“I was born a child of grace, Nothing else about the place,
Everything was ugly but your beautiful face
And it left me no illusion…
All because of you
I am…I am”
(U2 – All Because of You)
I know, people either love or hate Bono. But he understands grace. He admits he’s done some ugly stuff and publicly acknowledges his need for the beauty of God’s grace and forgiveness. Personally, I find that refreshing.
Perhaps we’re all born children of grace. All I know is that this confused, hedonistic, stoned, shoplifting traveller that was the former ‘me’ was destined to encounter life-changing grace (as you can read about in My Life’s Soundtrack). I could never be the same again. Christianity was the last thing I ever thought I would align myself with, and there remains a hypothetical question that can never be answered: “Would I ever have become a Christian if I hadn’t gone travelling and opened my mind to whatever came my way?”
Sometimes what we think is familiar may not be all we think it is. We think we know something or someone or some place because he/she/it has always been there in our consciousness. I think a lot of people in the west have that kind of relationship with religion – and Christianity in particular.
Sometimes we need the opportunity to see what seems familiar from a different angle. Familiarity breeds contempt.
Life takes over and we don’t stop to look at something properly and without prejudice. Certain patterns of thinking become ingrained in us. We develop deep-seated prejudices that we’re not even aware of. Time out, debate, exploration, travel, contemplative practices, creative arts, and other opportunities to see things from a new perspective, can help to raise our awareness of the reality within us and the truth around us.
The category Just a Thought within this blog is an expression of my own reflections.
I visited a local photographic exhibition, displaying images of Hastings, the town where I’ve lived for the last 11 years. I recognised most of the locations in the pictures, but the photographer, Hans van Erp, who was not from round here (he was Dutch, and sadly died in 2007, aged just 52) employed an unusual combination of old, alternative techniques with digital photography to give the viewer a different take on familiar scenes…
Meditative and mindful practices can help us to be more observant, more open-minded and better listeners.
Likewise, some cultures, like the Jewish society that Jesus was raised in, have an accepted spiritual tradition of debate, to open minds and hearts. As Peter Enns explains, in his deeply wise book The Bible Tells Me So:
“The sages of Judaism debate the meaning of biblical passages, often arriving at contradictory explanations – and all of it is recorded and preserved as part of the sacred tradition, without any need to resolve the problem and arrive at a final answer.
Even in their debates, though, we see their affirmations….But killing the possibility of debate is what kills the faith. The debate keeps the conversation at the center of the community.
Ending the debate, getting to the right answer, is not the prime directive in the spiritual life. You can tussle with each other and with God (and win!) and it’s all good. The back-and-forth with the Bible is where God is found. Enter the dialogue and you find God waiting for you, laughing with delight, ready to be part of that back-and-forth.”
Western 21st Century culture, too, includes a culture of online learning and debate which can be massively helpful for people exploring ideas and faith.
My hope for this blog is that it helps you (of any or no spiritual persuasion) to think about life and faith from a different perspective; to engage in debate; to be open-minded; to challenge your own prejudices and preconceptions (hence, the main category, Breaking Down the Walls); and…..ultimately, I hope, to draw you deeper towards that heart of grace that I’ve had the privilege of being called into.
Posts published to date include (most recent first):
I totally agree with myself! (on congruence and integrity)
Not Poles Apart (the magnetic heart of God)
Here Comes the Knight (on Van Morrison becoming a ‘Sir’)
Redemption Song (prayer-poem)
Paperback Writer (my launch into book-writing)
Making (Myths About) Poverty History (a review of a brilliant book on poverty)
This blog too will pass (a message of hope)
My Goodness! (And Yours) (celebrating the goodness of man)
The Highest Pursuit (pursuing intimacy with God)
Speed Freak (slowing down in a fast-paced world)
Answering a Tricky Question (‘Why did Jesus die?’)
Good Job! (the power of encouragement)
Simple As This (the simplicity of the Gospel)
Going Deeper (into God)
How’s Your Spiritual Depth-of-Field? (keeping a sharp, narrow focus on the heart of Christianity – Jesus)
Inclusion Zone (reflecting on the inclusive heart of God)
Fall, With Style (dealing with disappointment and suffering)
The Source (of love)
The Spirit of Healthcare (spirituality and healthcare)
Paraphernalia (keeping the main thing the main thing)
FLY (about a fly, of course!)
A Timey-Wimey Blog (for any Doctor Who fans out there?)
Misnomers (Is there such a thing as self-help?)
Labelled with Love (What is a ‘Christian’?)
Addicted to Love? (Love is the one thing we cannot be addicted to)
My Life’s Soundtrack (Parts 1-6) (autobiographical)
The 11th Commandment (on being ‘you’)
A Sense of Perspective (Some thoughts on sexuality)
I’ve also written occasionally for an American blogsite called We Occupy Jesus (WOJ). Posts include:
My Goodness! (And Yours) (on man’s capacity for altruism)
It’s always nice to know that people read this blog. It’s even better to know that it’s made people think, whether they decide to post a comment or email me or not, although a comment, feedback, dialogue of any kind, is always appreciated.
Agreement is not the aim. But for you or me to encounter truth, love, or even God, in the dialogue, would be magnificent.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Roger Nuttall (a child of grace)