I've just been reading some stuff about sacred and secular, which I won't go into now because it was dead complicated, but I was sitting in bed in the morning as I do with two cups of tea, a very civilised way to start the day - two cups of tea and a good book. I don't really start to function till about 10 in the morning. The book in question is Jane Jacobs Edge of Empire, about the geography of postcolonialism and the city, told you it was complicated.
But what started me thinking, or daydreaming if you prefer, was the fact that it was Sunday morning. I am a Christian, but I don't go to church. At least I only go to preach. It's a very contradictory place to be, I know, but it's where I've arrived. I just don't find God in church. Many other places, but not church. I don't know why, partly personal history, the experience of an undying kind of hypocrisy in the churches I went to perforce as a child. Or maybe it's something God has done. A monk once said to me "God has chosen a dark path for you", which is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me, although when I have told this to people in the past, most of them have said, "How horrible".
The bit about preaching is that I do go to churches in order to speak for Christian Aid. I do once a year at Ringmer in an annual effort to drum up more collectors, and, because the local office know I have the gift of the gab, they sometimes ask me to go to other places. It's good fun.
So Sunday morning tends to be a time of rest, but not in church. The only churchy thing that intrudes is the noise pollution from Ringmer's church bells chaotically and atonally summoning the faithful to service.
We spent a few days on holiday at Whitchurch Canonicorum this year where the church bells ring on the hour every hour day and night. We were in "Church Cottage" so you get the picture. I'm sure that the locals would have defended their church clock to the death (I would happily have accommodated them...) on the grounds that it was traditional.
They probably have a happy picture of a monk in 500 AD tolling Vespers on a bit of rope. But it occurred to me that chiming on the hour must be
an industrial invention. They didn't need it for medieval workers.
They needed to know when church was on, and maybe when mealtimes were,
but they had no use for the hour. So it can't be *that* traditional. I wonder when it actually came in. Must look it up somewhere.