Showing posts from November, 2016

What is hope?

What is hope?

If you are looking for a dictionary definition of hope, you won't find it here.

What you will find are ideas about hope that have helped me recently.
I chose this image from October 2016 of a Syrian refugee child in Istanbul, Turkey, to illustrate hope. I love the hopeful expression on her face. I wonder what this child hopes for? A child is for me a sign of hope, of new life-enhancing possibilities, even in the middle of desparate situations.

'Hope' is an important word and theme of the Advent season. This year hope feels especially needed when so much has happened in 2016 to increase a sense of despair in many people.

On the 1st Sunday of Advent this year I wrote about Entering Advent with Hope and about the truth that enables hope. Here are some further thoughts about hope.

What is hope?
Hope is the antidote to despair.

Hope is not a denial of reality.

Hope is not wishful thinking.

Hope transforms darkness to light
In her book 'Scarred by Struggle, Transformed …

Entering Advent with Hope

Advent is here.

It starts today, the 1st Sunday of Advent.

In the Northern hemisphere Advent always comes at a gloomy time of year, but for Christians this is the start of the Christian Year, a time for new beginnings as we hear again the Bible stories and prophecies about light coming into darkness, hope for those who wait in despair.

In spite of all that has happened so far in 2016 that may increase a sense of gloom, pessimism or fear, how can we enter Advent with hope?

In an age that some people are labelling 'post-truth' what is the truth that can bring hope where there seems little hope? 

What truth can bring hope against hope?

What truth brings hope for all people?

Daniel Berrigan (who died this year) gave an answer in his book Testimony: the Word made Flesh:

"It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss --

This is true: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish, but h…


Because it is Thanksgiving Day in the USA and although it's just another gloomy November Thursday here in the UK I've been thinking about thanksgiving in general.

There are times when it is hard to feel grateful, whether as a result of personal circumstances or unwelcome events around the world just now. There's certainly no shortage of the latter.

In her blog Over the Water in a 2012 post entitled 'Thankful Thursday/Fearful Friday' Rosalind Hughes asks
"is thankfulness a feeling, an action or an outcome?"She suggests that Thanksgiving Day (in the USA) is
"...about action rather than feelings. Will we act out of fear, that all may at any time be lost, or thankfulness that hope endures regardless? Will we share the relief and the contentment that some of us enjoyed today, or grasp it in case it is in short supply? Either is a rational response to a cathartic gratitude; but faith is not always about the most rational response. Sometimes, it is about hoping…

St Cecilia's Day

St Cecilia is known as the patron saint of musicians and it is her feast day today 22 November.

This painting of St Cecilia and an angel by Orazio Gentileschi (1563 - 1639) and Giovanni Lanfranco (1582 - 1647) really appeals to me. The young woman is concentrating so carefully on playing her organ. The angel is holding the manuscript but Cecilia is not looking at it. Her expression is sad and she seems to be hearing an inner voice to which she is responding.

St Cecilia is often portrayed accompanied by an angel. The reason for that lies in the mythical stories about her.

She is supposed to have been one of the Christians martyred under the Romans, possibly in Sicily or Rome in the 2nd or 3rd Centuries A.D.

The pious legends about her date from the 5th and 6th centuries. You can read one account here.

Since she is known as the patron saint of musicians I think one way to celebrate her day is to listen to part of Handel's Ode to St Cecilia and look at some more visual images as artists h…

Why I don't wear my poppy with pride

After seeing over the last few weeks many calls on social media to 'wear your poppy with pride' and noticing the extreme ideologies of some of those who promote this idea, I have to get this off my chest this 11 November: 

I don't wear my poppy 'with pride'.I won't wear my poppy 'with pride'.I hope I never will wear my poppy 'with pride'.
To be clear, I have no objection to wearing a remembrance poppy on on 11 November and Remembrance Sunday, or even for a few days before in this remembrance season. Every year I buy at least one poppy sold by the Royal British Legion in the good cause of supporting the armed forces community and their families. I don't object to wearing such poppies. And yes, when it is appropriate I do wear one.
What I object to is the idea often promoted by far-right nationalist organisations (such as Britain First ) that I should wear my poppy 'with pride'.

I don't believe I should wear my poppy 'with pride…