Fr Thomas Plant, Tokyo-based Anglican priest and comparative theologian

Month: May 2020

Through void, womb and tomb the Spirit breathes

Pentecost 2020

The first thing a flute like my shakuhachi needs to make a sound is space: the empty space inside. Whether a drum, a piano, a guitar, a bell, or even the human voice, there has to be a hollow space in any instrument for the sound to resonate around and out of. If I try to blow or tap or pluck or sing into a solid block, no sound will come out.

The second thing the flute needs to make a sound is shape. Different shapes will make different sounds. A shakuhachi will make a different sound from a French horn. So, the second thing to make a sound is the shape which gives form to the empty space and the sound it makes.

The third thing the flute needs to make a sound is breath: just the right amount of air flowing through it. So, empty space, shape and breath: take any of those three things away, and the flute won’t make a sound.

What comes down must go up

Your parish church is not an idol: it’s an icon

Church of the Holy Angels, Hoar Cross - Wikipedia
Holy Angels, Hoar Cross

The Twitter mantra seems so obviously true at first glance.

“Church is about people, not buildings.”

Yet since the Archbishop of Canterbury voiced the same view in support of keeping the buildings closed, many have marvelled at the ire it has provoked in some quarters, notably the lacier and ginnier ones. Few have managed to articulate their ire beyond a general sense of impropriety: that sacred spaces, hallowed by prayer, matter in some way.

This meets the by now stock response that prayer can happen wherever we want it to, and domestic worship is a worthy substitute. The Archbishop even alluded to the supposed practice of the Early Church. This in turn invites public soul-searching among the clergy about just what the priestly office is about, and among church wardens about why they have worked so hard to keep the proverbial rooves proverbially watertight. Is it, as some clergy aver, an idolatry of stone? 

Covenant: Life Without Mark or Measure

One for the Tolkien fans! The Coronavirus shows the secular world, stripped of sacred markers, in all its dull greyness…

That cross looks heavy…

Even Jesus didn’t carry his cross alone.

Jesus was crucified so that we do not have to be. Yet we all carry a cross. We are weighed down by our own failings and weakness and by those of others. Whether it is made by our own or others’ hands, its heavy wood can crush us and pin us to the ground. It can be hard to stand, let alone keep walking.

But even Jesus could not carry his Cross alone. Simon had to share the weight to keep him staggering on under the burden of the world’s sin. Even God Incarnate, one with us in our humanity, needed help.

True Joys

What is our heart’s desire? How can we find out?

Homily on readings at Mass for the Fourth Sunday after Easter from the traditional BCP lectionary.

Gospel 2: The Gospel of the Thessalonians

Second in the Greater Silence video series on the Gospel.

What hath Gotham to do with Jerusalem?

A Religious Studies video for KS3 pupils on why Jesus is like Batman. 

Church buildings, Eucharistic participation and pastoral care

Participation in the Eucharist is much more than just receiving Communion: in fact, the whole cosmos takes part in its own way, and even the stones of the church buildings are our brothers. A video contribution to some contemporary Covid debates.

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