Just so you know… This time next week, I will hopefully be the owner of a sparkly new Macbook.
Selling my soul for an Apple.
Not many people know this, but I used to play the double bass.
Now, when I say I used to ‘play’ the double bass, really I mean I used to get lessons on the double bass. These things are very different. But seriously, give a nine year old an instrument twice their height and tell them rather than taking that instrument home to practice that they have to forgo their school breaktime to practice instead and you tell me how successful that will be…?
But that’s not the point.
The point is, I didn’t practice. And when I didn’t practice it meant that the old lessons with Mrs Coleslaw didn’t go very well. Then when I went to high school and took lessons with Mrs Basher, those didn’t go very well either. Both ladies were grumpy and frowny and frankly terrifying. To this day I’m not sure if it is a requirement for double bass teachers to be able to shout at ear-splitting levels and to wither your liver with one look… Their shouting and looking – as terrifying as it was – weren’t the most dreaded response to my inability to match the notes on the score to finger-positioning and lack of practice. The phrase I dreaded most in response to my eyes-down confession of 5 minutes practice a week was “I’m not angry… Just disappointed.”
Even now it sends shudders down my spine and plants anvils in my gut!
Undoubtedly you have your own experience of these kind of traumatic guilt-inducing childhood memories? Or perhaps it was just me. But anyway…
In the last couple of years in listening to Darrell Johnson teaching the gospel of John I have been interested in the concept of ‘zoe’ the Greek word for life of the spiritual kind rather than ‘bios’ as life in the biological kind of way. C.S Lewis also talks about it in ‘Mere Christianity’. I won’t try and explain it all here, but suffice to say that it made me think think along the lines of Jesus saying that he came that we might have ‘life (zoe) in all its fullness’ and that therefore all the things we turn to apart from him (ie sin) steals zoe from us.
For me, this perspective on sin helps me understand that it is not that God is some sort of cosmic spoilt child who, because he didn’t get his way, wreaks havoc in his judgement on our sin. But that rather, God wants us to know and live the life he had always intended for us so sent Jesus to do the whole life-death-resurrection-ascension thing so we can be free from sin and death and hell.
SO… by trusting in Jesus I am sorted and that life (zoe) is mine. Except… I’m not very good at practising. I still muck around with my sin mud pies: holding on to grudges, serving myself over others, discontent and grumbling…
If I am talking to someone who says something similar of themselves, I feel that in that context the way forward is not to preach fear tactics; not to tell the person that those sins make God angry and that he punishes and disciplines them. My tactics would be to point out that those things steal true life from us, that they ruin ‘shalom’ and why would we want anything to do with them? to encourage them that true life and beauty dwells in following the way God says to go. ‘Whoever lays down his life for me and for the gospel will find it!’ God wants so much more for us than that!
Except… Somewhere in all of this I suddenly got the feeling that the trajectory of all this could lead to that same feeling from my childhood neglect of the double bass. I mean, can you imagine…? Standing before the judgement throne of the infinite creator of all things seen and unseen, realising in full the absolute and utter idiocy and ugliness and emptiness of all those things you mucked around with in your earthly life, clinging to and claiming the name of Jesus and the voice of the Almighty booms those dreaded words:
“I’m not angry… Just disappointed.”
I’m sure there are many smarter people out there who can punch holes all over that and who can identify what my issues and misunderstandings are. To clarify – that’s not really how I believe God will react when we finally get to the point of hanging out forever, I’m more just trying to work out why I was reminded of the Mrs Coleslaw and Basher when thinking about this stuff the other day. So please feel free to help!
But it also took me back to some pub theology about right and wrong as verbally-processed from this soapbox. Does our obsession about right/wrong behaviour mean that we miss a bigger picture? Does our measuring of our sinful/righteous responses to life’s circumstances mean that we’re trying to ‘keep a balance’ when life with God (zoe) isn’t anywhere near a set of scales?!?
Eugh… I just don’t know! What do you think?
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” Isaiah 30:15
Just read something this morning that is interesting in regards to this stuff. The author pointed out that in leading someone in prayer to come to know Jesus, we only lead them in repenting of sin and not renouncing sin. This reduces ‘sin’ to our thoughts and actions as opposed to an all-encompassing force which enslaves and destroys… Helpful perhaps?
When I were a gal I used to sit dutifully at my desk and write Christmas cards for all my classmates, always enjoying the ‘To Rachel, love Rachel’ and then agonising whether Neil (the boy that picked his nose AND ears with his pen) would be offended if he was the only one in the class that got ‘from Rachel’ rather than ‘love Rachel’ (incidentally, this boy would probably not even have noticed a naked elephant wearing rollerskates and carrying a Cabbage Patch Doll had delivered the card in July, never mind what it actually said).
Such were the extent of my Christmas card-writing worries until I left my primary school class of 24 (that’s people – not, like ’24 as in the year). Then I found myself in the wider social circle of a secondary school form class of 30 AND a secondary class for art and technology of another 15 people. So many people! My mother, however, thought nothing of buying an extra packet of cards for a couple of years. Lovely mum.
But then I hit 14 and suddenly found myself in, like, a million different classes with, like, a million different people and under much pressure to write and deliver, like, a million different Christmas cards. But I did it – without resorting to carrying a box of blank cards to school in case I missed someone (I knew one boy who,when given a card, would actually whip out a blank card and write it to you right there in front of you – not quite the spirit of it all, eh? We were just relieved that was all he was whipping out…).
Perhaps it was this early slavish adherence to card-giving that has turned me into a veritable card Scrooge. I’m not sure when it began, but my aptitude for keeping track of the politics of card-reciprocity (cf why-not-smile!) made a rather speedy descent into complete non-givingness to the point where I have a heap of well-intentioned unwritten Christmas cards hidden in a drawer. In recent years, I’m afraid I must admit, I have done all but mutter ‘Bah Humbag’ at the tradition I once revered.
But the proverbial ghosts of Christmas cards Passed, Presented and Yet to Come have been haunting me these past few days. Again and again I get a sense of ‘Awww! How nice of them to think of me!’ as I open cards from Lisburn, Manchester, Maynooth…
Then the guilts set in.
My set-jawed refusal to join the arena of Christmas card politics means that I don’t offend anyone (I offend everyone) but I also don’t let anyone know that I’m thinking of them or appreciate their friendship and that is rubbish.
I am rubbish.
Its pretty late in the day to discover that I have a conscience about these things as the last day to post cards was two days ago, and I’m certain that cyber-greetings won’t quite cut it in the same sort of way. So, unlike Dickens’ Scrooge, I am left without time to right my wrongs and salvage my soul from its misdemeanours. All I can do is write a blog about it and hope that you feel sorry enough for me to forgive me.
For those who aren’t convinced, you might want to watch out – I happen to be an excellent shot with a rifle.…
It would seem that between the ages of 13 and 14 I had boys falling at my feet (relatively speaking…). I’m not sure what it was, nor why I appear to have lost it, but it only really brought me trouble.
You see, I’m a closet goody two-shoes (although I probably don’t hide it as well as I think). So, when a lovely 16 year old boy asked little 13year old me for a date, I consulted my mother.
She was horrified.
Being the ‘baby of the family’ may seem like a cushty role to play in life, but it leaves you with all sorts of people-pleasing hangups. So, outright rebellion is out of the question – at least as a 13 year old.
The following year, the same lovely boy asked the same lovely girl for a date again, but mumsie still said no. And the lovely young girl really liked the lovely boy, but still she obeyed her lovely, but horrified mother.
In the meantime, the lovely young girl had joined a lovely new youth group and there were lovely boys everywhere she looked. Without ever dreaming that it might happen, it apeared she had attracted the attention of one of the loveliest boys in the group. So, when this lovely boy – aged 17- asked the lovely girl – aged 14 – for a date, please, the lovely girl decided it would be lovely to say yes and just not mention it to lovely mumsie.
So, the lovely boy and the lovely girl enjoyed a lovely week of being ‘together’. Then, one day, the lovely girl told lovely mumsie she was meeting her lovely friend Roberta to go for a lovely walk, but actually she was walking with the lovely boy.
Oh rebellion! Oh deceit! Oh illicit loveliness!
Walking hand in hand up the road, the lovely boy and girl were having a lovely time. Then they look up, just as lovely mumsie and pops drive past the star-crossed lovely-ers.
Not so lovely. I can still hear what was said ringing in my ears:
“Be sure your sin will find you out”…
And it did!
Having just read a comment which was a self-confessed blatant attempt to boost blog entry ratings on a site we’ll call Pord Wress (thanks whynotsmile for the anonimity technique…), I am questioning my seemingly innocuous cyber-scouting of said site. Do I really believe it is a better system on which to chronicle the random musings of this self-confessed un-intellectual? Or do I simply want to be able to boast of hits to my blog entries coming from all over the world?
Firstly: with this whole blogosphere community thing is it acceptable to derive pleasure from the internationality of something which is meant to be a humble sharing of life? Like, writing for the sake of art rather than just to be thought witty, or intellectual, or worth reading?
Secondly: are there ever any pure motives in leaving comments on the blogs of others, or am I just kidding myself?
Thirdly: who exactly decides blogging etiquette?
And finally: will you think any less of me if I switch sites in order to keep a close watch on my stats?
Post on “Modern Life: Blogging Stats Insecurity” to follow…
If I ruled the world, there would be no such thing as Bebo.
If I ruled the world, all coffee shops would provide slippers and free reading material.
If I ruled the world, grapefruit would be extinct.
If I ruled the world, digital cameras would be cheaper.
If I ruled the world, Speedos would never have been invented.
If I ruled the world, Drumadoon Tea House would revert to its previous owners.
If I ruled the world, Coleraine would scrap its one-way “system”
If I ruled the world, boat trips would be free.
If I ruled the world, I’d probably do this stuff, then get real stressed out and make someone else take over…