Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Depression as a Sign of Faith?

My twin brother is now blogging over at Huffington Post. His first article called 'Let's Talk About Depression' does exactly what it describes. In it he says,

'Before I was diagnosed I remember feeling emotionally impotent in how to cope with whatever was going on in my head. I certainly felt powerless to talk with anyone about it. Surely all I needed to do was pull myself together, slap on a smile and get on with life? That misguided mantra crumbled when, one morning, I attempted to make a cup of tea. I walked into my kitchen and was suddenly rooted to the spot. All I wanted to do was walk over to the kettle and flick a switch; it seemed impossible though. I stood there, helpless and screamed. Depression has the ability to mentally and physically cripple you and I encountered the effects rather dramatically.'

It is good to hear voices speaking up over the pain and trauma of depression proving personal insight into something than can quite literally kill people.

Monday, 19 January 2015

To Follow

As I discussed in my previous post total 'freedom' to do whatever we want regardless of the consequences or harm committed to others is a total failure in every regard to what it means to be human. The reason why we are shocked and nauseated by the stories of abuse and violence committed by extremists is because these stories militate against our sense of basic common shared lives.

Freedom then is understood through a set of parameters, bounded by 'laws' or 'the common good'. So freedom is not to do whatever I want whenever I want, rather it is a desire to mutual self-giving love.

The difficulty we face however is that the vast majority of us do not like being told what to do. We like to believe we are masters of our own destiny,

Morpheus: Do you believe in fate, Neo?
Neo: No.
Morpheus: Why not?
Neo: Because I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my life.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

A False Freedom?

The massacre at the Charlie Hebdo offices have rightly produced outrage and condemnation across the world. Within the reflection upon this horrific act the right to freedom and freedom of speech has dominated many conversations. Added to this are discussions over the nature of Islam and how we speak and respond to the rise of radical Islam.

I think however we need to be more aware of what we mean when we talk about freedom and freedom of speech.

There is a dominant cultural narrative and ideology in the West that underpins our daily lives, one that determines what is acceptable in our speech and acts and one that is not. Whilst difficult to pinpoint it invariably reveals itself, especially at times such as this. 

Friday, 9 January 2015


'Everything happens for a reason.'

'That's karma.'

'God has a plan.'

Throughout the West there is a desire for us to give meaning to our lives and to interpret what happens in our lives according to some higher purpose.

The fatalistic assumptions we often bring to life events gives us a sense of order and meaning in the midst of sometimes heartbreaking, chaotic and seemingly meaningless suffering.

We are dominated by a sense of 'lack' as though something is missing in our lives. This is the narrative fed to us regularly which enables a capitalist economic ideology to function properly; "you need this in order to fill that which is missing in your life."

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Say Something (I'm Giving Up On You)

Say something, I'm giving up on you

How often have you prayed and felt as though your prayers were lost in a vacuum of insignificance?

The cries in the night swallowed by the deafening silence.

The pleas to God to speak, to act, to respond and yet still you lie there in the darkness that melts into the dark night of your soul.

I'll be the one, if you want me to
Anywhere, I would've followed you

Your life was changed, all that you were transformed in the pursuit of God, His Life, His Ways. You gave your life to follow and yet now you feel abandoned, alone, empty.

Say something, I'm giving up on you

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Year Without Meaning

Former Pastor Ryan Bell spent last year on a journey towards atheism.  His blog Year Without God documents his pushing of the limits of theism and viewing the landscape of atheism to see where it might all lead. Now the year has ended he is an atheist, although he is agnostic in the sense that he cannot know with absolute certainty that there is no God.

What encourages me about Ryan's story is how it highlight's those who are willing to push and challenge their belief system in search for deconstruction and reconstruction. It is not necessarily a search for truth per se (although it can often be), but to discover 'strange new worlds'.  The push of the boundary of our belief systems, the desire to hear unfamiliar voices and the existential struggle within are all a wonderful opportunity for discovery and liberation.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

'It's because we don't believe in God'

Below is a blog post from my friend Sam over at Elizaphanian. Whilst he is speaking about the Church of England, I am fully convinced that what he is saying applies more generally to the Christian church in the West. This is the time of year when we see the church engaged in a whole variety of evangelistic endeavours and, I think, highlights the malaise and predicament Sam is blogging about.

He has kindly let me repost it on my blog in full. God check his blog out for yourselves.

'I am more and more persuaded that the problems that we face in the Church of England stem from a collapse of faith. We no longer believe in God, we no longer know what we do believe in, and so we chase desperately after idols, hoping that one or other of them can fill the gap.

This will never happen. Between the idol and the Living God is an incommensurable distance.

Which idols am I thinking of? Here are some.

The idol of public acceptability, leading the Church to marry the spirit of the age, leading to inevitable widowhood.

The idol of ‘family’ as if the worth of the church can be measured by how far it can compete with Go Bananas.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Love Thy Neighbour

'It is easy to love the idealized figure of a poor, helpless neighbour, the starving African or Indian, for example; in other words, it is easy to love one’s neighbour as long as he stays far enough from us, as long as there is a proper distance separating us. The problem arises at the moment when he comes too near us, when we start to feel his suffocating proximity – at this moment when the neighbour exposes himself to us too much, love can suddenly turn into hatred.' (Enjoy Your Symptom!: Jacques Lacan in Hollywood and Out, Slavoj Žižek, p.8, 2001).

It is preferable for us nowadays to avoid 'the Real', that is, to adopt a sterilised or sentimental version of events in order to anaesthetise us from any given reality. Christmas is a prime example of this phenomenon. Take this recent advert,

Whilst the advert seeks to simply yet profoundly declare what Christmas is really all about, what it actually does is reiterate the nostalgic, sentimental and sterilised desires within us. The couple are typically white, middle class, the baby quiet, clean and happy. The home starts middle class, and ends in a stable scene, that is, a middle class version. Without doubt there would have been 'great joy' at the birth of Christ, but that joy would also have been accompanied with pain, blood, sweat, tears, fear and uncertainty. What the advert does is once again enable us to avoid 'the Real' and embrace nostalgia. This advert, like much within our church services over this Advent period have little to do with the Incarnation. Christmas 'evangelism' and church services feed off nostalgia and sentimentality, a sentimentality that pulls us away from the God who became flesh in the stench, shit and sin.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Why Black Friday Is Good For The Soul

In Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight we are confronted with the madness of the Joker. He is a character that deeply unsettles us because of his truthfulness. Take the following clip,

"I'm a man of my word."

The power of the scene is that we know the Joker is telling the truth. The Dark Knight is a film filled with lies where everyone except the Joker hides behind lies. The Joker is like a falling into an icy lake, shocking us into reality, recognising that things are bad, that we may not get out of this situation alive. Because the Joker tells us the truth he highlights our need for transformation, the stripping away of masks.

'This is how crazy Batman has made Gotham.'

A moment of madness exposes the reality.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Keep Calm and Trust the System

It is the System that is the problem, not the people within the System. Yet the people within the System become so enslaved to It that they are no longer able to see beyond it.

We can rage at the decisions and actions of those people within the System, and rightfully challenge their continued abuse and oppression, but they themselves are part of a bigger 'thing' that is out of their control.

At the next election here in the UK we are presented with a real issue as to who to vote for. None of the political parties are in any way unique or different, they are simply part of a System that controls them. Any party who gets into power in 2015 will simply become part of the oppressive System that continues to humiliate, indoctrinante and oppress.  And this is the very real challenge for those of us who are seeking transformation and redemption for and from the System.