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The Rockin' Rev November 2019

ROCKIN REV

“Too much institutional religion can seriously damage your health”

 

Those are not the words you might expect from a senior and prominent figure in the Church of England. But they are in fact the words of Graham Usher, who on Saturday 9th November will be enthroned as the seventy-second Bishop of Norwich
 
Bishop Graham has a background in ecology. He’s a keen gardener and a beekeeper. He’s also written a book about spirituality and landscape entitled “Places of Enchantment”.  Throughout the book Graham explores the possibility of meeting God in landscapes be it land, forest, river, mountain, desert, garden, sea, or sky
 
ROCKIN' REV 11-2019AA landscape is something natural, something physical, something that can be seen, touched, admired and explored. Landscapes can reinvigorate us and fill us with a sense of awe and wonder
 
Bishop Graham maintains that there is a great and honourable Christian tradition of finding God in landscapes.  He does have a point, and I have met many people who have appreciated the spiritual benefits they gained from climbing a mountain, walking through a forest, sitting in a garden, navigating their way across a windswept desert, looking out to sea, or staring up at the stars
 
I’ve visited the sacred and scarred landscapes of the Bible (The Holy Land) on a number of occasions and been stimulated to think about spiritual issues that are both urgent and timeless.  In Jerusalem, a real melting pot of cultures, I considered the question “where is home?” Confronted with the vast Negev desert the question was “dare I be alone with God?” Along the banks of the River Jordan where Jesus was baptized, the question most urgent in my mind was “who am I?”  At each and every place the landscape provided the setting for an encounter with God
 
ROCKIN' REV 11-2019BJust a few weeks ago I came back from a holiday in Lanzarote. The almost moonlike landscape has been hewn by tremendous underground forces and features craters, lagoons, canyons, valleys of solidified lava, and many small volcano cones, hence it is sometimes referred to as the island of 1,000 volcanoes
 
Was the landscape of Lanzarote a “place of enchantment?” Did I encounter God there? Absolutely!  So, I wonder if you agree with Bishop Graham when he says “too much institutional religion can seriously damage your health”?

 

Rev Brian Hall
Vicar, St Andrew’s Church

 

as published by St Andrew's Church in the Gorleston Community Magazine

 

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