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A Skinny Fairtrade Latte in the Food Court of Life - Page 2

  • Going Deeper - with William Carey

    My Own Story

    William Carey grew up in a tiny, rural village where most people lived simple, quiet, unexciting lives working as weavers or farmers, and had little or no ambition.  The opportunity for education opened his eyes to new ideas, and the stories told by his uncle who had travelled to Canada ignited his desire to discover more of the world in which he lived.

    • Are there people I recall from my childhood whose stories or actions significantly shaped my thinking?
    • How much are we defined by the circumstances of our birth, and how much is ‘social mobility’ possible or desirable?
    • William was clearly a curious and intelligent boy, with a real gift for languages, but his practical skills as a shoemaker proved invaluable when he had to manage an indigo plant in India. Which different aspects of my own early experience contribute to my life now, perhaps in surprising ways?  

    More Light and Truth

    Taking the Bible seriously has always been a (self-defined) quality of Baptist life.  The assertion ‘the Lord has yet more light and truth to break forth from his word’ is one we hold to be true, yet we can be guilty of Biblicism (placing the Bible above Christ/God) and unquestioning literalism, liberalism or indeed, any other way of reading the Bible.  William Carey challenged the unthinking acceptance of ‘received wisdom’ on the interpretation of Matthew 28: 16 – 20, which ultimately led to the formation of what is now known as BMS World Mission.

    • The Bible is a complex library of texts with internal contradictions, which Christians believe is divinely inspired. When I come to read it, what presuppositions and expectations do I bring?
    • Have I ever had a new insight into a familiar story, passage, or text? How did that feel?  How has it effected my faith and practice and/or my attitude to scripture?
    • If asked to define what the Bible is, what would I say?

    Work Life Balance

    Like so many of the heroes we’ve met, William Carey was totally dedicated to his work to such an extent that his own physical health and the wellbeing of his family suffered.  In our time we hear a lot about work life balance, and of families being stretched to breaking point by the pressures of modern life.  

    • How do I find a healthy balance (assuming I do) that allows me to enjoy family life (whatever that looks like) flourish in my career (as appropriate) and enjoy leisure activities?

    Hobbies and Interests

    From childhood, William Carey loved horticulture, and in India enjoyed discovering new plants, some of which he sent to botanical societies, including Glasgow!   

    • Do I have any interests or activities I participate in for the pure joy they bring, or do I fall into the trap of only doing things that are ‘worthy’? Do I need a hobby; if so, what will it be?
  • The Power of Perseverance (or is it Cussedness?)

    Since I stopped eating meat a couple of years ago, most of my protein has come from porrige, cheese, eggs, milk, yogurt, mushrooms and hummus.  I do cook with pulses, but have to admit that often I'm a bit lazy and will do a mushroom or cheese omelette for quickness.  I like glamorgan sausages, mushroom burgers and other similar products too.

    I have a 'thing' about fake meat, so I don't eat (sic) meat free chicken or bacon, and I am not allowed to use soy products due to a drugs interaction, which together limit my choices more than somewhat.

    However, I have perservered with Quorn things, and now (fanfare) have three 'ready meal' things I am happy to eat, even quite enjoy, and (even bigger fanfare) have discovered that the Quorn 'chunks' can indeed be made into perfectly acceptable meals.

    So, the three things I buy ready made are:

    Quorn mozarella and pesto escallopes (sort of kievs)

    Quorn wild garlic and herb sausages

    Quorn sausage roll - probably has almost as much meat in it as a regular one!

    My two recipes I'm calling 'Qurry' and 'Quasserole'!

    The Qurry isn't quite a curry, due to my many and varied food intolerances, but has a base of onion, garlic, fresh ginger, grated carrot, chopped tomatoes and fresh corriander.  Next time I'm going to try adding curry leaves to see how that works out.  Really quick and easy to make the 'sauce' and the Quorn lumps go in for ten minutes at the end.  Serve with rice or naans.

    The Quasserole is probably more a hotpot or stew but they don't work spelled with 'Qu'!  Onions, carrots, chopped potatoes cooked in a veggie stock (or, in my case, marmite and water, when I discovered Knorr stock cubes contain red pepper) with your favourite selection of dried or fresh herbs.  Again, chuck in the Quorn for the last ten minutes.


    OK, so this isn't a theological or spiritual blog, it's just about me refusing to be defeated by what I still think are unpleasant attempts at fake meat!

  • Connections, connections...

    I love this painting of a group of Baptists from the English midlands (primarily Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire and Nottinghamshire). 

    There are many reasons I love it. 

    I love it because it reminds me of old photographs that many churches have of their diaconates, mostly all male, and all very worthy, with Bibles and pipes (for tobacco, not bagpipes!) and sat in similar fashion. 

    I love it because it has echoes of Last Supper paintings, and is a reminder that the story is our story, a continuing story through history.

    Most of all, and this is shamelessly self-indulgent, I love it because I can trace connections from myself to some of these men, which is something that intrigues and delights me.

    William Carey is sitting, on the left hand end of the front row.  Born and brought up in Northamptonshire, he was Baptised in the River Nene, near to what is now the location of the Northampton Railway Station.  Nothing that surprising there.  The connection comes via the minister who Baptised him, John Ryland (third from the left in the front row) minister of College Lane (later Street) Baptist Church.  Among the plants from College Street was a Sunday School in a nearby village called Duston, from which a church emerged, choosing to become Congregational when it gained independence.  It was this church, now a URC, where I came to a place of owned Christian faith, at around the age of 15.  And it was in this church that I got to know one of my GB leaders, now a  friend, whose great grandparents were married in the chapel attended by Mari Jones of Bible Society fame.

    In the centre of the back row is a man wearing a white wig.  He is, so far as I can ascertain, the odd man out, because he was not a Particluar Baptist but a General Baptist, influenced by the Wesleys, and founder of the New Connexion, at the delightfully named Barton-in-the-Beans in Leicestershire.  From there, one of the many plants was in 'Dibley', established in 1749, more than a decade before Carey's birth, and becoming an independent church in 1798.  As a former minister of Dibley Baptist Church, I can claim a connection to Dan Taylor.

    Other links I may claim are undoubtedly more tenuous, places I've visited/studied such as the John Ryland University Library in Manchester (oodles of Baptist archives in the main John Ryland library), hymns I've sung written by John Rippon, and so on.

    When I think of the 'Communion of Saints' or the 'Great Cloud of Witnesses', it is in the light of connections such as these.  As someone who is not convinced that heaven is where we reconnect with our nearest and dearest, it is reassuring and comforting to contemplate that the interconnectedness will ensure a shared history, if measured only over centuries rather than years.