From the Rector September 2011
- Written by Rev. Steve Morgan
The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.
One of my most vivid childhood memories is of driving up the eastern side of the Ironbridge Gorge in a very old Mini Clubman. The Clubman was the Mini with the wooden framing on the outside and is now considered a classic. Back in the late 70’s they were simply cheap old cars; clapped out, rotten and undesirable. Our Mini had rot in the wood, a leaking floor; a driver’s seat that wasn’t fixed to the floor and much else wrong with it. The only things that worked properly were the brakes. On the day in question we were going up a steep hill. This meant that we couldn’t stop on the way up because if we did it would be virtually impossible to get going again. The only way to get to the top of a hill was to go as fast as you possibly could and hang on. My mother took the hill – and the corners - at breakneck speed and wouldn’t slow down for anything. It was raining heavily and as I was closing a sliding window on the passenger side the door fell off in my hand. I can still remember the pain in my arms as I struggled to hold onto the door until we got to the top and could stop. Nothing, but nothing, was going to stand in the way of that mini reaching the top of the Gorge. I think this is why I like the film ‘The Italian Job’ so much. The Mini chase and the song ‘this is the self-preservation society’ bring back it all back.
I think the bigger your vehicle, the easier it is to insist on your right of way. The law of might is right - even if not strictly legal – tends to hold sway. Barring maniacal Mini drivers that is! Who is going to argue with a determined lorry driver if you are on a motorbike, even if you are in the right? Buses tend to get their own way in cities – even if they shouldn’t.
At sea the general rule is that power driven vessels give way to sailing vessels. Huge super tankers will alter course for a tiny yacht – simply because the rules say they must. But every now and these huge ships steam blindly on, either ignoring the rules or simply oblivious that smaller craft are in the area. On these occasions smaller vessels in their path have to admit – sadly – that might is right – even if technically the big ship is in the wrong.
All vessels, whether yachts, warships or tankers are treated equally by the sailing rules and no ship has precedence over another simply because of who owns her or where she comes from. But there is one sort of ship that never has to give way and has priority over all other vessels. A ship is described as being ‘Not Under Command’ when through one reason or another she has no control over her movements. As far as the rules are concerned she can go where she wills. I have only ever been in the path of a ship not under command once – it was a super tanker with failed steering gear – time to get out of the way fast!
St Peter once said that those whom God uses as messengers are ‘carried along by the Holy Spirit.’ The word he uses for carried along is the same word you would use if you were describing what it is like to be carried along by a ship: you are not out of control, but neither are you under your own command. When you sail on a ship you go very definitely in a direction decided by someone else yet you yourself are unchanged. St Timothy describes the writers of the Bible in much the same way. God breathed his word through them, yet they still retained all their own turns of phrase, their language and the like. This is why the Bible is such a rich and varied book. It was written by many human hands across many ages; yet all of it was inspired by one unchanging God. It is the perfect way to bridge the gap between humanity and the spiritual – all the passion of humanity guided by the wisdom of God. No wonder it is a best seller. If you are looking for a holiday paperback this summer – you need look no further. If you want a good place to start, then the Gospel of Mark is the shortest!