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Hallo again to all on this Trinity Sunday.

So whose parish didn't sing St Patrick's Breastplate at some point in the service today? If the doctrine — or, better, love song — of the Trinity causes occasional theological difficulties for us all, it has certainly inspired some glorious hymns.

On this Sunday, clergy have traditionally been cautioned that explicating the doctrine of the Trinity without sliding into serious theological error is impossible. So we shan't dare try it! Instead, we're musing about Trinity Sunday as the gateway to 'ordinary time', a day that heralds the long series of Sundays 'after Trinity' or 'after Pentecost', as we get on living half of the church year without the punctuation of the events of Jesus' earthly life.

Ordinary time. Ordinary things. Ordinary life.

But is any time ordinary since the era of Anno Domini Facebook? Or AD Twitter? Once upon a time, 'ordinary life' once seemed to have a period of leisure built in to it. Whether by the rigid confines of a Victorian Sunday, the commercial restriction of American 'Blue Laws', the societal understanding that children's activities were scheduled on that day, or a more pious age, Sundays were a time without the activities of a normal weekday. Well, heave ho with that.

For most of us — even Anglicans who diligently attend church every week — Sunday now includes reading and writing email, doing the occasional errand, checking Facebook, and having a go at the bit of laundry not done during the week. Alas, after leaving Divine Worship, the rhythm of a Sunday can often seem somewhat indistinguishable from other days. If Sunday is displaced as a day of leisure, what time remains for pursuits, hobbies, and recreations?

It's hard for us to conceive of the number of hours that various polls claim people spend watching the telly. (Let's assume that a fair proportion of those people are not Anglicans.) So leaving out the telly, what do we do with unallocated time? How different are the leisure hours of, say, a bishop now than a bishop 40 years ago?A flycatcher

A quick trip to the bookshelf to pull down an enormous red volume gives us a clue. A perusal of Who's Who 1969-70* allows us to pinpoint the recreations of diocesan bishops of the Church of England at that time. A number of were tight-lipped, admitting to no hobbies. Others fell into what might be called typical patterns:

  • Bangor: fishing and walking
  • Bath and Wells: fishing, golfing, sailing
  • Blackburn: golf, squash, tennis
  • Canterbury: walking
  • Chelmsford: motoring, walking
  • Chester: oarsmanship, walking
  • Coventry: golf, sketching
  • Lincoln: gardening, antiques, country life
  • Manchester: walking, gardeningCamera from the mid 1960s in England
  • Ripon: country life, music
  • Rochester: sailing and travel
  • St Albans: riding, bird watching, and fishing
  • Winchester: sailing, watercolour sketching
  • York: gardening, motoring, music

On the other hand, two bishops seem grimly studious in their recreations:

  • Salisbury: study of Foreign Affairs
  • Southwell: Inter-church RelationsA 1960s mystery novel

One bishop seems delightfully honest about his pastimes:

  • Bristol: family life and frivolous reading

Another had a happily wide range of activity:

  • Wakefield: fell walking, photography, responding for the guests, baiting Yorkshiremen

The responding and baiting sound like good fun. And this eclectic collection of recreations pleased us:

  • Durham: family and home; reading maps and (once) Bradshaw

The mysterious one-time reading of Bradshaw provokes questions: Did the bishop read it once as a recreation and thereafter as a duty? Did he memorise it in its entirety? Did he throw away the hated Bradshaw and confine himself afterwards solely to railway maps?Southern Railway Map of Systerm and Continental Connections

One bishop was honest about his single interest:

  • Exeter: hockey (played for West of England 1927-29)

But our favourite entry is this

  • Guildford: ski-ing, radio and television, avoiding committees

for the recreation of 'avoiding committees'. We're determined to take up this hobby as soon as possible and strive to reach a high standard of achievement.

Now taking leave of our episcopal colleagues of 1970, we wonder what all of us — laity, clergy, bishops — now do to incorporate leisure into our 'ordinary life'. Surely blogging would now be an admitted pastime in Who's Who, perhaps disguised as 'writing'. Do tell us if you are able to build a degree of recreation into your 'ordinary life' — and what that recreation is.

See you next week, as we enter the long season of the Sundays after Trinity (or Pentecost, depending on where you are). And whether you consider Anglicans Online a recreation or something of a weekly duty, we're ever so grateful you stop by here.

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Croquet: Principles and Rules

Last updated: 19 June 2011

*We note that the 1897 edition of Who's Who is digitized and online. A quick check of a random ten bishops revealed only one who admitted to any recreations: The Bishop of Worcester confessed to gardening and croquet. No doubt he was thought of by his peers as a West Country lightweight.

†This was the great Michael Ramsey, 100th Archbishop of Canterbury


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