Many years ago I was invited to speak to a group of students at an art college.
The meeting was arranged by one of the art lecturers who thought art students should be aware of some of the ways Christianity had influenced the arts over many centuries. Most of the students were Marxists, materialists or agnostics. I gave a short address and then engaged in a ‘question time.’ After some vigorous debate I was asked what was core or central to Christian belief and practice. All I could think of was two words “the cross”. Continue Reading
Save the planet’, ‘care for creation’, ‘love the environment’ are some of the slogans we hear as the voice of concern gets louder for our beautiful, yet plundered and polluted planet.
Behind these concerns for our ecology there is a deeper question; is there a purpose, a plan or indeed a mind behind the solar system? Are we just the result of freak accidents of cosmic collisions or is there more? Continue Reading
We live in a time where obsessions abound; fabulous fashion, funky food, fierce football and flourishing finance. We may argue that these obsessions are fairly harmless and mere cultural shifts in an ever changing secular society.
May I invite you to consider another obsession that I think is bringing with it some negative consequences to our quality of life and the common good? I am referring to the current obsession with the body. Continue Reading
When I bought my first car, I was encouraged to do regular checks on key components of the car. Checking the water, oil and tyres is standard practice to maintaining a healthy functioning car.
Just as my car needs regular attention, so do other aspects of my life. I try and go to the doctor and the dentist at regular intervals, so that my physical and dental health is in good shape. In more recent months, I have been thinking about how I check my levels of empathy. Continue Reading
In the church, we talk a lot about loving and caring. It is core to the message of the gospel.
God cares, Jesus modelled compassionate care, and we are called to follow his example.
In recent months, after the death of my daughter, I have been reflecting on the care I have received and the carelessness of some forms of caring and non-caring. It seems to be that sometimes when we think we are caring we are in fact bruising people. Caring is an art; let me give a few examples. Continue Reading
The Nobel Peace prize winner Alexandr Solzhenitsyn knew first-hand the harsh realities of suffering.
He spent over ten years imprisoned in a Soviet gulag. It seems that the daily deprivations of prison life were somehow able to stimulate a creative genius in him. His books are now literary classics. His novel, One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich, the book Solzhenitsyn considered his best, focuses on a prisoner, Shukov. This remarkable man accepted horror, pain and suffering as normative. A typical day would consist of forced labour, tiny rations and brutal guards, with disease and death never far away. Continue Reading
Some years ago I received several prank calls, the ones where the phone rings and there is no one on the other end.
It was rather unsettling to answer and find silence, when I expected a voice. For some of us, there are times when God appears silent. Maybe we have made an emergency call to God in the form of a desperate prayer and God didn’t seem to answer: we didn’t get the job we hoped for; the health of a loved one did not improve; or the conflict we faced got worse, not better.
In wrestling with God in prayer, we must recognise that God is not a divine Santa Klaus whose main job is to favourably answer all our requests. God is not at our beck and call. Disciples of Christ are invited to serve God and others, rather than behave like religious consumers who think that God should always be serving me.
Sometimes, I think that prayer is paradoxical; God answers prayer and God does not answer prayer. Jesus taught us to have a faith that will move mountains, not just smile at them. In the garden of Gethsemane, perhaps Jesus’ darkest moment before the cross, he agonised about doing God’s will. His trust in God is amazing, he cries out, “Abba Father, all things are possible for you”. Continue Reading