Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Barbie, the Pope, and walls

Hurray! Barbie has been remodelled
I've never owned a doll and don't intend to, but I am aware of women whose self-esteem has been crushed by trying to conform to the image of a stick insect. The one size is everybody doll has done much damage.


Now Barbie is manufactured in a range of sizes, colours, and looks. The image is still too thin in my book, but the change is a step in the right direction. Being comfortable in your own skin is an important gift.

The second great command common to Jews, Muslims, and Christians is first recorded in Leviticus. That's one of the first five books in the Old Testament part of the Bible, sometimes called the Torah. We know it well: 'Love your neighbour as you love yourself'.

We may not realise that it is an invitation to love ourselves, in order that we can love others. This is quite different from selfishness. It's about self worth, and can energise us to love others.

The Pope wants bridges
I found the contrast between the Pope and Donald Trump at one level rather amusing. At another, Pope Francis has put his finger on something really important. Trump promised to build a wall between the USA and Mexico to keep illegals out. The Pope said that Christians should build bridges.

By Diliff - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34168215

There is much talk about building walls in our world, to keep people out. Not many generations ago they were being built to keep people in! I don't know how you felt when the Berlin wall was ripped down; I felt slightly less embarrassed to be a member of the human race. Splitting a city in two, dividing families, causing air lifts ~ it was all crazy. Thank God that wall came down.

Walls are going up around Israel, across parts of Europe, and elsewhere. They shame us because they are evidence that we can't work out ways to share the only planet we have. In the debate about the UK possibly leaving Europe, I believe that whatever happens we must not build unnecessary walls. After all, Europe came together to prevent a repeat of the horrific destruction caused by two World Wars.

Of course we should consider what's best now, but it's wise to remember our history too. I profoundly agree with the Pope, that we should build bridges not walls.

Forgiveness is an art. You can try too hard. It's a gift from God, part of the Easter message, and I believe it enables us to build well for generations to come.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

TW'sV on 'power of love' over 'love of power'

True love overcomes the love of power
We need more situations where the 'power of love' eats the 'love of power'. Much of the strife between nations, or communities, or families is about loving power. North Korea is an extreme case, but in terms of the span of history Nazi Germany was only five minutes ago.

There are lesser examples which sap our energy. People absorbed by themselves are tedious, and we shouldn't waste time on them. Titus is a short book in the New Testament section of the Bible, and its third chapter speaks of giving difficult people a couple of chances but then not getting hooked in by them.

What of the future?

I've been padre to the Air Training Corps for 18 years, and at our last session asked the cadets what they thought of Isis or Daesh. It should be wiped out. And then they added something wise: another group will soon come along.

Wikipedia lists around 200 designated terrorist groups, from Baader-Meinhof, Black Hand, al-Qaeda to Boko Haram. Some may not being so active now. All struggle for power, and there is no doubt that a few have a righteous cause while others love power beyond any sense of reason.

Easter love is stronger than death
Let's draw on Easter love to be a people whose actions speak louder than than our words. This month we celebrate Good Friday and Easter Day, apparent disastrous failure followed by new life. Jesus Christ risen from the dead. It lies at the heart of the Christian faith, and is the source of the 'power of love' which erodes the 'love of power'.

By the way I am one of many who think that fixing Easter to a particular month in the year makes sense. But Easter is too good to only celebrate once a year. Every Sunday is designed to be a mini-Easter, however 52 are not enough. We need to live Easter every day.

Honest feedback sources are gold dust
Philip Elliott, our new team vicar was licensed by Bishop Nicholas at St Nicholas & St Laurence Primary School. It was a wholesome do, with welcomes from our mayor, Friends of Upwey (International?) railway station, the snooker club, and other local representatives.

However, I was particularly pleased by a conversation with the bishop's driver, who said it was the best he had been to! and he attends many. 'Why was that?', I asked. 'Because it was real'.

Everything could have run smoothly, without a word fluffed, or a person out of place. And yet it might have been just hollow ritual. What made it real were the people involved having integrity, and doing their best. I think it was also a touch of humility.