Archives For February 2015

Homeschool SculptureCreativity reduces textbook fog and increases concentration. Encouraging creativity seems to unglue the routine just enough to re-energize the more mundane tasks that follow.

Yesterday, I was shown the importance of this. Of setting aside time for creativity in the midst of the academic timetable.

It was a simple idea, but seems to have been a winner. During craft and music appreciation sessions we crafted a wall sculpture for Lent using recycled cardboard that was moulded into the shape of tissue boxes.The work took us longer than expected, however, given the learning outcomes involved, any concern about time became a non-issue.

The picture to the left is the end result of that session. Each box was individually covered in a mosaic and then joined together with a glue-gun. The top box was designed by our eldest, depicting Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection.

I know I’ve quoted it before a few times, but I’m in need of the reminder:

‘to be a teacher is to really be a learner’ (Kierkegaard [i]).

[i] Kiekegaard, S On my work as an author, the point of view in Hong, H. & Hong,E. 1978 The Essential Kierkegaard  Princeton University Press pp.460-461

RL2015

Five links_Jpeg

Scrolling the net landed some articles that hold their value long after reading them.

1. Since it’s Lent there is a great deal of material moving around about it. One of the stand-out, no frills, straight-up reflections I’ve read of late is ‘Spiritual Warfare For Christians’. Courtesy of the Benedictines via DigitialNun. My attraction to this is how it presents Lent as part of a ‘battleline of the community and in the spiritual combat of the desert where solitaries engage’.

The place that firmly directs us onto a journey of paradox, joy, and thanksgiving fused together with anticipation in spite of what appears hopeless and desolate; the giving and being given to. The giving up in order to be drawn nearer to the One who has shown that we are not given up on.

2. Rob Stroud has written an impressive piece about the competitive and ephemeral nature of popularity. What he brings here is perspective. Check it out: Fleeting Flame.

3. I was surprised to find that George Orwell’s political novel ‘1984’ was made into a radio play by NBC University Theatre in 1949, featuring one of Britain’s classiest actors of the time, David Niven. If you can tolerate the brief introduction the production can be accessed at on Spotify or archive.org for free or for a price from itunes.

4.  I don’t usually listen to podcasts. In truth, the only one I ever really tuned into was from Relevant Magazine, but that was sometime ago. This year I stumbled (metaphorically speaking) back into listening to Relevant and a few that differ significantly from each other, yet have worth on more than one level.

First, Nerd Machine’s ‘Picking Favourites’. It is edgy, informative, well-produced, but rough and contains a ton of quirky material. With special guests, some days are enough to make you walk away saying: “that was awesome”, others: “what-were-they-thinking?” Some episodes breach the language barrier. Some just give out way too much information. So, consider that me giving you a fair warning. Still, it has to be said, right now at least, that this is one of the best Podcasts available in it’s category.

Second,  ‘Mortification of Spin’.  There is a lot more they could do to improve on what is already a stand-out production. Full of theologically centred discussion, the content is consistent, conversational, easy to follow and not overly highbrow.

5. From my reading notes:Albert Camus quote on Intellectuals

Camus 2It’s widely held that Albert Camus was an outsider. He was and remains a non-conformist among non-conformists.

Alongside Camus’ cautious optimism about humanity is his willingness to break with collective intellectual and political trends. He was a fierce agnostic; critical of Christianity, yet still open to the feasibility of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ[i].

Although, to be fair, given Camus’ views on this and absolute truth, alone, it is debatable as to how far this could be stretched out and represented as him being open to seeing Christ as more than just a well-intentioned, but deluded revolutionary.

As far as Camus’ understanding of and lukewarm relationship with Christianity goes, Maya Angelou’s: ‘here then is my Christian lack, If I’m struck then I’ll strike back[ii]’ certainly finds legitimate traction.

Camus’ writings are sharp. His tone often influenced by the dire circumstances of his historical context and his targets those who claim one thing, yet project another.

Born in French Algeria, Camus later became a journalist, contributing to ‘Combat’; the left-wing media arm of the French Resistance, during Nazi occupation.

Camus, today, is pertinent because of is his open critique of the “Left”, and his ability to detach himself from any claim that could suggest he had sold out to the “Right”.

According to Olivier Todd, after writing ‘The Rebel’ Camus was hammered by critics and ostracised. This included being  labelled by Jean Paul Sartre as being ‘someone who had always been vain.’[iii]

Todd adds:

‘Camus went against the grain among members of the left-wing intelligentsia. Facing a mummified admiration of revolution per se, Camus was fairly revolutionary in response to much of the current thinking in contemporary Paris.’[iv]

Jean Bethke Elshtain also noted:

‘Camus was no naïf. He knew what it meant to fight fascism. He feared what fighting fascism unleashed, namely, counter-terror in the name of an abstract Communist utopia. He disapproved of any passion for unity that saw opposition as treason. For his efforts, Camus was virtually excommunicated from the French intellectual life by Sartre and his comrades’[v]

It’s easy enough to understand why Camus, now an estranged golden-child of the “Left”, caused such an upheaval.

In 1957, near the close of an interview where Camus gave support for the counter-revolutionary movement in communist held Hungary,  Camus stated that the ‘Left was schizophrenic and needed doctoring’:

‘We must hope for a common rallying. But first our Leftist intellectuals , who have swallowed so many insults and may well have to begin doing so again, would have to undertake a critique of the reasoning’s and ideologies to which they have hitherto subscribed, which have wreaked the havoc they have seen in our most recent history. That will be the hardest thing. We must admit that today conformity is on the Left.
To be sure, the Right is not brilliant. But the Left is in complete decadence, a prisoner of words, caught in its own vocabulary, capable merely of stereo-typed replies, constantly at a loss when faced with the truth, from which it nevertheless claimed to derive its laws.
The Left is schizophrenic and needs doctoring through pitiless self-criticism, exercise of the heart, close reasoning, and a little modesty. Until such an effort at re-examination is well under way, any rallying will be useless even harmful. None of the evils of totalitarianism (defined by the single party and the suppression of all opposition) claims to remedy is worse than totalitarianism itself.’[vi]

In sum, Camus fired a flare out from within the inner sanctum of Leftist elitism. Uncovering an oppressive movement that rides on the  coattails of a utopia built on totalitarianism, enforced by appeasement and maintained by the carrot of emancipation, which only ends up enslaving people behind a false promise to deliver absolute freedom.

For the thinking Christian, Camus’ work stands as a cautious ally in the burgeoning wilderness that is the partially sedated West.

Speaking to bewildered citizens paralysed by the tug of war between those politicians, theologians and philosophers who build fortresses on either side of the ideological divide; who overlook the corruption; who ignore, for fear of being labelled intolerant, the inevitable disorder of the repression and redefinition of some traditions; who seek to play into the self-interest of some NGO’s, their supporters or anyone that might preach bipartisanship and unbias, but choose to function as propaganda units of political ideologues and the parties that promote them.

For the commonwealth of Christ (the Church), this dark, but lucid writer inadvertently issues a warning. Be careful about where your allegiance resides because ‘no one can serve two masters…Where your treasure is, your heart will be there also.’ (Jesus, Mt.6:21-24)


Source:

[i] Evident in ‘The Rebel’ and partially highlighted within his statements made at a Dominican monastery in 1948 and included in the text ‘The Unbeliever and Christians’.

[ii] Angelou, M. 1981 Maya Angelou: Poems Bantam Books

[iii] Todd, O. 2013, Afterward in Camus, A. The Rebel (Penguin Modern Classics) Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Ed.

[iv] Ibid, Loc. 4134-4137

[v] Elshtain, J.B. 1995 Democracy On Trial Basic Books

[vi] Camus, A. 1961 Resistance, Rebellion and Death: Essays;Hungary: Socialism of the Gallows’, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1960 First Vintage International Edition

Image: Albert Camus, Camus Society FB page.

Lent Begins

February 18, 2015 — Leave a comment

IMG_0490May your feet always stand on gracious ground.

May tradition always encourage and enable your progress.

May your heart be steered away from empty ritual and realigned towards the light.

May what you find be an awareness of how, when and by who you have been found.

May darkness not overtake you, but be a sign which reminds you that this time of grace is short.

Momento Mori.

‘Loving us, God does not give us something, but Himself; and giving us Himself, giving us His only Son, He gives us everything’ [i]

 


Source:

[i] Barth, K. 1957 The Being of God as the One who Loves in Freedom, The Doctrine of God C.D II/1:276 Hendrickson Publishers

RL2014

Broken disciples

Light forged in numbers.

An encounter.

Their message;

His word.

One death. One resurrection.

The preamble to an uprising of significance.

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RL2015

IMG_0456 I’m a big fan of Karl Barth’s wonder which is expressed in his teaching about the beauty of relationship, reconciliation and the seemingly paradoxical polar connectivity between a man and a woman.

Both equally unique, but finding a necessary limitation in freedom, in order that such freedom can remain true freedom.

How, ‘God sets us free to be free for Him and as a result free for each other – the man for the woman, the woman for the man, both free for God, who in Jesus Christ, chooses and has chosen to be free for both’ [i]

All of that can be summarised as: Love and responsibility; ‘freedom in limitation’ because humanity cannot have only one in isolation from the other, without destroying both.


Source: [i]  Barth, K. 1951, CD.III:4 (paraphrased) Tentative recommendation: Love & Responsibility, Karol Wojtyla [Pope John Paul II] Image is mine. Related post: When a Man Loves a Woman: Barth’s Freedom in Fellowship

Words That Can Heal

February 12, 2015 — Leave a comment

God cares about the details.

When we find ourselves in a constant state of consternation. Emotional, spiritual and psychological exhaustion is bound to follow.

Consternation def drop shadow

Sometimes simply just finding a word that correctly names exactly how things are can be the key that God hands us to unlock the way  towards release and healing.

‘So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth with set you free.
And they said to him, “We are the descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved by anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered:
” Truly,  truly I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever the son does.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are the descendants of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you.
I speak what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from yours…If God were your father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.”
– Jesus, (The Gospel of John 8:31 – 42, ESV)

Source:

Image: Merriam-Webster.com