Monthly Archives: January 2008

Its in the blood (or at least the air…)

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So, I went to my “cardio kick” exercise class on Monday.  A proud moment of self-control and discipline in the face of i’d-rather-die-than-go-ness and a event of marvel in itself.  We’ll skip over the fact that my punches and kicks were rather half-hearted and that I only did one sit up for everyone else’s two…

Being still relatively near the start of a new year there were lots of unfamiliar faces there.  A couple of late teens were there with their mum and were wearing Gaelic tops.  Instantly I felt intimidated.  Now, its not like I’ve never seen people in Gaelic tops before – I work with an all-Ireland student movement after all.  But this was different!  This was in a town not known for its peaceable catholic-protestant relations; in what should have felt like neutral territory.

I leant towards my friend and whispered “Its hardly the place to wear Gaelic tops, is it?”.  She agreed: “It makes quite a statement doesn’t it?  We wouldn’t wear Rangers football tops here.”

Now, please don’t misunderstand me; these feelings of intimidation did not incite religious hatred nor strong desires to assert my identity as a British/Northern Irish Protestant (though I’m pretty sure those things would be low on my list of identity definers if they made it at all!).  It was simply a reaction to the association with a ‘side’ that has become common in Northern Ireland.  Like, even seeing a huge Union Jack flying outside a house last week put me on my guard…

…then I remembered I was in England.

Back in the leisure centre up the road, though, I was feeling uncomfortable – but I didn’t really think too much about it until I realised I was wearing my Christian “CSSM” t-shirt.  Why, if I could wear that, could they not wear their Gaelic tops?  Why did it matter?

Basically, it shouldn’t matter – and in terms of my feelings of non-hatred for people from a Roman Catholic background it doesn’t matter!  Rather, it seems to be that I am a victim (awww poor me! 😉 ) of the culture of bigotry I’ve grown up in – not from my family’s influence, but more I guess the divided school system, the eventful news, the ‘no football tops’ signs over bowling alley doors… 

Meaning that, rather than a sports tops reflecting an enjoyment of the sport or a flag being a symbol of wholesome patriotism, I have grown up interpreting these things as a political statement:

“This is who I am and if you’re different, you’re my enemy.”

If that’s me, from a middle of the road un-bigoted Christian family, I can only imagine the depth to which such lies run amongst those for whom painting curb stones and hanging flags is an ‘innocent’ past-time…

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Filed under culture, fear, modern life, Norn Iron, story

Precious

When I read in the Gospel of John that “Jesus wept” I always thought of weeping as a soft, delicate thing: tears sliding silently down his cheeks.  But a few nights ago, I wept.  The only apt word: “wept”.  Wracking sobs, moaning, nose streaming, tears flooding…  I wept from loneliness, from fear and from doubt.  I questioned the validity of my faith, the truth of my ‘gifts’, the character of my God.

 

Tonight, on the way home from sharing in God’s truth with my home church I wept for different reasons.  For fullness, for love, for hope…  Because I know that He is True.  And that He calls me precious.

 

They’ll try to take you and steal your heart

They’ll try to make you something you aren’t

You can be swept like sand on a beach, but not out of reach:

Don’t let them drag you down – hold on.

 

Know that you’re precious

Know that you’re precious

Know that you’re precious

So precious…

(martyn joseph, ‘precious’)

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Filed under church, fear, grace, hope, love, music

Another (similar) Kerfuffle…

Not wishing to diminish the impact of my announcement of The Great Crash of January 2008, but just something for those with some time on their hands to consider and wrap up neatly for those of us who take much longer to form an opinion…? 

At a friend’s house for dinner the other night, she drew to my attention a Kerfuffle within the Presbyterian Church which the Belfast Telegraph have been reporting on over the past few weeks.

The crux of it is that one minister (male) refused to let another (female) preach in ‘his’ pulpit at a joint Christmas service.  The event of a joint service between these two churches in the same town has been happening for years and years, but only recently has the female minister been installed at the church.

Some interesting questions raised by both journalists and citizens who wrote in.  The following are in date order.

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The earliest article I could find (kind of ugly, but later articles paint a different picture of the lady’s reaction).

Regrets expressed over inability to find compromise.

The ‘unholy row’ – call for consistency within Presbyterian Church policy.

Some comments from the Moderator

Letter of support

Journalist (and choir member) opinon – quite random, done in context of the new Irish Presby hymn book!christinab_262288d.jpg

“I will not back down”

Letter of disappointment with how the situation has been handled. 

More general article on the challenge facing the Church in secular society.

… 

You see, randomly enough – this stuff makes me think about the should-have-been post on the blame-claim culture RE The Great Crash of January 2008 (my neck’s doing well, thanks)…

Larger questions about the assertion of ‘rights’ by Christians.  Jesus gave up his rights to defend himself and was pretty selective in the battles he fought, right?  So how do we know when to stand up and fight and when to make sacrifices or put up with losing face?

Much wisdom, grace and love required methinks.  Especially in current politically correct culture.

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Filed under church, freedom, grace, modern life, questions

And then Tuesday came… (a.k.a The Great Crash of January 2008)

There have been several posts brewing in my illustrious mind in recent days and there may well be a sudden blogging boom in this small corner of the ‘parallel universe’.  This one, however, is most unexpected – or at least it was until it began to brew as I sat in the office today.  Who knows where it will go?  Who knows when it will stop?  Watch for the sign of the lollipop…

Last night at approximately 16.47, I was in a car accident.  From henceforth it shall be called

“The Great Crash of January 2008”.

Panic not, I am – as you can (hopefully) tell – still alive to tell the tale (soon to be the only 365-able part of yesterday). So, in true anything-and-everything-is-blog-fodder style, we must go back to bygone days of yore in order to set the scene for said Great Crash…

 *cue wobbly flashback screen*

I remember my friend Roberta and I taking a notion to cycle a couple of miles downhill to the local leisure centre when we were about 13.  Great idea at the time, not so good when going back UP the hill (the road with the graveyards if anyone is familiar with the Valley Leisure Centre).  It was half way through the uphill homeward slog that we composed our should-have-been-a-hit-record “Oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo I wanna car” (I still remember the tune!)Do you remember being 13 and the driving test glory days of 17 are a million years away?  Painful.  I longed to drive ever since that day.

Eventually the day of my test rolled round.  I passed.  First time.  Oh the freedom!  Oh the joy!  Oh the days of two years free insurance!  It was wonderful.  I bought sunglasses, I made mix tapes, I sniffed magic trees… and a passionate love affair with driving began.

So, for two happy, happy years I trundled away in a little dark blue Corsa with ne’er a scare nor bump.  Then the free insurance ran out.  The first quote we got was actually in the region of £5000.  I artistic-license you not.  Crazy.  We shopped around and around to try and get a better deal, but – alas – no affordable insurance for little 19 and a half year old me.

Thus began the Driving-less Years.

The human spirit is resilient and so my life went on.  I became accustomed to my lack of freedom and social life-less existence, sometimes aided by car-insured friends, sometimes dependant upon moody-driver-always-late-when-its-raining buses.  But – oh! – how I always longed for those heady days of “mumsie-pays-for-my-petrol” splendour.

Three long non-driving years ensued.  It was only when considering a second year at Bible College that I began to pray seriously for the miraculous provision of a car.  Four bus journeys a day and no mates had really begun to wear thin!  For ages I hummed and haa-ed whether to do another year at Bible College or to move to France.  (Who needs a car in France?!  Its only in Northern Ireland that a fifteen minute drive on clear roads takes one hour to travel on two buses.)  I finally made my decision and informed the college registrar that yes, she could tear up the one-year certificate I’d already received at my graduation and start writing the two-year diploma one instead – I was coming back.  She said: “Oh great!  It’ll be good to have you around.  You don’t happen to need a car do you?”

Whaaaaaaaat?!?

“Yeah, I got a phone call from a man who wanted to donate his son’s old car to someone who needed it.  Do you want it?”

Does a bear…?!?

(“I saw a bear once”)

Thus began a beautiful relationship with a lil red escort called Samuel (which means ‘asked of God’).  This is Sam:

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Isn’t he lovely?! 

For 18 wonderful, free-and-independant months, Sam and I (and sometimes Daisy, but that’s another story) chugged merrily all over Ireland (well, the North and Sligo- do any other parts matter?).  It was so wonderful! *sniff, sniff*

Then disaster struck… Sam one day began to choke (she conveniently applies artistic license in omitting to tell the reader exactly why he began to ‘choke’) and nothing could be done to save him from a scrap yard fate.

Well done, good and faithful steed, well done and fare-thee-well…

(moment of reverent silence)

 The period of mourning over and a brief flirtation with a red Corsa later, the search began for my perfect car: a Ford Focus.  Not exactly the stuff of dreams I hear you cry, but I didn’t want anything too flash (only partly because of money issues!).  I wanted solid, reliable, quietly attractive with room in the boot for a guitar.  Several debates took place as to whether I should be waiting for the much-desired Focus or just test-drive whatever came along in the meantime.  Yes, many drew the obvious parallels to the husband/wife search.  Honestly, can’t a girl even get a car without people over-analysing?!  Gosh.

Then I saw him… the One.  A sleek, affordable Focus, all mine for the taking!!!  His name shall be call-ed Milo because… well, because girls have to give their car a name.  Its, like, the law.

(again conveniently omitting the exact details of this naming process for fear of being deemed completely bonkers.  The Daisy story is definitely worse, though…)

That was 11 months ago and Milo and I have been very happy ever since.  Bit of a wobble with a recent screw loose (!) but otherwise, great.

And then Tuesday came…

There we were, driving from the North Coast to the Glens of Gormley (or the Rock of Fergus to be more precise) when all of a sudden a numpty – SMACK! – bangs into the back of us at a roundabout:  My neck!  My CAAARRRR! MY goodness – its pouring out here!  Neck and shoulder banjaxed, a new bumper required.

*cue vast waves of sympathy*

We’ll survive.

You know, I envisaged this blog to be about the annoying-ness of the current blame-and-claim culture; the paranoia that makes you wary of saying anything more than ‘Give me your contact and insurance details, mate, then nark off’.  But telling a random story about the cars in my life so far has been much more fun.

For me 🙂

The moral of the story is, don’t expect anything more intelligent from a self-confessed un-intellectual.  At least until the whiplash goes down…

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