Archive for the 'thinking' Category


On the few occasions that I stop long enough to consider even hearing the still small voice of God, I think of kindness.

In the sense of kindness, gentleness, self-control  that is. Fruits of the spirit and all that.

I once quoted Vonnegut from one of his novels where the character Eliot Rosewater is baptising/christening and gives his one rule for living on planet earth

God damn it you’ve gotta be kind…

I find myself deeply moved by kindness. Kindness observed amongst those I know and don’t know. The kindness of the people I work with in how they deal with people. And I lament my failings in dealing with those I love; how quick I am to anger or criticism or jibes – more in the name of humour and superiority than grace.

I get angry at the lack of kindness, most often exhibited on occasions where I work in the hospital. The “God damn it..” in exasperation and anger seems fitting.

The art of medicine

What do we mean when we invoke the subtle and ever so nebulous “art of medicine”?

Most people consider it an essential skill and part of being a good doctor to be able to correctly apply the art of medicine in the appropriate situation.

When we invoke the art of medicine with either patients or colleagues I think it can mean one of the following:

  • we’re about to do something that the doc who sent them in; the guidelines; the evidence; the protocols, would tell us not to do
  • the evidence tells us to do two different and mutually exclusive things
  • there is no evidence to what we’re about to do
  • we don’t know what’s wrong with the patient and we’ve just made up a diagnosis
  • we’ve got bored and done this

Calling it art is perhaps appropriating more value from the word “art” than is justified. But calling it bullshit wouldn’t go down to well either.

Perhaps for emergency docs it’s more like what Jerry Hoffman means in this talk that the art in medicine (my term not his) is our ability to make decisions in the absence of information.

The willingness to make and act on decisions made in the absence of adequate information requires a certain mixture of 2 things. One perhaps more valuable than the other

  • character; in the big muscular, practised Aristotelian sense
  • balls like a bull on steroids; though I find it odd that making a call as an act of bravado can be considered a positive trait
I confess that in any given moment I’m not entirely sure which of the two facets is at work in any resus room decision I make.

Under Control

I suppose it would seem natural for the individual to sense how much their life has changed; how much of a different person they’d become. Though not always. Perhaps the change could be obvious to the others in their life and a mystery to the individual

I certainly feel that I am profoundly changed from the person I was in the post new-zealand/dying father/pre-transfarmer days.

I feel the change but struggle to quite put my finger on it. Navel-gazing introversion and poorly done existential reflection seemed par for the course for me.

Yet no longer it seems. (he says in the quiet of the back garden with the sky darkening, over a coffee, listening to evening birdsong).

When I stop and reflect these days there seems only a state of perpetual bewilderment. The self-contented smugness seems no more.

When I was single I was, on many occasions, fairly content. To the extent that I suspect I did beleive I was the captain of my soul

These days I often feel a slight awe and wonderment at how the hell I got here and what has happened to me by my understanding of myself has been somewhat altered.

My proposal is that my life – at least the married part of my life is a little bit out of control. The presence of the other and my relationship and commitment to them is beyond me.

It seems only appropriate to be bewildered by such a thing, especially for one who is a hyper-control person by nature.


Money won’t change you

Transfarmer tends to ask good questions. And when i shut up long enough to consider them then good stuff happens

We were talking the other night about money and class and how we should live as followers of Jesus

Transfarmer asked if we should seek poverty to the extent that we come to depend on the charity of others?

I know some people – particular missionary folk who have made conscious choices of that kind – but most of us simply give out of our plenty instead of so arranging our lives so that we have less money.

Then I was reading in this little book – Finding Peace by Jean Vanier. (where the incredible story Des hommes et des dieux is also referred to)

He told the story of a group of nuns who have spent their lives living in a tent herding goats, because this is how the Tuareg people of Niger lived. The nuns felt called to be with the Tuareg people and once that was decided then living their way of life was a no-brainer of a question.

That God has a “heart” for the poor is pretty clear and if we follow Jesus we will inevitably be led towards the poor.

If we are called to be with certain parts of our community then perhaps that should shape how we live and what we do with our money.


After Virtue – 1

If i’m ever at a loose end in trinity of an evening I tend to wander into the library and slowly work my through Alisdair Mcintyre’s After Virtue. It’s been about 4 months now and i’m only on chapter 4 so it may take a while.

Last night while waiting for a lecture by this guy I came across a fascinating bit in chapter 4 about the origin of the word moral.

According to Mcintyre there was no word in Latin appropriately translated as moral till we translated one backwards into latin.

There is a latin word moralis that is linked (but not the same) as our word moral. But even moralis is another invented word (from Cicero) to translate the Greek word ethikos.

Here’s where the distinction from our word moral comes in: Ethikos is taken to mean “pertaining to character” and was understood as

a set of dispositons to behave systematically in one way rather than another. To lead one particular kind of life

The very idea that we could abstract “the moral of the story” from the character of the person is such a new idea that we had to invent a new word for it.


Bird stealing bread

About 10 days ago now someone pinched a couple of bags of coal from our back yard. In the middle of the night when we were sleeping.

This made me notice a few things:

1) i felt a sense of fear and violation and mistrust. Why would someone steal my coal? I started to suspect my neighbours just because they could see into my garden.

2) a move towards increasing security around the house. I got a lock and put it on the back gate, I’m a bit more cognisant about whether doors are locked. This is faulty on two levels. One – it’s closing the door after the horse has bolted and two – the way we do security makes us feel more secure but I doubt it really stops much.

3) it made me consider the idea that a peaceful society depends not on law or security but on a willingness to live peacefully (or a reluctance to steal) from one another.


God as a retard

[Apologies for the non-book or song related title for the blog but it was too good not to use.]

Following on from the last post:

Now for some leaps of logic and thought (at least on my part)

If those with the learning difficulties bear the image of god what does that mean for me to know God as someone with trisomy 21? (incidentally – great photo when you follow the link)

God’s face is the face of the retarded

Suffering Presence P178

I confess God’s face is far more like mine. Mine after some ace photoshopping at least.




May 2020