The Un-American Dream

It has been a real joy to share their national day with American friends on many occasions and indeed actually to be in America for the 4th of July on a number of occasions, including last year when I had a fairly unusual celebration in Holden Village, Washington, including a discussion panel with some really great guys exploring the nature of nationalism and patriotism...

This year I am watching that great nation from afar, tearing itself apart over its vision of itself and the world around it, and into the mix I offer this short reflection.

Not independence,But interdependence. Not individuality,  But community.  Not commerce,  But the common good.  Not consumption,  But conservation.  Not selfishness,  But stewardship.  Not the economy (stupid)  But ecology.  Not US and THEM , Just US. Justice For all. God bless America,  And everyone else too.

#It's Complicated

This is a piece that I originally posted yesterday as a tweet, in its 1 stanza, 280 character form. But like Twitter itself I have now doubled the amount of characters.
I've said here before that I will one day get a t-shirt printed by my oft repeated refrain of "It's complicated." Indeed it's more than that, every one of these issues is complex, and necessarily so. To reduce them to binary choices or simple t-shirt slogans results in bad decisions being made, "us and them" polarities being drawn up, with those on "the other side" of any discussion being dismissed of as the bad guys, and sweeping assumptions about who will be on what side of any particular argument and why. It's an approach not just fostered by social media, but especially by some elements in local and national mainstream media, and some political parties and factions within other parties and movements capitalise on it. But it is toxic and people who should know better (inc…

Glib Words

A piece born of frustration at people using words without any real thought for their meaning, how they impact on flesh and blood realities; how they incarnate...
Compassion costs.
It makes our spleen sore
Until we can do nothing else
But act.

Justice upsets.
It tips up the tables
That penalise the powerless
And poor.

Grace engages,
Opens us to others;
Encourges us, despite the cost, 
To give.

Mercy angers,
Infuriating us
To watch other guilty people
Go free.

Truth discomforts.
It gets under the collar
Of our respectable clothing
And burns.

Respect confronts
Our nods to tolerance,
To grant real regard and value
To all.

Love perseveres
Despite the messiness
Of betrayal and broken hearts
And hurt.

Hope nourishes;
Sustains our commitment
Way beyond mere optimism
Can do.

Faith challenges
All of our certainties,
Stretching us beyond what is seen,
To grasp.

When There Was Nothing

Today is Trinity Sunday, and it was a joy to hear my friend Jonathan Rea and others on Radio 4 leading the Morning Service (later repeated on Radio Ulster with some old New Irish material taken from the archives. It took me back to the years I was involved in some of the events in the Waterfront with them and particularly the 10th Anniversary event when we explored the issue of creation and creativity looking at chapter 1 of Genesis. As part of it 3 of my faithful band of actors, Jim Allen, Colin Shearer and Sharon Morwood (now Thompson) delivered a dramatised version of the following poem by Stewart Henderson. Given that one of the set readings in the lectionary for this morning was Genesis 1 I thought it would be appropriate to post it.
Voice 1        When there was nothing, there was I                      Lighting volcanoes, stretching the sky  Sketching the veins of an acorn leaf                      Painting the gloss on the tiger's teeth 
Voice 2        When there was nothing, I…

Psalm For Sunday: Your Name is Honoured (Reblog)

The Psalm in the daily lectionary for the past couple of days and for tomorrow (Trinity Sunday) is Psalm 8 so I thought I would share again this dramatised paraphrase of it that I have posted a number of times before in different forms, and which I have used in all sorts of contexts...

BOTH: O LORD , our God, your name is honoured in all that you have made!
Voice 1: Beyond the boundless reaches of space
Voice 2: Higher than the heavens where the angels offer you their symphony of worship;
Voice 1: While here on earth even nursing infants gurgle in adoration
Voice 2: Toddlers shout songs of praise
Voice 1: Silencing the cynical sneering of the enemy
Voice 2: Drowning out the godless chatter of the age.
Voice 1:     When I stare into the heavens above,
I see your fingerprints all over the sky…
Voice 2:      I see jewellery of the finest of workmanship
                   with the moon mounted in an almost infinite setting of stars…
Voice 1: And I feel so small…
Voice 2: I sense the expanse b…


One day on these are my clumsy words...
He supported the wrong football team. Had a wrong-headed attitude to rugby.  He was into bikes big time, whilst  I see them merely as a mode of transport.  He championed authors that left me cold. He was fanatical about a musician  I can only tolerate in small doses.  And loved dogs where I fear them. 
But his fierce loyalty inspired love.  His humble wisdom provoked thought.  His unpretentious creativity sparked imagination.  His gentle laughter punctured pomposity.  His earthy faith queried religiosity.  His righteous anger challenged injustice  His vulnerable honesty questioned certainties.  His generous openness invited engagement.

He was so much of what I aspire to be.  I will miss his incisive mind in meetings, The bruising banter by text and twitter, The long coffees righting the world,  And him keeping, or putting, me right,  Or the occasional late-night conference  Conversation, with well-rehearsed stories  Matured like the whiskey we shared.

Farewell friend…

Praise of a Man

In the absence of any adequate words of my own, for someone who loved poetry, here is "Praise of a Man" by Norman McCaig. together with the picture I posted this morning as part of my #PentecostArt series, "Starry Night Over the Rhone" by Vincent Van Gogh. In response to that post another friend wrote "Always love this picture - but a helpful reminder of the way light is reflected. We need that right now!" We do indeed.

He went through a company like a lamplighter –
see the dull minds, one after another,
begin to glow, to shed
a beneficent light.He went through a company like
a knifegrinder – see the dull minds
scattering sparks of themselves,
becoming razory, becoming useful.He went through a company
as himself. But now he’s one
of the multitudinous company of the dead
where are no individuals.The beneficent lights dim
but don’t vanish. The razory edges
dull, but still cut. He’s gone: but you can see
his tracks still, in the snow of the world.Shalom