Showing posts from September, 2011

Remember the Sabbath Day...

It was this time last year that things started to seriously unravel for me. A lifetime of bad work habits, exhaustion, financial pressures, a backdrop of low-level depression, physical injury preventing me from doing the sport that was my safety valve all combined to create a new experience for me, that of acute anxiety... I'm in a better place this year than last but there is no doubt that the headlong rush from the beginning of September through to harvest is taking its toll, exacerbated by the loss of my wonderful pastoral assistant John Mbayo, who has gone to Edgehill College to be trained for the ordained ministry, and the incapacitation of another colleague. I then read this piece by April Diaz on "Mommy Needs" via Scot McKnight's Weekly Meanderings on Jesus Creed... I may not be a "Mommy" but I recognised the experience: "My days are out of control recently. I'm working way too much. Way. It's a unique season of ministry where I've fi…

Worth your Weight in Gold?

Yesterday we learned that the Ministry of Defence is considering compensating the families of Bloody Sunday victims… I don’t think any precise sums have been released yet, but it raises the question again of the value of a human life, and whether all victims should be compensated equally – the rock upon which the Eames-Bradley proposals on dealing with the past effectively foundered.
There has been emotive talk of “blood money” - yet this is a phenomenon that goes back to the ancient law code of Hammurabi and beyond…
And like it or not the issue of how much a life is worth comes up in many ways at many times. Where tourists are kidnapped for ransom by Somali pirates… Where footballers are bought and sold in the transfer window at ridiculous prices… Where the unemployment of millions of people and the effect it has not only on their livelihoods, but their personal sense of worth, is regarded as a “price worth paying” for the sake of the economic wellbeing of the country… although tho…


Polls regularly demonstrate that a majority of people in the UK would like to have the Death Penalty for certain types of murder reinstated (although most of those polls tend to be fielded by right-wing newspapers such as the Daily Mail), and there was a recent online petition which reached the threshold for consideration as a parliamentary debate (whoever thought online petitions were a good way to run this country? Given the on-line mood at the moment there may be a parliamentary petition for the reinstatement of the old Facebook format before too long...) but on this issue I am thankful that we live in a representative democracy rather than an absolute one... Especially today in the wake of Troy Davis' execution in Georgia, USA: Words fail me in the light of such an event - so instead I will use the words of two others. First Albert Camus. I would love to say that I am so well read that I came across these myself, but an old school friend posted them on her facebook status as …

Sports, Fantasy and Reality

Being a sports fan is an up and down business… more down than up if you’re an Arsenal fan at the moment… but I won’t rub salt into the gaping wound there… It's even more complicated if you participate in the myriad "fantasy" competitions out there, where you can end up wanting your team to win but not by too much, incase any of your fantasy players incur too many points against them. I'm currently registered with 6 different fantasy leagues - four football (that is real football for all you American readers out there... you know, the sort played with your feet!) and 2 World Cup Rugby ones. However, things have been so busy lately I haven't had time to look next nor near them, except to register the fact that I was effectively bottom in all of them. However, until Sunday it was a good weekend, for me… Ulster won convincingly against Cardiff in the rain on Friday night… Then Saturday morning Ireland put all their fans through the wringer as they won a close encoun…

I will Exalt You

This Sunday's lectionary readings includes a portion of Psalm 145. Here's a reblog of a responsive version I wrote a while back:

Leader: I will exalt you, my God and King:
All: I will praise your name for ever and ever.Leader: Every day I will praise you
All: And extol your name for ever and everLeader: Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; Men: his greatness no-one can fathom. Leader: One generation will remind the next about your wonderful works;Women: they will tell of your mighty acts.Leader: They will speak of the glorious splendour of your majesty
All: And I will mediate on your miracles Men: They will tell of the power of your awesome works
All: And I will proclaim your great deeds
Women: They will celebrate your abundant goodness
All: and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

Leader: My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord
All: Let every creature praise his holy name
Psalm 145


Record Breakers...

Yesterday the 2012 edition of that perennial favourite the Guinness Book of Records was published, with a huge amount of coverage in the “and finally” section of many news reports… including the news of St. Annes Primary School, Dunmurry and their Bobble Hat record here on Good Morning Ulster. I heard and read about all sorts of strange achievements like Clare Pearce from Peterborough and her 47 inch long cucumber… Chanel Tapper, from California, with the world's longest tongue at 3.8 inches from tip to top lip… and Christine Walton, from Las Vegas, with her 19ft 9 inch fingernails. Then there is Dr Who fan Rob Hull and his collection of 571 Daleks… I actually think my son Ciaran could give him a run for his money on that one… Or Wei Shengchu who set the record for the most needles on his face with a horrendous 2009. Given I feel weak at the threat of one injection I’m not going to go for that record any time soon. Nor will I challenge for the record of Reverend Darrell Best, who…

The Butterfly Effect

It was supposedly meteorologist Edward Lorenz who first suggested the "Butterfly effect" which,  in one version, suggests that a butterfly flapping its wings in China can ultimately cause a hurricane off the coast of America… This has become one of the most widely quoted illustration of that branch of mathematics known as "chaos theory." Well, if that’s the result of 2 butterfly wings, then is it any wonder that the collapse of 2 skyscrapers in New York have produced such chaos in the past 10 years? It devastated the lives of not only those who lost loved ones that day but in many subsequent events the world over. They may have been called the World Trade Centre, but their effect on world trade was probably greater in their demise than during their existence… their fall was like the beginning of a row of dominoes toppling, with the affects spreading wider and wider with the passing years… The cloud of dust they kicked settled on the lungs of thousands of New Yorker…

A Psalm for Sunday - on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

Didn't actually use this today - had planned to read it in the hospital service, but forgot to upload it to my Kindle... That's the problem with technology - the idiots using it! Anyway, here is my take on Psalm 46 for today...
God is our strength and a safe place to hide,
In time of trouble he’s always there to help. So we will not fear, even if the earth should shake And mountains be reduced to rubble, though the seas rage and roar and cities be swept away in the surge.
The River of Life sustains the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is within her walls, so she will stand; God will ride to her rescue with the rising sun.
Nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms fall;
The I AM speaks, and the whole earth dissolves .

The Almighty I AM is always with us; The God of promise is our protector.
Come and see what I AM can do,
Sweeping away what we thought to be indestructible. He will bring war to an end
From one end of the world to another; Putting…

Psalm for Sunday (?)

Most weeks I use some sort of responsive reading as part of the morning service. I adapt these myself (usually) and a couple of people have asked me for copies of them. So, I said I'd post them here under the generic title of "Psalm for Sunday"... Typical that the first time I do so it isn't actually a psalm... We're using this on in our morning service, which is a Service of Dedication for our Youth Leaders before they take on another year as shepherds of their particular flocks: See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, His strong arm stretches out to enforce his rule. See, he comes to pay-back his enemies as promised, And to bring rich rewards to his faithful followers. He looks after his flock like a shepherd: He enfolds his lambs in his everlasting arms; He carries them close to his heart, And gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:10-11

Numbering Days

Nearly one month on from the riots in England, the repercussions and recriminations are still going on… and there seems to be no clear consensus of what really caused them… Was it a function of social marginalisation, or recreational rioting? A sign of general moral decline or shopping with violence… Riots can be sparked off by the slightest of things… I’ve even known riots in Belfast kick off because of a football result in Glasgow. But on this day back in 1752 there were apparently riots in many British cities because of a change in the calendar. Britain was one of the last countries to adopt the Gregorian calendar in place of the Julian one, and so by that stage Britain was 11 days out of sync with the actual position of the earth around the Sun, and consequently most of the rest of Europe… The solution… just lop 11 days out of the calendar… Hence in 1752 people leapt straight from the 2nd of September to the 14th… Producing the strange anomaly in Ireland that we remember the Batt…