A post-Easter musing, loosely related to my previous posting about suffering ... courtesy of my bible notes from John Stott:
"I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as 'God on the cross'. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?
I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have had to turn away.
And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in God-forsaken darkness. That is the God for me!
He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered out world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us.
Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of this."
I'm afraid today's post, as I try and get back into the habit after an entire week's absence (shameful, I know), is regurgitated from one of my favourite Blogs, Stuff Christians Like.
The particular post in question, also regurgitated from a book (can you regurgitate regurgitated matter??? I don't know), is entitled 'The thing about being naked', although the bit I'm referring to isn't about nakedness. It's something of a rousing challenge to us creatives out there:
The Artist’s Life Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action. Do it or don’t do it. It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.
You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God.
Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution.
Give us what you’ve got.
(by the way, when I say 'creatives' I mean everyone - we're all creative whether we acknowledge it or not)
Well, the wait was finally over last week when the crew of Red Dwarf returned to our screens after nearly a decade's absence.
I was hopeful for a noteworthy comeback due to financing from Dave and improved production values since the last series. I got a sense that there was a concerted effort to get the long-running series back on it's feet with the desire to see a RD 'revival'. I read somewhere that successful re-runs of the show on the the Dave cable channel helped make it happen, showing that there was still a demand for this classic sci-fi comedy.
Sadly, what we got was something of a disappointment.
What didn't work for me:
- the crew are getting on a bit. Dave and Rimmer were showing their age (odd, since Rimmer is a hologram ... hmmm)
- a re-hash of old material (basically a reworking of the brilliant 'Back to Reality' story)
- tired jokes
- numerous references to better epidodes when RD was on BBC
- a three parter that felt like a one-parter uncomfortably sliced into thirds
- no Holly
What did work for me:
- the Blade Runner references
- Doug Naylor's cameo
- the return of the skutters
- that's it.
I think RD should be laid to rest forever. Each new episode has become more and more disjointed and disparate from the original two series from the late 80s. I have always maintained that series 1 and 2 were the best. The moment the BBC started shelling out more money, it seemed the writing took second place to shiny sets and special effects.
I don't deny there are gems in later series - Back to Reality, Dimension Jump and Gunmen of the Apocalypse, for example - but on the whole they just got sillier and sillier. Which is a shame, because the basic premise is a brilliant one. The idea that the last remaining human is a total slob, trapped on a gigantic spaceship light years from earth with the most annoying characters to keep him company is genius. For some reason, someone didn't know when to say 'enough is enough - let's do something new'.
To be fair to the BBC, though, they did commission Hyperdrive. Only running for two series, it blows the more recent incarnations of RD out of the cosmos. Ruddy hilarious!
For a while now, I have grappled with this question. Not that it has shaken my faith per se, but I have struggled to come up with an adequate response to those who might find the question a tricky one themselves.
I think I've found the answer, thanks to a very good resource I stumbled upon, God Questions? I found its response to one of Atheism's favourite attacks on faith a very balanced and intelligent one: Why doesn't God heal amputees? Obviously, there is bound to be a counter argument, but some people will never accept the truth however challenging (or obvious) it might be.
Suffering, pain and healing are always going to be a stumbling block for many, but what this article helps me to bear in mind when faced with these difficult questions is the eternal perspective of things. Our life in this world is temporary - so is all the hurt, pain and sadness (as well as the joy, happiness and pleasure). We are eternal beings, with a life in heaven to look forward to.
Of course, we should value our present life and live it to the full - but not hold too tightly to it, remembering our ultimate destination.
For the the praying types among you, I'd like to ask this - have you ever realised how much we say the word 'just' whenever we pray? You know the sort of thing:
- Lord, I 'just' want to lift up my friend Rollo to you...
- We 'just' want to meet with you tonight, Father...
- ...and I 'just' want to pray for the international noodle eating championships taking place in our church next week...
I do it loads. I can't help it, but I think I need to break the habit.
If you think about it, it's a bit lame really. God doesn't want us 'just' praying for stuff. Each time we communicate with Him, it's like a direct hotline to the Almighty. It's not phoning up Dominos for 'just' a meatball cheese combo . No - we should be boldly going up to Him and stating our prayers with a language that is humble-yet-confident, expectant-but-reverential. OK - easier said than done, but hopefully you get my point.
I think it is one of those foibles of the western church that many people are blissfully unaware of. Perhaps there should be a campaign set up to counter the use of 'just' in prayer. Something like 'Don't 'just' do it'.
Or maybe I'm overreacting. I'm sure there are plenty more things we get wrong with prayer, but I suppose God in His infinite wisdom and grace is willing to overlook our shortcomings (He's good like that).
I think all band names are either random, pretentious or unimaginative. I guess they have to be, because showbiz encompasses all of those three adjectives.
So I thought I'd have a go at offering up my own suggestions for names. I have checked them against MySpace, so as far as I know they are totally 100% original (and by the way, since I have written them in this blog, I have automatic copyright and so anyone who wants to use them must pay me £££s in royalties - ha!).
Last Thursday, I managed to finally get round to watching Monty Python's Holy Grail, which I thoroughly enjoyed (thanks to Marv for the pressie). Ruddy hilarious!
It is one of the many classics that I needed to see before I die (so one more crossed off the list, which is brilliant). One of my claims to shame is that, even though I am a former media studies student I have not yet seen the Godfather trilogy (tut-tut).
Anyway, a favourite scene of mine from MPHG is the one below, with a chortle-inducing little number that manages to incorporate the word 'indefatigable' into the lyrics (no mean feat).