Tag Archives: John Rylands Library

10 November: A brave airman

Grave of Henry Allen Litherland, Berlin 1939-45 War Cemetery. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/18404090/henry-allen-litherland

It is a sobering reflection that opinion divides over whether the carpet bombing of German cities was morally right or even effective, but the young men of bomber command were people of great courage who knew they had every chance of not getting home alive. 55,573 lost their lives, including Henry Allen Litherland of Manchester. Casualties in Bomber Command were the highest of any branch of the British armed forces during the Second World War, and the life expectancy of bomber crews was appallingly short. Their wives and families were also painfully aware of the risks.

Henry Litherland worked at the John Rylands Library in Manchester city centre until he was called up to serve in the RAF in October 1941. He became a bomber pilot, and was decorated twice for bravery.

He was 22 when shot down near Berlin, where he is buried.

You can read more about Henry Litherland in John Hodgson’s account in the John Rylands Library Blog.

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Filed under Autumn, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace

23 August: Faith in the 18th Century towns.

Manchester’s Collegiate Church became its Cathedral in 1847.

In this post from the John Rylands Library in Manchester Kate Gibson uses letters from the Nicholson family to demonstrate that religious faith did not die out in the mushrooming industrial towns of Britain.

Her project, Faith in the Town: Lay Religion, Urbanisation and Industrialisation in England, 1740-1830, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, is looking at the letters and diaries of ordinary people living in the towns of Northern England, for evidence of the place of faith in their daily lives. Unlike many histories of secularisation which focus on formal church organisations and their records, we argue that looking at the everyday practices of faith, and its relationship with how people thought about their family lives, their identities, their work and their use of urban and domestic space, provides a more vibrant picture of the continued importance of religion in this period. This is a history of faith from the bottom up, not the top down.

Faith in the Town has many interesting posts that may challenge us today, when our church communities have been in enforced hibernation. What can we and our buildings offer by way of space to be quiet and simple, welcoming, common worship for members and non-members alike?

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Filed under Christian Unity, corona virus, Daily Reflections, Mission

22 September, Relics XXVII: Digital Daguerreotypes

Yesterday we visited Saint David’s altar stone, and concluded that ‘the emotional and spiritual resonances of this rather non-descript stone cannot be denied’. Today’s relics are more intimate – or were when they were created – but though we know quite a lot about the 6th Century Bishop David, despite having no portrait of him, we can see these early photographs on-line, but often we do not know anything about them, not even their names. They are made available by the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester, which holds them. Here is a link to their post by Angie, who says: Regardless of time and technology, a portrait of the self or other transcends time and connects us to human emotions. 

The owners of these lockets valued their relationship with the sitters and the sitters must have loved the owners to endure sitting still for the quarter hour this process demanded.

They were happy to own these relics, perhaps kissing the before clipping them around their neck, but like George Borrow, did they deplore the Catholic attitude to saints’ relics?

We love flesh and blood family and friends, those with us here and now, those separated by time and space. It is natural to celebrate them with reminders, stones, bones, photographs or locks of hair.

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20 July. Laudato si’ in a small way: Gilbert White tercentenary, II.

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Engraving by Eric Ravilious from The Writings of Gilbert White of Selborne (London: Nonesuch Press, 1938), vol. 1, p. 243, illustrating Letter 42, on birds.

Here is the second of John Hodgson’s posts on Gilbert White from the John Rylands Library, University of Manchester. With links to the Gilbert White’s House museum in Selborne.

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18 July: Laudato Si’ in a small way, Tercentenary of Gilbert White

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July’s calendar filled up before we realised that Gilbert White’s 300th birthday falls today. We had been preparing posts for next month and that’s when they will appear. Today we offer you some thought from John Hodgson of the University of Manchester who has curated an exhibition that will be appearing on line. Follow the link for Dr Hodgson’s first post which includes a sample of White’s handwriting, an introduction to the Natural History of Selborne, and this illustration by Eric Ravilious from The Writings of Gilbert White of Selborne (London: Nonesuch Press, 1938),

Why ‘Laudato Si’? White saw no opposition between Christianity and scientific enquiry, quite the opposite. He was the Anglican curate of his home village and worked at Natural History to discover more of God’s creation.

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Going Viral XXXII: an unprecedented opportunity to create some new ‘normals’

Gwen Riley Jones is a computer imaging member of the John Rylands library staff iin Manchester. Since the team cannot get into the library, they are working from home, imagining rather than just imaging. William Blake would approve. I hope you do too.

Enjoy the walk!

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Filed under corona virus, Interruptions, PLaces

7 May: A book of ours

You can never get enough of mediæval manuscripts – but sometimes just one can be almost too much.

Follow the link to read how this little Book of Hours is inspiring a Book of Ours in Manchester, thanks to the John Rylands Library of the University of Manchester. The link is to a post on their blog which will interest and move you.

WT.

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14 March: Telling the Truth, I.

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Sometimes Jesus spoke the truth directly and was understood directly, as when he met the woman at the well. Even then, his talk of living water confused her (John 4). At other times he spoke the truth in parables, challenging what William Blake prized: the imagination.

We find Paul, the trained lawyer, trying to speak the truth through logical argument; the writer to the Hebrews as well. And that’s just the New Testament.

In this time of ‘fake news’ I was thinking of the problems of speaking truth so as to be understood, without watering down or distorting the message. Then I read this post  from the John Rylands Library in Manchester, looking at the problem as it concerns the librarians trying to catalogue items fully and accurately.

It’s worth reading and it’s also worth looking at the missionary slides that Jessica Smith, the writer, has been working on. I hope and pray that my researches into the archives will be interpreted faithfully and warts and all, and written with clarity and charity.

MMB

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Filed under Daily Reflections, Lent, PLaces