‘Slavery is many different things. We must take care that we do not drive a wedge between people who are physically poor and deprived and so suffer, and, people who have lots of “stuff” but still do not live free lives, We cannot pit against each other sociological and physchological forms of slavery – either saying they are the same or arguing that one is deeper and hurts more than another. Whatever the slavery that binds a person, that is the one that counts. Let us characterize slavery simply as that which keeps us from being  joyous. When we locate that, we shall be close to the source of our oppression.’

Walter Brueggemann, Living toward a Vision


suffering servant

One of the things that is hardest for me to accept about the Christian walk is the truth of being a servant, a suffering servant at that. This grates against my natural tendencies to want the easy life and power, to be a somebody that people look up to and respect. I don’t crave to be someone who is not noticed and appreciated, to be undervalued by society and my peers despite (and maybe especially because) of doing the right thing.Yes this is hard truth.

A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

It’s just not on my natural game plan, I don’t want pain or suffering,I don’t want servanthood.
Yet its the way things are to be done, the way Jesus lived it so we Christians are to follow as well.

don’t really know what i’m up to

So I spent a few hours this morning wondering what to do with these songs I had recorded during part of Lent and decided to quickly weave them into an album of sorts called ‘A Bad Dad?’
It’s mostly based around the songs written during the time of the Japanese tsunami and  wrestling with how a perfectly loving  Dad would let something like Haiti or Japan happen if he is also powerful enough to stop it?

There hasn’t been much crafting or thoughts in these songs, it always was more my spur of the moment reactions to stuff, perhaps they are flippant and selfish plus I know they aren’t easy listening but I’ve an impulse to put them out there for whatever reason… scares me putting them out there, because basically I’m still too much of a slave to what people think and don’t want people thinking I’m a crazy backsliding depressive who can’t sing . If they do think so I’ll probably point them in the direction of Psalm 88 or Lamentations.

Anyway, here it is if you would like to listen.
You can download it as well for free, not sure how I set up individual tracks. My only tip is that its probably best heard with headphones on because I mixed them down with headphones rather than stereo speakers etc. It will sound a bit worse out of a hi-fi.

depression and healing (I’d love to wear a rainbow on my back)

I’m just thinking out loud here.
Last night I’d an unexpected offer from one family member who phoned me (completely out of the blue) asking/demanding that I come along with him to a religious meeting  in Lurgan on Friday night.

The details about who or what this meeting was about was shrouded in mystery.

I can’t stress how strange this offer was. He wanted me to ‘clean my my face’ and ‘will you come along with me to the meeting then?’.
When pressed what this mysterious meeting was actually about it seemed to be about healing with an ex priest and nun.

Basically I think that family members think I’m depressed and on the ropes generally in life and want me to be healed from something or other.

I’m not sure how I feel about this type of diagnosis and if I want ‘healed’ from what I have (if I’ve anything)

I find the idea of depression a strange phantom that rattles around because when does the normal experience and disappointments of life, those bitter experiences that mar us and make us feel naturally low become an illness that can be identified and treated?

Is feeling unhappy and gloomy for months on end and displaying natural unhappiness a sign that you’re sick in the head and or is it just natural part of living in a broken and sad world?

When a family member rings looking to bring you to a service of healing in some small Ulster town it’s like they’re ruling that the type of life you’ve been living is wrong,the vibes you send out are all wrong and should be rectified.

And if I was ‘healed’ from being so gloomy or negative would I be the same type of person or someone else? Would I be me?

Of course I don’t think that living negatively/fearfully is the way to go, or languishing with no hope of  redemption but life is hard isn’t it? How can we draw close to people in times of suffering if we haven’t suffered ourselves?

Anyway, Johnny Cash says it best. You’ll have to go to Youtube to watch mind

a boiler interrupts Drumagully

H___ and I have just returned from a few days resting and relaxing on the Causeway Coast, first in Ballycastle and then a lovely little hostel in Downhill. It was nice to get away towards the elements and escape the normal routine of life here in Lisburn.

Then we came home.

H___ was singing upstairs when I opened the email from a friend and saw a message ‘Please Pray’ from a person who wouldn’t be in the habit of writing that in an email.
So I knew it was bad had even before I opened the email.
When I opened the email well… it was far worse than could have been expected.

It was the sort of news that made you feel ill and sick inside and even beginning to multiply the consequences of the tragedy for those involved was enough to make you wonder how or why or what and then run away from it. The only prayer I think of saying is the line from an old Vigilantes of Love song

‘Earth has no Sorrow Heaven Can’t Heal’

I hope to God that’s true.

While we stayed at Downhill I didn’t have a chance to do much music recording but I did manage to capture the sound of a  stream rolling down  hill past the hostel towards Benone strand. It was incredibly relaxing listening to it….but then the sound of a boiler firing up and trying to bully the stream stomped in an imposed its will. I’m not trying to equate this to the news or experience of a personal and community tragedy like the one above, but there was something about recording the stream and boiler last night and receiving the tragic email this afternoon that hammered home the point that there is no such thing as perfect peace or shielding from noise, death, pollution, chaos, awful things happening, fear….I’m not sure what the right word or phrase should be. Safety?Home? Perfect peace?
Don’t know. I’m struggling for words.


good God, what have you done?


I sat in the SERC Lisburn campus gazing out onto the  street.
There was a man climbing scaffolding three stories high in a building opposite while people parked their cars on the street. Students walked past the window in groups of 2 or 3.

I had images in my head. The man on the third floor swept away, the cars swept away like corks in a river of mud. The windows of the canteen breaking, the waters engulfed everything.

Earlier that morning I saw a picture in a newspaper of a boat, a huge boat sitting at rest on top of  a two story building. The image couldn’t help but remind me off the story of Noah when the ark comes to rest on Mt. Arafat.I kept thinking of the story of the rainbow and how it was a promise that God would never destroy the world again with floodwater. I was wondering if God was showing any rainbows over the coast of Japan that morning.

It also sparked  memories of  that kids song we used to sing at church.

‘The Lord said to Noah
‘There’s gonna be a floody, floody
Get those child out of the muddy…

So rise and shine and give God the glory ‘

It jarred with me. The image’s in the paper of Japanese towns flattened, completely flattened by mud. Reports of waves 33ft tall sweeping inland for miles on end and children lying dead in the mud. Rise and shine and give God the glory eh?

After reading those reports, seeing the pictures why would you want to ”rise and shine and give God the glory?’
There is one image in particular of a car  that spots the tsunami approach and starts to panic. Then the wave sweeps over him. Just like that.

With thousands and thousands dead, half a million homeless, stricken nuclear power plants smouldering and deadly, aftershocks and now freezing weather and snow setting in the lady on the BBC News report has just said the words, or words to the effect of..

‘Nature seems in no mood to give these people a break’

Except if you come at things from what I’ve been told in church about God and Jesus since I was a child to now as an adult God is all powerful isn’t He? Many of the Psalms, the prophets or the end of Job all mention God’s mastery over everything. Sovereign isn’t He? And you don’t question his authority or  goodness.

There sometimes is a feeling that the God of the Old Testament is a harsh, unforgiving autocrat but that all changed in the New Testament with Jesus. How could you argue about the goodness of Jesus, Jesus who didn’t say a word when mistreated and nailed to the cross for our sins.

But even the wind and waves obey Jesus don’t they?

So from a Christian point of view the lady on the BBC News report is completely wrong. It’s not ‘nature’ giving these people a bad deal, its somehow a sovereign God/Jesus/Holy Spirit who is  in control and not giving these people a break.

But how does a God who is also meant to be perfectly loving work that one? How can you cause people suffering for no apparent reason?

This same Jesus who said ‘suffer the little children to come unto me’, the same one Christian’s waddle of on Sunday mornings to worship at church is the same Jesus who is God and sovereign, is somehow involved in the Japanese earthquake and the Haiti earthquake.

I don’t know what to make of it all. Faith. Death. God. Suffering. Love?