Sunday, 21 November 2010

Strange little musings I

For some reason many of my posts seem to go on for ages, so I though that I would just limit this post to a haiku poem* that sums up what is in my head right now at 3.00 in the morning on Sunday 21 November:

(* I've not written much poetry - and even less haiku-type work - for a few months now, so I'm a bit rusty to say the least so apologies for its quality (well, lack thereof).)

the cloudy-sunny sky over north london
coming back from scotland july 2010
copyright: The Loris 2010

transcendent beauty; cold chill - 
awakening fear.
love draws near: dreams fade to praise



Friday, 5 November 2010


Today I am letting Gurg The Invincible, Eater of Worlds loose on my blog. Gurg is the monster with one swollen eye, a bad headache and insomnia. Gurg is unable to sleep because of her eye being so painful. She has just had to get up for the 3rd, maybe 4th time for hot flannel treatment for her eye. The problem is that I love Gurg, but she always makes my eye swell up and I seem to be in pain whenever she's around. But I won't ban her, she's had quite a hard life already... so, read on...

Gurg the Invincible's cousin,
Gracie (the Irrepressible)
escaped from JunkerJane's junk yard...
GRRRG! Gurg The Invincible, Eater of Worlds, writing to you all. The picshure on the right is actually of my cousin, Gracie the Irrepressible, Treader of Toes. Look at the teefs. Mine are much more biggerer and krunch right through rock and everything.

The spider sat on her tail is a relative of Incy Wincy spider - you know, the one from the nursery rhyme. This one is called Scuttle and I gave him to her as a present on her SewDay (bit like your hoomin birthday) when she was still mostly scraps of material. She was so quiet and cute then. Now she is just craayzeeee and stomps on people's toes. hee hee..

Gracie's parents had a terrible time and were mangled in a terrible automobile accident many sewn moons ago. Gracie was fixed by Junker Jane but later escaped from  the Junk yard, and was then taken in by a lovely hoomin called Little Miss Somebody.

I was not quite so fortunate. I ate my family, totally by accident, one day when Pa and I were practicing rock crushing and how to eat whole houses in one bite. I got a bit carried away and I ate a whole street,unfortunately it was my street so I ate the family home and all its contents (including Ma, my twin brother, Garg the Unconvinceable, Mincer of Words, our pet sock monster Terry and my favourite ugly doll, Target). :(

Dad was not very pleased with my behaviour so I got sent away to World of Studentland with a flea in my ear and a restraining order, so I'm not actually allowed to eat real streets any more. So, I was banished for a few years and during this time I learned new ways to manage my wont of eating worlds. I discovered miniature towns that people seem to think are wonderful, but I just think they are a pathetic nonsense that don't even taste good. I also discovered cake and popcorn and found that if I cooked cake or popcorn or bread towns I not only had amazing meals, I also met other cake monsters and we all became friends. That's really how I got to meet Barney James, Dave and The Loris - they are all Cake Monsters :]. I also get to learn about the Jesus and God because I didn't really think that He loved me until The Loris was telling me all about Him and ALL THE LOVINS redemption and forgiveness. Dave loves Jesus - he actually knows all about dinosaurs and the fossil record, but he's not allowed to tell anyone about it. He wants to though cos he wants to upset the scary Christians AND the scientists.  He does roll his eyes and burp a lot. He's very funny.We have a good time together, although I think The Loris zekritlee doesn't really like it when I go to stay at her house, because I make her have problems in her eyes and she's always in pain, but she doesn't really complain a lot, but I think she gets quite sad. She says that she loves me, but it's just the horrible pain in her eyes and the problems with her vision that she doesn't like. Barney and Dave seem to be OK. It's only The Loris that I affect. :[

Well, just so you know, when I came back from World of Studentland I made things right with my Dad, Glug The Unsinkable, Sailor of Skies and now we are rebuilding the house I ate all those years ago. I'm also getting proper help, so I will be eating rocks - instead of houses  - in one bite.Dad has managed to buy a quarry, so we shouldn't go hungry or eat any more relatives... ;]

I have to go now cos I'm getting peckish, so I go now to chew on a block of chalk...





Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Hell Houses... Nightmares on Church Street... The Hallowe'en event sensible church should condemn

The other day The Flatties and I watched the HElL H0u5e documentary. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.... There are some days that I question why I call myself a Christian, simply because of the assumptions that people make about the whole of Christendom based upon the actions of a minority of fundamentalist idiots oops, conservative zealots... The programme, though, caused me not to want to sleep... so then the insomnia kicked in. Sigh.

And insomnia can kick in for days or even weeks at a time. At least now I can howl at the moon in company...

Hallowe'en is just behind us and it is about my least favourite time of the year (along with 5th November). The eve of All Saints' (All Hallows) Day should be a time when we are preparing to remember ALL the heroes of the faith, and yet All Hallows Eve (Hallowe'en) has become a riot of commercial insanity. I was walking past a card shop on my way to pay my rent the other day and was astonished to see "Happy Halloween" cards... In the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, the Eve of any major festival is always one of anticipation and  preparation. Now we are plagued by kids dressed as witches, pirates, goblins or whatever crying "trick or treat" and expecting money, generally. Gone are the days when a few sweets and an apple made a good haul...

Doubtless many people that have been knocking on doors this weekend will actually have no idea of what the 31st of October and the 1st of November are really about. Similarly, the 2nd of November is the day when we (the Church) remember all those who have died this last twelvemonth and all those who have gone before (The Saints): in the Roman Catholic church, for example, there will be prayers said (and Masses held) for the departed, throughout November. Indeed, next Sunday, my Pater's name shall be read out in The Mother's Parish Church's Service for the Departed, since he slipped his mortal coil on 8th March this year, may his Soul Rest in Peace.

Mordechai & Esther: heroes of my faith
Copyright: Yale University Art Gallery
So, today  (Monday) is All Saints' Day, when there is a big service to honour all the saints. Whilst I am not one for praying to saints, I do know that The Communion of Saints is very real, the cloud of witnesses that surround me (see Hebrews 12:1-2) means I am not on my own. And what is this cloud of witnesses? Quite simply it is every single one of the saints that are known and unknown. They are the heroes of my faith. Some of them are dead, but some are alive. In Hebrews 11, Paul lists some of the great heroes of his Jewish faith (Paul was a Jew who had a rather dramatic encounter with Jesus on the road, which made him fall off his ass, and blinded him for three days - blinding! ;]) and then he talks about some of those followers of The Way (ie followers of Christ Jesus) who are notable in his community... St Paul often refers to his contemporary believers as Saints, for the work they are carrying out with and for Christ and God's Kingdom.

St Julian(a) of Norwich (1342-1416)
Saints are all around us. I have friends that I think of as Saints. Och, they might not have not been canonized by a fallible man (or committee of such men) that heads up one part of the Body (church), but these heroes and heroines are great and holy men and women of God, who God works through in miraculous ways at times.

So why, then, when the church should be focussing on observing the important task of honouring the great men and women of faith that have come and gone and indeed, are still here, would a church think that it is good to try to win souls for Jesus by frightening people into the kingdom with ridiculous dramas about real-life events? None that I can think of that are SaNe!... However, this is precisely what IS happening in some super-conservative (fundamentalist, imho) churches, even some in the UK I believe.  Let's examine what such a church hopes to achieve through such an event.

Oh yeps, I know I am a sinner...
The claim is that they want people to understand the basic premise is that Hell awaits all those who sin (and do not confess Jesus Christ as their Saviour). Which is true, inasmuch as Jesus is our way to be found sinless in the sight of God. But then these houses are set up to show what the sins are (as perceived by them) that could cause one to end up in Hell. And they are oversimplifying, and thus hijacking scripture and twisting it into something ugly. The HElL H0u5e will usually open in the run-up to Hallowe'en to capitalizes on the haunted house rides and all the crazy parties that happen towards the end of October (and particularly on 31st October) so they hope to reach the non-believer in a very dramatic in-your-face kind of a way. They hope that everyone who walks through their doors and through their (too stereotypical and insensible) version of Hell will be so shocked by their terrible habits or lifestyles that they will immediately go through the door for prayer and salvation...

Westbo'ro': enough said.
Jesus Weeps for these loons.
lifted from google images
So what exactly can one expect inside the house? The houses have sets where actors (usually congregants of their church) act out the things that we do that can separate us one from another and from God. There are sets that depict a gay man in hospital dying of AIDS while a person dressed - presumably - to represent a demon, or even Satan, telling him that he's guilty of a terrible sin and that God cannot love such an evil person and that their illness is God's punishment for them; a young girl who has taken an abortion tablet is crying out to God to save her, whilst the Satan mask tells her that she is not worthy, that she is a murderer; another scene depicts a rave, where a girl is slipped an (incredibly swiftly acting) illegal date-rape drug, and who subsequently gets raped and is convinced that she is unworthy, God hates her, he was never there for her and she would be better off dead, so she kills herself, and because of the suicide she has condemned her soul to hell*; another shows domestic violence (actually the only vaguely redemptive scene because the woman leaves the abuser and no-one was shouting crap about God not loving anyone)...

Just because God can use somthing, it doesn't mean it's right
 for us to pull a stunt like this...
Image lifted from

It was the final room that disturbed us the most: a man talking earnestly (aka shouting) AT, not to, each group that had just gone through the House and explained that they were all sinners, but that if there were things they wanted to get straight with God or give their lives to Jesus, there were people in the next room waiting to pray with them. The door opened, and then they guy said "it will only be open for 6 seconds. After that, well, you might just have missed out on getting straight with God"... Um...OK, that might seem harmless enough to some... except: it sends a totally screwed up message about God!!! What, is God only available at certain times? Is there a limit on the amount of patience and love that God has? It doesn't say anything like that in MY (NRSV) Bible...  It seems more like couched judgement to me... 

Watching HElL H0u5e (filmed at a church in TX) the other day just made me ask "Where, here, is Grace?" "Where is Mercy?" "Where, dammit, is Love?" In Short...

Even He hasn't got a clue...
borrowed from the BBC

 Yes, Jesus is in the desert groaning and sighing...
"Oh you foolish and perverse generation"...

Watching those scenes of a young man acting as a gay man dying of AIDS whilst  he was hearing words saying that he was to blame and that God didn't want to know him, or that a young girl who had taken an abortion pill was a Murderer etc, just made me so angry, because here was a fabulous opportunity for the church in question to speak of the Great Mercy and LOVE that God the Father pours out like oil upon us and they totally missed it! 

That is in grave danger of straying completely outwith the bounds of Jesus' teaching.

The grey-ish mist of a reflected nebula cloud (NGC):
V380 Orionis and NGC 1999 in Orion
Copyright NASA
Scaring people into confessing Christ is not Godly. It really beggars belief that these kinds of events are even allowed by sensible Christians. As one visitor to the Hell House said "you can't make all of life's issues into piles of black and white... you are totally missing out on the greys...". It's true. Life is lived in the grey mist. Just saying, for example, that homosexuality is a sin - and therefore punishable by death - is not good enough. It's unlikely that a homosexual man or woman is going to say "gosh, you're right, I'll just go get a partner of the opposite sex and then God will love me", isn't it? The reason, of course, is that this is  not true (whether a person understands that or not when they hear condemnations). God loves ALL of us! No matter what state we are in. Whether we sin or whether we are perfect (which excludes, um, all of us - except Jesus, but he IS God, ergo we are ALL sinners) God loves us, knows us and watches over us. The problem is that when we take ONE verse of scripture and use it to form our entire theology OR to back up our own prejudices, we are then in peril of falling into a very dangerous trap... The same trap that Satan uses - and that we stumble into - all the time: divide and conquer (Jn 10:10 (para) Satan will steal, kill and destroy all that is good, Jesus brings life and life to the max...).

Mars' Devil Dust trails caused by surface twisters...
Credit: HiRISE, MRO, LPL (U. Arizona), NASA
The most simple, yet effective, thing that Satan does is to set Christians off on the wrong track by twisting the truth to suit our own particular weaknesses, or wounds, or ungodly desires (for power, fame, influence etc). And because we are weak sinners, we are easy prey.

In defence of my fellow Christians that run the HElL H0u5es I understand what they are trying to say. It's not the entirety of their message that is flawed, but the presentation leaves a lot to be desired. There is a lot of ambiguity and there are just too many conclusions can be drawn - the message of hope they desired to communicate was - in effect - completely lacking, and buried behind ugliness and gore and ignorance. Those things are dangerous and do more to keep people away than they do to draw them in. I  felt angry, but also betrayed, because once again, one part of the body is trying to be something that it is not meant to be. It is groaning in agony under false impressions of the gospel message. The essence of the gospel message is simply that

Everything that we do must be underpinned by and done in LOVE. If there is not love, there is not God.

Ladies and Gentlemen, if Love is not present, then Jesus has left the building...



* This is a difficult argument. Suicide is often lumped in with murder because it is the taking of life, but this line is incredibly... ...