Spent a happy Saturday in Greenwich at the invitation of the Yorkshire Man. He was a perfectly adequate tour guide. We wandered round the perimeter of the Cutty Sark clipper ship, tried on knight armour, speculated which parts of Christopher Wren’s Old Royal Naval College had featured in Les Misérables (the movie),
gawked at the Painted Room and the Chapel, watched the Time Ball atop the Flamsteed House at the Royal Observatory rise and then fall at 1 p.m. (Greenwich Mean Time, of course), took the requisite east-west divide photo with the Greenwich Meridian Line, then spent a few happy hours at the National Maritime Museum with its Admiral Horatio Nelson obsession.
I was there, of course, for the ships. The Yorkshire Man’s wise history teacher had told him that if he ever wanted to boast about Britain’s naval accomplishments, he must also acknowledge all that the British Empire had done for political and commercial gain – the slaves transported from Africa and the Caribbean by slave ships, wars fought by battleships, the East India Company’s trading ships that brought opium to China etc.
On a somewhat similar note, after discussing the church scene with a senior pastor, a conclusion was that though good work was being done around the world, there is no pastor who does not, in some sense, build his own empire when he should be being a slave to God’s people to build God’s kingdom. He had no advice for me, he said. It is difficult to know the hearts of men, it is difficult for men to know their own hearts.
So it is only by the mercy of God that we have this ministry of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:1).