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- Page 7

  • Interpretation - And An Apology

    I have had two different friends to stay recently, each of whom told me they were glad I was here to interpret the speech of shop assistants.  I have another couple of friends dropping in next week and they have been warned not to make such comments - for goodness sake this is the west of Glasgow it's hardly a strong accent.  The response of the latest was, 'yes, but you're half Scottish anyway.'  I'm not, not really, though my Mum periodically claims to be a Scot, and I'm told the SNP define a Scot as 'someone who chooses to live in Scotland' (does 'someone God sent/brought to Scotland' count?!).

    Anyway, to my lovely Scots and Scottish (my Mum regularly reminds of the distinction 'people are Scots, things are Scottish' but it seems lost in much general speech) friends and neighbours I apologise for my sassenach friends.  Although I do know someone who tells me they can't always understand Estuary English and another who claims an inability to comprehend Geordies... maybe it evens out?

  • One Big Village

    One of the amusing aspects of Monday's outing into the west end of Glasgow with my visiting friend was bumping into people I know through church... one member of the walking club, one carer from the toddler group, one church member.  My friend was quite surprised that I knew so many people.  It reminded me of a similar experience in Leicestershire, only that time was with someone from church with whom I went to a (local) Christian event.  I wouldn't really call myself a 'people person,' like a lot of minister types I am, according to Myers Briggs an 'I', and as an ISTJ evidently the perosnality type least suited to ministry.... (discuss!), but I do seem able to get along with most people, most of the time, and value the interaction enormously.

    The older I get, the more it seems my world is just one big village, with people I bump into as we go about our everyday lives.  One of the folk I got to know in Leicester used to observe that 'strangers are just friends you haven't met yet' and she was great at chatting to new people who happened into her life.  One of the things I loved, once I got used to it, about the north west of England was the way total strangers would tell you their life stories at bus-stops or in shop queues, along with the custom of saying 'bye' to shop asssitants as you left (if you live in the midlde or south of England try it, it really confuses people!).  Glasgow is not disimilar - I often have brief conversations with strangers I meet at pedestrian crossings or in museums and I love it.  There is a sense of villageness, not in the 'everyone knows everything about you' of literal villages, but in the sense of a shared world with shared concerns.

    I wonder how many familiar faces I will pass today and how many unfamiliar will belong to people who exchange a smile, a greeting, a grumble or an observation?

  • Ducks, Druids and Death

    Yesterday, being my day off, and having a friend staying over, I took the opportunity to go along to the Glasgow Boys exhibition at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.  I have to confess to being an ignoramous and something of a philistine when it comes to art: I see things I like but am not able to say why or how and sually haven't a clue what it is I'm meant to appreciate or admire in great works...

    I enjoyed the exhibition greatly, and we had fun making up stories for characters in some of the paintings, wondering why the artists chose to paint people in cabbage fields or sitting under large white umbrellas (most of the umbellas didn't quite seem to work but I wouldn't know where to start).

    There were many paintings that seemed to stand out, not necessarily because I liked them, but because they interested or intrigued me.  From Venetian gondolas to French pastoral scenes; from tramps (with huge feet!) on doorsteps to colourful stylised scenes of druids; from a highland funeral to lot of geese and ducks, there was plenty to ponder.

    On reflection, there was nothing that I really, really liked, but plenty I enjoyed studying for a few minutes.  The druids and the funeral probably stand out as those I most connected with... which probably says something about who and what I am.  I may well go back again before the exhibition closes.  Well worth the £5 (or £3 for those of us with NUS cards)

  • Curious

    This week when I was researching Paul at the Areopagus I found several references to Socrates.  Being totally ignorant of this Greek philosopher I did a bit of quick online stuff to find out a bit more about him.

    Yesterday and today I've been doing some research for our new Theological Reflection group, due to start in a couple of weeks, and blow me, if the books I've bought on the subject requested don't start talking about Socrates.

    The two connections are, independently, appropriate, but I wouldn't have imagined meeting both in the same week.

    I'm not planning on talking about Socrates in either context but it was a little curious.

  • Ageing in the Bible?

    Related to my last post, I wonder how many people when they read the Bible are aware of the characters ageing processes?  Do we notice that Moses or Daniel (to name but two) get to be old men before a lot of the exciting stuff happens - how many old guys do you know of who spend nights in lions' dens?  Do we inadvertently perpetuate a cult of youth or deny the inevitability of growing older because we fear we will drive away the few youthful folk we have?  Do we dis-empower or excuse from activity anyone over 35 because we fail to recognise that many, maybe most, were older before God called them?  And what might that say to those who bemoan the greyness of Baptist ministry (hey, I'm only 47 I'm really quite young!).  It's not that we don't don't need young ministers, we absolutely do, but we need also to recognise that growing older is not a reason to exclude or opt out.

    I have a feeling that as life expectancies in the west have increased, and the age of majority has crept generally higher (it was around 12 in Jesus' day) we have come to see the Bible characters as younger than relatively (or even literally) they were.  That and the fact that we can move on thirty years in a few pages with minimal dating clues for our 21st century minds to recognise.

    Those of us who preach maybe have a responsibility to think a bit more about the ages (actual and relative) of the characters in the stories we employ so that we don't portray either perpetual youth or relentless antiquity, neither of which is valid or helpful.