Monday, 28 November 2011

Let's see if this gets into the Guardian ...

Dear Editor,

Delighted though I was to see my letter in Monday's newspaper, imagine my dismay on seeing it without my usual title - defrocked by The Guardian, something even the Bishops haven't yet dared to do! If The Guardian is indeed the new proprietor of the Church of England, may I warn you that the money ran out ages ago. And they don't like gays. Or women. You've got your work cut out.

All the best,

(The Revd) Richard Haggis

Letter, The Guardian, 28.11.11

"The government seems to think it can get 16,000 homes built for £400m. That's £25,000 each. If houses cost £25,000, there wouldn't be a housing crisis. The target should be to reduce the cost of housing dramatically, because the market has got out of control. It will take a lot more than 16,000 new houses to do that. More planning, less tinkering.

Richard Haggis
Littlemore, Oxford"

Interestingly, the Guardian seems to have de-frocked me, something the C of E hasn't yet got round to!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Saint Cecilia

Notes from a Homily for Holy Communion on
Tuesday, 22nd of November, 2011, 9 a.m.

Feast of Saint Cecilia

for the Sisters of the Love of God
Fairacres Priory, Oxford

Luke 21:5-11

+ May I speak in the name of the Divine Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Those of you who have come to know me well might be forgiven for thinking me a touch contrary by nature. The line in the old hymn “perverse and foolish” might well have been written with me in mind. So, as someone who has only ever mastered four musical notes, only in one order, and now forgotten them all to the point that I wouldn’t recognise them in a police line-up, you can perhaps imagine that being invited to say a word on the Feast of Saint Cecilia, patron saint of musicians, was a most attractive challenge. Imagine further my dismay that you only keep the feast once every three years, forcing me to resort to reading the Gospel, which is a beastly thing to do to any preacher.

And as I read it, one phrase kept leaping out “ … everything will be destroyed”. It’s difficult enough to preach the Good News convincingly without booby-traps like that being laid on your path. “Everything will be destroyed”. But must it? We have the parable of the sower from Jesus, and how the seed must die to yield a greater harvest, and S. Paul’s longer discourse on the same theme, but must there be all this death and destruction?

Lately I have had cause to be thankful for your prayers for my father, who is home from hospital, and much restored. In the course of these anxious months we have come to exchange a four-lettered word. Not the one I never knew he knew until I was about seventeen (when he locked the car keys in the boot of the car before seven in the morning and we had to be in London by nine), but that other one, “love”, which is the heart of the Good News of God revealed in Christ. He didn’t need to be destroyed for that. Thank God.

In the last few days an interesting obituary appeared in the newspapers – I read them as proof that I am still alive, I suppose it’s a middle-aged thing – of a scientist called Normal Ramsey, who was 96, and who had designed the delivery systems that allowed the two atomic bombs to be dropped on Japan in 1945. After the clamour of war, people have spoken and written of the dread silence that follows, and none more so than the silence that followed that awful deed. But must we destroy?

You may be familiar with the prayer, or perhaps it is a sort of meditation, of John Donne, about the place we are all headed for. He says it will be marked by “no noise, nor silence, but one equal music”. Perhaps I have cheatingly brought us back to Saint Cecilia after all. If she show us the way to understand the value, the strength, the beauty, of harmony, which is surely the essence of peace, and of which Christ is the Prince, maybe, just maybe, we could fashion a world in which there would no longer be a need for everything to be destroyed? If so, that would be Good News indeed. Amen.

Richard Haggis
Littlemore, Oxford
November 2011

Sunday, 20 November 2011

A Nation of Beggars

"A bishop's duty is to speak out against the benefits cap
The Church of England has a moral obligation to speak up for those who have no voice"

Dear Editor,

The Anglican bishops are right to speak out against any benefit-cutting strategy. However, the heart of the problem is not benefits, but a combination of low wages and hugely inflated accommodation costs. The market is haywire, so that even those with full-time work cannot afford to live without government handouts - housing benefit, child benefit, family tax credit, and the rest.

Successive governments have made us a nation of beggars. Will someone address this?

(The Revd) Richard Haggis
26 Bampton Close
01865 - 749520 / 07786 - 946296

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Proof of the pudding?

Parson Thomas Malthus was one of seven children, and himself the father of three. He was fascinated by population growth. How many descendants does he have now, I wonder?

"This is absolutely delightful and I'm going to come back and read more each time I need cheering up.

Anyone who includes copious alcohol and a laid-back attitude in the cooking/eating process has, in my humble opinion, moved way beyond the realms of mere clergy - Anglican or otherwise - and entered Sainthood."

Well, what more could anyone ask?!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Letter, The Independent, 07.11.11

On Remembrance Sunday in 1990, just as the first Gulf War was brewing up, I held back in the church hall as the others trooped out to the War Memorial, with the scouts, the British Legion and the rest. Eventually a lady of senior years and I were left behind.

I asked her why she hadn't joined them. She replied: "My father died in the Great War. Now they are planning another. They have remembered precisely nothing." I have not forgotten that.

The Rev Richard Haggis


Thursday, 3 November 2011

Daily Telegraph, 03.11.11

SIR – Dr Williams calls for a new tax on bankers, but there is no need for yet another tax: the United Kingdom's fiscal system is chaotic enough as it is. There is only one fair tax – income tax.

Money earned in this country should be taxed in this country. Whatever ends up in a person's pocket is surely fair game for the tax man. Salaries, bonuses, and payments-in-kind should be taxed alike: all are income.

If we start to single out particular professions for higher taxation we will tie ourselves in knots. What next? A tax on writers for wearing out library shelves?

Rev Richard Haggis
Littlemore, Oxfordshire