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Showing posts from August, 2007

The True Meaning of Holiness

St Luke's story of Jesus' visit to the synagogue describes an encounter between right and wrong.[1] A place of worship might seem a surprising place to find wrong being done. Do we expect to encounter wrong-doing when we come to church? Isn't it a place where we expect to find only goodness, holiness, purity and love – a haven of peace and tranquillity in a sinful world? Isn't it supposed to be 'the house of God'?The conflict between right and wrong in the synagogue that day hinges on two totally different understandings of what it means to be holy, and therefore what it means to encounter God. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews sets out the difference very starkly in his description of the difference between Moses' understanding of God and the understanding which Christians have.[2]At Mount Sinai, when Moses took the people of Israel into the desert to receive the Law, the God they encountered there was terrifying. There was blazing fire, and darkness…

Reading the Signs of the Times

If we think purely about the weather for a moment, people are certainly trying very hard to interpret the signs of the times. Do the floods and the bad summer we have had point to signs that the earth is getting warmer, or are they just a fluke? More and more experts believe that the bad weather isn't just a coincidence. In fact, only this month, scientists from the Meteorological Office in London calculated that things could get much worse. Until now, they say, natural phenomena such as the cold waters of the Arctic Ocean have stopped temperatures from climbing as fast as they might have done, but by 2009 nothing will be able to compensate for the effects of global warming and new records will be set.So it seems that a rough ride might be ahead, at least as far as the weather is concerned. And at last, very slowly, people are beginning to take notice and to think about changing the way we behave, to try to prevent the weather getting any worse. We have to hope and pray that these…

Conspicuous Consumption

We live in a society which, even more than in the time of Jesus, measures quality of life in terms of the abundance of our possessions. Yesterday we were in a car dealer's looking for a little car for our daughter and her husband. On the wall I noticed a colourful map of the city of Manchester, which is where she lives. Red areas indicated people who live on welfare benefits. Yellow signified people who suffer from considerable disadvantages compared with other people. Blue represented happy families, and purple areas showed where people live when they are conspicuously affluent. You can imagine which were the car dealer's favourite kind of people.My daughter was interested in buying a basic Fiat Panda - a little city car, easy to park, great for running around the City on short journeys and very economical on petrol. However, to test drive it she had to drive the sports' model - which has a 100 brake horsepower engine. Now if you wanted a racing car, would you buy a Fiat…