Saturday, December 28, 2013

Touched by an angel/kissed by a demon

I'm a fan of two very different television shows which feature angels: Touched by an Angel and Supernatural.

In each episode of Touched by an Angel, Monica is assigned to help someone deal with a serious personal issue. She is assisted and supported by her supervisor, Tess, and sometimes the Angel of Death who despite his name is a nice angel who escorts people to Heaven. At some point in the episode, having posed as a friend or co-worker to the person who needs help, Monica reveals herself as as angel and delivers to them a message of love and encouragement.

Touched by an Angel is classic wholesome, family viewing which tugs at the heart strings and provides inspiration and hope. It emphasizes the compassion of God for his fallen creation, and it reminds me how much God loves me.

Supernatural used to be about brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester, searching for the demon who killed their mother, and killing whatever evil things they encountered along the way. Throughout various twists and turns, their mission became stopping the apocalypse, and then surviving the apocalypse...and killing whatever evil things they encountered along the way. In season four, angels were introduced to the mix when we met one called Castiel.

Supernatural is a violent and gory show which laughs at sexual promiscuity and pornography, as it emphasizes the pre eminence of man as his own saviour. It is a quintessential example of post modernist humanism. The line between good and evil is constantly blurred. It leaves me wondering why people, including myself, are so entertained by such horrible things.

I believe in angels and demons because the Bible teaches that they are real. I don't need to see them to believe in them, just as I don't need to see God to believe in Him. I don't like the angels in Supernatural and next week, I am going to explain why.

How about you? Do you believe in angels and demons? In ghosts? Have you ever seen something supernatural?  Have you ever been touched by an angel?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Lot like Me

A couple of mornings each week, I go out for a run accompanied by my iPod shuffle. Shuffle is a pretty good word to describe my style in the initial phases of the workout. It takes me a while to find a stride and I have to spend a lot of time stretching before and after. I'm always amused by how stiff and sore I feel when I start, and how I feel like I am dying throughout most of the journey around the suburban circuit. There's pain in my ankle. My knee aches. I can't breathe. My legs feel like anchors. At the end, after I've sprinted home and onto my porch to begin my warm down, I feel good, and I'm pleased that I compelled myself out onto the unforgiving bitumen and concrete. This discipline is of benefit to me: body, mind and soul.

During these self imposed torture sessions, randomly selected songs from my playlist provide impetus and sustenance. It's all rock, mostly hard, and heavy metal. Sometimes, I listen to the songs. Sometimes, I erratically move my arms and my head which really disturbs my rhythm and sometimes, I even gasp along with familiar lyrics. The music allows me to focus. My mind can run away and play in fertile fields of imagination while my body is left to suffer as a beast of burden.

These road runs are among my most creative and productive times as new ideas and possible solutions to problems are born. In the midst of the noise and the agony, while my body demands I cease the insanity, and blinds me with sweat, I can also reflect and pray. I am prone to excessive reflection. I have a propensity to think too much and to over think, but I recognize this as a gift, and I run with it- pardon the pun.

Yesterday, it was the Offspring who got me thinking with their song, A Lot Like Me, and especially these lines
                                      Where do you run?
                         Where do you go?
                         When the holes in your truth
                              are beginning to show.

When and where are you particularly creative? What is your reaction to these song lyrics?

Photo sources:

Saturday, December 14, 2013

'tis the Season

It has always interested me that the Christ in Christmas is ignored, or at best downplayed significantly, by so many Australians. There are some people of other religious faiths who naturally do not celebrate Christmas. Then there are the majority of Australians who do celebrate Christmas, but would describe themselves as not religious. The latter often use the line "I have my own beliefs".

What is particularly curious is the deliberate exclusion of Christ from Christmas. Someone recently said to me that Christmas had nothing to do with religion. She meant for her personally, but it sounded so dismissive that it made me wonder. I understand if people don't want to emphasize the religious aspect of Christmas. If they do not want to acknowledge that the birth of the single most influential person ever is personally significant; fair enough. However you can't say it is not important. To deny the poignancy of this historical event, and its subsequent, and continuing impact on billions of people seems a bit ludicrous. Whatever else it may be to people, Christmas, as the name suggests, is patently about the birth of Jesus Christ. To say otherwise, is insulting and offensive.

There are number of universal values which are associated with Christmas aside from overtly religious ones. Omitting the few Grinches who dwell among us, most people, Christian or not, recognize the Christmas season as a time for family and friends, for giving and receiving, and a time for relaxing and reflecting. We all desire peace and we wish others well. There is a spirit of generosity and hospitality, a kind of communal bonhomie which permeates life, from the workplace to the market place, to our homes and neighbourhoods. It is a happy time, and a hopeful time for most people.

Generally, people will give the same basic answer to the question, "What does Christmas mean for you?" so it makes perfect sense to me, in identifying these common values, to also acknowledge their source. Values do not originate in vacuums. Are Christmas values not also Christian values, or religious values? Or do they spring from the hearts of men, as humanists would have us believe. What is the origin of faith, and hope and love? Where do these cherished and indispensable qualities come from? Are they human or divine?

Photo sources:

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Top 5 reads of 2013

I know it's only the beginning of December, and the festive season is just starting to kick into gear, but I don't want to wait until after Christmas to share with you my top five reads of 2013. 

After a bleak 2012 during which I did not read a five star book, (one day I am really going to go to town on the number of allegedly five star books in existence), 2013 brought me more joy, and a little difficulty when it came to narrowing the field to only five books. The battle for places was not as intense as I may be leading you to believe, however. I have read nineteen books altogether so far this year, and most of them were average - entertaining, interesting and definitely worth reading - but not outstanding. 

Without further ado, here are the five books I most enjoyed in 2013.

Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia

It's shocking and repulsive, intriguing and bizarre, and all gloriously factual, albeit coloured with cynicism and sarcasm.

Don Quixote (Don Quijote de la Mancha Completo)

Such a magnificent literary tome surely begs, and should quite rightly and without equivocation receive a review of such extraordinary length, virtue and perspicacity, so as to render all other book reviews of spurious consequence.

An epic saga told from three points of view, bursting with extraordinarily beautiful and powerful language, Frankenstein is a harrowing tale of two tormented souls.

Time Flies
Part mystery, part fantasy, part science fiction and all delivered with a good dose of humour.

   Time Flies is a laugh out loud collection of anecdotes about aging by a        great comedian.