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  • Swords, Ploughshares and Fuzzy Boundaries

    Yesterday evening someone was aksing me how things were going, and commented that the drugs are, afterall, poisons.  I observed that one of the drugs I'm currently receiving is related, chemically, to mustard gas - a bizarre link with chemical warfare, though I find 'battle' language unhelpful as a metaphor for the challenges of treatment.

    All of which got me thinking about the fuzzy boundaries that always exist between swords and ploughshares.  Having worked in the nuclear industry it was a tension and a fuzziness I lived with daily... the reality that the same basic technology could produce weapons of mass destruction, (relatively) clean electricity and the radio-isotopes on which so much diagnostic and therapeutic medicine depends.  X-rays, CT scans, bone scans... they all depend on radiation and they all employ sources that come from the nuclear industry, in all its flawed beauty.

    Whether it is our nonstick saucepan or the high refractive index glass that means highly myopic people like me can have thin lenses in their glasses, it is out of swords that these ploughshares have been made.  It would lovely to think that humanity would make such discoveries without the "need" for swords, but in a disordered world, we have to live with the blurry boundaries and delight in the good that, by the grace of God, can come out of the things that disturb us.

    Chemical warfare is an attrocity, make no mistake, but I'm not sorry that the skills to develop such evil can also be used to discover chemicals that, through controlled toxicity, can bring hope and health.

  • Leviticus in Context: Chemotherapy and Me

    A couple of weeks ago I was talking to one of my minister friends about the regime I was about to embark on, replete as it is with dietary, hygiene, medical and lifestyle rules.  'Sounds like a lot of "thou shalt nots"' was the response.  This weekend another of my minister friends came up for the weekend, a long planned visit that had an element of divine timing about it, we chatted about the rules and I commented, flippantly, that Leviticus has nothing on the Oncologist.  All of which got me thinking about the importance of context, the risks of misinterpretation of shorthand and the challenges of discerning principles and particulars.

    "Thou shalt not eat lemons, oranges, lime or pineapples" or "avoid citrus and acidic fruits as they will hurt, and possibly attack your already weakened mouth and throat linings".  The intent is the same, but out of context the former becomes some kind of 'dietary law' to delineate those 'in' from those 'out'

    "Thou shalt only use Sainbury's non-bio washing tablets" or "make sure you don't change your washing powder because the drugs will make your skin more sensitive and we need to be sure what causes any rashes or skin-reactions."  Not a mandate to shop at this supermarket only, but an important principle - reduce the unknowns to a minimum.

    And so it goes on.

    So, yesterday when my friend and I went out for brunch, it had to be to a cafe I know and I had to eat something I'd had before.  When I choose from the after service refreshments at church, I opt for the bought biscuits rather than the homemade cakes :-(

    It means I dutifully check those parts of my anatomy I have been told to check and carry the phone number of the High Priest, I mean doctor, at all times just in case.  It means I make myself sit down and do nothing for hours at a time... hard though it is for anyone to believe that I will.

    And it makes me think about the more bizarre Leviticus codes in a new, and kinder, way as I imagine a group of people in a strange new world trying to stay healthy, trying to ensure their survival into future generations and trying to get it right.  Context matters, and so does the discernment of timeless principles; working out which is which is not always so easy several thousand years later.

  • First Frost

    This morning Glasgow is glittering as the first frost of the season reflects the morning sun.  The clear blue sky and cool air a sign that autumn is trully here.  Beautiful in its time.

    And frost kills germs, so I'm glad!

  • Ahhhh............

    ASBO Jesus strikes again....

    ASBO 930.jpg
    We will shortly be starting a short preaching series looking at questions of Biblical authority, handling difficult texts, etc, so this seemed both funny and apposite.
  • Getting Ahead...

    So, the search for headscarves continues.  Somone gave me a beautiful fairtrade scarf sourced from our local One World Shop and several people had great ideas.  I found that you can indeed buy fairtrade cotton online, in many great colours but, as it tends to be large checks and wide stripes and I don't want to look as if I have a tablecloth or deckchair on my head I opted not to pursue that line.

    My searching eventually led me Anna Bandana a company set up by someone who made scarves for her mother.  I purchased three of their zandanas and have to say they are great - for a person who hates hats that is praise indeed.  The scarves arrived within two days and seem so good I will keep them for walking wear after this is all behind me.  A lot of thought has been given to comfort, colour and appearance - so I reckoned a little plug was in order.