Category Archives: Thoughts

Random thing that I’m thinking about

Walking is good for keeping you healthy into old age

image of hiking boots - are they better for ankle protection

Hiking Boots

Not a great surprise to anyone but yet another study has shown the benefits of walking. In this study older people were given a walking programme to follow to see if it would help their mobility and it did. However, it not only helped them stay mobile it also helped them recover when things went wrong – all just by going for a walk.

Because I am an essentially lazy person and I don’t believe in spending time writing something someone else already has – life is too short – here is a link to a fuller description on another web site of the report and its implications.

Fresh Expressions of Church

715511_22964670Fresh Expressions work! I came across this bit of information the other day – it is a couple years old now but that doesn’t mean it is not worth looking at.

What is a Fresh Expression? It is essentially a new way of doing church. The church has finally woken up to the fact that the old way of doing church is putting a lot of people off coming and so we are trying to do new things – and it is working. There are all kinds of different groups growing up where people are being given the chance to explore and express faith in news ways. Messy Church is a Fresh Expression, for instance, where families gather and do crafts together to explore a Christian theme. I am leading short Pilgrimage walks where we get the chance to walk in a beautiful place, talk and express our faith in some way.

This doesn’t mean that old ways of being church are over but that we are discovering new ways of finding and expressing faith in a new world. For those of us who are doing these things it can be very exciting, as well as challenging.

If you don’t go to church perhaps you ought to find out what Fresh Expressions are happening near you – or if you have an idea for one let your friendly local Minister know and get involved.

God is not dead, Science has not destroyed faith (despite what nonsense the media/press peddles), it is perfectly logical and reasonable to believe in God (don’t judge belief on the nutters the media/press like to talk about). If God does exist (and I believe there are plenty of reasons to think that God does) then shouldn’t we try and find out about God? I think the best way we have available is through the life and teachings of Jesus – you may think different. If there is life after death – as Jesus told us – and your immortal soul depends on God in some way shouldn’t you take the trouble to find out?

Why does England football team always fail?

Are you fed up with hearing about why the England football team always fail? Well here is my addition but I think it may be a little different to most.

No doubt part of the problem lies in the tactics, and I have little doubt this played a part in the last disaster against Iceland. No doubt our football stars are getting too pampered and this is making them soft when we need them to be tough. Yet you could add that this is true for every footballer in every country these days, so it can only be part of the answer. I might also point out that we haven’t won any major competition for 50 years and this pampering has only more recently become a problem. I also want to put the blame on the FA, of course. They are one of the best funded organisations in the world and so have access to the best minds yet they fail. Are the FA pampering themselves too much – no doubt. We could blame the press – after all look at all the pressure that is put on players to succeed – but then again is it unrealistic of us to expect the best trained and best paid players to come up with the goods from time to time? I don’t think it is. This is the same press who will also treat them like royalty if they succeed of course – maybe they could remember that instead.

The truth is that I think it comes down to us all – we, as a nation, are failing.

We are glad when success does come to our national teams – usually through the ministrations of a foreign leader of course – but they don’t come often enough to claim any kind of lasting success.

But when I look at our nation I see a place where people are giving up on trying and getting involved. Every group I speak to has terrible trouble recruiting leaders or even helpers. Parents are happy to pass their children over but don’t want any responsibility in making their children’s pastimes succeed. They will stand on the side and cheer (or moan) but don’t want to ‘do’.

We should have seen it coming when the churches emptied. We had excuses of course – not relevant, boring, science, modern, post-modern, etc – but all of them bogus reasons really. The real truth is that we couldn’t be bothered.

Couldn’t be bothered.

Isn’t that what we see on the international football pitch and isn’t that what disturbs us as spectators – it looked like they just couldn’t be bothered. Could it be that we as a nation have become so not bothered that it has become our default position? We have become passionate about not being bothered. We laugh at comedians who make jokes about not being bothered because we know deep down that this is what we are, what we have become. We encourage our children to have ‘personality’ which usually translates to ‘not bothered’.

I doubt, of course, that the player on the pitch would realise that this was the problem. They are blind to their not bothered nature that they have grown up with.

So England, it is time to get bothered. It is time to get off our ever widening backsides and to start getting involved. Get yourselves back to church, start volunteering to help, be a scout leader or football coach and maybe in a few years when we have all started being bothered again we might actually win something!

I would write more but I can’t be bothered.

Why do I walk up hills?

7593837It is not unusual for me to question my own sanity when I am struggling up a hill on a cold and wet day. On those days when I could be sitting in a warm room, maybe watching an exciting, or at least interesting, film on my T.V. munching away on some fresh popcorn; instead I’m suffering up a hill. I am getting good exercise, of course, and I know somehow it is good for my soul but I cannot deny that I have willingly undertaken to suffer.

When the sun is shining and views are expansive it is easy to take another lung full of sweet fresh air and to wonder at the glory of the world all around me. On days like that it is easy to understand why I would go through the agony of climbing a steep hill, after all some views can only be seen by those who bother to leave the car and take a long walk. Yet, some days you can not see further than a few feet in front of you and the struggle is made even more intense by the need to carry more clothes on a cold day and wear thick waterproofs to keep out the rain. What would motivate someone to do that?

I once heard a mountaineer say in response to the question “why do you do it?” that “if you are asking that question then you will not be able to understand the answer.” I understand just what they meant. Any answer that I give to such a question will, by it’s nature, be very unsatisfying because the only way to truly answer the question is to take to the hills and walk.

I like words, I also like pictures and film but there are still some things in the universe that it is impossible to successfully describe. The feeling, for instance, of holding your new born child or watching a sunset next to the love of your life. Poets come close but only because they reawaken some deep memory in us that makes us feel again that moment we remember but have never been able to describe.

I can not successfully describe to you why I like to walk but it is my experience that if you take the trouble to try it, and maybe come with me on a walk one day, and maybe in the wet and windy weather as we just crest the top of the hill the penny will drop and somewhere deep inside you a light will come on and you will then be able to stand on the top of that hill buffeted by the wind and without having to say a thing you will know why I do it, and then like me you will be wondering when the next chance will come to do this all again.

Farewell to the EU?

339176_1500I guess by now you are probably fed up with thinking about the EU but at the risk of causing even more trouble here is another comment. I’m not going to say how I voted – though I suspect most people who know me would be able to work it out. However, we now have to deal with the aftermath of the referendum. Please bear with me while I begin with a few moans – to get them off my chest.

Moan 1: The politicians let us down

I think it was quite possibly the worst of times for British politics. In the first instance we had an internal party struggle that erupted into the country having to vote in a referendum that it was ill prepared for. I am disappointed that so many people seemed to vote in protest against the UK politicians – one way or another – when this was a referendum on our collective future. I’m appalled that so many lies were pushed out in an effort to persuade us – one way or the other – and now we are hearing that even those who peddled the lies knew they were lies but don’t seem bothered about it. I’m also upset that somehow people think it is perfectly acceptable to do anything to get the result they want. We saw the UK at its worst at a time when we needed it to be at its best.

On top of this just when we were shaken by the result and needed our politicians to step up and take a lead so we can gain a little confidence and encouragement they seemed to collapse into a heap of recriminations and quitting.

I am someone who has always defended politicians as good people trying to do a difficult job but sadly the leadership has been very bad indeed. It felt at times like a school playground squabble when we needed good leadership – shame on them all.

Moan 2: Those jumping on the political bandwagon

I once had great respect for Nicola Sturgeon but she lost that with her reaction to the vote. Though, it must be said that she is not the only one getting involved. With the whole of Europe shaken she chose the moment to force her own political agenda of getting Scotland out of the UK. When we needed some stability and proper democracy (when did it become democratic to say because I haven’t got my way I’m not going to play any more?) we instead got calls for division and instability. Democracy is surely about accepting that the majority decide and even if we don’t like that decision we have to accept it and live with it. Democracy is never about leaving because we don’t like the choice – that is not democracy it is childish behaviour.

Enough moaning, now what?

Moaning is not the answer  – we need strength and diplomacy

What we need now is to find a way to live with the decision. Very nearly half of this country did not get the result they wanted. This is very painful for many. But we have made the choice and barring some last minute attempts to change the result we will have to live with the consequences of what has happened. We cannot change the result but we can change our future. We need to put love and understanding at the heart of our next steps. We need to be strong and display what Britain is famous for and pick ourselves up from the rubble and show the world what we are now capable of doing. Whatever disasters come our way as a nation – whether we caused it or not – we need to roll up our sleeves and get on with the work. The time has come for us to work together. Who is with me?


P.S. Of course as we return to gold old fashioned British values I’m looking forward to people getting back to church again.

Farewell to Dad

meanddadI had hoped that this day would never come, the day when I have to say my farewells to my Dad. Tomorrow we have the funeral service but it seems every day since he died has had some sense of saying goodbye. It has been a time for a flood of memories to assault me and it seems even the simplest of things can bring them on.

Dad was not perfect but he was my Dad. During the many times in my childhood when my Mum was in hospital he was the one constant I could rely on. The needs of paying the bills meant that he often had to work long hours, especially when my Mum was in hospital and not working herself. This meant that on many occasions I only had myself to rely on to get on in life and my family will themselves testify that sometimes this means I rely too much on myself today when others are willing to help.

I am going to be taking the funeral service for my Dad tomorrow and when I did this for my Mum it turned out to be the hardest thing I have ever done – I anticipate the same will be true tomorrow. However, I’m doing it for my Dad because I want this one last thing I can do for him to be done properly – this is the last thing on this earth I can do for him.

I guess the memories will continue to flood in  – holidays, time spent working on the house together, making model air-planes, Navy Days, visits to castles, etc. At the moment they bring a sense of loss with them but I look forward to that time when they bring more feelings of gratitude and happiness – as they should.

So farewell Dad and may you find peace in God’s house.

I’m not religious

19391694I’m often hearing people say things like “I’m not religious” which I think generally means that they don’t go to church because they don’t want to subscribe to one way of viewing life and the universe. It does not mean that they do not believe in God or that they are not spiritual. I caught the tail end of a TV programme the other day when someone said that they were not religious but they did feel the holiness of Holy Isle – to my mind a very strange thing to say.

But what does this not being religious really mean?

In response to the idea of not being religious I want to ask lots of questions about how do you then make sense of the world? What do you think about heaven and what happens after death? What is the sense of the holy or the ‘other’ that you experience? How do you make any sense of it?

The usual response, in my experience, is to say a variety of things that might have come from a variety of different religions coupled with an attempt to make it all sound like science rather than religion. In effect what people do is to make up their own religion with lots of bits that they have thought about put together in a kind of melting pot. The truth is that they are just as religious as I am but they mistakenly believe that being religious is some kind of soft option for those who don’t think.

A religion is really just a framework. It provides a set of beliefs that fit together in a coherent way to enable us to make sense of those big questions we ask. Religions often have various practices that they expect their adherents to use to help them and they often provide training in beliefs to help answer the big questions.

I often find it a bit weird to listen to the ‘non-religious’ talk about what they believe because to me it seldom – if ever – makes sense, there are usually major contradictions involved for instance. I find that particularly so for atheists – itself a framework of belief of course.

Christians, and other religions, sometimes like to make the point that their belief is not religion but a way of life. Meaning it is not about just following a set of rules but is instead about the whole of life and in particular a relationship with the Almighty. This also highlights the problem of trying to understand what a religion is – if being religious is just following a set of rules then I am not religious myself – but it isn’t.

Of course, I am also searching for truth and like many others I have found that truth in Jesus Christ. This means that I am humble enough not to make up my own religion but am instead trying to make use of the framework that Jesus has given us to help me answer the big questions and to understand how life should be lived.

Let’s give up on this nonsense of not being religious and acknowledge that we are in truth all religious people but we disagree over which framework is the right one to make use of. I would then encourage you to try and understand that making up your own religion may not be the best answer – at least not without discovering what the great frameworks of religion actually say (I hope you don’t mind if I suggest Christianity is a good one).

Happy Easter!

15743423What a wonderful thing Easter is. A time to remember that there is still hope, darkness turns to light.

It would be easy to believe that God doesn’t care and just leaves us in the darkness. Some versions of religion sound like there is hope but we have to go and get it. Imagine we are lost in a deep dark cave with no sign of a light at the entrance. Some religions seem to teach that there is a God but he is at the entrance shouting orders for us to follow to get out (helpful but not very reassuring). Of course, with atheism there is no God at the entrance and indeed no light at the entrance but that is something for another time. Christianity teaches us that God (at our request) comes into the tunnel to find us and when he finds us shines enough light to guide us to the entrance and freedom. Easter is a reminder of a loving God who rescues us.