Saturday, 30 June 2007

Don't try that again

Lunch yesterday with ex-teaching colleagues who I'd last seen last June, same deal, last day of their term. Oko oriental restaurant Queen St Glasgow. Some chopstick battles over the shared starters - fun. Some of the dishes were Korean - eg. bulgogi beef in rich sauce, which took me back. Had a bottled Corona too, which a little later I rued. Went to give blood, thought, no problem, have just eaten well. Normally take anaesthetic, nurse persuaded me to try without. Some pins and needles in my hand, then felt a little light-headed... nurse realised maybe best stop, and promptly tilted me right back in the chair so my feet were in the air, like a shuttle astronaut or something. Not the most dignified but it did have the immediate desired effect of preventing what could have been my first faint. Avoid even touching the juice prior to giving blood the clear lesson learned. And don't let this put you off a much needed service - normally it's fine!

Thursday, 28 June 2007

A 'North Korea moment'

Reviewing an entry like yesterday's where I get lost in a meditative flight of fancy, I'm reminded of friends who have grafting jobs and small children to look after. Can feel like I'm on another planet - hmm, yup have heard that before. (I am applying for some stuff mind you). It's good to have a laugh at yourself and come back down to earth, so here goes. A friend called last night wanting a spot of light banter, and, feeling a bit downbeat myself, I somehow got onto talking about this deep reflective Christian article about relationships and attraction that another friend had sent. I soon sensed I was losing the friend on the line, because he said, 'this is another North Korea, man'. This referred to an incident last autumn when a few of us from church were in the pub, including some of the younger guys. Similarly feeling a tad downbeat, I'd opened up the subject of North Korea (I taught English in South Korea for two years). 'Do you know much about North Korea lads?' I'd asked, knowing deep down I was onto a loser. Pretty much on cue the guys all started putting on their jackets to leave. My pal finds it hilarious whenever he's reminded - 'legendary, will go down in the annals... a tumbleweed moment' (deserted saloon bar image apparently). Right time and place, of course, North Korea is a serious but fascinating topic - believe me.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007


I didn't address the summer solstice with the reverence it is due the other day, commenting what a nice day it was for it(!) I've always found the yearly rhythms of the planet awesome to ponder: the way this vast spinning ball, passing through its tilting-on-axis phases on the macro, astronomical level, produces on the micro, earthbound level the breath-taking evolving kaleidoscope of the seasons. A cycle from which all of nature benefits in its different ways: from the level of simple survival to our own aesthetic appreciation of autumn's sweeping hues. How it all 'hangs together' for both benefit and pleasure. I recall learning how the rate of the shortening and lengthening of the days accelerates towards the equinoxes and slows towards the solstices. Like being on a giant cyclical rollercoaster, without the sickening feeling. Whe-hey!
A friend has drawn my attention to an article today interviewing former triple jumper Jonathan Edwards about his loss of faith. My first reaction: JE's faith was clearly very tied up with his sporting achievements, and as he himself admits, he inhabited a very simple world at that time where he didn't question his faith. Exiting from that world has inevitably been an unsettling experience. What bothers me is that his testimony seems to buy into the commonly held idea that religious beliefs are fixed constructs in a person's head that, instead of having the potential to grow and develop, are brittle and vulnerable to being shattered by 'truth' as yet unexposed to. Whereas my experience is that faith is a journey where yes, doubts have to be confronted but fresh dimensions of spiritual truth are also constantly being discovered - if I persist in heeding the so far unvanquished sense that there really is something in it.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Back to basics

House-sitting for friends in Glasgow and was away at weekend so has taken a few days to reconnect to internet and blog. Enjoying the space and privacy.
A group of eleven of us from church stayed at the Loch Ossian youth hostel Fri night to Sunday, travelling by train, the only way it is reachable other than, say, walking or helicopter. Beautiful location at western end of the loch. Very basic - no showers, toilets without flush or wash basins, electricity from small wind-powered turbine. This was spinning full tilt most times I looked, which made me wonder if the toilet lamps couldn't have been a little brighter - they produced a dim halflight. We wondered if the warden was storing power for some covert project to take over the world...! (not to exaggerate)
This is a late entry and I'm more of a lark than an owl, so can hopefully pick up tomorrow. Night.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

In a bind

Thank you to David for kind introduction on his site and for welcomes and comments from fellow bloggers! Summer solstice, and thankfully it's actually quite a nice day for it - presently at least.
Following on from yesterday's 'organised rain' - clouds with filofaxes etc, up for comment today, 'organised religion'. It's such a cliche, but quite a powerful language label that keeps people thinking of church (though I know it can apply to other faiths too) as something monolithic, cumbersome, and dare I say it, dead. New Testment metaphors for church are rather more organic and alive: the body of Christ, a tree - by extension from 'rooted and grounded in Him'. It's commonly heard, 'I'm a very spiritual person', 'my faith is a private thing' etc. So clearly spirituality is valued if people can connect with it in a personal, intimate way, and unfortunately that's not how many see church.
And 'religion'. Not a word viewed very positively either by the 'world' or the 'flock'. Interesting that there is at least one positive use of it in the Bible, 'religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless...' A couple of years ago I read a description of it's Latin meaning which cast it in a better light: 'religo' meaning to tie or bind'. Hmm, doesn't sound perhaps too promising, but the writer suggested that it is about realignment, getting a disjointed life back in line and in harmony with Reality, with the warp and woof of the universe. Woof? Well, you may think it's barking, but sounds pretty sensible to me.
It's not every day I'll be giving you this kind of word and phrase analysis, you may be happy to hear.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

First thoughts

Rain. I love it when a weather forecaster talks about 'more organised bands of rain' marching across the country or somesuch. Sounds slightly sinister, like the rain is plotting to assault the county and make people's life a misery. If you ask me, disorganised rain is bad enough.

Was walking back through Glasgow city centre after housegroup last night. I often find being out and about in the bright lights, or mingling with the general public in other ways like sitting on the bank in Kelvingrove park surrounded by the mellow crowds, provokes reflection. Basically, how does my faith, and the church, relate to all this, and to all these people? It can be quite an earthy thing. Wandering down the bottom end of Sauchiehall St, for instance, with its fast food outlets, fish and chip wrappers, clubs, people wandering down the street in weird and wacky attire and possibly in some state of inebriation... I wonder, maybe not so much how does my faith relate to this, but how is my faith, and God, relating to this? How on earth is the church and the gospel going to touch this culture, these people?
I think getting my mind round this kind of thing has been part of the journey for me, of integrating faith with the world out there. At times it's been quite unsettling. I recall the time 6 years ago mingling with the crowds at the Notting Hill Carnival in London, witnessing that fiesta of human energy and creativity, but thinking, only a tiny minority of these people will be Christians and go to church. I had the feeling, which at the time caused a mini crisis of faith, that the whole thing seemed just BIGGER than my little world, including my Christian world, of the time. But of course it didn't end there. More later.
I'll be writing about some lighter stuff too (phew!) But want to get cracking with some of the big stuff that exercises (and sometimes bugs) me.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Hello world

So at last I take my first tentative steps in the brave new world of blog land. Who knows where the journey may lead? Last week for the first time I surfed the bloggers of St Silas Glasgow and decided, this is something I need to get in on. Having kept a diary pretty much since I was 17, I feel the time has come to branch out. If I've got something worth saying, let's tell the world! (or at least whoever wants to listen) If I don't, well they'll just stop reading. I think I'll give this a few days privately to get into the swing of it before launching myself on a cruelly unsuspecting audience.
So, what's the thought of the moment? One of the things I've been reflecting on a lot lately is how, in the journey of faith, you progressively move from the periphery to the centre, from the borderlands to the 'zone'. From the flesh to the spirit. 'Remain in me, and I will remain in you' - wow, I think Jesus said that. It's the place of peace, power and creativity. And one of the best bits is, you're on your way there as you get older. The world's response to getting older is so often negative and gloomy; but in Christ, I am being renewed day by day, in a sense - hopefully the right one - becoming more and more like a child as the years roll by, on my way to glory. Now why ever be miserable?