Of heroes and friends

I have a new hero. Writing one of my essays has brought me into contact with the work of the early church theologian, Tertullian (who wrote between about 195 and 212). He had an acute mind and a sharp pen, but besides a passionate commitment to scripture he was also attuned to the present-day revelations of the Holy Spirit. It is this that brought him into conflict with what was becoming the established church.

Let me give a brief flavour of his writing. One of his opponents was Praxeas, a trendy thinker who had gained the favour of Rome. As well as being opposed to prophecy, Praxeas believed that God, instead of being the three persons of the Trinity, was only one person, so that it was God the Father who was crucified on the cross. Tertullian was incensed that such a heretic should have the ear of the pope, and his own summary of his response is still pungent:

Praxeas attended to two matters of the devil at Rome: he expelled prophecy and introduced heresy; he put the Paraclete to flight and crucified the Father. Tertullian, Against Praxeas, 1.5

In other ways, Tertullian was a figure of his own time. His strictures on the veils that women should wear seem strange, and to 21st century eyes is one of his less appealing arguments.

The older I get, the more I appreciate genuine friendship. Let me pick out a couple of events.

Jon and Rachel. At least Rachel knows where the camera is.

Coming back from a wedding last Saturday, I asked Jon whether he and Rachel would mind if I landed on their doorstep two hours later. I met Jon through an Alpha course about five years ago. He was working at a sports shop, and had a deep-seated desire to become a tennis coach, which led him onto an LTA course. I was struggling to write book on science and faith, and my call to ordained ministry hadn’t yet returned. We’d often meet and chat – and with his chipper personality he was always encouraging, and could generally put an optimistic spin on events where others would see only doom and gloom. He’s now the head tennis coach at the Longleat CenterParcs, and moved near there a year ago. Having shared in some dark days in the past, it was awesome to be able to enjoy each other’s recent good times.

Dom and Mya

Since leaving Nelson Thornes, I’ve enjoyed having former colleagues become friends. Dominique had the dubious pleasure of being my boss for about a year, and I soon began to appreciate her sparky personality and wise counsel. She left NT and the quagmire of Documentum (don’t ask, it was an ordeal for all of us), and became a mother five months ago. She may have met her match in Mya, though! I’m convinced, given her parents, that Mya is destined to become a singer-songwriter.

Today I went up Cleeve Hill, a lovely area. Here’s a view from the top.

Trees at the top of Cleeve Hill

8 thoughts on “Of heroes and friends

  1. The older I get, the more I appreciate genuine friendship – this is an interesting line, it holds alot of truth i see.

    Good flow and moving story and very notably the Cleeve hill photo is superb.

    God bless you Rich.

  2. I guess you can see why I was waxing lyrical about early church history just before you started your course. It seems a shame to me that the rich history of the church (with all its good and bad points) always stays in the pages of theology and church history books.

  3. Hey Mr Tweedy- you were in Cheltenham and didn’t visit- shame on you!

    I ran past those very trees up on Cleeve a couple of weeks ago, having foolishly signed up for the Cleevewold…came fifth from last but finished it at least and aren’t the views amazing?! Hope all going well in priest school and look us up if you come down again! Karen

    • Hey Karen,

      I feel my wrists suitably slapped!

      Before working at NT I had a few weeks temping in Southam. It was *so* tedious, but the one good thing was that it was close to Cleeve Hill. So every lunch time I shot out of the door, jumped in the car, sped to the junction with the main road up Cleeve Hill where I parked, and in 20 minutes I was up the hill by those trees. So they became a favourite spot for me.

      Vicar factory is going well! Should be back over the summer.

  4. Richard, I’ve just found this lovely post! Awww thank you so much 🙂
    How is fatherhood treating you? A lot happens in 8 years! (Incidentally, Mya is very in to playing her guitar, so you may well have been on to something!).

    • Hi Dom, many thanks for your message! I’m very much enjoying fatherhood although it’s challenging and radically changes expectations of life! Great that Mya is enjoying the guitar – the guitar hanging on the wall behind in the photo makes it unsurprising that she’s expressing her creativity this way! How’s life treating you? (I may message you on FB in the next couple of days)

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