Category Archives: Opinion

Angels

Are they with us today?

Angel by Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849–1921)

It is funny how sometimes a few words said, or read at the right time can spark a train of thought. “whilst Sandy was struggling in a cruel east wind to keep her tent from blowing away, she was joined by Penelope, who believed that angels lived amongst us“, from Sue Townsend’s book The Woman Who Went To Bed For a Year, inspired these thoughts.

Lots of people have lots of different ideas about angels. One of the more popular, perhaps the most popular is of divine, benign beings with wings. There are references to them in the bible. They also appear in many old and new stories and classic and contemporary art. One of my favourites is John Collier’s picture, Annunciation.

I do not expect to find any actual angels (with wings?) living amongst us today, though I do not dismiss the possibility. I do think that angels, or maybe I should more accurately say angelic people are amongst us. People we think of as angels, or acting like we imagine angels might act. And, of these angels I have personal experience.

Regular readers might remember me writing in 2016 about an emergency admission to Bristol Eye Hospital. I was admitted again in May 2017, with the same trouble in my other eye. Once againMy Other Familyrallied around.

The kindness of my friends is how I imagine the kindness of angels to be.

One stayed overnight with my wife while I was an in patient, and helped in many ways after my discharge (I’m still under hospital care as I write but no longer an in-patient). I’ve had meals cooked, been taken shopping and to the hospital for follow up appointments, while I can’t drive. I’ve had the bed stripped and re-made, while I’m not supposed to do anything strenuous, and my dog walked.

So do angels live amongst us? In literal terms, of the popular conception, probably not though we can’t be sure. In allegorical terms, yes there are angels amongst us, some of the unlikeliest kind. These are mine.

Once again, my heartfelt thanks for the blessing I received, and
I am still receiving as I write, from all who came to my aid.

In The Beginning Was the Word

So be careful what you say.

WordsThe title to this post, is the first words in John’s gospel in The Bible (NIV). The first verse goes on to say “and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In biblical terms they refer to all creation coming into being at God’s word. Yet as important as these words are to Christian belief, I hope to explore them a little more in the human not the religious context.

Words are important. Without words there would be no language and without language, no, or exceedingly limited, communication. Wars start with words and we make peace with them. Words are what we live by. Our first words to someone can lead to a friendship, or a division if we say the wrong thing.

Contracts are written with words and yet it is often what we say to each other that are more important and more likely to be remembered, than the words we write down on a piece of paper, or a virtual piece of paper, such as the screen you are probably reading this on.

If we say to someone we will do something and then fail to do it if we are able, we have not kept our ‘word’; we have no integrity. What we say to each other is more important than any legal document. There is a wonderful couple of lines in a scene from the iconic 1960 western film, The Magnificent Seven, that makes the point. Chris and Vin are discussing leaving the Mexican village they have been protecting:

Chris: – “You forget one thing. We took a contract.”
Vin: –  “It’s not the kind courts enforce.”
Chris: – That´s just the kind you’ve gotta keep.

 The words we say to someone can lift them up, or bring them down. Make someone laugh or make someone cry. Carefully chosen words can be mighty and poorly chosen can make the speaker look stupid, or ignorant, sometimes both.

Words can be true or false. Truth or lies. Some words that are false, or if we use them in storytelling we might call them fiction, can still carry a truth within the story. Jesus parables might be one example of this.

Just like God when He initiated the creation in which we live, everything today created or developed by human beings begins with words, so we need to be more careful how we use them.

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug
used by mankind.” – Rudyard Kipling

Tactical Voting.

Is the parties approach fair to voters?

I’ve noticed that the news media conflate Tactical Voting, with what I will call Tactical Candidature.  So let me begin with my definitions:

Tactical Voting: Is where an elector, a person chooses to cast their vote to someone other than their preferred candidate. The aim being to deny the most likely candidate a win, when the voter’s preferred candidate has little chance.

Tactical Candidature: Is when political parties collude, some parties not putting up candidates in particular constituencies. The aim being to re-direct their electors votes to another particular candidate.

I have no objection to any voter casting their own vote in what they consider to be a tactical manner. It is in fact a duty for each of us to consider how best to use our vote. It is also perfectly reasonable for the campaigning parties to urge us to vote tactically, for another candidate. That does not limit choice.

I am a bit uneasy about what I have called Tactical Candidature. In Tactical Candidature a elector’s ability to vote for their preferred candidate, or to tactically vote for a different candidate, is artificially restricted. The parties have colluded to remove voters choice. Instead of an elector choosing to vote tactically, it is forced upon them. Is this fair to the electorate? Is it properly democratic?

Jesus Wept

But who were the tears for?

The Raising Of Lazarus By Vincent van Gogh

It is related to us in John 11: 1-44,  that after Jesus was told that Lazarus, brother of Mary & Martha, was ill, that he did not go immediately to them in Judea; He stayed another 2 days in Jerusalem. Upon His arrival, we learn that Lazarus was already dead had been interred four days earlier. It seems then , from the timeline we are presented with, it was almost a week after being told about Lazarus, before Jesus went to see the ones’ he loved.

When Jesus arrived in Judea, He wep(John 11: 35) at the news of Lazarus’ death; but why?

Jesus knew that the power of the Father, through the Holy Spirit could resurrect Lazarus. Knowing this, it seems unlikely His tears were for Lazarus, so who were they for? Might they be tears of shame, that he allowed not only the suffering of Lazarus until death but also the suffering of Mary and Martha, all of which He could have prevented.

Perhaps His tears were for Mary and Martha, for what they had endured, after all untill He called Lazarus from the Tomb, they probably thought He’d let them all down.

Maybe it was because He new the resurrection of Lazarus would be in vain. Maybe he knew that Lazarus woud be executed in the future by the Pharisees (John 12: 10). He might have been hoping his delay would save Mary and Martha from even more pain and suffering, but when He got there emotion took over and He felt compassion for Mary and Martha and compelled to do something.

We’ll never know. I just offer a possibility.