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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Start:Stop - Steer us through storms

Bible reading

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:35-41)


Jesus' reaction to the storm (to sleep) and his response to his disciples after the stilling of the storm ("Why are you frightened? Have you still no faith?") suggest that he had expected the disciples to ride out the storm both by acting as responsible sailors and trusting in God to see them through. Jesus is able to sleep because he trusts his disciples to get him safely to the other side of Lake Galilee, even in the midst of a storm. After all, many of them are fishermen, experienced sailors, while he is, as a carpenter, a landlubber. The disciples know boats and they know the lake, it makes sense that he would trust them to sail safely from one side of the lake to the other. He trusts them enough that he can catch up on some sleep while they get on with doing what they are actually very good at doing. The disciples have skills and knowledge of sailing and Jesus expects them to use these and trusts that they will use them well.

Instead, they are panicked by the storm, forget to do the things that sailors should do in a storm and, as a result, come close to going under. The problem comes, of course, when they don’t use their skills and knowledge well. The strength of the storm is such that they panic and don’t take actions (like taking down the sail, bailing out the water, and steering against the storm rather than with it) which would have enabled them to ride out the storm and get to the other side of the lake. They made the situation worse by panicking and it was their panic which could have got them killed.

This, I think, is why they are rebuked by Jesus for lack of faith. Essentially, he was saying, “If you had trusted in God to see you through the storm, you would have done the sensible things that would have enabled you to survive. But, because you didn’t trust in God to see you through, you panicked, didn’t take sensible actions, nearly got us all drowned, and needed me to intervene to save you.”

This seems a saluatory tale for us in the unanticipated storms of life – whether, the credit crunch and the recession it caused or more personal storms such as ill health or redundancy. Instead of panicking and looking for a miraculous instant solution to the storm in which we find ourselves, the faithful thing is to act responsibly, securing what can be secured and steering our way through the storm, trusting that we will come through, battered and blown, but alive nevertheless.


Lord Jesus, help us respond to the challenge of your question to the disciples as we face the storm of this time of austerity. May we trust, and in our trust, take the responsible and sensible decisions that will secure our futures and those of others, both those we support and those who depend on us.

Steer us through storms, as we trust in the skills and experience you have given.

Lord Jesus, guide us as we make decisions in difficult times – the storms of life. Enable us to take the long view as we decide rather than acting only in the short-term, enable us to act in the wider interests of others – the common good – rather than thinking and acting primarily in our own self-interest.

Steer us through storms, as we trust in the skills and experience you have given.

Lord Jesus, thank you for giving each of us skills and experience. We pray that these will not be negated by a sense of panic in times of storm and difficulty but that we will trust enough in all you have given us to believe that if we use our skills and knowledge well, we will come through.

Steer us through storms, as we trust in the skills and experience you have given.


Trust in God, trust in God’s leading, trust in responsible actions, trust in the skills and experience God has given, trust in the midst of storms and difficulties. May those blessings of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, rest upon you and remain with you always. Amen.


Belle and Sebastian - The Ghost Of Rockschool.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

St Stephen Walbrook: Summer Newsletter 2016

The Summer 2016 Newsletter for St Stephen Walbrook has just been published. Highlights include:
The newsletter can be read by clicking here.


St Martin's Voices - Shall We Gather At The River.

Poetry Evening: The London Magazine

An evening of poetry organised by The London Magazine and featuring Steven O’Brien, Joe Machine and Edward Lucie-Smith - Wednesday 25 May, 7.00pm, at St Stephen Walbrook.

Steven O'Brien is Editor of The London Magazine and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth. He is a writer, primarily in poetry and poetics, who has given many readings featuring his collection of poems Dark Hill Dreams and Scrying Stone. He views public readings as crucial in the process of writing as living work. He says "it is an imperative of Creative Writing that it emerges (from its roots in English Literature) with a distinct conceptual style and flavour, in which literary writing can encompass both the creatively critical and the critically creative."

Joe Machine is an artist, poet and writer. He is a founding member of the Stuckist's art group. His work has been called "raw and autobiographical". His paintings on 'The Life & Legend of St Stephen' will be at St Stephen Walbrook from 16 - 27 May 2016. Joe Machine and Steven O'Brien have collaborated on a soon to be published book, Britannia Stories, exploring twenty myths commonly associated with the British Isles. They worked closely in examining the origins of all the stories, and on determining the relevance of each to the 21st century, with Machine’s paintings influencing O’Brien’s writings, and vice versa.

Edward Lucie-Smith was born in 1933 at Kingston, Jamaica. He moved to Britain in 1946, and was educated at King's School, Canterbury and Merton College, Oxford, where he read History. Subsequently he was an Education Officer in the R.A.F., then worked in advertising for ten years before becoming a freelance author. He is now an internationally known art critic and historian, who is also a published poet (winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize), an anthologist and a practicing photographer.


Steve Mason - Words In My Head.

Windows on the world (390)

Brighton, 2015


M Ward - Confession.

Steve Fairnie, Robert Lax, 27th and 4th

Earlier today I visited This is not a rehearsal', a celebratory retrospective of the artwork of Steve Fairnie at Coate Studios in Hackney until Sunday 1st May (10am - 4pm).

'Fairnie was commissioned to illustrate Robert Lax's poem "24th and 4th", creating nine postcard-sized pieces in the two weeks between the funeral of a close friend and his own death. The book was released by Stride Publications shortly after Fairnie's passing.'

"27th and 4th is an address in New York City. It was through a window from an office at that address that Robert Lax observed the life that he sued as the basis for this poem. He observed, he sifted what he saw, and finally refined his observations by setting them within terse poetic lines. Lax turned these scenes from the street into meditations on the small things of everday life to which we pay no heed. The fats pace of life is slowed. And as it is slowed we are able to examine it. The poem is about a point of contact. That point, as Lax puts it towards the end of the poem, is 'The contact of inner self with the outer reality'." [from the Afterword by Paul J. Spaeth]

'Poet Robert Lax, whose quest to live a true life as both an artist and a spiritual seeker inspired Thomas Merton, Jack Kerouac, William Maxwell and a host of other writers, artists and ordinary people. Known in the U.S. primarily as Merton's best friend and in Europe as a daringly original avant-garde poet, Lax left behind a promising New York writing career to travel with a circus, live among immigrants in post-war Marseilles and settle on a series of remote Greek islands where he learned and recorded the simple wisdom of the local people. Born a Jew, he became a Catholic and found the authentic community he sought in Greek Orthodox fishermen and sponge divers.

In his early life, as he alternated working at the New Yorker, writing screenplays in Hollywood and editing a Paris literary journal with studying philosophy, serving the poor in Harlem and living in a sanctuary high in the French Alps, Lax pursued an approach to life he called pure act - a way of living in the moment that was both spontaneous and practiced, God-inspired and self-chosen. By devoting himself to simplicity, poverty and prayer, he expanded his capacity for peace, joy and lovewhile producing distinctive poetry of such stark beauty critics called him "one of America's greatest experimental poets" and "one of the new 'saints' of the avant-garde."'

"Robert Lax was a poet who devised his own poetic forms, much admired by some readers, unfortunately unknown to most. He was an intellectual and was often called a mystic, but he was neither, just as he was called a hermit but really wasn't. When he was younger, he lived in New York, where he worked for a period at The New Yorker and knew many figures in the arts, from Jack Kerouac, to Ad Reinhardt, E. B. White, William Maxwell . . . the list goes on. Most crucially he was a close friend of Thomas Merton's and was made known, a little, by Merton's autobiography, in which he appears. He also for a time traveled with a circus and wrote a lovely little book about it, "The Circus of the Sun" - hard to find, but worth the search. For the larger parts of his life he lived alone, on islands in Greece, and spent much, perhaps most, of his time in solitude and meditation, trying to find some kind of ultimate peace (though he never put it that way). Even then he knew and was admired by many; and many others who'd only heard of him sought him out. He was invariably hospitable and welcoming, his presence gentle, humorous, and utterly patient. In short, there's never been anyone like him,and Pure Act, in its offering of a detailed recounting of his life and an acute presentation and analysis of his too-neglected poetry, gives him to us: the gift of a human being unlike any other." C. K. Williams


The Techno Orchestra - Observation.

Update: Sophia Hub Redbridge

Ro Southern writes:

"Entrepreneur's club speaker on Tuesday lunchtime is fashion photographer Jasdip Sagu - he's a new business, doing well, and will share his tips and contacts. A Seven Kings more here (At St Johns)

Very pleased with the new Sophia Hubs volunteer bloggers - Janet and Amanda! Here's a couple more this week - Janet's blog about the value of an Enterprising Desk website workshop and her two new website for 2 start-up busineses and info on the City business library. Amanda's doing one over the weekend. Room for more bloggers!

The Timebank trading event last Saturday was great - here's a blog from Brenda the painter/decorator about the paid work she's got from Timebank and a couple of positive outcomes from the event. Hoping Bhav will do one too - a reminder.

We also had a successful first business seminar with community groups last week - info, pics and how to sign up to the project here. Sonia Lynch of the Welcome Centre says the session was great and she could not afford to miss any further ones. :)

Here's a call out for speakers at our entrepreneur's club - please do contact me. The dates for next 3 months are here. :)

Still time for any groups or start-ups that want to join a Sophia course workshop on planning something new/partcipatory/engaging at the Redbridge Green Fair (a mini project to plan and test)information is here. Wednesday afternoons, info here.

Hainault Business Network event will be on Tuesday at 5 at the Hainault cafe. Info on previous one here - always first Tuesday. contact Sandie for 07940 716554

Here's Amanda's recommendation about the City Business Show on 11-12 May

Please do share Sophia Hubs blogs, Facebook posts etc, and also The Redbridge Green Fair, my other hat!

Have a great weekend,

Best wishes,

Ros Southern
Coordinator, Sophia Hubs Redbridge
07707 460309"


Iris Dement - Our Town.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Claudio Crismani concert - 18 May 2016

‘The Prometheus Project’: Italian classical pianist Claudio Crismani plays Liszt, Skrjabin and Boulez. Wednesday 18 May, 7.00pm - £15.00 (with complimentary glass of wine). Tickets are available via the Box Office at St Martin-in-the-Fields- Tel: 020 7766 1100, Web:

"Claudio Crismani is an amazing, daring and magnetic artist."

With these words American critic John Maxim concludes his review on Music Life about Claudio
Crismani’s concert dedicated to Scriabin’s music. The music by Russian composer Alexander Scriabin has always been at the centre of Crismani’s artistic interests.

Crismani was born in Trieste and he began studying music with Andrea Giorgi as a young boy. Between Andro and Claudio a solid, lifelong fraternal friendship was built in time. He continued studying piano with Alessandro Costantinides and composition with Mario Bugamelli, graduating with full marks at the Bolzano Conservatory. He then perfected his technique studying with Marguerite Kazuro in Warsaw for five years.

His international career began in Paris in 1979 with a recital at the "Salle Pleyel" and a series of radio and tv recordings for "France Musique". Since then he has performed all over Europe,
Russia, Israel, USA, Japan and Australia and in the most distinguished concert halls. He has worked with directors such as James Lawrence Levine, Cristoph von Dohnányi and Thomas Sanderling and performed with internationally renowned orchestras, among which: The London Philharmonic Orchestra, The Philharmonia Orchestra, The European Community Chamber Orchestra, Les Solistes de Moscou, The Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra and The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 1986 Claudio Crismani was invited to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Liszt’s death by performing twelve concerts in England and playing the complete “Années de Pèlerinage" and the transcriptions of Wagner’s operas. In 1987, UNESCO named him "European Artist" and invited him to perform at the "International Music Soiree" at the Palais des Congrès in Paris. That same year
he was appointed "Guest Artist" of the Van Leer Foundation in Jerusalem and under this aegis he became co-founder of the Horowitz Festival.

In the Nineties, he staged a three-evening performance of the complete Poems and Sonatas for piano by Scriabin, which was repeated several times in different countries. He had an exclusive record contract with RS for twelve years and won two Discographic Awards. This period was marked by an important collaboration and friendship with the great Russian pianist Lazar Berman.

His performance of Scriabin’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra together with The London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Thomas Sanderling and recorded live at the Royal Festival Hall in London, was a true publishing success story.

After a concert tour in 2002/2003 marking his thirtieth year of artistic activity (he was described as one of the major artists of his generation), Claudio Crismani decided to retire from the concert scene and devote himself exclusively to a long period of study.

In 2014, he returned on the musical scene – among others - with “The Prometheus Project”, which is a transposition of Alexander Scriabin’s “Promethean” dream, designed to be a literary, artistic and (of course) musical experience. He rewrote it together with his friend Edward Lucie-Smith as a synesthetic blend, suspended between visual art and music, literature and history. Here, Pasternak and Scriabin intersect with contemporary traits, tracing a hitherto undescribed randomness of real-life moments spanning from Russia to Trieste and present and future human relations developing between Trieste and London.

In 2015, Claudio Crismani returned on the international scene at the exhibition on Boris Pasternak: “la Genesi del Sogno” (The Genesis of the Dream). The event highlighted artworks by Oleg Kudryashov, photographs by Moisei Nappelbaum and Crismani’s concert (performed strictly on a Fazioli piano) at the Teatro Verdi in Trieste, and repeated in 2016 in Cividale del Friuli with a tribute to Boulez.


Franz Liszt - Rapsodie.