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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Online forgiveness... via Twitter

Some random jottings as I just noticed that #sorryjesus is trending on twitter. If you look at the hashtag there are hundreds of people apologising for things they have done (or not done as the case may be) most of them for not spending more time with Him in the first place.  Isn't it funny that something like this starts and we all join in happily. Happily speaking out our woes and worries to Jesus. That is, by typing them in 140 characters...

My first reaction was one of irritation thinking, for goodness sake does it take a Twitter hashtag to get you all asking for forgiveness? You could just do that anyway, in the privacy of your own head. But then, why are people responding to this topic? Is it part of our current culture of 'living our lives in public': twitter/facebook/myspace and so on? Or is actually a valid appraoch to God? I am actually being serious BTW. If the church needs more relevance in todays society, isn't using social media a perfect way forward? And if God is always relevant, and as relevant today as he was 2000 years ago, then wouldn't He be using facebook and twitter to reach people? Not that I am suggesting God started the trend obvs...;)

If these people are writing these tweets with meaning, will God forgive them? I mean He is omnipresent, so surely he can access Twitter, right?

For some, especially the younger generation, the digital age is encompassing their whole lives, so why not faith too? reminds me of that scene in Bruce Almighty where the prayers come in, in email form and there are millions of them...

It does rather seem a bit false though - I mean really, if you only approach God because you saw it on Twitter then its hardly at the forefront of your mind is it? Shouldn't we be appraoching God in a more serious way, like we really mean it? I don't know, maybe some of these people really do mean it and it's just a comfortable, easy way for them to pray...

The sound of worship

After my encounter at the Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges, which I wrote about yesterday, I have been pondering on how we approach God. The thing that really allowed me to embrace that service was the fact that I  literally didn't understand what was being said (it was in Dutch). I think that although I had chosen to go to the service, if I'm honest there would have been a certain level of expectation on my part - expectation of what I would feel like and what I would 'enjoy', and probably the thought that this wasn't for me an act of worship (ashamed to say that, as I was taking communion too) but more one of furthering my personal interest.

So the fact that I didn't understand meant that I just closed my eyes and focussed on the atmosphere. The Dutch accent, particularly in men, forms a sort of deep droning sound, and I really don't mean that in any derrogatory way, just trying to describe the sound. A linguist would probably be able to describe it better, but it's sort of deep, gutteral and often with little intonation. (Or perhaps that's just the men I have heard!). This was rather emphasised by the Priest who was reciting copious liturgy and scripture, adding to the drone. So, to get to the point, the sound of him speaking, whilst sitting with my eyes shut, was very soothing. And interspersed with the wonderful choir, it felt really special. The word I used yesterday was 'safe'. A rather rubbish and ineffectual word here, but it provoked a feeling of being in a place of great safety.

So in my pondering I have been thinking about why I found it such a special experience and I think the lack of intelligible words was key to it. In that space there were no words to cling to, no words to focus on, or to try and interpret, and so the natural atmosphere was more apparent. Was that the presence of the Holy Spirit, or was it just my own inner emotions? So many things can prompt our emmotions and memories, leaving us almost as a bystander in our own bodies, incapable of controlling what is going on.

So often we come to worship God and we are preoccupied. By our own worries, or what has been going on in the day. Or by the building and ones surroundings. Or by the service itself, the music,  the liturgy, the Priest, the people around us. Sometimes it is very hard to get past all that and focus on God. The lyrics of that Matt Redman song come to mind:

When the music fades, all is stripped away, and I simply come... Longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will bless your heart… I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about You, Jesus

And thats the thing isn't it. It is all about Him, no matter how we come to Him, or when or where. And I think thats what I learnt in that little church in Brugge (despite my issues with relics, as written yesterday) that He will meet me wherever I am and in whatever state!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Foray into Incense, Part II

This, my blogging friends, is the entrance to the Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges. It is called that because there is contained within it ,a relic of Jesus' blood (allegedly...) where I visited this last weekend. It was one of the things I really wanted to do in our short time in Bruges, for reasons simply stemming from idle curiosity (or perhaps not so idle since we walked absolutely miles this weekend..)
Anyway... we arrived at the chapel just as the Friday morning 'veneration of the blood' service had started, so we asked if we could join the service. Most of you will know I am an evangelical at heart, (although I like to think I am open minded too) so I wasn't sure quite what I would think of the service. We discovered that 95% of the service was in dutch (or Flemish to be precise to the region), but for me, I think that actually added something to it. I hadn't a clue what the Priest was saying (literally none, and I do have some language background) so I  just closed my eyes and soaked it in. There was a choir too, who at first glance seemed to comprise a bunch of people just dragged off the street, but when they sang, their harmonies were glorious and the sound just echoed around the building, and I actually found myself wiping a tear from my eye at one point. I can't really describe what I felt, but the sense of worship and reverence was really strong. It was kind of like being in a warm, cosy, safe place, and just feeling really safe and enclosed, but also something more,  like being lifted up. Like coming into Gods presence, I guess. I don't know if that doesn't all sound a bit odd, but it is hard to describe.

It all rather surprised me, and the Roman Catholic Church went up in my estimation I have to say... for about 20 minutes anyway. The fact that the Priest did the peace and the blessing in 4 languages was also impressive!

However... just as I was basking in the afterglow of this rather lovely service (and the beautiful surroundings of the church itself), the Priest and some chaps in suits who I assume must have been the town elders or something similar, processed down the aisle, the Priest holding aloft a small glass vial, encased in gold - the relic of the Holy Blood.  From here they went into a side chapel, and up on to a small altar, where the vial was placed on a special cushion. At this point a rather fearsome looking woman (in the required RC gear of course) stepped forward, I can only assume she was the bouncer in charge of the blood... Then all the chaps stepped forward one at a time, knelt in front of the vial, kissed it in some cases and then moved on. The remaining congregation were then invited to do the same. As you can imagine I did not. The warm fuzzy feeling left rather quickly...

Now I did study some religious art as part of my degree and so I am no stranger to the idea of Holy relics. I understand their use and frequent appearance throughout the Roman Catholic Church, and the veneration that they receive. However to see it in practice in this way was utterley bizarre to say the least. I may incur some wrath here, (but I would seriously love to hear from people who take part in this kind of thing) but what a ridiculous thing to do. Jesus is our God, our Saviour, and it is Him that we worship, Him that we pray to, not a phial of his blood, or for the same reason, nor do we pray to a splinter of wood from his cross (incidentally there are a rather large number of these around the world so I can only assume his cross was absolutely gigantic) a bone from St. Johns little toe or a piece of cloth from St Peters robe. Why do people venerate these 'things', these items? It rather brought to mind the idea that some evangelists use of praying over handkerchiefs and sending them to sick people, but the point here being that it is not the handkerchief or the evangelist that heals people but the power of the Holy Spirit within it (if you believe that is possible..). Is it really right to kneel in front of an item in this way and venerate it as if it were God? (ok, so I do accept that in this case if it really were Jesus' blood, you could say, well yes it is a part of Him - or was.. but that rather misses the point).

In effect using relics and venerating them in this way seems to give them as much importance as Christ Himself, and surely that cannot be right. Can it?

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

challenging questions needed!

I've been asked last minute to take a session with sixth formers tomorrow (Wednesday). I'd like some challenging questions I can put to them about faith/christianity/church to prompt discussion. All suggestions gratefully received...
thanks :)

Sunday, 18 September 2011

How do we 'do' church?

Lesley wrote an interesting post this week about a lengthy charismatic service she had attended recently. The comments are equally as interesting too. The Anglican Church is so broad that inevitably people at opposite ends of it will probably dislike what the other end is doing. Some say this is a good point about the Anglican Church, others that it will be it's downfall.

I would say that this post is not a direct response to Lesleys post, as much of what she said I agreed with but I did find it particularly interesting as my church has been looking at the way they run their Sunday morning service recently. We are at the charismatic end of the CofE but even within that congregation there are differing opinions as to what should and should not happen within the service, how we should or should not treat newcomers. Ultimately one of the things that is valued most at our church is about seeing people come to know Christ, in a very real and honest way. I'm not sure that has been happening recently so it is great that things are being looked at right now.

But the thing is, everyone has their own way of meeting with God. For some that is a very reverential, quiet and liturgical experience. They value the tradition of the church, they value the respect, reverence and perhaps more inward approach. Others, perhaps from my tradition, would devalue that approach saying that it is filled with 'religious spirit', not honouring to God. I spent quite some time in a more traditional church and I did not enjoy it, it was not fulfilling what I needed. I would not choose to worship somewhere like that now, but I accept that people do and that they appreciate that style of worship. I also accept that people might come to a service at somehere more Charismatic and want to run a mile. The hands in the air, or being quiet waiting on God for 10 minutes might be far too cringeworthy for them. Indeed, my dad hates it! But therein lies the point - I would not expect my dad to enjoy the things I do, he is after all 35 years older than I am. He enjoys the traditional hymns, he is a bell ringer and enjoys that as part of the worship.  I like modern music and the more free aspect to our services.

I have a passion to see the church revived, not as in revival, but churches revived to be the centre of their communities. But the more I look at this, the harder I find it. because there are SO many different appraoches to church, SO many differing opinions on what is right and how we should 'do' church. And above all there are SO many different people out there. How can we form a service that gives the Gospel in the way that every single person needs to hear it? For some stepping over the threshold of a traditional church building is just something they will never do, a hall might be less threatening. For others the village church has a sense of familiarity about it, somewhere their daughter got married, or their friend was buried. It is a place to sit quietly when they need some space. For some coming into a service with very loud rock music, and people waving their hands in the air, would send them running in the opposite direction. For others it's like coming home, they have a sense of the real lives being touched there.

There is no right or wrong answer. Lesley talked about a service where the worship was manufactured and the prophesies weak, which I can quite believe, the downfall of some charismatic churches is the personalities thriving in prideful adulation, but just as this is so, the more traditional churches downfall can be the opposite, the lack of commitment to the service, the music, or to the preaching. The lack of commitment to their community. Every church has faults and every church has it's own style.

I have been outspoken about some more traditional churches near me, I admit, but it's more because of their lack of interest in the community around them, in those that have not yet ventured in thtrough the South Door rather than how they do the service.

In this day and age the majority of people have a choice to travel to a church rather than attending their parish church (which may or may not be right or wrong) so perhaps an answer is to encourage people to travel to the service that suits them? then they can find one that suits their own needs. In terms of worship experience, we cannot expect every single church to offer what every single human needs. Can we? Are we all just too different?

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Marcus Brigstocke for ABC

On hols I read various books. I have had a pile by my bed for some time and I decided to leave the ones from the diocesan reading list (which so far have been rather dull) and read some that I actually wanted to read. One of these is 'God Collar' by comedian Marcus Brigstocke. The title got my attention and it seemed interesting in an atheist kind of way..
The book is a personal account of Brigstocke exploring his 'God-shaped hole'. It is an honest, unbiased view of various religions, but mostly Christianity. As a Christian looking on it seems so obvious that what he is seeking, God can give him, but perhaps he isn't ready to accept that yet. And I really don't mean that to sound patronising at all, just that, as someone who has experienced a massive life change after accepting God into my life, I can see that he is in a very similar place to where I was.

Whilst pretty much every line in the book seems to end in either irony or an amusing anecdote, which can become a tad irritating even if he is a comedian, there are also some absolutely side-splitting moments. Such as the description of him eating too much biltong while on safari in South Africa and the consequences, so funny that I was unable to re-read it to my husband because all I could emit was high pitched squeaks. Then there is the notion of the highly blasphemous: what would happen if the communion wafers were replaced with berocca (an efferescent vitamin). I know I should not laugh at this, I should be appallled and angry, but I'm ashamed to say it was another squeaking moment...

And this made me laugh too:
I dont think Gods in the big cathedral, and even if he is, thats not where I want to meet Him. It's too quiet and too removed from the life I lead. If I met God I'd want to be excited by it and do some shouting. Wow! It wouldn't do at all to meet God, to stand face to face before the Lord and before you could begin to express your excitement at this defining event, to be shushed into silence by a lady with a cats bottom where her mouth should be...

I'm not sure I agree that God isnt in the cathedrals but yes, reverence can go too far. The Daily Mail reading, radio 4 listeners can get too hung up with their own importance. We should be joyous not judgemental! I visited Canterbury cathedral a while back and it was so quiet one of things I was desperate to do, was run down the aisle shouting at the top of my voice. Childish I know and thankfully I managed to restrain myself...
Anyway what I found really interesting about his book is that here is an intelligent guy, actively seeking an encounter with a divine force. He talks of visiting various churches and yet his experiences were not all that great. After talking positively about an evangelical church he then says this:

I want in... until you talk to the individuals involved. Once the singing subsides and the red palms of hands clapped in reverence and celebration have turned back to pink, you will find these places where bigotry most vile is as alive and vibrant as the services themselves. Great music thrives in many Christian churches but so does illogical, unchallengable hate, fear and selected ignorance.

That just makes me want to weep, because sadly I know it is true of so many churches. There are lots of Marcus's out there, seeking answers. Seeking so much that they are willing to try church, to come along of their own volition, not because they are being dragged. And what do they see? A model of Jesus in the 21st century? No, they see exactly what he describes -  bigotry, ignorance, intolerance and fear.

He says:
The World is changing fast. The only thing that can be truly described as consistent is that the pace of change is accelerating. The major faiths have a series of well-sontructed anchors set deep into the bedrock of the past and the solid chains that keep them from moving forwards look as sturdy as they ever did. When one chain seems unlikely to resist the strain put upon it by the fast flowing river of progress, another is ready to be relied upon.....

Marcus Brigstocke should be the next Archbishop of Canterbury. (and I'm only slightly joking...) He is exactly the kind of person that the church is trying to reach. Someone who is looking for spiritual answers and yet despite an exhaustive search is not finding them. The church needs someone like him to tell it where it is going wrong. It's all very well theorising from within and coming up with new notions and courses, but we need to listen to those outside. So if you're in minsitry, read his book. It will make you laugh, but it will also open your eyes to where we are all going wrong.

a self-centred God?

Re-reading the New Testament (it is a bit of an avoidance tactic, as having reached Lamentations in the OT I need a break from the doom and gloom..). Anyway I came across this in 2 Timothy. Must have read this 100 times but it just stood out today...

Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.
2 Timothy 2:11-13

I just love this, as a statemen, .but there is one thing that made me think, which is where is says 'if we disown him, he will disown us...' That seems rather final doesn't it? And yet in the next line it says if we are faithless, he will remain faithful because he cannot disown himself.

So what is the distinction between disowning and being unfaithful here? because at first glance one would think it means the same thing and yet apparently not. Disowning Christ seems here to be a cardinal sin and yet being faithless is not. My understanding is the second part  - that Christ will never leave us, that He lives within us, and therefore cannot leave us because He cannot leave himself. That makes sense. But then the line above implies that if we do something so terrible as to 'disown' him, He will leave us.

So what does 'disowning' constitute? The thesaurus says that to disown is to:  to deny any connection with; refuse to acknowledge. I'd love to know the original translation here, to know what is actually meant by this phrase. It seems to me that it is about ones will. Not having faith may not be a willful act, it may be that one has never come to faith, or it may have come about that one has lost faith due to a specific event, therefore it is not a willful decision. But if one actively chooses to turn away from God, to deny His existence then he's off? I am not sure if I like that. Surely we profess a God that loves all his people, no matter what, a God that accepts us as we are, a God that forgives all our sins. We use imagery to display this, such as the well know 'footprints' poem. The implication being that He is always there even when we do not ackowledge Him, or when we ignore Him. So I always envisage Him as being there in the background, just waiting for us to turn to Him, waiting for us to open that door of curiosity. I don't picture a God that just disappears until that door opens, goes off to watch over someone else because this one is not acknowledging Him. That just seems rather self-centred and I don't see God as self-centred. So what did Paul mean here?

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


So last week I went to a presentation about CFS. I think it's hilarious that they diagnose you with chronic fatigue and then make you go to a 2 hour presentation. Although that said, the girls who ran it were great and we did have regular breaks. I was rather reluctant in going but I had to go because I can't be referred without attending one of these sessions first.

The sessions was actually very interesting. There were so many things that I hadn't considered as symptoms of CFS, that I suffer from. They gave a whole wealth of info on how to manage the tiredness and I will be attending a further self management therapy course hopefully in the not too distant future. I also had some time to chat to other sufferers there which was great too, just to feel like I wasn't the only one, that we all had similar experiences.

As a CFS sufferer I know there is a lot of misunderstanding about the condition. ME is another term for it, although for me that seems at the other end of the spectrum. In the 90s ME was often referred to as 'Yuppie Flu' due to the large number of professionals suffering from it. A not entirely helpful label, but it is actually quite an interesting observation, as it reflects the number of professionals who probably work too long hours and don't take enough rest. So here are some things that might be helpful if you, or someone you know is suffering from the condition, and they could probably apply to any chronic condition actually.

1: When someone with CFS/ME says they are tired, please do not respond, 'oh I know, me too, what a busy week' particularly if you are their partner. It is not helpful and you are unlikely to be feeling as tired as they are. Sympathise and offer to take over/put kids to bed/make tea would be much more beneficial.

2. If you are CFS sufferer don't use the term 'tired'. It is misleading. What you mean is that you are utterly exhausted and cannot do another thing.

3. If you are at the stage above, then don't do another thing! One of the things that came up on the session last week was the feeling of needing to carry on, even to just do one more task - often getting the dinner. Sitting down and resting for 10 mins can make a huge difference to your longer term energy. No one will die if they have to wait half an hour for their dinner, or have take away/sandwiches/beans on toast rather than meat & 2 veg.

4. Teach your kids to cook. Even very young children can help with cooking. My 5 & 7 year olds get their own breakfast every day for a start. (and they only spill the milk/juice/cereal over half of the kitchen...)

5. If someone close to you is diagnosed with CFS please take it seriously. In mild form it affects your energy levels, at worst you cannot get out of bed. The most serious cases require people to have a carer and feeding tube. If you do not want your loved one to end up like that, learn about their condition. Help them where you can. Allow them to rest - in fact encourage them to.

6. Routine. Ugh! hate that word, wrote about it yesterday, but it is necessary to manage your energy levels. Get into a routine that works for you and with your commitments.

7. Drop stuff. If you need to, give some things up. The PTA/rugby club/church will have to find someone else for a while. Carrying on when you need more time to rest will only add to your symptoms.

8. Accept help. when people offer to help they usually mean it. We 21st century women (probably men too, but thats not my area of expertise..) are not good at accepting help, we feel that we have to be super women. Get over it! You would help someone in need, so accept the help when you do. School runs/ play dates/ meals, whatever - just learn to say yes, and smile - even if you hate asking for help, do thank the person involved!

9. CFS is not the end of the world. It can be very debilitating but its unlikely to be life-threatening. Scream, cry, throw stuff, get angry if you need to, but let those moments pass and accept it. The most frustrating things about the condition is not knowing how long it will last. But worrying about that is only going to make you worse. Accepting that long term plans are not going to be made is quite liberating. Most of my close friends know about my condition now so if I have to cancel something last minute they understand.

10. Tell people. It's not nice to have to accept ones weakness, but not telling people means they just get upset or cross when you have to let them down or have to cancel plans. If they know then they will understand when these things happen.

I am sure once I do this course I will have more to share, but these are from my recent experiences, so I hope they might be helpful.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Funeral Form

I found out this week that a friend from school has just died. It's tragic, she has a husband and young son and was not even 40. She was in my year throughout secondary school and we had quite a few lessons together. She was lovely, always laughing and having fun, I don't ever remember her being angry or getting cross. However I hadn't seen her for almost 20 years and we weren't that close. So, although the funeral is local to me I have decided not to go. It seems a bit of an odd thing to do, to go to a funeral of someone you were not that friendly with and haven't seen for 20 years. But another school friend (who I am in touch with) in the same position to me is going and I know a lot of people from our year are, who I also haven't seen for a long time. So part of me is wondering whether I should reconsider.

It has prompted me to think about why people go to funerals. Obviously for close family and friends there are many reasons; saying goodbye, having 'closure', from a religous perspective, a sense of duty, and so on. But at most funerals there seem to be a contingent of 'random extras' who either have not seen the person for a long time or hardly knew them. Do some people just 'like a good funeral'? And then when someone is well known or respected, people sometimes line the streets to watch the coffin pass by. I have never quite understood that either. Is it because people feel some kind of affinity with the person even though they didn't know them?

I think one reason people attend funerals is because they make us so aware of our own mortality and it's almost as if subconciously we can reassure ourselves about our own lives while mourning the loss of another. It makes one put things in perspective, but then do you need to attend the funeral to get that? I think sometimes people attend to 'be seen' too. If the whole village is going, then I'd better, or I'll be conspicious by my absence, that sort of thing. But I'm not sure that is right either?

Guilt, I think also plays a part, if people haven't seen the person for a while or haven't made an effort, and guilt too that they are still alive. Particularly when younger people die, I think there is a sense of 'thank goodness it wasn't me'. Or perhaps it is that sense of feeling thankful and in some cases (even in non-Christians) that sense of wanting to give thanks.

I know my friend who is going to the funeral of our schoolmate, wants to see old school friends and I think perhaps she feels bad about losing touch with people over the years. For me personally, I am not sure that is a good enough reason to go, I would feel like I was there under false pretences. And if I'm honest I'm not really sure I am that bothered about seeing them all anyway. I haven't seen most of them for 20 years because I haven't been that bothered before, so why now? would I really be interested to know what people are doing?

I'm not sure if this all sounds a bit callous? Perhaps I am overanalysing everything (as usual..) But the only reasons I can think of to go, seem to me the wrong ones. Most funerals do seem to be 'open season' unless it is actually stated 'family only'. Is there some kind of unwritten code about who can or should go to a funeral? With a wedding it's easy because you get an invite, but funerals tend to be at short notice and therefore people sort of spread the word so you never know whether you would be welcome or not... What is the usual funeral form?

Sunday, 11 September 2011

9/11 - we remember

I make no excuses for writing about 9/11 as so many others have today. For those of us that remember it was the day the world changed. For those that were too young, it is what shaped the world as you know it.

I was at work in a restoration project in Brighton. I only discovered what was going on when I phoned someone to arrange a meeting. They were really odd in the way they spoke to me and at some point they must have realised I didn't know what had happened and they said, have you not seen the news? and told me about the first plane. At that, work ended for the day as our small team huddled round the computers to watch the awful pictures. I remember the shock but I didn't realise at that stage the significance of what was happening. I don't think anyone did right then.

I remember my boss desperately trying to contact his New York colleagues (based in the near vicinity of the World Trade Centre) about a proposed grant we had been awarded. I also remember thinking how insensitive and foolish he was being.

The pictures were truly awful, especially as it became apparent that hundreds of people were trapped above the fires. Even then though I thought they would be able to rescue them, that they would send in some helicopters or something. Because the truth was too awful to comprehend. Then of course came the pictures of people jumping to their death. The realisation that this was a choice, was mind numbing. That for people, ordinary people, office workers, to be choosing to jump from a building that tall, was incomprehensible. I can't even imagine what that must have been like, but a programme a few years after the event, showed interviews with fire fighters who recall hearing the constant thud on the ground and not realising until they were outside that it was not explosion or the buildings falling until they went outside and saw the horrible truth.

I can't begin to imagine the horror of the day for those that actually experienced it first hand, or that were injured, that had friends, colleagues, family die there.  But I know that it touched everyone. A new world emotion was formed of 'fear'. When people talk of evil moving in this world I think of that day. Not of the perpetraitors but of how the world changed because of this single event. How people had no choice but to live in fear. My husband was spending some time working in London around then and I hated it. I hated saying goodbye in the morning, knowing the the city was on full alert. I hated thinking that he could be at risk of further attacks. For years I would not go to the city unless I had to, and as for taking the kids for days out there... well, no. Thankfully that has passed, even in the wake of other terrorist atrocities like the 7th July bombings.

However amidst all of that we need to forgive and we need to live in love. I heard an interview this morning on Radio 2 with the wife of a pilot from one of the planes that flew into the towers. Her story is amazing. She and her husband were/are committed Christians and although she acknowledges the pain and doubt and anger she felt with God, she also talked of how He was with her and her family always, and how as a result her relationship with Him grew in amazing ways. She is truly inspirational. They also had the Archbishop of Canterbury on, who I thought spoke very well too. I didn't know that he was actually in NY at the time, just a few blocks from the World Trade Centre. The presenter said to him, 'what can we say to people who say where was God then? why did God allow it to happen' and he said, (from memory so don't quote me) that God was in the firefighters, and police and medical workers dealing with the aftermath, that He was in those offering help to the injured, to the bereaved, that He was in those offering kind words to people, those comforting people. And I thought yes, He was. Whether God knew or not what was going to happen, whether He could have stopped it or not, whether we can ever understand why it all happened, we can know that He was there. That he was weeping over the awful tragedy too, that He was with all those who needed Him, that He was watching in horror with us.

Today I pray for all those that still mourn and that are still affected by the horror and I continue to pray that we will all live in love and not in hate.

to routine or not to routine...

Well the post holiday blogging has not gone entirely to plan as it is now a week since my last post! The first week of term has been rather hectic with no.2 starting a new school and lots of new info to take in, parents meetings and various pick up times. Finally I come to Sunday afternoon and the kids are busy with friends and I have time to take stock. I have been considering giving up blogging (seems to be the 'in' thing at the mo) and I think it is because I cannot do anything by halves, I give my all to things so when I blog I want to be able to blog every day, and about all  things. Which is just not possible at the mo. On hols I was thinking about trying to cope with the CFS and potentially putting my life into a strict routine. Which is fine in terms of what time we get up and the kids go to bed etc, but I am a spontaneous person so I am not good with the idea of having a rigid timnetable (I expect it has something to do with not resepcting authority too!) So enforcing a routine upon myself would not be easy. But I think it is necessary. And it is something that I think God has been showing me, so I really should give it a go. But even the thought of actually planning my weekly timetable gives me the shivers and I have to say I have been putting it off.

This week I went to a presentation about CFS. which I shall blog on later, but one of the things they talked about was planning your day according to your symptoms and what you find tiring or energising. Totally makes sense of course but made me want to scream! I have written about not wanting to be defined by my illness and this is exactly what they are suggesting. In order to plan I have to acknowledge my weaknesses.

So this week I am going to plan my routine. I am not looking forward to it, but my first job has been to actually plan a time to plan the routine, which is tomorrow morning. (so if I start tweeting or posting copiously in the morning please do ask me what on this earth I am doing!)

Monday, 5 September 2011

Is 'bloody' a swear word....?

Sorry I do have some highly theological stuff to write after all my holiday reading, but this came up last night and I have to write about it!

Bloody is the adjectival form of blood but may also be used as an expletive attributive (intensifier) in Australia, Britain, Ireland, Canada, Singapore, South Africa (in the form of bladdy or blerrie), New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Anglophone Caribbean and Sri Lanka. Nowadays it is considered (by most of the population of these countries) to be a very mild expletive, and unlikely to cause offence in most circles,[1] with the exception of the most severe critics.
When I had my renewal of faith I stopped swearing overnight. It was not a conscious decision. In fact it was only when a friend pointed out that I wasn't swearing that I realised I had stopped. And I did use to swear rather a lot. (A time spent in a restoration project with various builders was probably the initial cause!) Obviously I fall occasionally, when I am really angry or when I am very tired. But one word I do seem to use is 'bloody'. A Christian friend called me on it recently saying it originated from a reference to Jesus' blood, which did make me think.

So what constitutes swearing and what is acceptable? Because actually any word used in a particular way, can be a swear word. When we are cross, angry or want to emphasise a point any word can be used to do that, if it is said in the right tone. And many people use replacement words such as 'frickin' instead of the other F word, or Geez instead of Jesus. So what is acceptable? Is it that words which have offensive meaning behind them, or which might cause offense are unacceptable? Because to me saying 'frickin' is almost as bad as the original because you are just replacing one offensive word with something slightly different, but saying it with exactly the same intention.

Wikipedia shows various references for the origins of the word 'bloody' as a swear word, including a derivation of 'By my Lady' referring to the Virgin Mary; or "bloody drunk" meaning "fired up and ready for a fight, and in references to the war of the roses, 'of the blood'.

The thing is, that nowadays many swear words have just become words in the english language, in some circles the F- word being used as punctuation and thrown into sentences wherever and whenever. In this case it seems to have lost all it's impact and perhaps to those in those circles it is not offensive at all. To an outsider though it still has a sting.

The thing that really gets me is when people swear using the Lords name. It practically makes me wince! And the use of OMG seems common place too. I was very pleased to hear a teacher at my sons school being brought up for saying 'Oh My God' and the Head reminding him it is a Church school and so we say 'Oh My Gosh' instead! Again I think this is a case of  the phrase becoming a normal figure of speech. When people say 'Oh My God' they are not deliberatley causing offense to God, it is just a figure of speech. So where do we draw the line?

Personally I use 'bloody' as I find it a good emphasis point when necessary (I don't use it all the time!), but if I'm totally honest, I do feel cross with myself for using it.

So... is 'bloody' a swear word?