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Showing posts from May, 2010

Meditating on the Trinity

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Our local church of Dundonald Methodist has recently started a Friday night class for those interested in sequence dancing… and it is proving a great success across the generations and with people who haven’t been involved with any previous church programmes. Perhaps it’s the high profile of TV shows like “Strictly come Dancing” and “So You Think You Can Dance” that have captured people’s imagination… In fact we have called our programme “So you think You Can’t Dance” as it is aimed at people who know they are never likely to be Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers.
Not everyone has been in favour as the Methodist church, along with some others, traditionally saw dancing as an excuse for inappropriate intimacy between the sexes, and for a long while it was actually banned on church premises. But that is no longer the case, and while I haven’t actively participated myself, I can assure anyone who is worried about it that there is nothing lascivious or lewd about what is taking place in our ch…

Picturing the Trinity

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Not every preacher follows the church year slavishly in their sermons… but those who do and are preparing for this coming Sunday may well be considering picking an easier subject, or as Colin Morris used to suggest, feel themselves developing psychosomatic sore throats… It’s known as Trinity Sunday and has stretched more than a few preachers’ abilities to reflect theological truth to breaking point… As someone once said, “Trying to explain the Trinity is like trying to describe the sound of three hands clapping." Three persons in one? It’s the single doctrine that unifies Jews and Muslims in opposition to the Christian understanding of God… and even some strands of Christianity don’t buy it fully…
Yet no matter what some revisionist theologians and populist writers of recent years may say, the Trinity was not dreamed up by a church council a few centuries after Christ, it is woven in and out of the whole of the New Testament, including the words of Jesus in the Gospels, and it doe…

Ulster Museum or Ulster-Scots Museum of Conservative Fundamentalist Christianity?

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I awoke this morning to the news on Radio Ulster that our esteemed Minister at the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Nelson McCausland has written to the National Museums of Northern Ireland to ask for them (and presumably he means their recently renovated flagship, The Ulster Museum which he is pictured here re-opening) to give more prominence to Ulster-Scots, the Orange Order and alternative theories on the origin of the universe. I already had a sore head, and this did not improve it any. The claim is that this is in pursuit of the Northern Ireland Executive's Shared Future agenda, and given that I have worked with Mr. McCausland in the past on good relations issues I have no doubt of his sincere desire for such an end. However, given that he previously also has been an outspoken advocate of Ulster-Scots and a prominent member of the Orange Order, and that at least one member of his political party has been vocal in his demands for Creationism to be given a prominent pla…

Heart Warming...

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To most of Christendom today is Whit Monday (or the Monday of the Holy Spirit in the Eastern Orthodox tradition) it being the day after Pentecost... But for diehard Methodists yesterday was Aldersgate Sunday, given that today was the anniversary of that fateful day in 1735 which is described by some as the conversion of our founder John Wesley.
For those who haven’t encountered it before, let me cite a portion of Wesley's own account of this event:
"In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."
Now there’s many a person who has gone unwillingly to a church…

Far from Miserable Performance

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Its been quiet here in the world of Virtual Methodist for a wee bit... Largely because the real world has been more than a little hectic... But did get time to go to see the Lyric Theatre Company's latest production in their squat at the Elmwood Hall.
I'm not a expert on Moliere by a long chalk but I enjoyed the bawdy production of The HypochondriacT (sic) last year, with the same team of translator/adaptor David Johnston, director Dan Gordon and lead Andy Gray, and so I thought I would go back for second helpings this year, with their take on the Miser. Sadly, according to David Johnston, it hasn't been getting great audiences, and he thinks that the fact it's a Moliere has been putting Belfast audiences off coming. But it shouldn't, because its a good night out, even for those, like me who don't know their Molieres from their Molly Malones.
As with last year's production Johnston has kept to the broad structure of the original play, but has transposed it fr…

Monday Link Up

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Had a few favourable responses to my "linkdump" last Monday, so I thought I would do it on a more regular basis, when I've accumulated a critical mass of worthwhile material that demands a little more time and thought than your typical fb post, but which I otherwise wouldn't comment on here at VM. Its probably slightly stunted due to me managing to ditch my blogroll last week... But there's enough here to keep you thinking for a while...
This piece from the BBC is a worthy place to start this time out, as it takes me (and perhaps you) out of my normal sphere of interest into the complex world of Muslim-Christian conflict in Africa, in this case, Nigeria. Think of our own little local difficulties, with the added issue of tribalism, and multiply by a factor of 100 to get a sense of the problem. On the one hand there seems to be the old problem of a leadership deficit, with community leaders negotiating one day and then bowing to mob rule the next... whilst the conc…