Thursday, December 25, 2008

Eternal Life, Quality vs Quantity

Christmas. Jesus. Baby. Manger. Hay. Doting parents. Awestruck shepherds. Nonchalant livestock. It's surely the ultimate divine comedy that God answered Mary and Joseph's frantic prayers for a room in a B&B by providing a parking space for their donkey instead. So who was he, this holy infant so tender and mild? Why did he come? What did his words mean? How should his actions be interpreted?

Probably the most famously used abbreviation of this remarkable life is the one found in John 3:16, 'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life'. As it happens I've been thinking a lot lately about this eternal life. I'm far from convinced that it is at all synonymous with the much loved idea of 'going to heaven'. ‘Perishing’ has always struck me as being a greengrocer sort of image. We have a fancy silver bowl in our kitchen that frequently contains perishing fruits of various types. Leave them in there long enough and they'll all perish into various forms of fungus and fuzz. None of them have eternal life. You see the things of this world deteriorate. There is a peak of life, energy, vitality (that I passed many moons ago) and beyond this zenith life grows less and less. The words of Jesus quoted in John 3:16 seem to be suggesting that God desires to gift to us, through his son, a state of being with the fear of rot removed, a permanent peak, no morning after the night before.

Related to this, I find that all too often, at mention of the phrase ‘eternal life’, my mind races off into the future searching out to measure the length of that promised infinity. This of course produces nothing but an ‘error’ message in the brain, the concept of eternity is as troubling as it is promising. But what if I were to consider ‘eternal life’ in terms of quality- a fruit of spectacular taste and texture, rather than quantity - a fruit with no best-before date. Do you get me? I think I'm trying to say, what if the linear dimension of time were not my singular reference point, but rather I managed to gain a glimpse into a life being lived in and measured by fullness. And after all, wasn’t the language of fullness used very interchangeably with the language of eternity in the words of Jesus, and later of the Apostles too, most notably Paul?

Anyway, to draw this to a close, suffice to say, this Christmas I’m trying to remember that Jesus came to open the way for me first and foremost into a quality of life, with the quantity of that life finding relevance merely as a shadow finds relevance from a solid object. Is that a bit too philosophical for Christmas Day?

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hallelujah for Saturday night TV

Confession: I have been known to get a lump in my throat during the X-Factor. Okay, maybe once or twice I might have got a little moist in the corner of my eyes too. Yes, I know, street cred in tatters etc etc. Last night, as most of the nation knows, was the grand final of the 2008 series, and round at the Wilson household events were carefully planned around it. Would the night end in the indignity of a little Irish munchkin scooping the prize or would a contestant with a bit of genuine talent eventually triumph?
Well, as it happened the former scenario was thankfully evaded as Eoghan was ditched at the first hurdle leaving solo artist Alexandra and boy-band JLS to battle it out for the top spot. And then things got interesting. For some baffling reason (perhaps the same baffling reason behind last week's performance of 'Amazing Grace' by Italian quartet Il Divo?) the final head to head song turned out to be Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'. The classic Simon Cowell line, "Who on earth chose that song for you?" does spring to mind at this point. And yet it was a truly inspired song choice. Yes, this dark/light, folk/gospel, poem/ballad seemed to totally make sense, even on prime time Saturday night TV. The response of the studio audience and the judges to wave after wave of the song's 'Hallelujah' chorus belted out with passion and sincerity was probably the closest most people in this country are going to get to Christ this Christmas. Unless they go out and buy the single that is; because then they could have their very own dark/light, folk/gospel, poem/ballad worship time in the comfort of their own home. Which is actually quite exciting.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Be angry, be very angry...

I've been doing at bit of homework recently on the development of Hydrogen fuel cells thinking that I might invest a bit of money into a company involved in their development and production - let's face it, the age of oil is over. So I signed up to a few email circulars that promised to offer info about 'CleanTech' stocks. Soon after I got sent a link to a site and innocently clicked through to this:
"The 21st Century's Most Precious Natural Resource is turning out to be the investment opportunity of the decade!
It's history's most illustrious, least appreciated, most essential resource. Without it, manufacturing would cease and the world economy would die. And we're using it up at a frightening pace.
You can bet you'll be hearing a lot about this precious commodity in the coming months and years. In fact, it's already starting to attract attention:
* Already, there are armed conflicts over its control in Sri Lanka, Bolivia, and Yugoslavia... border skirmishes between the U.S. and Mexico... even terrorist threats to halt its supply in Asia and the Middle East.
And now it's about to become the biggest boom industry, one that could make early investors very wealthy! Bigger than railroads in the 1880s. Bigger than aerospace in the 1950s. Bigger than Big Pharma in the 1980s, tech in the 1990s, and petroleum in the 1920s and early 2000s.
Those who take control of this neglected resource will control the world's wealth. And the best news is... the boom is just starting. China is investing billions. Closer to home, the Carlyle Group and Morgan Stanley are committing up to $20 billion.
What is this mystery sector I've been talking about? An essential and irreplaceable product -- drinking water. Potable H2O is the oil of the 21st century, and one would be hard-pressed to find a more compelling investment story. The bottom line is there's a fixed supply of the stuff and demand for it is exploding around the world."

And so it goes on, you can check out the link for yourself here>>>

Now, bear in mind that I'm a James Bond junkie which means I've recently watched Quantum of Solace (and I hope you have too!) The premise of the story is that a company is beginning to monopolise the world's water resources by taking advantage of the fragility and corruption in developing world countries. Now we all know that where Bond goes, the world follows (no really - remember the Space Shuttle!) Anyway, it just beggars belief that in our world, in which 1 billion extremely poor people lack a basic clean water supply and almost 2 million a year die from diseases carried in dirty water, people would want to move in on this as a profiteering venture. Most reports agree that for around £15 billion EVERYONE ON THE PLANET can be given access to safe water. You can quite literally bet your bottom dollar that big corporate interest out there doesn't want that to happen because it would undermine their desire to make a fat profit.

My wife and I will be travelling to Haiti in January with a bunch of friends and amongst the projects we'll be visiting is a clean water facility we're helping to build for a community of thousands of desperate people. Can you imagine us standing there when it's opened and asking people to scrape together the few pennies they do have just so that they can have a taste? The thought is just obscene.

Like I say, be angry, be very angry, it's a greedy new world we're entering.
But don't just be angry, be generous, give some water today:
Water Aid

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

This Little Light

Friday night we held a huge gig at the Manchester Apollo. The place was packed out with teenagers from local high schools, it was a great night. One of the highlights was the 'world premier' playing of Lz7's new pop video. We're hoping to get a million downloads of this in the next few months so go on, give it a click.

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