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- Page 6

  • Evil, Power and Love

    The next two chapters of 'Looking through the Cross' and my sense of 'so what' is, I'm afraid, largely undiminished.  It seems to be pretty standard stuff not aimed at anyone who has studied theology or even been in the Church for more than a few minutes.  I do like very much that it is accessible, and the use of contemporary literature (including Harry Potter and Ian McEwen's 'Atonement') works well, but I am not finding many (any yet) new insights or even sentences that make me think.

    The chapter on evil, or more properly on atonement, treads a well worn path and assumes that God the Father abandons God the Son, or that God abandons the man Jesus, whichever you prefer, as evidenced by the citation of Psalm 22:1.  I know this is received wisdom, but it has never worked for me, not at any stage of my understanding of what the cross might be about. 

    I have minimal knowledge of biblical languages, but I do know that Hebrew lacks punctuation, so what we have is someone's best guess of where the commas etc. go.  This what is traditionally rendered

    My God, my God, why have you foresaken me?

    Could legitmiately (so far as I can tell) be rendered

    My God, my God, why?  Have you foresaken me?

    Anyone who has read my stuff over the years will have seen this before - it is an alternative that allows me another, more helpful, reading of the start of Psalm 22.  And it works, it makes sense in context... the double question sits as well as the single question in the flow of ths psalm.

    Did God abandon Jesus?  Did "the father turn his face away" as the song puts it?  No.  I do not believe God did, any more than I believe God abandoned/abandons me in my own darkest and lowest moments.  Just because it feels like abandonment does not mean it is.  There are oodles of pslams and other texts that support my hypothesis!

    Tomlinson has Jesus dying as 'one of us', dying as 'one for us' - a version of substitutionary atonement that neatly evades the pecuniary aspect of some models.  I think its a decent attempt but, for me, adds nothing new to think about.


    The chapter on power/powerlessness again treads a very familiar path, though to be fair, there was historical stuff about Pilate of which I had managed not to be aware until now.  The subversive power of chosen weakness, of sacrificial love is an important theme, and again the examples, many rooted in the common experience of ordinary people, are helpful and accessible (you don't have to be a martyr to live sacrificially), but not exactly a new idea. 

    So far, so not very inspiring then (sorry Graham Tomlin) but here are a couple of rather neat little sentences from page 77 (the best page of the book so far IMO!) worth pondering a little further...

    "When a person grasps in a quite profound way, that neither their achievements nor their mistakes count before God, it leaves that person with nothing to lose."

    "When we lose the love of power for its own sake, we discover the power to love."

    Looking Through the Cross, Graham Tomlin, London, Bloomsbury, 2013 p.77



  • Double Benefits....

    Already some very generous friends have sponsored my walk in June, nominating some great musical tracks for me to listen to as I walk my training walks.  And because I use an 'Easy Fundraising' account to make no-cost-to-me donations to another charity (from various retailers), and link that each time I purchase an MP3 track then they too benefit, albeit to the tune (!) of a few pence a go.  Seems like everyone wins!

    ♫ ♫ ♪ ♫ I am walking to my training tunes, I am walking to my training tunes...


    Safety note - if walking with headphones on please be extra alert to those around you :)

  • First Wednesday in Lent - A Poem

    Last Sunday's gospel reading was the temptation of Jesus, so it seemed fitting to find a poem that reflected that.  By the woners of google, I found this one, which gave me pause, and maybe it will do the same for you?

    Temptation in the Wired Wilderness

    by Holly Ordway

    Our Lord spent forty days and forty nights
    Resisting Satan in the wilderness.
    We picture barren rocks and sand; we might
    Add in a scrubby tree or two. I guess
    That’s where temptation ought to come, so we
    Can see it from at least a mile away,
    And be prepared, with Bibles, church retreats,
    And exhortations to stand firm. 

    Instead it wounds with cuts too small to see,
    In this our wired wilderness. We play
    And work in deserts of the digital:
    Abuzz with locust-noise of clicks and tweets
    And filled with lonely crowds. Our enemy
    Is faced and fought right here, or not at all.

    from http://godandnature.asa3.org/poem-temptation-in-the-wired-wilderness.html

  • Sponsorship - an a Personal Challenge

    The eagle-eyed will have spotted the "just giving button" underneath the celtic cross on my sidebar.  I have just signed up to take part in a 20 mile walk for Breast Cancer Care at Scone Palace in June.  I totally understand that some readers are bored to the back teeth with this whole topic, but I have signed up because this is a genuine challenge for me... Before cancer I could have walked 20 miles without blinking, doing Ben Nevis two years ago showed me how much that has changed, and put me off trying anything substantial until now.

    I'm not looking for huge sums of money, it is just as much about proving to myself I can actually walk 20 miles.  Borrowing an idea from someone else,  I am inviting people to nominate a track for my MP3 training playlist and sponsor me 1p per music-second.  I will then purchase the downloads and add them to my MP3 thingy.  So what do you fancy?  Classical?  Pop?  Sacred?  Something else?  The choice is yours!

  • Hope - A Photo












    One of the challenges I set myself for Lent was to post pictures that in some way symbolised or suggested 'hope'.  This one was taken three years ago when I was starting to get out and about after my cancer surgery and was enjoying the heralds of spring that are crocuses/croci (either is correct, all depends which etymology you favour).  If I'm brutally honest, I was far from convinced that I'd be here three years later, but that thought no longer filled me with terror, I simply learned to enjoy the 'here and now'  in a far more immediate way.

    I am told by one of my neighbours that the crocus bulbs were planted to commemorate the Women's Suffrage Movement (centenary was 2008, which sounds about right) and the colours of purple, white and green were highly symbolic within that movement.

    Whatever the back story, and whatever else this planting signifies or symbolises, the way these seemingly fragile plants burst into a carpet of colour, lenten violet mixed with festal gold and white on a green ground of ordinariness, shouts 'hope' and 'life' more eloqently than I ever could.