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A genealogy of the sound of a liquid-cooled, V-12, 27-litre Rolls-Royce Merlin piston engine — A Remembrance Sunday meditation

READINGS: Kings 19:11-13
(The 1985 Jewish Publication Society translation)


“Come out” [God called to Elijah], “and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And lo, the Lord passed by. There was a great and mighty wind, splitting mountains and shattering rocks by the power of the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind — and earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake — fire; but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire — a soft murmuring sound. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his head mantle about his face and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

NB: the Hebrew words translated here by “a soft murmuring sound” were translated by William Tyndall as “a still small voice”. In other translations this reads “a sound of sheer silence”.

Spitfires by Chris Wood
(From A Handmade Life)


Sometimes in our Kentish summer we still see spitfires in the sky—it’s the sound.
    We run outside to catch a glimpse as they go growling by…

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Religious naturalist and Unitarian minister in Cambridge UK, jazz bass player, photographer, cyclist and walker. Over the years I've tried various descriptions of "where I'm at" but, although they have been OK as far as they go, they've not fitted as well as they might. These days I find the following words of the philosopher, Paul Wienpahl, fit the bill better than anything else: 

"As I see it, the point is not to identify reality with anything except itself. (Tautologies are, after all, true.) If you wish to persist by asking what reality is; that is, what is really, the answer is that it is what you experience it to be. Reality is as you see, hear, feel, taste and smell it, and as you live it. And it is a multifarious thing. To see this is to be a man without a position. To get out of the mind and into the world, to get beyond language and to the things is to cease to be an idealist or a pragmatist, or an existentialist, or a Christian. I am a man without a position. I do not have the philosophic position that there are no positions or theories or standpoints. (There obviously are.) I am not a sceptic or an agnostic or an atheist. I am simply a man without a position, and this should open the door to detachment" Paul Wienpahl in An Unorthodox Lecture (1956)