Tag Archives: Belief

Beautiful and Provocative

I found these pics about a week ago via stumbleupon. I knew I wanted to post it but I’ve been mulling over it all week, trying to work out what I felt and thought about it. I’m still not sure but I’m keen to hear what other people’s initial and considered responses are. Right click the image below to see it in full.

Raoef_Mamedov-The_Last_Supper_Down_Syndrome_Full_Large

So, I work with young offenders. And one night, I take a young person, who is working out their reparation, to a club for children with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. Whilst there I met a young lad, of about 16 years, who ‘suffers’ with Downs Syndrome.

Now, I grew up in a deaf family. My hearing is fine, so I am aware of what it is like to be deaf and what it is like to be hearing around deaf people. I grew up frustrated with people’s immediate presumptions about deafness. I saw people treat my family members as though they are stupid just because they can’t hear.

What I am saddened about, is that I made those same presumptions when I met this lad. I had very low expectations for what he might be capable of, or what level we might communicate at. However, after he ridiculed my pool playing and then thrashed me at pool, we then discussed football and loads of other stuff,and I felt an idiot and a hypocrite. What’s more, it’s not like he’s the first person I’ve met with Down’s. I KNOW that I shouldn’t just presume anything.

Raoef_Mamedov-The_Last_Supper_Down_Syndrome_Left_End

23_09_2009_0992739001253703016_raoef-mamedov-rauf-mamedov

So, what are your first thoughts on these images? My first thought was that they are beautiful, but straight away I thought ‘Why’? Why pick actors/models with Down’s Syndrome? Are they being exploited? Why have I just wondered whether they are being expoited? Why do I feel a bit embarrased at or for these guys?

Over the week, I’ve thought more about the fact that the artist has chosen to do Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’. I have no idea why he did, but I like this because there are verses that talk about Jesus as plant in dry soil, possibly being unattractive and stunted. The bible says that there was nothing attractive in his appearance. I love the fact that ‘Jesus’ in this pic has a pair of glasses sat beside him, if I lived before Jesus’ time and had to desribe what I thought the messiah would be like, I sure I wouldn’t have listed “short sighted” as a quality. I love this as a piece of art because it seems more real, more human and more challenging than the stupid blonde haired, blue eyed portraits of Jesus – the good looking Gentile that he was!!

I am keen not to have this post, and blog, feel like I’m preaching! I just stumbled across this and was desperate to share it. I really would like to hear people’s views on this and maybe get a discussion going. Share your first thoughts and maybe come back a while later and add if you have had more.

I’d love to hear from you. And by the way, I found these pics here. there is a discussion thread on that page which is very interesting but be warned, some comments are offensive, so please don’t go there if you might be offended.

Barrie

Living in 360 degrees.

Right then!

I found a clip that sums up what I think I was trying to say in my recent U2 post. I was talking about not feeling the need to go evangelise the world or be something I’m not, but rather enjoy my life –  and I think that I’m more likeable and nicer to be with because of it.

Well, if you watch this guy you’ll know what I am talking about! At the end a lady exclaims. ‘how did he do that!?’ It was by being himself and enjoying himself…

Barrie

U2 360°

So, my wife and I were given a pair of tickets to see U2 at Cardiff Millennium Stadium last Saturday. Phrases like awesome and breathtaking are used all the time, especially by me (!), but this was breathtaking and on a scale that was hard to take in at times.
The stadium itself was fantastic. You can’t really see it until you are at it’s gates and if you look up it seems to have been wedged in between office buildings. Our seats were dead centre at the top of the stands and I couldn’t have been more pleased with them. The view of the packed stadium as well as the stage was just great. I say we were central, the band did face our direction generally but they played in the round and the stage allowed for a 360° view.

I was going to add pics of the stage but none of mine came out well, dumb phone. I highly recommend a quick google image search to check it out if you can. It was so impressive that whenever it did something, like drop down or expand,  you could hear the entire crowd say ‘Wow’ over the music. The screens meant wherever in the stadium you were, you were fully part of it and clearly a massive amount of thought and design had gone into it.

The thing that has stayed with me the most was how spiritual the gig was. Any fan of U2 would know they started as a worship band and their faith, and struggles with faith, aren’t hidden in their lyrics. However, they are written in a way that people connect with them, whether they believe in God or not. They aren’t cheesy, corny lyrics, neither are they some thinly veiled attempt to evangelise and preach.
My wife said to me at one point, ‘It’s like Bono is doing it for us, for all of us’. And I think I know what she meant.

It was like Bono was singing words that made it ok for people to feel what it is like to worship, praise, have that ‘feeling’ that believers talk of, connect with each other and something more – but it was safe, non-threatening and fun. The lyrics speak to something inside and people get it. I know this all sounds a bit over the top – but that is how it felt.

I was in a band when I was younger and looking back, I wish we’d just played for the heck of it. I say we, it was me who pushed the most for us to be a band that ‘reached the lost’, (and I’d never say that now by the way). The pressure to not only write and play well, but also to have a spiritual impact took all the fun out of writing and performing for me.

Two of the lads in the band went on to another, better, band and they did it right; the band wrote great songs and had fun. The lyrics had religious themes running through them, the band are all Christians, but they weren’t overt and people loved them.

This is kind of where I’m at today. There was a time when I wanted to ”be on fire for God” and everything was about saving souls and evangelising. Now, I just want to be me and enjoy life, enjoy my family and friends and enjoy my work. Running through all of that is God and my faith but it’s not so overt any more and funnily enough, the only people who don’t find that acceptable are the overt Christians! 🙂

And just to wrap this up just like a terrible preacher would, (as though I’d planned what to write), it just hit me that my life is viewed in 360 degrees. Stay with me here, stay with me..!

I have a wife, a daughter, a ‘church’of sorts, friends and colleagues… different people have different views of me depending on how they are related to me – I’m a husband, dad, colleague, mate etc. I’m much happier being me and not having to project that I’m alright all the time because I’m trying to use my life as a demonstration of a best case scenario of Christianity. Life’s not always great for anybody, Christian or not, so what’s the point in pretending it is?And I’m not always a nice person, and I don’t always believe in God. If I try to show my colleagues that I have everything together, my wife will see that I’m lying! It’s easier to know everyone in the stadium is going to see me and just enjoy myself.

Anyway, I’ll stop there! I was only going to say how great U2 were and what a lovely time I had with Lisa.

A huge, huge thank you to our friends who gave us the tickets – you know who you are.

Barrie

Amazing thought

I learned today that scientists believe that the original ‘kernal’ or ‘seed’ of matter that blew up and give birth to the millions of galaxies in our universe may have measured 1cm to the -26th power (I think that’s how you write it), and would have only weighed about 8lbs.

I find this amazing for two reasons.

Firstly, how the heck did all the matter in the planets and stars etc. come from something only weighing 8lbs?!I guess something that small weighing 8lbs is pretty dense!

Secondly, who does this math – and if you’re that clever, how do you cope with inferior minds like the rest of us. ‘Real life’ must be so trivial when you’re wrapping your brain round stuff like that!

I also learned that if any piece of matter was condensed enough it could, in theory, create another universe by way of a tiny black hole . So, I could in theory squash an m&m in my living room if I had the technology and open a tiny black hole, the other side of which would be another universe which I might be able to visit but could never return from.

Awesome!

I have lots of Christian friends and am a Christian myself – if anyone, Christian or otherwise, fancies responding to this i.e. how this stuff fits in with their faith I’d be really interested. This personally does not cause any conflict for me and increases my sense of wonder at creation but then again, I don’t believe in a literal Genesis account of creation. What do people think?

Given the chance…

fears

I found this pic via StumbleUpon – a tool that will give you a sort of random web page based on preferences you give it first. Worth checking out.

The pic reminded me of a Mars Hill podcast I listened to recently. Rob Bell was speaking and he told of his neighbour who is a motivational speaker and a stand-up comedian. His neighbour recently invented a new character for his shows and a slot on radio – he had become an Irish Priest. On radio, people could ask him questions but he’d answer them in a comic way.

When he did a few promotional events for the station, people began asking them to bless their babies…!

Even more recently, he told Rob that he had done a stand-up show in which he fashioned a confessional booth out of cardboard and invited the audience to make confession. They queued up!

Both he and Rob saw that people need/want to make confessions – not just of the ‘I have sinned’ kind, that’s actually only one sort of confession. The ‘I’m scared’ confession is just as important, the ‘I’m confused’, ‘I’m in love’, ‘I am so happy’, ‘I’m in trouble here’, ‘I’m really thankful’…. all confessions and all things we don’t always get the chance to do, or choose not to do for one reason or another.

The people who wrote on the above board obviously believed in a benefit from doing so, and I imagine that the anonymity made it easier. It just makes me wonder whether I am the sort of person that others might feel safe enough to share and confess with – surely it doesn’t have to be left to the priests and stand-ups!