30 January 2010

Blame Culture

In these supposedly enlightened times, there seems to be one area where we as a society seem to be taking a huge backward step. It's engrained in our dealings with each other, fed to us by regular ads on the TV, reinforced by our legal system. It's the 'blame culture' we find ourselves in.

We are repeatedly told every day that 'where there's blame, there's a claim'. This constant search for compensation appeals to our base nature, encouraging us to seek material gain where we can; we see ourselves as victims, who can then seek compensation whenever we are injured. My mum and dad's generation survived hardship and gunfire when they fought during World War Two. It would appear that my own generation can only think of suing someone if they trip over a paving slab.

Yes, sometimes things happen in life that aren't your fault. However, scripture encourages us to forgive, not to blame. Yes, I know it's difficult - I've been working through some issues in my own life, deep wounds that have not healed despite many years. What has become clearer lately is that some of those wounds were clearly caused by others. And I have to forgive those who caused them before I can move on. And I have to forgive myself, too! Sometimes, dealing with these things takes so much out of us that we can't do it without Christ within us. But He wants to deal with these things too...

However, perhaps we have to consider there's issues where there's no-one else to blame - we have to accept responsibility for our own actions. If we are late for work, is it your fault or the train's? We blame the train company more often than not. If you haven't got a clean shirt in the morning, who do you blame for that? Run out of money? Perhaps you should look at some of the things you've been buying... There comes a point when you can't keep blaming other people. Remember the Serenity Prayer ? Can you easily identify the things that you can change?

Galatians 6:7 (New International Version)
A man reaps what he sows.

25 January 2010

You Are My Shield And Protector

Psalm 3 (The Message)

1-2 God! Look! Enemies past counting! Enemies sprouting like mushrooms, mobs of them all around me, roaring their mockery: "Hah! No help for him from God!"

3-4 But you, God, shield me on all sides; You ground my feet, you lift my head high; with all my might I shout up to God, His answers thunder from the holy mountain.

5-6 I stretch myself out. I sleep. Then I'm up again—rested, tall and steady, Fearless before the enemy mobs coming at me from all sides.

7 Up, God! My God, help me! Slap their faces, first this cheek, then the other, your fist hard in their teeth!

8 Real help comes from God. Your blessing clothes your people!


21 January 2010


I've been contemplating and praying The Serenity Prayer today. This is the common name for an originally untitled prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr, and is often used by various groups, including members of Alcoholics Anonymous programmes. Niebuhr wrote the prayer as early as 1934, and became popular during the Forties. I have it displayed in the porch of my house!

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things that I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.


16 January 2010

The Lowest Form Of Wit

"No dark sarcasm in the classroom; teacher, leave those kids alone..."
(Pink Floyd, Another Brick In The Wall, written by Roger Waters)

My thanks go to my colleague Anna for drawing my attention to an article in yesterday's newspaper and setting me off on this particular train of thought. It's said that you lose 55% of your message if you use the phone rather than talk to someone face to face. That loss increases to 93% if the communication is purely non-verbal (text or email). That means only 7% of any message would get through if you text. (See Wikipedia ). To try and compensate somewhat for this, some folk use 'emoticons'... :)

This article gave details of some bright spark who has invented a new symbol to signify sarcasm to a reader if you are texting or emailing. If it's not obvious to the reader! You can read more about it here .

Sarcasm is defined as:
- A cutting, often ironic remark intended to wound.
- A form of wit that is marked by the use of sarcastic language and is intended to make its victim the butt of contempt or ridicule.

Whether you like it or not, sarcasm is frequently used in our society. It's commonly used in satirical shows as part of popular entertainment. However, when used unkindly and in everyday life, it's not funny, merely caustic and bitter. If taken to an extreme it could even be described as 'bullying'. Having been the subject of bullying behaviour whilst at school, I must admit to a lack of tolerance on this subject. I don't care much for sarcasm, and still remember the words of my own mother, who taught me that it is the 'lowest form of wit'.

And I find out today that they've even created a Sarcasm Society ! Oh fantastic. (!)

Sorry, just had to have a bit of a rant today ...

12 January 2010

How Bizarre!

Ooh baby,
(ooh baby)
It's making me crazy,
(it's making me crazy)
Every time I look around
(Look around)
Every time I look around
(Every time I look around)
Every time I look around
It's in my face

(from 'How Bizarre' by OMC, written by Alan Jansson and Pauly Fuemana)

I spend a great deal of my time at work dealing with bizarre issues - you know, those occasions where something suddenly goes wrong for unexplained reasons. You reboot the PC and it works fine, with no explanation as to what happened earlier. No-one seems to know why the computer did what it did; it just 'went wrong'.

So, when the boss asks you to explain and you try to get to the bottom of the issue, to diagnose the problem, no-one can give you any answers. There's no good solid reason - even the 'experts' often say are stumped, saying that the problem isn't reproducible! It often ends up as a totally unexplainable phenomenon. Something that really is beyond comprehension... How bizarre! How bizarre, how bizarre...

In this 21st Century world, we are taught to seek answers. There is an answer to all things, they say. After all, isn't that what our scientists do, to seek to comprehend our world? Well, there's a gap between what we know and what we don't - usually, that's where Christians live in faith. However, that doesn't always make things easier. One quotation I read recently says "Faith makes things possible, not easy."

As I continue to explore my personal faith, I find myself straying ever further from the shallow end of my experience, encouraged to wade a bit deeper... As I do so, some of the more crazy things that occur in my life begin to slowly make more sense. Every aspect of my life starts to become increasingly spiritually relevant. Things take on a whole new meaning - and thus I am beginning to get a few answers to some long-term issues in my life. I still can't comprehend it all - however I am getting there. How bizarre!

Passing understanding is his boundless love,
More than I can ever comprehend,
Jesus, in his mercy, left his throne above,
All to be my Saviour and my friend.

Higher than the stars that reach eternity,
Broader than the boundaries of endless space,
Is the boundless love of God that pardoned me;
O the wonder of his grace!
SASB 52, 3rd verse and chorus (Howard Davies)

4 January 2010

Jump the Shark

I love to chase down interesting phrases or sayings, don't you? I stumbled across one I've never heard before tonight, reading a review in the evening paper. It referred to a TV show having 'jumped the shark'... This is a colloquialism used by TV critics noting that point in the programme's history where the plot spins off into absurd story lines or where there are major changes with the cast or characters. This may be due to flagging ratings, with the show's producers desperately trying to rekindle interest in a show when viewers have started to drift away. This could also be due to a lead actor suddenly quitting.

The phrase refers to a scene in a 1977 episode of 'Happy Days' called 'Hollywood', where Fonzie (Henry Winkler), wearing swimming trunks and his trademark leather jacket, jumps over a shark (in a water tank) on water skis. It has been said by some critics to be the point the show started to go downhill (although, to be fair, the show did last another seven seasons).

Do you sometimes feel that the situation you are in has 'jumped the shark'? That the best days are already behind you, that it's all downhill from now on? I guess we can all think of circumstances where that is so... but rest assured, there's still hope ....

...and my Hope is in the Lord!

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus' name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

SASB 745 - Edward Mote (1797-1874)

3 January 2010

Faithful One

Faithful One, so unchanging.
Ageless One, You're my rock of peace.
Lord of all I depend on You.
I call out to You again and again.
I call out to You again and again.

You are my rock in times of trouble.
You lift me up when I fall down.
All through the storm,
Your love is the anchor,
My hope is in You alone.

(Brian Doerkson)

I continue to pray...