Hello my dears, I am off gallivanting to Copenhagen (holiday) and Kent (retreat) and West Sussex (music festival) this couple of weeks, but thought I’d document some summer memories so far:
Went to see this amazing exhibition a few weeks ago, and was moved to tears by the compassion, sense of humour and all-round sparkly wonderfulness of Quentin Blake. What a genius.
This has also been happening in Coventry recently – lots of outdoor sports activities, including cycling round the (in)famous ring road, and one of my friends dressing up as Skippy (a kangaroo, what else)! Fun times. Making me feel proud of Coventry, especially its design and manufacturing heritage.
It was a real-life steam train! That you could actually travel on! Enough to turn any adult back into a child.
Perfect summery dishes: here and here (works just as well with pork, by the way).
Saw this movie a couple weeks ago – so much food for thought.
And, my summer reading.
Finally, a very beautiful, moving video piece: (Edit 5/9/13: Sorry, this link doesn’t seem to be working anymore. You can view the video here however: http://www.simonchristen.com/adrift.html)
Happy weekend! Hope you have some barefoot, hanging out-y fun.
This makes me SO HAPPY.
FOOD AS FLAGS.
Also, this probably makes me a horrible person but I find the Japanese raptor pranks so funny.
I’m trying to deal with the fact that I am away, again, for at least a while, by not really dealing with it. This is evident by the fact that I have not washed any dishes since Sunday. Which isn’t as big a problem as you might think because I haven’t cooked since Sunday. Slowly working on it. At least I’ve done my laundry today.
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“We operate with the assumption that giving people new ideas changes people. It doesn’t. Believing ideas is, in fact, a way of not having to change in any significant way, especially if you can argue about them. Ideas become defenses.
If you have the right words, you are considered an orthodox and law-abiding Christian. We burned people at the stake for not having the right words, but never to my knowledge for failing to love or forgive, or to care for the poor. Religion has had a love affair with words and correct ideas, whereas Jesus loved people, who are always imperfect.
You do not have to substantially change to think some new ideas. You always have to change to love and forgive ordinary people. We love any religion that asks us to change other people. We avoid any religion that keeps telling us to change.”
Richard Rohr hits hard at shallow consumerism among churchgoers. Ouch. In this book.
if you didn’t have direction or rigour,
you would be kind to others or yourself (or both).
you would be kind because or in spite of yourself.
your kindness laid bare could be grace or ego.
do we owe it to be kind? (to who? for what?)
we smile at head-hangers, and children,
and systems in lonely orbit, from coffee till nightcap.
what charity is there after commiseration?
but here’s the park and the subway.
there’s the landlord and your neighbour.
maybe we owe it to ourselves
to write lines about being kind.
really, really sorry for not updating, as usual – parents have just left for singapore and it’s just sunk in that i’m gonna be working things out mostly on my own for another two more years. so while i’m faffing around the house here’s the obligatory passage from men clearly wiser than me. this one’s niebuhr on america:
‘once the first hardships had been endured, it became obvious that the riches of the new continent promised remarkably high standard of well-being. these were accepted as ‘uncovenanted mercies’. (…) it has remained one of the most difficult achievements for our nation to recognize the fortuitous and the providential element in our good fortune. if either moral pride or the spirit of rationalism tries to draw every element in an historic situation into rational coherence, and persuades us to establish a direct congruity between our good fortune and our virtue or our skill, we will inevitably claim more for our contribution to our prosperity than the facts warrant. this has remained a source of moral confusion in american life. for, from the later puritans to the present day we have variously attributed american prosperity to our superior diligence, our greater skill or (more recently) to our more fervent devotion to the ideals of freedom. we thereby have complicated our spiritual problem for the days of adversity which we are bound to experience. we have forgotten to what degree the wealth of our natural resources an the fortuitous circumstance that we conquered a continent just when the advancement of technics made it possible to organise that continent into a single political and economic unit, lay at the foundation of our prosperity.’
i promise i’ll write soon. not sure whether that promise seems more like a threat, though.
For the sound of your summer, there can be no other than the esteemed Ben Howard. What an awesome music video!
Have a summery, hanging-out-y, playful weekend.
In other news, a friend has demanded to know what exactly my community house‘s “season of high challenge” consisted of, as soon as possible – so, here’s the reveal…
Some of us in the house were really challenged by this story, particularly Jesus’ words to “sell what you possess and give to the poor”. So we gave away all our income for a month, keeping it a secret from most people, and lived ‘by faith’, i.e. just on what we happened to receive.
At the same time, we also really wanted to keep being more and more hospitable as a house, so we decided that we would keep having friends over and feeding them whatever we had. We also didn’t want to start behaving in a poor way, i.e. just hoarding and trying to make whatever we had last as long as possible, since that doesn’t require any faith, so we ate as much and as good quality as we normally would.
Some things I learnt during this time:
- ‘Not having anything’ (or rather, thinking we don’t have anything) is immensely freeing and a great stimulant to creativity. It is nowhere near as scary as I thought it would be. It did, however, feel nasty, all stripped down like fasting (which I am really bad at). Which leads me to…
- My spirituality is flabby. Quite often my comfort does not come from God; it comes from new clothes and £3 hot chocolates in cafes. Loving money and ‘stuff’ is a stronghold that needs to be contested regularly
- However, God can totally be trusted to provide. Quite a lot of free stuff appeared during this time…
- Petrol – the few people we had told decided to fill up our tanks! So we had enough to go places
- Food – always enough to feed ourselves and any friends we had over; lots of timely leftovers from various shindigs
- A replacement bedframe and mattress when I had bedbugs! – my parents had promised me a new mattress ages ago, so it was time to cash in; my housemate had a spare bedframe
- Lifts – quite a lot of them just when they would have been nice (and sometimes necessary); from people that we knew, who happened to be driving by
- Fun! – Charlecote Park, a cool art installation project, Coventry cathedral secondhand book sale, a barbecue, getting kidnapped to go and see As You Like It by the Royal Shakespeare Company, seeing Watford FC play live (!) etc etc
- Manifestly, God is in the business of providing beyond the stale-crusts-and-water lifestyle
- He is also a big fan of hospitality
- If your finances aren’t in shape, it’s hard to bless other people
- I don’t tell God nearly enough what I want
- These things are better done in community. Much better. It’s amazing how powerful community is to keep people alive and happy.
On reflection, I have realised that while my feelings associated with this season were of misery and there not being enough, the fact is that there was always enough, and then some. It’s just that my idea of what is ‘enough’ is a lot beyond what is actually needed to have a perfectly adequate, enjoyable life.
We don’t seem to be any the worse for the wear, and it’s definitely gotten under the veneer of my religion (the stuff I say I believe) to show me the condition of my faith (what I actually believe). Feels like just the beginning of a much longer process of faith adventures, cultivating a simple life and growing in trust…
Wednesday is very sorry. These past few weeks have been pretty insane. A lot of grief, but a lot of joy too. Am very grateful. Wednesday is waiting to go for LASIK (T minus 75minutes) which means tomorrow’s entry will necessarily be postponed. Wednesday is genuinely contemplating bringing a soft toy with her.
Wednesday leaves you with a very wise quote from her very old friend, “All these people, hash tag this hash tag that on Facebook. ‘Today I’m going for yoga’ then hash tag ‘yoga’. Just shaddup la who cares just go.”
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