Showing posts from November, 2011


Maybe it is part of my makeup that means I spend so much time sitting on the fence with various issues that I permanently have skelfs in my backside... But yesterday's union protests left me enormously conflicted on many levels. I suppose a lot of it goes back to a childhood where strikes were always in the news... at first over significant issues like equal work for equal pay, but building through the 70s, culminating in the winter of discontent, with the unions over-reaching themselves and effectively disempowering themselves and the labour party for a generation... Ushering in the Maggot Scratcher with her militant anti-union stance. Her wholesale dismantling of the industrial base of our society may have been inevitable to a certain extent because of the global marketplace, but the main problem was her laissez-faire approach to filling the employment gap. But nature abhors a vacuum and into the economic space stepped the financial, service and public sectors, with the financia…

A Scots Grace for Thanksgiving Day

I was introduced to this short prayer when I had my first family meal with my Scots inlaws many years ago, in Alloway, Ayrshire, the birthplace of the "ploughman poet" Robert Burns. It is known as the "Selkirk Grace" and is often attributed to Burns, but it was apparently in use well before his birth:
Some hae meat and canna eat,
and some wad eat that want it,
but we hae meat and we can eat,
and sae the Lord be thankit.

So on this Thanksgiving Day, let the Lord be thankit...
Today I especially thank God for all my American friends and hope you have a wonderful day of celebration.
ps. Both today and yesterday's blog-posts have been sitting in my archive as scheduled posts for the past year, and so were as big a surprise to me when they appeared as they may have been to everyone else given my paucity of posts this year. An interesting addendum to them is, however, that this year as part of our community project we are having our own "Ulster-Scots" spin on …

The Day Before Thanksgiving

The discipline of a national day of thanksgiving is a worthy one, and an American import that I wouldn't mind us adopting on this side of the Atlantic... so long as it isn't accompanied by the ludicrous overindulgence with which we already mark the birth of Christ.
I don't buy the origin myths of this day, but I suppose it adds a little historical colour (or should that be color in this case) to the whole thing...
Last year a friend posted the following video by Darrell Scott on facebook, at the time I said, being an outider to the USA and its culture I would be wary of posting such a powerful critique of American society at such a precious, if not sacred time for American citizens... but it is a critique that needs to be heard. Around the same time last year I had been reading Rob Bell's "Jesus Wants To Save Christians", and when reviewing it I said that many had suggested that he should stick to theology and not get political, meaning "not criticise …

Finished with Heresy

A few weeks back an update appeared on my facebook page announcing that I was reading heresy. This didn't surprise many people. However, this was actually an automated post via goodreads marking the fact that I had begun reading "Heresy" by S.J. Parris. This had been recommended to me for my Kindle by Amazon probably because of my previous purchase of C.J. Sansom's "Shardlake" novels. There are similarities beyond the format of the authors' names. Both are historical detective stories set against the background of the not-so-merrie England of the reformation era. Sansom's novels are set in the reign of Henry VIII, while this one takes place against the background of the reign of Henry's second, Protestant, daughter, Elizabeth. Both weave their way through the politico-religious world of their day, but whilst there is a depth to the picture painted in Sansom's novels, this one really reads like Shardlake-lite. Even the central character, the …

Ever Feel Like you Just want to Run Away and Hide?

Readers of this blog will know by now that I do a monthly stint on a local independent radio station, offering reflections on the Sunday newspaper headlines and a "Review of the Week" as part of an early morning religious magazine programme, which in its latest incarnation is called "Dawn Reflections". Today the headlines covered three broad areas depending on what papers you looked at. The Irish nationals (eg. the Irish Independent and Irish Times) had stories critical of the past and present Irish governments' handling of the economic crisis, and reflected a spirit akin to Fraser from Dad’s Army telling us “We’re all doomed!” The erstwhile broadsheets of Britain, meanwhile, filled their front pages with photographs of a beturbaned Saif al-Islam Gaddhafi, who was captured yesterday trying to flee Libya... (Although the Observer also found space to highlight a letter from Church of England Archbishops and Bishops critical of the current indescriminate ConDem …

Faith and Healing

Aberarder, Aberayron, Llangranog, Llangurig, Abergorlech, Abergynolwyn, Llandefeilog, Llanerchymedd, Aberhosan, Aberporth... With this tongue-twisting recitation, or incantation, of Welsh place names, the fantastic Francis Hardy, Faith Healer, begins a harrowing theatrical journey through his story... An exploration of fact, fiction and truth, faith, hope and despair, surrounding Hardy and his unpredictable gift (or was it a curse?); exercising (or exorcising) it in a "ministry without responsibility." For those who don't know the play, the story is told in a series of 4 monologues by Francis, his "partner" Grace and "manager" Teddy... I won't spoil the story except to say it isn't exactly a comedy... although it's not without it's moments of humour. 23 years ago I had the privilege of playing Frank in an Edinburgh Fringe production, with the woman who went on to be my wife as the director... But it was interesting to see it with my wife…

Psalm for Sunday

Didn't actually use a Psalm in worship this morning, but have been lax in posting them the past few weeks, so I have a few in reserve. Here is a paraphrased excerpt from Psalm 43 that we used as our call to worship last Sunday morning: Send forth your light and your truth;
let them guide me, O Lord my God.
May they bring me to your holy house,
to the place where your people worship.
Then I will come to the mercy seat of God,
to God, my joy and my delight.
There I will praise you with stringed instruments,

I will put my hope in you, O God my Saviour.
From Psalm 43:3-5