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- Page 10

  • Even the Consultants are Younger...

    Yesterday I had a plastic surgery appointment, turned out not quite to be what I was expecting, but fine in the end.  The scary bit was that the person I saw merrily talked about training his juniors despite the fact that he only looked about 12 years old himself...  smooth baby face, no hint of stubble, not a grey hair in sight (OK he was oriental and that makes a difference but even so...).

    I'm sure when I was younger medical consultants were all old and grey and craggy and very, very, scary.

    This one confused me by giving me choices, whereas the one I usually see gives extremely strong recommendations.  And that's why I was a bit thrown... I thought the decisions had been made, and now they had to made afresh, with more options than I had been aware of.  In the end, I stuck with my original plan... so more "News of the World" photos and more waiting until such time as a slot arrives... best guess is 51 weeks on from the last time, as this seems to be how it works!

    In the meantime, I am forced to accept that I am now older than many of the professionals I will meet.  SCARY!

  • Generosity of Language

    This was one of the themes in last week's Assembly, a good one, a challenging one, and one I wrestle with endlessly.  I am by initial training and nature a scientist, which means I write stuff in a fairly straightforward way.  I was rubbish at story writing at school, but was excellent at factual essays; constructing a cogent argument was fine, creating a fictional narrative a nightmare.  Later, my theology tutors used to complain that my sentences and paragraphs were too short, so I worked hard to cultivate the practice of using several subordinate clauses, even if I thought using several, shorter sentences was less confusing and kinder on the metaphorical lungs (you get my drift....?!).  Over my time in ministry, I have worked hard to be sensitive in language, and have cultivated a way of writing my sermons that evades/avoids the bear-traps of gendered language which can be unhelpful.  I have listened carefully to the voices of people who are not Caucasian and not heterosexual and not well educated, each of which I am, (just in case you weren't aware) to try to find ways of speaking that are not merely inoffensive but actually helpful.  Suffice it to say, I trip over my size six-and-a-half (according to Clarks) feet with monotonous regularity.

    As part of my MPhil research, I did quite a bit of reading about language and semantics (not just as in 'pickiness' but as a 'science') all of which served to make me more aware, and more tense, and more cautious.  Words don't merely express thoughts, they form them.  Words aren't benign, they are infused with meaning and intent.  One of the speakers at the Assembly, who came from a Northern Irish context, spoke of the power of references by Ian Paisley to 'Sinn Fein-IRA', an expression he quietly dropped once Sinn Fein had been democratically elected to a position of power.  It isn't for me to comment on how intentional his use of the elision was, but it was effective in conditioning my thinking, and that of many others, at the time.

    So, language is powerful, but it is also slippery - words change their meanings over time and between contexts.  Some years ago I was chatting to someone who worked in safety in food production, an industry which has some parallels on control of hazards as the nuclear industry.  It soon became clear that we were using identical language with opposite meaning.  For him, the hazard was bugs getting in to the high risk area where raw or cooked meat products were - he wanted to keep them out.  For me the hazard was nasties getting out of a radioactive area - I wanted to keep them in.  Context matters, local usage matters, chronological time through history matters.

    I could get paranoid here (and, after all, they are out to get me...) so what do I do?Revert to nice, scientist friendly lists!

    • I try to be aware of the reality that I am a white, heterosexual, single, celibate, well-educated, Christian (etc., etc.) woman, and that that shapes my thinking and speaking
    • I try to listen to voices of people who might be offended or excluded by my language, and/or  try to think how I might be heard by them
    • I try to cultivate, practice and encourage modes of writing and speech that are generous, avoiding defamatory or judgemental remarks
    • I get it wrong sometimes, so I try to learn and move on - but I'm everso good at self-beating-up; I still have to work out the bit about generous to myself!

    I write a lot of words for a living - it does me good to pause to reflect on the power, recognised or not, that affords me.


    PS my typing isn't great, and my spelling/proof-reading abilities not what they once were, so please be generous as readers :o)

  • Famous for Five Minutes!

    My official report on the Baptist Assembly in Scotland is published in this week's Baptist Times, or you can read it at the BMS website here.  Hope you find it of interest.  Normal drivel will resumed shortly.

  • A Prayer for Scottish Baptists...

    ... by Revd Malcolm Duncan and shared at the Baptist Assembly in Dunfermline.

    Although I lifted this from the BUS website where no such statement is made, it is almost undoubtedly copyright, so please treat with appropriate respect.


    We need healing, Lord!
    Our spiritual myopia
    Is eroding our vision
    of a bigger plan.
    So the inevitable
    Of our church Utopia
    With the limited
    scope it has
    Is making us
    more comfortable
    than we should be.


    Our ground is getting
    So we get a bigger crowd
    but on a smaller space
    And we make the music loud
    enough to drown out the cries
    of the broken
    and the poor.


    Bigger congregations
    won't answer segregation.
    Locking ourselves in prayer
    won't show that we care.
    Enjoying when we meet
    won't change the street.
    Becoming more respectable
    won't change the spectacle
    Of communities that need
    Hope infused
    Sin refused
    Tension defused
    Satan confused
    Saints enthused


    We need healing, Lord.
    New eyes to see
    New ears to hear
    That You are here!


    Faith to believe that You win.
    Courage to push the envelope
    Until You envelop
    And turn the world
    Right way up.


    We don't need bigger buildings
    We need bigger hearts.
    We don't need to increase our capacity for seats,
    We need to increase our capacity to love.
    We don't need more blessing
    We need to be blessing more.
    We don't need more grace,
    We need to be more gracious.
    We don't need more of God,
    God needs more of us.
    There isn't an answer around the corner
    We are the answers hiding in a corner.
    God doesn't need to fit into our plans
    We need to fit into God's


    And His plan is change from the inside out.
    Hope from the foetus of faith
    To the adulthood of the Kingdom
    Courage that pushes us out
    Birthing pangs that scream a declaration
    Through the heavenlies


    God won in the Jerusalem dirt
    When Christ was planted
    Like a seed in the ground
    Beside Golgotha's mound
    And three days later
    The Seed pushed through the earth...
    The plant has been growing ever since
    And we are now its seed
    Called to germinate
    To propagate
    To profligate
    The Gospel.


    God wins.


  • Versatile Blogger

    One of my blog-pals (i.e. a blogger I consider a friend even though I have not met them in the real world) Perpetua has nominated me for the Versatile Blogger award.  I am secretly quite chuffed she thought of me, however I'm not sure I qualify, not least as the majority of people I might choose to nominate have declared their blogs as 'award free, tag free' zones.  However, it's a bit of fun, so apart from the nominating I'll join in... if you happen to be a blogger and you fancy joining in then I'm sure you can self-nominate!  Basically you have to declare five quirky things about yourself (however you define quirky) so here goes...

    1. I wear snowman socks in summer; indeed I wear snowman socks all year round if they happen to be the next pair to come out of the sock drawer.  Spotty socks, striped socks, socks with cows, socks with cats, you name it, I'll wear it... preferably not too much pink it has to be said, but I enjoy silly socks.
    2. I like walking in the rain without a coat or an umbrella and getting absolutely soaking wet... then I go home and have a nice hot shower to warm up again.  Not something I do very often, usually if I'm out in the rain it's because I'm going somewhere, so I need to arrive dry and presentable.
    3. I talk to the television/radio.  This is probably a sign of insanity, but I blame it on living alone (apart from the recently moved in cat).  I have no compunction about telling announcers the are wrong, correcting grammar, pointing out inconsistencies or offering my opinions.
    4. I am currently on a quest for soya-lecithin free fairtrade chocolate.  Since deciding to eliminate foods high in phytoestrogens from my diet (since research suggests they abrogate the Tamoxifen) I have only found two chocolate bars that are safe to eat... Cadbury's Twirl and Cadbury's Flake, neither of which is Fairtrade.  Other quirky aspects of this mean I no longer eat sage or flax seeds!
    5. I occasionally bemuse people by demonstrating degrees of ambidextrousness (is there such a word?) by doing tasks with whichever hand is closer.  But my oddest quirk is using a potato peeler in my right hand then chopping up the spuds with my left...

    I'm not sure if this makes me versatile, quirky or just plain weird - but now you know!