I’m Only Human

Heard this on the radio this morning.  Loved it.  For obvious reasons.  Or not!

 

Lyrics

I’m only human
I’m only, I’m only
I’m only human, human

Maybe I’m foolish
Maybe I’m blind
Thinking I can see through this
And see what’s behind
Got no way to prove it
So maybe I’m blind
But I’m only human after all
I’m only human after all
Don’t put your blame on me
Don’t put your blame on me

Take a look in the mirror
And what do you see
Do you see it clearer
Or are you deceived
In what you believe
‘Cause I’m only human after all
You’re only human after all
Don’t put the blame on me
Don’t put your blame on me

Some people got the real problems
Some people out of luck
Some people think I can solve them
Lord heavens above
I’m only human after all
I’m only human after all
Don’t put the blame on me
Don’t put the blame on me

Don’t ask my opinion
Don’t ask me to lie
Then beg for forgiveness
For making you cry
Making you cry
‘Cause I’m only human after all
I’m only human after all
Don’t put your blame on me
Don’t put the blame on me

Oh, some people got the real problems
Some people out of luck
Some people think I can solve them
Lord heavens above
I’m only human after all
I’m only human after all
Don’t put the blame on me
Don’t put the blame on me

I’m only human
I make mistakes
I’m only human
That’s all it takes
To put the blame on me
Don’t put the blame on me

I’m no prophet or Messiah
Should go looking somewhere higher
I’m only human after all
I’m only human after all
Don’t put the blame on me
Don’t put the blame on me

I’m only human
I do what I can
I’m just a man
I do what I can
Don’t put the blame on me
Don’t put your blame on me

Written by Rory Charles Graham, Jamie Hartman • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

The Drill

The Drill

A friend of mine describes the Christian life using a military metaphor that is both helpful and enlightening….I know – what a bargain!

drill

Not this kind of drill!

Being a Christian is about learning the basics:  Prayer; reading (i.e. exegeting and interpreting) scripture; Christ-likeness; learning the Fruits of the Spirit; living the sermon on the Mount; renewal of the mind; developing spiritual habits formed in the furnace of Trinitarian relationship, etc.  These basics are like the “basic drill” an army unit performs to stay sharp.  In other words, the existential reality for the army is the drill performed in peace-time: Marching; cleaning; inspection; fitness; and so on and so forth (one doesn’t want to push a military metaphor too far – there’s enough of that going on already)!

But the basics serve the special missions:  Either planned or spontaneous mission/evangelism; specific seasons of ministry; short or long-term mission; local or national or international.  In short, an Olympic athlete’s gold medal was forged on the running tracks of Trinidad; the swimming pools of Portugal and the cycling arenas of Argentina – the actual final in which it was won is almost a moot point!  The basic drill serves the special mission.

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Thinking About Theology

It’s always helpful to have working definitions of theology interacting with each other, rather than one, flat, bland and bloodless offering; a few definitions are floating around this blog somewhere or other!  Michael Jenson has got a great little book out called ‘How To Write a Theology Essay‘ designed to help new theological students write good essays.

essay

His chapter titles suggest a keen focus on practicalities, such as ‘How not to lose heart before you start’, ‘What is a theology essay’ and ‘Types of argument for your essay’, among many other great short chapters.

I like his question:  ‘What is Theology in any case?’ and his response:

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Diamonds and Rats: For all we know!

Diamonds and Rats: For all we know!

Is there a connection between the biggest diamond ever, and the small Laotian rock rat?

Without wishing in any way to stereotype, is it true that most/many/some women would love to own a large diamond (is that really true?….help me out here!).  Anyway, part of the English Crown Jewels is made from a 530-carat Star of Africa, cut from a 3100-carat gem.  For a long time it was thought to be the biggest diamond ever.

news

Then in February 2005, what happened?  News broke of a discovery of “the diamond of all diamonds”.  This dazzler was given the romantic name:  BPM 37093. Phwooaaar!

It was bigger than all the other known diamonds put together.  You won’t believe me if I tell you it is bigger than the moon (I hardly believe myself)!

8a46s

It measures 2500 miles across and weighs a staggering 10 billion, trillion, trillion carats (1 followed by 34 zeros).  The Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics said, “you would need a jewellers magnifying glass the size of the sun just to grade this diamond.”

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The Belly-god

bb-header-logo4The funny guys over at Babylon Bee have hit on a Forsythian nerve of mine.  The headline ‘Half of Congregation Dies Of Starvation As Sermon Goes 15 Minutes Over Time‘ is brilliant satire, as are almost all of their other articles; a much welcome relief to the tedium of seriousness we Protestants can so easily find ourselves caught up in.

My first thought upon reading it was to think that the people in this satirical church were dying of starvation precisely because too many sermons are woeful in their duration, content and depth;  and secondly, remembering two theological giants famous for, among many other things, their preaching.

The first, John Stott, metaphorically places the nail underneath the hammer:

John_stott“Basically, it is not the length of a sermon which makes the congregation impatient for it to stop, but the tedium of a sermon in which even the preacher himself appears to be taking very little interest.”

And secondly, in the context of a favourite of mine, the theological giant that is P. T. Forsyth, I remembered his particularly penetrating and thoroughly uncompromising assessment of the situation, as the metaphorical hammer comes down and hits the nail on the head with astonishing accuracy:

blueforsyth-5“With its preaching Christianity stands or falls… The demand for short sermons on the part of Christian people is one of the most fatal influences to destroy preaching in the true sense of the word… Brevity may be the soul of wit, but the preacher is not a wit.  And those who say they want little sermons because they are happy to worship God and not hear man, have not grasped the rudiments of the first idea of Christian worship…. A Christianity of short sermons is a Christianity of short fibre.”

The problem is that we think we’ve cornered the market on short-attention spans, so trapped in a lifestyle that we’ve chosen of instant news feeds, permanent social media harassment, portable offices that beep, flash and ping every few seconds – we call these things “mobile phones”, we must be so important in the cosmic scheme of things, that we choose not to think deeply about a lot of things, we demand to be entertained; and when we are called to think, we think thinking is time-wasting and unproductive!  I mean, doesn’t that pillock-in-the-pulpit know how distracted I am?

pt5bn7qtbIs the preacher the equivalent to the Medieval Court Jester?  Singing the sermon-songs that seek attention and promise entertaining aka Robbie Williams?  Who wouldn’t prefer Raunchy Robbie to Preachy Richy?  What chance do I have?  Let me entertain you; must I entertain you?  Do you need entertaining?  Why do you need entertaining?  Why me?  Why you?  Why here?  Why now?  Why?

Manure!  These guys, Forsyth and Stott and gazzillions of other unnamed faithful, preached at length twice on Sundays, with many people being present at both, as well as mid-week meetings that actually included exegetical study and exposition of the biblical text (admittedly the TV wasn’t so good back then), but still!

Now, may I get a little theological here?  If Stott’s comment is the reason for Forsyth’s comment (even though Stott was a generation after Forsyth – stay with me), then my goodness, preach a short sermon and get it over with – put us all out of our bored and hunger fuelled misery.  Forsyth also said that a bad short sermon is also a sermon that is too long.

Just preach well preachers.

Just eat well before church if you can.  Even our belly-god knows when our spirit is being fed and our hearts warmed by the food that is Christ proclaimed.  For we do not live on bread alone…..

RIP PTF

PeterTForsythRIP P. T. Forsyth
“At the end of the [First World) War [Forsyth] was over seventy; yet he was so completely active in mind that no question of his retiring had arisen. But soon afterwards, in addition to his lifelong physical weakness, an insideous wasting disease manifested itself. He struggled gallantly against a gradual dulling of his powers and faculties, and would not give in until the end of 1920. For nearly a year he was a complete invalid, fighting a losing battle. His strong heart kept him alive, though in utter weakness and weariness. At last he drifted away unconsciously at dawn on the fourth Armistice Day – November 11th, 1921.”

A Memoir by Jessie Forsyth Andrews (daughter)

Blessed are….

With thanks to the excellent team at Holy Ground, Exeter for showing this video recently, and Fr. Simon Rundell SCP for providing it, and of course Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber for writing it in her book ‘Accidental Saints’.  This has the aroma of Jesus all over it.