Sunday, 19 May 2013

London in 1123 and 2013 at prayer, Smithfield, St Bartholomew's and Syria burning........

Back in 1123, Bartholomew Fair opened up alongside the horse market and St Bartholomew's Augustinian monastery.
It must have been quite a fair, because it was suppressed for rowdiness and debauchery in 1855, and generally speaking, things seem to have been bawdier and more debauched the further back you go.
Have a quick look at Chaucer or Rabelais if you want to check this out, or 'The Garden of Earthly Delights' by Hieronymous Bosch, from 1490.

While most folk then were making the most of the short span they knew they'd been allotted, some, a very small minority, were so removed from the cares of everyday life that they were debating ethereal questions as to the exact nature of The Holy Ghost and how the Spirit relates to the other two, as we found today when we attended the sublime service put on by St Bartholomew's clergy, these questions are still being debated today. In fact, we were informed that just to discuss them in the terms they are being framed is to risk heresy, and that they are still causing a rift between the Latin and Eastern churches.

Oh dear, we'd have hoped our men of the cloth might have lowered their sights a little since St Augustine's days, but no such luck.
The service showed that the church still has the artistic, architectural and musical ability to move the human soul.

It moved ours, almost to tears, especially the choir, which rose and fell like swooping angels through the spacious canopy of the church and reduced its congregation to awestruck amazement that such heavenly utterances could be heard here on earth.
Yet all this power is turned towards the Holy Ghost and how to let it enter thy heart.
We know that each of us can only do what we can, and that charity begins at home, but surely the fine and subtle minds of our clergy can put aside their theology for a while as the world races towards armageddon?
If the Holy Ghost is the only character to get a mention in the play of life, then surely we are nearing the end of the play?

As our Prime Minister urges upon us a several billion pound outlay for another round of nuclear missiles to be fired in the event that someone fires something at us, thereby guaranteeing us the grim satisfaction of knowing that we have slammed the door on life once and for all, we wanted to know how The Holy Ghost wanted us to react, not argue about whether he is one and three at the same time.

And as Al Qaeda and other fanatics in Syria kill each other to get their hands on its oil fields, we wondered if the Archbishop of Canterbury might have a view on whether we should support the USA in its arming of the chaotic cadres of a different God who are roaming Mad Max style across the deserts of Syria?
Ah well, the Peace of God passeth all understanding, that we now know for sure, and we repaired to Smiths, a fine establishment adjacent to Smithfield market, for a cup of tea and fish and chips, and very good they were too.

Someone wants to knock down parts of Smithfield Market and replace it with new shops and offices.
Let's hope they love what's there now, because it's beautiful and human, and glass and steel, the materials of our time, just aren't, most of the time. If they love what's there now, they might create something as lovely.
Dream on, brother.

Next week, at St Bartholomew's, The Mayor and his wife will attend the service, and a piece by Olivier Messiaen will be performed.

Let's hope it's not his 'Quartet for the end of Time'

Outside the church, the life of London goes on, unaware of the Holy Ghost drifting around. He's gender neutral we learnt today, but we reckon he's on the prowl for debauchery and rowdiness.
He or she will find it sooner or later around here, in fact, anywhere he looks.
After all, as Shakespeare wrote, 'It's a bawdy planet'.

He washed away the sin of the world.


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