Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Exploring the Blogosphere: Laurence England

There are many bloggers in the Catholic blogosphere; very, very many. It's always great to read other Catholic blogs - I make it a rule that if I have spare time I will check out one new one every day.

But there's still many more; I would love to read them all and generally try to drop a comment by when I do. It's impossible to read them all of course, so I have a small list of blogs that I check daily. One of them happens to be That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill.

I have always looked up to The Bones; he is a great Catholic role-model for youths everywhere. I contacted him and he very graciously agreed to allow me to interview him. Without further ado....

    Tell us a little bit about yourself. What made you start your blog, That the Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill?

At the time I started my blog, my flatmate was another Catholic who read blogs and had started one of her own. I started to read my parish priest's blog and also I started commenting on Damian Thompson's Holy Smoke blog. I could see that Catholics were really making an effort to evangelise through the new media and I found it very inspiring. So, I decided to start my own blog. I named it after a penitential psalm, psalm 51, one of my favourites. 

     From reading your blog, it is clear you have a lot of compassion for the homeless and really try to live out your Catholic life. How long have been doing this and what caused you start your ministry?

My favourite Saints, like Francis, Anthony of Padua, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta spent a great deal of time preaching repentance and showed that following Christ meant going really in the opposite direction to what the World expects of us and saw in the poor a very special presence of Christ.  To me these Saints are heroes and their lives are very inspiring. I think it is hard for us to offer an authentic vision of the Gospel if we are indifferent to the poor. I worked for some time at ATD Fourth World, a charity in London working with people in poverty and that was started by a Catholic priest in France. In Brighton my parish priest urged people to join the soup run so I got involved with that. I think as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said, the poor give more to us than we give to them. There is spiritual joy to be found in serving the poor because we are serving Christ. Really, service to the poor is a commandment given us by the Lord. We'd be silly to ignore that.

    What can other Catholics do to help those who suffer from material hardship?

There are always local initiatives run by the Catholic Church such as the SVP. The main thing is that we try to give of ourselves and to be generous as the Lord is so generous to us. He holds nothing back from us of Himself. We should give of ourselves to the poor - in doing this we ourselves experience some kind of liberation from our self-centredness. We should try to be brave and reach out to others, with love and a measure of prudence of course.

   It is also clear music plays a large role in your blog. How important is music to you?

I used to be in a band but gave it up. I didn't like performing, really, in front of an audience. I think it brings out the worst in me. I feel more comfortable now writing songs about the Faith and posting them on YouTube. It's less direct. I like to busk every now and then, but even then, prefer to do it with others. I have a gift for lyrics and try to turn lyrics about matters to do with the Faith into songs. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I'd like to think that he who sings his blogposts blogs twice, but I'm unsure that others see it that way! On a more general note about music, I'd like to sing Gregorian Chant more, but I struggle to find the time and place for this.

     You also are a strong supporter of traditional marriage. What do you think of the situation in Britain right now?

I think it is not scaremongering to say we are on the cusp of another dramatic and damaging upheaval in society - another cultural revolution that could be the fatal blow to the family. The main problem, as I see it, is that such legislation for same sex marriage will have so many consequences beyond those couples who wish to marry who are of the same sex. What does this mean for religious freedom? What does this mean for democracy? How can the State redefine something that doesn't belong to it? What does this mean for a child's education and moral formation? Are parents unable to give a child a moral formation that doesn't involve destroying their innocence of a very adult subject? There are so many questions but few answers are given. I fear the worst for the future of the UK and for the family. We have to uphold the dignity of marriage because on it rests the future of society and even peace.

    What would you tell your fellow Catholics they can do to aid in the fight?

The main thing is that we must pray and find time to pray the Rosary. We can do nothing without the help of God and Our Lady's prayers. Our main weapon against the culture of death is prayer - hopefully prayer will lead to action on our part. The blogs are a good way to keep informed of the Faith. We should be familiar with the Church's teachings and accept them as from God. We should familiarise ourselves with the Catechism. We need to rediscover a deep love for the Faith and to share it with others. 

    Do you find that other people in the blogosphere are an important influence on your blog; that is, do you find the online community to be a good ally in fighting the good fight or do you feel like you are all alone?

I don't feel alone in blogging because it is obvious that there are so many people out there fighting the same fight to present the Faith to the World. I'm always reading other people's blogs and its a community that works in union with the Church to evangelise. It is one very positive aspect of the internet revolution - it has opened a door to Catholic opinion that is no longer confined to certain Catholic magazines or newspapers with a limited view or limited number of writers. 

     What blogs do you usually read; who would you recommend for further reading to your readers?

I avidly read my parish priest's blog, Fr Ray Blake. I also read A Reluctant Sinner and Fr Tim Finegan. I would certainly recommend these blogs but also a lot of the other blogs that appear in my sidebar. 

     What do you find the biggest challenge facing you as a blogger?

Knowing when to stop. It can become obsessive and a little unhealthy. It's important that blogging doesn't take over our lives entirely and that we still have time to pray and be human and interact with other people in a truly human setting. It is important we don't inhabit a fantasy world.   

  If you could only make one last blog post, what would it be?

There you go, there's your third miracle. (After my death) It's unlikely, but hope springs eternal!

Thank you so much, Mr. England! It was really a pleasure and I look forward to communicating with you again!

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