I just can’t get enough of this…..

Perhaps you know the feeling: you get an album and you keep playing it as everytime you do, you get something new from it. That is how I feel about this:-

It is not as instant as ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’, but I love the observations on age and becoming more comfortable with where you are and where you have come from. I think I will still be playing this and not fully ‘getting it’ in a few weeks from now.

This one is currently swirling around my head. It didn’t do a lot for me on first listen, but it has grown. I love the talent that Guy Garvey has in highlighting everyday epiphanies. Plus…. I’m married to a Rochdale Girl….

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The Wedding

Ok: honesty time. I am a ‘lazy Republican’ (c :http://thisfragiletent.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/censoring-royal-weddings/): I have not sung the National Anthem (1st verse) for about 30 years. Yes I know the arguments for holding the nation together, giving a national lead, bringing trade in etc etc, but they don’t cut it for me.If only some of the other verses were sung more frequently:-

Not in this land alone
But be God’s mercies known
From shore to shore
Lord make the nations see
That men should brothers be
And form one family
The wide world over

Lord let wars’ tempest cease;
Fold the whole world in peace
Under thy wings.
Make all the nations one;
All hearts beneath the sun;
Till Thou shalt reign alone;
Great King of Kings.

That is not to say that I wish the couple any ill today: I don’t. I hope it works out and like any couple in the public eye that it will bless others. But royalty and more particularLy the sycophantic praise that comes from some quarters….no thanks…leave me out….

What I have noticed this time is that the desire for communal celebration: street parties etc has declined considerably. If people are going to celebrate today, it has become privatised: in front of the TV or parties with those we know. I can remember a street party for the silver jubilee (1977), big interest (but few parties) for Charles and Diana but after that, very little (I lived in Wales for the Golden Jubillee- I can remember an 8 hour walk in the Carneddau, but not much else. North Wales often has a paradoxical relationship with what is seen as ‘English’ royalty).

I am wondering if this day says more about us as a nation: amongst the below 60s a ‘flight from deference’, a reluctance to act communally and a fear/antipathy to those outside of our work/family/friendship groups.

Mostly today I will ignore the events on TV, although my mother in law with whom I am staying is a royalist. I won’t, as I hinted sardonically to some friends, be lounging on the village green playing ‘God Save the Queen’ by the Sex Pistols….

The saddest song part 9

I listened to this song for years and never really got what it was about. Then a few years back I realised it was about Holy Week and a partly imagined dialogue between Jesus and Judas. In my protestant disregard for the liturgical year this appears after Easter….

The bit that really gets me is after the guitar solo when Judas in despair sings:-

‘Waves of regret, waves of joy
I reached out for the one I tried to destroy
You, you said you’d wait till the end of the world’.

In the context of the song and the hope of Grace, that always chokes me up.
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When your team wins.

I went to watch Middlesbrough this week (actually Monday). They won and begin to climb towards a mid table place as the season ends. At times, even that meagre achievement looked beyond them.

I don’t think I have ever been so excited at a football match. The football was, most of the time, unlike watching Brazil: there were errors, hesitation, missed chances and falliable defending. However, it was enough to keep both of my children on the edges of their seats and reluctant to look away. That has got to be good value.

I understand more of how football functions as a kind of religion for many people (and sometimes me); the feeling of ‘us against the world’, shared elation and despair, a common language incomprehensible to non initiates, a shared story and the communal release of emotions. Then there is the high of your team winning. This high is heightened (and I’m not sure about the combination of those words) when victory has been on a knife edge.

I did watch the match and not just theologise…honest…… 92 minute winners don’t get any better than this one though. As I said when I texted a friend at the end: ‘there is a God and his name is Tarmo Kink.’

Anyone outside of Middlesbrough may be very puzzled by this post. Do not adjust your sets: the normal flow of incoherent gibberish will be resumed tomorrow….

Crosses

Comment from an unnamed source looking at our cross covered in flowers on the village green and the cross without flowers abandoned in front of the church notice board:-

‘Is there some kind of parable here? Flowered, attractive and welcoming looking cross in a so called ‘secular’ space and abandoned wonky cross in a so called ‘spritual’ place?’

I think he had a point….but my head hurts too much to unpick the nuances and levels in that statement….

Tim Vine/John Archer

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Not seasonal for Easter Saturday at all, but during the week I went to my first comedy gig for 25 years…

I went with a bunch of mates from the village. Excellent, excellent night. T. Bone Burnett the music producer said something like ‘If a builder is a Christian, builds a wall badly and then sprays the word ‘Jesus’ on it, it doesn’t make it any better’. It was great to see quality entertainment, done well and done in its own right without the badge ‘Christian’ applied to it as an arbiter of quality.

Neither swore etc, but not that I noticed- it was quality and not cheesy. Paradoxically my friends did- they also commented on how good it was compared to other recent comedians they had seen.

My friends said I laughed like a girl. Too many jokes, too fast to remember and anyway, some of them were drowned by that girlish laugh. Best one I remember: ‘ I bought a boomerang from a ghost- tell you what; I bet that will come back to haunt me’. Ok…you had to be there….

In the car on the way back I said ‘Well that is a new experience for you: laughing at two Christians instead of just one’. One replied back ‘Ah, but we were laughing with them- we just laugh at you.’ I bet John Wesley never got that.

Today

….. I’m not sure it is my favourite day of the Christian year: it may well be. With my eyes open to all that goes on around me in the world, I think it is the day that expresses best that sometimes there are no answers. ‘God knows’ is used as a phrase in contemporary culture to denote that the answer or the way forward is unknown or impossible.

Today there are no easy answers. Today ‘God knows’. I believe He does. I have often repeated this but when Jesus was arguably the closest to God’s will he did not say ‘I thank you God that I am secure and loved and I trust in your perfect will for you will bring me through in victory’, but rather (in Matthew’s Gospel) ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

I read this and I find it to have truth in it:-

‘Many people do not want to be challenged by their faith, they seek to be comforted by it.  A faith that challenges demands action and possibly even change.  For many people this brings feelings of insecurity and this can be a troubling experience’.

http://changingworship.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/art-vs-the-church/

Today is a day that is a shipwreck for comfort, passivity and security….

I read this and it made me think part 2.

Something else on leadership; this time from the man who marries members of the royal family (to each other that is- not to him).

‘Leadership is not about giving commands, not even about making decisions, it is quite literally about leading, clearing the way, making it possible for us to go where otherwise we could not’.

http://www.freshexpressions.org.uk/e-xpressions/apr11?newsletter-view