Wednesday 27 September 2023

The pain is a long story

Take pain in its stride

I am beginning to think my tolerance of pain is unhealthy as I endure agony with a sense of normalcy that should be anything but. At this point, this condition can only be considered congenital, I have had it for as long as I can remember.

It is not chronic as to be an everyday thing, it comes as an affliction that could last more than a day for which there is little remedy I know of apart from copious amounts of sweet milky tea and a good bed rest.

From about 3:00 AM this morning, I have suffered waves of stomach/abdominal pain, sometimes it is quite severe, I groan with a scrunched-up face, grabbing hold of my belly or just folding my arms tightly over my midriff, to ease the discomfort.

Probably get this looked into

It usually subsides after a while and it could be accompanied by a diarrhoeal situation or not, but today, nothing of the sort accompanied it apart from an early afternoon feeling that I was about to develop a fever and must have been anxiety than reality.

Lying on my back did bring some comfort and then another wave of pain sweeps through almost like I am in an endurance activity. Eventually, I took some paracetamol with codeine in the hope that the waves of pain might be reduced in intensity.

As I wrote about this 16 years ago and every few years this thing returns like with a vengeance, maybe it is just time for have a battery of tests to properly understand why this thing rears its ugly head so inconveniently to my utter discomfort and discomfiture, that I had to cancel meetings than present myself to the scrutiny and concern of others who might think it is a lot more serious than it seems.

Blog - I remember this tummy ache (October 2007)

Blog - Knowing pain is personal (August 2021)

Saturday 16 September 2023

Thought Picnic: Drawing strength over the memories

Bringing strength to bear

Sometimes, I start at my keyboard about to write a blog and I end up writing something different. When writing, I have the impression the intended blog would be woven into what I am writing and then it becomes clear that I need to separate issues, the connection is in my head rather than in what I am writing.

My eyes have been welling for the past hour at the keenness of memories I should long have forgotten but have a recurrence with the vividity of clarity and import, there is much that is in churn that I need the spiritual to address the emotional, the mental, and the physical. The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear? Proverbs 18:14 (KJV)

The haunting of the mind

What was silent in the father speaks in the son; and I often found in the son the unveiled secret of the father.” Nietzsche

This saying that I heard on Criminal Minds brings to the fore the subject of memory, the things from childhood and adolescence that anyone else involved might well have forgotten and I would have been expected not to remember. Not only the father, but also the mother, or maybe more the relationship between parent and child. The past comes in a ghoulish likeness to inflict and torment, you steady yourself with some resolve, even as others might have reached for a stiff drink.

Yet, we live with our memories, even the ones we want to get rid of and forget totally. Along with some comes the smell of the atmosphere that represents the recall, the hurt, the way you felt, there is a hurling up, the burdens we bear of the narratives that become our stories in the saying appearing at the end.

There is no refuge from memory and remorse in this world. The spirits of our foolish deeds haunt us, with or without repentance.” Gilbert Parker

From left to right in the north and south

Gerstmann syndrome occasionally

As I sit here, I remember from this afternoon the flu jab that I was reminded to come for from my GP surgery when I somewhat forgot I had booked a 9:36 AM appointment. I guess everyone had gone through and they had until 1:20 PM to do a sweep, the text message to my phone came in at 11:35 AM, polite and entreating, I got dressed, donned a facemask, and made my way to the surgery.

After the basic formalities, I was ushered into a treatment room where after a few questions, I was asked whether I was left or right-handed, though I am right-handed, I sometimes have a confusion of my left from my right. However, today I consciously offered my left arm, a good bit of muscle to impale with a hypodermic needle and with a little twitch in reaction, the dose was delivered and I was ready to leave.

Between the north and south

I had a question about travelling to the southern hemisphere in their wintertime considering I got a bit under the weather last year. Do I need a flu jab for the winter? I asked. There are differences in flu strains between the northern and the southern hemisphere, so, it is unlikely that getting a flu jab here can help, though in the main, it should offer some level of protection.

However, I should expect some discomfort in my arm which could last up to two days, though, now that I think of it, I was not given a leaflet for the jab I was given which I did get on receiving the vaccine the previous years. It will soon appear on the NHS app, and I can research it. I probably should take some Paracetamol with Caffeine; I might even have Paracetamol with Codeine stashed away too. Yeah! I ran the gamut of an intensive interrogation to get that when I asked for Codeine when I intended Caffeine.

NB: Gerstmann syndrome which includes left-right disorientation.

Opinion: Public safety is paramount regardless of your cuddly dog

Dogging my freedom to walk

I used to enjoy waking up early before the madding crowd got up to do my walking exercise, during which time I had two hours to myself, did about 15,000 steps and went through two public parks in Salford with the occasional encounter with people I had made an acquaintance with over time.

I stopped just over a year ago for one simple reason, the fear of dogs. Dogs that are momentarily out of control or out of earshot of their owners suddenly run at me because they are not on a leash and for whatever animal instinct they have, decide to attack me.

I had had so many encounters that I even bought an ultrasonic dog repellent device with the hope that the unpleasantness would cause the dog to run from me, but there was no guarantee it would work when you needed it to.

The law on dogs in public

Against this backdrop was the inconsiderate dog owner who would first be oblivious to the law and then project a sense of entitled freedom for their dog. The law requires that dogs in public places such as parks and footpaths should always be on a leash. It is also the responsibility of the dog owner to ensure that the public does not feel threatened by their dog. [GOV.UK: Controlling your dog in public] [BlueCross: Dog laws UK]

One morning as I was walking through the park, the dog walking with its owner bolted towards me and jumped on my leg up to my thigh, if I did not have track bottoms on, I would have had scratches on my leg. The encounter was terrifying for the simple reason, I did not know the dog. The owner however thought I had overreacted to her gentle cuddly puppy just being friendly to strangers, I did not get as much as an apology.

A few other times, I encountered the same dog and as it ran at me, I shouted to the owner to call their dog to order. I began to change the times when I walked through the park, bought the dog repellent device, and eventually concluded, that it was just too much hassle for me, the relaxation I was getting from walking was becoming a stressful and foreboding experience that every dog I saw now looked like a threat to my safety.

Your loving dog, is a public threat

Much as I appreciate the dog owner’s perspective, it selfishly does not consider that the familiarity the dog has with its owner is not automatically transferred to strangers. To turn it around, it is like a stranger jumping out of the bush to pounce on someone unawares, you do not welcome that violation and fright by patting the stranger on the head and giving them a kiss, even if that stranger comes from a family and environment where they are loved, respected, and cherished. A stranger is a stranger whenever you get familiar with the person.

The same would apply to dogs, no assumption should be made of a dog being friendly to strangers in public when they are loving and cuddly at home. That is where the debate should be. For as long as the dogs are in their homes, the public is safe, but when the dogs are brought into a public space, they should be under control and instruction, they should not be menacing, and people should generally not feel terrified of your dog.

Human rights trump animal rights

My freedom to roam and walk at the time of my choosing was trammelled because of an irresponsible dog owner with a sweet dog that was recklessly out-of-control in a public park. Sadly, this is the case in the current issue about the attacks by the American XL Bully dogs reported in the news with many injured needing hospital care and one fatality, in the space of one week.

The counter-advocacy is against the banning of dogs, but if a dog can weigh as much as an average-sized being and is not strictly under control in public places, unfortunate dog attacks can be lethal and life-changing, what is the mitigation for the dog or the dog owner?

In my case, it was not any of the dogs on the banned list, it did not make the dog any less an animal as opposed to a person I could attempt to reason with, in a confrontation. A dog will always remain an animal whether tamed or wild, and much as I subscribe to animal rights and the treatment of animals with care and consideration, they cannot in the face of the law be equal to human beings in terms of the freedom to express themselves as animals with all the instincts that entails.

Public safety remains preeminent

The core responsibility is with the owner to have good control of their dog; however, the essential point is the public should not be fearful of either the dog being out of control or irresponsible dog owners not understanding the situation of their dog being a possible menacing threat in the public. Public safety is paramount, regardless of what relationship you have with your dog in your home setting.

For that reason, I am in support of banning the American XL Bully breed and any associated breeds that could represent a threat to public safety. In addition to that, any dog owner must know the law about dogs in public spaces, they do not have the same and equal rights as persons and examples of the law must be made of dog owners who have taken the right to walk roughshod on the law that requires, they are responsible owners of animals, including dogs. [Petitions: Make XL Bully a banned dog breed in the Dangerous Dogs Act]

Blog - Rottweilers are NOT pets (December 2007)

Blog - A note on "Rottweilers are NOT pets" (May 2010)

Monday 11 September 2023

Of things that never should have happened

Relaxing by television

How do I relax when watching television at home? Everything done by Agatha Christie, I would probably watch, Miss Marple with Joan Hickson and then Geraldine McEwen in the title role being my favourites, then any other Hercule Poirot apart from Peter Suchet is pretending, even Sir Peter Ustinov’s turn did not interest me as much.

Murder, She Wrote, I have a date with Jessica Fletcher every Saturday, and I do not care how many times I have watched repeats, the same goes for Columbo on Sundays. Recently, I have taken an interest in Criminal Minds, then the easy gentile setup of Saint Marie, the location of Death in Paradise does not come with investigative overload, I could be watching a cartoon.

However, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU) is one television series that has me walking in both the shoes of the victim and urging the fully indicted course of justice, with all that it entails. I can identify with the victim and many times with their frame of reference, especially in cases of child sexual abuse and the difficult quest for anything that looks like justice.

Identifying with the victim

Then, I am invested in the process to ensure that abuse is fully punished to the extent of the law, the cases are rarely iron clad slam dunk, there is much mining of the recesses of memory along with the issues around the depravity that caused the crime being investigated.

However, earlier tonight, I watched an episode of Law & Order: SVU, the detail of which is references, but a snippet of a conversation at the closing of the episode was the type of playscript that anyone who has been a victim of abuse can relate to.

Detective Katriona 'Kat' Tamin: None of us protected her.

Captain Olivia Benson: I hear you. Why don't you punch out, okay? Take a few days off.

Detective Katriona 'Kat' Tamin: Please don't patronize me. This never should have happened to her.

Captain Olivia Benson: You're right. It never should've. [Read more at: - Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (TV Series) Season 22, Episode 5 Turn Me on Take Me Private (2021)]

The conversation above can refer to too many instances of where protection, dismissal, advocacy, and exasperation. The bottom line is, “This never should have happened.”

Never should have happened

Looking back, there are too many things that never should have happened, things that could, should, or would have been prevented as part of what pertains to being protected, especially where the victim has no agency because of the situation and the circumstances, the vulnerable from child to adult alike.

Furthermore, where an act has been perpetrated, you wonder if there are any avenues to seek a hearing and consequently some redress. Sometimes, the situation is such that there is no way to share the incident, and it becomes internalised.

Yet, the worst part is when too little is done to deal with the issue out of the fear of shame or embarrassment, a moral failing that seeks to conceal rather than do what it right and just with the hope that the passage of time will make it pale into insignificance. It seems to, but it never does, it is usually consequential.

The insidious folding of arms and need to let bygones be bygones, otherwise, just take some time off and you’ll feel a lot better, do not rock the boat, other passengers might get seasick, so, take one for the team, the team that cannot begin to understand what you went through. That team is family, relations, your community, or colleagues. To make a fuss is to break ranks and upset the apple cart.

Do not let it happen

There are many directions to go in terms of making people responsible and accountable for their abuses, but that is further down the line. The better cause should be aware enough and ready with the courage to ensure that what never should have happened, never should have happened in the first place.

Obviously, justice in terms of apology, restitution, recompense, indictment leading to conviction and commensurate punishment can help, but why should a narrative include suffering for a better story even if one who has never suffered may find their own story not as engaging or interesting.

Saturday 9 September 2023

Thought Picnic: The convenience of what we choose to remember

Games of the memory

It is easy for others to forget or misremember things when things are remembered, they could also be remembered differently from how events occurred, where things happened, and who was involved.

Too frequently, we are blindsided by the misremembered or forgotten, though whether that is deliberate or inadvertent, one cannot say in the purity of innocence or the sleight of chicanery.

With one’s parents this can be interesting, the charges you want to lay against them, they would rather have forgotten or swear never happened, whilst the accusation they level against you they expect to be a perfect recall of memory, unfailing and playing back like film. Maybe, this is where one learns forgiveness because it feels like taking poison oneself and expecting the other person to be affected.

Feelings of the memory

The wrongly accepted canard is that the child by the passage of time and the influence of life soon forgets totally and never recalls, if ever. That is rarely the case, things are left in the recesses of memory and certain triggers lift them out of the archives of the mind to present new realisation and probably in new contexts too.

Many of these things might not appear in my blogs but have come up in conversation with others, much at the risk of cynicism that subterfuge is at play. What I do is note them down for the broader narrative of the story that the spectrum of the best to the worst is usually represented in relationships.

That way we have been wronged by those we love as much as we have been loved by those we wronged. Each has their own perspective, and no one owes the other a convincing story; most of the time, it is the words of Maya Angelou that ring true, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It works both ways, especially in the words of our kindred.

Friday 8 September 2023

The many stations of help

I cannot help you

This had me confused as to what the role of a peer mentor was, which I thought was one of experience brought to bear by example and narrative other than prescription or instruction concerning the issues of life.

Whilst many might have a particular goal or aim for seeking out a mentor, in general, it would seem the better outcome is in shadowing and understudying with ample opportunity for engagement, discussion, explanation, or insight as to why things were better viewed differently.

Without stating it, the feedback was he got on well as an individual with the vicissitudes of life, so why was I self-indulgent and not pulling my weight? I think I have heard and felt that ‘helpful’ criticism before. Much I felt there was something that could be offered, I was ready to walk away when the option of another meeting was offered.

I acquiesced, but the said meeting was postponed by him and we agreed to a rescheduling, just as I had the unction coming out of the shower that I saw no mileage in our interactions. I am of the inkling; that it is for the best.

I think we can help

It was not easy to get to this point. After so articulately sharing some very intimate elements of myself it might seem I was on the one hand relatively well-adjusted and on the other hand seeking professional trauma intervention.

Things I had never given voice to with coherence I never preplanned and the utterance I never predetermined; came out of my mouth to make the case I could not have imagined.

I could only conclude that flesh and blood had not revealed this nor inspired me, I had every help from the Spirit to break through the hurdles that were put before me.

I am in the queue, and there is a prospect of finding the form of words that would flesh out the story I believe needs to be told for the possible purpose of benefiting others.

I want to help you

For the third time in the same week upon a referral from my consultant, I was back on the 20-minute walk to this support organisation. This time on the issues pertaining to means and resources.

Once again, concerns, situations, and circumstances were shared for analysis and played before me with the plight of the Israelites in Egypt, under the cosh of slavery and the duress of producing better bricks but with not enough straw. Not enough of it to meet the range of things that you never thought about once before.

I am walking into a place of more than enough, that is in my heart and in my mouth. It is however necessary to understand for context where you are leaving for a new place, so the significance of the journey can be fully appreciated.

Let me have this other information, he said, and I will get this other stuff for you.

Help for you

It takes quite a change in perspective to get to where you realise you need help, then comes where you go to get that help, after which you have to work through how to ask for help. Your request is then assessed to determine if you are eligible for the help, and to what extent the help can be given depending on the availability of help and helpers.

There is only so much people can do because their abilities and resources are finite, limited, and scarce. The most incredible help in any situation can only come from above, for that is where you get the strength to go through the storms of life and find the imagination to dream the impossible and bring that into your present reality.

Reluctance, tentativeness, and willingness become experiences of the responses we get and we should not be discouraged if we encounter more of the former before we get to some of the latter.

Of that, I have many testimonies and for that, I am grateful that I will yet give even better testimonies of goodness, blessings, faithfulness, and joy.

Blog - He shall preserve my soul, even forevermore

Wednesday 6 September 2023

Answering a challenge for eligibility

Looking at your vulnerable side

Having a sit down to talk and have a conversation with people for professional services is quite an interesting thing, especially where an assessment is being made of whether the professional or assessor can help you. The day before, I had met with a prospective buddy/mentor, we decided to meet again when it seemed there was no point of agreement or meeting of minds.

It was in a conversation with my consultant some weeks ago that we agreed that on her referral, I could avail myself of counselling rather than request it on my own pre-empting.

I think I have convinced myself that I am quite articulate, I have a disciplined or call it measured way of talking about myself that exudes qualities of clarity of mind, understanding of issues, elaboration of detail, and building relatable narratives.

Making sense of the complexities

Interestingly, for the first time, I linked together a whole range of life events walking backwards from situation to Genesis, a framework that had developed in the many blogs I had written but never laid out in a string of unintended and yet natural chain of occurrences.

The questions I was asked were supposed to elicit concepts and ideas upon which a decision could be made to put me in line for engagement, but it got to the point where it was first opined that I might not need the service and hence, I needed to assert by whatever means why I felt they could be of help.

An analogy for counsel provision

I had never thought of it before, it was like I was given utterance to address the challenge as I spoke. I started with every journey has a road to a destination, the destination sometimes is what is required and nothing else. However, consider if on that journey, you were driving and then you had a diversion or probably you had a tyre puncture that meant you had to stop to change the tyre.

That interruption to your journey is worth considering in terms of delaying you getting to your destination, bringing some new experience into view, what you might have run over to cause the puncture, how to avoid such punctures, like navigating another route, being conscious of the related hazards, and how to have a better journey.

The focus has moved from the destination to the experience in the journey which is part of the tapestry of life itself. Surely, all that is significant. I think that analogy helped considerably, he nodded, acknowledged how useful the illustration was and I think he was a bit more convinced that there was scope for me to access services.

In what I thought would be just an hour of conversation, over 90 minutes went into the chat that I found myself running late for my welcoming stint at the cathedral. Meanwhile, there is a waiting list and maybe soon, I would be getting a call.

Tuesday 5 September 2023

The free speech debate as a freedom from consequence

We listen, be ready to hear

Attending a function yesterday that in a presentation relayed distribution and diversity, it was interesting to note how though there seemed to be a broad spectrum, the predominance of particular identity groups in the age and race category suggested there was still a lot of work to be done even if our cohort represented the most diverse in the sector.

At the end of the presentation, I seized on a passing point to ask questions and suggest an enhancement of service for the people we encounter to ensure they are catered for. There was a perspective that demand should drive production whereas I thought broad consideration should drive availability. A balance of sorts could be achieved.

Moving to lunch, this occasioned the opportunity to have a chat at our table of 4, two men, both retired and born within 20 miles of the venue, a lady and academic from the Far East, and I, straddling the Global South and where were we.

The freedom to be nasty?

One of the men intoned, “We do not have free speech as we used to the UK anymore?” To which the lady suggested, we have luxuries in terms of expression and effective action beyond protest, that they from her part of the world have not enjoyed for almost a decade.

The other man then said, “If I were to say something like…”, the like of which was suffused with stereotype, prejudice, or disparagement, he might be prosecuted. It left me wondering why free speech is usually defined in terms of needing to say something that does not engender neighbourliness, good relationships, and the better of people around you.

The point I made was that free speech does exist and the ones who make the most noise about the absence of free expression are those with the loudest voices and the largest platforms to project their views and suffer no consequences for whatever they say.

The fear of consequences

The issue is not so much the absence of free speech but one of people annoyed or frustrated that their nastiness will now not be ignored, and they might really be held responsible and accountable for whatever they have said.

It is unlikely that if anyone has given thought and expression to the good things of our humanity and fellow human beings to acknowledge and embrace the beauty in others, they would have incurred any opprobrium, I would think there would be much praise and support for their viewpoints from fair-minded people. Then again, all opinions can draw the support of the similar-minded.

The quest for a suitable soapbox

However, I can agree that the traditional Speakers’ Corner of which the one in Hyde Park is the most popular and probably the last surviving, has disappeared in many other marketplaces, street corners, and public squares around the country. [Wikipedia: Speakers’ Corner]

The open-air soapbox and public oratory open the speaker to a general agreement or heckling whilst allowing you to present your viewpoint without any fear of retribution. Yet, any freedom comes with responsibility and the opportunity for free expression should not become a licence of irresponsible public address towards anti-social behaviour or negative persuasion. Social media now offers a global platform for expression. The Speakers' Corner is now your social media status.

Then, the men felt comfortable expressing those views because they found some sort of safety borne of the conversations we were already having and they probably thought their opinions would hold sway without a counterpoint, I guess they did not expect us to be as articulate with ideas that would suggest they should have reflected a bit more on their audience before trying to give their myopia a broader range of view.

It might well be old dogs cannot be taught new tricks, their worldview is set in RAAC*, none of which will stand the test of time.

* Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), is in the news, it was a type of concrete used in many government buildings, especially schools from the 1950s to the 1990s, durable for about 30 years and presently presents the risk of failing and endangerment to life. [Local Government Association: Information on RAAC]

Coronavirus streets in Manchester - LXXI

It is still out there

I had not considered returning to this topic even though it is reasonable to think that the Coronavirus is still out there. I have not written on this title since January, and that is how we seem to have forgotten about it. Yet, on asking after someone in church after the service on Sunday, I learnt that he had tested positive for Covid-19.

Then, as I walk around my city, in the daytime and at night, the years 2020 and 2021 seem a blur, and one is left asking, what really happened? The whole world came to a standstill and all I could think of was how and when I could be with Brian again.

We did get time together despite the restrictions in December 2020 and then a year later into 2022, we made the best of it and then in July of that year. However, a new Covid-19 variant denoted BA.2.86 known as the Pirola variant is becoming a cause for concern.

We should all calm down

The doomsayers and alarmists are already magnifying their voices on various platforms to scare us, including the untenable Donald Trump who released a political video with more populist dread and no public health concern. I am not going to project his nonsense here.

The impression is that the Pirola variant is not causing more severe illness and the current vaccines are effective against it. The said vaccines are constantly being updated to tackle new variants. [CDC: Risk Assessment Summary for SARS CoV-2 Sublineage BA.2.86]

Why Pirola which in Galician connotes vulgarity was chosen as a designation escapes me as I am not aware that follows the known Greek alphabet. Maybe, it is the new Summer of Love.

Measure the risk factors

Obviously, this means one has to consider one’s risk profile and exposure. My encounter with strangers or crowds is mainly at church with strangers usually as a welcomer and with people I know at typical church services. The recently concluded Manchester Pride weekend and other events crowded out the city, but my only participation out of the 4 days of revelry was to watch the Pride march outside my door and then steward the Pride Eucharist at the cathedral.

Much as I avoid crowds and enclosed places, the use of hand sanitisers might be prudent just as the consideration of wearing a face mask again. Only two days ago, someone put out a bag of unused face masks and other bathroom goods, I took a handful of face masks and a sponge for myself.

Just be careful, not carefree

Looking at the statistics and the trends, the UK is at 6 for the number of deaths per country, and higher than any of our proximate European neighbours in the number of deaths per million in population. We can get the statistics to tell all sorts of stories depending on inclination or persuasion. [WorldOMeter: Coronavirus]

For those of us who have avoided any infection, vigilance and caution should guide us without acquiring fear or anxiety about doing what we need to do. I have kept up on recommended jabs, 6 at last count and the flu jab season is already upon us, as it is September. One thought I will refuse to entertain is to see the likes of 2020 in the future.

For the blessed assurance of wellness, safety, and security, Psalm 91:3 never fails to provide a guarantee, “For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.” [Bible Gateway: Psalm 91 (NLT)]

Monday 4 September 2023

The light and shadows in the pictures I narrate

The conclusion is obscure, for now

Sometimes, you start a blog with the intention of sharing or revealing something, yet, as what you are about to write is so visceral, even if elements of it have been shared on another social media platform.

The basic elements of the said blog have been written but I cannot find the mental energy to complete it at this time. It pertains to someone, the significance of today for that person, what certain encounters with that person in an apparent place of safety wrought on the psyche and innocence of another.

Whether that blog would be concluded for eventual publication, I cannot tell, but I know the full story would and must be told for registration and a cautionary tale about those we allow to have access to impressionable children.

It’s all in there somewhere

Then, I think about the fact, you cannot have written almost 4,000 blogs and not laid out the crumbs, however, there is no guarantee that the crumbs will lead anywhere safe, you can join the dots though sometimes the dots need to be numbered for the intended image to be revealed.

Blog - Thought Picnic: Preserving childhood sexual innocence (July 2009)

Blog - Childhood: Shocked into adolescence (August 2009)

Blog - Childhood: My aunts saw red (September 2009)

Blog - Childhood: Ghosts and ghouls of my past (September 2011)

Blog - Thought Picnic: The Barrier to Confiding in our Guardians (May 2013)

Blog - Thought Picnic: Before you call him a man? (July 2013)

Blog - The damage done when parents fail to listen (February 2015)

Blog - Reflecting on the brutal rape of my childhood innocence (August 2015)

Blog - Living around shadows of childhood violation (June 2021)

Sunday 3 September 2023

An Audacious Anglican

The common allegiance

I was reading an article yesterday about the Anglican Church, someone who had left her for the Catholic Church and now had the advantage of looking in from the outside.

There is an excerpt from the article that best describes the Anglican Church along with other issues that did not particularly concern me.

The good things I could see included the universal parish system; an educated clergy, significant numbers of whom were good theologians; the patrimony of cathedrals and churches; the Bible the Church had so beautifully translated for itself four centuries ago; the liturgy and formularies it had developed; the accompanying musical and choral traditions; and the fact that the dead so often lie in churchyards rather than cemeteries, making the ground, as Philip Larkin put it, a place “proper to grow wise in”.

I also liked the Establishment settlement, so long as that idea is not pushed too hard – the fact that every monarch is Supreme Governor of the Church of England, that Anglican bishops sit of right in the House of Lords, that the Armed Forces, though providing for most faiths, take their spiritual lead from Anglicanism, that most church schools are Anglican, and so on. [The Telegraph: The Church of England no longer seems to understand our common Anglican tradition]

The open church

From the excerpt above, two things jump out to make a significant point, the fact that every monarch is the supreme governor of the Church of England and the much-revered 1611 English translation of the Bible authorised by James IV of Scotland and I of England commonly known as the King James Version was done in the care of the Church of England.

Then, despite the doctrinal issues on women bishops and gay marriage which is more a matter of disagreement in the global Anglican Communion, the entity of England has a more collegiate and open forum for engagement where difference of opinion is accommodated and tolerated than brought to point of irreconcilable confrontation.

Blog: Expecting high drama on the Mount of Olives (June 2008)

Blog: Satan's hand in human stupidity as church splits (July 2008)

Blog: There Will Be No Epiphany (December 2019)

My observation of the Establishment settlement allows the church and its parish clergy to open the doors to all and welcome people of all faiths with a sense of serving the community regardless of what they believe. In civic and state ceremonies, whilst the leading liturgy is Anglican, all faiths are represented in presence and voice. It is a different construct in comparison to any other denomination with the requirements to participate.

A rich Christianity

As I have written before, returning to my Anglican faith has given me a great sense of belonging and bolstered of faith. However, I have been schooled in many aspects of Christian belief that ranges well into the charismatic, Evangelical and Pentecostal statements of faith, as the inerrant and revealed Word of God, the humanity and deity of Jesus Christ, the acceptance of the lordship of Jesus Christ for salvation, the infilling of the Holy Spirit with the manifestation of glossolalia, and the second return of the Christ.

This means, that rather than dispense with all the benefits that have accrued in my Christian walk, I have embraced them all and developed them earnestly to live a more fulfilled life.

Recently, I came upon the idea of attending my regular Anglican services at the Manchester Cathedral in the mornings and seeking out a Pentecostal church to attend in the evenings. I did a few evening services at the Christ Church Manchester in Fallowfield which is ensconced within a student conurbation south of Manchester, about 45 minutes’ walk from my place.

Revisiting the experience

However, given that I had once considered the possibility of making !Audacious Church my church over 9 years ago, I eventually found it a bit on the avant-garde as I reviewed it then after a few services I eased myself out of that fellowship.

Blog: !Audacious Church, Manchester (March 2014)

Blog: In a brotherhood we stand at !Audacious Church (April 2014)

Yet, we evolve and in the process, many things come up for reconsideration and reassessment, in terms of belief and comfortableness in devotion. It informed my decision to revisit !Audacious Church earlier this evening in the quest for a kindling and energy I would not find my regular church. This is not to say that I am not amazingly blessed where I am, but there could be some exhilaration from driving a different car to the same destination, a place of personal affirmation of faith.

It is likely that I would choose a range of churches in which to have the Pentecostal experience in the evenings whilst maintaining my relationship with my regular church. It is the same idea Brian and I hope to carry on in Cape Town where we normally attend St George’s Cathedral in the morning and might choose Hillsong Church for our Pentecostal experience.

Many of the faces fronting the mainly praise and worship service with shared communion at !Audacious Church has changed, but the rock concert atmosphere prevailed along with the energy and presence. The congregation was chiefly youth with some that did not make me look out of place. I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting as long as I did not exert myself beyond the age-appropriate exhibitions of vim and verve.

I guess I am in the daring circus act of riding two horses and at once.

Saturday 2 September 2023

In the cradle of hearing right

The cradle as the source

In a moment of self-reflection, listening to the encouragement, teaching, and exhortation of a message this morning, I found an interesting insight from the cradle case blog that I wrote yesterday that gave me a sense of where I should seek to draw strength and who I should be listening to.

Alright, the ear tip eventually arrived and one thing I had failed to do until now was to put the foam cover over the ear tip before attaching it to the earpiece. It is all properly done now, as the manufacturer intended and instructed.

Blog: Never despise the cradle

In life, we need to know where the source of our strength is, despite the lessons learnt from life and adversity, the examples from mentors and parents, and the support of my partner and my friends, all of which are invaluable along with the apparent stoicism one seems to have, the ultimate source of strength and sustenance for me is from God, by Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit that dwells in me.

Knowing how to do

Yet, it takes knowledge and awareness to know this in the first place, then wisdom and understanding to draw fully from that strength. The Bible is full of comfort and assurance of the help and succour from God, and we still find it difficult to avail ourselves of this unlimited resource that is already available.

We are like earpieces left separate from the cradle case with a built-in battery to keep us charged up. The cradle case of the embrace of God when placed right has the terminals of the earpiece snuggly fit to the connectors in the case to equip us through faith to triumph in all things.

Then again, I appreciate that the earpiece is also a listening device before it is a speaking device it has a microphone, it is hooked to the ear lobe with an ear tip that goes in the ear. So much so, that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

Hearing right for the fight

What and who you choose to hear easily informs what you begin to say to set your world in the order of what you have spoken into existence. The world around us becomes an ongoing conversation of hearing and speaking, creating order when we speak right and chaos when we are out of alignment, distant from the cradle case, and finding comfort in the distractions that offer ephemeral solutions.

It is for the same reason that though certain conversations seem useful, the content of the conversation in what one has heard has been quite less so. Where conversation loses elements of edification and exhortation, that conduit needs trammelling for you cannot afford for the wrong seeds to be sown in the grounds where a different kind of harvest is expected.

The tendency to criticise with the intention to be effectual comes easily to many who can speak into your life out of affiliation with much consequence on how it can affect you, to which some recent blogs have alluded to on not trying hard enough, not acting as expected, or in the questioning of one’s legitimacy. All these trickle-down influences in snatches of conversation have not been helpful at all.

Blog: Thought Picnic: Battling a dimension of legitimacy

Blog: Thought Picnic: Those who resort to bastardry should answer for their claims

Choosing my own cradle and earpiece

It discounts and disparages whatever you might have been doing to ameliorate things. It is unkindly even if the place from whence it came means well without realising how it does not engender the kind of communication anyone needs when apparently in the doldrums.

This all might seem esoteric, but what have learnt with respect to what I have written here is, that I need to reduce the noise, take the calm, assert the truth, and claim the prize that has already been won.

I return to the lessons and exhortations of old that relay the fundamentals and the first principles of how to tackle thorny issues and circumstances. From within are groanings that cannot be uttered yet laying foundations upon which desires, dreams, ideas, and visions begin to take on tangibility and reality. I am able because I am enabled.

Friday 1 September 2023

Never despise the cradle

The cradle nurse

Each day consists of learning little or rather consequential lessons, the little ones however are some you just note and make amends for without thinking too much about what that entailed.

In one case, recently, I learnt two things about my Bluetooth earpiece, the Plantronics PLV Voyager 5200, I have had it for about 5 years, and it is usually on the cradle case and fully charged. Then there was a week when I left the earpiece separate from the cradle case which has an in-built battery.

I found out that even though the earpiece was switched off, it had discharged, I placed it in the cradle case and put it in my pocket and just over an hour later, the earpiece had a 5-hour charge duration. Even I was surprised that all the while I had the earpiece, I had never observed this situation.

The cradle keep

Then, the other day, I took the headpiece for an outing but did not take the cradle case with me. After my conversation, I took off the earpiece and put it in my pocket without it being in the cradle case. When I got back home, the ear tip had come off, and when I put it back together, it was loose, I found out that the foam washer that held it in place had also come off, damaged by a cut to the washer ring.

I could have sworn I had spare ear tips, but I could not find them where I thought they were, no matter where I looked. I decided I needed to replace them, and they seemed to be quite inexpensive, so I ordered a new set of ear tips, a set of 3. I guess the lesson here is always to keep the earpiece in the cradle case when not in use and switched off and on it when set aside but switched on for usage.