Monday, 14 September 2015

655 - Sky

Strange that God should draw closer
In the time you have been away
So that turning to Him should become easier
If it were possible.

Oh that I had walked the hard way,
But the paths are gentle now,
The view of hills, not mountains,
Cloud, not sky.

Monday, 16 March 2015

656 - Leaves Blown by Wind

Four and a half years ago, or twenty, depending how you count, I had a mental breakdown. It's like this: the tree you are, which is the tree you are nurturing, loses its leaves - young leaves, vibrant, signs of hope. There they go, scattered in the wind.

Let's say twenty. I was pursuing a career in the Church. I found out that I was not prepared to do what I believed God was asking me to do. Repeatedly I came to the conclusion that I was evil. I resolved to live what was left of my life away from the Church. I became a librarian; I married my beautiful girlfriend.

Twelve years ago, after a hallucinatory experience, I re-engaged with religion. I was cocky. I also grew isolated. Leaves swirl and eddy, gathering in piles, before they scatter again. Sometimes they form beautiful patterns, order, briefly, in some sense. I began to suffer from depression. I didn't notice it. My thoughts became wild and erratic, and I ignored them.

Four and a half years ago a tremendous wind blew the last of the patterns away. Depression and many psychotic episodes followed. The crisis team were called in, a regime of pills implemented. The days were filled with events overladen with significance. I found myself back where I was twenty years ago, repeating tropes I thought were long gone. My wife coped, because she had to.

There is a bible story about a king, Nebuchadnezzar, who dreams he is a tree. The tree is stripped and cut down. Only the stump remains. Nebuchadnezzar lives for seven years as an animal, naked and beaten by the elements. But through those years he is humbled and restored to his kingdom. I don't think I am there yet - I am still fixated on those leaves - but this story gives me hope.

One day I will find myself alive again.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

657 - Beautiful Whitley

Beautiful day, beautiful Whitley, with all its complexities.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

658 - Mistral

A warm wind blowing through Whitley Bay tonight. So despite the clocks going back this morning (by the way, I forgot) the town feels Mediterranean. A little bit.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

659 - Back to Business

It's been a long time, and a lot has been happening in Whitley Bay. And I have been indulging myself on this blog and not writing about any of it.

Okay, sometimes I have. But mostly, recently especially, I've slipped tracks and written for and about myself, and that's not what this blog is for. This blog is for Whitley Bay. Exciting projects like the Big Local and the Station Master's Garden and the Whitley Bay Film Festival have been taking root. There's a food bank, and a venture to develop culture in the Bay called 'Under the Dome', which I have a small interest in. Friends of the Brierdene, with which I am also involved, albeit sparingly, dig weekly in a dene at the northern end of the bay. My wife co-ordinated a fabulous festival there last summer...

And so on. Exciting Church things too, but for all my preachifying I've not actually been involved in them.

Verdict on 'A Whitley Bay Thousand': Could do better. From now on I will attempt to.

Monday, 6 October 2014

660 - Adam and Eve

I'm not sure I understand the story of Adam and Eve. Mainly I don't understand why a loving God would load additional punishments on the two first humans besides death, which is I suppose fair enough, after they eat the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil. These include pain in childbirth and exile from Eden. Perhaps they should be considered somehow as death itself or inevitable consequences of death. But they do seem to be sprung on Adam and Eve after the event. I'm not sure I understand why future generations should have suffered either.

Why should this matter? It's just a story. But even if it is just a story it is the lens through which the New Testament makes sense of the actions of Jesus. If it is, somehow, true, then concerns like mine become problematic.

My second 'don't get it' is related. If God hadn't exiled Adam and Eve from Eden, He could presumably have forgiven them and given them the chance to make good their actions. Instead He waited two or more millenia, then allowed his Son to sacrifice himself.

Can anyone please help me?

Monday, 29 September 2014

661 - Antonio Damasio

This man has written a book called 'The Feeling of What Happens: body, emotion and the making of consciousness'. I am excited to be reading it, because the ideas within it are so beautifully put. Here, for example, about the capacity of the conscious mind to hide as well as reveal:

"Perhaps it was easier to get a more balanced perspective in earlier times when there was no veil, when the environments were relatively simple, long before electronic media and jet travel, long before the printed word, before the empire, and ahead of the city-state. It must have been easier to sense the life within, when the brain provided a lopsided view in the opposite direction [to the present], tilted toward the dominant representation of the internal states of the organism. If it was ever like that, perhaps at some magic brief time between Homer and Athens, lucky humans would have perceived in an instant that all of their amusing antics were about life and that underneath every image of the outside world, there stood the ongoing image of their living bodies." [p. 29]

It would be fascinating to read the Bible on Adam and Eve in the light of this passage.