Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Moving Swiftly On

As you may have gathered, yesterday was pretty intense and my post was verging on primal.

Since that time, I've had opportunity to reflect on the things that have hurt me and think I have found a way of coming to terms with the things that irritate me and as a result, I'm more philosophical about going forwards.

I was sitting in my car and praying about my feelings, my attitude and the events and actions that led up to them. I suddenly became aware that there is a lesson to be learned here... I've learned it before in another area of my life.

It's the lesson of letting go.

In surgery there comes a time when those operating have to agree that the battle is lost and continuing is a waste of resources. Similarly, while saving the past is a noble pursuit... it must not be done at the expense of the present or future. God knows I have a stubborn streak running right through me. Is it just stubbornness though... or is it actually arrogance? When everyone else walks away, I remain... because some part of me thinks I can hold the centre.

But is it actually my place to hold the centre?

No it isn't. This is riding a dead horse. If I keep devoting my energies to people who have disappeared over the horizon, I'm not going to be able to be there for the people who are to come... and I'm going to burn myself out.

I learned this many years ago in respect of relationships... and now I realise it's equally applicable here.

Let the dead bury the dead.

That's not to say I will slam the door on people who have come and gone... it just means I have no need of their approval... and I'm not being held back any more.

You see it's occurred to me, this is just another step on the road I'm travelling... a necessary one. When I go to Israel next year, who knows what I'm going to discover? One thing I do know though... if I go out there still looking back, I'm going to miss the moments.

In fact, that is just as true now... isn't it?

So onwards I travel... and no longer shall I let my gaze linger on the road behind me.

Now is it just synchronicity that "The Times They Are A-Changin" is playing on my radio.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I've had a pretty uncomfortable couple of days.

Forgive me for what is going to be a little history lesson but thinking back, I believe it all started while I was meeting a couple of friends, who during the course of conversation were putting forward the idea of a reunion of sorts. This reminded me of a time when I was let down bitterly by many good friends. We used to meet and have a reunion once a year in the pub... but this started to become impractical and I organised a meet up at my own home. Despite people's promises and the effort I put in, almost no-one showed up... most painfully of all, it was some of the people who I am (maybe I should say was) closest to, who let me down... and I haven't forgotten.

You know it is remarkable how self-absorbed people can be... it really is and it is getting to be ridiculous. People always come to me with problems they want to share, or prayer requests... and yet on the rare occasions I go to them with even the slightest concern, they start rubbing their chin like a dodgy plumber and coming over all "tricky, could be tricky... not sure I can fit it in really".

The truth is that people when they get their slice of pie on this Earth, can be very neglectful of the friends they leave behind. Yes I know people have other commitments... but to completely shut out those people who have helped contribute to who you are today? Disgusting. I mean take for example when people return to town after a long time away... do they ever bother to ring or text for a night out? No.

They have forgotten.

I think what really hurts though, is to see people enjoying the things you can only dream of... and then on the odd occasion when they stuff things up or need help, they come to the one person whose plate is practically empty to ask for bread.

It's been rough... I had a bad Monday at work, and I'm being faced with an overload of people celebrating their own blessings... whilst I'm feeling somewhat of an outcast/exile. I think this is all being exacerbated by a change in the seasons... and I'm sure these feelings will pass. However even if they do.... will the reasons for them also disappear?

Unrequited love is a terrible thing... but how much worse is unrequited friendship?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dangerous Conversations and 70's Cheese.

I decided to enter this post to lighten the mood a little after my recent critical response.

There are certain things you should NEVER say to me in conversation. This has nothing to do with things that anger or upset me... and everything to do with my loopy imagination. One such topic came up in a discussion at work on Thursday.

We were talking about potential inspiration for this year's Secret Santa and was recalling the exploits of one of the auditors who dived off the roof in order to retrieve a heater that had err... fallen down onto the roof of an adjoining shop (yes I do realise how that sounds). I jokingly suggested that a good suggestion for him, would be a Spider-Man costume...

...and then it happened.

It was revealed that the fiance of one colleague works in a warehouse that supplies fancy dress costumes... and every so often the returns department have a clear out and dish out free or discount costumes.

That my friends is a classic example of the kind of thing you should never say around me... because I was already at this point imagining myself in costume stalking the office to the funky but cheesy theme of the 1970's live action Spider-Man television series that starred Nicholas Hammond.

I have fond memories of that show. When I was a child, I loved it because I thought it was cool. Looking back on it now I love it because the acting, the choreography and effects look so cheap. It falls into the "so bad that it's brilliant" category. Here are a few classic examples of what I'm talking about:

Seriously... you've got to love it. It's totally caught up in the 70's obsession with Kung Fu. The wire work is that bad it looks like he is Moonwalking up the walls. Then there's the seriously malfunctioning Spidey Sense. Not only does he not have precognitive warnings of imminent danger... he actually doesn't even appear to notice said danger until a few moments after he's been hit (the tranq dart in the arm in China being the prime example). For that matter... what's with the tranq darts? Apparently back in the 70's villains and goons were jolly decent and didn't use weapons that might actually kill people, they just doped them up with tranquilisers.

What a fundamentally better world we would live in if criminals were like that today... just drugging people unconscious instead of killing them.

But it was a family show... we are talking the 70's here - pure funk! We are firmly in the era of the "non-death", the philosophy that would eventually culminate in 80's classics like The A-Team - where crack commando units shoot bullets at people's feet and miraculously miss, heroes use cabbage bazookas to defeat gangs armed with M16 machine-guns... and villains can blow up in horrific helicopter crashes, only to emerge from the blazing wreckage with nothing more serious than a sore head that they rubbed.

Forget realism... these shows were pure Tom & Jerry action and we loved them.
So when you mention the idea of getting fancy costume on the cheap to me... you'd better watch out! You just don't know what kind of creature you might be unleashing...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Back to Church Sunday: The Prayer Book Society

I stumbled across a letter that was published in today's local paper and I felt a need to respond to it. It seems to have been sent as a press release across the country, so you are bound to have your own version of it. Before I comment on the letter, I must first quote it's contents in full:

THERE are of course many and various reasons why some people stop going to church, but for thousands of people across the West Midlands the problem is that they can no longer find familiar services at a convenient time on a Sunday.

Research shows that many people gave up attending church regularly when modern services started to replace the traditional.

Back to Church Sunday, on September 28, is the perfect chance to re-connect with the rich tradition of our church’s heritage.

At the Prayer Book Society we work to promote the Book of Common Prayer which dates from 1662 and is still the bedrock of our nation’s church.

I hear from many people who really miss the Prayer Book services they know and love. However, in fact there are a lot of cathedrals and churches still using them, and our website is a good place to find those in a particular area. The online directory is available at

Prudence M Dailey (Miss), Chairman, Prayer Book Society, The Studio, Copyhold Farm, Lady Grove, Goring Heath, Reading RG8 7RT

I agree with Miss Dailey's initial point, many church services do seem to have been put on at odd, inconvenient times; this does not reflect the needs of modern society.

However, that is where she and I will now part company.

She claims that churches go into decline when modern services replace traditional ones... she refers to research but doesn't quote her sources. In fact, there is probably some truth to what she says... but I hardly think the research to which she refers, backs up her argument. Older churches are in a period of decline... but people aren't just disappearing off the radar. Many people seek out churches that they find are more relevant to where they are. The relevance they seek can be in terms of worship style, times of services, the kind of fellowship offered by the churches in question and the kind of teaching and pastoral care that the churches offer.

Back to Church Sunday is next Sunday... but it is NOT merely a "perfect opportunity to re-connect with the rich tradition of our church’s heritage".

It SHOULD be the perfect opportunity for the People of God to go out and find out what they can do for their communities. How can they help the back-slidden, the lost or those in hardship. I strongly criticise anyone who intends to use the occasion as an attempt to assert their own ideas of what church should be about on others. This should not be political.

I also strongly question what Miss Dailey actually is claiming the rich heritage of the church is. She points to the Book of Common Prayer as the "bedrock" of our church. With respect I would make the counter claim that the bedrock is actually The Bible. Anything of worth within the Book of Common Prayer, finds its roots in God's Word.

I am not attacking the Book of Common Prayer and I don't deny that there is some beautiful language and theology inside it. I also understand that it is Miss Dailey's job as Chairman of a society that champions the book, to defend it. However the simple truth is, that if the Book of Common Prayer completely fell out of usage, it would not be the end of Christendom. The source of everything Christianity holds dear is found within the Bible. Every piece of litany, every word of liturgy, every song, every doctrine every poem every hymn that has any worth or value within our churches... finds it's roots in scripture.

That is not something that is restricted to a single 17th century book. We have 2,000 years of books and expressions in other media to explore... and most importantly we have the Bible.

Dailey claims that Book of Common Prayer services are generally marginalised to early morning services. This may be true, but it is my personal experience that the people who value these services most... are the only people actually capable of being up at the crack of dawn anyway.

It is extremely important for Christians to make their faith their own. They need to claim it for themselves and make it active. I love some traditional hymns and even some traditional services, there is a time for them. The reason I love some of those older traditions is precisely because I had the freedom to explore my faith with language styles and cultural references I held dear. If you force people to accept your own idea of how God should be worshipped and don't give them room to breathe... you choke them.

I totally accept that some people need structure and routine in order to get fed... but we need to maintain variety. If we build the church in our own image, we commit idolatry. We need to make sure people who don't respond to heavily formatted services that are full of litany; have THEIR opportunity to be fed. That doesn't mean banning Book of Prayer services, it means making sure we are diversified enough to reach out to everyone who is willing to come.

Again, I must stress that I am not attacking the Book of Common Prayer... I am attacking the idea that worship should be constrained to a particular format. Naturally, I am younger so my bias is towards more open worship... but in fairness it must be said that I would not wish to force my own brand of worship on everyone else. I recognise that my preferences are as limited as the next persons.

So what is my conclusion at the end of this?

I believe that if you are reading this and you are a Christian... have a good think about what you can do to make your own church community more responsive to the needs of the people around it. How can you make it more accessible for others? Can you hold informal services or "drop in days" during the week for people who aren't comfortable with a formal service? Can you invite someone who you wouldn't normally expect to find in church... someone who isn't in one of your usual cliques?

If you are reading this as someone who has lapsed in their faith, has no faith but is curious, or has a need that maybe should be taken before God in confidence, then seek out a church. If you find it's not to your taste, don't just give up and assume they are all the same... have a real good luck -find one that suits who you are. If you are really stuck, maybe you could try these websites:

I hope when next Sunday comes, it is a blessing to you... whoever and wherever you are.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Science and Wonders

According to a report in Thursday's Guardian newspaper, Michael Reiss, the Royal Society's Director of Education has encouraged the idea that teachers should tackle the ideas of creationism in the classroom, alongside evolutionary teaching.

I find his comments extremely interesting. Reiss has a foot in both camps, he is both an ordained minister... and a Professor of biology. He is yet another example to us that science and faith do not have to be enemies. I especially find the background story to his statement intriguing. He used to teach evolution quite brutally, but has understood that respecting where people are at is an important aspect of helping them take on board new ideas. This is an attitude I think both believers and unbelievers... indeed all human beings need to take on board.

Diplomacy is not just required international politics, we need to be respectful of other people's personal sovereignty. You wouldn't walk into another country and tear apart it's political infrastructure just to make it look like yours. That is how wars, and violent insurgencies start. The best way to make people open to your arguments is to be virtuous towards them and to show them the merits of your position without directly assaulting their own.

The antithesis of this position is perhaps demonstrated by one of Reiss' critics, the physicist Dr John Fry. Fry responds in the same article by saying:

"Science lessons are not the appropriate place to discuss creationism, which is a world view in total denial of any form of scientific evidence"


"Creationism doesn't challenge science, it denies it."

Fry has set up a straw man argument. He is making the fatal assumption that creationists all believe the world was made in six days. I have pointed out several times in this blog, that the document that provides the basis of that idea - The Bible, in it's original Hebrew does not restrict the Genesis account to a literal six day occurrence, nor does it require a belief that the Earth existed before the Sun.

I think some militant atheists are guilty of jumping on the Genesis account purely because it provides them with an easy and a lazy excuse to justify their position. If they can easily dismiss the idea of God, then they can stay in their comfortable, cosy shell and not have to face the challenge of differing views.

I changed my position on Creation because I was willing to listen to my opponents, reflect on their arguments and redefine my own beliefs and ideas based on my increased knowledge. Ironically it is about evolution. You find yourself faced with something that threatens your position... and you either adapt to move beyond and overcome it, or you concede defeat and are eliminated - survival of the fittest. I chose the former.

That said, I do in some ways agree that the science room may not be the best forum for this debate. While I do believe it is necessary to create a crucible where students can air their theories and philosophies on how we got here... perhaps it's best to create a separate subject or discussion group for this.

However I also fundamentally believe that it is not the remit of Science to peddle atheism. Science should be about understanding the mechanics, systems and wonders that enable our universe to operate and thrive in it's magnificence. The deeper philosophical truth of how those processes were put in place and who or what put them there, is a question for every individual to discover for themselves based on the things they learn scientifically, theologically, philosophically, spiritually and emotionally.

There must be balance and there must be freedom.
The ideas and thoughts represented in this page's plain text are unless otherwise stated reserved for the author. Please feel free to copy anything that inspires you, but provide a link to the original author when doing so.
Share your links easily.