groundsel and tutsan

I’m worried.

I don’t try not to be worried because I don’t really know what to do when it descends like it does. Ride it out?

Or perhaps I need to consider groundsel, creeping buttercups, tutsan.
I was out in the garden today trying to restore order. I have been struggling with what to plant and when to plant it. I am trying to practice crop rotation. The pieces don’t fit harmoniously, there are gaps that should have vegetables. Where there are gaps there are weeds eager to fill space. It seems chaotic.

Except what is a weed?
What is order?

There is one corner that is a complete mess if you think of an orderly garden that gets mowed at least once a week.
I went to cut it a few weeks ago but stopped short. I stopped short because I’ve noticed that goldfinches like to eat the seeds of the weeds. If I sorted out those ‘weeds’ and had a lawn there I wouldn’t have goldfinches to surprise me when washing the dishes on dreary Monday mornings.

I was hanging washing out today and heard an unfamiliar whistling noise coming from the tree. It was a female bullfinch. She took off, her partner joined her and landed on my spade. Then they both jumped on to the weed in the corner that the goldfinch liked and munched a few seeds.

I’ve not paid enough attention to flowers over the years which is a bit of a sin I suppose. I’m not sure what the weed is.
Looking for its name on a website  I stumbled across the names of a few other plants I noticed in the garden today and which I am going to try to remember:- tutsan and groundsel.
And I’m going to learn more names. I am going to consider the lilies of the fields and the weeds of the garden and look at finches feeding on the weeds and read these words again.

“…what’s the use of worrying? What good does it do? Will it add a single day to your life? Of course not! 26 And if worry can’t even do such little things as that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

27 “Look at the lilies! They don’t toil and spin, and yet Solomon in all his glory was not robed as well as they are. 28 And if God provides clothing for the flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, don’t you suppose that he will provide clothing for you, you doubters? 29 And don’t worry about food—what to eat and drink; don’t worry at all that God will provide it for you. 30 All mankind scratches for its daily bread, but your heavenly Father knows your needs. 31 He will always give you all you need from day to day if you will make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.’

holy week thoughts

Christian’s believe this is the week that changed, is changing,will change the world, the universe, the cosmos.
Jesus comes into Jerusalem riding a donkey and by the end of the week he has been executed. He has been executed even though he has done nothing wrong. He has been executed even though he has done everything right.

It’s a strange week to reflect on because it really doesn’t compute with the ways of the world. Or at least that’s the way it seems to me. Just look at those pictures of people like David Cameron or Ed Milliband on the election campaign.
How Jesus does his business is the polar opposite to how the world does it business. Sometimes it seems to be the opposite to how the church does its business as well. (I’m almost expecting The Christian Institute to make an appearance in the narrative this week as Jesus is questioned by those in authority, Pilate etc.)

How does this week, Holy Week bring good news to the unemployed, the addicted, the poor, the person who seems to have it all together?  How does Jesus on the cross bring good news to people struggling with loneliness, despair, depression?

How does it all fit in with life in 21st century Ireland? If you’re convinced that Jesus changed the world by laying aside his rights and self sacrificial giving, by acting humbly and non violently how do survive in society?
The prayer that Jesus prayed this week that his disciples should be one has been bothering me as well because it seems like Jesus’ prayers aren’t being answered. I don’t feel at one with lots of his disciples. How can I be at one with churches I don’t like? Can I be at one with the Catholic church? Or can I be at one with the branch of the family I’m most familiar with? If evangelicals are seen by the world (unfairly) as a certain way or hold on to beliefs that I don’t agree with how do I be at one with them? If people from Evangelical Alliance seem to be saying that we should stand behind a bakery that doesn’t ice a cake and you don’t feel you should does that mean you’re not an evangelical?

There are lots of things that cause me distress in the world and wonder if Christianity is true.
But sometimes wondering how Christians are so fragmented is the thing that makes me wonder most. How can we all claim to follow Jesus, to be brothers and sisters and yet act like strangers for most of the time?
And of course I’m part of the problem because I don’t necessarily want to associate with certain churches. If they’re fundamentalist protesting football on a Sunday no thanks. If they’re going on about how Christianity is cool I’m not there either. How does this stuff work?


Sometimes I look  at the pile of election leaflets cluttering the hall and the string of posters from here to Galway and wonder who would Jesus vote for or if Jesus would even vote?
Someone I was talking to got annoyed with me for wondering if Jesus would vote.

They pointed out how many people around the world would love to be given that opportunity living as they do under tyrants and despots, having no choice in who rules them. They also said it was our responsibility to society, to make sure that we don’t get far right parties or selfish parties or parties that look after the powerful and wealthy before the weak and poor. They also said that we’re not called to be Jesus but to be his disciples and that I was saying this from an idealistic position and that I never want to get involved with stuff like politics, being an avoider of real life and that sort of thing

I guess that most of the people I know would disagree with me, and I probably will end up voting on Friday, still I wonder sometimes.

My main problem with is that I find that most politicians are asking me to endorse behaviour and values that I don’t really agree with, they are competing and looking to get into power, they are often seeking to influence the world by values that I don’t find in tune with what I understand about the Kingdom of God. Power seems to the thing many of them crave, even if they want to use that power for the common good. So  I feel uneasy giving my support to that sort of behaviour. 
It seems to me that by voting I am endorsing the type of hyper-competitive, race to the top, power-seeking world that seems to be removed from the world of grace and humility. And which is the real world?

There is that bit in Matthew 25 that Jesus tells the disciples:–

, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave’

If that is what he told the disciples about how it should be among them what does that mean about voting for A or B?

The other thing about voting is that it is my attempt to force my values and point of view, those things which I agree with on the world. I am hoping that such and such gets in so that what I want to see happen happens in the world. Is forcing my values on the world and those who disagree with me the way my heart should be working when faced with social injustice?

I know it’s a dangerous think to imagine Jesus as we might put our preconceptions on him and try to make him in our image but I still can’t imagine Jesus voting just as I can’t imagine Jesus shooting a machine gun on a battlefield.



The Burren/

The more I think about The Burren the more fascinated I become with it.

In  1651-52, Edmund Ludlow wrote that The Burren

“…is a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him…… and yet their cattle are very fat; for the grass growing in turfs of earth, of two or three foot square, that lie between the rocks, which are of limestone, is very sweet and nourishing.

And that is the amazing thing. Despite it being a rocky place there is an incredible diversity of plant life and wildlife living between the rocks in  crevices and cracks and all over the place.
Species that would normally not  grow together grow together. Plants that are more at home in the Arctic , Alpine regions or Mediterranean call The Burren home.  Crevices provide shelter, retain moisture and the rocks act like  a giant storage heater (according to knowledge picked up from watching a little bit of Coast),

I’ll have to explore it more sometime.

Meanwhile I was thinking this morning in church  that it felt a bit like The Burren. Over on the other side of Galway Bay Arctic plants grow alongside Mediterranean plants and Alpine  plants while over here we have Malaysian, South Korean, Hungarian, Cameroonian, Zimbabwean, Tongan, Nigerian, Irish, British, American,Madagascan, Indian, Ghanian, Swiss, Congolese Brazilian, Turkish, Spanish, German, Dutch, French exotics passing through for a day and others for a few months or others living and rooted.

I was thinking that church is a bit like a crack in the rocky ground, a place of shelter, warmth and moisture where the Kingdom of God can grow even if we can’t really explain or know what is going on half the time, or most of the time.
When I stood on The Burren the other day maybe something  in me was reminded of the prophecy in Isaiah when the lion lies down with the lamb and nature is in harmony, things that don’t normally grow together in health and peace do.
And I felt the same this morning in church. People who don’t normally grow together trying to grow together despite our failings.  This week The Burren and our church seemed to be hints of the way things should really be.

Christian / Bale

Part of me feels deeply uncomfortable about supporting and watching football.
I’ve especially been feeling it this summer when the team I’ve supported all my life (apart from a brief flirtation with Everton), Tottenham Hotspur stand to make a lot of money from selling Gareth Bale to Real Madrid.
I started reading a book this morning and the mention of Real Madrid in the opening pages made my ears stand up.

‘Despite all the liberal rhetoric about “equality,” who in the world of the media or the academy really believes that the life of a Nepali peasant, say, is as valuable as that of a Hollywood actress or a football star? Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast in August 2005, killing about 1,300 people, generated forty times more Western print coverage than Hurricane Stan that killed more than 1,600 people in Guatemala a month later. On the same day that the second earthquake struck El Salvador, a soccer game was played between Real Madrid and Lazio. The combined market value of the players on the field was $650 million, slightly less than half of what it took to rebuild the entire physical infrastructure after the earthquake. The press reported the value of the soccer players with enthusiasm bordering on veneration.’

Subverting Global Myths, VInoth Ramachandra

According to this table the combined value of the men who kick a ball around for our entertainment and pleasure in the English Premier League is well over £3,000,000,000. This is not for life or death stuff remember, it is only a game.

Just one of those players, Gareth Bale could be worth over £80,000,000.

Players have this value as well because people like me all over the world watch football and talk about it all the time. Individuals like me do Fantasy Football League or buy football shirts.
So I think that I have a part to play in the valuation of Gareth Bale for a world record fee and I’m not sure how that sits with me as a Christian.

marriage, marriage,marriage, marriage, marriage

As far as we know Jesus, who Christians believe was perfect love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control was not a married man.

I’ve been thinking about this the past couple of days as I’ve  been reading a bit  about the National Day of Prayer for Marriage that Christians are planning for next Sunday. Some evangelicals seem to be quite obsessed with marriage at the moment, to the point that if David Cameron actually does allow a gay couple to get married then we are living in the darkest days of history and might as well just give up.

Strangely though considering that Jesus was celibate there seems to be no obsession with the equally God pleasing celibacy option, which seemed to have been the preference Paul as well. Would we ever hear of a National Day of Prayer for Celibacy? If not, why not? Can someone who is celibate not live as fulfilled a life as someone who is married or do the married have access to extra happiness?

I don’t remember ever being at a wedding  where celibacy was affirmed as an equally God honouring option. Instead the whole day is geared towards the celebration of bride and groom and the God given gift of marriage. Everybody is beaming in happiness at this special happy occasion. Nothing is said about the gift of celibacy and does that mean the single people are excluded from church worship? Is it right for people to feel excluded in church worship or is there good news for everyone?