Showing posts from October, 2013

10 Day You Challenge - Day 6: 5 Foods

I said earlier on that 1 of my 9 Loves was food... to the point of obsession, but instead of my 5 favourite foods, I asked my youngest son to pick the 5 favourite dishes that I cook... So Ciaran's choice is:

1) CHICKEN SATAY- Chicken in a peanut sauce... No more like proper satay/sate than KFC but the family enjoy it and it is easy to cook.

2) SMOKED HADDOCK WITH CHORIZO - a rarity in that you will not often get me eating or cooking fish, but this is a great, quick, healthy, one-pot dish. I usually use smoked haddock, but Sally prefers the unsmoked.

3) GLAZED GAMMON - I do most of the Christmas cooking in our house and whilst the residents might be a little restless if there were no turkey, it would be all-out insurrection if I didn't supply a glazed ham/gammon. I boil it in cider and then finish it off in the oven with a glaze of mustard and dark brown sugar (great for diabetics)

4) PORK CHOPS AND ONIONS - A family recipe, from my mum, which was adapted by me... The kids are …

10 Day You Challenge - Day 5: 6 Places

On the aforementioned bucket list there is a list of the places that I would like to go, some very far away... This is a list of places much closer to home that are very special to me for one reason or another

1) THE GIANT'S CAUSEWAY - a unique world heritage site that Samuel Johnston once described as "worth seeing but not worth going to see." But this was in the 18th century and local roads have improved since then... slightly...

2) THE MOURNES - "The mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea..." according to one of Percy French's appalling Oirish ditties... But the sight of the Mournes as you approach them along the coast road from Dundrum is a view that carries me straight back to my youth and innumerably weekends spent camping in a walking these pint-sized peaks...

3) NENDRUM - A truly "thin-place" in terms of Celtic spirituality... the site of an early Christian monastery. I have little doubt that I find it more of a spiritual sanctuary now t…

10 Day You Challenge - Day 4: 7 Wants

This is the bit of this meme I just wanted to skip, because as I read over other people's ones most of them were either exercises in fantasy conspicuous consumerism, or, and this largely applied to Christian ones, exercises of nauseatingly saccharine spirituality.
But I've started so I'll finish.
I don't think I have ever written a Christmas list... Not with any expectation of receiving what I wanted... I do keep a "wish list" on Amazon, in order to help my family when they are flailing around trying to think of what to buy me for Christmas or Easter... However, I'm not very good at updating it, so slap it up me when I get multiples of the same thing...
None of what follows appear on my Amazon list, nor are you likely to be able to purchase them for Christmas... As with the rest of this meme I have kept to the trivial end of the spectrum, so please take it for granted that I want peace in this province/the world, relief of world hunger, happiness for mys…

A Minor form of Atheism?

In the light of the last post in the 10 Day You Challenge looking at 8 Fears, I thought I would briefly return to the theme of worry, anxiety and fear, which I've looked at a couple of times recently... perhaps for exactly the same reason that God and Jesus repeatedly told people not to fear... because it is, in it's many forms, such a major feature of human life.
Back at the turn of the millennium Rohan Candappa wrote "The Little Book of Stress" as a pocket sized antidote for all the other self-help tomes, especially the nauseating "Little Book of Calm" that was so rightly pilloried on Black Books. It is filled with useful little hints and tips aimed at maxing out your stress levels, with many of them centring on worry... including useful suggestions like:
Write down your worries. Read the list before you go to bed. Worry or anxiety can be paralysing... And is at times totally irrational. The book "In the Pink" that I reviewed a while back, inclu…

Psalm for Sunday

This week's offering is a paraphrase based on Psalm 105, which we're using as a call to worship in our 11am service at Belfast South Methodist, where we are looking at the story of the feeding of the 5000+...

Hallelujah! Give thanks to the Lord, Call on him by name; Tell the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praises to him; Sing songs about his wonderful acts. Honour his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and seek his strength; Keep your eyes peeled for signs of his presence. Remember the wonders he has done, All his miracles, and the promises he pronounced, He remembers his covenant for ever, He’s been true to his words down through a thousand generations, He brought his people out of slavery They asked, and he fed them with quail and the bread of heaven. He opened the rock, and water gushed out; it flowed like a river through the desert. He led out his people rejoicing, his chosen ones sang and shouted for joy; Praise the Lord…

10 Day You Challenge - Day 3: 8 Fears

I do not like to focus on fear... the tabloids (both the paper and TV varieties) do enough of that... be it fear of Muslim extremists, Roma-child-abductors, flesh-eating microbes, rampaging poisonous spiders... You name it, they will try to turn it into a phobia -with the word phobia being used in its sense of irrational fear... Dig deep into most of these stories and you will find little of substance.
I also am not into those who build their ministries on a "gospel" of fear... Yes fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but it is only a beginning... There are those for whom fear (either at a specific point or a more general fear) was a major feature in their spiritual journey, including Martin Luther, John Newton and John Wesley. Indeed last night I was at a meeting where a Catholic priest spoke of the fear that he had as a child growing up in a mixed area of north Belfast of his home being attacked and he or his family being killed, and how that was a powerful factor…

Pursuing Peace - Offering Hope and Healing

Yesterday my friend David Porter, Canon for Reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral and the Archbishop of Canterbury's advisor on reconciliation, retweeted the quote from Bonhoeffer daily:
"From now on there can be no more wars of faith. The only way to overcome our enemy is by loving him.” As I read this I was just starting the chapter in Jim Wallis' recent book "On God's Side" entitled "Surprising Our Enemies", which begins with another, more sizeable Bonhoeffer quote taken from "The Cost of Discipleship" where he is exploring the Beatitudes and specifically Jesus' blessing of the peacemakers. The entire section reads:
"The followers of Jesus have been called to peace. When he called them they found their peace, for he is their peace. But now they are told that they must not only have peace but make it. And to that end they renounce all violence and tumult. In the cause of Christ nothing is to be gained by such methods. His kingdom…

10 Day You Challenge - Day 2: 9 Loves

So here I am, 2nd day in and I'm already 4 days late... But I did say this would be a bit sporadic...
Anyway, today it is supposed to be 9 loves. OK... (I really can't wait to get to the simpler ones like books)... Let's clear the decks and take it as read that I love my family, God and pet cat... So in many ways I'm giving you 12 loves for the price of 9... But there is no way on this virtual planet that you are getting me bearing my heart on those three... The first 2 because this is entirely the wrong forum to do them justice, and the third because there is already too much cat-related wackiness on the web, and I don't want to be associated with that...
So here goes on a variety of things that I love in no particular rank order:
1) FOOD - Now there is an entire day given over to foods... but this is food in general. I have a serious psychological problem with food. It is my primary response to any emotional state; I'm happy - I eat,  I'm sad- I eat,  I'…

Psalm for Health Care Sunday

This is the responsive Psalm we will be using at our 11am service in Belfast South Methodist this morning, where my Methodist colleague and lead chaplain in the Belfast Hospitals Trust will be speaking on the subject of "Where is God when it hurts?"

How long, O Lord? How long? Have you forgotten me for ever? How long will you turn your face in another direction? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and fears through the night and each day walk around with sorrow lying like a lump of lead in my heart? How long will my enemies look down their noses at me? Look at me and give me an answer, O Lord my God. Restore light to my eyes, or I will gladly sink into the long sleep of death; Then my enemy will say, "I have got the better of him at last," and my opponents will dance with joy at my defeat. But I entrust myself to your unfailing love; My heart dances with joy at the thought of your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been and will be good to me. Psalm 13

Companions on a Journey - Reblog

In the light of the piece I wrote yesterday, the rekindling of my love affair with public transport and with more than a passing reference to Heather Morris's Presidential theme of "A People Invited to Follow..." here is a reblog of a short poem I wrote for the Connexions event at Dublin Conference nearly a decade ago.

Some people don’t like travelling on public transport
Beside other people; smelly people;
Rude people; poor people;
Noisy people; nosy people;
Young people; old people;
Some people don’t like people…
They prefer cars…
Jesus likes people…
People like you and me;
People not like you and me;
People not liked by you and me;
People who don’t like you and me;
People who don’t know you and me;
But Jesus knows them
And he knows you and me
And despite all that he knows
he invites us all to join him on his journey.
I think Jesus would have liked public transport.

(© David Campton 2004)

Teenagers These Days

I've rediscovered the joys of public transport again, and I am not being sarcastic... The ability to jump on a bus and get more or less where you want to go without the hassle of looking for a parking space or negotiating the traffic chaos and having time to read or people watch is a modern joy that too many of us surrender for the pseudo-independence of driving a car... Anyway, this little piece of doggerel is inspired by my experience on a bus yesterday afternoon.
A testosterone fuelled knot of boisterous teenage boys on a bus straight out of school spotty and soaked in a curious combination of blazers and sports kit the pent up frustration of a day in class slightly offset by two periods of games but little fun in the rain now chatting and chugging coke posturing and texting while fellow passengers look at them askance afraid to look them in the eye holding on tight to their hangbags and standing rather than sit next or near them
It’s their stop they press the bell and lurch…

10 Day You Challenge - Day 1: 10 Secrets

It's been a while since I've messed around with a meme... And I said a week or two back that I might give this one a go... Although for a while I was a little hesitant because, first, it seemed a little self-absorbed, but then I remembered that I write a blog which is full of my opinions, so how much more self-absorbed can I appear; and second, frankly, the whole thing seemed a tad girly - I didn't see any other males engaging with it... but then Creideamh forged the way ahead for others with a Y chromosome...
So here goes... I'll fit them in when I have time/can be bothered... If nothing else it will help members of my new congregation see what sort of a basketcase they now have as a pastor...The theory is that on each of 10 days we make the following disclosures:  1:   10 Secrets 2:   9 Loves 3:   8 Fears 4:   7 Wants 5:   6 Places 6:   5 Foods 7:   4 Books 8:   3 Films 9:   2 Songs 10: 1 Picture
Now my first response is to moan that I wish it was in a different ord…

50 Ways to Close a Foodbank

I posted a link to a Guardian post including this video in last week's Saturday Supplement, but it is worth posting in its own right.

On the same day I also retweeted a friend's post about news of a new foodbank opening in Dennistoun, Scotland a week or so ago saying "With each new foodbank I don't know whether to cheer or weep."
That is not just because of the appalling need/generous response dichotomy, but also because of the refusal of some establishing foodbanks to engage their brains as well as their hearts. I was at an event on Thursday night past where our President, Heather Morris said that she longed for a day when Christians do not throw up their hands and say "I'm not a theologian". As Christians we need to think theologically - bring "God words" to bear on the world in which we find ourselves. But we also have to think politically - not necessarily party politically (though at times that is necessary, and perhaps the only way …

Wind and Waves

A monologue delivered by the wonderful Jim Allen yesterday as part of morning worship focussed around Luke 8:22-25. I originally wrote it for Jim as part of the New Irish Arts 10th Anniversary event in the Waterfront nearly 10 years ago... but he's been using it here and there since then, but I've never used it again myself... So it was nice to have it come "home" yesterday...
That night he said to us, "Come on… Let’s go over to the other side of the lake." Tell you the truth, we were glad to get into a boat and leave the crowds behind… They really got on your goat after a while... I do not know how he put up with it all the time… was it any wonder that he fell asleep as soon as we left the shore…  We needed four boats to get us all across, but there were enough of us who had been fishermen to skipper them all… I was in charge of the one Jesus was in, and I was proud in a strange sort of a way… but all my pride flew out the window when a furious storm blew…

A Psalm for (a stormy) Sunday

A reblog/revamp today based on Psalm 46. I previously published it in a slightly different form, on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks 2 years ago. We're using it in Belfast South Methodist this morning as part of worship.

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. Pause
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 Almighty I AM speaks, and the whole earth dissolves . The Almighty I AM is always with us; The God of promise is our protector. Pause
Come and see what the Almighty 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 weapon…

Too Thick for Theatre

I have been reduced to my most incoherent, working class roots by a combination of patronising elitism and thorough-going Philistinism... So much so, here is my second post in a day!
A few weeks ago I had a discussion with a colleague who was trying to argue that we should eschew being "too arty" and using poetry in a particular context for fear that it might alienate people from working class (and especially working class protestant) areas... I think we got our disagreement sorted out, but there is definitely a sense there that "the arts" are for the middle and upper classes and not for those in working class estates.
Then you have William Humphrey's ill-informed comments on the Lyric and Mac Theatres saying that they offer little "tangible benefit to the people in Ballygomartin, Ballymurphy or Ballymacarrett," and that "The concept of 'the arts' is not something which the Protestant working-class community in this city buys …

Saturday Supplement

Just a few headings this week, because each of the items is big in itself:

FEMALE ROLE MODELS: this is one of those weeks when I am glad I have 2 sons - although, as I have discussed with a number of people this week the model of masculinity we offer, particularly within NI and within the church, leaves much to be desired... But the unpleasant public spat between Miley Cyrus and Sinead O'Connor left a lot to be desired... Why did Ms. O'Connor do this via public letter if it was out of concern for Miley? And what was going through Miley Cyrus' head when she dragged up the mental health of Sinead and Amanda Bynes? Annie Lennox also weighed in, without naming names. There are worrying things about the eroticizing of female self-image. There are those who would say that this is part of a trend in society that includes the body image that girls are exposed to in Barbies and Disney Princesses - leading to the controversy over the makeover for Brave's Princess Merida, which l…

A New Bridge to go Over...

The first thing I heard as I woke up this morning was that the playwright Sam Thompson was being honoured by naming the new bridge from Victoria Park over to Airport Road after him. This bridge allows access by foot and bike to the Harbour Estate and Titanic Quarter, the erstwhile Shipyard where his most famous play "Over the Bridge" was set...  There is a certain appropriateness to this, but also some irony given that many of the issues that Sam Thompson raised in that play apply directly to the malaise affecting the loyalist community that lies in the shadow of the gantries of the remaining 2 shipyard cranes. To that end I offer this slightly revised reblog of one I produced in the wake of Martin Lynch's revival/revision of the play 3 years ago, looking at why I believe it is a crucially important play:
The Physical Context - The Shipyard
In a moment of unguarded honesty a few years ago, when Harland and Wolff was teetering on the brink of total closure, a political repre…

For God and his Glory Alone

28 years ago I headed off to university in Edinburgh kicking the dust of Northern Ireland off my proverbial sandals, never intending to return, like many of my generation, particularly on the Protestant/Unionist side of the divide. I had had enough of the Troubles in my native statelet... they had been going on for most of my life, and by that stage I felt, quoting the words of my least favourite Shakespeare play "A plague on both your houses."
3 years later, however, a group of people some of whom I knew, most of whom I didn't, came together as Evangelical Contribution on Northern Ireland (ECONI) to draft and release a document entitled "For God and his Glory Alone". The title was a conscious and direct challenge to the motto of the UVF and mental framework of many Ulster protestants brought up on the mythologuy of Carson and the Somme etc - "For God and Ulster", which too often got reversed in practice with people putting Ulster (or at least the st…