Your Toes was the first fundraising effort for the entirely new charity "Help the Hospices," which is not concerned with any one hospice in particular. Its first and allembracing aim, on which basis it has been registered as a charity, is to work for the relief, care and treatment of the dying, to the best standards of hospice care, and covers the whole range of terminal care services, under National Health and voluntary hospice arrangements, Home Care, hospice units and specialist teams in hospitals.
Until there is a system under which health authorities would contribute on a more regular basis towards hospice running costs, the urgent and currently active aim of Help the Hospice will continue to be to raise funds towards these costs. Anyone visiting such a hospice for a few hours, as I did last week, would, I feel sure, consider that no effort or sacrifice would be too great in the general furtherance of this particular cause.
Heaven and hell
SAVING GOALS h as temporarily given away to saving souls. Are we, some have asked, on the way to a new religious revival? Judging by the crowds thronging into such football stadia as those of Queens Park Rangers and Bristol City, to hear Luis Palau and Billy Graham, the answer could be yes.
The more mature and mellow Graham, enjoying wide including official Catholic support inspires hope that most people go to heaven. The uncompromising fundamentalism of Argentina's Luis Palau contains, in ultimate logic, the implication that an awful lot of people go to hell.
Neither evangelists make much reference to Britain's previous evangelising history. But both could probably bring this with profit into their speeches, having, with no less profit, studied something of those who have trodden the same paths before, up and down this land.
Next Sunday, for example, is the anniversary of two important events in Methodism, the birth of John Wesley (1703) and the death of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon (1791). Most know something about the former. Not all necessarily know everything about the latter. Both gave their lives and fortunes in promoting the great religious revival of he eighteenth century. But, failing to agree on matters of dogma, they carried out their work in different ways.
Selina was the daughter of the second Earl of Ferrers, hanged for the murder of his agent in 1760. Her husband, the Earl of Huntingdon, died in 1746, leaving her a considerable fortune. She chose to devote almost all of it to philanthropic and evangelistic enterprises and became famous as head of socalled "Countess of Huntingdon's Connection."
When Methodism's two leaders, Wesley and Whitefield, parted company on points of theology, Lady Huntingdon favoured the Calvinism of Whitefield. She risked the emnity of society, and even of her own husband, by the extent of her zeal. Lady Mary Montagu said of her, "I hope she means well, but she makes herself ridiculous to the profane, and dangerous to the good."
This is a risk always taken by all-or-nothing evengelists. They often seem far too self-righteous and their apparently instant
successes in producing conversions do not always stand the test of time. But Ronnie Knox, in his book Enthusiasm, claims that Lady Huntingdon's own conversion "was not so much a conversion from sin as a conversion from righteousness." To achieve her real purpose, Knox goes on, she knew "she must be born again, forego her own righteousness and borrow a Saviour's righteousness instead."
Her success was indeed great but, perhaps inevitably, not lasting. We could surely do with someone of her calibre today when so many preachers remind us of such varied and worthy but often ineffectual "giants" of the past as George Whitefield and Fr Faber of the London Oratory. Let Ronnie Knox have the last word: "A Father of the Birmingham Oratory, who is still remembered for his sardonic observations, said he thought that Faber must have been an interesting person to meet if you could keep him off the subject of religion. Most of us, from the reading of his letters, would feel the same about George Whitefield."
But never of Selina Huntingdon!