Upon reflection, I think I went to church on Saturday night...
Well, actually I went to the U2 360 concert at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, but I'm sure I met God there, heard a sermon (from none other than Desmond Tutu), sung a psalm, experienced community, listened to a prophet and encountered the embodied and lived gospel of Jesus Christ. As I said, upon reflection, I think I went to church on Saturday night...
I have recently acquired an (almost) complete set of Barth's dogmatics. I ordered a copy of the latest edition for the University Library, and in the process managed to inherit the ex-libris set... If anyone out there has a spare copy of IV.1, let me know please!
Anyway, one of the joys of ex-libris copies is all the scribblings in the margins, representing the accumulated wisdom (?) of 50 years worth of university students.
Scribbled in the front cover of I.1 is the phrase: 'Barth's most horrible sentence', and a reference to p. 385. Thinking this is a bold claim (Barth has some particularly horrible sentences) I turned to the page, to find the offending paragraph marked with an exclamation mark. So here it is. Is it his most horrible? I'm not sure, but it's in the running:
'And then the last question could hardly be omitted, whether the vestigia in question, upon which in that case the doctrine of the Trinity would really be grounded, were really to be regarded at all as the vestigia of a Creator-God transcending the world and not rather as a determinations of the cosmos now to be regarded as strictly immanent; and, because the cosmos is man’s cosmos, as determinations of human existence; whether therefore the concept of natural as well as that of Biblical revelation might not have to be struck out and the doctrine of the Trinity adjudged to be the bold attempt of man’s understanding of the world and, in the last resort, of self, i.e. adjudged to be myth.'
That is one angry atmosphere out there! Look at the sky... it looks like a smashed cake! The gods are hopping bonkers! We need to dedicate some of our precious time to a futile time consuming ritual... You know gods, they love all that shit.
Interviewer: 'Is God done for?' Vicar: 'No, obviously, there is a God, and he's fine. This is just typical silly atheists getting carried away. They look at a random pattern in a piece of fruit and think they've found some message in it.'
I've just finished re-reading the double-trilogy of the Starbridge Chronicles by Susan Howatch. It's hard to know how to describe these books. Perhaps 'Theology meets Mills and Boon' comes close, but in no way does them justice. They follow the goings-on in and around Starbridge (for which read 'Salisbury') Cathedral from 1937 to 1967. The books are each themed around the writings of a particular theologian, and and the stories all represent a narrative outworking of the theology behind each book. They are also an easy read, with quite a lot of sex to keep the interest going. I'm a huge fan of fiction - and read a lot of it - not just religious fiction, but sci-fi, thrillers, etc etc etc... It greatly worries me that ministers so often don't read unless it's 'for work'. Well, these books bridge the gap - they're both 'for fun' and 'for work'. I think everyone going into ministry should read these books (along with Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible!)
In order (because it can be hard to work it out) they are:
At the risk of spoiling things, here's a paragraph from near the end of the sixth book:
[His instructions for his funeral included] 'let's raise the Cathedral roof with Zadok the Priest!' . . .
The note exploded in our midst, and at that moment I knew our creator had touched not only me but all of us. . . and in that touch I sensed the indestructible fidelity, the indescribable devotion and the inexhaustible energy of the creator as he shaped his creation, bringing life out of dead matter, wresting form continually from chaos. Nothing was ever lost... and nothing was ever wasted because always, when the work was finally completed, every particle of the created process, seen or unseen, kept or discarded, broken or mended - everything was justified, glorified and redeemed. Then I thought, as I looked around the Cathedral, of the pattern our creator had made of us as he had toiled to shape the dark with the light in such a way that our suffering was given meaning, the meaning which gave value to our lives. . .
'and we know that ALL THINGS INTERMINGLE FOR GOOD . . .'
Here's one of the reasons I love living in Bristol (click the image for a better quality version)
This morning Liz and I made it to the sunrise mass ascent of the Bristol Balloon Fiesta. One balloon I always look out for is the distinctive yellow and blue of the 'Bristol' Balloon - I was fortunate enough to have a ride in this balloon a few years ago, and we went to 6,000 feet as well as touching down on water. It always flies with panache and daring. Today, it ascended higher than all the others, and a skydiver tumbled out. Here is an unusual view of this balloon:
And here's another classic Bristol Balloon picture
OK so I'm slightly obsessive... At just after twelve thirty today I phoned my Dad (who likes this kind of thing) to point out the time and date... 12.34:56 7/8/9 And then I took a screen grab of my computer clock to prove it...
All of which brings back fond memories of the effort I put into acquiring the following photo of my old Astra's mileometer a couple of years ago:
The Book of Revelation: Currents in British Research on the Apocalypse
The Plainly Revealed Word of God?
Questions of Identity
Wisdom, Science and the Scriptures
Prayers of the People
The Way the World Ends?
Bible and Justice
Delivering the Word
Dictionary of the Bible and Western Culture
The story of Women in Ministry in the Baptist Union of Great Britain
The Book of Revelation - Bible Society
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