Friday, 21 October 2016

The Church of Scotland in Jersey

From “The Pilot”, 1983, comes this interesting article from The Reverend P Kirby

The Church of Scotland in Jersey
By the Rev P Kirby

There has been a Church of Scotland presence in Jersey since 1972.

At that time the Presbyterian Church of England opted to go back into the Church of Scotland, rather than unite with the Congregational Church to form the United Reformed Church.

I say go back into the Church of Scotland, because St Columba's Midvale Road, St Helier, was originally founded and built in the 1850's by the Free Church of Scotland to care for Scottish troops and the Scottish community living in Jersey. Although the congregation has not changed in character to any great extent, and although the pattern of worship is not very much different from the worship of the English Presbyterian Church, its affiliation and loyalty, along with its sister church in Guernsey, now lies with the National Church of Scotland, and its main function is to serve the Scottish Community, which is quite large in Jersey, and to minister to Scottish tourists during the holiday season.

The Other `Established' Church

As I understand it, the aim of this series of articles is to provide information on the background, history and current thinking of various churches, all of which will be regarded as "Free" or "Dissenting" churches by the Church of England.

Thus it will appear strange to some of your readers to have an article written about the other Established Church in Great Britain, which is neither part of the Anglican Communion, or even episcopally governed.

The Church of Scotland is the National Established Church in Scotland, protected by law and acts of Parliament. It has territorial responsibility for serving the country, which it does by a parish system. Although recognising the State, it is totally self-governing, no members of the Royal Family, Ministers of State, or Parliament, having any power to interfere in the running of the Church, no power of appointment to any parish or elevated office, no authority to pronounce on any issue of administration, jurisdiction or theology.

Because it is the Established Church in Scotland, the Queen, and Royal Household become ordinary members of the Church of Scotland once they cross the Border into Scotland, and although they are held in great love and affection by all they hold no office in the Courts of the Church.

Ecclesia Scoticana

Although the Church of Scotland has been Presbyterian by government, and Reformed in theology since the Reformation, the history of the church can be traced back almost to the origins of the Christian Church. It certainly dates from the occupation of Britain by Imperial Rome.

The Christianity thus imported by soldiers and colonists extended on the West Coast of Scotland as far as the Firth of Clyde. St Ninian 362 - 432 carried the gospel to Galloway and later to Central and Eastern Scotland, as far north as Caithness. In the 6th century a Christian kingdom - the original "Scotland" - was formed in Argyllshire by conquest and colonisation from Ulster. This led indirectly to the conversion of the mountainous region of North Pictland, again by missions from Ireland, amongst whose missionaries was St Columba who was the founder of the Abbey of Iona.

The actual name "Ecclesia Scoticana" was first recorded in 880 after the union of the crowns of North and South Pictland. Up to the 12th century the Scottish Church was Celtic in Government - that is, it was monastic, not episcopal. It also failed to acknowledge the authority of Rome. In 1188 the sees of York and Canterbury tried to gain jurisdiction over the Scottish Church, but failed. In order to keep ecclesiastical autonomy however the Church of Scotland had to accept Papal authority, which lasted until the Reformation.

In the mid-16th century the controversy with Rome was reopened and the Church of Scotland definitely rejected Papal authority; it reasserted its responsibility as a national church and its subsequent right and duty to correct error and reform abuse in its own practice. The reformation which resulted has in no way affected identity, but on the contrary reaffirmed and strengthened the unity and continuity of the Church of Scotland with the one church catholic.

Despite what people outside Scotland may think, the church and the state in Scotland see the Reformation not as creating a new church which brutally thrust out the old, but a reforming of the old in which there was maintained a oneness and a continuing identity with itself, and what had existed from the beginning.

One of the earliest acts of the General Assemblies after the Reformation was to adhere, along with the Reformed Churches of Hungary, Poland, France, Switzerland and the Palatinate to a confession known as the Second Helvetic. It held, amongst other things, to the major ecumenical creeds.

The main subordinate Standard of Faith of the Church of Scotland is the Westminster Confession of Faith. From 1693 Parliament, at the Church's request, made it a legal requirement that all clergy adhere to the Confession. It has remained thus until the present day, being confirmed by succeeding Assemblies and also by Acts of Parliament of 1905 and 1922.

Clergy And Ordained Laity

In administration the Church is Presbyterian, that is, it is governed by a series of courts in ascending authority, made up of both clergy and laity in equal numbers. With the exception of the sessions, which are made up entirely of ordained elders, who are laity ordained for life to local church government and pastoral oversight, each court is a 50/50 mix of clergy and elders. Presbytery, the next highest court has a geographical responsibility for churches within its bounds. It has oversight of all matters of administration, law, and theology, and also the power to ordain ministers and induct them to charges.

The Synod again has the same proportion of clergy to laity, and has authority over several Presbyteries, acting as a Court of Appeal. Finally there is the General Assembly, which is convened once a year in Edinburgh in May. It meets for a week and is the ultimate authority of the Church in all matters. Again there is an equal number of elders to clergy. Approximately one third of all clergy attend on a rotating basis.

Each Assembly appoints its own moderator from the attending clergy, and officially his moderatorship lasts only for the duration of the Assembly. During the rest of the year he represents the church as a roving ambassador. There is no hierarchy amongst the clergy. All are equal, and there are no "promoted" posts at all.

Since the 1970's the Church of Scotland has licensed and ordained women both to the Holy Ministry and the Eldership. Elders, who are ordained laity, assist the minister in his pastoral responsibilities, and in the administration of Holy Communion, which is usually celebrated four times a year. It is the Kirk Session who have the authority to decide on the number of times Holy Communion will be celebrated.

Finally you may ask, Why a Church of Scotland in Jersey? Whilst we enjoy very warm relationships with all denominations in the Island, we are not associated in any way with the so-called "English Free Churches". Our prime function is to represent the National Church of Scotland and to care for ex-patriate Scots. Although our church here holds the status of a full parish of the Church of Scotland it serves the same function as other national churches abroad, that of an overseas chaplaincy.

In other words we are a National Church in a foreign land. Having said that however, I must point out with pleasure that we are a congregation of many different nationalities and backgrounds, sharing common Presbyterian allegiance, and this makes our church rich in a real and living way, and open to all. Perhaps that is why when we put up our Church of Scotland board we retained our sign "Presbyterian Church".

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Island and Coast of Guernsey – Part 2

My post today is a selection from "The Channel Islands" by David Thomas Ansted and Robert Gordon Latham, published in 1865. Most travel guides look at the population, the sights to visit, something of the history, but this is an exception. It begins by looking at the geography of the Islands, and then considers how it his has shaped their subsequent history, so it is a bit different from the general guidebook.

The Island and Coast of Guernsey – Part 2
The most prominent near objects, on approaching St. Peter's Port from the sea, are Castle Cornet and the new harbour works. The former will be referred to presently. A portion of the latter, consisting of a magnificent sea wall, now connects and passes beyond the rock on which the castle stands, commencing at the southern extremity of the town; so that the castle and the works appear to form part of one great plan. This sea wall forms the south arm of the new harbour.

The old harbour of Guernsey, ordered to be built  AD 1275, by King Edward the First, and in course of construction for two centuries, from 1580 to 1780, was only four and a-half acres in extent, and the quay-room was extremely narrow and restricted. Plans for its enlargement, still retaining the character of a tidal harbour, were submitted to the states in 1836, by Mr. James Walker, and subsequently, others by Mr. Rendell.

The latter, though not very different from the former, were accepted; and their execution entrusted to Mr. G. Fosberry Lyster, on the recommendation of Mr. Rendell. Soon after the commencement of the works, important alterations were proposed; and it was decided that, instead of a mere tidal harbour, the natural features of the locality should be taken advantage of, the old harbour being entirely closed. It has also since been greatly improved. The whole of the alterations have been planned and carried out by Mr. Lyster.

An idea of the present harbour will be at once obtained by looking at the annexed plan. Two noble esplanades have been constructed, one on each side of the old harbour, running parallel with the sea front of the town, their total length being 2500 feet, with a breadth of 150 feet. From the two extremities of this, spring breakwaters: one at the south extremity, reaching beyond Castle Cornet, and now nearly 2000 feet in length, connects the -castle with the main land; the other, at the northern end, is incomplete. It is intended to run this out 1300 feet in an easterly direction, and then bend round 750 feet towards the north-east angle of Castle Cornet. 

Within this space will be enclosed, not only a large and excellent anchorage-ground of fiftyseven acres, the whole covered at low water neaps, but the small old harbour, now an inner harbour, a space intended to form a floating dock of ten acres extent, building yards, a careening hard, and other conveniences for shipping. The space enclosed will amount to as much as seventy-three acres at low water, and is being dredged to nine feet, low water spring tides.

Landing-places for steamers, accessible at all times of tide,— slip-ways and berthing for vessels, offering every convenience for trade,—form part of the plan in prosecution; and a great length of quays, eighty-four feet wide, has been already constructed, in addition to the level roadway and footpath on the breakwaters. All these latter are carried to a height of from ten to fifteen feet above the highest tides; arid two enormous massifs, or square emplacements, covering rocks, have been constructed,—one intended as a ladies' bathing-place, with bathing houses and hot water baths—and the other, at present left unemployed. On this it has been suggested that a first class hotel might with advantage be built.

The masonry of the work executed for the harbour is of granite, and does the greatest credit to all concerned. Much of it is Cyclopean, doing away with the formality of level courses, and this without any sacrifice of strength, although with a great economy in labour.

Castle Cornet was a far more picturesque object when a detached island fort, in the time of Charles the Second, than it has since been. It could then well compare, in this respect, with Elizabeth Castle, in Jersey. Although much dismantled, it still contains many architectural gems.  For a long time, and till the year 1811, it was the island prison; but this use is now superseded by a building near St. James' church, immediately behind the Court House, in the centre of the town.

The new gaol is, however, too small, and is ill adapted for its purpose. It is a singular fact, that all the modern buildings in the island are, without exception, singularly wanting in good taste; but whether this arises from want of cultivation, from the remains of Puritanical feeling, still very marked, or from absence of natural power of appreciating what is beautiful, is not easy to say.

St. Sampson's, the only other town, is much smaller than St. Peter's Port, and is now almost connected with it by houses and rows of buildings along the shore. It is a place of some business in connection with the stone trade, which is centred there, to take advantage both of the adjacent quarries and of the little harbour. Many improvements have been made in the harbour, and it is continually increasing in importance. There is little to attract or interest a stranger in the town; all the buildings, except the church, being small and of modern construction.

The harbour is entirely dry at low water, and was originally part of a small arm of the sea, which severed the northern portion of the island from the main land. It is only sixty years since this strait was permanently embanked at each end, and the intervening land reclaimed. The space forming the harbour is about 2000 feet in length by 500 feet wide, and encloses twentytwo acres of water, at high spring tides. A breakwater now extends 650 feet in a southerly direction from the north shore, and terminates 120 feet from the south pier-head; and this work, recently completed, has greatly improved and sheltered the harbour.

The wide shingle bay, having at intervals large spits of sand, that extends between St. Sampson's and St. Peter's Port, has already been mentioned as presenting few features of interest. About half way between, however, there is a curious ivycovered fragment of antiquity, called the ' Chateau des Marais,' better known as the Ivy Castle. It is surrounded by a fosse and by an outer wall, enclosing a
space of about four acres.

To form an idea of Guernsey, it must be visited in two ways; for the interior gives but little idea of the coast, and the fine scenery of the coast seldom opens at all into the island. As a whole, there are few parts of the Atlantic coast of Europe where the cliffs communicate so little, by picturesque open valleys, with the interior of the country; but this arises chiefly from the fact, that the rock is everywhere granite, sloping with some degree of regularity in one direction. The natural fractures, produced by the elevation of the mass, have been already deeply penetrated by the sea, and have produced a multitude of detached islands and rocks, so that what remains consist of hard, rocky masses of table land, often high, but nowhere hilly.

It will be advisable to describe, first, the coast scenery, and afterwards, that of the interior; and, as the most convenient order, we may, with advantage, commence in the vicinity of the town, and notice the chief points of interest as we follow the line of cliff immediately to the south.

From the harbour, the sea wall continues for a short distance to a part of the coast called Les Terres, at which point the cliffs are precipitous, and a strip of public walks and gardens between them and the sea is now in course of arrangement. The ground thus utilised was laid bare during the construction of the harbour; and the mode in which an operation, which might have been unsightly, has been rendered decorative, is worthy of every praise. Two or three small bays beyond, included within the enceinte of the fort, and not accessible to the public, terminate at a small projecting headland, marked with a very unsightly white turret, serving as a sea mark.

Fermain Bay, at the foot of the cliff at this point, is a pretty sandy cove, behind which is one of the few narrow glens opening into the interior. A road runs up to the right from the sands of Fermain Bay to the St. Martin's road, passing two cottage residences placed on the steep slope of the gorge; and a blind path, choked with furze and brambles, may be found to the left, and followed between thick hedges up another branch of the glen, also to the St. Martin's road.

Perched on a tongue of high land between these, is the park-like and well-wooded little estate of Bon Air, built by a former bailiff of the island. There is a private way through the gorse-covered sides and ferny bottom of the glen, from the house to the sea; and the annexed wood cut will give some notion of the exquisite beauty of the broken ground, and the mixture of cultivation and wildness in this part of the island.

From the narrow path just alluded to, a branch will be found close to the edge of the cliff, and an extremely picturesque path conducts to a small fisherman's landing-place, called the Bee du Nez, near which are two open, rocky caverns. Still further on, the same path enters a grassy and ferny hollow, below the Doyle column at Jerbourg. It is quite possible to reach this point at all seasons, at the risk of tearing clothes with brambles and wetting feet in the damp, boggy earth.

From the hollow, which is always rather wet, the shore may easily be reached, and it is well worthy of the effort. To the left there is a cavern, superior to any in Guernsey, except the Creux Mahie, and remarkable for its noble and simple proportions, and magnificent entry through and amongst huge, broken rocks. Turning to the left, as you enter, several fine fragments of rock and grand arched rocks conduct to an imperfect representation of a cavern and funnel well known in Sark, and called there, the Pot. The chimney, or opening above, is here much less lofty than in Sark, and the top is concealed by a thick growth of brambles. In this respect it agrees better with the Creux at Herm.

In all these cases the hole has been originally produced in a soft vein, by rain water. The vein is a very dark green decomposing rock, and contrasts finely with the pink granite. It is continued across to a corresponding bay on the other side of Jerbourg promontory, called 'Petit Port.' Besides this vein, there is one of quartz, and several very interesting minerals are found near. The chief source of interest is, however, derived from the noble forms of broken rock, and the thick vegetation that comes down almost to the water's edge. Considering its wild beauty, it is singular that this little bay, so near the town, is not more frequently visited and better known.

Mounting the cliff at this point, we reach Jerbourg Point, where a column has been erected in honour of Sir John Doyle, a former governor, to whom the island was indebted for its roads, and for numerous improvements.

The views from hence, and also from the rocks about a quarter of a mile beyond, are very fine. The promontory on which the column is placed, forms the south-eastern extremity of Guernsey. It is the nearest point in the island to Jersey, being somewhat less than eighteen miles north-east of Cape Grosnez, in that island. The height of the cliff at the base of the column is about 300 feet. Beyond the foot of the cliff there are several detached rocks, rising out of deep water. The depth of water almost immediately outside Jerbourg Point, and close to these rocks, is at least twenty fathoms.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Beyond Borders: The Vision of Jean Monnet

“Make men work together: show them that beyond their differences and geographical boundaries there lies a common interest.” (Jean Monnet)

Beyond Borders

Yesterday I listened to the play on Radio 4 Extra called “Beyond Borders”. It was written by Mike Walker, produced by Richard Clemmow, directed by Dirk Maggs. It was first aired on Radio 4 on December 2011, and at the time raised the ire of the Daily Mail (who in typical Little Englander fashion labelled the BBC as “The Brussels Broadcasting Corporation”). The reason was because the play laid out with simplicity the reasoning and purpose of the European Union, and why it was so necessary as a foundation for peace in Europe.

The blurb for the play reads as follows:

“After the devastation of WW2, a plan emerges for the economic reconstruction of France and the unification of Europe in an attempt to secure a prosperous future and to avoid future armed conflicts. “

“In 1950, Jean Monnet worked with the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schumann, to combine the coal and steel industries of France and Germany, setting in place the foundations of the Common Market... “

“Cast: Timothy West as Monnet, Lesley Manville as Silvia Monnet, with Daniel Weyman, Philip Jackson, William Hope, Jonathan Hyde.”

The key theme is how to prevent another European war. Monnet saw that war came from disputed borders, and in particular, borders between Germany and France which had led to war. Those borderlands were rich in coal, and industrialised for steel production. While the United States wanted the rump that was West Germany to get back on its feet, the French feared a German which was becoming an industrial power, which could as in the past, so easily turn from production of peacetime goods to armaments.

Monnet’s solution was elegant, and was given in the statement laid forward by the French foreign minister Robert Schuman on 9 May 1950. Inspired and for the most part drafted by Jean Monnet, this was a proposal to place Franco-German production of coal and steel under one common “High Authority”.

This organization would be open to participation to other European countries. This cooperation was to be designed in such a way as to create common interests between European countries which would lead to gradual political integration, a condition for the pacification of relations between them. It would prevent war from disputes over resources and territory by creating a single free market for trade. This was the birth of the European Economic Community, as it was then known.

Monnet was trying to found an organisation to prevent war. In the Great War of 1914-18, millions of Europeans tried to kill each other, and twenty years later, war came again, and millions of people died. Either something was done to prevent that, as he hoped, or history might well repeat itself. Something had to be done, and he was determined to do just that.

But the play is also full of characters, beautifully drawn. As Elisabeth Mahoney commented when it was first aired in 2011:

“This was a well-told tale, based on historical documents and with a great sense of pace and urgency. Walker's writing wisely focused more on personal conversations and discussions over dinner – Monnet, played by Timothy West, made a key pledge by writing on a napkin – so we built up a sense of personalities as well as political developments.”

“West and Manville in particular convinced as husband and wife, reflecting together on huge events around them in the post-war years and what they might mean. She asked at one point how many people had died in the Second World War, and her work-obsessed husband reeled off precise statistics for each country. ‘It was a rhetorical question Jean,’ she sighed.”

One thing that is clear, almost prescient given the aftermath of Brexit. Monnet had a firm conviction that all participating countries should be sharing fairly; there would be no special privilege or treatment for one. And as the play makes clear, at the time, Britain didn’t want to know, unless they could participate in their own terms, which of course they could not.

Looking at it from the outside perspective, as the play does, it is clear that Britain was almost trying to perpetuate its own class divide into Europe, with itself as a more privileged nation above others, just as within Britain there is a class divide. The play actually helps the listener to see how wrong this is, that all countries in Europe should play according to common rules, without one having a special joker card to trump others. In the post-Brexit world, this is a message which we have forgotten.

Today in Europe – to say nothing of the rest of the world – Monnet is often a forgotten historical figure, his contributions to peace and prosperity in Europe largely overlooked. This play gave a welcome insight into his inspiring genius about which I had hitherto been ignorant.

This was the text of the declaration in full - my italics.Unlike many political documents it is short - under 1,000 words, and states succinctly the strategy to avoid war - build economic co-operation as a start to co-operation between different nations for the common good of all their members.

The Schuman Declaration – 9 May 1950

World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it.

The contribution which an organized and living Europe can bring to civilization is indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations. In taking upon herself for more than 20 years the role of champion of a united Europe, France has always had as her essential aim the service of peace. A united Europe was not achieved and we had war.

Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity. The coming together of the nations of Europe requires the elimination of the age-old opposition of France and Germany. Any action taken must in the first place concern these two countries.

With this aim in view, the French Government proposes that action be taken immediately on one limited but decisive point.

It proposes that Franco-German production of coal and steel as a whole be placed under a common High Authority, within the framework of an organization open to the participation of the other countries of Europe. The pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe, and will change the destinies of those regions which have long been devoted to the manufacture of munitions of war, of which they have been the most constant victims.

The solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible. The setting up of this powerful productive unit, open to all countries willing to take part and bound ultimately to provide all the member countries with the basic elements of industrial production on the same terms, will lay a true foundation for their economic unification.

This production will be offered to the world as a whole without distinction or exception, with the aim of contributing to raising living standards and to promoting peaceful achievements. With increased resources Europe will be able to pursue the achievement of one of its essential tasks, namely, the development of the African continent.

In this way, there will be realised simply and speedily that fusion of interest which is indispensable to the establishment of a common economic system; it may be the leaven from which may grow a wider and deeper community between countries long opposed to one another by sanguinary divisions.

By pooling basic production and by instituting a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and other member countries, this proposal will lead to the realization of the first concrete foundation of a European federation indispensable to the preservation of peace.

To promote the realization of the objectives defined, the French Government is ready to open negotiations on the following bases.

The task with which this common High Authority will be charged will be that of securing in the shortest possible time the modernization of production and the improvement of its quality; the supply of coal and steel on identical terms to the French and German markets, as well as to the markets of other member countries; the development in common of exports to other countries; the equalization and improvement of the living conditions of workers in these industries.

To achieve these objectives, starting from the very different conditions in which the production of member countries is at present situated, it is proposed that certain transitional measures should be instituted, such as the application of a production and investment plan, the establishment of compensating machinery for equating prices, and the creation of a restructuring fund to facilitate the rationalization of production. The movement of coal and steel between member countries will immediately be freed from all customs duty, and will not be affected by differential transport rates. Conditions will gradually be created which will spontaneously provide for the more rational distribution of production at the highest level of productivity.

In contrast to international cartels, which tend to impose restrictive practices on distribution and the exploitation of national markets, and to maintain high profits, the organization will ensure the fusion of markets and the expansion of production.

The essential principles and undertakings defined above will be the subject of a treaty signed between the States and submitted for the ratification of their parliaments. The negotiations required to settle details of applications will be undertaken with the help of an arbitrator appointed by common agreement. He will be entrusted with the task of seeing that the agreements reached conform with the principles laid down, and, in the event of a deadlock, he will decide what solution is to be adopted.

The common High Authority entrusted with the management of the scheme will be composed of independent persons appointed by the governments, giving equal representation. A chairman will be chosen by common agreement between the governments. The Authority's decisions will be enforceable in France, Germany and other member countries. Appropriate measures will be provided for means of appeal against the decisions of the Authority.

A representative of the United Nations will be accredited to the Authority, and will be instructed to make a public report to the United Nations twice yearly, giving an account of the working of the new organization, particularly as concerns the safeguarding of its objectives.

The institution of the High Authority will in no way prejudge the methods of ownership of enterprises. In the exercise of its functions, the common High Authority will take into account the powers conferred upon the International Ruhr Authority and the obligations of all kinds imposed upon Germany, so long as these remain in force.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Politicians Pay, Patronage and Equity

Politicians Pay, Patronage and Equity

Place your duties before reward.

Appointing good people to government and paying them well is an ancient Confucianist concept .
Goh Chok Tong, Prime Minister of Singapore, National Day Rally Speech, 20 August 2000

The quotations above illustrate how easy it is to misquote an individual thinker, especially when the misquotation supports your own point of view, and thereby legitimises it.

I've selected those quotations because they sum up the divide between those who think that States membership is to some degree, even if paid, a public duty, and those who argue that you have to increase the pay of States members to what they are really worth.

It might be thought that most people, in these times of economic austerity, regards States members pay as very good indeed. It is not perhaps as much as some members might gain from private employment, but that is their choice. After all, there was a time, not so long ago, when States members had no salary at all, and anyone who entered the States had to be self-sufficient, or financed by the goodwill of others.

But there are those - and these are people making submissions to the Electoral Commission - who think that States members should be paid more - to attract the "right kind of person"! Even though unemployment is high, the minimum wage rise is small, and there is talk of a pay freeze for the public sector, these people think that States members pay - at over £44,000 a year - should be more still!

Here are a few of those submissions - I've left the names out, but browsing the online submissions will reveal who they are:

“I am in favour of fewer, high quality States Members receiving a higher salary to reflect the responsibilities of the position. “

“At present the salary is far too low and so attracts those who are unable to earn this amount in the workplace or those who are retired or have personal means to bring up their salaries. I am aware that some are sponsored by business, but this is not consistent or offer equality of opportunity. By reducing the numbers of members the salaries could be increased at little cost to the tax payer. “

“With Ministers and Deputies being paid a good salary and conforming to minimum requirement qualification to ensure good calibre of States member. I would suggest £100k maximum for working full time in the role of States Members with no other Directorships or involvement with business to ensure ethical representation. Working full time would give a better cover and ensure the roles were busy enough to employ them full time."

“Reducing the number of states members to 31 would allow for a significantly higher salary to be paid, which would encourage a wider range of candidates with a broader experience of business and general life experience than the current salary band allows. “

“Members also need a more realistic remuneration package, allowing them an opportunity to focus full time or at least 40 hours per week on the job of an elected professional politician. We need full time members not part time and this can only be achieved by paying an appropriate salary and the provision of the necessary administrative support.”

In 1962, Roland Young set out the basic argument why MPs in the UK should not have such high salaries:

“Although the salaries of Members are small compared with those of the higher branches of the Civil Service and of the staff of Parliament, there would be considerable opposition to increasing the salaries of Members to any very large sum. The opposition to increased salaries is based, primarily, on the theory that parliamentary work is a public service and not to be measured by ordinary standards of income.” (1)

There is of course a major difference between politicians on a small Island - there is not the travel between constituencies that can be hundreds of miles away. Nor are there late night sessions of the States, as in the UK Government; if business goes on too long one day, it is adjourned to the next.

Another argument against excessive pay is that it divorces the politician from those people they should represent. In 2007, the UK MPs wanted an increase over their 60,000 a year salaries, although their pay was more than double that of the average worker of the time.

Martin Bell, former independent MP and anti- sleaze campaigner, said: 'I find it extraordinary. It is a huge privilege to be a Member of Parliament. MPs are paid far above the average salary of the people they represent. (2)

Martin Bell also noted how Parliament worked - and that it is actually in session for less than half the year.

“None of this is related to performance. The rules are so drawn - by the MPs themselves, of course - that sheer bone idleness cannot be grounds for complaint against a Member of Parliament.”

“Those who press for self-enrichment, including senior backbenchers on both sides of the House, believe that they should be paid like CEOs or captains of industry, with rich rewards to match their responsibilities. This is their case: pay peanuts and you'll get monkeys.”

The answer to this is simple.

“Nearly [pounds sterling]60,000 is not peanuts to most people, but far higher than the average income in even the wealthiest constituency. MPs should be without ambition to play in the fat cats' league.”

“Rather the reverse. They are public servants. They have a duty to set an example of admirable conduct and honest politics. Most MPs, but by no means all, do set an example - too often quite unnoticed by the people who know a gravy train when they see one. “

“If the proposed pay increases go through, they will send a signal, actually, a false one, that most MPs are in politics for what they can get out of it. NOT only that, but once elected they will be increasingly reluctant, in later years, to retire from positions of such lucrative obscurity.”

“Hence the difficulty the Conservatives had to ease out the so-called 'bed-blockers', - elderly Members who had already served in a Parliament for a term too many - and replace them with new blood. All parties have bed-blockers, and they will soon have an extra incentive to stay on the payroll. (3)”

The principles behind paying politicians is that no one should be unable to stand because of lack of means; that being part of the States of Jersey should be open to all.

It was clearly unfair, as happened in the first instance, that members should be means tested, so that those who had other sources of income were harder up than other members. People with other means, perhaps from investments, should not be penalised either. That was the real equality of opportunity.

Between those two principles, politicians should be paid - but not excessively.

If they are paid excessively, as these submissions suggest, expect deposits for elections to rear their head again to ensure that the poorer people are excluded. And also, as the Daily Record noted in 2007, more Type B politicians:

“So what makes someone suddenly decide they would like to become an honourable member? I give you two choices:”

“a) A selfless desire to devote your life to helping others and making your country a fairer, better place to live.”

“b) A huge ego, a lust for power, local and perhaps national celebrity, a great salary, brilliant pension, endless perks . . . and more days off than Santa.”

“Now, think about your own MP and decide which box he ticks off.”

So should Ministers be paid more than backbenchers, because they have managed to gain the supporting votes of fellow members for their post? In the UK, you are talking about a huge number of backbenchers to a small cabinet.

In Jersey, the proportion is much smaller, and with collective responsibility, this would create even more incentive for the remuneration to act as an incentive to stay on side, and not rock the boat. In other words, the loss of pay could act as a driver towards a more uniform style of politics, where patronage is more important than connecting to the electorate.

A patronage system would be where a Chief Minister, after winning an election, nominates Ministerial posts to his/her supporters as a reward for supporting him or her working toward victory.

And while politicians pay is set independently, there should be a “double lock”. It should be independent – that is right and proper – but it should also be locked so that it cannot exceed rises in the public sector pay awards. In other words, it can increase at the same rate, or less, but not greater. That would seem to be common justice and fairness.

(1) The British Parliament. Roland Young, 1962
(2) Pittance! Twice the Average Salary but MPs Think They're Underpaid. Newspaper Title: The Daily Mail. April 7, 2007
(3) Boot out the Boot-Fillers - as MPs Demand a 22% Pay Rise, MARTIN BELL Argues That They Are Destroying Trust in Public Life. The Mail on Sunday. December 4, 2005.
(4) Lazy MPs Get More Days off Than Santa. Daily Record.July 31, 2007.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Farm Fresh Fur on the High Street

Farm Fresh Fur on the High Street

“The beautiful furs from leopard, jaguar, Snow leopard, Clouded leopard and so on, are used to clad the inelegant bodies of thoughtless and, for the most part, ugly women. I wonder how many would buy these furs if they knew that on their bodies they wore the skin of an animal that, when captured, was killed by the medieval and agonizing method of having a red-hot rod inserted up its rectum so as not to mark the skin.” (Gerald Durrell)

“Animals on fur farms spend their entire lives confined to cramped, filthy wire cages. Fur farmers use the cheapest and cruelest killing methods available, including suffocation, electrocution, gas, and poison. “More than half the fur in the U.S. comes from China, where millions of dogs and cats are bludgeoned, hanged, bled to death, and often skinned alive for their fur. Chinese fur is often deliberately mislabeled, so if you wear any fur, there’s no way of knowing for sure whose skin you’re in.” (PETA)

Bailliwick Express reports that fur is on sale here

“A range of winter warmers that have gone on sale on Jersey's high street has been freezing out some local customers, and re-ignited a social media debate about whether it's right or wrong to wear real fur.”

“Dozens of people have commented on Facebook about Voisins selling it this season, with some so disgusted they claim they'll be boycotting the store - while others argue it's no different to wearing leather or eating meat.”

“Voisins Department Store Chairman Gerald Voisin said: ‘As a fashion retailer, Voisins is committed to bringing customers a broad choice of brands and products. Animal welfare is important to us, and we are aware that across the industry, the sustainability and ethics behind fashion manufacturing is an area of growing concern for a number of customers. We have received assurances from our brands that the fur featured in the garments in store has been sourced ethically from certified suppliers.”

Harvey Nickols had a similar response. In an email to CAFT, their Press and Marketing Director wrote: "I can confirm that our buyers have bought fur trimmed products for this season. We have taken this opportunity to review our fur policy and from this season onwards we will be stocking fur trimmed products. The fur used is ethically sourced and humanely farmed."

And writing in the Telegraph in 2014, Oliver Duggan, said:

“Haunting images of caged animals raised in poor conditions to be skinned for their fur have damaged the perception of fur for decades, but according to Hockley the reality of the industry has changed dramatically. He claims that the industry treats animals more humanely than those who farm animals for meat or leather, adding that demand for ethically-sourced fur motivated a series of improvements in regulation.”

“The ‘Origin Assured’ (OA) programme, for instance, was launched in Moscow in 2007 to distinguish between ethical and unethical farming in the more than $15bn (£9.2bn) global fur industry.

Backed by the International Fur Trade Federation, it’s a label similar to ‘Fair Trade’ that is reserved for fur sourced from farms that meets the industry’s new standards.”

However this claim just does not stand up in practice. Instead, “ethically farmed” seems to be more like the branding of factory hens as “farm fresh”, something that sounded as good as “free range” but actually was not. It was a clever piece of PR, so that consumers would feel good about buying the product.

For in 2016, this whole claim of “ethically sourced” was challenged by PETA, both with researched reports and with recent video evidence

“The Dutch fur industry tried to dupe the public into believing that its fur products are “100% ethically sourced”. But the Advertising Standards Agency agreed with PETA Netherlands that the industry’s claims are wholly unsubstantiated.”

“In their complaint, PETA Netherlands referenced investigations of fur farms in countries eligible for the fur industry’s “Origin Assured” label, a scheme which is supposed to guarantee that animals who were killed to make products were treated humanely.”

“Fur produced on farms in twenty-nine countries can potentially be labeled “Origin-Assured” simply because those countries have environmental standards, animal welfare laws and/or best practice guidelines on the books. Whether or not those standards are robust or enforced isn't taken into consideration.”

The video footage can be seen at:

PETA notes that:

“The video footage you've just seen was all captured in nine of the biggest fur-producing countries in the Western world: Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the US.”

“All fur products from these countries are eligible to carry the International Fur Trade Federation's "Origin Assured" label, which is supposed to guarantee that the animals who were killed to make the product were treated humanely.”

Real Ethical Fur

However, this is one product which can be called “ethical fur”, and it is that produced by Pamela Paquin under the brand “Petite Mort”, in the USA.

As Kimberley Mok reports:

“‘Ethical fur’ may seem like an oxymoron, especially in light of greenwashing campaigns that attempt to obfuscate the full environmental impact and inhumane practices of the mainstream fur industry. Nevertheless, there are alternatives, and we've seen designers use roadkill for fur clothing rather than raise captive animals, and it may make more sense than you may initially think”

“According to Culture Change, around 1 million animals are killed on American roads every day (or approximately 365 million animals a year). The fur industry, on the other hand, kills 50 million animals per year. So that's a lot of roadkill that's essentially going to waste -- a fact that's spurred the recent rise of "roadkill cuisine" and businesses like Wayland, Massachusetts-based ethical fur company Petite Mort.”

“Founder Pamela Paquin, a former global sustainability consultant who grew up on a dairy farm, handcrafts luxurious items out of dead animals that she finds on the roads. She calls it "accidental fur," working with local highway agencies and animal control departments to source the dead animals, which have ranged from fox, beaver, bears, raccoons, otters, deer, mink and more. She works with local taxidermists to process the skins, which are then shipped off to a tannery in Idaho, one of the few places that can handle partial pelts.”

Pamela Paquin says that:

“Accidental furs are loving resurrections of our fuzzy wild neighbors who have met with an untimely or natural death – it is sensible Yankee ethics at their best. Each luxurious piece is hand made, individually numbered, custom tailored to each owner’s specifications, befitting an heirloom investment.”

The report notes that:

“Paquin's furry gloves, leg warmers, neck muffs and hats aren't cheap, ranging from USD $380 to $1,000, but the demand for her one-of-a-kind pieces has been very strong. Best of all, a percentage of sales goes to Critical Pathways, a project that works to provide local wildlife safe underpasses to traverse highways.”

An article by Meaghan Agnew in “Modern Farmer” also looks at what she is doing.

“It’s so much a part of everyday life to see these animals,” says Paquin. “Who of us doesn’t look away? You don’t want to see it because when you fully soak in the meaning of what happened, it’s emotionally draining.”

Lest one fear the wrath of PETA, Paquin also sews a sterling silver badge to the outside of the piece, indicating it as a one of a kind, principled product: “People need to look at the fur and say okay, that’s Petite Mort, it’s an ethical fur.” All pieces are made to measure and start at $1000, save for the hats, which range from $380 to $500. (Men, FYI, are big fans of the leg warmers.)

So come on, Voisins, why not stock some really ethical fur, rather than that which is about as ethically sourced as “farm fresh” is for chickens?


Sunday, 16 October 2016

A Local Inquisition

I first came across this short story back in the early 1980s and made a photocopy of it, as I liked it so much.That was of course, was when I was at University, and there were, I am sorry to say, Christians very like the elders in this story, although there were also ones who displayed much more generosity of spirit. This is very much a story about a hard line Scots Calvinism, and it was written by the Reverend John Watson (3 November 1850 – 6 May 1907), known by his pen name Ian Maclaren.

Maclaren's first stories of rural Scottish life, Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush (1894), achieved extraordinary popularity, selling more than 700 thousand copies, and were succeeded by other successful books, The Days of Auld Lang Syne (1895), Kate Carnegie and those Ministers (1896), and Afterwards and other Stories (1898). By his own name Watson published several volumes of sermons, among them being The Upper Room (1895), The Mind of the Master (1896) and The Potter's Wheel (1897).

A Local Inquisition
Ian Maclaren.

His first service in St. Jude's Church was over and Carmichael had broken upon his modest dinner with such appetite as high excitement had left; for it is a fact in the physiology of a minister that if he preaches coldly he eats voraciously, but if his soul has been at a white heat his body is lifted above food. It had been a great change from the little Kirk of Drumtochty, with its congregation of a hundred country people, to the crowd which filled every corner of the floor below and the galleries above in the city church. While the light would that Sunday be streaming into the Highland Kirk and lighting up the honest, healthy faces of the hearers, the gas had been lighted in St. Jude's, for the Glasgow atmosphere was gloomy outside, and when it filtered through painted windows was as darkness inside.

There is no loneliness like that of a solitary man in a crowd, and Carmichael missed the company and sympathy of his friends. This mass of city people, with their eager expression, white faces and suggestion of wealth, who turned their eyes upon him when he began to preach, and seemed to be one huge court of judgment, shadowed his imagination. They were partly his new congregation and partly a Glasgow audience, but there were only two men in the whole church he knew, and even those he had only known for a few months.

When he rose to preach, with the heavy pall of the city's smoke and the city fog encompassing the church, and the glare of the evil-smelling gas lighting up its Gothic recesses, his heart sank and for the moment he lost courage. Was it for this dreary gloom and packed mass of strange people that he had left the sunlight of the glen and the warm atmosphere of true hearts? There were reasons why he had judged it his duty to accept the charge of this West End Glasgow church, and selfish ambition had certainly not been one, for Carmichael was a man rather of foolish impulses than of far-seeing prudence. He had done many things suddenly which he had regretted continually, and for an instant, as he faced his new environment and before he gave out his text, he wished that by some touch of that fairy wand which we are ever desiring to set our mistakes right or to give us our impossible desires, he could be spirited away from, the city which as a countryman he always hated, back to the glen which he would ever carry in his heart.

While vain regret is threatening to disable him the people are singing with a great volume of melody :

Jerusalem as a city is compactly built together;
Unto that place the tribes go up, the tribes of God go thither:

and his mood changes. After all, the ocean is greater than any river, however picturesque and romantic it be, and no one with a susceptible soul can be indifferent to the unspoken appeal of a multitude of human beings. Old and young of all kinds and conditions, from the captains of industry whose names were famous throughout the world to the young men who had come up from remote villages to push their fortune, together with all kinds of professional men administering justice, relieving suffering, teaching knowledge, were gathered together to hear what the preacher had to say in the name of God.

His message would be quickly caught by the keen city intellect and would pass into the most varied homes and into the widest lives, and there was an opportunity of spiritual power in this city pulpit which the green wilderness could not give.

As he looked upon the sea of faces the depths of Carmichael’s nature were stirred, and when his lips were opened he had forgotten everything except the drama of humanity in its tragedy and in its comedy, and the evangel of Jesus committed into his hands. He spoke with power as one touched by the very spirit of his Master, and in the vestry the rulers of the church referred to his sermon with a gracious and encouraging note. He walked home through the gloomy street with a high head, and in his own room, and in a way the public might not see, he received the congratulation he valued more
than anything else on earth. For Kate was proud that day of her man, and she was not slow either in praise or blame as occasion required, being through all circumstances, both dark and bright, a woman of the ancient Highland spirit. She was not to be many years by his side, and their married life was not to be without its shadows, but through the days they were together his wife stood loyally at Carmichael's right hand, and when she was taken he missed many things in his home and heart, but most of all her words of cheer, when in her honest judgment, not otherwise, he had carried himself right knightly in the lists of life.

His nerves were on edge, and although it mattered little that he was interrupted at dinner, for he knew not what he was eating, he was not anxious to see a visitor. If it were another elder come to say kind things, he must receive him courteously, but Carmichael had had enough of praise that day; and if it were a reporter desiring an interview he would assure him that he had nothing to say, and as a consolation hand him his manuscript to make up a quarter column.

But it was neither a city merchant nor a newspaper reporter who was waiting in the study; indeed, one could not have found in the city a more arresting and instructive contrast.

In the centre of the room, detached from the bookcase and the writing table, refusing the use of a chair, and despising the very sight of a couch, stood isolated and self-contained the most austere man Carmichael had ever seen, or was ever to meet in his life. He had met Calvinism in its glory among Celts, but he had only known sweet-blooded mystics like Donald Menzies or Pharisees converted into saints, like Lachlan Campbell, the two Highland elders of Drumtochty. It was another story to be face to face with the inflexible and impenetrable subject of Lowland Calvinism. Whether Calvinism or Catholicism be the more congenial creed for Celtic nature may be a subject of debate, but when Calvinism takes hold of a Lowland Scot of humble birth and moderate education and intense mind there is no system which can produce so uncompromising and unrelenting a partisan.

Carmichael always carried in mental photograph the appearance of Simeon MacQuittrick as he faced him that day his tall, gaunt figure, in which the bones of his body, like those of his creed, were scarcely concealed, his erect and uncompromising attitude, his carefully-brushed, well-worn clothes, his clean-shaven, hard-lined face, his iron gray hair smoothed down across his forehead, and, above all, his keen, searching, merciless gray eyes. Before Simeon spoke Carmichael knew that he was anti-pathetic, and had come to censure, and his very presence, as from the iron dungeon of his creed Simeon looked out on the young, light-hearted, optimistic minister of St. Jude's, was like a sudden withering frost upon the gay and generous blossom of spring.

"My name is Simeon MacQuittrick," began the visitor, "and I'm a hearer at St. Jude's, although I use that name under protest, considering that the calling of kirks after saints is a rag of popery, and judging that the McBriar Memorial, after a faithful Covenanter, would have been more in keeping with the principles of the pure Kirk of Scotland. But we can discuss that matter another day, and I am merely protecting my rights." As Carmichael only indicated that he had received the protest, and was willing to hear anything else he had to say, Simeon continued:

"Whether I be one of the true Israel of God or only a man who is following the chosen people like a hanger-on from the land of Egypt is known to God alone, and belongs to his secret things ; but I have been a professor of religion, and a member of the Kirk for six-and-forty years, since the fast day at Ecclefechan when that faithful servant of God, Dr. Ebenezer Howison, preached for more than two hours on the words, 'Many be called, but few are chosen/ " And Carmichael waited in silence for the burden of Simeon's message.

"It was my first intention," proceeded Simeon, as he fixed Carmichael with his severe gaze, "to deal wi' the sermon to which we have been listening, and which I will say plainly has not been savoury to the spiritual and understanding souls in the congregation, although I make no doubt it has pleasantly tickled the ears of the worldly. But I will pretermit the subject for the present first, because time would fail us to go into it thoroughly, and second because I am come to offer a better opportunity." Carmichael indicated without speech that Simeon should go on to the end.

"Ye will understand, Mr. Carmichael, that the congregation gathering in your Kirk is a mixed multitude, and the maist part are taken up wi' worldly gear and carnal pleasures like dinners, dancing, concerts and games ; they know neither the difference between sound doctrine and unsound, nor between the secret signs of saving faith and the outward forms of ordinary religion; as for the sovereignty of the Almighty, whereby one is elected unto light and another left unto damnation, whilk is the very heart o' religion, they know and care nothing.”

"Gin the Lord has indeed given ye a true commission and ye have been ordained not by the layin' on o' hands, whilk I judge to be a matter of Kirk order and not needful for the imparting of grace, as the Prelatists contend, but by the inward call of God, it will be your business to pull down every stronghold of lies, and to awaken them that be at ease in Zion with the terrors of the Lord. And ye might begin with the elders who are rich and increased in goods, and who think they have need of nothing. But I have my doubts." And the doubts seemed a certainty, but whether they were chiefly about the elders' unspiritual condition or Carmichael’s need of a true call Simeon did not plainly indicate.

"I am very sorry, Mr. MacQuittrick" and Carmichael spoke for the first time "that you consider the congregation to be in such a discouraging condition, especially after the faithful ministry of my honoured predecessor, but I trust out of such a large number of people that there must be a number of sincere and intelligent Christians." Which was a bait Simeon could not resist.

"Ye speak according to the Scriptures, Mr. Carmichael, for in the darkest days when Elijah testified against the priests of Baal and he is sorely needed to-day, for there be many kinds of Baal there were seven thousand faithful people. Yea, there has always been a remnant, and even in those days when the multitude that call themselves by the name of the Lord are hankering after organs and hymns and soirees and Arminian doctrine, there be a few who have kept their garments unspotted, and who mourn over the backslidings of Zion."

"Well, I hope, Mr. MacQuittrick, that some of the remnant can be found in St. Jude's." And Carmichael began to enter into the spirit of the situation.

"It doesna' become me to boast, for indeed there are times when I see myself in the court of the Gentiles, aye, and maybe in the outer darkness, but ye will be pleased to know that there are seven men who meet ae night every week to protest against false doctrine, and to search into the experiences o' the soul. Myself and another belong to the faithful remnant of the Scots Kirk, whilk the world calls the Cameronians ; two have been members wi' the original secession ; ane came from the black darkness o' the Established Kirk; and two were brought up in the Free Kirk, and I'll not deny, had a glimmerin' o' light. , When the godly minister who has gone to his reward, as we will hope, but the day alone will declare, lifted up his voice in the pulpit of St. Jude's against Sunday cars, opening the girdens on the Lord's Day, singing paraphrases at public worship, the worldly proposals for union with the Voluntaries, the preaching of teetotalism, and the blasphemy of the Higher Critics, we came to this Kirk and foregathered here as in a haven of refuge.”

"It came to our mind, Mr. Carmichael' and the representative of the remnant concluded his message "that it would strengthen your hands to know that ye have some discernin' professors in your Kirk, with whom ye could search into the deep things of God which might be beyond the depths of youth, and who will try the doctrine which ye may deliver from Sabbath to Sabbath. And we will be gathered together on Thursday night at 272 Water Street, by eight o'clock, to confer with you on the things of the kingdom."

When Carmichael arrived at the meeting-place of the remnant he had a sense of a spiritual adventure, and when he looked at the seven gray and austere faces, he imagined himself before the Inquisition. His host the brand plucked from the burning of the Establishment shook hands with gravity, and gave him a vacant chair at the table, where before him and on either side sat the elect. After a prayer by an original seceder, in which the history of the Scots Kirk from the Reformation and her defections in the present day were treated at considerable length and with great firmness of touch, and some very frank petitions were offered for his own enlightenment, the court was, so to say, constituted, and he was placed at the bar. If Carmichael imagined, which indeed he did not, that this was to be a friendly conference between a few experienced Christians and their young minister, he was very soon undeceived, for the president of the court called upon Simeon's fellow-covenanter to state the first question.

"It is one, Mr. Carmichael, which goes to the root of things, for he that is right here will be right everywhere; he that goes astray here will end in the bottomless pit of false doctrine.”

“Whether would ye say that Christ died upon the cross for the salvation of the whole world, and that therefore a proveesion was made for the pardon of all men gin they should repent and believe, or that he died only for the sins of them whom God hath chosen unto everlasting life, and who therefore shall verily be saved according to the will of God." And there was a silence that might be heard while the seven waited for the minister's answer.

When Carmichael boldly declared that the divine love embraced the human race which God had called into being, and that Christ as the Incarnate Saviour of the world had laid down his life not for a few but for the race, and that therefore there was freeness of pardon and fullness of grace for all men, and when finally he called God by the name of Father, the inquisitors sighed in unison. They looked like men who had feared the worst, and were not disappointed.

"Arminianism pure and simple," said one of the favoured children of the Free Kirk, "contrary to the Scriptures and the standards of the Kirk. Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated; a strait gate and a narrow way, and few there be that find it. And the end of this deceiving error which pleases the silly heart is Universalism nae difference between the elect and the multitude. But there were ither questions, and our brother Mr. MacCosh will maybe put the second." Although it was evident hope was dying out both for Carmichael and for the inquisitors.

"Do ye believe, Mr. Carmichael, and will ye preach that the offer of the gospel should be made to all men in the congregation, and that any man who accepts that offer, as he considers, will see the salvation of God ; or will ye teach that while the offer is made in general terms to everybody with words such as, 'Come unto me all ye that labour’, ’it is only intended for certain who are already within the covenant of redemption, and that they alone will be enabled by effectual grace to accept it, and that for them alone there is a place at the marriage feast? “

"And I am asking this question because there are so-called evangelists going up and down the land offering the invitation of the kingdom unto all and sundry, and forgetting to tell the people, if indeed they know it themselves, that it matters not how freely Christ be offered, and how anxious they may be to take him, none of them can lift a little finger in his direction unless by the power of the Spirit, and the Spirit is only given to them who have been in the covenant from all eternity."

Carmichael felt as if he were again making his vows before ordination, and any sense of the ludicrous which was a snare unto him and had tempted him when he came into the room, was burned out. He was face to face with a conscientious and thoroughgoing theology, against whose inhumanity and ungraciousness both his reason and his soul revolted.

"May I in turn put a question to you, sir, and the other brethren, and if you will answer mine I will answer yours. Would you consider it honest, I will not say kindly, to invite twelve men to come to dinner at your house, all the more if they were poor and starving, and to beseech them to accept your invitation in the most tender terms, while you only intended to have six guests, or shall I say three out of the twelve, and had been careful to make provision for only three? You would despise such a host, and, Mr. MacCosh, will you seriously consider God to be more treacherous and dishonourable than we frail mortals?"

"Very superfeecial," burst in Simeon; "there is no question to be answered. Human analogies are deceiving, for nae man can argue from the ways of man to the ways of God, or else ye would soon be expectin' that the Almighty would deal wi' us the same as a father maun deal wi' his bairns, which is the spring o' that soul-destroying heresy, the so-called Fatherhood of God. Na, na" and MacQuittrick's face glowed with dogmatic enthusiasm, in which the thought of his own destiny and that of his fellow-humans was lost "he is the potter and we are the clay. Gin he makes one vessel for glory and another for shame aye, and even gin he dashes it to pieces, it is within his just richts. Wha are we to complain or to question? Ane oot o' twelve saved would be wonderful mercy, and the eleven would be to the praise of his justice." And a low hum of assent passed round the room.

"After what has passed, I'm not judging that it will serve any useful purpose to pit the third question, Mr. MacCosh," said the brand from the Establishment, "but it might be as well to complete the investigation. It's a sore trial to think that the man whom we called to be our minister, and who is set over the congregation in spiritual affairs knows so little of the pure truth, and has fallen into sae many soul-enticing errors. Oh ! this evil day ; we have heard wi' our ain ears in this very room, and this very nicht, first Arminianism, and then Morisonianism, the heresy of a universal atonement and of a free offer. I'll do Mr. Carmichael justice in believin' that he is no as yet at any rate a Socinian, but I'm expecting that he's a Pelagian. Oor last question will settle the point.

"Is it your judgment, Mr. Carmichael" and there was a tone of despair in the voice of the president "that a natural man, and by that I mean a man acting without an experience of effectual and saving grace given only to the elect, can perform any work whatever which would be acceptable to God, or whether it be not true that everything he does is altogether sinful, and that although he be bound to attempt good works in the various duties of life they will all be condemned and be the cause of his greater damnation?" And when, at the close of this carefully-worded piece of furious logic, Carmichael looked round and saw approval on the seven faces, as if their position had been finally stated, his patience gave way.

"Have you" and he leaned forward and brought his hand down upon the table "have you any common reason in your minds; I do not mean the pedantic arguments of theology, but the common sense of human beings? Have you any blood in your hearts, the blood of men who have been sons, and who are fathers, the feelings of ordinary humanity? Will you say that a mother's love to her son, lasting through the sacrifices of life to the tender farewell on her deathbed is not altogether good? That a man toiling and striving to build a home for his wife and children and to keep them in peace and plenty, safe from the storms of life, is not acceptable unto God? That a man giving his life to save a little child from drowning, or to protect his country from her enemies, is not beautiful in the sight of heaven? That even a heretic, standing by what he believes to be true, and losing all his earthly goods for conscience's sake, has done a holy thing tell me that ?" And Carmichael stretched out his hands to them in the fervour of his youth.

No man answered, and it was not needful, for the minister's human emotion had beaten upon their iron creed like spray upon the high sea cliffs. But one of them said, "That completes the list, downright Pelagianism," and he added gloomily, "I doubt Socianism is not far off."

The court was then dissolved, but before he left the room like a criminal sent to execution, a sudden thought struck Carmichael, and in his turn he asked a question.

"It is quite plain to me, brethren" for so he called them in Christian courtesy, although if was doubtful if they would have so called him "that you have suspected me of unsoundness in the faith, and that you have not been altogether unprepared for my answers; I want to ask you something, and I am curious to hear your answer. There are many names attached to the call given to me by the congregation of St. Jude's, and I do not know them all as yet, but I hope soon to have them written in my heart. The people who signed that call declared that they were assured by good information of my piety, prudence and ministerial qualifications, and they promised me all dutiful respect, encouragement, support and obedience in the Lord. I have those words ever in my memory, for they are a strength to me as I undertake my high work. May I ask, are your names, brethren, upon that call, and if so, why did you sign it?"

As he was speaking, Carmichael noticed that the composure of the seven was shaken, and that a look of uneasiness and even of confusion had come over their faces. He was sure that they had signed and he also guessed that they had already repented the deed. It seemed to him as if there was some secret to be told, and that they were challenging one another to tell it. And at last, under the weight of his responsibility as president of the court, MacCosh made their confession.

"Ye must understand, Mr. Carmichael, that when your name was put before the congregation we, who have been called more than others to discern the spirits, had no sure word given us either for or against you, and we were in perplexity of heart. It was not according to our conscience to sign lightly and in ignorance as many do, and we might not forbear signing unless we were prepared to lay our protests with reasons upon the table of the presbytery. We gathered together in this room and wrestled for light, and it seemed to come to us through a word of our brother Simeon MacQuittrick, and I will ask him to mention the sign that we judged that day to be of the Lord, but it may be it came from elsewhere."

"That very morning," explained Simeon, with the first shade of diffidence in his manner, "I was reading in my chamber the Acts of the Apostles, and when I came to the words 'send men to Joppa’ I was hindered and I could go no further. The passage was laid upon my soul and I was convinced that it was the message of God, but concerning whom and concerning what I knew not. But it was ever all the hours of the day, 'send men to Joppa.'

"That very afternoon I met one of the elders who is liberal in his gifts and full of outward works, but I judge a mere Gallic, and he asked me whether I was ready to sign the call. I answered that I was waiting for the sign, and I told him of the words said to me that day. 'Well’ he said to me in his worldly fashion, 'if you will not call a man unless he be at Joppa you may have to wait some time, MacQuittrick ; but, by the way, I hear that Mr. Carmichael is staying near Edinburgh just now, and there is a Joppa on the coast next to Portobello.'

"He may have been jesting," sadly continued MacQuittrick, "and he is a man whose ear has never been opened, but the Almighty chooses whom he will as his messengers, and spake once by Balaam's ass, so I mentioned the matter to the brethren. And when we considered both the word of Acts and the saying of this Gallic, we accepted it as a sign. So it came to pass that we all signed your call. But it pleases God to allow even the elect to be deceived ; behold are there not false prophets and lying signs? And it may be ye were not at Joppa." And when Carmichael declared with joyful emphasis that he had never been at Joppa in his life, MacCosh summed up the moral of the call and the conference. "It was a sign, but it was from Satan."

Saturday, 15 October 2016

In Mourning

Today's poem is a reflection on grief and mourning, of individuals, of communities and of nations.

In Mourning

Sarah died at Hebron, her last breath,
And Abraham wept, mourned her death;
The tears flow, they water the dry land,
And time blows away like desert sand;
The prophet picked up the dead man:
The man of God, lived so short a span,
Until he died, and took him to his city,
Buried, mourned, and wept with pity;
All Israel will mourn for him, bury him:
The darkness comes, light grows dim;
The lowly will be set on high, above,
Those who mourn enfolded in love;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh:
Memories radiate, time cut in half;
Half life, that which remains, lament,
Weeping, garments torn, and rent;
A time to mourn, a time to dance:
Merry meetings past, happy chance;
Grief is destitute, she sits on the ground,
And bones are gathered in burial mound;
Mourn with bitter wailing, hope is dead:
And all that remains is the fear and dread;
Comfort all who mourn, and dry the tear,
Light the candle, take away all the fear;
Put on sackcloth, my people, roll in ash:
Where death intrudes, a chasm, a crash;
The earth will mourn, heavens grow dark,
The destroyer will come, will leave a mark;
How broken is the sceptre, broken the staff:
And the tyrant remains, with mocking laugh;
But the empires will fall, and tyrant’s throne,
Once so mighty, now mere dust and bone;
Nineveh is in ruins, who will mourn for her?
And nothing can halt it, nothing doom deter;
The land trembles, and the earth cries out,
And there is nowhere safe, no redoubt;
Woe to you well fed now, eating well,
For you will go hungry, your nations sell;
Huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
Weeping for a lost world, as you flee;
Wretched refuse of your teeming shore:
Lost are the moneyed plenty you adore;
Woe to you who laugh now, you will weep,
As in turn your day comes, time to sweep
Away injustice; then shall be no more tears,
Coming in the clouds, and an end to fears;
A wind is blowing clouds across the skies,
A time to end grief, a time for joy to rise;
They will soar on wings like eagles high,
Over sea-washed, sunset gates they fly,
Towards the lamp beside the golden door,
Journey onwards to the farthest shore.