Wednesday, 15 December 2010
Tuesday, 14 December 2010
Wednesday, 8 December 2010
Disclaimer: this blog does contain spoilers, but I'm going to guess a lot of you have read the book, so... read on at your peril. Or something.
Last night I went to see a showing of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. For free. In 3D. Before it's out in the cinema, at least in this country.
It was a good film, not great. In my personal opinion, they should have either stuck to the book more closely, or distanced themselves from it, and been original. As it was, it seemed like they tried to chug through the book, without giving real attention to the beautiful plot carved out by CS Lewis.
However, there were some very good moments - it was well written, and Reepicheep and Eustace's lines were often priceless, and delivered brilliantly. My favourite moment was one towards the end, when Eustace was asked how it felt to be changed from a dragon back to a boy by Aslan. He responds:
"I couldn't do it by myself. It hurt, but it was a good pain."
I've mentioned to a few people that there was a strong Hollywood layer over the top of the brilliance of the book, but at that moment, Mr Lewis shone through.
We can't do this by ourselves. We can't escape from our human nature, our degradation, our greed, jealousy and avarice, by ourselves. Which reminds me of a quote I used on Sunday in a sermon about John the Baptist, that I had been meaning to put up on the blog for a while:
We must once and for all give up trying to be self-made individuals. Let us cease preaching by ourselves, being right by ourselves, doing good by ourselves, being sensible by ourselves, improving the world by ourselves. God wants to do everything, certainly through us and with us and never without us; but our participation in what he does must naturally originate and grow out of his power, not ours. whatever does not grow out of God produces smoke, not fire. But that which is born of God overcomes the world.I have a feeling that both Lewis & Barth knew what they were talking about, don't you?
Monday, 6 December 2010
I realise I haven't said much in the way of words recently. It's been all videos and pictures. This is because I don't think I have much to say. Also, pictures are pretty, unless they're of a meaty nativity scene. Which, could be pretty, depending on your proclivity for uncooked pig flesh.
Anyway, this cold/frosty/snowy/equatorial [delete as applicable] morning, I thought I'd share a link with you. It's an article by Victoria Coren, the female spawn of one of my favourite humorists, Alan Coren, who died a few years back. It's about her chatting up the Archbishop of Canterbury, and how atheists get all the intellectuals. I can think of, well, lots of intellectuals who would have a problem with that.
As I'm only just about a believer (Phil's old dictum: it's not that I'm hanging onto God, it's God hanging onto me) and hardly an intellectual, I shan't really say much. I would want to echo her words that believers make themselves known, but to imply that intellectuals are in hiding is daft. Look at people like McGrath and Hauerwas, experts in their field, believers, and not afraid to engage with what Christians call 'the real world.'
Any thoughts, opinions? Get involved.
Sunday, 5 December 2010
Thursday, 2 December 2010
(Click to see a larger version)
So, I'm a winner, apparently. Very tempted to reply to them and string them along a bit. Be a bit of a giggle, no?
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Monday, 29 November 2010
Friday, 26 November 2010
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
A tiny edit later: By the above, I mean there is no video. Just listen to the audible amber nectar.
Tuesday, 23 November 2010
Amusingly enough, I more or less agree with what he said, even if I don't quite agree with how he said it. However, knowing full well the dangers of public forums and high handed officials, there was perhaps a lapse of thought when posted said comments to Facebook, but, oh look, he apologised for that.
Yes, it was silly.
No, it's not worth asking one of your most forward-thinking Bishops to step back.
Just my tuppenc'orth. Any thoughts?
Friday, 19 November 2010
Which segues nicely into what I actually want to talk about.
These past two weeks have seen two funerals take place in the church I work at. They're pretty rare around here, so to have two in two weeks is a little bit different, and challenging.
What was really interesting about the funerals was how different they were. The first, a church member, was a dear old lady in her 80s, who had been coming to St Paul's for 35 or so years. She was happy, if a little fragile after a few falls, and had a great social network around her. She died in her sleep, having been seen that day up and about.
The second was a sudden death of a lady who was 50 years old, not a church goer, with a large extended family and social network. I sat in on the service planning with the son, which was a time rife with grief and shock. There was no real faith within the family, but they wanted a good send-off for her.
The difference between the two funerals? Hope.
The first was a celebration. The second was a mourning. The first was thanking God for the life of a much loved lady. The second was a heartbreaking cry of desperation. The first understood we have a hope. The second had no such understanding, and had no such hope.
Interesting, isn't it? That although there was a sadness about the first funeral, it wasn't hopeless.
And I suppose, in amongst it all, that's what we cling to. The hope that Jesus has taken the sting out of death, so that we might live.
Sunday, 14 November 2010
Thursday, 11 November 2010
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
Tuesday, 2 November 2010
Churches and religious leaders are up in arms that this pastor could be suggesting Jesus was sexually promiscuous. But this is the point. HIV doesn't definitely equal sexually promiscuous. What it does definitely equal is marginalised.
It's poor rhetoric, in the sense that people are going to focus on the problem of Jesus having HIV, and not to underlying point that the pastor was trying to make, and that is: Jesus identifies with the outcast. Those that society and the church don't want much to do with: tramps, gays, HIV sufferers, single mothers and gang-members - Jesus is right there in the middle.
Thankfully, not every religious leader in South Africa has dismissed it:
"Amid the controversy, Reverend Siyabulela Gidi, the director of South African Council of Churches in the Western Cape, has come out in support of Pastor Skosana, saying his standpoint is theologically correct.Well put.
"What Pastor Skosana is clearly saying is that Christ at this point in time would be on the side of the people who are HIV-positive - people who are being sidelined by the very church that is attacking him," the Anglican priest says.
"Pastor Skosana has fortunately got the country talking, he's got the world talking and that is what theology is all about."
Monday, 1 November 2010
Then I found myself saying "Sorry, God..."
Sometimes, those words are out of my mouth before I realise what I think I'm sorry for. Maybe I'm just a closet Catholic, but I seem to think that unless I apologise for every minor misdemeanour, God won't listen to me.
And, rather ridiculously, I was apologising for not saying enough, and letting my mind wander while 'praying'. Then I thought to myself, what if God delights in any conversation? Even if it is a mumbled "Please help Auntie Maud and her arthritis," or even "Cool... leaves to stamp on."
I was talking to a wise man yesterday about all and sundry, and somehow we got around to what God thinks of sin. I postulated that God cares less about sin than we do, and thankfully, the wise man agreed. But, perhaps he also cares less about prayer than we do. I mean, proper, thought-out, coherent prayers. Maybe, just maybe, he loves every snatch of conversation he can get, and waits patiently for us to talk to him again.
Friday, 29 October 2010
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
So, I like House. It amuses me, keeps me entertained, and whiles away hours if I need them to be whiled away. Because I don't have access to Sky, I watch House on DVD, when the series ends. I enjoy doing this because I can watch them in my own time, have access to the extras, etc.. I was recently watching series 4 on DVD, and as I went through the various discs, I watched the extras on said disc. Now, series 4 was the one affected by the writers strike, so there were only 16 episodes, across 4 discs. It would make sense then, to have any extras that contained spoilers on the last disc. But no, it's on the third disc, and still four episodes away from the completion of the series - and I now know it all ends. Well done, FOX. I blame FOX because a) they're right-wing nutters, b) they put out House, so they have some part to play, and c) they cancelled Firefly. Enough said.
With regards to prayer: I really don't like prayer any more.
Now, before I get lynched, necklaced or excommunicated, I probably should point out that by 'prayer' I mean 'prayer in groups', or 'praying out loud'. I find it increasingly difficult to avoid switching into holy mode. This is a really extreme example of this: (Thanks to Jesus Needs New PR)
[A minor aside - this woman is crazy. I agree with the essence, I disgree with... well, everything else. A coven of vampires... really?]
Back to prayer: We so easily slip into this holy mode, or start playing language games. For instance, we often at the start of prayers say something along the lines of: 'Dear Father, we pray for Ethel, who has broken her leg.' This feels a bit like we're announcing to everyone else we are currently with who we are praying for, 'cause God sure doesn't need to be told. We then say something like 'We ask that you bring her peace at this time.' Who talks like that?! We're told that prayer is conversation, that it's when we talk to God. But I wouldn't be caught dead talking to a friend like that, why God? I suppose it's because God is thoroughly other, but... really?!
Worst of all, I'm always subconciously on the listen for the 'PHOA' or 'Prayerful Hum Of Approval'. I feel less and less like my prayers, especially when in a group, are talking to God, and more and more like I'm saying the right things on our to-do list.
I suppose what I'm saying is that I feel my prayers aren't genuine any longer. I'm sure God hears them, and translates them from Christianese, but I wish I could break out of these cliches.
So, thoughts? Opinions? Should I be burned at the stake? Etc.
Monday, 25 October 2010
Sophie recently moved into a very nice flat in a town far, far away, to start her studies at university. When she moved in, she met 5 other girls in her flat, all British, but some from different ethnicities. She enjoyed getting to know them, and spending time with her flat mates.
One day, she got a text from her boyfriend, enquiring about eating establishments in her town: 'Have you seen any nice Indians in your new town?' A fairly reasonable request, especially as no-one wants to eat a bad Rogan Josh.
But, unfortunately, Sophie misunderstood this, and her reply was as follows:
'...well, I've met this nice girl called Amita.'
What a silly Sophie.
Saturday, 23 October 2010
Unfortunately, because of the lack of space in said aeroplane, it was a lot like being in Economy for a flight to Spain. Aside, of course, for the caviar. And the big board up the front telling quite how high we were, how fast we went, and how long we were going for. Which, when you're going faster than the speed of sound, are extraordinarily large numbers, and not very helpful.
So, thanks to my Dad for arranging it, thanks for my brother for chaperoning me, and thanks to British Airways for flying a loss-making aeroplane for the sake of going really, really fast.
Apparently, I'm now allowed to use this little image on my blog, which is nice. Can't decide whether I would be subscribing to The Man in doing it though. Oh, heck, why not? Any ideas as to where I would put it?
Also, if anyone else wants to add images to my blog for free advertising, y'know, I'm clearly not a principled man.
Just spied an email from Eden.co.uk, a Christian book/music/tat supplier, which seems to specialise in middle-of-the-road media. I often peruse said emails to see what they're foisting upon Christians, often sadly shaking my head when it comes to the CDs. Anyway, this morning turned up a new feeling: The C.S. Lewis Bible. The idea is a nice one: the NRSV Bible, juxtaposed with some of Lewis' writings, endeavouring to see where his theology is taken from. However, something in me is disquieted by the idea of a C.S. Lewis Bible. Your thoughts?
Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Monday, 11 October 2010
Thursday, 7 October 2010
I should probably mention that a) I don't know a Jessica Lombard, b) I'm not planning to be married any time soon, c) I am NOT married, so that rules out celebrating it. Aside from that, perfectly normal email to get, I guess.
Tuesday, 5 October 2010
I like to see how many people come to my blog, because, well, I'm an egotist and I like attention. There have been times in the last few months where I have had 80 readers a day. It came to my attention recently that this had significantly slipped to a much less enjoyable figure to read.
And so, in my rather imitable way, I got thinking. What is it about numbers that denote success? Even if the venture was never meant to be defined by numbers? I've mentioned before on this blog (admittedly in rather crass fashion) that I wasn't really writing for anyone but myself, and the fact that people were reading this rubbish went to my head.
So, I again came to the conclusion that it was about writing for the sake of writing - nothing more, and nothing less. And just as I was thinking that, I got an email that told me I wasn't in the final of the Christian Blog Awards. And you know what? That's OK.
It made me wonder about church as well. What is it about church that means we measure success by numbers? Why not discipleship? Why not nurture of our brothers and sisters? Why not how a community lives out lives of worship? I suppose those things are difficult to quantify, while 'how many people turn up on a Sunday' is an easier target. Numbers are so easy, huh?
Monday, 4 October 2010
Anyway, I read the Bible, so I forget that people like this actually exist:
Monday, 27 September 2010
I was sat upon a train the other day, and as is the wont of the average London passenger, I was desperately trying to avoid all eye contact for fear of coming across a bearded man with a rucksack, or a pregnant lady, and having to do something about it. Anyhow, my eyes fell upon this image. Normally, we pass over these images, because we're used to them. We accept that this is a picture of a hand holding an electronic device.
But where, may I ask, are the rest of his fingers?!
"Hi, I'm Jim. I advertise handheld electronics because I have a nice palm, and severed fingers. It's a niche market."
OK, it's clearly a divisive subject. Some people are confused by it, some people have no problem. But what about this: WHERE'S HIS LITTLE FINGER?!
"Hi, I'm Jim. I advertise handheld electronics because I have a nice palm and 3 severed fingers.. etc."
Wednesday, 22 September 2010
What I DO have to say about the Pope is that when someone uses the word 'popery' - as in 'the bells, smells and confession - it all smacks of popery' - I generally think of little bowls of dried perfumed flowers.
Think about it.
Monday, 20 September 2010
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
I was reading about it this morning, and came away feeling sad, but proud. If there is one thing I have learnt, it's that we may mock each other, we deride each others accents, we might disparage certain towns and places in Britain, but when our backs are against the wall, you bloody better not mess with us.
God bless those who fought, those who died, and those who continue to live. May we never forget them.
A brief edit, because the above post didn't make my appreciation of those Commonwealth, European and American pilots also involved in the Battle of Britain apparent. So, here's to you.
Today, I recieved this email. You may not think that strange. Unless, of course you know that I haven't been to the cinema in about 3 years, and I can't afford to see one film, let alone sign up for the 'Odeon Premiere Club'. Then, you realise that it's absolutely bizarre.
Who gets their own email address wrong?! And why do people regularly presume MY email address is THEIR email address?
However, I am quite tempted to keep this one. Who can turn down 'exclusive film offers with the chance to win fantastic prizes'? That'll learn 'em.
Monday, 13 September 2010
I also popped into my local Christian bookshop this afternoon. They're concentrating more on 'gifts' than on books, as books don't sell as well as tat. I'm intrigued to see how this goes down. Also, their music selection leaves a lot to be desired. What self-respecting Christian bookshop doesn't have Stryper and Petra? SRSLY?!
When in Brent Cross earlier, I popped into the Apple store to salivate and lust. Outside the door, across the walkway and snaking round the balcony edge so famed in shopping centres the world over, was a queue. But not just any queue. No, the demographics of this queue was entirely Asian, and almost entirely male. I asked an Apple Store worker why there was a queue. She told us, rather dispassionately, that it was for the iPhone 4. I mistakenly thought that it had been released quite recently. No, no it hadn't. It was brought out three months ago.
Fascinating social phenomena.
I passed the local college on my walk, full of 16 to 18 year olds with misplaced confidence. One was shouting an amusing but considerably rude greeting to a friend or acquiantance. His friend (or acquaintance) responded with 'WTF?!' Literally, he said the letters W, T and F, with a slightly perplexed and questioning intonation. (Then again, I'm not sure you can really say WTF in a monotone. It would lack... virility.) Anyway, the thought struck me that, not only is it weird to say 'WTF?!', it's also longer, due to 'W' having more syllables than 'what'. So, in one of the linguistic joys of the subculture that is 'the internet', shorthand, when spoken, is actually rendered pointless.
And to finish, a little example of the Christian ghetto that amused me:
Me: Oh, so is Charli a Christian?
H: Er... yeah?! She went to Uganda!
Thursday, 9 September 2010
The church involved is called Dove World Outreach Centre. The irony of the name, and the fact that it claims on the church website that it has been transformed from 'a local church to an apostolic church with a world vision' are hopefully not lost on us. How do you have a 'world vision' and yet be so shortsighted to be unable see that an event such as burning the Qu'ran will incite others to numerous acts of violence.
And another problem. The infamous pastor, Terry Jones, is quoted as saying that he has 'no experience of the Qu'ran, whatsoever'. Yet he still claims it is evil. A rather tenuous, and unfortunate way to go about gaining notoriety.
Monday, 6 September 2010
Yesterday, I went to a large church in London. I had never been to this church, and it was an enjoyable experience. It has an esteemed history of good expositional preaching, but I couldn't help fundamentally disagreeing with the sermon. The text studied was Hebrews 12:4-11. Here it is, for your delectation:
4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:Not an easy passage, by any means. I'm glad they did it, and they had the audacity to tackle it. But, in my opinion, they tackled it wrong.
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
He started by saying that as hard as it may be to fathom, God disciplines us. Good thus far, and I'm hopeful, as it may answer questions I have myself. He then said that we mustn't get discipline and punishment confused, as God doesn't punish us for specific sins. He may humble us, he may remind us who is God, but he will not punish us for particular sins. I agreed in essence with this idea, but it's hard to try and define things that happen to us as punishment, or consequences, or discipline. I still don't know the answer.
Then, unfortunately, he said something that I could not fathom, or agree with: 'God creates suffering or hardship to discipline us'. To take his understanding to an extreme, God caused the earthquake in Haiti, the cancer in a loved ones body, the flooding in Pakistan, the stillbirth of a child, the tsunami in the Pacific Ocean and the death of a teenage girl in a car crash.
I cannot accept this. I literally have no capacity to accept this. I cannot even begin to fathom that God, the creator of this world, would actively take part in those things in order to 'discipline' those he loves.
This morning, I awoke to a text from a very dear friend who split up with her boyfriend of 2 and a half years. A 'minor' event, perhaps, in the grand scheme of things, but her whole world just came crashing down. Just to 'discipline' her? I got another text later on the morning telling me that another friend had multiple cysts on her ovaries, and at the age of 18, is looking at the possibility of not being able to bear children. Because God loves 'disciplining' us?
They're two things that I have experienced today that make me think that what the preacher said last night was more or less hocum.
I'm fairly sure I've communicated myself badly, and I'm fairly sure people are going to shoot me down. Right now, though, I don't care. Help.
Sunday, 5 September 2010
Thursday, 2 September 2010
we can't legislate peace in our hearts.
We can't educate sin from our souls,
Blind lead the blind into bottomless pits,
still we smile and deny that we're cursed.
But of all our iniquities,
ignorance may be the worst.
Friday, 27 August 2010
However, as my writing rarely ever achieves such high and lofty aims, you'll get a hodge podge of thoughts from my last week.
Y'know that thing where you give advice to someone, with the best intentions, and scriptual back up, and with their complete undivided attention? And then you go and completely ignore your own advice, to the detriment of relationships, your sanity and faith?
Well, imagine, just imagine, that the exact same thing had happened to me, except the advice I gave, completely hypothetically, was in a sermon to 45 people.
And when you think back over the past week since you (allegedly) preached that sermon, you realise that you have contravened what you said, not once, not twice, but numerous times.
Sucks to be me.
I preached on Naaman on Sunday (2 Kings 5:1-17). I didn't have long, and I wasn't really sure what to bring out of the text. But one thing that really struck me when I was reading it was that Naaman went a very convoluted route to experience God. We don't have to do that. We have direct access to God through Christ. And so, I encouraged everyone to first turn to God, before we pick up the 'phone to talk to friends, or we go to the doctor, or we spew at the nearest person.
Good advice, no? I thought so. I then lay in bed last night and counted the number of people I had shared a problem with, even before I told God what was going on. Now, don't get me wrong, I shared it with some very wise and godly people who I have no doubt God works in and through. But they are not God, nor are they a good substitute for Him.
Please pray that I pray more.
I just got home from the Electric Ballroom in Camden - one of the coldest gig venues I have ever have the privilege of being at - and just experienced what I shall simply describe as one of the best gigs I have ever been to. Thrice are a band that seem to transcend genre, and just do what comes naturally. If you have a moment, and fancy being inspired, go check them out. They also get plus points for referencing G.K. Chesterton to a room full of crazed teenagers and twenty-somethings.
Thursday, 26 August 2010
Wednesday, 25 August 2010
Monday, 23 August 2010
Friday, 20 August 2010
Anyway, a brief thank you to everyone who got involved in the blog this week - it's been a real blessing to come on and see people have read and commented and got stuck in.
Also, to real life, to all those who have texted/Facebooked/called/spent time with me in this last week: thank you. I have had such a good week, and you have all made it what it is. So, thanks.
Finally: I got a free cookie from Subway yesterday. For, and I quote, 'being poor and working for the church'. Maybe there is a God...
Wednesday, 18 August 2010
During mealtimes, there would always be music playing in the background. It was always Christian, invariably "worship", and often mediocre. One of the first meals we had together, however, someone decided to put on DC Talk. An inspired decision, if there ever was one. And, so it goes, the intro riff to Jesus Freak strummed its way out of the speakers, and I got a little excited. The teenagers, unsurprisingly, had never heard of DC Talk before, let alone Jesus Freak. I thought I would help them with a little popular culture reference, by explaining that Jesus Freak by DC Talk was a bit like the Christian version of Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana, for it's anthemic nature, singalongability, and general endurability. I got a chorus of blank stares, and then a question from a 14 year old girl:
"Who are Nirvana?"Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear. What do they teach them in schools these days?!
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
The majority of Republicans - as I understand it, and I understand little - are up in arms. Sarah Palin waded in a few weeks ago with a tweet (because THAT would have made sense 3 years ago...):
"Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing,"Which is an interesting stance to take. In some ways, and this rarely happens, I agree with Mrs. Palin. Within 140 characters, she has managed to avoid racist/religious slurs and state why exactly she opposes it. However, what seems to be missing is a certain subjectivity. What I feel would have carried the message better is:
"Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque [feels/seems/looks like] UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing,"I cannot imagine that Muslims planning this Islamic centre are gleefully rubbing their hands together, thinking of all the offense they can cause with this building - they are merely building an Islamic centre, which, as a small part of it, contains a mosque.
So things die down a little, but come the beginning of Ramadan, President Obama gets involved. He claims that America's commitment to religious freedom must be "unshakeable":
"That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community centre on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,"But now we are being introduced to the idea of rights, not ethics, which is a whole new ball game. If we are contending the right of this Islamic centre to be built, we have no leg to stand on. A FOX News poll (and that sentence can always end badly) found that 61% of participants said yes, the Muslims do have a right to build this centre.
However, the question asked previously in the poll was whether the mosque was appropriate: 64% said it was not.
A fascinating window into the American psyche - rights are inalienable, as long as they don't offend someone else. And in saying that, I think I almost agree with them.
Pitch in; get involved.
Thursday, 5 August 2010
"Hi, my name's [unintelligible Scottish accent] and I work for BBC London. I was just looking through the local papers to find some human interest stories to pad out silly season, because there's no real news happening, and wondered if you were still doing your Holiday at Home event?'*Oh, the life of a church worker. The glamour and fame of... BBC London.
"Er, no, it's already happened."
"Oh. Well, send us an email next year, maybe, and we'll see what we can do."
*sentence may have paraphrased from her actual spiel.
Wednesday, 4 August 2010
...for you: toddle along to this place of beauty and wonder. Miriam is a delightful girl, friend and artist. And she's starting to sell her really rather awesome prints. Go see. And buy.
Monday, 2 August 2010
In the conversation, the thought struck me - do I really love the Bible? Am I really desperate to read it and share it? I'm not sure I am, but I'm even less sure I want to stay like this.
Oh, to fall in love over and over again.
Thursday, 29 July 2010
One of the guys had to witness to an employment tribunal, and as a Jew, was happy to swear by Almighty God, to tell the truth, etc. One of the other witnesses was a bishop in what my friend called a 'sub-sect of Christianity', and yet he refused to swear by Almighty God upon the Bible, instead choosing to 'affirm', which is most commonly worded as follows:
‘I do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.’Which, to me, just sounds like the legal equivalent of a child saying: 'I really, really promise not to lie. No, rrrreeeeeaaaaallllllllllyyyyyyyy.... pinky swear!'
But that aside, what are the implications for people of all faiths? For instance, the guy sitting next to me last night would probably describe himself as atheist. He, however, saw no issue with swearing on the Bible as, well, if you don't believe in it, follow your convictions through because it doesn't really matter, does it?
I think it's important that people get the chance to feel like they are making a promise before God - this may salve their conscience of having to tell the truth, however painful. But I'm not sure I'd be more honest if I swore on the Bible. The Bible is a book that I regard as the word of God, not a straightjacket with which I feel I have to tell the truth because I swore by it.
In a related note, the discussion of the club social activities came up. As you can imagine, a lot of this involves pub crawls and considerable drinking. Now, I have not the desire, inclination or money to participate fully in those kinds of events, yet I want to be social, to make friends and to be the best Jesus possible to these people.
I'm thinking of going teetotal. Any better ideas?
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Anyway, I reached the section where he talks about the conversation with the Rich Young Ruler, as he's known. He comes to ask Jesus "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Now, as we all know that Jesus was a good Christian boy, he would have answered "Well, you probably need to say 'The Sinner's Prayer', join a baptism class, and come along to Alpha on a Wednesday night. Oh, and we could use some help with the Sunday School..."
But no. Conrad points out that if you got 100 Christians, chosen for their proclivity for wearing WWJD, they wouldn't come up with Jesus answer did:
"You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honour your father and mother.'"To 'inherit' eternal life, follow the commandments laid down in the law. S'what Jesus said.
Monday, 26 July 2010
I was 'forced' to watch a film called Hot Tub Time Machine. I say 'forced' because there was a get out clause of 'if you think it's s**t, we'll watch something else.' However, when you watch a film that's basically drivel, there's always a part of you that really, really hopes that it will pick up.
The basic premise: three long lost friends, thrown together because of one of them apparently tries to commit suicide, take a trip to the town famed in their youth for a wild time. They get in the hot tub of their hotel suite and are transported back to 1986. They then have to relive their lives in 1986 in order to get back to now.
Theoretically, a good idea, if a little kitsch and far-fetched. However, this is basically an opportunity for old men to kiss young women, people to get beaten up, and to play some pretty horrific music.
There were about two laugh-worthy lines and a whole lot of drivel.
Not one I'd recommend.
Saturday, 17 July 2010
Lots of massive props and kudos and credit must go to this man, for not only is he a good friend and quite smashing bassist, he also made all the code work so everything looks pretty. Heap praise upon his clever little head, please.
PS. Isn't The Astute an awesome band name?
I'm massively going in for the non-researched option here, as that's much more fun when it comes to science.
Climate change is a funny subject. Now, while I don't deny that our increased use of fossil fuels is bad, and clearly having a bad impact upon the environment, and we're all bad, etc. - I'm still unconvinced as to how bad it is.
Don't get me wrong, I'm the guy who cycled to university for two years, takes a rucksack shopping, and recycles fiendishly. I would rather have a good impact on the environment. But in the grand scheme of things, I can't actually work out what's wrong.
Weather patterns severely changing? Well, haven't they always? There was a time where winter fairs took place on the River Thames every year. Maybe I'm just ignorant about the facts - which is what you get when you don't research things.
But honestly, even if I did research it, who would I believe? The 'Top Gear' model of climate change, which is silly and arrogant, or the 'Environmentalists' model, who certainly live up the second part of their name. To ignore climate change is foolish, and to 'do our bit' seems a bit like urinating into an onrushing Northerly.
Should we listen to the scientists and be more careful about how we act as consumers? Yes, very much so. But there is so much doom-mongering going around that I'm just inclined to revert back to my usual philosophy in times of trouble:
Ahhhh.... it'll be fine.
And has been mentioned previously, it's still bloody cold in my flat.
Thoughts, opinions, discussion are all welcome. We're all friends here.
Friday, 16 July 2010
It doesn't exist.
It doesn't exist, ladies and gentlemen. It is non-existent. There is, in fact, nothing to write about.
I know, after all that waiting, it comes to diddly-squat. However, I can tell you that what people THINK are Black Panthers are in fact either Jaguars or Cougars. Slightly screwed up versions of the above (something about alleles and genetics. Ask Scott.)
So, to disambiguations of the above subject. There are many to choose from. I shall pick the ones I find most amusing/interesting, which is pretty much how I choose everything in my life, from vegetables to friends.
The New Black Panther Party (NBPP)
This is an organisation, run by blacks and Muslims (from what I can work out) which has nothing to do with the civil rights movement of a very similar name. In fact, it's far removed from the Black Panther Party (BPP). Why do I say that? Because the BPP, despite their left-wing extremism, were fundamentally for the improvement of life for black or oppressed people. The NBPP, however, are just a bunch of racists. They are anti-white and anti-Jew.
Because, as every upstanding human knows: the best way to counter racism is to be a racist yourself. Well done, NBPP. You have excelled yourself. Now, go away.
One of the greatest footballers the world has ever seen was nicknamed the Black Panther. Unfortunately, he lived in a time when nearly everyone was racist, and Portugal were underachieving... oh, wait, that would be 2010, right? Nevermind.
Go find him on that well known video hosting site.
Finally, the coolest Black Panther of them all: the comic book hero.
The Black Panther is one of the best superheroes I've come across. Here is a list of some of The Black Panther's powers:
- Superhumanly acute senses
- Strength, speed, stamina, and agility at the peak of human development
- Resistance to magic
- He can pick up a prey's scent
- He can MEMORISE tens of thousands of scents
- Proficient in African martial arts, and fighting styles 'known to no discipline'
- A skilled hunter and tracker
- He holds a PhD in Physics from Oxford and is 'considered one of the eight smartest people on the planet.'
- He also has access to the most powerful army on earth, of Wakanda.
- And finally, HE'S MARRIED TO STORM. As in, HALLE BERRY.
Thursday, 15 July 2010
If not, screw you. We don't want your type around here anyway.
Any suggestions for what to write about from anyone, be you first time visitor, or regular sufferer, are very welcome. Go on, help me out here.
Monday, 12 July 2010
And last nights result meant that New Zealand were the only team unbeaten in the World Cup. I think Spain should graciously give up the Jules Rimet trophy and let it go to the deserved winners.
Sunday, 11 July 2010
"I emerged from this show with a great deal of respect for vicars. They put up with a lot and do really good work for people having a bad time."Ambitious aims, although I don't think he realises it. I think I'll do a more detailed review of each episode (mainly to get to watch them again) in due time, just because it should be fun.
Hollander added: "Clearly our ambition is not to fill churches - and nor would we stand any chance of doing that. But if Rev. makes people think, 'Maybe I'll poke my head inside the local church and see if something nice happens', that would be great."
However, for now, I shall recommend the second episode to you, for it ends with some fantastic theology. The scenario unfolds that the church has been 'taken over' by a charismatic church who need a space while their premises are refurbished. One of the regulars of the dying church, Colin, gets friendly with one of the newcomers, Pip. During a service, he then pinches her posterior (this IS a comedy, after all) claiming 'Jesus told me to do it.' The charismatic vicar, Darren, is asking for Colin to be barred from the church, because Pip is a 'vital part of the congregation.' Adam responds:
"Colin isn't vital to anyone, Darren. Except God. And if God loves you, Darren, then he loves Colin, just as much.'Tres enjoyable. Find it on iPlayer.
Wednesday, 7 July 2010
Sunday, 4 July 2010
Me: So, what did you used to do?
Her: Oh, you wouldn't want to know, it's inappropriate.
Me: Really? It can't have been that bad.
Her: Oh, I wasn't quite a lady of the night. I just worked in television.
What a woman.
Friday, 2 July 2010
I'm currently preparing a sermon on Encouragement. I'm not getting very far, which, well, it's not very encouraging. Any ideas, crazy or otherwise welcomed.
Thursday, 1 July 2010
Monday, 28 June 2010
Both of the above were really rather nice.
Massive props (am I allowed to say that? I think it's cringeworthy, but it gets the point across) to the lovely people at The Divining Blog who listed me in the top 50 blogs by Divinity Students, prompting a stream of poor, unwitting Christians to stumble across my blog. However, now you're here, please stick around. I'll put the kettle on, and write something interesting soon.
Monday, 7 June 2010
Now, I reckon my blog does little to answer that question, so I'm going to rectify this clear oversight:
- You need to want to learn. Obvious, perhaps, but I have known students who stick to their guns so much that they fail to take onboard anything they are taught. If you're going to do this, save yourself a few thousand quid and stay at home.
- Have a sense of humour. Seriously.
- Know the Bible. People who wander into theological institutions (like myself) with a pretty hazy knowledge of the Bible are just asking for trouble. You will get battered and bruised.
- No, really, have a sense of humour.
- Be aware that a good theological institution will teach you how to think, not what to think. You're not studying theology to become a carbon copy of your lecturers (however good they may be), you're studying theology to engage with God of Scripture.
- No, I'm not joking: have a sense of humour.
- Listen to your lecturers. You may not like them, their style, or what they teach you. But listen, nonetheless. I regret the times I drifted off (purposefully or accidently) and missed absolute gems.
- Er... yeah, sense of humour.
- Finally, and most importantly (I think), be willing to make your theology work in the real world. There is no point studying theology and being tight-fisted, ungracious, and proud.
Saturday, 5 June 2010
Now, are we all together? Good. That article claimed that the contestants will have 'less privacy than normal.' 'Less privacy'?! How can you get any less private than being permanently filmed for however long you 'successfully' stay in the house and being broadcast into every home in Britain?!
I'd love to be on Big Brother - always been a secret ideal of mine - but that's probably because, as I was described by a good friend of mine earlier this week, I'm a floozy. But I think that idea was brought about when Big Brother was an interesting experiment, admittedly capitalistic and flawed, but an interesting experiment, nonetheless.
Now, it's just a chance for producers to be weird and get away with it. It's a unmanned freak show, and the only criteria to get on the show is to be as bizarre as possible. You happen to be a left-handed tractor-worshipping terrorist? You almost don't need an interview. Just don't threaten any bomb scares when inside. That's bad form. Because you can only do weird things if Big Brother says so.
I reckon Mr. Orwell is turning in his grave.
Wednesday, 26 May 2010
"Your worship encourages emotionalism, dwells unhealthily upon sin, and your lyrics contain unnecessarily erotic imagery."A critique of modern worship? Perhaps aimed at Hillsongs or Soul Survivor? A shot across the bows of Contemporary Christian Music? All of the above?
No. Critics of the great hymn writer Charles Wesley levelled the above accusations at him.
Apparently, there's nothing new under the sun, or so I hear.
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Thursday, 6 May 2010
I shan't mention who I voted for. It's irrelevant. I don't think I will support that candidate or their policies my whole life. It was a vote that best represents my current feelings for the constituency I currently live in. And that is how I intend to vote for the whole of my life.
The Tories have some stupid policies. So do the Lib Dems, and Labour has done a fairly mediocre job of running the country. But the feeling that seems to be predominating Twitter is 'vote, but don't vote Tory.' Maybe I just follow predominantly Lefty Twitterers. But it's interesting, that despite general mockery of all political parties, when it comes down to the vote, there is a genuine fear that the Tories are the worst possible option. Fascinating.
I heard a statistic yesterday that suggests that up to 70% of the electorate might vote. That would be an absolutely astonishing turn out. Awe-inspiring, even. I hope the gravity of the potentially biggest turnout since '97 will make our politicians sit up and take notice that they're not dealing with the apathetic electorate of the last 10 or so years.
Whatever happens tonight, tomorrow, the next weeks and months, there is one thing I fairly assured of: it won't be as bad as people want to make out today. This is not to diminish the importance of the vote. But as I feel with religion, football, life and now politics: don't take it too seriously.
Maybe I'm naive. Maybe I'm too young to remember the woes of the 80s/90s, etc., but my eternal optimism says that, y'know what? I think it'll be alright.
Sunday, 2 May 2010
Thursday, 29 April 2010
So, Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe meet up for lunch one day and Ridley says to Russell, 'We need another film... we're not talked about enough. You need to be a lonely hero, unloved by the authorities. Any ideas?'
'Er, Gandhi?' mumbles Russell.
'I think it's been done... by... someone. And there's no violence. We could make him violent, but that would ruin the point. His point, if you will.'
'The Antarctic explorer and unfortunate man of renown when it comes to suicidal quotes, Lawrence Oates?'
'Could do. But snow as an effect is flippin' expensive. I've run out of the money I got from... well, y'know. That film we did. The really good one. And also - there's only one good line in a film about Oates, and it comes at the end. And it's about death. And it's quite subtle. Not everyone will get it.'
'Ridley, gotta be honest, you should have been more financially prudent. You didn't invest in any kind of financial institution the world over, did you? That would have been stupid. Anyway, how about Robin Hood?'
'Hmm. You might be onto something there, because, personally, I don't think that Robin Hood has been done to death enough. In fact, I think we could flog the ol' horse even further, and with the money we'll get to make it because I'm Ridley Scott and you're Russell Crowe, we'll just have a bunch of cool fight scenes that completely wipe the floor with any other adaptation. Tell me, can you fire an arrow from a bow?'
'Er, do Gladiators do that?'
'Then probably not.'
'You better learn. We need historical authenticity. And no-one wants a Robin Hood with a pea-shooter.'