Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A long way from home

A man from Japan, in Tsunami's wake, asked me to help him inscribe the book of condolences in English. I could help him with the language, the spelling, but not the sentiment. It was coursing through his veins, the blood of his own people.

He introduced himself as a serious man: an admirer, follower, worshipper of Jesus, the awkwardness of words made it hard to tell. He said he was lonely, but did he mean alone, or individual? He read the Bible at home, he said. Belonged to no church or fellowship.

He reminded me so much of Philip Larkin's description of a church as a serious house on serious earth. The fact that our encounter was in a cathedral seemed at once incidental and yet of great importance. Our communion, though imperfect, was serious.

As he left he asked me to take a photograph with his camera - of him overshadowed by this great pile of stone, "this special shell". It was a pillar of grief.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Let's hear it

We had to disturb Daniel the other night as we took to our bed. Aged six, he has never had the power of speech. He needed attention before he could settle finally and cleanly to his slumbers. He surfaced briefly to consciousness as I bent to plant upon his forehead a goodnight kiss. Seeing me he clapped his hands excitedly. I clapped mine. 

That's how he learned to clap. By copying me.

So we applauded each other. Then it was back peacefully to sleep.

He claps because I first clapped him.

Very nearly biblical.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A great big shame

My theological pulse has been quickened once again by a visit to a good and thoughtful friend, and by watching the discussion on BBC TV's The Big Question about the Japanese earthquake.

This is my angle.

If a God existed who had created a world like ours, and then allowed people like us to be born, to live, to suffer and die in such a world, then that God would be the very devil. There is in the New Testament both reference and allusion to Satan as the God of this world.

Now watch Brian Cox and The Wonders of the Universe. It's a wonderfully illustrated account of the origins and history of the universe. I have my problems with it. For one thing he talks as if the universe and even time itself could have something we could sensibly call a beginning and end. I don't get this.

But I do think Professor Cox accurately describes the pitiless and pointless world we inhabit. The idea that any kind of divine being might have created it - is diabolical.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Beware of the Bidet

My first close acquaintance with a bidet was when we moved into our present home, just over ten years ago. It has become an unalterable part of my daily routine. I can barely imagine how previously, without these ablutions, my nearer presence was even tolerable.

Today however I have one small cause for regret. Something not so much as hinted at in any risk assessment I have seen.

A scar to my forehead.

Which leaves me asking - Am I doing it wrong? 

Antenatal or Antinatal?

The radio announcer, a woman, jokingly remarked that if men had the babies the human race would cease to be.

I asked myself why that would be a bad thing.

The only answer that would satisfy me is in relation to the eternal purpose of God. Without such faith I have no answer. Human reproduction, it seems to me, is that serious.

Fortunately my own deciding about such matters is in the distant past. I do not see myself following my great-great uncle William who fathered two children in his seventies with a wife in her thirties.


Friday, March 04, 2011

An inverted bowl

A sane person believes firmly in the uselessness of thinking about what she does not understand.

It does not seem to me that there is anything in the life of the average man, even of the modern intellectual man, which would not go on just as well, and perhaps a little more comfortably, if tribal custom happened to dictate belief in an inverted bowl overhead.

Thus spake Celia Green.

Thus spake my wife, on hearing the announcement of a TV programme about the origins of the universe:

"What on earth has that got to do with me?"