I have a new regime in Dibley Manse. How long it will last, who knows, but the intention is there!
Basically the back end of last year degenerated into muddle - literally after a manse ceiling collapsed and metaphorically as order disappeared from life. For someone who likes their herbs arranged alphabetically and matching clothes pegs on their washing line this was not good!
So, the new regime sees the first hour of working days (not days off!) loosely titled 'devotional' to include prayer and the reading of 'improving books' (for those who are checking, (almost) daily personal devotional Bible reading remains in its 30 year old bed-time slot!) followed by an hour titled 'study' when I do my PhD reading/thinking/writing (so far just reading).
My 'improving book' of the moment is Spirituality and Theology by Philip Sheldrake, which has sat on my 'to read' heap for three and half years since I was given it as a gift by fellow students at the end of my year as senior student at NBC. In chosing to read this book, I wondered if it was justified under a 'devotional' banner but, hurrah, it rapidly told me it was! Theology and Spirituality, it asserts, are intimately related, with theology being lived not done (apologies to Laurie Green et al). Amazingly, in one sitting, it linked in with the reading I'm doing on the development of historical method in my 'study' slots and it gave me a new insight into my understanding of, and hence relationship with, God.
Ok, so I am pretty dense sometimes, but I always read Genesis 1:26 'God said, 'let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness' (NIVi) and the more poetic Genesis 1:27 in a very individualistic way, and as a way of affirming all people as of equal worth. I other words, I am made in God's likeness and so is everyone else, but that is something we experience individually, separately.
Today as I read my improving book, I suddenly grasped that this is about Trinity and relationship (OK, you all worked that out years ago). It is God first person plural (i.e. Trinity, relational) who makes human beings in their image (i.e. distinct but relational). Gosh, I thought, how thick I have been all these years, trying to understand the plural pronoun in an individualistic way. It is 'human beings' plural who bear the likeness, not merely each 'human being' singular. I don't think this is an either/or but a both/and.
So there you have it! Two lightbulb moments in a day. Nothing earth shattering, just a confirmation that I can read theology 'devotionally' and a better understanding of two verses of the OT.
The new regime might mean less posting and more private, paper-based stuff and more time spent on my formal studying (which, as it costs me 10% of my gross income, needs some serious attention!). Hopefully though I'll still find time to post news of adventures in Dibley, occasional insights and some fun stuff.