surely a bargain.

Jack R. Gannon, 81, was born in 1936 in West Plains, Missouri, and became deaf at age 8 due to spinal meningitis. He graduated from the Missouri School for the Deaf in 1954 and from Gallaudet in 1959 with a BSc in education.

In "Deaf Heritage: A Narrative History of Deaf America", Gannon brought together for the first time the story of the Deaf experience in America from a Deaf perspective. Recognizing the need to document the multifaceted history of this unique minority with its distinctive visual culture, he painstakingly gathered as much material as he could on Deaf American life.

This in-depth history of Deaf America begins with an overview of the early years. Each chapter then covers a decade of history, beginning with 1880. The text is supplemented by marvelous pictures, illustrations, vignettes and biographical profiles, as well as poems.

The book is available at:
By way of a sample "taster", here is part of the chapter on deaf priests in America.

Deaf Church in America: The Beginnings
by Jack R. Gannon

It was the Episcopal Church which took the lead in meeting the religious needs of the deaf community in America. Thomas Gallaudet, eldest son of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, began a Sunday School class for deaf people at St. Stephens Church in New York City in 1850.

Gallaudet was then an instructor at the New York Institute for the Deaf (now the New York School for the Deaf-Fanwood). Concerned about the lack of religious services for deaf people, he later resigned his teaching position and entered the ministry full time, becoming an ordained priest of the Episcopal Church in 1851. He founded St. Ann's Church for the Deaf in New York City, "the first church exclusively for deaf people in this country." Gallaudet is also considered the originator of the use of sign language in religious services for the deaf.

One day Gallaudet received a letter from a young schoolboy named Henry Syle. Syle wanted to know what the chances were for a deaf boy to become a clergyman. Gallaudet knew of no deaf clergymen then. He responded that he saw possibilities. He was encouraging. Of course, neither knew at that time that one day they would meet again and that Syle would become the first deaf man ordained as a priest in this country.

Except for poor health, Syle was the perfect choice. The son of the Rev. E.H. Syle, a missionary in China, young Henry was born in Shanghai in November, 1846. His mother was the sister of Senator H.W. Davis of Maryland. Young Syle's poor health prompted his parents to send him to America to live with his mother's sister in Alexandria, Virginia. When he was six years old he contracted scarlet fever which left him totally deaf.

He was sent to Mr. Bartlett's Family School for Young Deaf-Mute Children, a private school, located in Fishkill Landing, New York. Syle had learned to read the Bible when he was three years old, and he was intellectually ahead of the other children at the school. When the Bartletts moved their school to Hartford, where they later joined the teaching staff of the American School for the Deaf, Syle enrolled at ASD. Next he entered Trinity College in Hartford, then studied at St. John's College in Cambridge, England, but both times he was forced to suspend his college studies because of poor eyesight.

When he returned to this country, he accepted a teaching position at the New York School where he taught from 1867 to 1874. It was while teaching that he managed to complete work for his Bachelor of Arts degree by correspondence at Yale College. He completed a four-year course in one year. He continued his studies and earned two Master of Arts degrees, one from Yale in 1872 and one from Trinity College in 1875.

When he moved to Philadelphia to accept an assayer's position at the U.S. Mint, he became involved with the deaf congregation at St. Stephen's Church, and his earlier ambition to become a clergyman was once again whetted. He was already a licensed lay-reader, and he began studying for the ministry while conducting services for the deaf members.

To qualify for priesthood Syle not only had to pass an arduous examination which included Latin, Greek, Hebrew, philosophy, history, and church doctrine, but he also had to overcome the strong opposition of those who objected to the ordination of a deaf priest.

Guilbert C. Braddock, in writing about Syle and the obstacles he overcame, said, "Only a deaf man of the highest type of intelligence and scholarship could have succeeded at this crucial moment." Syle's success opened the door for others.

Much of the credit goes to Bishop William Bacon Stevens of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. He was willing to break with tradition and ordain a deaf man in spite of much opposition. The prevailing notion was that only a man in possession of all five senses was qualified to become a priest. Also, Bishop Stevens thought sign language "as much a language as Chinese" and believed that it was "as fully, acceptable to ordain a deaf man to preach in signs, as to ordain an Indian to preach in the Cherokee dialect."

Bishop Stevens realized that the sacraments had to be administered in a language that would be understood by the congregation. Following his ordination, Syle established the All Soul's Church for the Deaf at St. Stephen's and remained there until his premature death from pneumonia in 1890.

Austin W. Mann (1883), Jacob M. Koehler (1887), Job Turner (1891) and James H. Cloud (1893) followed Syle to the priesthood.

Opposition to ordaining deaf men continued and when Charles O. Dantzer, the seventh deaf man to be ordained, approached his bishop for the Holy Orders, his bishop responded, "My son, I dare not lay hands on you, but will ask Bishop Huntingdon to do it for me."

Nevertheless, by 1900 there were seven ordained deaf Episcopalian priests and by 1930 the number had grown to 22. The early popularity of the Episcopal Church in the deaf community can be credited to these deaf priests. Not only did these men provide spiritual leadership for the deaf community but many of them filled prominent leadership roles on the national level.