Tag: thinking

How long is enough?

Two recent stories have caused me to consider how long is enough?

1 – “Three years after a sex scandal involving Billy Graham’s grandson Tullian Tchividjian, Fortress Press is bringing his book Jesus + Nothing = Everything back to print.

2 One of Nicola Sturgeon’s new ministers has lost her job before even being confirmed by Parliament over blog posts deemed “offensive and inappropriate”. Gillian Martin, named as a junior education minister on Wednesday, wrote about “hairy knuckled, lipstick-wearing transgender laydees” in a 2007 post.

The forgiveness being given in one story after 3 years contradicts the outcry to the second story. I am not involved with their situation so it is easy for me to forgive, or conversely it is easy to condemn their past action and hold their views as stationary. But I find myself thinking…
How long is long enough to hold people to account?
Can people really change?
Are Christians more likely to give forgiveness?
Is forgiveness given to easily within the Christian community?

Apologies requires two parts, the first person to say “I am sorry” the second person to say “I accept”.
Being the first person to apologise is tough. I do not like that I am human and this means I am changeable and fallible (often). Life changes. I have changed. But I am constantly here. I am not a journey, as that implies my views are always changing and if I do not change then I am not journeying. I am here and have experienced life as best I can. I wondered what I would do in each situation, would I apologise and mean the apology.

It also needs the other, the second person. The other includes whoever was directly affected by these actions. The politician was talking about others in her blog, and the Bookman convinced others that what he was doing was correct. You cannot apologise if you do not know what you are apologising for. Perhaps an apology will make things ok with who they were wronging. Perhaps this represents an acknowledgement that what they did was wrong and a commitment to do the future differently. I don’t know an apology would demonstrate a changed belief, at a basic level by not having affairs or not writing blogs they would demonstrate a change. It is challenging to forgive but it is what I am called to do.

So how long is enough? What do people have to do to be forgiven? Perhaps the third person the in the situation needs thought about. The third person is wider society. We ask both people to hold office (in church and in parliament), we then hold both to an additional standard of behaviour. Where there is abuse of power or the possibility of this behaviour we say “NO” to appointment. We judge the situation and the person as we see fit. We are comfortable with the operation of a public court system where people are tried publicly, although the public most times were not offended against. But the legal system is not as important as social media and the court of public opinion. The both are guilty. Apologies may have been said, but still I judge them. I am uncomfortable with the three years in case one, as I do not think it is long enough. I am also uncomfortable with 11-year-old blogs being used as an example of the politicians views. But this doesn’t tell me anything about the people; it doesn’t tell me whether they have changed, or whether they have unrepentant carried on. I judge them based on the worst part of their existence that we know about. I was criticising Donald Trump recently, when an American youth worker told his story of asking the Trump organisation for help to make a good night for a group of young people. He was asked to Trump tower in New York and surprisingly, ended up meeting with Donald Trump. Come the night and the Trump organisation really did a great job in making the night awesome, going above and beyond for the young people. While I am not a supporter of President Trumps policies or presidential reign, neither was the American youth worker, I am aware that the picture is more complex than I see. Humans act as humans, frustratingly inconsistent.

Doubting my voice


One the literal side effects of the stroke is that I speak with a different voice. I know what I am trying to say, I almost hear myself in my brain say it, but I go to speak it out loud and the voice I say it in is not one I automatically recognise. I prepare by thinking what I am going to say in my normal voice, I have conversations in my brain which are normal, but when I open my mouth it isn’t the voice I imagine.

This has several effects like I cannot phone in a foreign food takeaway as I sound as if I am not taking the take away staff seriously. Do I doubt myself? Yes. I often try to put something over as best I can put it verbally. But afterwards I find doubt creeping in. I do not know if the children do not understand what I am saying or whether they are being children and listening “creatively”, (was it the stroke or my children just being that age?)

I was in a situation today where I had cause to phone an ambulance. I dialled 999 without thinking. The operator put me through, I gave the details as clearly as I could. The wind was pretty bad, I took shelter behind a parked minibus and the signal dropped. It came back and I continued to talk to the dispatcher. Soon the call was over and the ambulance was on its way. I waited at the bottom of an adjoining street in order to guide the ambulance the right way, also as not to crowd the person on the ground. As I stood there I doubted myself.

Had I made myself clear? Yes, they had said an ambulance was on the way.
Had I remembered the address of the street properly? Yes, I think so. I checked the address on my phone and I had addressed it properly.
Had they taken me seriously? I didn’t know.

I was suddenly very conscious of not being able to speak in my own voice. I thought back over the conversations where people had heard me, then my mind turned to the conversations where people hadn’t heard me, the times when I had said something and not got the responses I expected or perhaps, any responses at all. I thought of times where I was quiet. Was this being quiet a sign that I was comfortable, conscious of how when I am nervous I fill silences, or was this quiet because I didn’t know what to say or how to say it because I was scared of using my current voice and looking like a fool.

Perhaps this was summed up by two men as I waited for the ambulance. One man asked what had happened. I told him that a man was on the ground and they were looking after him. He said “What?’ meaning can you repeat it again please? I did and he said “Right” and walked off. Later a man walked passed me and said “Hello”, I said “Hello” back and he made a comment about the weather before continuing on. They’re understanding was deeper than my ability to communicate.

The speech therapist has said there is nothing medically wrong with my talking, I can make all the sounds necessary, that meeting and having conversation will help bring back my own voice. When I am not thinking about the voice or what I am going to say the old voice can come back for a few minutes. Perhaps I am too nervous around what I have to say and how I will say it. The last few years of my doctorate have been about developing my voice. It looked at how I use my voice to say something distinctive and interesting. The critique I bring is dependant on me, the stuff which makes me whoever I am. I didn’t particularly like my old voice, it was to middle-y, but it was mine. And something in my brain hears it and connects with it. I wonder what I have said distinctively in my old voice. I wonder what I can say in this current voice which is new and distinctive. I didn’t take much notice of my old voice, but now when I think of saying something I doubt myself, I think again. I need to risk to find my old voice again. I doubted myself at the best of times, but now I need to chat. I was proud I had called 999 and had a discussion conveying important information while my current voice is different. All this doubt was internal and I need to try using my voice again. Hopefully next weeks activities will take another step towards having my old voice back.

Ideas conferences

… such ideas events prosper because they solve a problem faced by the many at the top of their professions. The much-discussed “death of distance” never happened; globalisation and the profusion of technology makes place more important. Similarly, a world of abundant, instantly accessible information seems to make personal connection more vital. This puts a premium on private events, which force their participants to spend time developing ideas without distraction.
(“what’s the big idea” by James crabtree in yesterday’s financial times.)

Was thinking about that in yesterday’s mind map.
How zeitgeist-y was I?

Lent -1

For lent this year, I am stuck.
I am considering what to do. But kinda unsure
Previous efforts have included

Giving up crisps.
Reading a book.
Giving up all music I had heard before.
Eating less.
Giving up caffeine.
Giving up alcohol.
Publishing a record of my spending on the Internet.

And this year I am struggling to work out something appropriate.

Lent is the period of 40 days which build up to Easter Sunday. The key is that you give something up in order to prepare yourself for Easter.

Lent has never been a festival which I had marked but recently it has been something I have been thinking about.

This year I want to do something which marks that preparing and respect for Easter but also something which embodies the “slow” translation of lent as well.

Dunno what I will do but I look forward to trying.

Categories: church events thinking

Tags: ,

Young people, spirituality and the online

It all started with radio4’s programme about yoga. As the guy wittered on about the problem of yoga being both a spiritual discipline and a franchised business. How can you franchise spirituality? Was his question, I thought the church of Scotland (or any denomination) have effectively done it for years so what’s the problem?

As I listened I started to wonder why young people haven’t caught onto yoga as a spiritual discipline. Why when you hit 20’s and beyond does yoga start to become something accessible and open to you. What are the barriers to this experience. Why do young people not respond to it? Are young people spiritual in a specifically adolescent way? Is it cultural norms rather than spiritual norms which close the door?

As I thought about this I wondered about young people.
I believe young people, like every person is inherently spiritual. Has a curiosity about spiritual things and develops ways of being/ acting/ understandings which reflect this.
Yet one main stream spiritual activity, which has dual benefits, and seeming agnostic view of religion, seems not to hit the spot.

What does hit the spot. What is the language of this spot and where does it exist/ can it accessed. My suspicion is that it is a foreign country, they do things differently there,(as someone once remarked.) I wonder what it looks like, what it sounds like, what it feels like?

Could it be online.
I wonder.


I just don’t get this linkage, or this attitude which esteems success as the thing to be copied. Inspired by reading about abraham, jacob, moses, I have been thinking a lot about failure. Recently I was at on a course. The first session leader told us about failure being useful and being key to learning, how failure is valuable and worthwhile to seeing how things can be done better. In short how to change and learn. Yet to fail or to be perceived as a failure is very negative.

In fact failure is to be avoided and thrown away as worthless. In the second session of the course I was on, (a different leader,) every example used, esteemed and praised was one of external success. I wonder if you get more press coverage if you are a celebrity who has a high profile success of if you have a high profile failure. I think you get more for failure, but that just reinforces the position of failure being bad.

I just don’t know where this leaves us.
I fail
I struggle with feeling that those failures are negative.
sometimes they are, sometimes, though.

I think my life is/can/will be positive. I think I have changed and learned and grown through those failures. I also choose to think any success I am perceived to have is down to those failures. (Unlike mr Jordan in the advert above not sure I have had the same level of career he has had!)

I think the concept of confession has a lot going for it in terms of disabling this failure is bad position. where grace, love and forgiveness are present and available for all. Where failures like myself can be rested and cared for.

Within the act of confession is rest renewing, a casting off of that you are carrying. The verbalisation of a failure has a big effect on the spirit. Perhaps thats why so many public speakers start off with a story which could be perceived as a confession. (A joke which self denigrates.)

Wonder what an ethic of failure would look like.
I wonder what a theology of failure could work up as…

What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?

great question.

The World Questions Centre made this their questions of 2011

James Flynn has defined “shorthand abstractions” (or “SHA’s”) as concepts drawn from science that have become part of the language and make people smarter by providing widely applicable templates (“market”, “placebo”, “random sample,” “naturalistic fallacy,” are a few of his examples). His idea is that the abstraction is available as a single cognitive chunk which can be used as an element in thinking and debate.

The Edge Question 2011


The term ‘scientific”is to be understood in a broad sense as the most reliable way of gaining knowledge about anything, whether it be the human spirit, the role of great people in history, or the structure of DNA. A “scientific concept” may come from philosophy, logic, economics, jurisprudence, or other analytic enterprises, as long as it is a rigorous conceptual tool that may be summed up succinctly (or “in a phrase”) but has broad application to understanding the world.

The list of people who answer the questions are quite staggering.
The list of concepts runs to 17 pages and also are quite staggering.

the ones which i particularly liked were
Terrance Sejnowski – Powers of 10 also see Carl Page – Powers of 10
Gerd Gigerenzer – Risk literacy
Carlo Rovelli – The Uselessness of Certainty
Evgeny Morozov – Einstellung Effect

an entertaining and thought provoking way to spend an evening!
you should visit

advent 10 – Who is happy and when? – Happiness 2

Thomas Nagel writing in the New York review of Books, writes on happiness, his article reviewing two books on the subject of happiness. Exploring Happiness by Sissela Bok and The Politics of Happiness by Derek Bok. As reviews of the distills the two big books into a very readable essay.  (Ah, yes, on the blog i have quoted recently from the New York Review of Books, Financial Times and the Harvard Buisness Review.)

He poses the four big questions about happiness at the start of the article.
1 – What is Happiness?
2 – How much should we value it?
3 – What causes it?
4 – Should political institutions  try to create it, and if so, how?

the rest of the article is well worth a read, but I want to spend time with these questions for a while.
I wonder what this could lead to.

Advent 8 – fees for university

Fees for university.
I dunno what to think to be honest. I went to a private college which charged about £3300 per year. I got my government £1200 per year and had to pay the difference.

I am still paying off my student loan form that time but I got a job due to the successful competing of the course.

I also did a post graduate certificate while working full time. (not a year of relaxing then…) I was awarded a paid place on the course.

I felt really bad when one girl dropped out due to not having enough money to pay the fees. She was counting in getting a paid place.

I don’t know what’s right.
I do think the funding of higher education needs looked at. British institutions may have a certain cache but the ivy league is in a different league when it come to funding.

I guess I have a core belief in doing good things.
Free health care through the nhs. Good.
Free benefits for those who need. Good.
Free primary and secondary education. Good.
Free access to higher education. Good

I cannot get away from it being a really good thing.

I understand that it needs to be funded, and I understand that the Con-lib government is very committed to cutting things. To balance our books, (not the radical way I would do it but hey!)

Yet this seems a decision based on focusing britain on a service economy and buisness. It is focuses on money and not intangibles. Yet prime minister Cameron talks about the big community and of measuring happiness rather than GDP as a measure of how well the country is doing.

Who will look after –
If they go, where is society?

That’s disappointing.
That’s worrying.

Advent 4 – Happiness, a song

Currently I am thinking about happiness.
I think it is a key conceptaround living and how society icurrently organisess itself. (more on that tomorrow!)
So are an intro some interesting lyrics about happiness from Ron Sexsmith’s retriever album.

“Happiness so hard to come by
So good while it lasts
Some people say
That it ain’t worth pursuing
Cos’ it’s always moving too fast

Still I wonder
What could it be
And I wonder
What does it mean
Cos’ I’m so in love with you
If this ain’t happiness baby it’ll do
Let’s call it happiness

Happiness so hard to deal with
When there is sadness in your eyes
As you come through the door
It may leap out of the darkness
It’s always yelling “Surprise!”

So I wonder
What does it mean
And I wonder
Why me
Cos I’m so in love with you
If this ain’t happiness baby it’ll do
Let’s call it happiness

Oh there’s no denying
It’s one of those things
That money can’t buy
But still we try

May we all mop up
And our cup runneth over
May we all have
More than enough of

Cos I’m so in love with you
If this ain’t happiness baby it’ll do
Let’s call it happiness

Happiness, by ron sexsmith.