All We Are Saying is Give Anger a Chance
Anger troubles us. From the seismic tremors of irritation to the volcanic explosions of rage anger in its various forms feels threatening. It is a difficult, uncomfortable and unpleasant emotion and when it grabs hold of us then it usually means that something in our life has gone seriously wrong. Who in their right mind would want to be angry? Continue reading
““For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5:7b-8).
Within the context of an essentially negative point in which the author of these words, the apostle Paul, is criticising the church in the Greek city of Corinth for tolerating gross immorality, we catch a glimpse of a wonderfully positive view of the Christian life. It is, we are shown, a celebration, a festival. Continue reading
A few months ago, while reading Stephen Pattison’s book, Shame, I was reminded of this passage from Martin Buber’s Between Man and Man. Although this isn’t Buber’s most famous work – that accolade goes to I and Thou – it is the one that had the greatest impact on me . I love the following paragraphs for the way they dissolve the distinction between the spiritual and the secular. In Buber’s hands sacred and profane spaces, holy and the common time collapse to form what Pattison refers to as the holiness of the everyday. Continue reading
A Story from the Mabinogion
Manawydan ap Llyr had surrendered himself to feasting, to pleasure and to forgetting. Year after year he and his six companions gratified their desires in the Great Hall of Gwales Castle in Penfro. Year after year they ate and drank, sang and danced. They had nothing to drink to and nothing to sing about and yet they continued with their empty celebrations. Pleasure without purpose and happiness without reason, these had preoccupied them for a magical and unreal lifetime. Continue reading
In setting out to reflect on the relationship between faith and human maturing I’m aware that these are not often considered together. An individual can be said to be mature in their faith but their maturity as a person does not necessarily follow from that. But I believe that faith and human maturity depend on each other. Human maturity is necessary for a person to be mature in their faith, but, at the same time faith is necessary for human maturity. Thomas Aquinas was saying something along these lines when he wrote that grace presupposes nature and grace perfects (completes) nature. And so if the project of the church is the promotion of the mature humanity that Paul talks about in Ephesians 4 then we must recognise the close and interdependent relationship that exists between the two.
I may be preaching to the converted here, but I certainly come from a tradition where faith and human maturity are treated as distinct and independent qualities. A young person can be converted and immediately seen as having a mature faith, even though they don’t yet have a mature character. It is as though a mature faith can be Continue reading
Reading Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1 the other day, I was struck yet again by how the apostle is so eager to tell his readers of his thankfulness to God for them. This got me thinking about the nature and significance of the act of giving thanks for each other. These are some of the thoughts that popped into my mind…
What it is Continue reading
It is a characteristic of the modern world that many (most?) of us assume a persona of some sort; a mask that enables us to hide our real selves from the outside world. This is why some have called our era in the Western world the narcissistic age. More than ever before we feel exposed to the judgement of others through the scrutiny of social media and the tyranny of ever-shifting ‘norms’ of how we should look, what we should wear and where we should shop. This results in us adopting a false self to present to the world in order to defend against being rejected or to deny to ourselves the inner sense of shame with which our culture has burdened us. Sadly, in order to conform to society’s expectations many of us opt for a ready-made off-the-shelf mask, a stereo type of what we mistakenly think is an acceptable or ‘normal’ person. We then put a huge amount of our energy into this attempt to appear normal at the expense of who we really are.
One of these off-the-shelf masks is the pastor mask. Continue reading