Sunday, 30 May 2010

Jesus can wait... right?

The wife's asked if she can add a new dimension to this blog... occasionally chipping in with observations, quotes and maybe the odd recipe... but only ones that really work, not those really complicated ones that involve things like 'sweated pak choi' or a 'fricassé of three live geese and a small pineapple'...

Of course I said 'yes'... after all, she's the cornerstone of this bit of earthly life that I call 'home'... and celebrating with her is just as (more) important as anything else that I might write about on here. So, here's the first. Perhaps not quite what you might expect... but real life... and possibly more profound than you think at first glance...

Over to her:

... and I quote M - [on death]

"it's not that I'm scared of dying... I'm not... and I'm sure heaven's nice, or wherever it's going to be once God remakes the world... it's just that if dying means going to be with Jesus... and if I die now, or I die in 50 years time it's still going to be with Jesus... then Jesus can wait... right?"

Pick n' mix, bread sandwiches... and a good bowl of stew

What's your experience of Christian teaching?

Mine seems to have been largely one consisting of pick n' mix, or bread sandwiches... 

I love pick n' mix... it's redolent of a time when you could still buy sweets in quarters... and when a quarter only cost 23p and you could, therefore, get a pound of sugary sickness for less than £1... There's no feeling quite like turning up equipped to the cinema... diving your hand into the bag, not knowing what you were about to find... munching your way through a film... trying to balance the variety still in the bag, in the dark, without looking. Perhaps that was the key with pick n'mix... buying the right amount, and of the right sweets so that your bag emptied steadily, providing the perfect confectionery accompaniment to the progressing storyline... and didn't suddenly dry up, or dump you in a sea of hundreds and thousands covered milk buttons at the film's most exciting moment.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Loose fit, long life

In a past life (I've had several), I had a number of friends who were professional building conservationists.

Sometimes, this was a lot of fun... I seem to have made it a feature of my life since childhood to try and get into places that I'd normally be barred from (my favourite was the school boilerhouse) so there's a certain frisson to being mates with people who have keys to all kinds of buildings that the public aren't normally allowed to visit.

Sometimes it was much less fun. There was a lot of tedious standing around, tutting at the use of the wrong paint (not just type, but also hue... and sub hue... and apparently sub sub hue), the wrong bricks (colour, shape, size, manufacture and patterning are all very important here), the wrong pointing (apparently the cementy bit between bricks and the order in which they're glued together also matters) and a lot of other 'wrongs'...

There was also a lot of arguing over just how far back to take a restoration... being a bit of a child of nature I always used to like to suggest "to the original oak forest" - this was received with derision until they realised that I was serious. I'd rather look at a forest than a stately home any day.

However, there was one phrase that used to come up from time to time, and that was 'Loose fit, long life'... It's a phrase that particularly puzzled me, because it always seemed to be applied to the most ramshackle old buildings; the ones that look like they'd been out on a particularly committed Friday night on the town and crawled home to slump in a heap in a corner of their neatly manicured garden at 3 in the morning... but it was a phrase that always seemed to meet with universal approval.

"Grand building Gromit... ay... look at them winders... them beams... never see that now... no siree... loose fit, long life..."

... and everyone would nod and chew on their cloth caps...

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Two spheres... alike in... Kingdom?

If you've been following what's happening at the University this week, particularly with regards to the proposal to shut down the BSc in Deaf Studies, then you'll understand why I've not been writing much... 

Doing my normal 'job'... attending the protests... writing letters... going home to my family... all makes me ask an interesting question... how am I doing reconciling my 'work life' and all my other 'lives' with my 'faith life'?

I ask the question because I'm a firm believer that there should be no difference in the way that I approach life, and work, and God, and family, and anything else... I'm constantly haunted by the idea that, really, there should equally be need to create a division between any of these... that they are simply different facets of a single life; one that should be lived as an outworking of the Kingdom.

For example... I feel constantly challenged about why I have two blogs. Not, you understand, by other people... On the one hand, they are entirely too nice (perhaps they think I'm a blogaholic)... and on the other, when they discover what the other blog is about (the other one's here, just for information...) they're rather relieved that I haven't inflicted both on them after all!  

And yet I find it impossible to get away from the fact that there should perhaps only be one... to show my wrestlings with work to those outside of it... and (perhaps here's the greater pressure) to show my faith to those in my place of work.

And yet, I can't combine the two. Partly - as I demonstrated above - because you probably don't want to read about the ins-and-outs of my academic thinking... but more because the rules of engagement in different spheres of life are... well, different, and have to be treated differently.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Numbers and habits...

My grasp of higher mathematics is appalling, I lost the plot at integration (I see it a bit like Wizardry - you just seem to conjure numbers from other numbers... rather like in chemistry... when they started to pull Moles out of test-tubes...). However, having grown up on a diet of F1, Cricket and Top Trumps, I do understand the basic principle that seems to pervade most of reality... which is that bigger numbers win... It is, after all, a fundamentally accepted base-supposition of the universe that if my card bearing SpongeBob Squarepants has a giggle factor of 6, and your Squidward Tentacles card only has a giggle factor of 2... I get the right to prance about you like an oaf, making an 'L' shape on my forehead.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Returning to my pacifist outrage... those who do it better than me!

Following my acute personal discomfort and somewhat overpowering 'Menonite moment' related below at the way that a 'help for heroes' event was promoted as a 'good cause' in our church newsletter... It's something of a relief to find that I'm not the only one who struggles with the taken-for-granted OK-ness of church, and therefore also presumably 'C'hurch, support for the military - and also not alone in not quite knowing how to enunciate the tension between that and loving those who thinks it's fine.

What's good about the article in Christianity magazine (look down the page until you get to the Help for Heroes bit) is that they manage to do what I couldn't, and that's articulate the discussion without getting frustrated and annoyed at myself and everyone else and his cat...

31 Flavours

From 1992-3 and 1996-7 I worked for YWAM in a rural corner of Canada. There, of a humid, sultry summer's evening - if you could stand to be out at the same time as the mosquitoes - a really great thing to do was to drive into the nearby Cowansville (there are no cows - misleadingly) and visit the Baskin Robbins Ice-Cream Parlour.

I love ice-cream... Oh, how I love ice-cream... So, I considered it my mission (after all, I was a missionary, was I not)... to try each of the 31 flavours on offer.

Some weren't great. Root Beer for example - an acquired taste at the best of times and in ice-cream form rather like sucking on a frozen Elastoplast... bizarre in a cone.