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Virtuous Reality

In some ways this follows directly on from my previous piece. The past 18 months has been a strange time for all of us, and I for one have been repeatedly grateful for the technology which has made the global pandemic and the measures that had to be taken to counter it, not the complete disaster that the same happening might have been had the earlier outbreaks of swineflu or SARS gone global. There have even been aspects of our switch to "online" engagement that were positive and will probably be here to stay. But even for someone as anti-social as me, there are significant downsides and possible long-term consequences. So with the resumption of "working from home" in the ROI and the moral vacuum that is Mark Zuckerberg hijacking the emerging metaverse with his Bakebook rebrand I have significant concerns that bubble up in this stream of consciousness... Tech(nology) The tech knowledge That takes us to places We could only imagine In science fiction When I were yo
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Slavery and Sabbath

Recently we have been reading Walter Brueggemann's "Sabbath as Resistance - Saying no to the culture of now" as part of our Circuit Book Group. Its a short but deep book with profound implications if we were to take it seriously. It, together with a couple of recent conversations and my cyclical low mood, combined to produce the following. I am not implying that any of the experiences alluded to here can in any way be compared to historic or contemporary slavery. That is an evil of an entirely different order. But there is no doubt that modern life involves a lot of voluntary and involuntary complicity with systems that rob us of agency, or affords us excuses to blame others and circumstances for where we are in a manner that seems to have begun shortly after the first ever sabbath... I could say a lot more, but you are probably better off reading Brueggemann's book... it's much more coherent. Enslaved. Shackled by the system. A pawn in the great game. Enslaved. C

Tuesday Shower

This one has been percolating for a while, and I thought about posting it on Sunday for World Mental Health Day. It's a personal piece (and my recent listening to Frank Skinner's poetry podcast has made me accutely aware of how self-indulgent intensely biographical poetry is... but this is my blog so, hey ho...) reflecting my cyclical battle with low mood, which due to medications and work pattern is most pronounced on a Tuesday. Occasionally, if not addressed proactively by rest and restorative action the previous day and distracted by specific activity and engagement on the Tuesday, this can tip over into something worse... I can become paralysed by the enormity of what lies ahead in my diary, and descend into an unproductive cycle of self-criticism and regrets over often minor things that have happened recently... This begins under the duvet, is carried through to my shower and on into the day if I am not careful... Warm water cascading in a clear glass box, The door firmly

The Rich Older Ruler

It's been a while since I wrote a new monologue, and this one stepped fully fleshed from my imagination as I prepared to preach on today's gospel reading from Mark 10: 17-31. The picture is "For he had great possessions" painted by George Frederic Watts in 1894, part of the Tate Britain, collection, which I posted on social media as part of an #ArtintheOrdinary series that I have been posting in response to the weekly lectionary readings in this "ordinary" season. Of course (as I pointed out) to my congregation this morning, Mark says nothing about the man being young... that was Matthew, but it left me (as it has left many other more accomplished writers) wondering whether the anonymous man, young or not so young, reflected further on this encounter later in life, with some suggesting that he might have been Mark or even Paul, but such ideas are mere speculation... as is what follows... I didn't use it this morning as my preparations were too far advanc

The City

It's National Poetry Day, and not having posted anything for a week or two I thought I would post this piece... an unfinished poem about an unfinished city... The wise man built his house upon the rock Not at the mouth of a sandy river Leaving us with a leaning clock tower And a City Hall sinking into the sheugh. What foundation has our shared future? What prospect is offered by our past? What rotten piles underpin our present? Should we not let it sink and start again? But the Lord founded the earth on the waters; Spoke order into the discordant deep, Freeing people who were slaves in and to their past To seek the welfare of a City not their own. So can this chaos taming, slave freeing God Help us rebuild our ravaged, earthly city On rock rather than on sand this time Modelled on a city yet to be revealed? Selah

The Fellowship

Today I visited one of BCM's Sheltered Housing Projects for younger people, Tafelta Rise in Magherafelt, and was encouraged again by the hard work, compassion and creativity Richard Docherty and his team there, supported by innumerable statutory, charitable and community partners. This is only one of 4 such projects we run and I am so proud of the work of all of the staff that work in them under the inspirational leadership of our Head of Residential Services, Lois Payam. But last week, ironically the day after World Mental Health Day, I was party to a series of conversations where the wellbeing of one of our young service users was being looked after, not only by our fabulous staff, but a group of online gamers he had been engaging with. These gamers demonstrated a perception, compassion and determination to get help for their fellow gamer that I have seldom seen in churches or flesh and blood groups of friends, never mind a group of people who had never met, perhaps living alone

Time

This has been bubbling away in my head for a few days since finishing the late Jonathan Sacks' commentary on Genesis and his concluding comments on Forgiveness affording us not the power to merely forget the past but to redeem it and thus reshape the future. This, combined with Carlo Rovelli's book "The Order of Time" which has prompted previous musings, ultimately resulted in this chain of questions... Answers on a postcard please... What is this intangible thing called time Ticks on an outmoded clock face, With arms sweeping relentlessly around, Each cycle the same as the last, Ultimately unaffected by our feeble flailings As they roll by repeatedly?   Or marks on an unseen tickertape Stretching inexorably through eternity The fixed past falling behind Some recorded but mostly forgotten With an unformed future approaching At an ever-hastening pace?   Or perhaps, insignificant as we are Within the scope of eternity and infinity, Our actions and attitude