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Compass is the name of St.Mary's Parish magazine. It is published at the beginning of every month and is distributed throughout the Parish by a band of volunteers.

If you would like to receive a copy of the magazine nearly every month (there is a combined December/ January edition), it is available for an Annual Subscription of £5.00

If you live outside the Parish and would still like to receive a copy, arrangements can be made to post it for an additional charge

For more information about the magazine, please contact either:

Editors
                         Robert Pearson     robert.pearson@talktalk.net
                                     Mary Norris           jnorris687@btinternet.com
                                     Ed Sands              ejrsands@gmail.com
 
Distribution Manager
   Vacant

Articles from our June 2017 Magazine

Vicar Margaret Caunt writes:
The general Election is fast approaching and it is important that we hear what political leaders have to say. It is also good that we hear the wisdom and Christian perspective brought to us in the pastoral letter to the churches and chaplaincies of the Church of England, by the Archbishops or Canterbury and York.

The season of Easter invites us to celebrate and to renew our love of God and our love of neighbour, our trust and hope in God and in each other. In the midst of a frantic and sometimes fraught election campaign, our first obligation as Christians is to pray for those standing for office, and to continue to pray for those who are elected. We recognise the enormous responsibilities and the vast complexity of the issues that our political leaders face. We are constantly reminded of the personal costs and burdens carried by those in political life and by their families. Our second obligation as Christians at these times is to set aside apathy and cynicism and to participate, and encourage others to do the same. At a practical level that, could mean putting on a hustings event for candidates, volunteering for a candidate, or simply making sure to vote on Thursday 8th June. The Christian virtues of love, trust and hope should guide and judge our actions, as well as the actions and policies of all those who are seeking election to the House of Commons and to lead our country.

This election is being contested against the backdrop of deep and profound questions of identity. Opportunities to renew and reimagine our shared values as a country and a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland only come around every few generations. We are in such a time.
Our Christian heritage, our current choices and our obligations to future generations and to God’s world will all play a shaping role. If our shared British values are to carry the weight of where we now stand and the challenges ahead of us, they must have at their core cohesion, courage and stability. Cohesion is what holds us together. The United Kingdom, when at its best, has been represented by a sense not only of living for ourselves, but by a deeper concern for the weak, poor and marginalised, and for the common good. At home that includes education for all, the need for urgent and serious solutions to our housing challenges, the importance of creating communities as well as buildings, and a confident and flourishing health service that gives support to all – especially vulnerable - not least at the beginning and end of life. Abroad it is seen in many ways, including the 0.7% Aid commitment, properly applied in imaginative ways, standing up for those suffering persecution on grounds of faith, and our current leading on campaigns against slavery, trafficking, and sexual violence in conflicts.

Courage, which includes aspiration, competition and ambition, should guide us into trading agreements that, if they are effective and just, will also reduce the drivers for mass movements of peoples. We must affirm our capacity to be an outward looking and generous country, with distinctive contributions to peacebuilding, development, the environment and welcoming the stranger in need. Our economic and financial systems at home and abroad should aim to be engines of innovation, not simply traders for their own account. The need for a just economy is clear, but there is also the relatively new and influential area of
‘just finance’, and there are dangers of an economy over-reliant on debt, which risks crushing those who take on too much. Courage also demands a radical approach to education, so that the historic failures of technical training and the over-emphasis on purely academic subjects are rebalanced, growing productivity and tackling with vigour the exclusion of the poorest groups from future economic life.

Stability, an ancient and Benedictine virtue, is about living well with change. Stable communities will be skilled in reconciliation, resilient in setbacks and diligent in sustainability, particularly in relation to the environment. They will be ones in which we can be collectively a nation of ‘glad and generous hearts’. To our concern for housing, health and education as foundations for a good society, we add marriage, the family and the household as foundational communities, which should be nurtured and supported as such, not just for the benefit of their members, but as a blessing for the whole of society.

Contemporary politics needs to re-evaluate the importance of religious belief. The assumptions of secularism are not a reliable guide to the way the world works, nor will they enable us to understand the place of faith in other people’s lives. Parishes and Chaplaincies of the Church of England serve people of all faiths and none. Their contribution and that of other denominations and faiths to the wellbeing of the nation is immense – schools, food banks, social support, childcare among many others - and is freely offered. But the role of faith in society is not just measured in terms of service delivery. The new Parliament, if it is to take religious freedom seriously, must treat as an essential task the improvement of religious literacy. More immediately, if we aspire to a politics of maturity and generosity, then the religious faith of any election candidate should not be treated by opponents as a vulnerability to be exploited. We look forward to a media and political climate where all candidates can feel confident that they can be open about the impact of their faith on their vocation to public service. Religious belief is the well-spring for the virtues and practices that make for good individuals, strong relationships and flourishing communities. In Britain, these embedded virtues are not unique to Christians, but they have their roots in the Christian history of our four nations. If treated as partners in the project of serving the country, the churches – and other faiths – have much to contribute to a deep understanding and outworking of the common good. Political responses to the problems of religiously-motivated violence and extremism, at home and overseas, must also recognise that solutions will not be found simply in further secularisation of the public realm. Mainstream religious communities have a central role to play; whilst extremist narratives require compelling counter-narratives that have a strong theological and ideological foundation.

Cohesion, courage and stability are all needed in our response to the continuing national conversation about migration and refugees. Offering a generous and hospitable welcome to refugees and migrants is a vital expression of our common humanity, but it is not without cost and we should not be deaf to the legitimate concerns that have been expressed about the scale of population flows and the differential impact it has on different parts of society. The pressures of integration must be shared more equitably.

These deep virtues and practices – love, trust and hope, cohesion, courage and stability - are not the preserve of any one political party or worldview, but go to the heart of who we are as a country in all of its diversity. An election campaign, a Parliament and a Government that hold to these virtues give us a firm foundation on which to live well together, for the common good.
We keep in our prayers all those who are standing in this election and are deeply grateful for their commitment to public service. All of us as Christians, in holding fast to the vision of abundant life, should be open to the call to renounce cynicism, to engage prayerfully with the candidates and issues in this election and by doing so to participate together fully in the life of our communities.

In the Name of our Risen Lord


 
 


 
 
           
 

Trinity Sunday – celebrating our God who is Three Persons
Trying to explain the doctrine of the Trinity has kept many a theologian busy down the centuries. One helpful picture is to imagine the sun shining in the sky. The sun itself – way out there in space – unapproachable in its fiery majesty – is the Father. The light that flows from it, and which illuminates all our lives, is the Son. The heat that flows from it, and which gives us all the energy to move and grow, is the Holy Spirit. You cannot have the sun without its light and its heat. The light and the heat are from the sun, are of the sun, and yet are also distinct in themselves, with their own roles to play.

The Bible makes clear that God is One God, who is disclosed in three persons:
Father, Son (Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit. For example:

Luke 24:49 actually manages to squeeze the whole Trinity into one sentence. Jesus tells His disciples: ‘I am going to send you what my Father has promised;
but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power (the Holy Spirit) from on high.’

In other words, the sun eternally gives off light and heat, and whenever we stand in its brilliant light, we find that the warmth soon follows.
Thy Kingdom Come
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are calling Christians of every denomination to join in with Thy Kingdom Come, a prayer initiative between Ascension and Pentecost (25th May to 4th June), to pray for the nation to know Jesus Christ. It is a time to seek the empowering of the Holy Spirit, that we may be effective witnesses to Jesus Christ.

Praying for others to know Jesus is one of the most powerful things we can do. Persistent prayer for others brings transformation to their lives. As Paul writes: ‘Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.’ (Colossians 4: 2-4).

The Archbishops are encouraging us to choose five people who we can pray for regularly. Why not ask God to guide you, as you settle on five names and commit to praying for them daily, perhaps by using the following prayer:

‘Loving Father, in the face of Jesus Christ your light and glory have blazed forth.
Send your Holy Spirit that I may share with my friends the life of your Son and your love for all.
Strengthen me as a witness to that love as I pledge to pray for them, for your name’s sake. Amen.’

St Mary’s church will be open for prayer on Wednesday 31st May.

Acts for Everyone
At the end of May comes Ascension Day (25th), a bit of a neglected festival in the Church. As Luke reminds us in Acts 1:1-11, it was the opportunity for Jesus to commission disciples as His witnesses in the world:
‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ (Acts 1:8).
What is a witness?
a witness knows Jesus:
A credible witness speaks of what they know personally. The disciples had spent 40 days with Jesus and now they were called to share that experience and relationship with others. What is my story of how Jesus is alive in my life?
a witness grows in Jesus:
Jesus told them to wait for the gift of the Spirit to empower them as witnesses. ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.’ (4). The Spirit equips us to display Jesus’ character (fruit) and enables us to witness (gifts). How does our life demonstrate the difference Jesus makes?
a witness goes for Jesus:
They were called to witness for Jesus in ever-increasing circles of influence. For us, this means family and friends, workplace and community, and the wider world. Where is God calling us to serve Him?
The story is told of Jesus arriving in heaven after the Ascension, being welcomed by the angels. Gabriel asked Jesus, ‘what is your plan for everyone to know your love?’ Jesus replied, ‘I have given my disciples the task of carrying the message into all the world.’ Gabriel’s face dropped, ‘These are unpredictable men, what if they fail? After a pause Jesus answered, ‘There is no other plan!’

Easter faith
Three years after the Russian Revolution of 1917, a great anti-God rally was arranged in Kiev. The powerful orator Bukharin was sent from Moscow, and for an
hour he demolished the Christian faith with argument, abuse and ridicule. At the end there was silence.

Then a man rose and asked to speak. He was a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church. He went and stood next to Bukharin. Facing the people, he raised his
arms and spoke just three triumphant words: ‘Christ is risen!’

At once the entire assembly rose to their feet and gave the joyful response, “He is risen indeed!” It was a devastating moment for an atheist politician, who had no
answer to give to this ancient Easter liturgy. He had not realised he was simply too late: how can you convince people who have already experienced God, that
He does not exist?

The real message of Easter
‘When you die, that’s it. Nothing. Out like a light.’ That’s what the man in the pub said, and his mates all nodded, though the one whose mother had died the week before wasn’t really quite so certain. Still, it seemed to make sense. After all, we know what ‘dead’ means: dead leaves, dead batteries, dead fish, dead pets . . . and dead people, to be honest. While we recognise that it’s all too easy to go from alive to dead, we’ve got serious doubts about the possibility of any return journeys.

Which is why Christians have an uphill task at Easter. Jesus was a great man, and people want to remember how He died. Fair enough. But it starts getting complicated when Christians insist that Jesus died but didn’t stay dead - in fact, that He’s alive now. That ‘return journey’ has happened, they say. That’s the problem about Easter. Christians persisting in what sounds like a
ridiculous belief. If they just dropped the resurrection bit, and concentrated on the wonderful teaching of Jesus and His example of generosity, compassion and love then everybody would find Christianity much more believable. Wouldn’t that make sense? And wouldn’t that fill the churches again?

Well it might (or, more likely, it might not). But in any case, the trouble is that it wouldn’t be Christianity at all. The faith of Christians actually depends on the resurrection of Jesus, and always has done, right from the earliest days. After the crucifixion the body of Jesus was taken down from the cross by some of His friends and put in a rock tomb with a heavy stone. But after His death, His followers claimed that they had met Him, seen Him, talked with Him. So certain was their belief that nothing could make them recant it. Not ridicule, not torture, not even death itself. They couldn’t do it because they were absolutely convinced that it had happened. Plenty of clever and powerful people at the time had a vested interest in proving them wrong. It shouldn’t have been difficult to prove that a dead man had stayed dead, especially when you have at your disposal the resources of the greatest empire in history. Yet they didn’t do it, because it couldn’t be done.

Still today millions of people all over the world believe that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead. They include brilliant scientists and philosophers as well as plenty of ‘ordinary’ men and women of all ages. They believe it because they respect the witness of those first Christians, and because in many cases their own lives have been transformed by a relationship with Jesus - a relationship that wouldn’t make sense if He were dead!

Christians don’t put their faith in a dead hero from the past, but in Someone who is alive and active in their own lives and in the world. That, in a nutshell, is the real message of Easter.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall – how do you see yourself this Lent?

Somebody asked a Christian friend why he was eating doughnuts, when he had given them up for Lent! He answered, ‘At the bakers I told God, that if He wanted me to buy doughnuts, He
should provide a parking space in front. On the eighth time around, there it was!’

Rather than seeing Lent simply as a time to give things up, let’s use it intentionally for self-examination, reading Scripture, penitence, fasting and prayer. At Jesus’ baptism, God’s voice says, ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’ (Luke 3:22). The Holy Spirit then leads Jesus into the wilderness, where we find Him coming to terms with who He is. Satan’s temptations challenge Jesus in key three areas of His identity: social action, political power, and religious identity (Luke 4: 1-13). It is as though Jesus looked into the mirror at Himself to discern what kind of Saviour He would be.
We can also think of Lent as an opportunity to hold a mirror up to ourselves and ask the question, ‘who am I? It is a season of honest encounter with who we are, what we’ve done, and the world in which we live. How will you keep Lent period of 40 days running up to Easter? What will you see when you hold up the mirror to yourself? Alongside taking time to read Scripture, study a Christian book and pray with fasting, why not give up texting for Lent and simply talk on the phone; commit ourselves to just working 40 hours a week or spend five minutes each day in silence!
Whatever we do, Lent is a season for self-reflection, as we put ourselves in a position to receive afresh the forgiveness and healing that God offers

 
Next time someone tells you that Jesus did not exist…
 
 
Recent research in England revealed that 40% of people do not realise Jesus was a real person. Among 18-34 year olds, 25% think Jesus was a mythical or fictional character.  They probably have no doubts about other famous people from the past. Of course, it matters more when the authenticity of Jesus is questioned.  If Jesus was as ‘real’ as the Christian creeds imply, then the whole purpose and destiny of humanity are changed.  There’s a lot at stake.
 
 
How do we know that Jesus actually existed? For that matter, how do we know any historical figure existed?  We need to look for corroborative evidence.
 
 
In any other historical investigation we would examine all literary sources.  However, as sceptics often discount biblical material because they suspect the writers distorted the facts, we look outside the New Testament to non-Christian authors for clues.  
 
 
First, to Roman historians.  Tacitus (56-117 AD) wrote “Christus was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius”.  Suetonius (69-130 AD) wrote of “Chrestus” and of his followers having been persecuted by Nero.  In 112 AD a Roman Magistrate, Pliny the Younger, sought advice from the Emperor Trajan, having failed to force Christians to renounce Christ whom they “worshipped as a god”, when worship was due exclusively to the emperor. The Jewish historian Josephus (37-100 AD) referred to James as, “the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ.”  None of these authors questioned Christ’s existence.
 
 
Even-handed enquirers would also want to know what the New Testament has to say.  By comparison with texts of other ancient literature now available, we have infinitely better records.  Over 5,000 separate manuscripts are now available.  One complete New Testament in the British Library is over 1600 years old.  A substantial collection of New Testament documents is dated mid-3rd Century and is split between Dublin, Michigan and other locations.  Much of the Gospel of John is in a document dated 200 AD or earlier.  Modern translations of the Bible result from studying all these manuscripts. It is false to suggest that they suffer from multiple translations.
 
 
Let historian Michael Grant have the last word, "...if we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus' existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned…"
A Priceless Find – by accident!
70 years ago this month a couple of shepherds in the hills above Qumran near the Dead Sea idly threw a stone into what they thought was an empty cave. When they heard the sound of smashing pottery they searched inside, and found the most important biblical discovery of the century.
Their stone had led them to what became known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, manuscripts of the entire Hebrew Bible except for the book of Esther, stored in clay vessels. The scrolls were the work of a religious community called the Essenes, who lived near that site before and during the life of Jesus.
As scholars slowly unraveled them – and that task took decades - they discovered that they were handling manuscripts of the Bible which were hundreds of years older than any we had previously possessed. Most of the biblical manuscripts on which our translations had previously been based were copies of copies, carefully crafted in monasteries over the centuries by people dedicated to preserving the sacred text. But inevitably, in the process, there were occasional slips in the copying, and at times it’s obvious that those who were doing it didn’t understand the words they were copying.
So, in February 1947, the world had access to a much older and therefore more accurate record of the Jewish Scriptures – the Bible of Jesus and the first Christians. The most remarkable thing is actually how few ‘mistakes’ there were, seeing the centuries of copying – and not one that seriously affects our fundamental understanding of the Bible.
Those two shepherds 70 years ago ensured that we today have a Bible text which is as close to the original as one could ever hope to get. I’m glad they threw the stone into the right cave!
Understanding and living with depression
Lady Gaga helps others with Anxiety and Depression by declaring an inborn tendency to such mental illness herself which is made worse in living such a public life. In times of Depression I am helped to endure by people I admire, such as Winston Churchill, depression he called ‘black dog’, and some Church leaders when depressed felt the Spirit of God deserted them. Depression impacts people
of all ages. Parents may feel, often wrongly, that it can blight a child’s life. Many depressions are one off events. Depression can arise from our inherited make up, with or without some element of life’s stresses. For instance, it’s half of Bipolar Disorder. It can arise from a traumatic experience.

Every 2 people out of 10 are likely to feel it from their experience. The NHS Wales booklet on’ Depression in Young People’ states ‘It is normal to feel down and not enjoy things sometimes, but when these feelings are severe, long lasting or keep coming back, and begin to affect your day to day life, this may be a sign of Depression....it affects your moods, energy, thoughts and behaviours. Depression can be treated’. It can make us feel unable to concentrate and make decisions, lose confidence, no energy and see no hope. Treatments are available but the sooner accessed via your Dr., the shorter the illness. Talking Therapies are first line. The aim of CBT Cognitive Behavioural Therapy etc. is to help us manage what is happening to us by finding a changed way to think, behave and cope so as to break the cycle of feeling down. Family or friends can sometimes make us feel worse by saying ‘pull yourself together’ and make us feel more doomed. Listening and caring is what’s needed. For more severe forms, medication may help to lift over a few weeks but younger people are helped by different antidepressants to older people. Counselling, Art, Music help some and a recent introduction of Mindfulness training can help us relax, under pressure, our body and our mind. Those who suffer would not wish it on others but can value the learning for their life and empathy.

Michael Allen

Dare to dream.

Imagine your home, your street, your place of work, the world living by biblical teaching out of which God is honoured, creation is cared for and strangers become friends. Imagine a world where truth and goodness prevail. Where people asking what the Lord requires of us, do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God. Imagine fellowship being welcoming and deep, warm and challenging, supportive and transforming. Mini Kingdom communities that fulfil the promise of Jesus: ‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples; if you have love for one another.’ Communities that counter the twenty first century epidemic of loneliness and build up the body of Christ. Holy communities that heal and make whole.

Imagine prayer becoming as natural as breathing. Imagine a prayerful way of life transforming your vision so that you see glimpses of God all around, the sacred in the secular – the potential for good. Imagine your staff room, your shop floor, boardroom or changing room being changed by the holiness of prayers as you pray. Imagine prayer transcending tribes and cultures, breaking down walls and barriers, paving the way to a just and peaceful world.

Imagine your home, your street, your place of work, the world being keener to give than to get. Where what is mine is yours if you need it. Imagine a church known more for giving than for asking, and imagine the queue at the door! Imagine the millennial goals being realised as richer nations remodel unjust systems. Imagine the day when poverty is over. Imagine a world, a church where gladness prevails and cynicism is banished! Imagine the sight of smiles and the sound of laughter, the warmth of hugs and tears of joy as people are generous with their compliments and thanks. Imagine communities of affirmation and real appreciation where gifts are honoured and celebrated, not envied.

Imagine younger people generously giving time to care for older people. And imagine older people generously saying to younger people: ‘you lead us into the future.’ 

Extracts from ‘Holy Habits’ author Andrew Roberts 2016

Some photos from the Installation of our new vicar: Rev. Margaret Caunt
Learn to ‘wait well’ for things
 
‘My future is in Your hands…’
In her helpful book, When, God, When?  Joyce Meyer writes: “God has taught me to keep living the life I now have, while I am waiting for the things that are in my heart to come to pass.  We can become so intent on trying to birth the next things that we neither enjoy nor take care of the things at hand.  I had a vision from God ten years before I began to see it fulfilled.  During those years, I believe I missed a lot of joy trying to give it birth outside of God’s timing.”
 
Learn to enjoy where you are, while you’re waiting to get to where you want to be.  After all, all your life you will spend more time waiting that you will receiving.  And when you receive what you’re waiting for now – you’ll begin waiting for something else.  That’s life!  If we don’t learn to ‘wait well’, we’ll live with endless frustration. 
Waiting well is what will deliver our dream.  Listen:  “in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9).  “Due season” is when God knows we’re ready, not when we think we are.  He has set appointments to accomplish certain things in our life, so we might as well settle down and wait patiently, because that’s when it will happen – and not before. 
God knows what you need, He knows when you need it and He knows how to get it to you. All He asks you to do is trust him.  
From UCB ‘Word for Today’
From Margaret Caunt

The book of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 tells us that there is a time and a season for everything and as we prepare to put down our roots in Arnold it really does feel that we are entering a new time, a new season of life and ministry with God. Both my husband David and myself were born and bred in the east end of Sheffield and have lived in the Diocese of Sheffield all of our lives. So moving to Nottingham really is a new season and a big step as we continue to respond to the call of God on our lives.

David and I became Christians in the early eighties after discovering that God is real, that he cares about each one of us and that it is possible to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ his son. We committed ourselves to that relationship and so began our adventure with God. It has been one heck of a rollercoaster ride with many ups and downs along the way, many joys and lots of challenges. But in it all, in the good and in the bad, we have found that God is faithful, and full of loving kindness. Over the years we have served God together in a variety of parishes and contexts and are passionate about helping others to encounter God in their lives and grow in faith.

In June this year David and I celebrated 43 years of marriage and have three wonderful children, Cheryl, Ian and Paul. Over the years our family has grown to include Richard, Joanne and Stacey and we have been blessed with two beautiful grand daughters, Abigail and Madeleine. We are not all work, or all church and no play though. David is a fan of all kinds of sport and is a lifelong Sheffield Wednesday supporter. He loves nice wine, guinness and the sunshine. I am fan of all kinds of music, from rock to opera and most things in between. I am an avid reader, love cooking for family and friends and keep tortoises and finches. To de- stress I make jam and sing along to the Rolling Stones.

Together we love having holidays in the sunshine, walking our two dogs Sasha and Cookie, and spending time with family and friends. We are very open and honest people, we have lots of enthusiasm and we can’t wait to see what God has got in store for us and the people we will meet and come to know in this new season and next chapter in our adventure with God.

With every blessing
Revd Margaret Caunt

UNDERSTANDING DEMENTIA and ALZHEIMERS

It is said that people over 50 years fear Dementia, and responding to others with Dementia, more than the big C (Cancer). Yet many sufferers live a fulfilling life and contribute to groups that benefit others. Dementia is a brain disease that causes us to lose some ability to think and reason as well as we have been used to. Basically there are 3 types: 

 ALZHEIMERS Disease – 3 out of 4 are this type; 

VASCULAR Disease – often the after effect of multiple strokes; 

 LEWI BODY Disease which is Parkinson like. 

 We are more susceptible as we enter our 80ies though a few are affected in middle age. Memory of past and recent events are harder to recall, but not totally for most people. Sufferers can become frustrated with themselves in not organising and problem solving as they are used to doing. Family and close friends may experience unusual displays of emotion including anger and depression. Sufferers may offer less empathy to nearest and dearest, whereas understanding and love can help sufferers to help themselves. Keeping memories alive is helped by photos, events recalled and by ‘their music’. Seeing your doctor is key to learning how medication & diet may inhibit progress of the disease. Also therapy and information on what is best exercise for you. Each person has their own journey to holding in well. 
 Later stages of Dementia may be years ahead, when extra care help is needed. 

 Michael Allen & Sue Baxter, MHAGS for St. Mary’s (Info. Mainly from Alzheimer Society) 
 .......................................................................................................................................... 

DO COME on SAT. 1 OCTOBER to ‘UNDERSTANDING and LIVING with DEMENTIA ‘ from 10.15 for coffee at St. Mary’s Family Centre and 10.45 Presentation on Understanding Dementia by Dr Richard Turner, Adults Psychiatrist- now retired -also Reader, followed by questions 11.20 Sharing on Living with Dementia and Alzheimer Friends by Rowland and Carole Harris, followed by sharing experiences. 12 noon close

Smartphones and the Death of Conversation

If a few decades ago you had turned on the television and  found yourself watching some drama in which the entire human race walked around utterly engrossed in the little slabs of metal and glass they held in their hands, you would have assumed it was some sort of science-fiction nightmare in which aliens had taken over the world. You would have called it fantasy; we have come to recognise it as normality.

Psychologists and social scientists are beginning to realise that since the first iPhone in 2007 unleashed an unstoppable flood of smartphones, human culture has begun to change. For many of us, our smartphone is now a fundamental part of our existence. We check it immediately on waking and before closing our eyes at night. We use it to email, communicate by text, take photographs, read maps and engage in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and whatever the latest cult app is. From our smartphone comes our music, advice for living, directions for driving, appointments and, increasingly, much of our life. Smartphones have woven themselves inextricably into who we are and how we live. We cannot imagine life without one.

While the usefulness of smartphones is beyond question, you don’t have to look hard to start to suspect that there might be a price to pay. Reading books has clearly suffered: anyone with any time on their hands now simply engages with a smartphone. Equally, many people now struggle to handle silence: they are never alone with their thoughts, nor, it seems, do they want to be. Few people now seem able to sit quietly staring into space or gazing at nature without succumbing to an irresistible urge to check the phone or take a selfie.

One particular aspect of concern is the impact of smartphones on conversation. We’ve all seen the classic and sad manifestation of this: the young couple sitting in a restaurant deeply engrossed, not with each other but with their phones. But the problem occurs more widely. How many of us have tried to have a serious discussion with someone and failed because they seemed more interested in checking their phone? This erosion of conversation is important because it is surely one of the things that makes us human.

I want to suggest that while smartphones give us communication – and do so very well – they do not allow us to take part in conversation in any real sense. Think for a moment about what a traditional, old-fashioned, flesh-and-blood conversation involves. It’s not just words: there are silences, hesitant exploratory phrases, eye contact, facial expressions, laughter, hand gestures and possibly even physical touches of reassurance or encouragement. The fact that there is no technological intermediate means that such conversations are spontaneous. They can spread free and wide, bouncing one moment into a joke, sliding the next into some subtle expression of regret or even becoming one of those silences that says more than words. In an authentic conversation, unconstrained by technology, there can be a richness that gives rise to both empathy and intimacy. Indeed, real conversations can be dangerous: you can easily find yourself saying more than you meant to say. Is the fact that you stay in control one of the strongest attractions of smartphone communication? Smartphone communication promises us so much more yet, in reality, delivers so much less. We end up with a pale shadow of a real conversation; the equivalent of junk food for the mind.

There is, I think, a clear perspective on all this. I believe we were made by God to communicate in the deepest and richest possible way. Famously, John’s Gospel in the Bible begins ‘In the beginning was the word’. Yet the Greek word there, logos, can have a far richer meaning than simply word. Indeed, historically some renderings of that phrase have been ‘In the beginning was the conversation’. There is some truth in that. The Christian belief that God is a Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is that, from eternity, there was conversation within God. Before the universe was created, at the heart of the eternal God, there was conversation. To be made in God’s image is to be made for conversation.

The truly scary thing about the global smartphone epidemic is not merely that we are losing the richness of conversation but we may be losing the very ability to achieve it. In the beginning was indeed the word but unless we take care to guard our use of technology in general, and smartphones in particular, I fear that in the end we may no longer have the word but a wreck in our relationships.
 
J.John
The top ten weirdest Foodbank donations:
You might have seen a steadily increasing array of items appearing on your Harvest table at church in the last few weeks. Heinz Baked Beans stacked to the rafters alongside endless boxes of Kellogg's Corn Flakes - these have become the expected signs of thanksgiving at this time of year. Most churches will send these goods to a local Foodbank, who in turn distribute it to those that need it most in the local community. Our gratitude at Harvest transforms into generosity. And it makes an incredible difference.

To celebrate Harvest this year, Stewardship asked Jolene at the Trussell Trust Foodbank to tell us the top ten weirdest donations they've ever received. Move aside, baked beans, these items take the biscuit:
The top ten weirdest Foodbank donations:
1. A jar of pickled stags head
2. Beluga caviar
3. Half a bag of cold chips
4. A tin of curried haggis
5. A bag of chicken blood
6. A packet of dried empty snail shells
7. Pickled walnuts
8. Octopus pieces
9. Tinned cheese
10. A tin of crispy baby clams with anchovies

Jolene said that the Foodbank was incredibly grateful for every donation...even the - well - slightly bizarre ones. "Surprisingly, octopus came up three times!" she said. ‘We’re continually delighted by the generosity of everyone who donates, even when they give stag’s head!’

Please don't forget to bring your donations of food to the back of church!

Page was last altered 2 February 2017

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