Saturday, 14 July 2007

Clan Gathering

Hmm, that didn't appear to publish, try again... I'm away till 21st helping with the kids' programme at Clan Gathering, near St Andrews. If you're that way minded, please pray for us all!

Clan Gathering

Out of town till 21st, helping with the kids programme Clan Kidz, at Clan Gathering near St Andrews. If you're that way minded, please pray for us all!

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Dynamics of debate

An intriguing discussion has been evolving on David's website through the comment thread spawned by an atheist's question about prayer. See 5 July, under A Question of Prayer. (I know I can make a link for this, and tried yesterday, but didn't quite get it, so I'll need to try again later. Not so much a technophobe, more a technonumpty.) Picking up the baton and leading the charge on the atheists' side has been the redoubtable 'Kendo Nagasaki', 1970s wrestler turned blog warrior. Since the discussion began I've been trying to keep track of the dynamics of the debate, as much as its content. Seeking to discern the Spirit in the midst of it, seek strategies, paths and words of wisdom. Not, I hope, in a 'What would Jesus do?' simplistic kind of way - and neither at the expense of a good dose of humour and occasional silliness(!) But seeking to be aware of the 'background' of the discussion: participants' experience, underlying worldview, motivations, emotions, assumptions, prejudices... Because without staying sensitive to and responding in the light of these dynamics, the value of any discussion of points is limited.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Seeing things in other things

Yesterday had lunch at Morton's cafe with friend Gill, Isla and their visiting ex-flatmate Francesca, from Italy. A fun time, the conversation took a wacky turn discussing the 'high-heeled boot kicking a stone' shape of Italy. Italy's the only country I can think of that's shaped like something else. Except, I reflected, Britian when it's turned back to front, mirror image. When I've done this in the past using a transparency or whatever, I've easily been able to see in it an upright dog - or someone with a very big nose - hurrying along with a bag of shopping (admittedly it helps when you draw in a few lines). Tell me you see this too! I wonder if anyone else sees strange shapes in countries, right way round or back to front? Or in anything else for that matter (clouds being the obvious one)? I sometimes do. I think it's related to another tendency: when I miss-hear something or am not quite sure what's been said, spontaneously to 'hear' something else it could be. Hmm - the brain's amazing 'creative reconfiguring' capacity. Can generate endless hours of fun.
Or maybe I just need to get out more.

Monday, 9 July 2007

A point of tension

Reflecting on my last entry about the Rally against terror, I was challenged by something David said in his sermon last night on Romans 10, about the need to seek genuinely to engage with those who don't share Christian faith, partly by embracing common ground. I see now the positive, inclusive dimension of the Muslims' call to people of all faiths and none to take a stand against terror. As a Christian, after all, I am called to go out of my way to reach out to others; when they reach out to me in a common cause, shouldn't I be eager to respond in friendship and solidarity? I believe there's a point from Friday's entry though that still stands. The 'us and them' mentality which the politicians' and media's line can encourage, holds the danger of making people complacent. There is still a striking contrast between this idea of the 'vast majority of decent people' and Jesus' challenge, 'broad is the road that leads to destruction, narrow is the way that leads to life'. Just because I don't commit a spectacular moral atrocity doesn't spare me from the challenge of finding and pursuing that narrow way of grace, intimacy with God, and holiness.

Friday, 6 July 2007

A question of boundaries

Question Time on BBC1 last night was more entertaining than usual, and quite good. Last of series, audience all under 22, and an 18-year old on the panel. A pantomime atmosphere at times. Douglas Murray, director of a unit of social cohesion or something - sounded good - was at points doing all he could to subvert social cohesion by his vehement manner of making points. A real pantomime baddie in the audience's eyes with plenty of appropriate booing! And Davina defending her position on one point 'because I'm right'! Great fun - meanwhile, one or two frighteningly bright students periodically helping raise the debate above Jerry Springer level.
A church friend has publicised a 'Rally against terror' in George Sq tomorrow pm. The blurb refers to the issue being about the terrorists on one side v. everyone else on the other, people of faith or no faith, from all walks of life. This echoes a sentiment often heard in politics and the media: a 'tiny violent minority' versus 'the vast majority of decent law-abiding citizens', or Blair/Brown refering to those 'who threaten our way of life'. What interests me is the contrast between this kind of thinking and the gospel challenge. The first looks at the surface of things: terrorist violence is plainly an atrocity. The second, God's perspective, is concerned with the heart. And here every one of us faces choice and challenge. How well does my life measure up to God's standard? CS Lewis's insight is pertinent here, when he said there are no 'ordinary' people, because each of us is ultimately immortal and on a path of inner choice leading progressively either to heaven or hell. Stark, no question, and challenges the underlying assumption of the above notion that most of us are basically okay: where are the boundary lines really drawn?

Thursday, 5 July 2007

'Blessed are the poor' challenge

Alan Johnston's release: was inspiring to see how his spirits had been buoyed simply by knowing through radio/TV that the world had not forgotten about him. Hearing him speak I was reminded of Peter Gabriel's 'Wallflower', a message of hope to a political prisoner, one of those great songs where the music expresses the power and poignancy of the lyrics: 'Hold on... you have gambled with your own life, and you face the night alone/while the builders of the cages, speak with bullets, bars and stone/they do not see your road to freedom, that you've built with flesh and bone...'
I'm reading Philip Yancey's 'The Jesus I never knew'. Good section on the Beattitudes, this morning focussing on 'Blessed are the poor...' under heading The Great reversal'. The insight he draws out about how God's values completely turn the tables on conventional, worldly values is both deeply challlenging and encouraging - especially in my present circumstances of applying to join a Christian faith mission, WEC. It's ministry 'Radio Worldwide' in Leeds, specifically. I've had contact with the team in the past so have a certain feeling of connection. Still, several aspects of the ministry go completely against the grain of a conventional view of what's a good lifestyle for someone at my stage of life. Semi-communal living, no salary, trusting God to provide for the work and personal needs - even a policy of no appeal for funds! From a worldly perspective appears to narrow down options severely. But the more I consider the spirit of the Beattitudes, the more I find the prospect of this path, or one like it, exciting. The opportunity hopefully to see more of the 'kingdom of heaven' draw near.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Doorway to another world

After the karting, it was off to Stravaigin for a slap-up meal (now where does that expression come from?). A great night rounded off with cocktails - tried a nice minty one, the 'Detroit Martini'. By the time back home and light off, the sky was noticeably beginning to lighten. Been a while since that last happened.
However it happened again last night, as couldn't drop off (I'm a bit of an insomniac at times.) Got up for a spot of ice cream and watched some of 'Narnia' DVD. There are a couple of scenes from that film that particularly stand out for me - both in the trailer, which is a great one: 'This Christmas... four children... will find a door... into another world...' (or something similar). One is where Lucy approaches the wardrobe for the first time, which is covered in a silky veil (not mentioned in the book mind you). Palpable sense of mystery - what lies behind? And then a brilliant aerial shot of her sweeping this veil aside with a big arcing movement. Touching that it's just a little girl 'chosen' to be the first to enter the mysterious world beyond. And from the spiritual point of view from which CS Lewis wrote the book, it's a magical evocation of the wonder and marvel of crossing from the ordinary, earthbound, tangible world to the unseen but excitingly real 'virgin territory' of the spiritual world'. That second scene will have to wait.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Boy racer

Good friend from church's stag bash on Sat - and spilled into more of Sunday than I'd anticipated. Go-kart racing at Scotkart in the afternoon. Hadn't been in such a 'male' environment for some time - you could almost smell that testosterone! (even though there were a few gals there too - think they were enjoying it, outnumbered about ten to one). Got quite into the whole thing - I think some pent up anger got healthily channelled, almost imagined I was Jenson Button my second time round... Right, off to Men4curry. Think this stag do needs a spot more commentary tomorrow.