Archive for the 'Christianity' Category

The man of metropolis steals our hearts

When I die (not if but when) you can take my organs and give them to other people as Christmas presents to replace their failing organs.

Now this will only happen in specific circumstances. Like if transfarmer beats me on the head with a hammer and I am brain dead.  If I wasn’t legally dead at that point I’d be screaming “take my organs and give them to the nearest cute child with kidney failure!”

When GOD says “behold I am making all things new” I’m pretty sure he’ll know how to find me, even if I’m in a few different bodies at once.

I am a proponent of presumed consent.

70% want to donate their organs, only 28% are on the register. Very few will ever die in the circumstances that let us take their organs, so it’s important that as many people as possible are on the register.

This guy reminds us of all the very obvious and ends with a theological exposition of the substitutionary atonement in relation to organ donation. Tom Wright gets everywhere these days…

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Of angels and angles

We have established that from every angle JESUS Christ is the key to the secret of creation

Karl Barth in Church Dogmatics
[As quoted in Christ plays in ten thousand places]

This is why i do what i do – why i live how i do. Why i live life how I do.

The fullness of life – the sheer vibrant colour of it all is often overwhelming. The spectrum from sadness to joy is intense. The experiences from despair to exultation are often overwhelming.

But this is the life we are given. Its very nature and presence is quite simply staggering. Its greatest enemy is apathy.

But yet here in Christ we find all things brought together. Our acts of love towards each other, our acts of creation in the world, our choices, our thoughts, our emotions, our reasoning. All our (in)glorious humanity the outworking of this and a movement towards it.

I was thinking I could clean up for Christmas

I’m being drawn (kicking and screaming of course) towards this cult church in Maynooth. It may have something to do with Transfarmer but it’s mainly for tax avoidance.

Anyhow. Was there on Sunday and heard all about the advent conspiracy.

Now this really floats my boat. Imagine a theological reason to be a tight arse scrooge. You can tell I liked it.

Christmas is well known for becoming a holiday like Valentine’s day – invented by greeting card companies. Yes of course good and wonderful things are done – people get together and have a bit of a piss up and a party. My problem does not lie there, it lies with the rampant materialism.

The advent conspiracy does not say – cancel Christmas – indeed it says the opposite – come and celebrate.

Just imagine hijacking Christmas back off the greeting card companies.

[Now of course the global (though mainly western benefiting of course) economy would suffer in that no one would be buying all the stuff they don’t need but hey that’s kind of the plan…]

Just imagine providing clean water to the planet for 2% of an American Christmas.

[PS I have a vague plan in my head for a sister site called the matrimony conspiracy.]

Losing my religion

Two things:

First – just finished Malachi O”Doherty’s Empty Pulpits – a look at the decline of traditional religion in Ireland. Largely from a Catholic point of view, looking at the huge change in Catholic Ireland’s relationship with it’s mother church.

There are indeed many empty pulpits, there aren’t that many seminarians coming through St Patrick’s Maynooth as Zoomtard will tell you. As an aside – I used to play in a football league in Queen’s as a student (one of the many ways to avoid actually studying) and we had a good relationship with the Catholic chaplaincy’s team to whom we would sing “you’ve only got one priest” to the tune of “there’s only one (insert famous footballer’s name here).”

He rightly points many of the deficiencies in the church and our relationship to it – both in the past glory days and in the present times. Worth reading – if not necessarily always agreeing with. I understand Catholicism poorly so it was good for me.

Second –  just watched William Crawley’s Losing our religion on the iPlayer – charting both his own and Northern Ireland’s changing/declining relationship with religion. (Though you must forgive his James Bond pose on the front page of the iPlayer link)

I remember William from a few church events I played music at where he always played the role of the devil’s advocate and the provoker of deep thoughts and questions about so many basic aspects of faith. I must say I always really appreciated it as a chruch kid who took a while to own his faith.

He now describes himself more as a questioner and on a journey than a believer and has no affiliation with the institutional church. This is no doubt a growing segment in the country but the intellectualism that goes with it will not seem relevant to the majority of Northern Irish punters. Belief in God is still very popular (whether or not that’s a good or a bad thing depends on how you look at it) – though the definition of God is far less precise and people’s engagement with the traditions of religion have declined.

And while critical of our religious institutions (and there is no shortage of that these days – most often with good reason) he remains positive about the idea of faith – and even some of it’s more modern representations.

Northern Ireland’s relationship with religion is no doubt changing. I hope mainly for the better. We have not always been honest with our faith – too many of us choosing nominalism over engagement with a life-changing faith and tradition. Us Protestants have too often busied ourselves with defining what we are not (ie not Catholic), our belief as much a statement of identity as of faith.

Northern Ireland needs the church – in the Holy Catholic Church sense of the term. Though perhaps the decline of its institutions is no bad thing. The decline of the institutions unwilling to take ownership of former and current sin; unwilling to be redeemed and transformed as they would call their members to be –  for these institutions to be left behind is surely no bad thing.

Faith and Christianity will likely be here for the duration. If we lose out on religion as depicted in this book and this documentary then perhaps that is no bad thing.

Last days of my bitter heart

I have big issues with happiness. Not that I object to it in principle. Enjoyment is pretty much what Christianity is all about for me, joy is a moral good and all that.

What i mean is that i find myself uncomfortable with it. I am suspicious of it. I listen to too much miserable music, i read too many miserable books, i love miserable movies. But never mind this, i have eyes to see that life is a long (though occasionally brief) stream of pain and suffering interrupted by periods of peace and joy.

Perhaps i jest. Perhaps.

Not that i am describing my life. My life is a long stream of privilege and blessing interrupted by the odd major life event but mainly lots of melancholic wallowing.

But when I am joyful i always have one eye on the pain. You can’t have the sweet without the sour (baby) as i learnt from Vanilla Sky. Or rather, Vanilla Sky articulated what i already supposed.

This has become more of an issue in the past year. Since Da dying and all that.

I struggle to remember him without bitterness – not in the sense of anger or regret, more in the sense of sadness. I cannot have the joy and the thankfulness without the pain of remembering.

Yes i rant about this a lot. About memory and its effect on me. That the older I get the more memories i accumulate and the slightly more unhinged i become.

Lewis wrote in the great divorce about how people wanted to bring hell with them to heaven. That hell wanted a veto on heaven. That because there was pain, there could be no joy.

So why does my memory of pain (not only Da, but all the horrible things that happen to people i love every day) get to veto joy?

Surely it’s not a question of veto? That something or someone should be able to shout down the whole affair. Yes there is truth that it’s rare to find the sweet without the sour but they do at least get to co-exist, not one eliminating the other.

Anyhow.

I took a long walk here in the sun and i think i had my first purely joyful and thankful memories of dad. Toes in the ocean and all that.

One love people get ready

As Col 4:15 would put it, a few of us meet on a sunday morning, before all the real chruches get going and take a wee look at the book of Acts and spend some time trying to work out “what it all means” so to speak.

Today we were covering what i always thought of as Christian communism, (before i had much of an idea of what either “Christian” or “communism” meant…) and in particular its application to how we live our lives.

And the phrases that kind of struck us most were “…the believers were one in heart and mind…” and “…they shared everything they had…”

Which led to a few genius suggestions by Fin:

1) we’re in such disarray and disagreement as a body of believers that we spend all our time trying to reconcile the church to itself instead of spending time trying to reconcile the world to GOD.

2) we may actually be better (or at least more comfortable) with sharing our possessions than sharing our lives together.

As a group of people we are not particularly materialistic, we have the usual young, enthusiastic Christian aversion to money and materialism – not that we necessarily live that out particularly well, we’re just uncomfortable with it in a distant sort of way.

Most of us do have a bit of an issue when it comes to doing life together. The people i love the most and count as my closest friends are exceptionally busy people. Life is there to be lived, and the world there to be changed and they are doing their very utmost to bring that about. I envy and applaud them for it. They put me to shame.

As a result they are often quite tricky to get round for dinner or get out to the pub for a night.

I miss them.

Too often, i have no idea what is going on in their lives. Yes, i know they are doing this and that, and that so and so’s married, and so and so’s having a baby, and so and so’s doing this job, but that doesn’t tell me very much about what is actually going on in their lives.

We need to figure out some way of doing this better.

If we do not figure out how to love each other then we are useless to the world around us. Though of course it’s also true that unless we get round to loving the world around us we’re just a bunch of narrow-minded self-preserving bastards.

It is interesting that amongst us (in our wee group so to speak…), different folk have different issues. Some need to learn that loving those outside the church is no excuse to avoid loving those inside the church. And there are some (like myself) who need to learn to take it outside so to speak. Just because I find it exceptionally difficult to make contact and relationship in the current context does not give me reason to hide behind my books and blogs.

What i meant to get round to but will save for another day (it’s 1am, i’m on call and the only people sober in the department are the staff – at least they were when i left), is something that has been bothering me for some time. I love my theology, and my books and erudite ideas by what seems like the whole (or at least important part of the) population of Maynooth. But when it comes to the 23 year old with 5 kids, no GCSEs, a life time of benefits and an alcohol problem (never mind an individual, how about a whole community…) – how do i explain the gospel? And more than flippin words – what does the gospel even look like from their point of view?

It must be love

the cross of CHRIST should teach us that the only alternative to violence is self-giving love, willingness to absorb violence in order to embrace the other in the knowledge that truth and justice have been, and will be upheld by GOD.

Exclusion and Embrace

Miroslav Volf

[only 10 pages left, honestly…]


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