Tag Archives: faith

Another Advent⤴

from @ blethers


Another Advent

For Andy, who suggested the possibility.

From the darkness that returns
each year we sing our plaintive song
and ask that God will come again
and fill our lives with what we know
and hardly know is all we need.
The fire burns low, the night is long,
and yet we feel in some way held
within the circle of this flame
that still we tend with anxious care
in some place hidden from the eyes
that mock and laugh and turn away
with restless ease towards their end.
The world too turns, and we await
the power that fills our life with light
and let our alleluias ring
within the darkness of the earth.

C.M.M. 12/17

Not easy on a bus⤴

from @ blethers

I was reflecting the other day how much more difficult simple faith (in God, mostly, on this occasion, but not exclusively) has become in the past century or so. And I think I was ruminating ruefully - do you have a vision of a sad cow? Trouble is, we know too much. All of us, in varying degrees, are equipped with more awareness of what constitutes our surroundings than were our forebears.

Start with something non-religious. Think of these medical dramas which show even the time of my own childhood, the documentaries which show doctors as white-coated invincibles, the patients as wide-eyed innocents ready to believe that all will be well as they descend into what Robert Frost called "the dark of ether". Nowadays fully-fledged hypochondriacs like me can look up procedures, statistics, symptoms, photos (God preserve us from the photos) and learn doubt. We realise when we are being soothed, and the best that can happen is that when we're actually in extremis we feel soothed. It's when normality returns that the doubt arrives.

And I think it's much the same with religion. All the old certainties - from hell to heaven and places in between - are now subject to the scrutiny of science and knowledge. We know what's up there, out there, beyond ... it's not a mystery any more. We can no longer feel sure that God's in his (note - his) heaven, which is up there in the sky. I remember wrestling at University with the teleological and ontological proofs of the existence of God, at a time when I didn't believe in anything. It was a struggle, but not a spiritual one. It changed nothing; it was easier than Formal Logic; I passed the exam.

All this conspires to make me increasingly irritated at people who assume that if you adhere to a faith you are either "throwing reason out of the window" (what my father said when I announced I was going to be confirmed at the age of 28) or are somehow sufficiently ill-informed to accept a child's version of religion. (I also become irritated at Christians who insist that that's the only way, but that's another story). Someone who thinks and challenges and argues is going to bring that attitude to what they call God - and if having done so they can find themselves happy with the language and attitudes of a faith system, that is where they will exercise their minds as well as their souls.

God - that word we use to describe the indescribable, remember? - God hasn't shrunk because we know the workings of the world that we used to consider a sacred mystery. God isn't the little shrivelled creature of some celebrated fiction. My understanding of this word, this concept, is of something at once all-encompassing and omnipresent and at the same time tiny enough to be within every mind that allows itself to wonder, every heart that allows itself to melt. God is in every moment of thankfulness; still there when the heart hardens and shuts God out.

When a faith-structure allows for this kind of vision, provides the framework of beauty and wonder and loss of the self-consciousness that inhibits, gives space for sorrow and joy and the tears of both, that is what I call Church.  When I find myself in it, I am grateful. When it is threatened - and it can so easily be threatened - it is like an impending death. When it solidifies into something else, I'm better off without it, sad though that feels.

But try explaining that over the dinner-table. Or on a bus.

Not easy on a bus⤴

from @ blethers

I was reflecting the other day how much more difficult simple faith (in God, mostly, on this occasion, but not exclusively) has become in the past century or so. And I think I was ruminating ruefully - do you have a vision of a sad cow? Trouble is, we know too much. All of us, in varying degrees, are equipped with more awareness of what constitutes our surroundings than were our forebears.

Start with something non-religious. Think of these medical dramas which show even the time of my own childhood, the documentaries which show doctors as white-coated invincibles, the patients as wide-eyed innocents ready to believe that all will be well as they descend into what Robert Frost called "the dark of ether". Nowadays fully-fledged hypochondriacs like me can look up procedures, statistics, symptoms, photos (God preserve us from the photos) and learn doubt. We realise when we are being soothed, and the best that can happen is that when we're actually in extremis we feel soothed. It's when normality returns that the doubt arrives.

And I think it's much the same with religion. All the old certainties - from hell to heaven and places in between - are now subject to the scrutiny of science and knowledge. We know what's up there, out there, beyond ... it's not a mystery any more. We can no longer feel sure that God's in his (note - his) heaven, which is up there in the sky. I remember wrestling at University with the teleological and ontological proofs of the existence of God, at a time when I didn't believe in anything. It was a struggle, but not a spiritual one. It changed nothing; it was easier than Formal Logic; I passed the exam.

All this conspires to make me increasingly irritated at people who assume that if you adhere to a faith you are either "throwing reason out of the window" (what my father said when I announced I was going to be confirmed at the age of 28) or are somehow sufficiently ill-informed to accept a child's version of religion. (I also become irritated at Christians who insist that that's the only way, but that's another story). Someone who thinks and challenges and argues is going to bring that attitude to what they call God - and if having done so they can find themselves happy with the language and attitudes of a faith system, that is where they will exercise their minds as well as their souls.

God - that word we use to describe the indescribable, remember? - God hasn't shrunk because we know the workings of the world that we used to consider a sacred mystery. God isn't the little shrivelled creature of some celebrated fiction. My understanding of this word, this concept, is of something at once all-encompassing and omnipresent and at the same time tiny enough to be within every mind that allows itself to wonder, every heart that allows itself to melt. God is in every moment of thankfulness; still there when the heart hardens and shuts God out.

When a faith-structure allows for this kind of vision, provides the framework of beauty and wonder and loss of the self-consciousness that inhibits, gives space for sorrow and joy and the tears of both, that is what I call Church.  When I find myself in it, I am grateful. When it is threatened - and it can so easily be threatened - it is like an impending death. When it solidifies into something else, I'm better off without it, sad though that feels.

But try explaining that over the dinner-table. Or on a bus.

Scottish Interfaith Week 2016⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Small - Interfaith ScotlandJoin Dr Maureen Sier, Director of Interfaith Scotland and Frances Hume, Development Officer to find out more about Scottish Interfaith Week 2016 on Thursday 1st September at 4pm.

Dr Maureen Sier, Director of Interfaith Scotland and Frances Hume, Development Officer will share about Scottish Interfaith Week 2016 – what it is, why it is important, and what resources are available for teachers to mark the week in schools. Scottish Interfaith Week is taking place from 13th – 20th November. The week provides an opportunity to celebrate Scotland’s diversity and to plan events that bring people together to promote dialogue, understanding and co-operation between people of all faiths and none.

The theme of Scottish Interfaith Week this year is ‘Religion and the Media’, recognising the powerful effect that the media can have on people of different faiths. Maureen and Frances will outline resources available for teachers on this theme. They will also give an outline of the work of Interfaith Scotland including the variety of workshops that they offer in schools.

Sign up and join live in Glow TV – Scottish Interfaith Week 2016

If you unable to join us for the live event you can always catch up with the recording at another time – Glow TV’s Watch Again.

Explore Buddhism⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Small - Samye LingGlow TV continues looking at world religions and enabling pupils to ask their varied questions about different faiths.

Join us live on Wednesday 27th April at 11am from the Samye Ling, a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery and Centre for World Peace and Health where you will have the opportunity to speak to Choje Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche the Abbot and Retreat Master. You can find out about the Samye Ling Centre which attracts thousands of visitors who come to enjoy the magnificent temple and grounds or to attend one of the many courses on offer and also ask Lama Yeshe all your questions about Buddhism.

Register now to take part live – Explore Buddhism

If you unable to join us for the live event you can always catch up with the recording at another time – Glow TV’s Watch Again.

The meeting⤴

from @ blethers


THE MEETING

This the night when under the dark dome
the hard stars shine and that one
shines brighter than them all, the night
when power and pomp and wisdom and wealth
come seeking a king and find instead
love in ordinary, human love, vulnerable
to all that wounds beneath the sky -
This is that night. It comes again.

For earthly power was melted then
in tears of joy, of journey done,
of understanding what lay there
in poverty of place and rank
and all they knew, these visitors,
collapsed in shards of sudden loss
and left them free to live again -
This is that night.

©C.M.M. 6/01/16

The meeting⤴

from @ blethers


THE MEETING

This the night when under the dark dome
the hard stars shine and that one
shines brighter than them all, the night
when power and pomp and wisdom and wealth
come seeking a king and find instead
love in ordinary, human love, vulnerable
to all that wounds beneath the sky -
This is that night. It comes again.

For earthly power was melted then
in tears of joy, of journey done,
of understanding what lay there
in poverty of place and rank
and all they knew, these visitors,
collapsed in shards of sudden loss
and left them free to live again -
This is that night.

©C.M.M. 6/01/16

The meeting⤴

from @ blethers


THE MEETING

This the night when under the dark dome
the hard stars shine and that one
shines brighter than them all, the night
when power and pomp and wisdom and wealth
come seeking a king and find instead
love in ordinary, human love, vulnerable
to all that wounds beneath the sky -
This is that night. It comes again.

For earthly power was melted then
in tears of joy, of journey done,
of understanding what lay there
in poverty of place and rank
and all they knew, these visitors,
collapsed in shards of sudden loss
and left them free to live again -
This is that night.

©C.M.M. 6/01/16

All we go down …⤴

from @ blethers


I was at a funeral yesterday, not as a mourner but as a provider of music, one of a quartet singing the Kontakion for the Departed at the end of a service in the Cathedral of The Isles on Cumbrae. This was significant for me personally in one important feature: it was doing exactly that at my very first funeral in that same cathedral 42 years ago that convinced me of all that I now believe in, as a consequence of which I was confirmed 9 months later and as a further consequence of which I came to live in Dunoon. There were differences, of course - that first funeral was of a friend, it was a requiem mass, the coffin was between the choir stalls and therefore right on front of me.

So I'd actually have gone a long way to sing this music again in that place and with these same musicians. But another truth dawned on me yesterday as I sang, and after the plainsong Nunc Dimittis with which we finished. It was a truth about music - that kind of music, timeless and beautiful and still. For after all the words, the telling to God of the deceased's character (thou knowest, Lord, the secret of our hearts ... ) and the hymns that were deemed suitable, this was the moment when it seemed to me that the otherness of death came close, that the life of the world was dimmed and the life of heaven opened, and the possibilities of eternity were real and endless.

And weeping o'er the grave, we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia.

I would like to think that this music will be present for my end.

All we go down …⤴

from @ blethers


I was at a funeral yesterday, not as a mourner but as a provider of music, one of a quartet singing the Kontakion for the Departed at the end of a service in the Cathedral of The Isles on Cumbrae. This was significant for me personally in one important feature: it was doing exactly that at my very first funeral in that same cathedral 42 years ago that convinced me of all that I now believe in, as a consequence of which I was confirmed 9 months later and as a further consequence of which I came to live in Dunoon. There were differences, of course - that first funeral was of a friend, it was a requiem mass, the coffin was between the choir stalls and therefore right on front of me.

So I'd actually have gone a long way to sing this music again in that place and with these same musicians. But another truth dawned on me yesterday as I sang, and after the plainsong Nunc Dimittis with which we finished. It was a truth about music - that kind of music, timeless and beautiful and still. For after all the words, the telling to God of the deceased's character (thou knowest, Lord, the secret of our hearts ... ) and the hymns that were deemed suitable, this was the moment when it seemed to me that the otherness of death came close, that the life of the world was dimmed and the life of heaven opened, and the possibilities of eternity were real and endless.

And weeping o'er the grave, we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia.

I would like to think that this music will be present for my end.