Flying solo

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spot the anomaly

spot the anomaly

I just began Brian McLaren‘s book Everything Must Change.

I had not realised he was so accomplished until he listed all his achievements for me (how kind). My favourite was his being considered the son of Satan.

The book starts well. Apparently by the time I finish I will understand some highly complex material. Fermat’s Last Theorum perhaps, that one’s always stumped me.

Sailing through happily on my own, enjoying the lilt of his narration and rhythm of his reasoning, I hit a grey box. A grey box with numbered discussion points. I falter.

Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a little group activity. Keeping one’s own company can get monotonous, and lead to muscle strain. But there are certain activities that don’t lend themselves to a group dynamic.

…cinema trips on a first date, for instance. Two hours in a confined space, radiating heat and expectation and nerves, while trying not to laugh at the wrong moment, jump in orchestrated fear or need a lav break. Much better to plan watching the film separately in the week before and then meet up to share thoughts and reflections…

I feel Brian is unfairly discriminating against those without Christian friends. Or those who choose to fly solo with their theological reading matter. Especially the highly complex stuff.

Committed types more trusting than myself might suggest this would be a good time to revisit the commuter church idea. After all here is a book with easily digestible explanations of very clever thinking for liberal Christian people. With questions all pre-written in case you get off track. Me, I’m a cynic, and I think this is Brian’s contribution to the recession by encouraging more people to buy his book.

I also think that perhaps the crazy gold filling teeth phenomenon is God’s contribution. Mine those fillings, people. Don’t take photos and pray!

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Being there

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It’s one thing to pretend there may be opportunity to create relationships where none exist. It is another to be part of those that do. Tonight, Saturday: these have been days where faith, where relationships, where trying so desperately to be a human who deserves her time in the warmth of this world-weary sun makes sense.
It’s not pretty and it’s not perfect. None of us has fillings to be turned to gold, but what we made up for in dental hygiene we lacked in conformity. And Amen I say. Amen!

Posted by ShoZu

The [insert name of country] Dream

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Someone I know and love dearly has been made redundant. This happened a while ago and we found out several months later. I’m not surprised at his reticence to let everyone know… there aren’t  cards proclaiming It’s the Dole for Me! with perhaps a stork bearing aloft a redundancy package on FSC approved paper.

Today it’s official, Britain is in a recession. But there seem to be as many people riding the tube as there were last month. I wonder if anyone is still making the journey into town, to sit in over-priced coffee shops and ponder their next move. I wonder if commuting can be a habit that’s hard to break…

Meanwhile I’ve found some useful advice from across the pond, where dreams are big and their new President is injecting a much needed sense of hope:

The long commute…

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London Euston – Manchester (eta: 19.46)
Manchester – London Euston (eta: 21.35)

I had a looooooong commute home on Tuesday night. Just over 2 hours. My excitement at having a little plug port for my laptop, however, had not worn off by the time I lugged my bags and booty off the carriage at Euston.

This was a one-off for me and I relished the time to work and watch a little of the West Wing, but for a whole lot of people across the country it is cheaper to live several hours away from the city in which they work. It makes me wonder how they might rate their work/life balance.

With as much as four hours – perhaps more – a day spent in a train carriage, does that part constitute the work, the life or some state of limbo which has its own unique characteristics involving su doku puzzles, niche magazines and the risk of deep-vein thrombosis.

When people converse, particularly for the first time, the question “what do you do?” often comes up. There may be a discussion of hobbies, of family. Sometimes there may even be a brief exchange about commuting: “phew, that must be difficult, Leeds to London.” But this would not be explored any further, be taken to the next level – as one similarly would not when talking about family or work. Why is this?

Perhaps because the mysteries of someone’s commute, the habits and traditions they create to make the process more comfortable or tolerable, are sacred ground. Or perhaps because most people are not aware they exist…

Trains, no planes and auto”me”biles

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Hello 2009.

I haven’t started back at work yet, not that emails, phone calls and a whole load of sub-conscious strategic thinking hasn’t been a major part of the last few days. How beautiful it was then, the 2 weeks before when there was a real sense of holiday…

Trains played a major part in my Christmas/New Year. Planes did not. (Quick invitation to a dinner in Heathrow at 7pm on Monday 12th January. Bring food and a flask). Ego and self, however, did.

I found myself in an established group of people, the stranger with a nervous bounce. When issues arose I found myself feeling the centre of the disturbance. To some – small – extent I was. In reality, I was simply the catalyst.

Catalyst: something that causes activity between two or more persons or forces without itself being affected.

My reaction was to let myself be affected. And – in my paranoid arrogance – to assume it was about me. Things happen. For some reason I find it hard not to visualise and place myself within a situation. It’s borne of some extreme sense of guilt. But it’s arrogant to do so.

And not particularly constructive.

However. Don’t the vast majority of theological writers and opinion makers act as catalysts? They may not take on quite so much personal offence, but their ideas create and often exacerbate tension without necessarily involving their own selves in the day-to-day subjective arguments. Their arrogance – were they to demonstrate it – would be misplaced within a theological context, surely?

I’m back on my commute on Friday. Least said.