Lent 40

Mar. 26th, 2016 12:38 pm
mylodon: (whaletail)
Always a relief to get to the last post of Lent and the numbers are right. 40 days to reflect Jesus' 40 days in the desert. Palm Sunday to remind us on his entrance into Jerusalem. Maundy Thursday to remember the last supper and Jesus telling us to serve one another. Then Passion Sunday and Good Friday to mark His crucifixion. Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and we'll be ready to celebrate.

I'm finishing off the lent thoughts by sharing some ideas of little acts of kindness which we can do any day of the year. They're taken from here and none of them cost even a brass farthing.

Let a car go in front of you, particularly on a busy road
Pass on a good book when you’re finished with it
Help a struggling mum carry her pushchair upstairs
Help a friend pack when their moving house
Give someone a compliment. And mean it
Tell the manager when you receive good service from one of their employees

There are many more things we could get on with doing which would make the world a better, Easter Sunday kind of place.

Lent 38

Mar. 24th, 2016 11:08 am
mylodon: (whaletail)
Sharing some more positive stories of people taking small steps that make a huge difference.



I defy anybody not to be moved by this!

Lent 36

Mar. 22nd, 2016 09:20 am
mylodon: (whaletail)
We're concentrating on hope this week, the glimmers of light in the darkness. (And given today's news from Brussels we need that light.)

I was really moved by this news story from Bristol, which [livejournal.com profile] nodbear shared with me. What I particularly like is that the whole thing starts with a small gesture of kindness, and from an unexpected source. From that small seed, great fruits grow.

Sometimes we feel so overwhelmed by the world's problems. What can we do to make a difference? I believe that anything that makes a difference helps. A smile, a door held open, carrying somebody's bag or helping them in a crisis no matter how small. We can all be light and salt for the world.

Lent 34

Mar. 19th, 2016 09:18 am
mylodon: (whaletail)
It really is Lent 34, because [livejournal.com profile] nodbear says it is and I trust her to keep a better count than me.

A follow up to Thursday's post features a ray of hope, and is another example of what happens when people have the courage and wisdom to engage, talk and be open, rather than a) cover everything up or b) just apologise and walk away. This is the article, from BBC news; worth reading it and then watching the video (if you can) right through to the end.

Lent 30

Mar. 17th, 2016 11:17 am
mylodon: (whaletail)
Jesus wept.

Said to be the shortest verse in the bible, and the first thing I thought of this morning when I woke, because we'd been to see that remarkable film "Spotlight" last night. It deals with the Boston Globe's exposé of the Catholic church's cover up of widespread sexual abuse of children by priests. In total, over 200 priests and others were identified as abusing children but this had all been swept under the carpet by those in power within the church and community with token payments in return for confidentiality agreements, priests relocated, ongoing offending not dealt with properly, etc, etc.

This is not unique to Boston, nor to the Catholic church. The Church of England is at present subject to investigation about how it has dealt with similar cases in the past.

The whole issue makes me white with anger. Not just at the abuse but at how it was hidden away. I know that we all make mistakes, do things we afterwards regret, but how could people - clergy, laity, lawyers, police - time and again be party to such deceit? How can the reputation of the church have taken precedence over protecting the innocent?

Jesus wept.

Lent 30

Mar. 15th, 2016 11:21 am
mylodon: (whaletail)
Following on from [livejournal.com profile] nodbear's thoughts of how we perceive ourselves as a nation and how others see us, I was reminded of my favourite twitter site, Very British Problems. Marvelling at the confidence of someone who has the ability to say "excuse me, sorry, this isn't what I ordered" raises a smile because it's so true. But that British reticence must drive other people bananas.

There is a big push on promoting British Values in schools, partly to counter extremism. What are those values defined as?

• an understanding of how citizens can influence decision-making through the democratic process;
• an appreciation that living under the rule of law protects individual citizens and is essential for their wellbeing and safety;
• an understanding that there is a separation of power between the executive and the judiciary, and that while some public bodies such as the police and the army can be held to account through Parliament, others such as the courts maintain independence;
• an understanding that the freedom to choose and hold other faiths and beliefs is protected in law;
• an acceptance that other people having different faiths or beliefs to oneself (or having none) should be accepted and tolerated, and should not be the cause of prejudicial or discriminatory behaviour; and
• an understanding of the importance of identifying and combatting discrimination.

Not a bad set of values at all. I wonder how often we live by them?

Lent 28

Mar. 12th, 2016 12:59 pm
mylodon: (whaletail)
I've said it before - and will no doubt say it again - that [livejournal.com profile] nodbear and I often seem to find ourselves running on parallel tracks. Her post yesterday about walls and barriers chimed very much with what's been on my mind the last few days.

On Thursday we went to see Bridge of Spies, which is a remarkable film. Apart from the wonderful acting performance of Mark Rylance, I really appreciated the way that it captured an era, accurately reflecting the hysteria of the cold war. It also showed the warts on both sides, which isn't always the case with an American film dealing with this sort of topic.

More than anything, it made me think of the modern day situation in both America and Europe: the levels of distrust and anger; the desire to segregate and separate; the presence of enemy agents within the community and their legal rights. If you haven't seen the film, I recommend it. It speaks as much about 2016 as it does about the 1950's/60's.

Lent 26

Mar. 10th, 2016 09:10 am
mylodon: (whaletail)
Following on from the posts about our three school values - Love, Hope and Forgiveness - I couldn't help but think Faith, Hope and Charity (lovingkindness type of charity) from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. What a great bit of writing that its, full of wonderful imagery of seeing through a glass darkly, thinking as a child, etc. I love the King James version, with its majestic Shakespearean era language, but have to say the best translation of the 'glass darkly' lines (or best for the modern day) is from the Lolcat version.

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."

"For nao we see in teh foggy mirorr like when teh human gets out of teh shower, but tehn we see faec tow faec. Nao i haz knowingz just a bit, tehn i will haz all teh knowingz, as i haz been knownz."

Lent 24

Mar. 8th, 2016 11:33 am
mylodon: (whaletail)
We've turned that Mothering Sunday corner, and can see in the distance the welcome light of holy week and the great weekend of Easter Sunday.

I promised [livejournal.com profile] nodbear I'd put some context around the school value of Forgiveness I posted about last week. Of course the values have to be expressed in terms all the school community - from 4 year olds to 11 year olds through staff, governors and parents up to our gardening granddads - can grasp. So here are the other two:

LOVE
In order to show our love for one another and the world around us we will:
• Respect the well-being of others, trusting and supporting them
• Be friendly and thoughtful, knowing we are all equal
• Treat each other in the way we would like to be treated
• Take care of everything around us

HOPE
In our school we hope:
• That each member of our school community will achieve their full potential
• We will be prepared to meet new challenges, believing God loves us to grow as people
• We will have confidence in our own ability

There are some pretty good suggestions for all of us there!

Lent 22

Mar. 5th, 2016 01:15 pm
mylodon: (whaletail)
[livejournal.com profile] nodbear has taken up the 'forgiveness/pardon' theme and run with it, and her most recent post is - as always - both excellent and thought provoking.

Earlier, I was looking at the website for the school where I'm chair of governors, and our three key values are Love, Hope and Forgiveness. Those were decided on by staff and governors about a year ago and form the heart of what we do. Those values are supposed to be at the heart of all we do, explicitly (in terms of forgiveness):

We wish to work in a school community where:
• We forgive other people who hurt us
• We are forgiven when we are in the wrong
• We think about how others might feel, and do what we can to help them
• Strong friendships are forged

Our new headteacher has been using these values, with success, to reinforce the behaviour policy and get children to see the impact of their actions.

Lent 20

Mar. 3rd, 2016 12:24 pm
mylodon: (whaletail)
This could get a touch controversial...

A lot of nonsense is spoken about Alan Turing, (who is a huge hero of mine), not helped by films like The Imitation Game which is rife with inaccuracies. In particular it shows Turing being blackmailed by somebody he may never have met in real life and the events leading up to and following his indecency conviction are an embroidery of the prosaic truth.

Turing received a royal pardon in 2013, following a media campaign and petition. Someone I know and respect refused to sign said petition on very simple grounds: Turing broke what was the law at the time. The legal position has now changed, thank goodness, but the fact remains and it produces several ethical questions.

Should we pardon all those who were convicted under that same law, including Billy Clegg-Hill, whose war grave I tend? Should we pardon all those who were convicted under laws which are now revoked or do we simply single out the big names like Turing and the legislation we don't agree with? Where should we start and where should we stop?

Lent 18

Mar. 1st, 2016 10:51 am
mylodon: (easter)
[livejournal.com profile] nodbear has started to think about the times we have to forgive ourselves. I commented that this topic has perhaps taken us to a deeper level than we're usually at in these reflections, which is no bad thing.

We've all done things we regret or are ashamed of. Maybe they've led to other people being hurt in some way. Some of us go to church, make our confession - in whatever way our denominational tradition is - then receive absolution. But even then it's hard to stop blaming yourself for whatever it was.

So what does self-forgiveness - treating ourselves with the same mercy God shows us - consist of? Maybe most positively a resolution never to be so stupid again, never to repeat what you did. When Jesus spoke to the woman taken in adultery (and where was the bloke she must have been doing it with, BTW?) he tells her to go and sin no more. That's a big ask but at least we can try not to replicate some of our mistakes.

Lent 14

Feb. 25th, 2016 05:03 pm
mylodon: (whaletail)
Carrying on from the last few days, thinking of the appropriate reactions to - and how to guard against - cases of abuse within organisations (and how topical is this given the news today regarding the BBC?).

I was thinking about how the church can be particularly vulnerable to abusers infiltrating children's groups, due to forgiveness being at the heart of our Christian practice. People confuse forgiveness with forgetting. You can forgive a child abuser for what he or she did (although does anyone have the right to forgive in those circumstances apart from the victim and their family?). what you can't do is ignore the fact of what they've done. Sometimes they will have had an order placed on them to prevent them working with children which no organisation should go against.

It can be really hard to get that point across to people; I know, because I've had to do it. If all else fails I point out the bit in the Lord's prayer which says "Lead us not into temptation". We shouldn't allow other people to be lead into temptation, either.

Lent 12

Feb. 23rd, 2016 11:29 am
mylodon: (whaletail)
A more sombre thought today. My mind has been much exercised by a case of a local teacher who's been found guilty of assaulting young girls, in school. I've kept up with the story for several reasons, one of which is seeing if there is anything I can learn as a governor that would help prevent this happening in my school.

Why do people do such things? That's a complex question to answer, but part of the reasoning has to be that they do it because they can get away with it. I believe this is particularly true of abusers but probably applies to many criminals. They create a reputation and persona so that people say, "He/she couldn't possibly have done that." Think of the patients who testified on behalf of Harold Shipman, or the hundreds of 'great and good' who wrote letters in support of Bishop Peter Ball, even though both men were eventually found guilty. There are many other examples.

The little cynic who lives in my head says we must love our neighbours - but keep a healthy scepticism about what they might be up to.

Lent 10

Feb. 20th, 2016 01:16 pm
mylodon: (whaletail)
Still thinking of things for which we should be grateful and the conscious act of counting our blessings.

We live in an Edwardian house with 1980s additions done by previous owners. Parts of it have shown their age this winter and among other things we need a host of radiator valves replacing, some light fittings ditto and a new sunken roof over the bay in our bedroom. (I'd wondered why no other house of our's age locally has a sunken roof - now I know.) It's been easy to despair but we keep reminding ourselves that we haven't had our house flooded time and again like those poor souls in Cumbria, that we have a roof over our head and food in the fridge unlike so many people in the world, and that we can afford to have the work done, even if it's stressful getting quotes and pinning workman down to dates.

So yes, I can say I have truly learned to count at least some of my blessings these last few months.

Lent 8

Feb. 18th, 2016 03:12 pm
mylodon: (whaletail)
[livejournal.com profile] nodbear's latest thought made my head explode a bit because I thought it through literally and didn't end up with a lot. (You'll have to read the post to make sense of that.)

I'm very grateful for the people and things around me - and for the beautiful blue sky today - but I'm not sure I overtly express that gratitude in words or gestures or even a silent prayer of "Thank you". Definitely something for me to work on.

Lent 6

Feb. 16th, 2016 11:29 am
mylodon: (easter)
Still mulling over [livejournal.com profile] nodbear's WIP analogy and linking it to her latest post.

I recently returned to a WIP that I'd had to put aside because of other deadlines. As I started to write about the characters again I discovered a huge plot twist which will form the backbone of the story. Had my subconscious mind put it there beforehand, as it fitted so well with the characters as already drawn? And is God as surprised and delighted by our 'plot twists'?

I simply can't believe in predestination or anything else that says our lives are pre-shaped. Surely God wants children, with the ability to make their own choices, rather than toys he has to direct. Perhaps He's put in us the capacity to produce amazing things, rather like my sub-conscious must have pre-loaded those characters, and waits to see what we'll make of things.

Lent 4

Feb. 13th, 2016 11:32 am
mylodon: (easter)
It's great sharing Lent reflections with [livejournal.com profile] nodbear, because she always provides something to get me thinking. Usually much more so than the sermons I hear in church, but that's another matter.

Yesterday she spoke about us being God's works in progress - I love that idea. Writers have a particular regard for their WIPs, even when they seem to be going nowhere. We never abandon them. We revisit them and see if we can nurture them afresh. Maybe they need to take a new direction or be put into a new setting (I've just finished a WIP which has been stuck for 5 years simply by relocating it geographically.) Maybe they need a jolly good talking to. We know they'll get there in the end, though, even if we seem temporarily to have abandoned them for other projects.

Lent 2

Feb. 11th, 2016 09:15 am
mylodon: (whaletail)
Following straight on from [livejournal.com profile] nodbear's thought provoking Ash Wednesday post about deserts, which immediately got me thinking about the temptations Jesus had in the wilderness, and how they can seem a bit side our experience. There wouldn't be much point in suggesting I turn bread into stones, would there?

But the one about ruling the world (if He serves the devil) is understandable; it can come to any of us, at any time, if not in such a dramatic way. I can certainly think of occasions when the little imp in my head has tempted me to do something along the lines of "I'll show them who's boss" or maybe suggested I try to unfairly get one over on somebody else.

[livejournal.com profile] nodbearsays that deserts aren't just arid geographical regions and she's right. We can carry our deserts around with us.

Lent

Jan. 29th, 2016 11:56 am
mylodon: (whaletail)
My pal [livejournal.com profile] nodbear and I will be sharing our thoughts through Lent again this year. Not sure who reads them, but at the very least it's good for us to sit back and reflect!
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