Monday, 24 November 2014


At my church yesterday the morning was spent looking at the spiritual influence of poetry. So, this week I would like to share a poem with you.

It uses gothic references to create wonderful imagery and gives commentary on the place of organised religion within our world. Not entirely damning, but not entirely complimentary either. Something to ponder...

by Elizabeth Bishop

This celestial seascape, with white herons got up as angels,
flying high as they want and as far as they want sidewise
in tiers and tiers of immaculate reflections;
the whole region, from the highest heron
down to the weightless mangrove island
with bright green leaves edged neatly with bird-droppings
like illumination in silver,
and down to the suggestively Gothic arches of the mangrove roots
and the beautiful pea-green back-pasture
where occasionally a fish jumps, like a wildflower
in an ornamental spray of spray;
this cartoon by Raphael for a tapestry for a Pope:
it does look like heaven.
But a skeletal lighthouse standing there
in black and white clerical dress,
who lives on his nerves, thinks he knows better.
He thinks that hell rages below his iron feet,
that that is why the shallow water is so warm,
and he knows that heaven is not like this.
Heaven is not like flying or swimming,
but has something to do with blackness and a strong glare
and when it gets dark he will remember something
strongly worded to say on the subject.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Neil Gaiman & charity

As the son of a minister, I've been around the church all my life. My parents are also missionaries, my father regularly travelling to Eastern Europe long before the iron curtain fell. I've accompanied them on some of these trips, so have a feeling for what it can be like.

Whenever someone was taken on a mission trip for the first time, there would be an "Oh" moment - a spark of realisation about how others in the world live/survive. We may hear the stories and see the news and think we have understood the suffering that others go through, but (generally) it is only when we see first hand that it really hits home. That close encounter usually has quite the impact.

I would heartily recommend you go help a charity or mission organisation overseas if you get the opportunity - just once. To truly understand what other humans go through in countries less fortunate than ours (not that we don't have our own problems, of course), which can be properly understood through a first hand experience. Helping those people in whatever way you can, no matter how small.

This transition from shock to 'let's do something' has recently been experienced and captured by Neil Gaiman, who has released a video in support of UNHCR. Watch it, find a charity or mission to support (UNHCR or not - there are many to choose from, both locally and internationally) & consider helping in a more practical way. Money is obviously very important in keeping the wheels of charity turning, but so is the physical involvement of its supporters.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Other views

With only a week having passed since the Manchester Gothic Festival there have been a few other tweets and blogs written about the Steampunk afternoon. I thought I'd share those I have found:

Via Claire Nally: Why the #Steampunk genre isn't losing steam via @HuffPostBooks #EL0662

Via Humanity Hallows: We continue our coverage of #HIPGothic #Manchester with 'What is This Thing Called Steampunk?' @mmu_hssr @gothicmmu

Via The Blogging Goth: #Manchester #Gothic Festival 2014 - Day Two #blog #HIPGothic via @wordpressdotcom @gothicmmu

Via Catherine Spooner: What Is This Thing Called Steampunk? From the fabulous people @gothicmmu

Also, it was Halloween a few days ago. Online friend and blogger Carla Valentine, curator of Barts Pathology Museum in London, was on the Alan Titchmarsh Show on ITV (available to watch until the end of November) talking about the real-life medical origins of some of the monster legends. Carla has written this up into a very interesting blog, so I thought I'd share that with you. Did you know that Catholic doctrine classed lepers as undead...? I didn't. Read up for loads more interesting facts.