Sunday, 28 July 2013

In From the Storm

It sometimes seems as if all of my life I have been running from something, but if you asked me what exactly, I really couldn’t tell you.  At many times I have felt troubled, disappointed, let down by so many people and constantly experiencing inevitably depressing things.  I mean that I have been so used to failing at things that it has become almost part of my character sadly.  There have been things in my past that have affected me, perhaps more than I realise, and yet I had a pretty happy and peaceful childhood for the most part. 


Alongside all of this, I have a calling on my life from God and at times I have heeded that call and at many other times I just haven’t, it is as simple as that.  I have never lived as a regular Christian because I was not churched and nor do I come from a Christian background or community and have never been to a church as a part of a believing group so it has just been me and God.

Sometimes, and at the moment, it seems I have been on the end of emotional distress that isn’t helped by other negative things in my life.  I pray, and it feels like I am not heard.  So I sulk at God, and won’t talk to Him because He seems not to answer me.  Then I feel abandoned, storm tossed, and thoroughly miserable.  Not a great place to be, to be honest.

Compared to some people, I haven’t had a terrible life, and perhaps compared to others I have suffered badly at times.  There are issues in my life that need dealing with, anger issues, issues of low self-worth and issues from the past that keep coming up to haunt me.  I said things to people that I now bitterly regret and did things, few of real evil intent, that I now regret also.  However, there are no human beings out there who I harmed in any real way, no one who would bear me ill will for anything I have done, just want to make that clear.  It’s mostly an accumulation of things from the past that trouble me.


"In From The Storm" (by Jimi Hendrix)

Well i, I just came back today...
I just came back from the storm.
I said: "i just came back, baby...
I just came back from the storm.
Yeah, from the storm.
Well, I didn't know it then,
But I was sufferin', sufferin'
For my love to keep me warm.
It was so cold and lonely, yeah.
The wind 'n' cryin' blue rain
Were tearing me up.
It was so cold and lonely.
The crying blue rain was tearing me up.
Oh, tearing me up.
I wanna thank you my sweet darling
For digging in the mud and picking me up.
Thank you so much!

It was a terrible rain that was burning my eyes.
It was you my love who brought me in.
I love you so much,
I'll never stray from you again.

I just came back baby.
I just came back to get my baby on her way.
Yeah, yeah.

On your own day of ordeal God will remember you: like frost in sunshine, your sins will melt away.  (Ecclesiasticus / Sirach 3:15 NJB)

Saturday, 20 July 2013

The Whole System is Inherently Unjust

It’s obvious that ordinary people all over the world are now saying that the extreme system of capitalism we live under is not working for the many but actually the few.  I’m not being provocative here nor trying to stir up trouble or attack individuals either, just being honest and nothing more.  It is as if we are entering a new age, a Neo-Feudalism where a relative few own and control everything and everyone else has to put up and shut up; and it is not working and will cause problems now and in the near future and in the future to come. 


Let’s look at the problems of overt capitalism without any concern for other people and without some form of social justice or even just some common sense.  Firstly, it is solely about profit, large profit, and nothing else really matters other than that.  Secondly, it is often harshly exploitative of everyone involved, except a few at the top and a slightly bigger minority in the middle.  Thirdly, it encourages through the profit motive the practise of paying low wages at the bottom and trying to get as much for products as possible.  Fourthly, often the very wealthiest people and the global corporations, the one who could afford to pay the most, are actually paying the least in tax.  That alone should be enough for people to think about.  This is just on a simple human greed level.

We then come to the moral issue, the one that often seems to be ignored or brushed under the carpet.  When people are utterly selfish and completely obsessed by greed and being wealthy at all and any cost, it often almost always impacts on everyone else, in some way or other.  People see that justice and compassion, consideration and fairplay are for losers and nice people, and that being aggressive, selfish, arrogant, ruthlessly ambitious, cavalier about other people and overly greedy benefits a person far more in the end.  Being greedy means that wealth is concentrated more and more in fewer and fewer hands and gives less and less people a chance to benefit from that wealth.  It also creates more and more people who think that the only way to get on is to be as ruthless as those who are rich, so creating more inequity and more reasons to exploit other people.  We brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it; but as long as we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that.  People who long to be rich are a prey to trial; they get trapped into all sorts of foolish and harmful ambitions which plunge people into ruin and destruction.  The love of money is the root of all evils' and there are some who, pursuing it, have wandered away from the faith and so given their souls any number of fatal wounds.  (1 Timothy 6:7-10 NJB)

Some people have abandoned any moral or decent behaviour, even Christians who put greed and selfish ruthless ambition, lose sight of anything that is real and get caught up in what is worldly and also get caught up in competition with other people to have the most money, the biggest business, the biggest and most expensive house, the most expensive car, the holiday home, all the most expensive things and the trappings that comes with having lots of money.  Then what?  Once you have millions, once money becomes in a sense immaterial, where do you go then, what do you do and what can actually add anything to your life when you have everything you want?  Then it just becomes a monopoly game where a person just has and wants more and more for no good reason, and all the double standards and unfairness meted out to poor people that there is no money for fair wages, no money in some wealthy countries for even basic health care, no decent chances for promotion and constant attempts to belittle anyone who in any way who tries to make things better for poorer people at the bottom, with words like ‘Communist’ or ‘Socialist’ or ‘not realistic’ or anything else which simply closes the debate and continues to justify greed and injustice in the very economic system that underpins the West and now most of the world.  Let’s all stop hiding behind political ideology, let’s stop using religion to justify somehow selfishness or the Prosperity Gospel or anything which is supposed to be about love for other people and twisting it into a false gospel that has no real value when examined and is lacking in any truth.


I know that anyone who reads this who is poor and struggling, or who is finding it hard to get a reasonable paying job or paying their mortgage or just finding that bills and the cost of living seem to keep rising whilst wages and any kind of income seems to get less and less will probably agree with all I’ve said, whereas those who are rich, especially those who make their money not to help other people or even partially for some altruistic reason, but merely to be as rich as can be regardless of how they get it, will probably dismiss all I’ve said.  However, if God has a calling on your life, or you have any ounce of conscience, especially the former, injustice has a way of coming back on you one way or the other.  And abandoning God for greed may have very serious, if unforeseen, consequences.

What is the answer?  For all of us to stop being greedy!  To stop buying into the culture that constantly bombards us with the newest phone, or the newest TV, or the newest trainers (sneakers) or the newest home entertainment system and so on.  To stop living on credit and beyond our means.  To accept that as you and I have a right to be ambitious for better lives, that also everybody else does too and so we should not endeavour to walk over other people or dismiss their rights to a better life while we get ours.  For people to pay their taxes like good citizens.  For Christians and good people everywhere to learn to be content with what they have and stop worrying about what they haven’t got, if basic needs are met.  I do not say this because I have lacked anything; I have learnt to manage with whatever I have.  I know how to live modestly, and I know how to live luxuriously too: in every way now I have mastered the secret of all conditions: full stomach and empty stomach, plenty and poverty.  (Philippians 4:11-12 NJB)

Sunday, 7 July 2013

What’s It All About?

For the last few years I have struggled against so many things, and usually nothing I do has turned out right.  I try to do something, and somehow I always fall flat on my face.  Whatever it is I want to do, find time to write my books, work on my dissertation, find a church, be a more pro-active Christian, find someone to fall in love with, with the exception of giving up drinking alcohol, has failed disastrously.  It has on many occasions left me feeling down and even depressed, even though within myself I am generally an optimistic sort of bloke.  That seems like a contradiction I know, and it is strange to have two sides to my character but I think many people are the same as well.  We cannot wallow in misery, it doesn’t do any real good but sometimes we have to accept that life doesn’t always go to plan, or in my case it rarely if ever goes to plan.

So, what’s it all about?  It all must amount to something, right, or what’s the point of anything if nothing means anything after all?  It’s all just pissing against the wind, and no matter what we do good or bad has any real meaning anyway.  We are told in the Bible that God wants us to have peace, joy, happiness, contentment and abundant living among many other good things, and yet life, all life is suffering, all life is pain and all life is sadness, or seems to be at times.  We are born innocent and free into the world, and somehow we are stained from the world and all its evil and vices, all its temptations and complications, by all its contradictions and angriness.  When all the stories we are told as kids are about being kind and respectful, being considerate and caring, and that when we are, nice things will happen to us, we grow up and realise it was a load of crap quite frankly.  We see plainly in the world that greed, selfishness, corruption and a lack of morals and compassion takes a person far further than a nice person with all these qualities, and that nice people get walked over and are often side-lined and ignored.  And of course when we are sometimes angry, confused and even not happy from time to time, we have to pretend otherwise don’t we, I know I do all the time.  Someone asks ‘how are you’ even just in politeness, and we repeat almost by default ‘oh fine’ even when we might be anything but.  But who wants to put their condition or suffering on someone else, or get someone offering well-meaning but often trite and unhelpful advice.  And we don’t to upset even our families or close friends do we, no matter what hell or suffering we might be going through?

What’s the answer, if there is any that is?  Wisely I have applied myself to investigation and exploration of everything that happens under heaven. What a wearisome task God has given humanity to keep us busy!  I have seen everything that is done under the sun: how futile it all is, mere chasing after the wind!  (Ecclesiastes 1:13-14 NJB)  Even the writer here, whoever he (or she) was, seems to be fed up with everything, fed up with anything and if not in outright despair is just questioning everything and dismissing all human activity as somehow pointless.  Obviously, whoever wrote this was feeling down or extremely cynical at the same, but it has to be said that it is at least radically honest, which is refreshing when so many people, even many Christians, seem to think that the Bible is filled with folk tales and well-meaning platitudes of all kinds.  Hasn’t everyone felt like this at some point?  I seem to feel like it about ten times a day, but there you go.


This society that teaches us through various means to be ambitious, individualistic, achieving and always striving may in fact be the very reason why so many of us, often in the midst of plenty, are unhappy or deeply frustrated in some way.  Are these desires, these ambitions, things we really want, or are they brainwashed into us, to make us slaves to power, wealth, social status, having the ‘best’ of everything or at least slaves to the attainment of these things?  And because we are slaves, or can be, to these and many other things, we can be controlled, manipulated, told that if we work hard or plan or scheme we too can join the beautiful people and live in a mansion with a swimming pool and the expensive car in the drive and the millions in the bank; if only we accept hardship and struggle and low wages for the time being.  It’s all a trap, an illusion, and although I am not saying that we shouldn’t better ourselves and be ambitious for better lives, we should really think about what we do want rather than buying into something simply because it’s expected of us or just because someone else has got what we think we should want or have.  It is a big mistake to covet what other people have, simply because we don’t know how they got their wealth and success and also because just because someone is wealthy and successful and has all the trappings of a materially successful life, it is no guarantee at all of being happy.  Of course they could be happy as well!  Don’t people like that piss you off?!

Solomon had everything in terms of worldly wealth, or it’s reputed that he did anyway, and when asked by God what he wanted, he asked for wisdom, quite wisely, and God made him the wisest man on earth and blessed him with power and vast riches too.  He also had seven hundred wives and three hundred mistresses as well, so if he staggered home from the pub and was feeling, shall we say, frisky, there was always someone he could turn to for some fun!  But, some men might say that one wife is enough and I am certain that many women would say the same too.  I mean having one wife nagging at you would be enough for most people, but having seven hundred on your case complaining you hadn’t washed the dishes again when you’d promised to, or to not go down the pub with your mates and come home singing again and pee on the front door, or because you hadn’t put the cat out before going to bed; sheesh, any benefits of having one thousand women would soon disappear then wouldn’t they?!  And as for what program to watch on the TV?!  Well, I certainly think that old Solomon must have had a shed near his palace where he could get away from them all and just get some peace.

When we are going through severe emotional distress, we should ask God into the situation and spend some time looking at scripture and spend some time asking God in prayer for help.  That’s all I can do at the moment anyway.