Coward's castle has a few spiritual reflections from writer Bernard Preston.
The Christian Walk has been a tortuous, but blessed Pilgrim's Progress for me. From my very own COWARD'S CASTLE I'll be telling the whole truth, even when it's been uncomfortable. No, I won't pretend it's been easy, because it hasn't, as the Lord consistently seems to be challenging me to draw nearer to Him, as close as a pair of underpants, said the prophet Jeremiah. That close? Jup, that close!
"Hark at Vicar in the pulpit, Coward's Castle," muttered Sid ..
Rev Nigel Goodwin
And then there's the on-going call to be sure that who I really am is consistent with the Bernard Preston I portray in my daily walk through this World. While there's plenty of room in heaven for sinners, it does seem that hypocrites might have a hard time of it from St Peter, the man with the keys to the Kingdom.
"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience."
- Teilhard de Chardin
DARWIN'S THEORY OF NATURAL SELECTION
Few names have disturbed Christian equilibrium more than that of Charles Darwin. Son of a preacher Darwin's theories of natural selection and evolution have certainly upset the Christian applecart!
Need it be so...? DARWINS THEORY OF NATURAL SELECTION ...
Living in Limburg, the southernmost province of the Netherlands, formerly a strongly Catholic bishopric, I quickly realised that the people are voting with their feet. Churches stand empty and derelict. Many have been turned into dance halls, accountant's rooms...
Sickened by the divide between what is preached from the pulpit, and their own experience of life, and human sexuality, they have simply stopped going to church.
Having been brought up by a Catholic nun, dear Sister Josephine, now long dead, aged 93, I have a very soft spot for Catholicism, yet a Protestant nevertheless.
Limburg has not been touched by Roman Catholic sex abuse scandals, as far as I know, but in a titillating story Bernard Preston tells all in "Priest in my Bed", from Stones in my Clog; another tidbit from the coward's castle.
Beware, this made me distinctly uncomfortable. It's not for the faint-hearted, nor the smug and self-satisfied.
SHOCKING PRAYER ...
Spiritual and Stupid?
Is it possible to be spiritual yet very, very stupid? Yes! Just look at Jephthah, son of Gilead. Mind you, his father was also spiritual and stupid! Could the poor man avoid being chip off the old block?
Can we take the good from our parents and grandparents, without being touched by their stupidities, prejudices, and sometimes frank evil?
For Eve and her daughters - Adam's daughters too! - their rightful place in society has been a long, long time in coming. And in few places in society has rank sexism been more evident than in religion, in Christianity too. Thank God, men are beginning to leg go, and today's Christian women are finding their true roll; they can even write under their own names, unlike the prolific Bronte sisters who had to hide their true identity, using nom de plumes. From Coward's Castle, I wonder why in so many parts of the world women and children are still abused.
From not being allowed to even speak in church, and certainly barred from the priesthood, women have had to forcefully claim that fundamental human right, rather than men abdicating from their pedestals.
But now Today's Christian women have an undeniably important role
in the Church. To be honest, the Church would fall flat on its face if
it were not for them ...
Read more... Todays Christian Women ... another morsel from the coward's castle.
The First Step
Every journey has a beginning. Here is my own first tenuous step, Leap of Faith ...
Few phrases in our religious jargon have brought more confusion, more mocking and more doctrinal discussion that the question: "Have you been born again?"
Yes, Jesus made it very clear that, "Unless you are born again, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven." Just what did he mean? Is it simply about a Christening, and First Communion, or is there more to it?
"The first time I went to Church was a Sunday morning,
From what I've heard I'd likely find I'd spend the whole time yawning.
At 18 years of age or so I thought I knew it all.
My hair was long, my jeans were tight,
I loved a knife or bottle fight,
Provided mates stood left and right ..."
- Rev Nigel Goodwin
We Christians don't like it when someone poke's fun at us, but vicar
Nigel Goodwin has the right, and will surely have you rockin' in the
Cowards Castle Nigel Goodwin ...
Accept one another
I have no doubt whatsoever that the division in the Church Universal grieves the heart of our Lord, almost as much as any other sin. Our hardness of heart, our judgement of our brother, our determination to cling to this or that precious doctrine, the Catholic-Protestant divide ... will certainly be called to attention when we reach the judgement seat ... and who knows, our clinging to a belief about Darwinism, Marriage, Homosexuality, Baptims ... may actually exclude us from the Kingdom.
The Kingdom of Heaven
Few thoughts have challenged me more than the question of the Kingdom of Heaven, the only phrase mentioned twice in the prayer Jesus gave to his disciples. How is it that we Children of the Kingdom can do such devilish things? Oh, woe is me ... read more about my Lonely Road of Faith ...
"If your morals make you dreary, depend on it they are wrong."
- Robert Louis Stevenson
Writing from my coward's castle about lesbianism has been a challenge for a full blooded heterosexual male. It's a topic that won't go away despite our Christian convictions. You might be tempted to read A Family Affair, if you're very bored! At around a dollar each, a bargain. You won't be bored, I promise.
Perhaps first get a measure of your own Christian hypocrisy.
Probably even better known than Shakespeare's 'hell hath no fury like a woman scorned', Jesus' 'you must be born again' gives us cause to stop and ponder. Just what did he mean?
In lighter vein, but nevertheless 'you must be born' is a beautifully penned piece by an eminent gynaecologist; there is always mystery. I for one wouldn't have it otherwise; that's my message from Coward's Castle anyway.
Bernard Preston's seventh book, still in the pipeline, is another entry from the coward's castle; it's about the first married pope in a millennium. In the first thousand years of the church's existence all the priests were married. Only since Hildebrand... you'll have to wait. Meantime, you can meet Bernard Preston in his first four books.
Meeting Daddy is one of my favourite chapters from A Family Affair; it's a freebie.