tag : bright yellow-green apples: December 2004

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

Friday, December 31, 2004

top ten of top tens (well, nearlly!)

Before I can turn to the next year, I need to clear out the dustry corners that I've been sitting in since June this year when this tatty site first started. So in a desperate Q style annual listathon, here's some top 10's of 2004 in no particulat theme - I just like art, hense the first two, and decided to do some shameless self-promotion under the guise of a helpful menu, hense the last:

3 minute singles, & others that last a wee bit longer

(1) 99 problems (Jay Z)
(2) Electronic battle weapon 7 (The Chemical Brothers)
(3) The rat (The Walkman)
(4) Drop it like it’s hot (Snoop Doggy Dog & Pharell Williams)
(5) Take me out (Franz Ferdinand)
(6) Destroy rock and roll (Mylo)
(7) Freakin’ out (Graham Coxom)
(8) Half man, half machine (Goldie Lookin’ Chain)
(9) Four kicks (Kings of Leon)
(10) The letter (P J Harvey)

metalytical poems, other's works I like

(1) The pilgrimage to hells gate/Kalom Sha’r
(2) Unreality/ precious/ Becoming Buddhist by accident
(3) On belief
(4) Time
(5) I am the cliché
(6) Damavand
(7) In search of the divine postcode
(8) The exile
(9) All about me
(10) Musical tapestry/one man's brahman is another man's Christ

menu of comment, posts I'm most pleased with

(1)subjective apokalusis
(2)Godly tower of babel
(3)following the prophet
(4)market forces
(5)the word in the world
(6)two sides to a cause
(7)the tree of life
(8)a new kind of ecumenicalism
(9)kerrygma & dogma
(10) Beenie man & principes

That'll do methinks. Most importantly, let me just drop in a quick blessing for you all: Here's to 2005, may it bring you much goodness and interesting times...

Friday, December 24, 2004

flesh and bone outgrow rationality

figure 3.4. it's the mystery, stupid

It’s nearly that day again. And since there’s lots of comment on the virgin birth (here and here), I thought I’d give a final few small musings on the meanings of advent, the close anticipation of the coming of Emmanuel.

In Mary we have a sign and vision of the Church, in all ages and now. At it's best, it's a carrier of Christ, bearing him into the world. The still hidden light within Mary is part of her prayer in the world, and it should it be ours too - it was prayer that brought the paradigm-shifting fertility to a barren situation in the stories of individuals (from Sarah to Elizabeth) and communities (the Israeli society). God is there in the spirit, the helper, organically part of our very being, in the dynamic relationship of the divine trinity, in our core as people trying to live love. Let's try to consider just how cataclysmic even a small event like a birth can be, as we deliver the pregnant God-in-human amongst our people through enacting the kingdom of God.

Monday, December 20, 2004

doing the right

Yes I know this is a quote from Spiderman 2, of all things. But what the hey, it’s an important lesson I’ve finally learnt tonight:

“sometimes we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams”

Saturday, December 18, 2004

in praise of insanity

figure 4.1. it takes all sorts

Isaiah had a vision of the throne of God, it's shuddering jolt almost overwelmed him, yet set him on a course to principally challenge so much around him. There are some artists around today who’s vision is a little bit wild, who see the world to a bit of a tangent, and shine it back in our faces anew. Indeed, I found a quote in Mass Culture that tells us where we need to turn at times like this, when all around us there are people trying to claim us:

“Our most reliable guide to the holy and eternal now is not the men shouting the latest odds at his stall in the marketplace of personalities, but the artist, poet, or priest who stands at an individual angle to the traffic-chocked highway and looks obliquely into the ravaged and aspiring heart of men. This is the voice for which we must keep an ear in tune.”

I think it’s about time someone celebrated the poetry of Phil, not to be confused with Phill, who also goes under the stage name of Phoenix. I respect him hugely for his ability to weave fantastical panoramas that tell the stories of our time with the very rawest of elements. The freely lyrical symbolism is literally sublime, even as so gritty. Many pieces can be found in the 24-7 forum poetry space, and this dream tale of struggle against demons is a good example of his rich verse:

The pilgrimage towards Hell’s gate

Reality phases as Engeoff’s ghost remains caught between two worlds.
Floating across the bleak non-existence of the Void.
The cold mists slowly parting to reveal man’s heart.
Hammers, spades, tools of all kinds collected into a haphazard pile.
People of all kinds, striking out with swords at the tools- steel striking steel.
Lost in their efforts, as amused demons erupt with laughter at this absurd site.
[*Flick- It is paramount that the Creationist truth prevails against the lies of secular science- the preacher concludes- Flick*]
Further down the path the mists retreat against the onslaught of absurdity.
A trio of men sitting down, backs against a great gnarled tree.
There bodies abandoned to pain as small insects slowly bite away at skin and flesh.
Yet faces remain locked in smiles, as the trio exchange jokes, without the slightest move to escape the insects.
[*Flick- I feel depressed, yet as Christians I should show I’m different by the joy I now hold…I must not a be good Christian, I feel depressed- such thoughts are circular-Flick*]
Leaving the suicide tree, the gates of hell come to dominate the landscape.
A closer look, journeys end, a pilgrimage of sorts.
That defiant gate of steel, those walls of blackest night.
Symbols of death, bleeding pain into the recesses of the mind.
A myriad of demons collected on the walls, arrows notched and blasphemous voices raised.
Yet here reside a further group of peoples, running to and fro.
Shields raised high, but being not quite big enough as the arrows rain down.
The captives are paraded through those gates, as these people still seek cover.
[*Flick-So Faith falls into an obsessive set of principles for sin management-Flick*]
The journey incomplete, Engeoff’s ghost passes through that gate to view within.
The sight of that proud gate melts into this scene of decimation.
Never again will the Blood War be fought on heaven’s fields it seems.
Thief’s running through the streets, ready to plunder the halls of Hades of its souls.
Warriors, priests, the wild people of God roar with fury for the mission.
The pilgrimage finished as Engeoff’s ghost finds where he came to be.
Floating across the splintered remains of Hell’s front gate.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

the festive spirits


Figure 4.5. get back to what you don't know

Sarah’s been doing some public thinking about the whole Christmas thing - the way it’s often going through its own apparent fall into a sanitised & commercialised mire, and how we might begin it’s redemption.

I reckon maybe the way out of this deepening rut might involve diving back into the pagan roots that Christianity shares our latter day Christmas with. Lets get ourselves acquainted with the raw elements - the warm candles and lights, the dark cold openness out there, the freshness of evergreen leaves, each other in all our flawed uniqueness. So much publicly recognised Christianity at this time is neutered, by familiarity and frilly edged sentimentality. Little blond angels and glittery stars on tasteful cards abound. The primal elements without word could enable us to slip past that docile religion and get basic - to the very stuff that God created from in the narratives of Genesis. Maybe in this tactile embodied celebration, where the schmaltz of cheap tv films and buying stuff is marginalized, we could uncover the spirit of God in our lives. As ever, Rowan Williams writes so well of Jesus:

“…one of the most mysterious bits of our belief in God’s coming in flesh among us: For nine months, God was incarnate on earth, God was human, in a completely hidden way, as a foetus growing in Mary’s womb.“

As we’re reflecting on advent, I think this very earliest story of Christ’s life maybe gives a pointer to how we might nurture new life out of the Christmas that the markets try their best to take for their own. The spirit might bring Christ in our very midst, where even the word was silent and there was just being.

Friday, December 10, 2004

an account of that day

Adios for now, I’m heading down to visit the lovely Yvonne and Vegar for a long weekend . Everything’s in progress, I‘ll drop you a few lines to mull over till I return on Tuesday:

upstairs, there’s the last great threat
facing me down with light behind it
it’s big and it's bold
one false mood and I may be running
for many a time to come
the world of projection
seems to give little of the present
or do I simply draw a state of mind onto my retina?

He walked in the desert and saw tempters
are all figments without use and mission?
the curse of symbolism might well
sneak in it’s own obstinate blessings
when I'm looking through the window

Sunday, December 05, 2004

a subjective apokalupsis

Figure. 4.9. right here right then

“eschatology though? what on earth for? i don't personally like anything eschatological. it's not only boring, it's beyond us and almost entirely inconsequential. who really cares what will happen in the end? does it affect us now? should it? too much of the church focuses on our eternal reward and so on. really i don't care if we go to heaven or are just worm's meat. it has no bearing on me. i'll be dead. let's focus on life BEFORE death.” Ash

Maybe it’s just our different perspectives here, but I feel the need to speak up for eschatology - or at least what I‘ve understood it as. Here goes…What is eschatology, but the intersection of future hopes with present realisation? There is much in the Church would which be rightly condemned as the very empty speculative distraction Jesus warned against. It is also in him that I think we might be able to salvage an inspiring vision.

I’m very sympathetic to the analysis of Geza Vermes, who places so much of Jesus’ actions and life-mission in terms of a strongly urgent eschatology. Put simply, the impetuous presented is of a man who expected the world to be wrapped up very soon. But this near obsessive urgency, in the face of a view to things being fulfilled, is not the prime motivation for my respect for traditions of eschatology. It comes down to this phrase, in it’s two main forms:

The kingdom of God is at hand
The kingdom of God is within you

This intertwined duality of interpretation show that very balance we walk, the same traced out by Christ. The pictures we have, visions of our lives set in colourful narratives full of strange imagery are not an end to themselves, nor plain future prediction to make us secure of having tabs on history. Revelation, the books of the prophets, they’re highly charged narratives which catch us up in the mission of God that stretches out either way before and behind us - and which finds its pivot always on us in the here and now.

This is not empty speculation, or self-satisfied assurance of our rightness at the end. It's pure poetry that tells our hopes in unsettling and urgently present ways, through stories that look to a hopeful overview. It’s fire, earth, creatures, ice, wind, gathered masses, water that rushes through us and charges our lives to take a place in the narratives of liberation and restoration that are the gospel’s raison d’etre. Heaven and hell are useless, adrift in the world of philosophy - but they are real and pertinent if manifest through our lives. The raindrops that make up a cloud. This is apocolypse in the truest sense.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004



Figure 5.7.a window onto the changing life

There’s been some really stimulating discussion on the garden as a picture of theology and our life of faith, here in AndyG's webloggy. Gardens are organic by nature, a garden without living element is really a contradiction in terms.

It’s a theatre of growth, where there’s constant living change. As one swath bursts up, blossoms and dies back to leave its seed heads, another comes to life and sets forth its shoots. Nothing is static, a dynamic of relationship exists between the various elements of herbs, shrubs, bedding, climbers, as they advance on and hold back with each other.

No matter your style and structures, there’s a sense of involvement in walking round through the garden pruning back, planting anew, mulching, watering, admiring. Without cultivation and real investment of yourself, then it becomes a shadow of its potential. They’re formed from a slow and constant collision of you and the elements - mutually shaping each other.

There’s a combination of deep personal investment and involving others, as you bring in guests to admire what’s going on. People feel a connection through the plants you’re appreciating together, together you find bonds through opening up your spaces together, in all their complex subtleties and personal associations.

Involvement can take any shape, the space is one of freedom to be who you want with the elements around - sit on the lawn, eat from the fruit plots, potter in the varied borders, lend a hand with any weeding, admire the colours of the bedding, gaze at the pond’s cool stillness. It’s where you can be yourself and with others equally - social and personal. Ideally it faces in as a self-contained & integrated whole and references, and interacts with it’s surrounding landscape in visual and physical dialogue.

They’re an unrealised collusion of centauries of history; various styles and ways from all over the world assimilated together unselfconsciously into what most serves the time and place and people concerned.