Perfection marred

I found this snippet that I’d decided to write at some earlier point; I’m not sure when or why, but I like it. It leaves a lot left unsaid, but it says something important nonetheless.

Shiny ideals are soon stretched and marred in the tumult of life. The Christian ideal is expressed in God-made-man incomparably marred for us; giving a new take on perfection.

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Rest

Have been pondering recently how I use my precious few moments of spare time. Perhaps not too well, in that one suspects it’s only delaying rather than reversing the general sense of burnout.  Hard to know what counts as a good use of time anyway… Here’s part of a poem I tried to write, but gave up on. It doesn’t even rhyme – fail!

This time was bought at Your infinite cost
but I have the freedom to spend it;
even in writing this rhyme.

Why am I not satisfied resting in You?

the fear of empty death & the hope of full life

Death which is excruciating and untimely is the ultimate stab in the back to a culture that prioritises the pleasure and autonomy of the individual. Death which is unrecognised, boring, and unmourned is similarly unsavoury. Death of any kind, in fact, is uncomfortable. Perhaps not so much for those who are dead, though opinions differ widely on the situation for them; and it is likely that the experience of death need not always hurt … but it tends to at least for those left behind. We prefer not to think about it in concrete terms, let alone talk about it. But, let’s consider this prohibition as like a sign saying “don’t touch” without any further justification – it invites disobedience.

As an aside, one of my favourite portrayals of death (a little morbidness was probably to be expected) is the ‘death of rats’ in Pratchett’s Discworld. “The Death of Rats, also known as the Grim Squeaker, is not, strictly speaking, a personification in his own right but rather an aspect of Death allowed an independent existence. “ More on that here.

Rats!

Since leaving highschool a few years ago, at least two people from my year-group have died in what can only be called mysterious circumstances. Death, particularly coming at the age of 21 or 22, seems cruel. Death is a real and present problem, an assault on our inherent dignity as humans. As relational beings whose capacities and interests are able to transcend the everyday world of material things, we consider life valuable and are hurt by its loss. But what the hell to do about it? Is our concern about death in the long run akin to crying over spilt coffee, or is it a hint towards the fact that life is truly valuable, and might continue after death? Or, perhaps, neither of the above? It is fairly clear that if there is such a thing as a ‘problem’ in this world, death makes the list. Merely recognising this is not to assume that there is a genuine solution and thus to bootstrap our way into the afterlife – but it can I think justify our desire that there be one. It is not irrational to hope for a better order of things.

Commonly accepted views of the world; the Weltanschauungen of the West, views acceptable to the modern consensus, or whatever you call them, tend to shut down claims to real knowledge about the afterlife. But, and you probably knew this was coming, Christians have claim to real knowledge about the afterlife. The claim is that there is a man who died, and who is now alive forever, and that as such, eternal life is real and available for all who follow him. The claim is based on historical realities; or, so it is said. I’d love to chat about these things. In light of the universal nature of the problem of death and the utter inadequacy of the usual position (naturalism/atheism/physicalism/agnosticism/meh-ism, or what-have-you) to deal with it, this purported solution is worth exploring a little further.

[I intend to craft this more, probably tone it down a little, and submit it to the uni magazine in few days’ time; we’ll see if I get around to it]

so many thoughts, so much meh

Various things to report, to the handful of people who keep an eye on my ramblings. Nothing too exciting, but I’m a postgrad science student, so you can’t expect too much! If you ask me how the research is going, I’ll say “slowly” – in case anyone wondered.

It’s been just over two weeks since I last blogged, and it feels like a rather long time indeed. It’s been a hectic few weeks; working(research) an approx 50hr week plus a couple of hours of transport per day and trying to squeeze in some church-related stuff is quite a mission, as it turns out. Throw into the mix the ugly monster of the quarter-life crisis (what the hell to do with one’s life?) which continues to rear its head and you have a not entirely fun concoction. However, life progresses regardless, and opportunities presented by a God of grace are also on the horizon.

I’ve been a bit anti-social lately, with the stress of ‘technically challenging’ research bubbling over. So today as I got out of my car on the way to uni I prayed that I might have a good conversation with at least one of my lab mates (far out, how sad is that? Good question), and am pleased to report I potentially made a new friend and got to know another person better, just by being interested and having the good fortune of having an interesting research project myself. The phrase “interested is interesting” seems a pretty good guide to social life, and I’ll try to try it out a bit more over the next few weeks. Actually being interesting is helpful too, as it turns out.

it’s a bear

A couple of my lab-mates are slightly addicted to live-streamed feeds featuring cute animals of various kinds, notably bears (I think Ursus arctos) and puppies. For some reason, there are 24/7 live-feeds of a range of animals available online (I’m inclined to wonder if at least some of them are just looped tapes, but I don’t want to watch long enough to find out). Whatever floats their boat, I guess – but I wonder if it’s a bit of an invasion of these animals’ privacy, if animal rights mean anything ? … Also, if karma is anywhere near legit, then somewhere in the universe, a bear-like creature is watching a live-feed of my lab-mates (and me?) through a hidden camera in our office/lab.   Something to think about.
Now, onwards and upwards, and time for the quote that made me feel I should write a blog-post:

“If someone thinks the gospel has somehow slotted into their life quite easily, without causing any major adjustments to their lifestyle or aspirations, it is likely that they have not really started following Jesus at all.”
Sam Allberry
– Taken from the free online introduction to new book “is God anti-gay”, available here [link] The book seems interesting too, but that’s a different conversation altogether.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit as of late, on and off, about the cost of following Christ, and this, taken out of its context for now, is a suitably challenging sentence to remind me of this. What this means for what I should end up doing with my life is a fascinating question to which I hope I’m working out the answer. 

Plenty more to say, as I am in the midst of (at least in theory, though I haven’t put much time into most of these) preparing for a missions week, planning ‘dialogue dinners’, setting up a public debate, considering some other evangelistic and inter-club events on campus, getting my bioinformatics project to work in time to get results for a conference in mid-August, working out what to do about experiments that keep failing, deciding what jobs/scholarships/courses to apply for for next year, and other such things which tend, in all honesty, to scare the crap out of me.   But, it’s time to try to read a little more, and then sleep. God is good, and He has revealed Himself as being near to us, as desiring to hear us, and as one who cares enough to change us.