Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The joys and perils of Facebook

I enjoy Facebook, I must say, most of the time. It keeps me in touch with real friends' lives in a way I physically couldn't manage otherwise. Sometimes they give me real encouragement or entertainment. And I like to think that sometimes my feeble and intermittent prayers are informed by the news I read.

Alison Krauss (Wikipedia)

For example, Sarah who used to lead worship in our church and now lives in London, just yesterday mentioned her discovery of the beautiful voice of Alison Krauss. "Interesting," I thought, because Sarah's own voice is not at all bad, and went on a virtual expedition to YouTube, and there found her most popular clip, When you say nothing at all, and she certainly has a lovely voice. But I also loved the words, which perhaps should be the anthem of MND/ALS patients.

However, I also foolishly followed a link which took me to the Diocese of London's website and a statement from the Bishop, Richard Chartres, regarding the Bishop of Willesden (who by the way made a full and unreserved apology for the remarks which had been passed to the press, presumably by a so-called facebook friend):
"I was appalled by the Bishop of Willesden’s comments about the forthcoming royal marriage. In common with most of the country I share the joy which the news of the engagement has brought.
"I have now had an opportunity to discuss with Bishop Peter how his comments came to be made and I have noted his unreserved apology. Nevertheless, I have asked him to withdraw from public ministry until further notice...." 
What an overreaction, calculated to make my blood pressure rise! Heresy and immorality are tolerated, but not free if unwise comment. It feels like the Establishment flexing the last remnants of its muscles. Or maybe a Royalist prince prelate putting the boot in to a republican upstart. I know, it's not an easy job, a bishop's. I should have known better than to have followed the link, I suppose. 

On a more cheerful note, Jane tells me that Cliff Richard tops the 2011 calendar ratings! And Ann Widdecombe has survived ordeal by Blackpool, despite being overwhelmingly awful, as one judge rightly observed. The old order still has legs, for better or worse!

And I was very glad to hear that Margot Macdonald's 'End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill', due to be debated in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, had been given the thumbs down by the committee scrutinising it. Their report concluded: "Overall, the majority of the Committee was not persuaded that the case had been made to decriminalise the law of homicide as it applies to assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia, termed ‘end-of-life assistance’ in the Bill, and, accordingly, does not recommend the general principles of the Bill to the Parliament." It's been calculated, according to Dr Peter Saunders of Care Not Killing, (http://pjsaunders.blogspot.com/) that if passed it would result in 1,000 Scottish deaths per year. I pray and trust that it will be decisively thrown out on the 25th.

So let me return to that song - which actually is about something that matters infinitely more than the internal wranglings of an ancient institution. Personally I wish they would punctuate song lyrics, but I suppose they're not purporting to be great poetry. The song was written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz. The story is that they'd had an unproductive day trying to compose, and were strumming away saying nothing. I find it poignant because it says what MND sufferers need to hear, that words aren't needed to express love. In the end, like Jozanne, we'll lose the capacity to speak, but not the capacity to love. And conversely we won't need words to tell us that we're loved. All human love reflects divine love, and much of the song can be read as a metaphor for what St Paul described as "the love of God (which) has shone into our hearts":
It's amazing how you can speak right to my heart
Without saying a word you can light up the dark
Try as I may I could never explain
What I hear when you don't say a thing

The smile on your face lets me know that you need me
There's a truth in your eyes sayin' you'll never leave me
The touch of your hand says you'll catch me if ever I fall
You say it best when you say nothing at all

All day long I can hear people talking out loud
But when you hold me near, you drown out the crowd
Old Mr. Webster could never define
What's being said between your heart and mine

The smile on your face lets me know that you need me
There's a truth in your eyes sayin' you'll never leave me
The touch of your hand says you'll catch me if ever I fall
You say it best when you say nothing at all
Held in His hand Sarah Lomas


  1. Michael - thanks for posting the song lyrics up. I agree that there are times in long term illness or disability when the unspoken actions of those around us speak volumes. I live with Cerebral Palsy (made much worse recently following the birth of my little son!) and my husband of 14 years typifies the line 'the tounch of your hand says you'll catch me if ever I fall'. Long term illness and disability is frustrating at the best of times and downright depressing at the worst - we need people alongside us on this 'adventure' to wordlessly catch us when we fall.

  2. Hello, the Vic, and you're right. Thank you for sharing a bit of your story. Only yesterday I was talking to a dear friend about the mystery of how powerful vulnerable ministry is. It's of course modelled by God Himself in the incarnation - you're in good company! I trust you enjoy celebrating the mystery this Advent and Christmas.