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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Sunday, February 10, 2008
    On diligently compassionate churchmen
     


    Rather late this year, owing to the good man's slowed-down, 'cardiac rehab' condition, the delay has probably added to the joy - of receiving Robert's Christmas letter. The above is just the preamble to a characteristic rattle through various peripheral theologies, Duane Eddy stories, quotes from fervently unfashionable radicals, sparkling observations of life in gritty Granby, fiery critiques of creeping Church managerialism and Starbucks-style ministries, lines from Ken Dodd, impassioned defences of a parish church which is living 'Eucharist out there', the finest cameos of family life and poignant two-line eulogies of the lost remembered of Liverpool 8.

    It seems perfect to me that Robert's annual firestorm crackled into my inbox on the same day that I revisited my sermon about the 'pestilent priest' Bishop George Bell (who was cast to the wilderness for daring to publicly oppose the blanket bombing of Dresden in WW2) in the context of the same sort of casting-out today of Rowan Williams for his daring to publicly propose ideas of accommodation and hospitality in a multicultural society. Advocate and long-term practitioner of what he calls 'church as self-giving 'victim'', Robert sits firmly in the good company of such diligently compassionate churchmen. Sits, I write, because since the heart attack, he tells us, he's 'just let go of everything ... Very good.' On 'cardiac rehab' maybe; but a heart as big as Liverpool, still.