Saturday, June 30, 2007

Evangelisation v Civilisation

You may have to click on this image to be able to read it properly but it does add and link in with my last two posts quite neatly:

Page 19 'On being the Church in the World' J. A.T. Robinson

Death of the Beloved

Death of the Beloved

Of Death he knew what we know generally: 
Death takes us and it thrusts us into silence.
She was not torn from him, but silently
the sight of her was washed out from his eyes

till, gradually dissolved, she must have gone
gliding away into that unknown land
of Shades; there she would smile and shine upon
them like a maiden moon, forever kind.

And gradually the dead and he were kin
as if through her they had been close-related.
Although he heard the words the living said

he thought them false and paid them no attention:
Death's land he thought, seemed kind and doubly sweet.
He read its braille for traces of her feet.

Rainer Maria Rilke from ‘Neue Gedichte’ (New Poems).

This beautiful poem that I have read several times catches the idea of the impact of love. The person who has loved feels the love after death, the beauty of the moment keeps him going and it emphasises how we should all live for the beauty of love. He still feels the love, like a blind person reads Braille and death is now something that is sweet and kind.

This afternoon, I managed to find another book by J. A. T. Robinson, the Bishop of Woolwich who in the 60’s was one of the most controversial Bishops. I find a lot of common sense in his writing and I can’t help admiring him. Chapter 1 is called ‘The Christian Society and this World’. He is discussing the famous passage in 1 Corinthians 15 – ‘O death where is thy sting?’. The Corinthians were struggling with a new problem – What does the resurrection mean? Instead of life after death, the Jewish ideal was that at the point when the Messiah comes, the dead will be raised, in other words there was no life after death in the sense that we think of heaven, the religious person went to 'sleep' and their body was raised when the Messiah returned. Christians in the first century were convinced that Jesus was going to return in their lifetime, they did not think they would die. They believed they Jesus would return to earth and if they died – they would not be there.

The new hope that Paul argued for was that they had a new life in Christ after baptism and that death would make no difference. It was this idea more than the common conception of immortality that was most common when the Bible was written. In this sense the ‘new world’ is already with us. We as Christians should live with our focus on this world. He writes:

“For much the greater part of the biblical period that distinctly Hebraic virtue, hope, was nourished and maintained without any living faith in an after-life. Again, contrary to what is usually supposed, the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, properly speaking, finds no place in the Old Testament or the New. Moreover, as we have just said, the early Christian writers centred their hops, not in life after death, but in the new resurrection order of ‘life in Christ’, which they entered at Baptism and to which death could make no difference.”

I find this quite incredible, it seems that the emphasis placed on ‘life after death’ is not an idea that was held in New Testament times and that the current idea of ‘believing in life before death’ is more of a Christian idea than the Marxists would make us believe.

Bishop Robinson continues with this thought writing:

“The Communist conception of ‘the new world’, as something that is coming despite the death of the individual, is at this point nearer to the New Testament, though in treating every generation but the last, and consequently every individual within a generation, as a means to an end, Marxism has a radically sub-Christian doctrine of Man.”

Security Measures

Yet again, we have two entirely unpredictable and unexpected terror attacks in the UK. It seems that the 'security men' are not deterring these attacks. Why should we sit so meekly and face all the delays when security men do all their bizarre liquid, body searching and questioning all based on what has been attempted before today. Do they not think that terrorists do not know what security measures are being used? Do they not suspect that since liquids have been banned and there has been huge expense and mothers have had to throw out milk and ordinary tourists lose their aftershave - what is this all for? Has it stopped the attacks? No. No. No.

For all our security and our hi-tech gadgetry, we are still under attack, in fact I think we are now in a worse position than what we were in 10 years ago.

Now, as you all know, I have a hatred of security checks, they are unnecessary, they are rude and they are ineffective. No terrorist is going to use a liquid bomb, I suspect ever again, even if they allow liquids in our hand baggage again. They are at this moment dreaming up new types of bombs, they are putting all of their energy into how to plan the next attack and while they are doing this, we are not and will never win the war against terror.

UK has had two attacks in the last two days, this shows how effective we have been, I would say we don't have a clue and it is going to get worse. The world is not a safe place.

The only way we can can stop the terrorists is by stopping the reasons and causes that the terrorists join up. We have ignored this, we have not tried preventative action, we have not even tried to understand their cause. Talking is the only way, positive action is even better, but whilst smug security men sit seizing aftershave and babies milk the poor people of Afghanistan and Iraq sit in desperation, they see their hopes crushed and unless we do something about their lives and even if we just tried talking, we might reduce the level of terror.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

What is Poetry?

"When Stevens writes 'A man and a woman/ Are one' we can understand without difficulty, but 'A man and a woman and a blackbird/ Are one' we are flummoxed. We set off on a path in the anxious hope that we will arive sooner or later at a single main sense for the poem that will include the blackbird. But, perhaps, losing our bearings is a fundamental part of the process. The playground game of Heaney's title 'Finders Keepers' has loss as its counterpart."

Thus writes Martha Kapos in the latest editorial for 'Poetry London' magazine and she is right in my opinion in illustrating why we still need poetry.

See the Lost series on Flickr or go to the following

Go here to see the 'lost' posters.
The Art of Asbestos

Friday, June 22, 2007

Communication of Managers

I bought this book quite a while ago, but I have been reading little bits every so often in the past few weeks:

(Apart from one of the ultimate questions - is the manager on the left male or female?)

This book was written in 1960, it was before the time of '5 secrets to management' books and is more realistic. Wilfred Brown is writing down his 'experience' as a manager and it is far more interesting to get insights into 1950s executive life than any smarmy management consultant. The main thing is office life isn't really that different, you still get power struggles, communication errors and minefield politics. What is more Brown is coming from the approach that management has never been written down like this before, he is starting a new academic discipline.

My favourite bits are the examples from his real life that he gives of 'how not to manage'. The following gives an example of this, Brown is explaining one of the mysteries of communication:

"If a manager describes to his subordinate, with obvious approval, the technique being employed for a particular job elsewhere, it is an instruction to his subordinate to learn about it. The more deeply one thinks about these managerial-subordinate communications, the clearer it becomes that they are always instructions.
Now consider the position when B(1) says to his colleague and equal B(2): 'I advise you to do this or that', or 'Please supply me with the following information or assistance'. Clearly, no instruction has passed. The position arises, therefore, is that the same words have quite different meanings according to the roles occupied by the people between whom communication takes place."

Saturday, June 02, 2007

T.S. Eliot 'The Family Reunion'

Eliot wrote several 'verse plays'. Whilst 'The Family Reunion' was initially considered a failure in the theatre it is considered to be his best play and to contain his best poetry. A modern 'Christian' re-telling of Orestia by Aeschylus. The play works in two planes, the trivial and the mystical and the main characters moving between.

This short quote is from Dr Warburton, the family doctor. I'm quite enjoying reading this play:

"I used to dream of making some great discovery
To do away with one disease or another.
Now I've had forty years' experience
I've left of thinking of the laboratory.
We're all of us ill in one way or another:
We call it health when we find no sympton
Of illness. Health is a relative term."