Monday, September 21, 2009

Seeking in Words and Letters

Yeah, I know you’re still waiting for the Glasgow report in full and trust me there is a report to submit and I’ll do so before too long. For the time being, however, I’m getting to grips with a new way of doing life. The girls are at school, the wife is at work, I’m at a youth session on Monday evenings – like tonight’s; teacher training on Tuesday and cell group session on Wednesday. When you add other church commitments and family commitments it’s all the more important that I don’t put more pressure on myself, so it will have to suffice that the entry today is the one for today.

You’ll recall that I’ve talked about how seeking is all about the Word. I’ve found it interesting the power of words in my daily life. You will know that this year in continuing on last year’s good showing the rate of reading this year has picked up. I’m being a lot more aware of the content and nature of the books I read and the membership of the local library has turned up the volume of books that get read at any time. On top of that there are also the books that are given or purchased that go on the list of things to read as well as the old book collection from which there are many a tome that has for too long been neglected.

What never fails to interest me is the amount of thoughts and concepts that emerge from reading. I hope to be able to share some of the things that I got from reading Steven Watts’ treatment of the cultural impact of Hugh Hefner and Playboy. There are enough gospel connections in the tome to make it worthwhile reading and it is in no way a salacious celebration of the saucy lifestyle but a genuine appraisal of the mind-set behind the creation. It’s not written from a Christian perspective, so it really doesn’t endeavour to make any claims about right and wrongs of Hugh’s enterprise, but for all Hefner’s efforts it is clear that from a spiritual point of view it really is dodgy ground promoting selfish indulgence in the name of liberty, but without divine responsibility it is understandable why that outcome would emerge.

Having finished it recently I’ve moved onto the works of Tony Benn specifically the diaries that he’s wrote. Whilst in Scotland I came across a single volume of the diaries that spans from 1940 to 1990 which is quite a substantial part of history to cover. It was intriguing reading these as I was eager to get as much of an understanding of Benn’s diaries as possible. The reason for it is my intrigue in Benn.

I remember in my novice days of introduction to British politics there were two major pillars representing the two major streams of thought in the country. The first was Margaret Thatcher who I didn’t like (and that’s putting it mildly) for policies I felt were not in the best interests of the least in society or promoting a true sense of the importance of community. The other was Tony Benn whose stance for socialism made him a critical figure in the left movement for the best part of two decades before his actual influence faded with the rise of New Labour.

Benn was not the anti-Thatcher in terms of character. Both were very devout in pursuing what they believed even at the expense of the greater good of their party – so for all of Thatcher’s power and influence, her overbearing manner had a divisive result when she left inevitably leading to the 15 wilderness years of the Conservative party. Benn’s unremitting commitment to a left agenda despite it’s lack of appeal with the electorate threatened to show the Labour party as incapable of governing for the best part of two decades from 1979 to 1997 even if some of his points were spot on. Both characters were highly controversial in their own way but in as much as they drew rabid critics they also attracted staunch supporters.

So what does that have to do with seeking Christ especially in words? Well Benn’s records of his dealings are a living chronicle of one’s insight not only into their world, but how that insight gives us a view at who they are. I’m currently reading the diaries from 1963-1967 and already there are so many issues it arises – is it possible to work with someone you don’t agree with? What does it mean to believe in something and someone so much and then change on them because they do not follow your agenda? These questions and others lead me back to the Word and seeing what Jesus says as even more crucial to determine who He is, especially in an age where it’s easy to refute His own claims. It is all the more vital to get back to the Word and apply what it says He is to life to combat some real life challenges.

This is why I’m glad for people especially like Luke, who went to great efforts to chronicle what happened and they are like Benn diaries in seeing how Jesus approached His culture and age with the radical counter-intuitive, counter-cultural message of the Kingdom.

For His Name's Sake



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