Posts

Two Kinds of New Normal

Image
There are two kinds of new normal. There's the one that arrives in fanfare and is announced by everyone, often ushered in by a crisis; no one can miss this new normal. All eyes are fully open to the changes we must now get used to; perspex screens, masks and social distancing. There is another kind of new normal however that is much more subtle, it happens gradually over time like the boiling of a pot or the flavouring of a dinner. No one announces its arrival and once it's here no one really notices it as 'new' at all but only as what 'is' since we can't imagine or conceive of a world in which this normal doesn't exist.
These new normals are deadly and without canaries to warn us they'll end up killing us and dismantling our social structures. 
This thought occurred to me recently when reading Glynn Harrison's excellent book 'A Better Story' in it he points to many of the effects of the Sexual Revolution on society. The promise of the rev…

Doing is believing: the real reason why Covid-19 presents the biggest threat to the church for a generation

'Seeing is believing' goes the adage, but I don't think it's true.

Anyone who says 'I'd believe if only I saw...' isn't to be believed; they understand neither themselves nor the nature of their beliefs.

At first seeing may well lead to believing but only until believing becomes unpopular (socially or personally) and then suddenly (as if by magic) our sight is called in for questioning; excuses are made and belief will slip out the back door of doubt claiming 'I lost faith.'

The question is, do we lose it or just stop it?

Belief is less linked to sight than people realise and is instead linked more to our actions and our affiliations. On the one hand we believe what we repeatedly do and we do whatever we intuitively want to do; and what we want, is the result of our conditioning and our culture. On the other hand we believe what the communities we're part of make attractive for us to believe. We believe whatever our society has made plausibl…

On love, bows and arrows

The strength and effectiveness of an act can be measured by the degree to which love was the motivating factor. An arrow can be fired from a bow without much tension in the bowstring but its potency and impact will be limited. A man can do the right thing without much desire, perhaps out of a sense of duty but without proper motivation its impact will be limited.

Love sees the person in front of you and desires their good even at its own expense; love motivates a man to risk reputation, or to risk rejection and the degree to which love is the motivation the man's risk will be worthwhile or not. The seed once planted, flowers eventually.

Knowing I am loved is the key to how I live. I can live my life in such a way that I am craning for validation, or I can live my life from the position of already being validated and approved. The same act can be noxious or sweet according to the driving force behind it.

In Christianity I see that it's not just an act but it's intention and…

Thin vs Full

Image
Thin. This is the word I find myself reaching for to describe the experience of life and relationships over video rather than in person. Whether a time of prayer with friends, or an evening of games in 'gallery view' it has all the components of the real thing but none of the actual experience; I mean we're all there, visual versions of ourselves on a screen with all the same noises - the 'yes, amen' and the 'hey you cheat it's my turn!' but somehow it doesn't feel, well, real.

This time of perpetual digitisation is reinforcing for me the significance of the embodied life and it's driving home the importance of stressing that we're embodied creatures, not just machines and not just souls with shells.

Praying with friends over screens is the activity where I sense it the most. There is the same sounds and the same intentions but none of the same experience. Praying with others in the flesh is an intimate and life-giving expression of famili…

Strange

I am finding myself use the word 'strange' a lot to try to describe the way I feel as I, along with everyone else, try to process the Coronavirus pandemic. As a country, our schools closed three days ago and we're all trying to get our heads around the prospect of home educating our children for the next three months.

How do I feel about everything at the moment?

Ans: Strange. 

But strange isn't a feeling, and in fact as a word the more I see it on the page the more the word looks, well strange.

It isn't an emotion, and yet it feels very much like the right word to use. It relays the general disquiet I feel in my soul. I've become quite attached to the word like it 'gets' me, it sums up the mood and manner of the hour. But what's behind it? I resonate with the word for sure, but it isn't good word to communicate actual experience and emotion. It's a word that essentially means 'I don't know' but it's a word that makes honest …

Failure

I'll let you into a secret. Most months I feel like I'm failing. I live with an expectancy that sooner or later someone somewhere will call me out and point out that everything I've ever done in ministry has been wrong and that I cannot and should not have done all the things I've done. More than that, I'm half expecting it to be true that quite frankly everything I've tried to do over the years has amounted to next to no improvement or advance in anyone's life or the kingdom of God. O how I'd love to know what a better, more prepared, skilled and gifted and experienced person would do with my job; I'll copy them.

I don't say this to elicit cries of 'Oh poor you, that's not true - you're not a failure.' it's just how I feel.

The thing is, I've felt like this the entire time I've been in ministry and in whatever aspect of ministry I've worked in. When I worked with children and ran the Kidz Klub and Sunday children…

A Subtle Shift

I don't know what I think.

I've sat down to write but don't know why, nor do I know exactly what it is I want to process in this writing. I could let loose a stream of consciousness on the screen and stand back afterward to see what unfolded (another blog sat in 'draft' stage forever perhaps?). Or I could try and say something. But sometimes 'saying something' feels contrived and my mind doesn't think as freely as it otherwise would. I can set out to write sometimes and appear as though I'm exploring and musing and 'fellow travelling' but when I do this, I know all along where I'm heading; and so the journey isn't as free and loose as I'd like it to be.

I've returned home from another evening's discussion in which a diverse group of people expressed a diverse range of beliefs on a (you guessed it) diverse range of themes. I've come home trying to filter through what I've heard and I'm now trying work out what …