Ugly Betty

Who’d have though I’d ever blog about a TV programme… or that I’d even own a TV. But so it is. Ugly Betty came to Britain last week, and she’s worth an hour of your time.

Betty is the stereo-typical poor smart girl. Hard working, clever, honest, and out of sync with the privileged world her brain buys access to. She is the brunt of every joke, and even her stuffed rabbit gets bullied. But what sweet revenge to see the schemers foiled.

This is for anyone who has ever found themselves clearing up streamers and paper cups after a night of watching other people dance.

…and for anyone who has dared to challenge bullies in a system that seems blind to their very existence.

Fridays at 9.30pm, channel 4.

in truth

Holy Trinity DunoonThe recurring theme in conversations this week has been prayer. And most conversations on prayer seem to dance around the same issues: not enough time, not enough confidence, not enough awareness of God.

We are our own worst enemies with prayer. We try so hard to find the perfect words, the perfect level of concentration, the perfect silence, only to meet with disappointment, distraction and annoyance.

So, today’s suggestion is: stop trying so hard.

Perfection is God’s business; yours is to be true. And if the truth today is that you are largely incoherent, scatterbrained and restless, then God will deal with it.

Sit with God long enough, with that degree of honesty, and one day you might learn to deal with it too.

inventors of things

As I waited for the ferry to blow in at Gourock tonight, I heard a radio 4 programme on Thomas Midgely: the man who invented both leaded petrol and CFCs. I had never heard of him before, and it was disturbing to realise that one mind could be behind two inventions that so changed the course of the 20th century and so blighted the course of our planet.

Was he brilliant? Reckless? Unlucky? And if we had it all to do again, how would we weigh the decision: safe refrigeration (and thus powerful vaccines) vs. damage to the ozone. The effect of lead poising on people and planet vs. a world without powerful engines; vs. a second world war in which the allies did not have the technology to win.

I don’t know what to think, but suspect the answer lies somewhere here, in the Kyrie from R. S. Thomas’ Mass for Hard Times:

Because we cannot be clever and honest
and are inventors of things more intricate
than the snowflake — Lord have mercy.

Because we are full of pride
in our humility, and because we believe
in our disbelief — Lord have mercy.

Because we will protect ourselves
from ourselves to the point
of destroying ourselves — Lord have mercy.

And because on the slope to perfection,
when we should be half-way up,
we’re half-way down — Lord have mercy.

Learning Curve

Today has been a day of teaching and learning: learning my way around wordpress, figuring out how to register a domain name and set up email forwarding, and trying to teach the basics of biblical criticism in two hours or less.

Learning is so basic to our growth as people and our growth in Christ. And sometimes I think it doesn’t matter what we learn, so long as we are learning something: stretching our understanding and reaching just beyond our grasp.

For me, the excitement of a concept that dances just on the edge of consciousness reminds me of the early stages of coming to faith. God was a bewildering concept — an idea that belonged to other people, rather like the knot theory I learned as a friend spoke of her dissertation over late night cups of cocoa. Then all of a sudden, God was there: a glimmer of hope on the edge of consciousness. A vague awareness that would not go away.

The business of growing in faith is the business of getting used to the feeling of not-quite understanding. It is a matter of questioning and learning and deepening our awareness, only to find that God is as elusive as ever — still so far beyond our grasp. And that is why God is exciting. God is always calling us beyond ourselves, always opening us to something new.

And if the mechanics of wordpress and html can serve as a reminder of that, so much the better.

In Principio

So we begin. This is a blog for the congregations of Holy Trinity, Dunoon and St Paul’s, Rothesay in the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles in the Scottish Episcopal Church. It is a place to share news, to share ideas, and to see if this business of blogging can help us to grow in Christ.

It may be that there will be others, further afield, who will join us on our journey. It may be that our conversations will be of use to those we never see, that our lives will be enriched by their presence, that Christ will come in unexpected ways.

So join in — or just watch. Make suggestions. Ask questions. Lets see where it will lead.