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May Day odds and sods

1 May 2012

In the intervals in which the Internet was working I managed to pick up a few snippets from Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere, which seem worth recording in a more findable form.

Someone posted this saying of Rebecca West on Facebook. and Pat McKenzie, former national secretary of the Liberal Party of South Africa, commented:

In I think 1961 Rebecca West was in South Africa writing a series on South Africa for the London Sunday Times. I drove her to Stanger to meet Chief Luthuli in E.V. Mohamed’s office. She was extremely friendly and was certainly no doormat and certainly had the gift of the gab. I hardly needed to open my mouth as she talked non-stop.

That, of course, was in the days when the London Sunday Times was a halfway decent newspaper, and not the disreputable rabid right-wing rag it is today.

Canon Eric James at Anglican Students Federation conference, Modderpport, July 1965

And then on Twitter I saw a retweeted announcement of the death of Eric James. The internet connection was too erratic and unreliable to confirm if it was the Eric James I knew, but if it is, there’s a picture of him.

I met him at the Anglican Students Federation annual conference held at Modderpport in July 1965, which he spoke on small groups in the church — house churches and similar small groups.

Six months later I scarpered to England with the SB after me, leaving at 6 hours notice. There was no time to make any arrangements for what I would do when I got there, and he took me in, a homeless, penniless semi-refugee, and I stayed with him for six weeks until I manage to find a job and digs of my own, so I have good reason to remember him with gratitude.

He was then general secretary of the Parish and People movement, and my one regret was that he didn’t take me with him on some of his trips as general secretary, as I thought I could have learnt something from that. But he certainly passed the Christian hospitality test. Memory eternal!

Catholic priest facing a firing squad in Mexico for saying Mass in public, 1932

And then someone posted this picture on Facebook.

It shows a Catholic priest facing a firin g squad for saying Mass in public in Mexico, in 1932.

Many years ago (about the same time that I met Eric James, I read Graham Greene’s novel The power and the glory, which was set in that period, and the protagonist is a rather pathetic little whiskey priest, on the run from the police, who is eventually caught, and faces the same fate. And on the night before his execution he realises that there is only one thing in this world that is at all important — to be a saint.

And that reminds me of something that Soren Kierkegaard said: “Onl;y one thing can be remembered eternally: to have suffered for the truth.”

And on the tomb of St Alphege (whose feast day was a few days ago) is the inscription, “He who dies for truth and justice dies for Christ.”

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