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  • Sharing my paper - again!

    This morning I'm headed off to the Scottish Baptist College to speak to the students as part of their Pastoral Care module about my experience of cancer... I think I have to be careful lest I become either (a) professional cancer patient or (b) too slick in the delivery and lose the immediacy it had in NZ in February.

    They haven't asked for the paper, they've asked me to talk about the pastoral care I received - trouble is, because I was/am a minister person that doesn't really work the same as for a non-minister person.  So I think the paper is the best way 'in' for them to see things from my perspective... plus they have loads of time for questions afterwards!

    Will report back later.

  • The Lighter Side...

    Now there's a deterrent...

    I was sitting in Coach A of the 11 coach Virgin pendelion to Glasgow Central (as they keep announcing everytime the thing stops) on Monday evening, when there came the ubiquitous 'bing bong' followed by...

    "Virgin trains would like to remind passengers that smoking is not permitted anywhere on this train, including the toilet in Coach E. If the person smoking in the toilet in Coach E does not stop immediately, the British Transport Police will be called to read them the byelaws"

    Suddenly the Quiet Coach (A in standard class) wasn't quite so quiet as we rocked with laughter!

    Now we know - the threat of being read the byelaws is the best deterrent...

  • My Lovely French Blog Platform!

    This afternoon I wanted to post something (which I can no longer remember, so it can't have been that exciting) but BlogSpirit was down for a-g-e-s.  What always makes me smile about this platform is when they forget to translate things to English so you get a page that's half French and half English.

    Anyway, the apology message was very lovely once I'd translated it with a little bit of help from Google... my 'O' level French predates technology by decades, or maybe even eons!

  • Christmas Adverts

    So, we have Monty, the cute, love-lorn penguin, who turns out to be a much loved and rather tatty toy.

    Then we have the sparkly fairies flying around changing dull gifts in shiny ones.

    And it seems that's all fine and lovely.

    Then we get one that is based on the story of the Christmas Day truce, featuring one very subtly placed product, which is being sold to support the Royal British Legion group of charities in the UK to mark a twenty year partnership between one supermarket and these charities.

    It is, in my opinion a beautifully made video short, with a poignant story that has at least some basis in fact (an accompanying video discusses aspects of historicity/historical accuracy).  But it is dividing opinion - some love it, others say it is exploitative, commercialising the cententary of WW1, with still more questioning its historicity. 

    It's a story I've known since childhood, so surely cannot be new to that many people.  It's a story no more and no less implausible than the one we tell each other in churches on Christmas Day.  It's a story that challenges nationalism, consumerism and individualism (at least in my view) and reminds us of a shared humanity that transcends labels.

    The music in the background is, so I discovered, a very old gospel hymn 'Leaning on Everlasting Arms'.

    Come Christmas, we will all (rightly) 'coo' and 'ah' at Sunday School and day school/nursery nativity plays that owe little to any possible historicity... and no-one will get uppity over theological niceties.

    Frankly, if the Sainsbury's advert sells a whole stack of chocolate bars for charity, and boosts their profits, well good for them... and if cute penguins or sparkly fairies work for other outlets, so be it.  I'm just not convinced there is any moral high ground for Christians to be taking as we glitter up our stables, polish our tinsel halos and arrange for three men on camels to arrive at a house with a grumpy, ahistorical innkeeper, to say nothing of our own consumerism, gluttony and waste over the festive season...


    You are, of course, free to disagree...


  • The Show 2014 - Celebrating and Remembering


    This afternoon I joined nearly 500 other people at The Show (Scotland) 2014 - a huge charity fundraiser for Breast Cancer Care centred on a catwalk show involving ~20 models all of whom have had a diagnosis of breast cancer.

    It was great fun to catch up with friends, some I haven't seen for a long time, and enjoy a tasty three course lunch before watching the models strut their stuff.

    It was also poignant - two of last year's models are now being treated for secondary cancer, and one of this year's had died just a couple of months ago leaving a gap in the line up.  In the audience were friends who are doing really well and friends who are now counting every day as a bonus.

    In a way, it reminded me of the way I feel at Baptist Assembly... good to catch up with friends, poignant to participate in the 'In Memoriam', sobering and exciting to hear news of others.

    I've observed similarities before, of intentionality and shared experiences, so this is not exactly new stuff.

    Today BBC news reports the death of a 41 year-old actress who was diagnosed with breast cancer 6 years ago... it is a cruel, unpredicable disease.  Celebrate life, remember what unites you, live, love and laugh.