On venerating your child

Image result for adil rashid

Our youngest child was selected for the Cleveland Schools’ cricket squad in the last week. In addition he is coming to the end of his second close season spell with Yorkshire Pathways Bronze level; that puts him in the top 80-100 children of his age group at cricket in this county. He bowls leg break & googly (if you don’t know what that is, look it up! The picture above, of England’s Adil Rashid, gives some idea of the contortions neccesary) , which is the ‘holy grail’ of bowling; at one time it was as rare as hen’s teeth. It is notoriously difficult to master and when he is on song, it is a beautiful thing to watch as the ball swings one way through the air, pitches and then moves the other way. At times I have watched him in the nets & seen good batsmen frequently flailing at thin air in frustration as they cannot ‘read’ him.

Of course, with sport, it could all end at any time. Teenage years kick in, injuries happen,the selections get tighter and someone doesn’t ‘make’ it, academic pressures become more intense etc etc, but at the moment, both children have a combination of academic ability, opportunity) and sporting gifts that I never had.

I could go on for longer; naturally I am proud, but at the same time something in me doesn’t feel right to talk in this way. In the same way, when our oldest child did better at GCSEs than we expected- in fact did really well- I did not post the full details on social media; it doesn’t feel right to crow in this way.

I’ve had this passage underlined in a book for a long time:-

‘The problem for someone like me who desires that his children lead successful, competent lives, is knowing that the cost of this may at times be insensitivity to others, that in urging them to do well I may be urging them to be inconsiderate, lacking in thoughtfulness about others. In other words the Christian values of community and equality are not the easiest standards to hold up when you’re also interested in perpetuating your privileged situation in society through your children and your own behaviour’. (Robert Coles in Hirsch & Hirsch  (2010) p163)

There is a temptation in those of us who have faith to live lives of ‘practical atheism’; as long as you do your ‘religious duty’ the rest of your life is your own business. I exaggerate of course, but when I hear discussions among middle class believers about finding a ‘good church’ (which is what exactly?) the words of an old Divine Comedy song come back to mind:-

‘The cars in the car park were shiny and German,

Distinctly at odds with the theme of the sermon’

which puts the point rather more succinctly.

No answers at the moment, apart from trying to avoid the ‘competitive dad’ huddles as parents jockey for position, teaching your children to be proud, yet not to crow,  look down on others or be envious of those who have more gifts,being a bit more thankful when you are tempted to whinge at life and realising that all of this is temporary and could grow or cease at any time and lots of good, wholesome things like that. etc etc

Yet at the same time thoughts dog you; is this enough? Have you got it right? Or are you really doing anything differently to anyone else?

…maybe not…

Friday Music


I found this a couple of weeks ago and almost couldn’t speak.

A singer who at times has sang of his disillusionment with faith (his dad was a Bishop) goes on a rock show in his native country and sings…. a hymn! And perhaps because of that, sings it with a passion and a power that beats over the top emoting.

Partly because of this video I am having this hymn in my last service and mostly because at the end you don’t leave in exuberant triumph, but painfully aware of your faults and failings and the things you haven’t done.

Forgive my foolish ways.

Friday Music


Car boot sales: manna to the average minister on a stipend. Even greater when you find a reputable stall selling half decent CDs for £1.

This was a weekend purchase; I used to like The Divine Comedy’s take on ‘normal’ and this CD is no different. I think the above song is underrated; see what you think.


I have added another book to my vast wishlist (If only I had time to read them), alerted by this incredible picture at http://www.emergentkiwi.org.nz/

It is from a book by Betty Spackman, called ‘A Profound weakness: Christians andKitsch’. It has pictures- more like this: I can’t wait!

I am out of those places now, but for a time it seemed like the Christian world (particularly evangelical) was heavily into ‘kitsch’: a kind of world where everything was bright and breezy and there was no irony or any depth. At times a kind of ‘altworld’: no shades or danger shall ever enter here.

I wonder why: perhaps it is because the Bible won’t let us get away with these images, so we want to build our own, softer ones (on a parallel track, those lyrics from a song by the Divine Comedy come to mind : ‘The cars in the carpark were shiny and German; distinctly at odds with the theme of the sermon’…we do it all the time….).

I am especially fond of the top image: recasting Jesus into all the things he isn’t as the artist is uncomfortable with all the things he is…