The Joy of Mercy

Any good travelling public speaker (those who don’t just read from a script or teleprompter) will tell you that they will often give the same talk in various locations, wording key points slightly differently and emphasising different things according to the specific needs of the region, or even responding to the particular attitudes of the audience themselves. At the same time, those listening to a talk will remember certain details more than others as they summarise what they heard. Add to that particular themes that individual biographers may want to focus on and we can end up with several written versions of a given talk. Let’s look at one alternative version of one of the sayings quoted two entries ago:

Luke 6:37-39

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Continue reading

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The Joy (and Terror) of Judgement Day – Part Two

Where I wanted to go with last week’s post reminded me of something from a little series I wrote a decade ago entitled ‘Thoughts Inspired by Psalms’, my first attempt at a series of opinion pieces. The first piece was translated into Czech and published in the national newsletter of the Czech Salvation Army (looking back now, it is probably the weakest of them all and most in need of revision, I have learned a lot since then). This is the second: Continue reading

The Joy (and Terror) of Judgement Day – Part One

So, following on from last week’s entry, your life on earth is borrowed, your possessions are borrowed, the atoms in your body are all borrowed, your every waking (and sleeping) moment is borrowed, entrusted to you.

This reminded me of the words of the Inquisitor from Red Dwarf:

“You have been granted the greatest gift of all, the gift of life. Tell me, what have you done to deserve this superlative good fortune?”

It is a sobering question, because the honest answer is nothing. Life has been granted to us not out of obligation to us for something we have done, not a reward or wages, but as a gift, the greatest of gifts, perhaps even something, dare I say it, that is worth being grateful for in of itself.

In context however, that is not really the question that the Inquisitor was asking. What he was asking was far more serious, even terrifying:

You have been given this astounding gift, this incredible range of opportunities. What have you done with them to justify this enormous investment in you? What reasons will you give to dissuade me from erasing you from history and giving your opportunities to someone else? Continue reading

The Joy of Borrowed Time

The Parable of the Drill

Let’s begin with a little parable. A man wishes to build a support frame in his garden to hang a swing for his children on, but finds that he needs to drill holes in the beams so they can be bolted together.

He is on good terms with his neighbour, so he walks over to the fence between their two gardens.

“Hey Frank!”

“Hey, Bill. What is it?”

“Could I borrow a drill?”

“I don’t have one, but I can borrow one from Jim next door.”

Frank walks across his garden to the fence on the other side and calls across: “Hey Jim!”

“Hey, Frank. What can I do for you?”

“Could I borrow a drill?”

“Hang on a sec, I’ll go and borrow one from Greg next door.”

Jim asks to borrow from Greg, who asks to borrow from Mark, who asks to borrow from Neil… You get the idea.

Continue reading

The Joy of the Immaterial and Material

The English word ‘immaterial’ has an interesting couple of meanings, based on two different meanings of their root word, matter. One meaning of matter, that of physical substance, has it’s root in the latin word materia, ‘substance, timber’. The other, that of the subject or problem under discussion comes from the word mater, ‘mother’, i.e. what gave rise to this discussion. These two roots give rise to the two meanings that at first glance may seem highly related, especially given the materilistic slant of much of Western popular philosophy, that

1. Something immaterial is something that cannot be physically interacted with, which has no resting mass,

2. Something immaterial is something that is irrelevant, something that makes no difference to the discussion at hand.

Some people seem to act as though one meaning is the same as the other, that whatever cannot be physically interacted with is irrelevant and makes no difference, effectively (or literally) not existing at all.

Let’s look at that for a moment. Think of your favourite story. What is it, materially? Continue reading

The Joy of Consciousness

My apologies for my last entry, it was too disjointed and got too bogged down in the technical details (ironic, I know). Here is a rewrite:

Talking about flowing water in the last post in this series reminded me of this scene from Prince Caspian (starting from 1 minute 12 seconds into the video below):

Let’s imagine I witnessed these events in the flesh and described them to you like this:

A temporary and constantly changing arrangement of water molecules came sweeping down an open flow channel, interacted with and modified structures composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur, calcium, iron and other trace elements, then carried them various distances downstream. It was amazing!

I’d expect you to look at me as if I was slightly insane. Continue reading