The nomadic life is full of moral dilemmas. When I filled up the Romahome this morning, I saw that by buying a copy of the Mail on Sunday, I could get a reduction on my fuel of 5p per litre. 50 litres @ 5p = £2.50. So I bought the newspaper, and came out of the deal about £1 ahead… though the transaction was so confusing to the lady behind the counter (and to me) that she needed to use her pocket calculator. It was rather too early on a Sunday morning for such high finance.
So far, so good… except I was now the owner of a copy of Britain’s worst newspaper. I couldn’t even give it away to another customer - and I tried - so I put it back in the rack with all the other papers. Owning a copy of the Daily Mail, even just for five minutes, made me feel a bit grubby.
Buying books from charity shops doesn’t usually create much moral conflict. Except for last week when I bought a book about birds from a charity shop run by the Cat Protection League. I also bought a book by Christopher Hitchins (with one of the all-time great titles: God is not Great) from a Christian charity bookshop. I’m conflicted. I wouldn’t normally give money to Cats or Christians if someone was shaking a tin…
The church at Greystoke is very big, but the congregation, these days, is very small. Small... and cold. So the vicar has installed a small marquee, in the south aisle, which can be kept toasty warm, throughout the winter months, with a couple of electric fan heaters at either end. The marquee will stay until the weather warms up next spring.
There are, I think, about 13,000 parish churches in the country, with most of them facing similar problems. I love old churches - the smaller the better - but, on the whole, they're surplus to requirements. I wonder how many churches will still be 'open for business' in fifty years time?