Saturday, 25 June 2016

Brexit Britain

I really don't have time at the moment to do justice to my feelings of despair at the result of the referendum but this article from Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian reflects a lot of my concerns.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Blasphemy

 Apparently religious traditionalists are outraged that Carol Ann Duffy has written a poem in tribute to the massacre in Orlando because it ends with the sentiment that "God is gay." Well, I am just outraged because it seems to me to be pretty shite poetry along the lines of ..." the poet is gay... everyone is gay, the cat, the dog, the goldfish and its bowl are gay"..etc.
Of course, I recognise that it is a reaction hitting back at those voices that have claimed the atrocity in Orlando was not motivated by homophobia, and a response to calls to refer to the victims as "human" rather than "gay", It's just that when I read this poem I get a sort of "that-will-do-won't it" tone and surely repeating the word gay ad infinitum is not that daring today? Maybe it is in parts of the US, I just dunno (scratches head.) Meanwhile, some Brits are cross that CAD, our Poet Laureate and all that, didn't deign to write a poem for the Queen's 90th birthday. It occurs to me that her majesty may have had a lucky escape, I mean imagine, "The Queen is old, really old, and Prince Phillip is old, and the Queen Mum was really old and  is dead, and we are all getting old, so old, and God is dead,- or maybe just old." ( Do you know , I think that may have a certain poetic merit...)
Anyhow, on this blog we let you make up your own mind, so you can read Duffy's contribution here at risk of offending your theological  and/or poetic sensibilities. Maybe you'll like it on either count, or both:queerer things have happened.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Goodbye May

I have managed not to post anything all during May, this is partly due to the fact that I've been busy, also that I have just rather let this blog slide of late. It might possibly be more accurate to say that I have let my online presence in general slip; I hardly ever comment or go on facebook, although I can't escape the dreaded email when at work. All in all, when I read estimates that we spend on average two to three hours online a day, I feel quite smug.
I haven't got high hopes for my blogging presence this June either as I am now embarking on exam marking (why, why?) so it may well be August, or I may possibly take a blog holiday for even longer. Meanwhile, any time I do have is likely to be spent a. in the garden b. reading c in the gym. You have to keep up your levels of fitness, I almost always have a book of some sort on the go, and it is that time of year when the garden starts to get interesting, not to  mention habitable (it rains most of the time where I live.) Currently, I am enjoying pottering and am cultivating potatoes, courgettes, radishes and salad veg, all incredibly easy to grow. I've bought most of my seeds this year from low end shops as I've found they seem to be just as good quality as anywhere else and  £1.99 in Tesco compared to 39 pence in the half price sale at Pound Stretcher for courgette seeds was a no brainer!
Potato plant (Charlotte) shop bought and planted late Feb.

Potato plant spotted as a "weed" from the compost and thriving now it has its own pot.
No idea which variety.

Lettuce growing fast in this weather

One courgette potted up outside, should soon take off and get big!

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Simple things

 It is a year and one day since we had to have our lovely little dog put down and I still really feel her loss. Mr M and I went for a walk down the canal this afternoon and, of course, there were dogs everywhere. We stopped to talk for a while to one of the real characters we have spoken to before down there. He lives on a pretty decrepit looking boat and once told me that he has no means to shower or bath but visits his daughter from time to time partly for this purpose. However he does have the most gorgeous, friendly little dog and was sitting out today on a fold out chair next to his boat, in the sunshine, with his dog by his side. We stopped and talked to him for a while then we left him sitting in the sun, looking like a happy man with his dog by his side.
Memories from last year
I have managed to have quite a nice holiday and feel quite heartened that things are starting to grow in the garden. The sweet peas have now been planted out and the potatoes, which I planted ages ago and had started to conclude must have died off, have suddenly put forth furls of dense green leaves. On Thursday I bought some trays of reduced price pansies from B and Q; once they were duly planted, dead headed and watered, they began flourishing as I thought they would, although I did have to swaddle everything against the frost these last few nights as temperatures plummeted. Still, the hint of sunny days is now here and that lifts my spirits. Fresh air, some sunshine, growing things, home life with my family and, hopefully one day another dog, seems to me a recipe for happiness.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Easter and change

A very cold and rainy day; we usually try to go for a walk of some sort on Easter Sunday but it was so showery that we decided to head out to Macclesfield's Treacle Market instead. Within ten minutes we got caught in a truly impressive hail storm, and after that most of the stall holders started to pack up their stalls- if they hadn't already been blown away- and set off home. We were quick to follow suit. Still back home and a cup of tea and hot cross bun tasted pretty good. It is lovely that we are all home this weekend and now looking forward to a roast dinner followed by home  made rhubarb crumble and custard.

I spent this morning thinking and praying about the weeks and months ahead as frankly I haven't always found things easy this past year or so. Struggling on can be discouraging and yet spending time with my family does bring home to me how rich my life is and how glad I am to have them. When there is love and faith there is always the potential for hope and joy in the midst of difficulty. Easter, which represents the power of love, faith, hope, offers to transform our grief, our fears, our doubts, our lives, ourselves if we only let it.
Wishing you all a blessed Easter.


Friday, 25 March 2016

I am

The "Je suis..." trend that began with the Charlie Hebdo attack can now be seen in Brussels on posters, scraps of paper next to flowers and candles, on T shirts and no doubt on facebook pages. It seems that in the face of atrocity, people feel that fierce need to associate strongly with those affected, to say that because it so easily could have been any of us, thus it touches all of us personally. To say you are  another is in some ways an audacious claim, and through its audacity expresses the strength of solidarity.
It made me think of all the I am statements Jesus is reported as making in John's gospel; on Good Friday the statement "I am the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep" particularly comes to mind. The concept God crucified, of God incarnate, is an audacious and shocking act of solidarity.  God is allied with the powerless, in effect saying...

I am the suffering
I am the terrorised
I am the victim

At the same time, we need to be careful to avoid a glib sentimentalising of powerlessness or victimhood, the assumption that the victimised group is good by nature of being victimised. It is wrong to murder others because they are human, not because they are somehow better or more moral. Perhaps this is why it seems to me particularly telling that Christ died, not just as the passive, suffering victim but also as the shamed, the criminalised, the deviant, the reactionary, the face not just of the good but the condemned.
If the crucified Christ blurs categories and definitions, the risen one defies them. As Rowan Williams writes, he is no longer a "fellow sufferer", he is victorious but the triumph of Easter Sunday, although golden and glorious is lent for a moment, not fully of this world. Today is Good Friday; we live in the moment of suffering, or in an indeterminate Saturday, coming to terms with the afermath when  nothing is easy to make sense of and suffering simply seems a source of pointlessness, anguish and pain.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Bringing it home


We've just spent a weekend in Oxford watching the 109th Varsity boxing match. I was  a nervous wreck, I am not that great at watching people hit each other in any case and this time I knew just how much was at stake for our younger son who is captain this year and wanted more than anything to see Oxford bring home the Truelove Bowl. Anyhow, they did it and the delight and relief was, and is, enormous. Congratulations to them as I know just how much hard work, blood, sweat and tears (literally) it has cost and how very deserved the win was:)