Weblog

Grief

I have just spent a fairly sleepless night wrestling, once more, with difficult questions. Dear friends are 'going through the mill' at the moment - there has been a veritable spate of bereavements in two church families. The most recent is the loss of a sibling's child, at the age of only two days. Nineteen years ago, my wife gave birth to a stillborn child, so we know the devastating sense of loss they feel. The pain, at the time, is unbearable. There are no easy answers; nothing one can say which will ease the pain of loss. However much I want to, I can't take away their pain.

There isn't a 'best thing' one can do, because everyone suffers grief a little differently. Some wish, mainly, to be alone; others want company - but very often the sort of company who are able to sit comfortably in companionable silence, simply listening and 'soaking up' the hurt, the anger, the questions, without necessarily responding unless specifically asked for a response - many questions are rhetorical and need no answer - if, indeed, there is an answer…

Bibles and Technology

22nd March, 2013

I've never been the most disciplined of bible-readers. Yes, I've read the whole thing a time or two, and I sort of know my way around it. I try to read something from it most days. But it's a monster. It's complicated, in all sorts of ways - even ways I haven't thought of, I'm sure. Even the bits which are an 'easy read', like some of the New Testament letters, have hidden depths which can drag you off in all sorts of directions.

I took a long time to be persuaded that I would like an iPad. To begin with, when the idea was suggested, my attitude was 'what would I want one of those for - I've got a desktop and a laptop (both Macs, by the way) already? I couldn't see what sort of 'niche' it would fill. But, eventually, and at least partly because no-one, least of all me, could think of anything to give me for birthday/Christmas/etc presents, I allowed the family to buy me one.

16th April, 2013

How did this entry get published in its unfinished state? No, on second thoughts, don't answer that - it might not be flattering!

Sex and the Christian

This post, which sort of follows on from the last, is inspired mainly by the tribulations of Cardinal Keith O'Brian, until recently head of the Roman Catholic church in Scotland. It also stems from a discussion at our house group meeting this week, on the theme of 'Grace'. I am not going to comment, other than in the most general terms, on Cardinal O'Brian's situation. My thinking on this matter, and its relationship to the theme, is 'incomplete', so the post may seem a little disjointed - it's a 'work in progress'. During it I shall wander, fairly freely, through homosexuality, paedophilia, Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, journalism and so on without pausing for breath - sorry if it's hard to follow and I seem to make links which don't exist - as I say, my thinking is incomplete, but I needed to write something down as part of working it all out in my mind...

So, sex and the Christian. Despite what some would have you believe, God is not anti-sex. If you believe that God created mankind in His own image, and that it was good, then you can't avoid the fact that sex is good. God created the orgasm. God (through an intermediary) wrote the Song of Solomon. Read that, remember that it's part of the bible, and then try telling me God is anti-sex - though I don't deny that the church, at times, has appeared (and sometimes still seems) to be anti-sex. God does, though, place quite strict boundaries on sexual activity - basically, it seems to be intended to be between a man and a woman who are married to each other (with some exceptions, if you trawl the depths of the Old Testament - there's some polygamy and other things going on there, apparently with God's approval??). And that, throughout the history of God's people, has been the only place it was permitted - no, not just permitted, positively required. I am not, here and now, going to venture into the minefield of homosexuality, gay marriage, and all that - maybe some other time - perhaps when I've worked out where my views actually lie!

Integrity

After an interlude for Easter and other things, we return to the theme of power, leadership, sin and redemption.

In 1887, Lord Acton said, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men. " He wasn't the first to say something similar - William Pitt the Elder, said, in a speech to the House of Lords in 1770: "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it". And we can see the evidence, throughout history, of what happens when individuals have power - from Roman Emperors such as, to take particularly unpleasant examples, Nero or Commodus, through to our own day, with the somewhat less outrageous but still odious example set by many politicians.

I'm not, and never have been, in a position of real power - and I hope fervently never to be so. Perhaps that means I can't really understand what drives someone who does have power. I can't understand the likes of politicians, who (apparently) commit some act of wrongdoing and then, when 'found out' deny it, increasingly forcefully and desperately as more and more revelations and evidence come to light. Why fight the inevitable? Do they hope to cling to power and influence? Do they hope that, sooner or later, their pursuers will give in and let them off, or that, by some miracle, the evidence will disappear and everyone will forget it ever happened, so they can get back to the exercise of power? I can't remember it ever happening.

Easter

Easter has, as always, been a festival of contrasts - from the sorrow and pathos of the Garden of Gethsemane, the desolation and loneliness of Golgotha and the stark symbol of the cross, to the wonder, transformed into sheer joy, of the bright morn of Easter Day. My own mood has reflected this - due, in no small part, to the sensitivity of the team of people responsible for the Easter services. The following song summed up the Maundy Thursday evening communion service for me.

How Deep The Father's Love For Us

Stuart Townend

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2016