Category Archives: Church


‘You don’t have to pass an IQ test to be in the Senate’. Yes, I think we’d already worked that one out, but the dawning realisation of what he’d just said, on camera and in front of his staff, was quite a sight. I don’t want to be the Senator for Arkansas for a while.

I’d never heard of Bill Maher, and that is a good thing. I started watching Religulous thinking maybe he’d be discovering a lot of worthwhile insincerity about religion. I think maybe he thought so, too. What this stand-up comedian did, was to go round being rude to a lot of people because of their faith.

Personally I’m fairly neutral about religion, so have no crusade to take in either direction, and I’m neither amused nor insulted by Bill Maher. Do think it might have been a good idea for the lovely truck drivers in North Carolina to sit on the stupid man for a while, however. As it was, they blessed him after he insulted their faith.

Religion is full of stupid people and people who knowingly use their followers. If they are so stupid as to appear on film with the enemy, without being armed with religious knowledge, that’s their problem. Other than that, people are allowed to believe in whatever religion they fancy, without being humiliated on film by a comedian who thinks he’s cleverer than all the rest. Bill Maher had access to on-screen written comments about his victims. They did not.

Have to admire the ‘Doctor’ who was so smartly dressed and wore so much bling, courtesy of his congregation, and who was stupid as well, but who thought was he was doing was perfectly all right. He was worshipped by his followers. The rest of us ‘worship’ someone else, be they actors or singers or even (good) comedians. It’s all the same.

The men from the Vatican came out pretty well, but as I said, top marks to the Truckers chapel in Raleigh.

I recommend a dose of religion, as seen in Religulous, to exercise your brain and get you thinking. You may like Bill. I didn’t.

On at Cornerhouse from Friday 3rd April.

A new minister, and throwing the tree out

The floor held. Still, or again, or whatever. I always watch in fascination (never join in, for reasons that will become apparent) in these throwing-the -tree-out times, with people dancing, and wondering if the floor is really up to it. Surely one year it will decide it’s had enough of mad Scandinavians all jumping together in early January? Then they will all end up in the basement.

As I’ve been telling Mary Hoffman over on Facebook, Swedes have a week longer for the Christmas decorations to go. The end, near January 13th, will often be celebrated with a party, dancing round the tree, before it’s stripped and thrown out. We have a song and dance for everything, really. And FC calls for the last time, with sweets for the children, and a clementine to be healthy.

Liverpool’s Scandinavian church had both their annual stomping round the tree today, as well as the  welcoming of our new part time minister, based in London. We don’t like this, but it’s not his fault. He sang to us at the end of the service, which was nice. I also gather from the introductory note about himself in the church newsletter, that he is interested in the art of Simone Martini. Unusual, as the only time I’ve come across Signor Martini is as a character in Mary Hoffman’s The Falconer’s Knot. I know he’s not fictional, but it’s an interesting coincidence.

Simone Martini


This calendar is a must-have for me. The artist, Kerstin Svensson, lives and works in “my” part of Sweden, and there is something about her paintings that I need. 

Kerstin Svensson calendar

Most of Kerstin’s calendar pictures are watercolours, with a few in oil. Many are of “my” landscape, and some are still lives of things that are similar to what I surround myself with. So, I suppose I’m just looking for the familiar.

Each monthly picture is accompanied by a quote. Some are from the bible, but others are simply wise words or thoughts. I’m not one for too much depth, but I do appreciate the quotes Kerstin picks. And many of the pictures turn out to have a special meaning for me, like the one for November 1997 when my Mother died. The dark painting of a closed old rickety gate had a sort of message about it.

My Mother used to buy the calendars for me. Since 1998 one of her neighbours has been kind enough to buy and post one to me every year; an act which goes well beyond being neighbourly. I didn’t know her before my Mother’s illness, and now I do. It’s something to do with gates. One closes and another opens.

The title of the calendar means “Peace for the soul”, and I feel it delivers what it promises.

Lucia in Liverpool 2008

Lucia 2008

As promised, here is a brief report from Lucia at the Gustav Adolf church in Liverpool on Sunday.

In time honoured tradition we had lots of little hiccoughs at the last minute, but that just makes for a better performance. Gabriella as Lucia did very well, and her younger sister Annabell sang Silent Night beautifully on her own. We even had a very mature “star boy” this time, along with a few tiny ones. It’s a brave man who stands up wearing a white dress, ice cream cone on his head, and ends up singing solo as well.


The fire alarm went off only once, and our temporary minister’s wife is ace at ironing. Afterwards there was coffee with Lucia buns, and some of us collapsed in tired little heaps. And we were full of plans for next year by the time we headed home.

(So far I’ve only managed to freeze my email while trying to get the promised video up here. Will get back to you with that, should there be a miracle later on. I need my own starboy!)


We went to the Scandinavian Church in Liverpool today for an Advent service. It was followed by a simple but very nice lunch organised as always by our wonderful matron Mette and her Stan, who is the best Norwegian speaking Englishman I know. Mette’s bread is wonderful, and let’s not get on to the subject of the waffles with jam and cream. We did not go home hungry.

We did not go home immediately, anyway, as it was time for Lucia practice for the children and a few intrepid older people. They do not include me. And I hope they won’t kill me for calling them older. I just mean they are not children.

Lucia practice at Gustav Adolf church, Liverpool

This is the “before” photo of how they looked today. In two weeks’ time we’ll hopefully have a real photo to show you, with everyone dressed up, and with a few more participants as well. I tend to like the practice best. They sing like angels even the first time, and everyone is relaxed, including me, and I’ve got the whole church to spread out in.

I’ll let you have a preview from last year’s Lucia, just to show what you can put together after something like three hours of practising, but with decades of tradition in your backbone.

And here is the link to last year’s blog post about the same event. The reason I’m going on about this at great length isn’t just to bore you. There is now politics involved as well.

The mother church (hah!) in Uppsala wants to close us down. To put it bluntly, they’d prefer to do their inspection trips to Thailand instead of Liverpool, and who can blame them? We have fought long and hard, and we thought that Liverpool City Council had the last word when they said that the church building is not Uppsala’s to sell, and that we can lease it from them. The word from last week’s meeting is that Uppsala not only still believe they are right, but they are bracketing us with the same motive as they have. To own and to sell for a vast sum of money. (In this economical climate? I don’t think so.) They finished the meeting with a quick look around the church for valuables, a bit like you check out aunty’s jewellery as she lies on her deathbed.

Along with regrouping for another long fight, we are gasping at the sheer Christian spirit of their behaviour. Or not, as the case may be.

Oh, and a week ago we celebrated our 125th anniversary. I don’t personally recall all those years, but it’s a well loved and important church.