Every little helps

It’s November and I’m sad.  Over the years I have come to dread November, because if anything goes wrong, it goes spectacularly wrong in November.  Perhaps this was a self-fulfilling prophecy, perhaps it’s SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), but it always seemed to become easier to feel more cheerful in December with its Christmas lights.  This year is no exception and I’ve found that recently my optimism has evaporated somewhat.  The Covid virus is surging again, and I doubt if we’ll adjust our lifestyles enough to learn to live with it.  Initial enthusiasm for, and commitment to, a green recovery, which emerged when we saw how the natural world, and ourselves too, benefitted from lockdown, has all but disappeared under concern for looking after the economy. Continue reading

Christians in a Post COVID-19 World?

As we begin another period of lockdown with the number of cases of COVID-19 and the number of deaths rising relentlessly, people are losing hope. There is concern about the effects on employment, the economy and our individual freedoms.

There have been positive community responses: local care groups; support for elderly neighbours; people generally being obedient to the requests and advice of Government; Christians lighting candles to affirm the light of Christ in a dark situation; and scientists across the world collaborating in the search for a vaccine against the virus. Continue reading

THE CALL, THE HERO AND THE CHALLENGE

When Beethoven realised that he was going deaf and that there was little hope of a cure, despair called. He avoided this by casting himself as the hero who would not be deflected from fulfilling his true vocation. For Beethoven this was his art: his music. Although he could not know what posterity would make of his work, he knew that he must continue.

Beethoven’s vision of himself reflects what Joseph Campbell distilled as key elements in the journey of any hero. He believed that when we read the stories of heroes from different times and cultures, we find that they contain the same essential elements. Continue reading

PS…The Holy Discomfort of Being Church

May 2020 saw the release of Dr Gladys Ganiel’s report on a Survey of Church Leaders in Ireland During the Pandemic. It states that many churches have found their viewing figures for online services exceed the numbers of their ‘real-life’ congregations.

Faith leaders have reported an increase of people returning to childhood faith and people new to organised religion joining them. Other Internet statistics show an increase in searches for terms around prayer and Jesus. The Church, as it shows the faithfulness of God and love for our neighbours, is perceived to be a place of safety in a tumultuous sea of uncertainty. Continue reading

And Now For Something Completely Different

The first four weeks of lockdown were revealing. Introverts were as happy as Larry having been given permission to withdraw, with no pressure to mix socially, and commended for their diligence in self-isolating.

Extroverts suffered withdrawal symptoms like drug addicts going cold turkey, counting down the hours before they could get out to exercise and wave across the road to socially distanced friends.  The number of WhatsApp groups grew exponentially and to zoom took on an entirely new meaning, nothing to do with speeding. Continue reading

PS…And your lanyard says in God we trust

Larry Norman’s ‘Great American Novel’ is a classic Christian song, prophetically ahead of its time in its articulation of the United States’ claim that Christian values are at the centre of its national life, whilst a litany of truths about power structures and daily life in the country so plainly contradicted that. The chorus of the song railed that: Continue reading