Friday, December 02, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Can't stop God from loving you

You can't stop rain from falling down,
Prevent the sun from shining,
You can't stop spring from coming in,
Or winter from resigning,
Or still the waves or stay the winds,
Or keep the day from dawning;
You can't stop God from loving you,
His love is new each morning.

You can't stop ice from being cold,
You can't stop fire from burning,
Or hold the tide that's going out,
Delay its sure returning,
Or halt the progress of the years,
The flight of fame and fashion;
You can't stop God from loving you,
His nature is compassion.

You can't stop God from loving you,
Though you may disobey Him,
You can't stop God from loving you,
However you can betray Him;
From love like this no pow'r on earth
The human heart can sever,
You can't stop God from loving you,
Not God, not now, nor ever.

by John Gowan - © Copyright belongs to SP&S Ltd. - reproduced here
with permission.

There will always be rocks

a poem by my mum,

There will always be rocks.


The years go by so quickly,
With sun and wind and rain;
Flowers bloom and die away;
The rocks remain.
Trees grow tall and stately,
Their roots resist the strain;
Gales wreak tearing havoc;
The rocks remain.

In time trees fall and rot away;
Children are born, grown, schooled and fed,
The cycle turns, day by short day,
It seems no time until they're wed.
Their offspring grow and learn and play
Who knows where all the years have fled?
So while there's sunshine let's make hay
It won't be long before we're dead !

Generations come and go,
Mistakes recur, time and again.
We change our course and stumble on,
Some prosper from another's pain.
It's all a massive cosmic game,
Winner takes all, the lesson's plain.
Flowers, tribes, regimes will change;
The rocks remain.

It seems the weak are doomed to fail,
The strong will always win the day.
At first the winners may prevail,
Yet, spite all, with wily play
And clever moves, the slowest snail
Can creep, insinuate his way
Through all the traps in hill and dale,
Past all the rocks that say him nay.

So time rolls on and on and on.
Each year we either lose or gain.
We do our best when strength has gone
To fight, fight on,through wind and rain
To try repairing wrongs we've done,
To help our brothers in their pain,
And know, spite all that we have won,
The rocks remain.

The rocks remain, staunch and secure.
Though winds erode and floods may roar,
The heart-stone always will endure.
The challenger comes back for more!
He has the backing of his friends
And trusts his God, obeys the Law,
And presses on till striving ends
The meek inherit Earth's good store.

If we can find the moral strength
To keep emotions well in rein,
We'll use the rocks we meet each day
To help achieve our greatest gain,
They'll change from barriers in our way
To ladders making each path plain,
And we'll rejoice in victory,
Thankful that the rocks remain.

What does it mean?

What is the message behind this poem? "The rocks remain" is the
recurring theme. Apart from the physiological reality, what do the
rocks represent?
Stability, reliability, constancy - certainly, but what else? Rocks
can become huge obstacles, irritating, immutable, unmoving,

As time passes, each generation encounters "rocks." On one hand there
is security, comfort and refuge. On the other, problems arise.
Cultures clash. Opinions differ.

Aspirations cause clashes, as do differing cultures. Fortunes
fluctuate. Greed, frustration, anger, all play a part.

Good strives against evil, rich oppresses poor, but weak becomes wily,
persistence brings results and fortune favors the brave.

As the earth rolls, the weak succumb, the stronger prevail. However
the weak can overcome the strong by evolving and persisting, as
flowers, apparently fleeting, survive by making seeds that regenerate,
season by season, each year adapting to the local conditions. Trees
trust their roots to hold them firm, but in the end they give in to
the elements and collapse. However, once rooted, a tree can shoot
again and re-establish itself, if it learns by experience to cope with
the stresses it is subjected to.

Survival is forever, but there will always be problems. We learn as we
go, and discover that initial set-backs do not necessarily mean defeat
and failure. There is always hope, and problems are not necessarily
bad. The greater the rock, the larger the challenge; the bigger the
victory, the stronger the victor.

Those who depend on themselves may find they are isolated and
vulnerable. With the backing of friends they are stronger, but those
who believe and trust in God can become more than conquerers.

We have reason to be thankful that "The rocks remain."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Family told to pay £225 after boy breaks teacher’s necklace

To say i am simply fuming over this story is no exaggeration. This is injustice in the extreme. The first question that crossed my mind when reading this was why was the teacher wearing this expensive necklace in the first place. She took the risk of it being broken and deserves no compensation.

Secondly, the head teacher's comment that it was the teacher's "human right" to wear "whatever they chose to school". Firstly, teacher's like any professional, while not having to wear a uniform, have to adhere to a dress code of appropriate attire that takes into account both the respectability of the role as well as health and safety.  Also, children in schools are expected to abide by dress codes, and i was recently reading of a child being secluded because they had a "banned hairstyle" This was a different school to the one being discussed here. But the principle stands. If a teacher reported to work wearing old jeans and a torn t-shirt, they would be rightfully asked to leave and would face disciplinary action. I would argue that the necklace in this instance represented a health and safety risk.

The school in question is NOT a mainstream school, but a special school where the likelihood of a child striking out is high. Granted, it may not have occurred to the teacher that the necklace might be broken, but when it happened, while the teacher may well have justifiably been upset by the accidental damage to the necklace I do not believe she was justified in demanding £225 and I am surprised that the head teacher supported her in this.

I found it interesting that this expensive pendant was a birthday gift from the very same head teacher (and another member of staff) and wondered if the head teacher had allowed her personal friendship with the teacher to cloud her judgement in this regard. (Shades of the erstwhile Secretary of Defence.)

This can (from the child's point of view) be regarded as a accident – the child struck out in a way that is typical of children with behavioural difficulties – and inadvertently broke the necklace. He was immediately apologetic and the mother took the broken necklace to be repaired. This was not deemed sufficient and the demanded to be paid compensation. However given the economic situation that the family finds itself, it is unrealistic to expect them to pay compensation of that level.

I usually don't defend insurance companies, but I think their refusal to pay for this is warranted and the family should have followed suit. They should have told the teacher if she is that hard up, she should sue them. I would hope that a judge hearing the case would chuck it out for the same reason that the insurance company would not pay out, that the necklace was not an essential item in the classroom, and that if the teacher valued it so much she should not have worn it in the classroom. What is more, even if, as the head teacher suggests, the teacher has a "human right" to wear "whatever she likes, however impractical" – she does so at her own risk. I cannot imagine a head teacher supporting an agency staff member to this extent. The financial burden that this demand has placed on the family is simply criminal. As the mother of this child points out, the child and his family have human rights too.

Personally I would not be able sleep at night, if I knew I had deprived a family of the ability to buy a carpet and Christmas presents for three children that they had been saving up for (rather than using a credit card like so many others will do.)  In terms of necessities and luxuries, the carpet and the presents for young children are necessities, the necklace is a luxury.

Parenting a child with special needs faces parents with many demands, not least on their finances. From what i could gather from the article, only the father is working, and he does not draw a huge wage, and the mother makes a meagre £50 per week as a carer's allowance.

I do hope the council acts very swiftly to bring this matter to a conclusion, and that they demand the £202 (£190 already paid as well as the £12 paid for the repair.) is immediately repaid to the family, I would also like to suggest that in order to avoid possible victimisation of the child be granted a transfer to another school.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

I love this stained glass window in the Oasis Church , Lambeth North, London.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Just Kidding

In the USA, there was a strong earthquake that shook even Washing DC, and while I write this blog people on the East Coast of USA, including the Big Apple have been very adversely affected by Hurricane Irene (ironic name since Irene means peace). Really quite frightening stuff. In two weeks time, NYC and Washington DC and the nation as a whole will be commemorating the terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Centre and damaged the Pentagon ten years ago and took in excess of 3000 lives on the day, to say nothing about the thousands of lives lost since in fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most people, most decent people realise that cracking jokes about these things is not appropriate. However, you have some individuals, who steam right ahead and they make what they refer to as jokes that are in such bad taste. British Comedian Frankie Boyle is one such person. He somehow thinks that ridiculing people with Down Syndrome, AIDS, etc. 

Frankie Boyle is not the one to have got my blood boiling this but one of the Republican "Tea-party" would-be Presidential candidates, Michelle Bachmann. I do not actually believe that when she made her offensive comments she was of the mind that it was some kind of joke, and certainly at the time, she did not let on that she saw a funny side to earthquake and hurricane - she seemed very much in earnest, about her belief that God was sending a message, but when she realised just how unpopular her comments were - or maybe when her advisers told her that she was suffering from verbal diarrhoea that she issued a statement that she was only kidding.

She obviously has no clue how implausible that is, and even if that were the case, how in appropriate to be cracking jokes about things like this when people have lost lives and people's homes and businesses have been utterly destroyed. Is this something that we can all laugh about. Hardly! So why was she kidding? No, i watched the clip where whe was saying these things that she said she was just kidding about, and she clearly believes that these geological and meteorological events were God's megaphone telling the President that he is getting it all wrong. 

Being a student of theology, I am aware that when a person claims to speak for God they are taking on the role of a prophet. Now in the Bible and today their are two kinds of prophets spoken about. There are the true prophets, like Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, John the Baptist, and many others, but they were and sadly are vastly outnumbered by FALSE PROPHETS, who claim to speak the words of God, but are not. 

If you, in speaking try to represent what you are saying, as coming from the throne of God, and it turns out you are wrong whether you deliberately lied, or simply "got your wires crossed" you still fall into the category of False prophet. The Old Testament prescription for those found to be false prophets was severe - death by stoning. Now I would not advocate that Ms Bachmann get stoned (though with some of the far-fetched things she is said have uttered, it would not be to hard to believe that she is stoned (in the modern sense of the word.)

If, as I suspect, she genuinely believed what she was saying about these events being God's message to America, why was she so quick to retract this when she realised that it was not well received by her audience. The prophets of Old often had to speak out against corruption in high places, and in society in general, and it never was popularly received. Back then, as they do now, people only want to hear happy platitudes about everything being okay, and your behaviour no matter how vile and beneath contempt, being completely acceptable. Often speaking the Word of God into a situation will make you very unpopular as a prophets and can be very costly, and I mean it can even cost you your life. Just ask Jeremiah and John, the Baptist. Being a prophet is diametrically opposite to being a politician. In order to be a politician, you HAVE to seek popularity. That is the only way to get into office (unless of course you have a way of corrupting the voting system. The prophet on the other hand will speak out what he/dhe believes t be Go'd word in a situation, and will stand by what he was saying even when the highest authorities, including religious leaders, and society at large threaten dire consequences if one doe not retract the comment. Martin Luther, spoke vehemently against the abuses of the Church and it came down to the Pope at that time demanding that he disavow his statements on threat of being excommunicated (th most serious sanction a church could impose, his response was "here i stand, I can do no other" and he was summarily dismissed from his high office in the Catholic Church. 

I would not suggest that her words were malicious lies spoken to generate hate and resentment towards Mr. Obama, but a genuine conviction that the storms were God's messenger think that she genuinely believed what she was saying. However, I do not believe that that these sorts of catastrophic events are used by God in this way. They are just part of nature. I do believe, as the Bible says, the judgement day will come and every individual will face judgment. We are told in the Bible that ALL HAVE SINNED AND FALLEN SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD and the wage for sin is death. However we are talk that God so loved the World, that he GAVE his only begotten Son that WHOSOEVER believes on him with not perish but will have eternal life,and that the GIFT of God is eternal life. We are told in Scripture that we are to go into all world and preach the GOOD NEWS. So, ultimately, every individual must give account and then repent of wrong doing. Thus even though she believed it to be true, Michelle Bachmann has been a false prophet by representing our God and bring His name into disrepute. 

The "I was just kidding" bit was an effort to withdraw her comments but it is still making God to be a liar. If she lacks the courage of her conviction, albeit weird convictions, how can she lead a country?

I'm sure there's more that could be said on this topic of misappropriated humour, and false prphesy, I shall end now and invite comments from my friends, whether you agree or vehemently oppose what I have said. I publish comments that are on topic, and deviod of unseemly language or personal attacks. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

What is a fundamentalist?

With the disaster of events in Norway, I have heard this question being asked in two different ways, and thought that it is an important question to address. When you think of a fundamentalist, who is it that you see in your minds eye? Do you regard yourself as a fundamentalist? Why? I believe like many words in the English language, this word has metamorphosed over recent years.

As young Christian, being a fundamentalist was not necessarily a bad thing, but since September 11th 2001, being a fundamentalist was definitely not a good thing and people who would have happily admitted to being a fundamentalist, would deny it vociferously now.

From the perspective of Christians, after the 9/11 attacks in the USA and the 7/7 attacks in London, and the attacks in Spain and in Mumbai, it was easy to differentiate our enthusiasm for Christianity from the "extremism" of Islam or any other religion for that matter. We even allow ourselves to think that people who perpetrate these evil acts claim to act in the name of their religion, that they truly represent the religion and the god they claim to follow. 

However, the moment someone who claims to be a Christian, carries out an atrocity like the one in Norway, we immediately want to disown the individual and claim that this person could not possibly be a true Christian. We conveniently forget that there were many Muslim people with more moderate beliefs who protested that the suicide bombers were not true Muslims and that Islam is a religion of peace, and the very word Islam means peace. At the time we poo-pooed the notion. However, we would be rightly offended if someone suggested Bleivik was representative of what you as a Christian. 

It is easy, when a bad thing is done to jump to the conclusion that the person or people who perpetrated the acts are "others" - i.e. different in one or many ways. It is a natural Human urge to want to disown people who do bad things. We do this in many ways. He is not of our religion. he is not of our country - he's a FOREIGNER. He's not of our racial or cultural group. When enquiries into the 7/7 bombings, it came as something of a shock in the UK that many of the bombers were born in the UK and attended UK schools. How was it that these young British-born Muslims would go to the extent of murdering other British people iin the name of their religion. 

However, with the terrorist acts in Norway the people had to accept that the accused is as Norwegian as they are. 

However what we are discussing is "What is a FUNDAMENTALIST?"

The original connotation of fundamentalism was the notion of getting back to the "fundamentals" of our faith. (I am speaking specifically about Christians here) and so, a fundamentalist Christian subscribes to what they believe are the "definitive beliefs" of Christianity. They would say, that unless you subscribe to all off these specific beliefs, without exception, you are not a genuine Christian. Here are some of the "definitive beliefs" :

  1. Belief in the Trinity - belief that there is One god existing in Three Persons - The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.
  2. The full and literal belief in the virgin birth of Jesus, the Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus, and the eventual return of Jesus Christ.
  3. The belief that Salvation is obtained ONLY by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
  4. The inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures in the form of the Bible - consisting of 66 'books' - 39 in the Old Testament, 27 in the New Testament. With this is the belief in the literal reality of the miracles described therein - e.g. Creation, Parting of the Red Sea at the time of the Exodus, Universality of the flood (Noah), Jesus' miracles, etc. 
I probably have missed things out, but you get the idea. I personally subscribe to points 1, 2 and 3. Point 4 would be a matter of discussion for me, but by and large I believe that the Bible is true. However, if a person subscribes to all of these and more (which they regard are "deal breakers" as far as Christianity is concerned), is not a problem. However, holding to a set of beliefs and values and living accordingly is not a problem. It is when the individual feels that it is not enough - but that EVERYONE should subscribe to these beliefs, when we have a problem.

If we get down to what the root of the meaning is - now reverting to generalities in terms of religion - the notion is that a fundamentalist is getting back to the "fundamentals". What are fundamentals? They are those basic principles of the religion that define its adherents. I've listed some of those fundamentals of the Christian belief.

The problem is, like most things in life religion adapts and changes over time, but people do not change at the same rate. There are those who believe we need to adapt and change with the times and will embrace these changes enthusiastically. These people say that those who don't want to change are wrong and conversely, those who see these changes as compromises and are naturally resistant to any such change (fundamentalists), and will label the modernist (or those keen to embrace change) as liberals - with the implication that the person is NOT a true adherent of their religion.

Many of the internal conflicts and discrepancies within a religion comes down to this "old versus new" argument. Sometimes though, I think that people who THINK they are fundamentalists would more accurately be described as a TRADITIONALIST. Growing up in the 70's when "Christian choruses" were all the rage, and gainin g in popularity, there were those, who insisted that nothing but HYMNS shoulod be sung in Church and that these "happy clappy" choruses were bringing down the tone. The solution in many churches was to have services dedicated to traditional service - in which it would be quite acceptable to sing:

Now thank we all our God, with heart and soul and voices...
but not
Clap your hand, all ye people, shout unto God with a voice of triumph...

What is the difference - the first was written a long time ago, and is sung to organ music, while the latter (the chorus of it - as it is directly out of Scripture) was written more recently, and people actually raise their hands, clap their hands and SHOUT. Sadly these differences have caused Christians to leave fellowship, and fight.

Again, there is nothing wrong with being a traditionalist, but when it comes to a point where people decide that everybody has to ascribe to the same traditions, and to want to do things differently is somehow a rejection or a walking away from one's faith.

Tradition is a good thing, We can learn so much from old ways, but there are traditions that are not good and are better assigned to history where it belongs. Let us look at the tradition of a man owning his wife as chattel. There are many traditions which are linked to this - like in the marriage vows where a bride would vow to obey her husband. There will be those among you who read this blog who feel that that should still be the case. Some of you will be ready to quote verses of Scripture to defend this mentality. However, by and large society has moved on, and the notion of equality of the sexes is widely accepted and considered the NORM.

However, on reflection, as I've listened to discussions on radio to radio we should perhaps avoid describing the terrorists as "fundamentalist". They are not defending the fundamentals of faith, but they are defending their tradition. They may fight under the banner of "Islam" or under the banner of "Christianity" but what they are "defending" is not the fundamentals of their religion, but their own lifestyles. The 9/11 bombers, the 7/7 bombers, Bali, Spain, claimed to be Muslim. But They do not represent true Islam. Breivik claims to be a fundamentalist Christian, but his violent act is exactly the opposite of what we stand for a Christians.

I think that the Church must be willing to either stop referring to people as Muslim terrorists as if their terrorism is truly represented the Islamic faith, or be willing to refer to Breivik as a Christian terrorist. It should be cut both ways. I've heard people phoning up the radio station and assert that the Quran taught that such violence was right. However these people are not Islamic Scholars interpreting their own Scripture, but non-Islamic people who have heard these ideas talked about and taken them without question. It's easy to believe that what other people do is evil.

Well, I think in conclusion, I would say that it is not FUNDAMENTALISM that is the issue, but being an EXTREMIST.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Your Wish is My Command

Have you ever written something, not being one hundred percent sure or even one percent sure where it will lead you – well this is such a piece. I have just been reading the Bible and I came across an account that puzzles me. It is the story of when three of David’s mighty men, take enormous risks to get David a cup of water from the well outside Bethlehem, and when they return, he pours it out on the ground. Well that is the story in brief. I will quote the story as it appears in the Bible but first, I need to put it in the context that it appears in Scripture.  It First Chronicles 11 – and list of David’s mighty men (of which the THREE were the mightiest) and their brave actions in fighting for David.

1 Chron 11:15-19
15 Three of the thirty chiefs came down to David to the rock at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. 16 At that time David was in the stronghold, and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem. 17David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!”18 So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out to the LORD. 19 “God forbid that I should do this!” he said. “Should I drink the blood of these men who went at the risk of their lives?” Because they risked their lives to bring it back, David would not drink it. (NIV)

So now – I think you can see why I called this piece “Your wish is my (or in the case of the story, our) command.  There are a few puzzling aspects from this story – and we shall explore them. I cannot guarantee that I can shed light on any of it – but I will try. At the nub, what it is that I want to understand, is what can I learn from this story – why did God move that this story was included in the account of the “exploits of David’s mighty men”.

First off, why did these three men go in the first place? Was it really a case of “Your wish is our command?” What is without doubt, these men were very devoted to their leader David. Remember that at the time this took place, David was NOT King, and as far as natural lineage, not even an heir to the throne. Saul was the king and ruler in Israel, and at this point he was a tyrant, prone to fits of rage and jealousy. David was, in his eyes, the arch enemy. But he was God’s choice. These men were drawn to David, not through compulsion of duty, but because they believed in his cause. These men, were ready to join the “struggle for liberation” if you like, and David was their leader. These three, who were described as the mightiest of the mighty men were attentive to their leader and no task, it would seem was beneath them. David wanted water, they didn’t choose a junior warrior to get him water, they went themselves. But did they need to go at all? I don’t know. David had not given a command – it wasn’t some test of strength or bravery on David’s part – he merely said that it would be nice to have some water from the well outside of Bethlehem. David was born in Bethlehem and when he looked after the sheep on the hills around the town, no doubt he would sate his thirst with water from that well. It had sentimental connections to his childhood.  He might have been thinking how ironic it was that they were so close to the place where he used to draw out that water from the well, and yet unable to go to it because of the presence of the enemy. Did he intend that three of his mighty men – men he relied on in the fight against Saul’s men – would go, endangering themselves, to get him some water from the well? I think – based on his reaction – it was clearly NO. So why did they go? Was it bravery or stupidity? Was it not both? In order to get that precious cup of water, they would have had to go against the Philistines and fight them off – literally go into battle.

We are advised to “choose our battles wisely” – I wonder if these three mighty men chose a wise battle in this case? I have no doubt that what they were doing was well meaning – David would have realised that too, but was it what they should have been doing – was it the most productive use of their time?
Was David perhaps foolish in actually saying out loud what he yearned for? Should he have just kept his thoughts to himself? I remember as a child we used to visit the home of Chinese friends of ours. They were such loving people. The wife used to work as a pattern maker in the factory my father ran. When we visited our home we had to be careful about what we would admire as she seemed to think that whatever we said “that is nice” that we wanted to take it home. – We were merely admiring it. She would try and give us those things.  It might have been a cultural thing, I don’t know, but we soon learnt that we would admire things in such a way that she would know that we did not expect or want her to give it to us. However, I don’t think that David did anything wrong by saying that he would love to have a cup of water from the well. Perhaps the men interpreted his statement as a command. What puzzles me is why they didn’t clarify with David as to why he would make such a command in light of the clear danger that they faced. Was it a fool’s errand?
Here is my best shot at trying to understand what God may be saying through this:

We need to distinguish in life between the essential and the additional. Some people have  a “The Sky’s the limit” mentality – where they are not satisfied to just get by, they want it all. That is all very well, and in some cases, they are blessed to achieve this. They are the type of people who will say “never say never” and “you can do anything you want to in life” – go-getters. However, while we admire people who rise over what seem insurmountable odds to achieve amazing things, it is because of the unusualness of their achievements that we admire them. If everybody could achieve what they achieved, nobody would be impressed. I wonder if God is not saying to us stop trying too hard. Those three guys didn’t have to go for that cup of water – David would not have thought any less of them because they went for the cup of water. God doesn’t think less of you or me because we do not achieve whatever we set our sights on to achieve. We hear a lot of talk these days of people “lacking faith” because they do not become a millionaire by the time they are forty, or because they are not the captain of a national sports team, or even in the team. Young people, year on year, commit suicide because they did not achieve the results they hoped for or expected, in their school exams. We have a mentality that says that unless you have achieved the best, it was not worth the effort.

I am reminded of a time when I was in high school. Frankly – I am not sporty – I lack hand-eye co-ordination so bat and ball games such as cricket and tennis, I was hopeless at, and I am not extremely strong. However, at the school a LOT of emphasis was placed on sporting prowess. It really bothered me that I was not good at sport and was consequently looked down upon (or that is how I perceived it) because I couldn’t prove myself in that sphere. Every year, like all schools in Zimbabwe, they had their Interhouse Athlitics Competition. All the usual track and field events were included. In the run up to the big day, each “head of house” would call all the students who were in that house team and we were put through our paces and heats were run to see, who was the best in each specific discipline, and they were selected to represent the house in the main competition. However, because they believed that it was important that EVERYONE should be participating in some event, those who failed to shine in any event, were made to run in what was called the “Rabble’s mile” or some such disparaging term (I’m sure that wasn’t the official title, but basically that is how it was perceived by the participants – the “wasters” who aren’t good at anything – the rubbish). Far from being motivating, we were made to run 1500 m. round the track at the hottest time of the day, during the hottest days of the year. We were an act for the entertainment of the elite. Laughed at and jeered. Every participant got a point provided you finished – so if you slugged your guts out and collapsed just before the finish line – that was it – no point at all. (I don’t know if they were that brutal!)  Well I was a runner in this race year after year, and each year – I would say to myself – next year I won’t be in this race. There were those who couldn’t care less, but I hated that race and everything it stood for. So when the next year swung round I would participate with gusto in all the heats and throwing and jumping events. But each year there were those who could run faster, jump higher or further or throw further. And each year I would be back in the rabble mile. That was until one year, I think one of the last I would be participating in this circus they called a sports day. I had been making a particular effort in PE, and when we had cross-country. I was not great at cross-country – I wanted to do Cross country because my big brother was a cross country runner, but I lacked the stamina to run the distances they set. Well this particular year, during class physical education lessons I really did my best. There were shirkers in my class who liked to lark about when sent off on a run, and they realised that it was not a good thing for the teacher to see me coming in before them (a bit of a tortoise and hare situation.) Well, they tried to hold me back. However thanks to the vigilance of my PE teachers, that nonsense was stopped. When the sport’s day was coming up, I determined, like every year that I would try and get into some event. As it happened, this year, I managed to come second in the 800 m. Heats, and I was selected to run for the House. At long last I was out of the “Rabble Mile” – I was so happy.  I think there those on my team who were not sharing my elation – for them it was DISASTER! We may miss out on 7 vital points. To their credit – the teachers selected me – despite probably realising that I was not their best hope – and that my achievement in the heat was probably more a fluke than anything else, but they had set a rule for selection and I had met the criteria on the day, and so I was selected. Also – to their credit – none of the students tried to persuade me to give up my place in the race. Some might have thought so on the day – I don’t know perhaps some students might have gone to the sports master asking him to replace me with them, if they did he had the good grace not to and not to tell me either. If they had, I would have refused (and probably been accused of not being team spirited). I lined up on the starting line, and listened for the starter’s gun. Bang – I ran as fast as I could, probably too fast for a middle distance track event, and the inevitable happened – I ran out of energy, but by sheer determination I kept running (well it was probably a slow trot by this stage). I came last. I was exhausted but also elated and I so enjoyed the Mile that year – from the benches. You know what I still got the team 1 point for participation that year but that 1 point was worth far more to me than the 1-points I got in the previous years that I was one of the rabble. Was it a waste of time that I ran in it? NO – it wasn’t for me. I didn’t win THE race, but I won my own race. Should there have been a “Rabble Mile” (or whatever they called it)? If you asked me before I might have said “No, stupidest idea ever”, but thinking about it, perhaps if it were not that dastardly race, I might not have aspired to participating in the 800 m. So what that I cannot run as fast as others, jump as high or as far as others, throw a javelin or whatever, I have areas of strength, which over the years I have discovered. So – wow – I told you I didn’t know what direction this Bible would take me. I think, I can summarise, if we do our best in the circumstances, that is all that God asks us to do.
David was shocked when these men appeared before him with this cup of water for him which they risked life and limb to obtain. His reaction was odd – why did he not drink it, or even offer to share it with the three young men who had gone to get it. Why pour it out on the ground – the Bible says he poured it out as an offering to the Lord. But That was not what the three men who went to fetch it had in their minds. I wonder if they thought he was a tad ungrateful? Did David react fairly? Are we allowed to ask that question? Was his reaction considered or a knee-jerk reaction? Was he perhaps actually angry with the three men for taking unnecessary risks? Perhaps he wanted to teach them a lesson? Have you ever had a surprising and disappointing reaction to something you have done for someone, that you thought would please them, but that they were not impressed with, or actually rather put out by it? We don’t know how the three men would have reacted to it, as we are not told? They may have been annoyed, angry, disappointed, demotivated – well not demotivated because they remained his mighty men.  How do you react when mistreated by someone in authority or to whom you look up to? I’m not saying that David mistreated his men – I am just thinking that they may have felt mistreated, unappreciated, but they got over it. It’s easy to get into a “woe is me” mentality – but we need to realise that, we cannot stay there.
If circumstances in your life are rough right now and you are feeling overwhelmed maybe we can learn a few things from this – here are my ideas – feel free to add in yours:

  1. Choose your battles – sometimes something simply is NOT worth the effort.
  2.  Do your best in the circumstances and don’t be downhearted if you cannot be THE BEST. Don’t let failure caused you to become demotivated. Pick yourself up and keep pushing.
  3. Don’t try to do it alone – Three mighty men went to get a cup of water. One of them might have thought he could go alone, but he didn’t. When circumstances are difficult – it is not a shame to ask for help.
  4. You may not get the reaction you expected or were hoping for. You may be disappointed when you set out to do something nice for someone that they don’t appreciate it. Don’t allow that disappointment to develop into bitterness – forgive them – even if they don’t think that they have done anything wrong, and move on.

Any other ideas? Do you agree with me? Please comment.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Baldness & Bulimia; Botox & Boobs

I am thinning on top - I have known this for some time and frankly - it is no big deal to me - From photographs I see that both my grandfathers were bald. I was reading an article in the Daily Mail today about Hair Transplants and clearly for the author of the article, Jason Gardiner, the thought of losing his crowning glory, was more than he could cope with - he however is in the privileged position of being able to afford a hair transplant. I am pleased for him that it worked not only in terms of its success as a procedure, but the resultant psychological effect. 


However, I am not merely commenting on a rather humdrum boring article about a hair-transplant operation - but on the attitudes of some of the people choosing to comment on it. I have submitted a comment, and I share it with you below. 


The hair-raising truth about my £21,000 cure for baldness, by Dancing On Ice judge Jason Gardiner


Read more: 


Stuart said:

Baldness looks awful and is a look best suited to thugs! (comment edited) - Stuart, Caerphilly, 18/6/2011 09:50


 I responded:


Stuart - that is a very inflammatory and unfair comment. Like there is no thug who has a full head of hair. Jason has the good fortune of having the money to get the problem fixed. The majority of us have to accept that that is nature taking its course. For some, men, women and children, baldness is the sad side-effect of cancer treatment and no laughing matter. Imagine having to be the parent who has to see his or her child's beautiful hair shorn off, rather than have them go through the agony of seeing it fall out on their pillow. I have not been through that agony- but I know of a brave man, who knowing his little four year old had to undergo the indignity of chemo therapy - when the parents decided to shave his hair off - had his own head head shaved at the same time, to distract the little boy and reassure him that it was going to be ok. Some thug, hey Stuart?


It's not only baldness that attracts people's nastiness. people who have astigmatisms (such as a squint) or are albino, or have a large and noticeable birth mark. People who are unusually tall or short, people who have "buck teeth" etc. It's a crying shame that people are so unfeeling that they do not hesitate to label and discard people who they do not think fits the "norm". I know and could tag (but won't) a great number of my friends, who, for one reason or another, can say that they have been affected by these prejudices. 


This week on the radio, I heard that they have found that BOYS as young as 10 and 11 suffering from Bulimia because of bullying at school. Bulimia mainly affects girls, who have a media image that brainwashes them into believing that they are too fat. This same phenomenon is affecting boys too now (1 in 10 approx are boys). One brave young man phoned into LBC and told his story that at 15 or 16, his mother told him that he would "never find a wife" if he was that fat. That was the trigger to his bulimia. Although he had overcome the issue - one could hear in his voice that he was still hurting. Read this link


 Not long ago, I was horrified to read the account of a mother who was giving her "beauty pageant" daughter of 8 years old Botox injections.(It turned out to be a hoax) I heard of another mother who had given her presumably flat-chested little seven year old, a voucher for when she turns 16 to have "breast enhancement" operation. My head spun with the wrongness of both of these mothers and the dire psychological damage (and physical harm in the case of the Botox) being done to these girls. The stupidity of the mothers concerned. I'm only "picking on" the mothers in these cases because medias focus was on the mother and I am presuming that there was no father figure in the little girls' lives. Also, sexist though it may sound, since they were girls you would have though that the mothers would show the necessary sensitivity and stability and know what is suitable for them and what isn't.

In all the situations mentioned above, the bottom line is WHAT WE LOOK LIKE AND HOW WE ARE PERCEIVED BY OTHERS. It's easy to say - ignore what others say and think about you - it doesn't matter - but rightly or wrongly - what others think of us and the way we look is important. Where an opinion is shared with love and a view to help, that a person may present themselves in the possible light - then it is a good thing. We all get a boost when someone compliments our looks - but if people make scathing remarks about things we cannot do anything about - it hurts and causes damage. 

I not only would welcome comments on this article - I would request comments. I also invite you to repost this article on your pages and invite your friends to post their comments to my blog. Do not restrict your comments to Baldness, Boobs, botox or Bulimia, but any issue that affects one's body image.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Joking about children with disabilities.

Twice in ONE DAY. This morning I turned my radio on and Nick Ferrari (of LBC) was talking about the situation where so-called comedian Frankie Boyle made what he thought was a joke about the 8 year old disabled son of Katie Price aka Jordan.I will not repeat what Frankie said as it is too vile. Suffice it to say that I did not find it funny.  Channel 4 - on which the offending joke was aired refuses to take any action whatsoever. 

Then I go online and look at the Daily Mail website and I came across the following story.

Disabled children applying for bus passes 'labelled mongs and mingers on council's wall of shame'

Read more:

I am flabbergasted - first of all, WHY would people choose to pick on innocent people. This kind of teasing is pitiful - even when done by children who don't know any better - but adults? Especially people in the public eye.

Children with the kinds of disabilities like those Harvey are by nature usually the complete opposite of wolves like Frankie Boyle. I have worked quite a lot with children on the Autistic Spectrum. I realise that they are different and can at times be difficult - embarrassing even, but they do not mean it personally and if you take time to get to know them, they can be fantastic friends. I just wanted to post this thought because it is getting my goat.


John C. Fairlamb

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bally Springboks

I went to watch a show at the Royal Opera House Yesterday. It's called Giselle. I have to admit that I didn't know much about this story, and so I figured I would just go along and find out what it is all about! Those of you who thought I was going to talk about Rugby, Gotcha - No, this is a ballet, that is a style of dance. Ballet is a bit like watching an old Chinese Kung-Fu movie - without subtitles in English - you have to suss it out from what the people do on stage. 

Now I don't know the story of Giselle, but this is what I worked out from what I saw yesterday. It gets a bit confusing so you need to read carefully.

There is this chick called Giselle - I think that's French for Gazelle - you know, like a springbok - geez - she could jump like a Springbok - I reckon she could make a pretty hot hurdler! Maybe even clear the fences in the Grand Nation. Any way there are these two guys, Albrecht & Hilarion, who both like this chick, if you get my drift. Giselle, or "Springy" as I like to call her, has the hots for Albrecht. Who can take an oke called Hilarion seriously, now I ask you? Problem is that while Springy is a peasant, Albrecht is a toffee nose. (Shame it's not his fault - don't laugh at him - he didn't choose his parents). Hilarion is a forester - which is like saying he's the garden boy - only it is not a garden it's a forest.  Poor Albie has to marry this chick who is well-loaded, but looks like the back end of a bus. Anyways - he decides that there is nothing stopping him and Springy having a fling, and is hanging around Springy's house to "catch her eye." Hilarion rocks up just as they are having a kiss and a cuddle, and is lank jealous. He knows how to fix Toffee-Nose for stealing "his chick" - it never crossed his mind that Springy might not be interested in him - and he blows the whistle on them - well not a whistle but a hunter's horn - and who should rock up but Albie's boss, and Bathilde - Albie's boss's daughter and the one who looks like the back end of a bus. Yep big trouble now. OOh yikes - big indaba here! Tempers fly and the okes start fighting each other. Springy makes it clear she wants to be with Albie, but her ma doesn't like that idea and tells her to go inside right away. She refuses and in all the snot & trane (a South African expression meaning highly emotional) she kills herself - and so ends the first half. Now as you can imagine I am left scratching my head. How the heck to they sort this one out - to be honest I don't know if they do "sort it out" - but its end of the first half and the main character is pushing up daisies - or almost. 

The second half starts and Albie is by a grave. His beloved is now dead and he has to marry "Back-end-of-a-bus" Bathilde - talk about a double whammy! There he is crying his eyes out like he had just sliced a pocket of onions - and he sees - he thinks this white thing. What the hell was that, he wonders. He runs around - trying to see what it is that he saw. Well, I bet you are ahead of me here - It's a graveyard - so what do you see in graveyards (if see is the right word?) - but spooks! These spooks according to the programme were called Wilis - I think they meant willies, but I couldn't work that out as they were all wearing dresses, and so I figured they didn't have willies. There was a Queen - now I don't think it was a female impersonator - like Widow Twanky in Aladin, so not a queen in that sense, but a kind of queen that wears a crown and takes command. Anyway, Hilarion, came to mourn his beloved Giselle and he met up with the Willies and it must have given him the Willies - sheez, these spooks are seriously scary. They float around the stage but this guy was trying to get away from them. But they just ambush him on the other path. They were like a ghost commando. Well Hilarion is despatched and doesn't reappear - I didn't know what happened to them. But back to Albie, He sees this ghost, and knock me down with a feather, it's Springy - and she's in front of Albie, and they kind of pick up where they left off before hand - even though this time she is dead - now that's a bit weird if you ask me. He lifts her up - not that hard, given that she doesn't weigh anything, and everything is very happy for a while until the Willies arrive - they have come to recruit Springy - but she is not keen. Albie tries to talk to the queen, but she is like "Talk to the Hand" - Eventually the sun rises and as you know, spooks don't dig the sunlight - and so they all gap it, and Springy - well - she goes back to her grave and can rest. 

I hope you enjoyed my retelling of the story of GISELLE - and if you REALLY want to know what happened! Look at this link.