tag : bright yellow-green apples: October 2004

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Saturday, October 30, 2004

suptle devices?

ok baptised dreams was a bit of a notebook sketch, here's what became of it; body. That nicely rounds off the two other motifs that I've been trying to work in over the last year or so, makes them a pretentious alterpiece or summit. Themes of embodied grace, God in the other, relationships, ect.

Friday, October 29, 2004

baptised dreams

I wouldn’t be able to claim to know what it means to fall. Treading on warm earth, prepares the way of pressing close with another with unexpected release. But it's only in the telling that I found, as in the times the image comes to us all, with clouds of mystery in stead.

The first sign was when you said that you
thought something was missing.
Meaning draining a little of
the life out of life? Yes

You said you noticed how the mere mention
of instincts have been very attractive.
I said maybe that’s just the way things happen
when souls collide.
When you’re missing something you
thought would be there any time;
you get anxious and try to compensate
with constructed affection.
But quickly that becomes dross
in comparison with what’s growing.

Once there were mere words and philosophies
& the formula ruled.
But not this time -
now we’re dealing in the real thing,
100 per cent sharp tangs of feeling.
It’s a rare state, but must be.

I have not come across
anything which unbalances my calm -
there was a gentle thread,
and events were to length away.
But lately I became agitated,
trying to assimilate what had become of me.
Things burst in with insistance
and banged on my minds door
till they were alowed freedom to roam.
Maybe I’ll find some perspective
through living this.
Maybe I'll find this confusion
leads somewhere.
Maybe we’ll come round one day
to the mutual regard by some grace.

Of where we are in life.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

small tribute

I was scrambling through heather bushes on a steep slope this afternoon, when the lady I was gardening for informed me that John Peel had died. I’m sat here writing while I listen to the tributes on radio 1 this evening, with selections of all the variety we used to get the pleasure of hearing on his slot. Now it's possible to sentimentalise. But to me he was a rare commodity in music radio - someone who was as much a pleasure to listen to as the songs he played, having great warmth and wit. (On BBC radio 1 and radio 4; not forgetting Home Truths of course). And in terms of the music he played, it was always an unexpected eclectic mixture of the very best new stuff. Possibly the best presenter around, a real loss, I’ll miss him hugely. As many have already said, thanks John.

Monday, October 25, 2004

two sides to a cause

figure 45.7. one bit, many missions

I’ve resisted the urge for a fair while, now it’s time to jump on the Windsor report bandwagon. From my own position here’s what most strikes me about the state of things: There are two concerns of equally great importance – and both come under the absolute need for the Church to be a space where people can live in loving regard and the pathos of mutual compassion.

On the one hand I believe the Church has to be open to people who happen to be homosexual. Christians should be actively seeking to allow them to share in it’s community life, and working to be with them where they are in the life of wider society. To do otherwise is to loose sight of our mandate to live relationships of love, and to bring that love into our world, where cultural perspectives and variety of self are all relative to this divine love. Furthermore if it’s going to be true to it’s mission of everyone being equal before Christ, there’s a blatant hypocrisy in closing off parts of Church activity and service to gay people who are in it or feel the call of God to join in the mission. Allowing gay Christians to be members and yet kicking up lots of dust as soon as one might be a bishop makes a minor mockery of the communion and priesthood of all people.

On the other we cannot just disregard the body of Christ and each go our own way of action and intention if something awkward comes up. Sectarian groups might make it easier for us to do what makes us comfortable, and allow us not to be too challenged by the other, but ultimately will do nobody much good. There will always be differences on anything and everything, and I’m convinced there’s a better way than either trying to make everyone the same or happily ignoring the other. The body is just a collection of isolated bits with no living dynamic unless our variety has some sort of integrated collective existence. To allow that to break down, in this case through the Anglican Church disintegrating on one cause, would be a crime against the holy spirit that moves us in relationship.

I hope that both these might be possible, despite the insistence of some that one or the other is the ‘real issue’ and should somehow be our chief concern. People matter, no matter their demographic. And this means the difficult reality that we cannot disregard anyone along the way to trying to bring about the kingdom of God, no matter which way we see that as becoming manifest.

Friday, October 22, 2004

in praise of flux

figure 6.7. unpredictable currents

Certainty is somewhing which seems to be highly valued, so many look for a fixed rock to rest upon. Bearing in mind some balast is needed, a centre of gravity to ensure we're not all individually anarchic atoms, I wonder if it can go too far to the safety default. I remember someone once saying that a kite needs string to work, and that's true to some extent. But what gives it life and purpose is the wind.

"The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going..." John 3. 8.

There might well be something reassuring in in the words of Jesus for these times of aparently constant change. There is a resource for living with the fear of change if we're willing to trust to the helper, willing to be open to movement by the wind, wherever it might blow, for it to use change for the good. And anyway, isn't it better to be flexible to the wind's prompting than surely certain and fixed against it's possibility? The spirit tends to subvert our expectations when involved in our lives.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Healthy religion through eating well

Figure 9.10 more salt needed?

We were graced with a former president of the Methodist Conference at chapel today, who talked in terms of the importance of food as a central locus for our community and relationally focused faith. He noted, most interestingly, that the only time Jesus gave any ritual or liturgical instruction as such was in telling his followers to eat food and drink together, and to remember him with them in doing so. The pattern was set in him being with others, eating along side them - the very most basic, and thus most potent, lived act. Which also gave it a latent potential for subverting the status quo.

I was writing a letter in the front room this evening, with the rest of the family watching Michael Palin doing his thing in the Himalayas. At one point in their climb through the mountains he was eating together with his guides round a campfire, and they stopped before starting. He practiced a prior act with them, which involved offering the food to the divine, to the Buddha, and to all people by waving a drop out into the air from his finger.

What am I thinking as I sit here, still absorbing these threads as they weave together at the end of the day? Well, maybe a sacred nexus can be spun around the eating of food together, that has potential to connect with us all in the most liberating way. Not least because eating is the preserve of everyone on the planet, is not brought out of religious communities, but is an act of encounter. How do so many Jewish people across the world still actively celebrate their narrative of liberation and freedom? They gather round tables and eat. How do many Christians across the world still actively celebrate their narrative of liberation and freedom? They gather round tables and eat. This needs taking out of single events into our yearly and weekly lives respectively, to carry that charge of holiness through our front rooms and park benches. And I think the earthy act of the trekking guides offers a little model from which we might be able to practice more ad hoc ‘food religion’. I know the sensory stimulation involved makes the sacred that bit more tangible, more earthed. And little everyday rituals could help along this way of encountering together.

Someone say “Pharisee!”, I’ll just say grace.

Related thoughts can be seen here: link, link, link.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


I must just flag up two songs I've been enjoying hearing on the radio recently, every so often there's a single that really catches my attention sharply. "Drop It Like It’s Hot" has Snoop Doggy Dogg at his witty larconic best, with great synth and soporific beats by Pharrell Williams. "Electronic Battle Weapon 6" by The Chemical Brothers is an intricate but tough self contained landscape of rhythms, slotted and interlocking together in various patterns.

intoxicated spiritual leader

Figure 6.4. intense metaphors

A week is a long time in politics. I could talk about my recent outrage at finding the Jenson clan spout abominable tosh as Reform gather in my very own county . I could talk about how much I want George Bush to lose the election in the USA. Familiar soapboxes, they can wait for now.

I was poking around Scarthin, favoured bookshop of both myself and fellow northerner Heather, over the weekend. And I came across a collection of the writings of the great 13th centaury Islamic Sufi mystic Rumi. Too good a chance to miss, I was away and reading as I stepped out into Cromford rain. He seems to have been quite frenzied at times, by all accounts, and inseparably close a companion called Shams - such that he came to see his friend as actually part of him in some transcendent sense after he disappeared. Singular people indeed, craziness is a flexible definition. I might post a few examples, some of you may have noticed when I flagged up Moses and the Shepherd a while ago, here’s a first offering from Rumi‘s canon:

There is a community of the spirit.
Join in, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street,
and being the noise.

Drink all your passion,
and be the disgrace.

Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.

Open your hands
if you want to be held.

Sit down in this circle.

Quit acting like a wolf, and feel
the shepherd’s love filling you.

At night, your beloved wanders.
Don’t accept consolations.

Close your mouth against food.
Taste the lover’s mouth in yours.

You moan “she left me.” or “he left me.”
Twenty more will come.

Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!

Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.

Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.

There’s a strange frenzy in my head
of birds flying,
each particle circling on its own.
Is the one I love everywhere?

Drunks fear the police,
But the police are drunk too.

People in this town love them both
like different chess pieces.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

a bit of current affairs


figure 2.5. sorry Tony, no WMD here either

What do you mean there aren't any? Next I'll be hearing that things aren't going quite according to expectation in Iraq, or that they're still hurridly trying to come up with organisational plans ad hoc, and then I really won't know what to think any more.