Today's 1st April and I enjoyed learning about Shakespeare's French mother, Mary Ardennes (not Arden, you see). The Today programme reported that a locket had been found in his house in Stratford.... But I particularly enjoyed the Guardian report of Labour's supposed seven new adverts: 'Labour strategists look set to embrace the PM's reputation for anger and confrontation with a national billboard campaign.'
On the subject of politics, I was pleasantly surprised by Channel 4's potential chancellors' debate on Monday. It wasn't a tiresome 60 minutes of point scoring. It was actually a substantial discussion of how to deal with our current economic plight. I hope the election campaign doesn't descend to 'Punch and Judy' politics, which politicians once vowed to eschew.
Meanwhile more seriously I gather my former colleagues went to the cathedral for the Blessing of Oils. It's a custom on Maundy Thursday to get oil for anointing blessed by the bishop. I'm not sure why. I think it's to do with priests renewing their vows. I used to like the Maundy Evening service, the last communion before Easter morning - the institution of the Lord's Supper, when I used to wash people's feet, recalling Jesus' new command (mandatum, hence maundy) to love each other as he loved us.
I was thinking about that this afternoon while watching Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. It's not a comfortable film to watch; in fact it's a long time since I've seen it. Canon Winkett says it has gratuitous violence. I suspect the Romans were gratuitously violent - think of gladiators, and crucifixions. But today I noticed the way it was cut between Pilate's handwashing and Jesus washing his disciples' feet - and then the cutting between crucifixion and last supper. And I love the ending: the stone rolled away, letting in the sunlight, and the restored body sitting there and then walking out into the new day, just a nail mark showing in the hand. It's powerful, the film and even more so the fact. No wonder people react so strongly for or against.