Sunday, 28 June 2009


"Like an endless dream,
life suspended - left undone.
To hold the sands of time, but never more to see the sun...

We are broken, without feeling,
left to walk the night, in endless centuries".


I watched the young women, covered in black like some funeral shroud, speak of how she dressed this way for the benefit of others - for women should not show themselves, so no desire is aroused.
So why should men not also be covered, asked the interviewer.
The response was a telling silence.

I read the blog which sought to inform me that our eternal annihilation, following the resurrection, was a mercy - better that than some form of just (note that word) punishment which continued forever. Why would we wish such a destiny to be true?

I listened to the rock group, talking about our alienation, searching for an answer.
The woven tapestry of words and sounds pushes deep, and reminds me of what we are really about....

We are indeed a broken people. We long for the 'wings' we lost so long ago, to be whole, safe, cared for, but equally free to play, to dance, to look deep into each others eyes without fear or danger.

The beauty which we taste, perhaps bitter-sweet amidst our pain, entices us to a greater reality.
When we view reality, however flawed or partial our perception of the whole, brief hints or pointers to the truth - we register a deeper truth. The 'text' seeks to express the presence of the author - a Creator we can treat as background noise if we so wish, but whose wisdom and nearness is expressed in so very many ways.

The reality is that we can behave in a manner (religious or secular) which amounts to attempting to detach ourselves from creation, but creation itself - in the eyes of the veiled woman, in the very pulse of the one who believes it ends in non-existence - "sings" with a greater reality.
We live in One who made us, who gave of Himself to deliver us from futility, and His return will herald a day when all things will be exposed to that unshakable reality.

Sing that sweet, sweet song of Salvation!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Thoughts and Conversations

"Though every thing's broken, your beauty remains"

Krystal Myers.

Whilst on a two-day photo project in Cornwall this week, I found myself seated near Padstow harbor amidst principally non-Christian friends, enjoying the warmth and the charm of the place as I tucked into a locally made pastie. As we ate and enjoyed the moment, one of my friends asked me a very deep question. He'd been considering the beauty of the almost idyllic scene before us, and asked me, as a believer, what I felt heaven had to offer beyond what we were encountering.
I sought to explain that surrounding us as keenly as the serenity we enjoyed was a universe in decay, a race in rebellion, a 'natural' condition in need of deep healing, and this is exactly what the Gospel promises - a realm in which all that is good and beautiful will be so without the current darkness, without the pain of corruption and evil.
The conversation then went on to familiar 'roundabout' questions with others who were present, but that initial question touched upon something I had been considering earlier in the week on the issue of beauty.

I'm currently reading Roger Scruton's study of the subject, and amidst many thought-provoking observations, he notes "We appreciate beautiful things not for their utility only, but also for what they are in themselves".
The thought immediately shunted my mind back to the seventh day of the first week of Creation.
Genesis informs us that God inhabits this day, as He is 'refreshed' by the goodness, the beauty of all He has made. This 'inhabiting' sanctifies the day, filling it with the weight and significance of holiness, that sublime, supreme aspect of the character of the persons of the Godhead.

We live in age where so much of what is defined as elegant and even beautiful is only done so in a detached, utilitarian manner - it is 'function' that counts, but on that day, it was the inherent goodness of all things that so delighted it's designer.
We all depend upon the 'use-ability' of the realm around us - our environment, our bodies, the functional aspects of life, but all these 'good gifts', sent from above, are not merely a device for our well-being; they were made to serve a higher purpose, to 'glorify' their maker - something currently hindered by our fall from that original goodness tasted in Eden.

The view at Padstow was splendid, and rightly caused my friend to ponder on the place of such beauty, but the true wonder has yet to be seen, soon to be made evident in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, 12 June 2009


"When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer,
Superstition ain't the way". Stevie Wonder.

The better weather has allowed for healthier outdoor pursuits, and that usually marries for me with some deeper thinking and reading.
I picked up Sci-Fi master Robert Heinlein's 'To Sail Towards the Sunset' this week, and was interested in pondering the key character's re-vamping of the Ten Commandments. What was especially intriguing was the thinking behind this, given by the character's father:
"The first five are solely for the benefit of the priests and the powers that be".
As someone who has spent many years of my Christian life facing "turbulence" with 'the powers that be' (church doctrines and leadership), there's certainly a truth here (with regards to mis-applying the Law), but I quickly realized that, especially in this moment, there is equally a wider application.

There are 'new' commandments, heard everyday on my local radio station, and woe betide the transgressor who questions or slights one of these rules...

1.You shall not doubt the doctrine of anthropocentric (man-originated) climate change.
The fact the CO 2 increases follow temperature changes shall not be spoken!

2.You shall advocate anthropocentric schemes to revert these changes, whoever, wherever and whatever their origin (and however hair-brained they may be - I'm staggered at just what is getting funding).

3.You shall always talk up 'sustainability' (even if the 'facts' to support what you've placed under that banner are flaky at best, and may be costing us a heck of a lot more, in both the short and the long term).

4.You will ensure ALL 'sensible' input on these subjects, be it social, scientific, political or artistic, speak with the same common voice (as per commandment 1). Dissent of any kind is mis-placed and 'primitive' (even when presented by experts in their fields!).

5. You will IGNORE all data to the contrary - and if it is raised, it will be ridiculed as mistaken.

These rules took a couple of minutes to assemble after listening to a week of local radio 'entertainment' on "Green" issues and the celebration of Naturalism here (the Darwin 200th anniversary dramatizations, arts festival, and discussions). There were moments when I wanted to switch off the radio for good, as I realized that any other view on such issues is already totally marginalized.

The call to stand fast in our liberty has never been so pertinent!
We're close to a time when almost everything you do will be under the scrutiny of the powers that be, and not for good reason - but because of a fiction that WE determine the nature of things, and can therefore control our world. History is replete with examples of moments when we have thought that way - it has always ended in horrible tragedy.

Watch the signs, listen to the 'thought' dictation occurring, and discern the darkness, so sweetly wrapped in the opium of common sense!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

The Best Things...

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

Paul Simon

It's there everyday as I walk into work -
a sign that boldly declares free entertainment, amenities and other enticements, all sure to draw folks in. I just wonder how many (if any) of those attracted by the 'free'(dom) offered here take any notice of the small print - 'subject to the terms and conditions of the establishment'.
That sums up our current 'freedoms' so well - you can 'externalize' liberty, making it about how you look, what you wear, what you chose to do (when you have 'free' time), but usually, this amounts to traveling the well-worn route of subjection to what is deemed 'free' - pursuits that are, apparently, expressions of freedom. The moment may be wild, a real high, but the 'terms and conditions' soon kick into play, and the reality is that we're far from free - our choices and our actions count.

It's stunning to reflect on what is often considered vital or important to our times -
theories of our origins, which, even if accepted, leave huge gaping questions about who and what we are,
it all gets pretty bizarre.

I was reflecting today on how Peter informs us how our age will be marked with a mindset which views it as 'freeing' to deride the notion of purpose ( - that we were designed to be here and that life amounts to much more than a instinctive, biological continuation of a species).
The neglect of our most inherent aspect of identity here, notes the teacher, is palpable.
The earth was created, and we are part of that work - a work which has been shaken when it has fallen and deviated from it's design - and the day of realization of that reality is fast approaching.

We can pursue the satiation of the 'hunger' we all have inside to be truly free, but (as Lewis notes), we were made to burn a particular fuel. Atheistic, Gnostic and Pantheistic notions all pander to quelling our deepest ache, but only Jesus Christ can stand before us and truly declare 'I am meaning'.

It's pretty clear to me that so many people who reject or leave Christianity behind do so not because of Christ himself, but because they have been burned or crushed by the weight of a 'terms and conditions' religiosity. Most of us have known the weight of that trial, but if we come back to the Gospels and the Epistles of the New Testament, we are soon shocked by something very different in nature - a call to a human reality that will mark us with a freedom defined by love, purchased and freely given through unwarranted, unmerited mercy.

Those are terms and conditions that make me truly smile.