Saturday, 29 October 2011

Appropriate behaviour

Prompted by some comments on my previous post, I will now dare to write about the appropriate behaviour of children at Mass.

My last school was a boys' school and we were never allowed to say anything they did was wrong, only that it was inappropriate. So overtly sexualised posturing, sexist language and racist language were never "wrong", just "inappropriate". I don't like this approach, but I will adopt it for the forthcoming argument.

Matthew 18: 1-6 is often cited as a good reason for us to suffer children at Mass irrespective of their behaviour. I quote it at the end of this piece, in case your memory needs refreshing.

The child that Jesus calls and puts in the midst of the disciples is not described. However verse 2 does not end with the words, and after the child had thrown its toy camel at a disciple, hollered loudly for its mother and tugged at Jesus's beard and hair... . An inappropriately behaved child would not make any sense in this Gospel passage. The child was meek, the child was called by Jesus and the child responded appropriately. Being placed in the midst of the disciples makes the child a teacher and a most profound one at that. As the Son is infront of the Father, so the child is infront of Our Lord, and so ought we be too. Never, never get in the way of a child and its faith, the consequences are terrifying.

It is the child who simply doesn't appreciate that church is a sacred space, different from the living room, that can lead to inappropriate behaviour, both from the child and its parents. It can never be appropriate to feed a child (save breastfeeding) at Mass,. How will a child ever appreciate the Eucharist if it is leaving great lumps of Jaffa cake smeared over the pews? It is never appropriate to bribe a child to be quiet during Mass. It is never appropriate to hold a conversation with a child that has no relevance to the Mass whilst the Mass is taking place. Is it appropriate that there is a child whose parents let it run all over the sanctuary before Mass pulling the flower arrangements to bits? Are not all these types of behaviour likely to get in between the child and its growing faith.

If we look at Luke 2:41-43, it seems clear that children were only expected to journey to the Temple in Jerusalem on reaching the age of 12. An age where appreciation of and appropriate behaviour during religious ceremonies would be expected. I'm not saying 12 is the best age, indeed I'm not suggesting any age requirements only an understanding that perhaps the child needs some appreciation of what is happening.

The things that would be considered inappropriate in the public gallery of a law court, or at a funeral, or at a gallery of priceless artifacts aren't somehow appropriate at Mass.

The very smelly old lady at Mass, the man with the bowel problem that leaves him smelling of faecal material, the man in the wheelchair who makes involuntary groans, the gurgling infant, the devout alcoholic who needs a swig of vodka half way through Mass to stop him shaking...are all behaving appropriately.

I have been in a very delicate state this last few months, I have needed to be at Mass and receive the sacraments. Can you imagine how upsetting it can be when you don't feel like you've been to Mass because children and their parents seem to have no understanding of the need for reverence, and that foucussed prayer needs a level of concentration that can not be obtained if some child you don't know is poking a Thomas the Tank Engine in your ear.

Matthew 18:1-6
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" 2 And calling to him a small child, he put him in the midst of them, 3 and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me;.."

Thursday, 27 October 2011


The Telegraph newspaper reports the death on the 24th October of John McCarthy, the originator of probably the worlds coolest and arguably most influential programming language LISP. As undergraduate Physicists, we had to struggle endlessly with FORTRAN, a clunky mess of a language that I could never get to do what I wanted it to do. FORTRAN caused me hours of frustration and I loathed it. The Mathematicians were all using PASCAL and that seemed better, in a "grass is always greener on the other side" kind of way. But my Computer Science friends were using LISP and it just seemed worthwhile, sensible and logical...My fellow physicists laughed at it and mocked the endless parentheses, but scoot forward in time and see just how influential it has been...

So thank you John MaCarthy for the neatness and elegance of your work and for making programming nearly fun.


Aisle Rats:
When traveling by train, I like to use the "quiet carriage"; a marvelous invention where mobile phone and loud conversation are prohibited. Imagine my annoyance when two quiet adults decided to park themselves in the quiet carriage with a tribe of aisle rats all under the age of 7. How can you be quiet if you have with you mobile, random noise generators with no off button? Yes, you may look like the type of people who do not make use of mobile electronic devices, but the quiet carriage is quiet and cannot be so with your children racing and screeching down the aisles.

A bit like church really. We are expected to suffer distracting noise if it is child related. Does this really extend to suffering children who do not know how to behave in the environment in which they are placed? Does a rendition of the fireman sam song during the consecration really improve the liturgy?

We are not allowed to say anything though are we, we get accused of not liking children, we get accused on not seeing their innocence for what it is.

Children will imitate the reverence of adults around them with time and good example. Families really ought to have some sort of oratory or prayer space at home where they get used to reverential quiet and may help. And if it doesn't, take the little one out, please! Father has spent a fortune making sure the you can still hear and see the Mass from behind sound proof glass.


St Paul's Cathedral
I'm feeling that the whole sorry mess of the tented community encamped outside and preventing the cathedral from opening is a reflection of the weakness of the evangelical "what would Jesus do?" theology. Let us not forget that the ever so practical and down to earth Saint Francis de Sales used this phrase too, but he never used it out of the context of the commandments of loving God and neighbour.

Our tented friends may have a grievance that some will sympathise with, however, they took advantage of Christian niceness and some misguided belief that Jesus would be supporting them and tenting with them to the exclusion of the bankers and money men.

Remember folks; Christianity is about personal holiness and abhorrence of sin because of the love of God. Everything stems from our right action caused by our right motives and reliance on God. Maybe we ought to see being p***ed on by greedy capitalists as some sort of necessary mortification for our salvation.

The C of E does seem particularly prone to being hijacked by "causes" that then take advantage. Very sad, very sad indeed.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

More good news from Old Trafford

First the cricket, and now this...

But don't worry, the DNA of the "noisy neighbours" in blue is such that we are destined for tragicomedy...just allow us a little gloat for now.

Saturday, 22 October 2011


My computer glitches are driving me mad, any inspiration for a post is lost by the time I've fired up this ancient laptop, because EVERYTHING I try with the "fast" computer, so far has failed.

I've tried "system restore" but it wont accept any of the restore points. Therefore I think it is a virus.

I do a full virus scan, viruses detected and eliminated. Google still not loading.

I defrag the hard drive. Google still not playing.

I clean the registry. Google still not working.

I go to the command prompt (ah the nostalgia- I wrote my thesis from the DOS prompt- in the days before Windows) and "ipconfig/flushdns". Still google won't play.

I try going to "blogger" using a proxy server. I get to the website!! Hurray! I log in and then it times me out. Sigh!!!

'Tis a good job there's more to life than blogging.

Monday, 17 October 2011

blogging lite #2

My old laptop (11 years old) is still going strong but takes an age to boot up and gets a little anxious if there is too much Java stuff for it to process. Therefore I've been using the other computer in the house, and up until about 10 days ago, things were going well.

Now, on opening ANY browser, the computer will not go to anything related to blogger and is desperately slow on all google sites. It has nothing to do my firewall or the security settings when online, because the laptop is on the same settings. It may be a virus but a blinking strange one of it is...and bizarre that it has gone undetected by F-secure (they are usually very good).

This is an annoying problem that maybe related to a missive I sent blogger from that computer, complaining that they really had to sort out their problems for Firefox users (commenting on blogs being the most irritating issue). I explained I had no intention of "buying" into the whole "google experience", as they are getting far too big as it is; I would not be using "Chrome", "google+", "gmail" and out of choice I try not to use google as a search is strange that all my problems stem from after I sent that missive.

Therefore blogging is lite, whilst I summon up the enthusiasm to try to work out what is going wrong and do a system restore.

And no, I wont be moving to "Wordpress".

And, yes, I'm in a grumpy mood. I'm a rabid, foaming at the mouth Papist, incapable of compromise and stuff is happening out there I can't blog about but is driving me spare. Probably a good job gremlins have got into the computer, it will stop me from saying something I may regret.

Sent from a steam powered, 10kg, ancient laptop with a dodgy fan and not enough RAM.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

blogging lite

As much as I like this blog, I am feeling a little concerned that my science practical with year 10 on Friday involved beakers and tea-lights, and some girls in tears because they couldn't do the maths. And yes, it was risk assessed and no I wasn't wearing Hi-Viz.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Puzzling bumper sticker...

...and worse.

First the bumper sticker, that I presume is from an evangelical Christian. I happened to be driving behind this for too long this evening, so had plenty of time to muse over its naffness.

It said: Do you follow Jesus this close!!!

I presume it is a bumper sticker telling me to "back off". Yet backing off would suggest that I was not a close follower of the Lord. To deny Him is wrong, ought I have got into the car with her?

Now for the "worse".

Say a prayer for my late husband's 95 year old auntie, Mary. And say a prayer to her Guardian Angel. Mary is a fine lady, hard as nails, a foreman welder in Radcliffe during the war (and blinded in one eye for her troubles), but get beyond the toughness and there is a woman of remarkable faith and fortitude and a most reliable of friends.

She had a fall a few years ago and needed the full time care provided by a care home. Last week she got an infection, it was making her a bit strange in the head and she started refusing food and drink and spitting at her relatives and carers.

The family wanted her admitted to hospital.

The response from her GP was; well you know she is very old, is it really worth doing anything? If she has decided to go, shouldn't you choose to let her go?

Family outraged and upset, but now Mary is in hospital, responding to antibiotics and saying charitable things like "where is that bl**dy GP, I'll kill him".

The new NHS is here, folks, and the new mantra is "admit as few people to hospital as possible". You have been warned.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

thoughts at morning Mass (2)

At Mass this morning I was behind a woman who was really squirming and struggling when Father said the priesthood is only for men. Well, it is hardly groundbreaking stuff, and for many of us about as controversial as saying the Pope has a balcony. I do, however feel for those who have made allowing women into the priesthood, something of a cause. They are blinding themselves to the nature of Christ in His Church, it a sort of self-imposed spiritual mortification and it does the mortifier no end of harm.

A larger question remains as to what is the theological significance of women? The biological significance of men and women is not in question. The theological significance of men is not really in question either, theologically speaking it is men who are the barers of new life through the grace of God. Eve came from Adam's rib, the priest acts "in persona Christi" bringing us new life through the Sacraments, the new life of marriage is something that the husband brings to the wife....

I have no answer to the question I have posed.....

However I have had a phrase going round my head for sometime now "live your life as if it were all the defence of an unwritten thesis". Maybe silence is the answer, pondering things in our hearts, absorbing the complexities and simplicities of life and acting carefully and quietly, making as few ripples as possible. Just choose your thesies wisely, ladies.

One place that is not place for a woman (a pulpit in a Catholic Church)