Couldn't have said it better myself...



"We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are."

Anais Nin




Thursday, December 31, 2009

Have they ever read the story of the Nativity?

I was alerted to this via Ruth Gledhill's column on Christmas Eve and I thought for a moment that it was a spoof, but it is not and is proof-positive that the UK Border Agency is an irony (and perhaps compassion) free zone... Just check out the words that make up the tree... Those are just the sort of things you want to celebrate at Christmas... But it makes the perfect illustration for a short piece that I have written for this morning on Downtown radio.



The story continues… and we come to another episode that you rarely see in Primary School Nativity plays… Jesus, Mary and Joseph the refugees in Egypt…
Lets give thanks that Egypt didn’t have the same border controls as we have… If they did then Jesus and his parents may have been sent back to the tender loving care of Herod and his regime… Or locked away in a secure institution like those children of refugees and asylum seekers who were refused a visit from Saint Nicholas at the beginning of December… Or reduced to begging on the streets, perhaps selling an ancient papyrus version of the Big Issue…
So the next time you hear someone campaigning for tighter border controls, and saying that “They should all go back where they came from,” or you avoid eye contact with someone huddled in a shop doorway… Think… What if the people of Egypt had done that?
Towards the end of his life Jesus told a story about the judgment at the end of time and in that story he said: 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me,” and "whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."
What should we do for Jesus, Mary and Joseph the refugees?


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Herod the Not So Great


Herod the Great is a fascinating character… he was the part I always wanted to play in the church Nativity play when I was a child… Others wanted to be shepherds or wise men… But I wanted to be the villain of the piece…
And what a villain… We don’t read a great deal about him in scripture, but what we read is pretty unpleasant… There is actually no record outside the Bible of a massacre of children ordered by Herod, but it is certainly in keeping with what we do know of him: an insecure and ruthless King who murdered most of his own family and many other rivals for the throne.
But his end was particularly unpleasant… For fear that those of a delicate disposition might be reading I don't want to go into details, but it did involve worms and maggots where no man would want them to be…

Many saw the extreme unpleasantness of his demise as a sign of God’s judgement, but there are many equally ruthless people who have never experienced earthly punishment… Indeed it sometimes seems that the evil flourish while the innocent suffer. This is often tossed up as an argument against the existence of God... or at least the existence of a just God... But really it is just another example of the corruption of this fallen world.
Scripture teaches that whilst not every evil receives earthly punishment, after this life we all face judgement… Whether we are a King or a beggar, a ruthless tyrant or a generous philanthropist, we all have to bow before a King who is far greater than Herod… And the only way that we can come before him with confidence is by knowing that Jesus, the only truly innocent one, will speak in our defence.


Again, this is adapted from a talk written for broadcast on Downtown this morning.



Monday, December 28, 2009

An Uncomfortable Feast


Today is for most people in Britain the Boxing Day public holiday, deferred from the day after Christmas by the intervening weekend, but on the churches calendar it is the so called “feast of the Holy Innocents.”
The massacre of the infant boys of Bethlehem on the orders of Herod the Great may seem an inappropriate cause for feasting… but it reflects the ancient teaching that, in effect, those children were, unwittingly, the first Christian martyrs… But it is a part of the story of Christmas that is quickly glossed over today. There are few carols that refer to it, and it rarely gets a dramatic re-enactment in the nativity play… if it did then we would have to put an over 18 certificate on it (actually there is a very funny scene depicting this episode in the recent movie "Nativity" that I wrote about last week... but I hope I never see the same in our local Primary School).
But meanwhile, as we continue to feast on the leftovers from Friday, the massacre of the innocents goes on… child soldiers in countless conflicts across the globe… child slaves in sweat-shops working to produce cut-price toys and clothes… or exposed to unimaginable horrors as sex-workers… and children in sub-saharan Africa dying every couple of seconds from disease and hunger.
Compared with the death rate today, Herod was an amateur… And if we are to honour the memory of those first unwitting martyrs, then we need to do all we can to protect the innocents of our day… For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.


This was originally written as a Just a Moment talk for Downtown Radio this morning. The picture is Reubens "Massacre of the Innocents" from the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

An Unusual Cast List


If the religious elite of the day had written the script for Jesus’ birth, he would have been born to a respectable married couple (either Pharisee or Sadducee depending on which brand of religion you asked); he would probably have still been born in Bethlehem, because that was in keeping with the prophecies, but he would have had a proper cradle to lie in rather than a manger.
And the first visitors would NOT have been shepherds… I mean, everyone knew that shepherds were ritually unclean and low down the social pecking order… So what if Jesus’ ancestor David had been a shepherd… God had raised him above all that…
And as for the Magi… There is no way that foreign, pagan astrologers would have been allowed within a mile of the Jewish Messiah.
But are we any better? How quick are we to judge children by their social background? Make assumptions about people because of their jobs? Lump people together according to stereotypes of race and religion. Or presume that because Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life, that those following another religious way might not have some truths to say to us, have some spiritual gifts to share with us.
But let us give thanks that it was God and not the religious elite of then or now who wrote the script for the Angels announcing: Good news of Great joy for ALL people… Including shepherds… Including foreign astrologers… Including you and me…


This is adapted from a Just a Moment talk written for broadcast on Dwntown radio this week.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Silent Night

A little something for Christmas Eve, courtesy of Duke Special, Foy Vance and the Salvation Army Band.


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Happy Christmas.
Probably won't be around for a day or two... small matter of a service and a turkey to take care of...

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Bleak Midwinter...


In the bleak mid-winter, frosty wind made moan…
That’s the first line of one of the most loved (indeed it managed to make it TWICE into the list of the nation's top five favourite carols this week), yet probably most inaccurate Christmas carols in the English language… Snow probably did not fall, snow on snow, snow on snow on snow on the first Christmas in Bethlehem… But it has certainly fallen in England and western Europe over the past few days, messing up people’s travel plans… particularly those who had booked to travel on Eurostar… Including some who had transferred to train from British Airways flights because of a threatened strike, which was subsequently ruled illegal. Others have been stranded abroad or had their Christmas holidays cancelled because of budget airline Globespan being put into administration and the Allbury Travel Group going under… Indeed it is almost as if Christmas itself has been cancelled for Globespan employees, some of whom not only don’t know how they are going to get home, but also whether they can actually afford Christmas without a working wage if and when they do. And Globespan isn’t the only big name to hit the skids this week with the announcement that Borders Bookshops, Saab Cars and Wesley Owen Books are soon to disappear. And then yesterday morning one paper's headline referred to people's fury at having digital TV transmissions messed up by the weather.
Yet all of those tidings of comfort and joy pale into insignificance beside the fact that the Copenhagen summit ended with no binding agreement to deal with climate change… Yes it may seem ironic to be discussing rising temperatures when western Europe seems to have ground to a halt because of the snow, but whilst snowy days are rare and temporary, the effects of long term climate change will be devastating for the earth, and particularly for the poorest people on this earth… not those wanting to jet off for some winter sun or some ski-ing in the alps, or the high and mighty debating things in Copenhagen, but those being born now in the back streets and shanty towns of the developing world.
Two thousand years ago another child was born in inauspicious surroundings: yet the angels proclaimed at the time of his birth that it represented "Good news of great joy for all people…" When that child grew up he claimed that he had been appointed and anointed to bring "Good news to the poor…"
In a world of bad news, we, who claim to follow that child are called on to share and to be that good news… especially for the poorest in this world…
What shall we give them, poor as they are?
A messed up world to live in... while we worry about whether the weather will mess up our Christmas viewing?


This is an adaptation of the weekly news review I did for Downtown Radio yesterday morning.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Nativity 2009


Life is a little busy at the moment... hence the paucity of posts. On Friday it was so busy that my wife and I drew lots to decide who would go to the local primary school's Nativity play... I won... And so I went, a little reluctantly to see again that familiar story...

Yet an hour later I left refreshed and renewed for all that I had to do throughout that day... It was a relatively traditional rendering of the subject matter, all be it with modern music and no "Away in a Manger..." Every child in the room was dressed appropriately... Girls as angels (some complete with feathered wings), and boys as shepherds (as the headmaster said, there would be no dishes dried in Ballybeen that morning because every dishcloth was in Brooklands Primary School, adorning the heads of the shepherds) and they sang all the songs with great gusto. The "star" performers all carried off their parts with great confidence (although paradoxically Herod was a little hesitant), and some of them wouldn't have been out of place in an X-Factor audition, but the whole thing was completely free of cynicism... And again, I was thankful that, in this increasingly PC-world, it was unashamedly Biblical from beginning to end.

So I headed off to do the various things that fill up my diary at this time of year... getting home late in the afternoon to have a quick tea and head out for an evening family outing to the cinema with members of our local community project. Again, because I was so tired I would rather have been anywhere else on earth. But the chosen film was "Nativity", not the reverential re-telling of the incarnation released a few years ago (which I have yet to see), but the current film starring Martin Freeman, about 2 schools, one a run-down Roman Catholic primary, the other a fee-paying preparatory school, putting on Nativity Plays in the run up to Christmas.

Once again I was pleasantly surprised... it was a joyous, cynicism-free experience that I would recommend to anyone and everyone. The performances of the adults were excellent, but they were up-staged by the children... The two nativities were a little more avant-garde than my morning experience (the one performed by the fee-paying school based around Herod's slaughter of the innocents left me roaring with laughter because I have seen productions just like that one), but again they were broadly faithful to the Biblical story, and without any of the scepticism about issues of religion that seems to pervade the British media at present.

But I would recommend this film not only because it is warm and cosy and won't offend either your 6 year old or the local vicar, but also because it is theologically interesting. A lot of the comedy is based around a lie that grows out of proportion, and the film delivers the usual moral message that honesty is the best policy. But more interesting, is that the intitial lie comes out of personal conflict between the directors of the 2 nativities, and (NB. SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT) the resolution of the conflict does not, as is the case in most movies, result in the humiliation of the "villain", but a certain level of reconciliation between the directors (as well as the repair of another broken relationship)... And that, as much if not more than the faithfulness of the nativity to the Biblical narrative, is what makes this film a good film for Christmas... It not only tells the story in an appealing way but also gets to the core of the Christmas story... That God's response to our conflict with him and his ways was not violent retribution, but to seek our reconciliation through a child...

Do yourself a favour... Go see it... Laugh loudly and give thanks to God for the truth that lies behind it...



Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Gift Ideas No 4: The Sweet Baby Jesus


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OK, we're now lurching into strange weird and bizarre territory now... Baby Jesus cookie cutter anyone? "The little Lord Jesus no crying he makes..." Not even when you bite his head off.
When Jesus later said "this is my body... eat it in rememberance of me..." it was certainly not with this in mind.
I am reliably informed that there is a whole Nativity Cookie set out there, but I am not sure that is any less disturbing... Anyone want a Virgin Mary and coffee?


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Gift Ideas No 3: Putting Santa in his Place


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Now I'm not one of the "Have you not noticed that Santa is an anagram of Satan"-brigade, indeed, I have donned the red suit and beard on more than one occasion (terrifying numerous kids in the process), but we must keep Santa in his proper place mustn't we! And that place clearly is in a very tasteful tree decoration which shows him bowing the knee before the Baby Jesus... Everyone say "Ah!"





Monday, December 14, 2009

The Law of Least Love


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Those who are patched in to Living Social/Facebook may well know that last week I had the misfortune of watching that execrable Matthew McConaghey rom-com "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past." I won't go into the reasons why I ended up watching it here. There is no excuse that can remove the shame and disgrace of it all...

It really was the nadir of creative cinema. A shallow, predictable reworking of Charles Dicken's Christmas Carol, with Christmas taken out and replaced with "love/relationships" as the core theme (they kept the snow though!) It might be interesting to contrast this reworking with the Zemeckis version that is out in the cinemas at the moment... but I for one won't be doing the comparison as a) it is yet another 3D epic, and such films are wasted on a son with only one eye, as is the case with my youngest son Ciaran, and b) it apparently will scare the pants off me, something that is not my idea of preparation for Christmas (although it is in tune with the original Victorian "Christmas Ghost Story" tradition that Dickens was tapping into.)

But anyway, why am I wittering on about one film I am not likely to watch and another that I loathed, hated and detested?

Well, in the midst of the detritus that is "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" is the core idea that the power in any relationship lies with the one who cares less, and the "discovery" by the "hero" that relationships should not be about power, but happiness.

However, that idea of power lying with the one who cares less, or "The Law of Least Love" as some would have it, is a rarely expressed, yet important way of understanding the incarnation of Christ and his role in our atonement. Steve Chalke tried to articulate it subsequent to his clumsy (or tabloidesque) "cosmic child abuse" statement, but essentially what it means is that in any relationship the one who loves most surrenders most power... Hence, in both incarnation and cross we have a demonstration of the Almighty God laying down his power because of his love for us...

As Charles Wesley puts it, he "emptied himself of all but love, and bled for Adam's helpless race."


(ps. I could suggest that there is "cruciform" symbology going on in the film poster of "Ghosts..." but that would probably be taking things a number of steps too far...)


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Behold the Lamb of God



In the light of last week and this week's lectionary readings both referring to John the Baptist, I would like to offer you this painting by Flemish artist Dieric Bouts (circa 1410-1475) which I found in Munich's Alte Pinakothotek, whilst wandering around for 6 hours on a Sunday (instead of going to church... shock! horror!)


It is entitled "Behold the Lamb of God!" and was commissioned by someone considering ordination, with John pointing the potential ordinand across the river, to follow, not himself, but the "Lamb of God."


The audio-commentary described it as the most important recent acquisition by the gallery. I cannot comment on that as I am artistically illiterate, but I do believe that the same commentary was wrong when it suggested that the way that Jesus is painted suggests that he is in some kind of mystical, otherworldly state... Yes he certainly seems to be in an attitude of prayer, but actually if you look at the picture you will see that while John is standing on verdant ground, with flowers growing at his feet on the one side of the river, Jesus is walking on barren ground on the other… This is clearly an allusion to the temptations in the wilderness which, scripture tells us happened immediately after Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan by John… but I believe that it is more than that… It is the challenge to follow Jesus walking in the wilderness, rather than staying with John on the safe and comfortable side of the river… Because radical as John’s lifestyle was, this artist realises that following Jesus, through the wilderness, on the way of the cross, is so much more radical still… It's not about strange clothes or revolting diets, it is about a willingness to go where the Spirit leads...






Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Gift Ideas No 2: The Ideal Nativity Set?



As I have already stated in a post here I was in Munich recently and was astounded by the huge range of nativity sets on display. But one that I didn't see, or perhaps didn't actually recognise as a nativity set is this "hand-painted" minimalist version by German artist Oliver Fabel. I was alerted to it by Bess over at Faith Central.
But to a large extent, this, in a very straightforward way, is doing to Jesus and his story, what people have tried to do from the time of the incarnation. Fit him, and everyone else around him into a nice neat box... Make him conform to a wider design of our own making...
But the truth is, Jesus didn't fit... There was no room for him in the inn and there is no room for him within our boxes, or colour-coordinated designs.








Thursday, December 10, 2009

Advent Calendar

There are a few good online advent calendar's around this year... I previously recommended the "Paperless Christmas" one, and am still following it day by day. But here's another one. I did mention it over on fb but it's not that easy to access, so I decided to post it here, so you can come back to it daily...




Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Gift Ideas No1: For those Who Find it Hard to Wait

For those who are looking for a thoroughly Biblical, yet practical gift this Christmas...
“When the time had fully come..” Ding! “God sent forth His Son...” (Galatians 4: 4)








Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rethink Christmas

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Shopping finished? Whether it is or not, take a look at this ad/ident from the United Methodist Church... It has something to say to all of us...


Monday, December 7, 2009

Books, Beer and Bridges...


As I’ve said a couple of times already, I was privileged to visit Munich a few weeks ago… That whole has a strong Roman Catholic character and a proud monastic tradition, and while I was there I learned more about the monks role in copying books and Bibles (as I noted previously), but also in the beer brewing industry of Bavaria, which may have outgrown its monastic roots, but still uses images of monks as a marketing tools.
But, while wandering round the Deutsches Museum, I also learned of the tradition of a "bridge-building brotherhood” who apparently dedicated their lives to building bridges as acts of piety, as much as for public utility, with the main practical aim being to aim pilgrims on their way. The story goes that St. Benozet (or Benedict) was influentual in the formation of such a brotherhood in the 12th century to build the old "pont d'Avignon" over the Rhone, which people sing about dancing on... Subsequest research on return from Munich, however suggests that this (and many of the other stories of bridge-building monks) are exaggerated, or perhaps misinterpretations of the idea of "brotherhood" which may have referred to a trade guild rather than a religious order.

While we were away most of the news from the UK was filled with stories of the floods in Cumbria, resulting in the collapse of at least 4 local bridges and the damage of many others, producing divided communities and social isolation. Indeed as I publish this piece today, there is news of a new footbridge constructed, not by a crack unit of bridge-building monks, but by the Royal Engineering Corps, reuniting the two sides of Workington. Yet normally we take bridges, and their builders for granted.

So I don't know whether monastic orders were really as influential in the business of building bridges as they were in the preservation of books and the brewing of beer, but there are spiritual lessons to be learned from them all the same. On the sheer physical level, building structures that address particular public need (rather than simply building places of worship) can be an act of piety and prophecy (see the work of Skainos in East Belfast for example).
But also, we may not be civil engineers or architects or members of a monastic brotherhood of bridge-builders but ALL Christians are called on to build bridges within and between communities… Not with bridges of stone and steel, but bridges of healing, forgiveness and reconciliation between hurting, hating, insecure and isolated people.
(Yet another adapted "Just a Moment" from last week... It actually "escaped" in an unamended form earlier on... apologies.)
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Shalom

Saturday, December 5, 2009

They're Back and this Time they Sing...

OK... we're now a week in to Advent, and I'm about to engage in the joyous(?) task of putting the tree up with the boys, so it is time to share the fun! After last year's classic, here is another offering from the Campton Elves... This year it is in glorious technicolour and they sing... And there is a first (and judging by her current state of wellbeing perhaps last) appearance on film by the 5th (and furriest) inhabitant of 9 Rosepark. (If you are watching on facebook you need to click to view the original post)
Happy Christmas when it comes.

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video

Cheers

Friday, December 4, 2009

Burning Books and Worthless Words...

As I said yesterday, I was in Munich recently, for the first time (barring the use of the airport on one previous occasion) and I was struck by the number of bookshops around… Apparently more than in any other German city… and certainly more than any British city I know… As a dedicated bibliophile I should have been in my element, but given that I failed my 3rd year German at school and could only find one English bookshop, it wasn’t a big help.
But the "books" theme came up again and again. The first full day we were there we had a 6 hour toddle around the Deutsches Museum (you can tell that we didn't have the kids with us... although even 6 hours isn't enough to do justice to this excellent institution which is like the London Science Museum on steroids), and it has an excellent section on the manufacture of paper and books, including the mock-up of the monastic scriptorium above. Their German desire for accuracy clearly got the better of them in this and there was a disclaimer outside this diaorama stating that no-one knows exactly what a scriptorium looked like but that this was their best guess. But it also said that in medieval monasticism copying books and particularly copying the Bible was seen as an act of worship equivalent to participation in the mass. That is how precious the written word was to them.
Yet we, who have more printed words in our houses that most monasteries had in their libraries, and who generally have multiple copies of various versions of the Bible, take it all for granted.
The Nazis didn't, however. They recognised the power of the printed word. The second full day we were there we went on a walking tour looking at the rise of Nazism in Munich, and during it the guide pointed out the site on Konigsplatz where on the 10th May 1933 one of many organized mass book burnings took place, burning books that the Nazi party had determined were “un-German.” With the notable exception of some fringe fundamentalists, we don't really go in for book-burnings... But the Nazis were, in many ways, right to fear the words of some books and ideas they expressed… And we should at least be aware of the power of the written word, for good or ill…
But the third day of our time in Munich brought a third reflection on the nature of the written word. We spent another 6 hours in the Alte Pinakothek, the main art gallery (I know how to show my wife a good time!), and while there I came across one of the classic vanitas paintings from the Flemish tradition (I think it was by Broewer, but I've lost my notes). It showed piles of learned books frayed at the edges with the binding falling apart, topped off by the obligatory skull. And that brought me up short.
For someone who loves and devours books, and whose stock in trade are words, both written and spoken, I realised that powerful as written (and spoken) words are, they are only ephemeral... And too great an investment in them is, indeed, vanity.
Ultimately it is only the word of God that will last... and by that I do not mean the written/printed version that is known as "The Bible". This coming Sunday is the day when many churches celebrate the role of the Bible in Christian life, but at the end of the day it is only a temporary means of recording God's words for forgetful and fallible human beings. There will come a time when that is no longer needed. But the Word that stands behind it will remain, the Word which brought creation into being; the Word which John testified to; the Word which took flesh and lived among us...

(This is a, greatly extended, version of the Just a Moment broadcast on Downtown yesterday)





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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Elephants on Tiptoe...



I was in Munich with my wife recently on a short city break… and while we were there they were getting geared up for Advent and their famous Christkindlmarkt. All over the place you could see nativity sets of all styles, sizes and sorts… Some were for sale, others were simply for decoration and/or devotion. Most of them had the usual suspects visiting Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus… angels, shepherds, and wise men with their strange gifts… but there was also an assortment of animals on display… sheep and lambs, brought in from the hillside by the shepherds, the cattle whose manger was commandeered as a cradle, the ever present donkey, a camel or two, which had presumably carried the wise men from the east, and on two occasions, elephants…
Now maybe you’ve been reading a different version of the Bible from me, but I’ve never read ANYTHING about elephants in Bethlehem… Although actually, if you read the gospel accounts in Luke and Matthew there are no mentions of camels either, or sheep or cattle, or even the ever present donkey in the stable where Jesus was born… Actually there’s not even any mention of a stable… but we’ll leave that for another day.
But if the sheep, or the camels can be there… why not an elephant? Because scripture tells us that Jesus came not only to save human beings… but the whole of creation… Indeed Paul tells us that the whole of creation is waiting in eager expectation for the sons of God, Jesus Christ and those who have been adopted into God's family through faith in him, to to come into their inheritance… (Romans 8: 18-21).
The whole of creation (elephants included) is straining on tiptoes to catch a glimpse of the coming Kingdom... and given the mess that we have made of it you would understand the eargerness...

(Another duly amended "Just a Moment" broadcast on downtown yesterday)

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Who Do You Follow?

Do you tweet? Are you one of the “twitterati”? I’m fairly au fait with technology… I blog and I’m known to frequent a certain social networking site, but I haven’t yet entered the weird and wonderful world of twitter. But if you are a twit or a twitterer or whatever the appropriate term is, who do you follow? And why? Many people follow stars... not celestial bodies as the Magi did, but celebrities (although tabloids would be happy to tell us that many of those celebrities have "celestial bodies"!) But last week the results of a poll were published by Prospect magazine revealing which figure from history would be most likely followed, had technology permitted…

The result was that Sir Winston Churchill came top, followed by Jesus and then Darwin. David Goodhart, the editor of the magazine suggests: “Churchill and Jesus both specialised in brief, memorable phrases — so both ‘we will fight them on the beaches’ and ‘blessed are the meek’ are messages perfect for the Twitter generation. Jesus was obviously born to tweet.”
There’s a thought to conjure with as we prepare to remember Jesus’ birth. He may not have been born to tweet… But he did call on others to follow him… And when he said follow, he wasn’t just suggesting that we should be passive spectators, keeping up with his catchy one-liners, and filing them away to quote over the dinner table later… But that we should put his words into action... Following his example in putting flesh and blood and bone on the eternal word of God.
So who do you follow? Not on twitter, but really follow in the real world?

(This was adapted from a piece written for the Just a Moment slot broadcast on Downtown Radio yesterday. I must say, whilst Jesus and Churchill fill David Goodhart's theory re memorable phrases, Darwin was not one for snappy one-liners. As one who has read and studied, and enjoyed, his books, there aren't too many sentences that would transfer easily to blog form, never mind twitter... I think that this is much more of a pose than a really thought through response... a function of Darwin's deservedly raised profile at present and, I fear, the middle-class, "intellectual (?)" constituency that is currently prevalent on twitter.)


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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Atheists and Old...

A friend forwarded this link to me last week. It was originally written during LentCountersbut it's equally applicable to Advent, perhaps even more so as lots of the so called  "New Atheists'" books fly off the shelves in the run up to what is supposedly the celebration of birth of the son of the God they don't believe in...
Whilst I wouldn't agree with all of the article, I do think that the emphasis is right... the biggest threat to Christian faith are not new atheists, but the practical atheists that take their places in the pews (and pulpits) of our churches week by week. If we believe in God, we have a responsibility to live like we do.
(ps. incase you are interested, the image is from a book by Tina Beattie entitled "The New Atheists: The Twilight of Reason and the War on Religion" a book which is on my shelf, but which I haven't really had the time or enthusiasm to read yet.. just like Dawkin's most recent offering.)