Seek Out Laughter as You Age

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cat-shaming-pics-will-have-you-rolling-in-laughter-1I don’t laugh as much as I used to. We laugh and smile much less as we get older, studies reveal.

One reason  (for me) is that spending a LOT of time with the very elderly, such as my mum, is not always conducive to joy. Perhaps that’s why people love kids – they laugh such a lot and make us laugh. (I find pets do this for me.)

With this in mind I have made a conscious decision to seek out things that make me laugh every day whether that’s films, YouTube clips, radio programmes, memories. It’s gotta be worth a shot!

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‘Bathing’ a New Home in Music

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Scandi wallpaperI moved into my new flat around 4 months ago.  it is quite hard to meet somewhere as big as this feel like one’s own but I have put up my pictures and move my own things in here, obviously.

However, I don’t feel it will be quite mine until I have a bathed the space in my music – in my case mainly rock/hip hop/soul music. Maybe that sounds strangely spiritual.  I know people do perform rituals when they moving to a new place.  I was encouraged by someone at church to pray for the flat to clear it of negative energy,  or dark stuff.  I did.

Letter to My Illness

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ax1h5dLast night of I wrote a letter to my illness.  It was full of expletives.

Among my sentiments were the words: “You are not here to teach me a lesson or humility.  You are not my friend.  You are a ridiculous ragbag of pathetic symptoms.  Go **** yourself, you miserable, mitochondria-disrupting loser.  You think you have won.  But the person I was before you stuck your poxy neb [nose] in is still within me.”

I continued: “Yes, that child who could run like the wind, the one who could dance all night, the girl who could run from the nightclub in the dark to her home in minutes, the one who called walk miles and miles, up mountains, across moors, around London.  How dare you disrupt all of that!  You robbed me of my life with of my husband, of children, of experiences, of opportunity, of peace.”

Sometimes I just don’t know what God is playing at!

(There was more but this gives you a flavour. I found the writing therapeutic.)

I then listened to the hate-filled but cathartic ‘Sorry’ by nu-Guns n Roses on my headphones and scribbled down some pertinent lyrics. The whole song suited my mood and situation but here are the first lines:

“You like to hurt me
You know that you do
You like to think
In some way
That it’s me
And not you”

 

 

Midsomer Murders and the ITV3 Generation

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eeb0e564c51ba8370576f5761e2081efI confess: I have a soft spot for ITV3, the ‘resting’ place of the elderly viewer. I love Endeavour, Foyle’s War, Inspector Morse and Lewis. Big fan of PD James’ and Ruth Rendell’s work in print and on screen. Not a fan of Midsomer Murders.

Living (temporarily) with an octogenarian makes me think a lot about the elderly. Not all old people fit into a stereotype, of course. Many are offbeat, fiery, questioning, and open-minded. But the Brexit vote has also made me think about other older people, especially the Daily Express reading contingent.  I am brought into contact daily with this filthy rag

Why is it that older people love detective dramas of the type I have listed? My thoughts:

  1. They are very British. English countryside, British actors. English towns and villages. English cars, mostly. Suits. Hats even!
  2. Easily identified characters. Idiosyncratic but not too weird, e.g., Morse.
  3. Old people seem to love characters who come in pairs (Lewis and Hathaway). The ‘buddy’ element.
  4. Often set in the past – or a present that doesn’t really exist (Midsomer Murders) caters to nostalgia factor plus sense that ‘things were better back then’.
  5. Crime dramas – very black and white in that there are good people and bad ones.
  6. Resolution. The bad guys are always caught, I think. Order is restored. All’s right with the world.

When age, infirmity and looming death/meeting one’s maker are on the cards, ironically, these murderous dramas offer a sense of safety and familiarity plus a chance to be indignant at the ‘goings-on’ (moral judgements) and behaviour of the ‘bad’ characters. It’s my belief that old people (some, not all, I must stress) do not like ambiguity and these reruns on ITV3 serve as a comforter.

 

The Prodigal Son in Modern Life by James Tissot

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tissot

This evening’s message (sermon) was on Praying for Prodigals, i.e., praying for those who have been Christians but abandoned a Christian life and who have gone AWOL. Quite a complex subject, especially for me as I don’t know any prodigals. I have either Christian friends or non-Christian friends, on account of coming to the church relatively late in life.

I’m sure my non-Christian friends would see this as an ethical matter, saying, we have free will and it’;s up to us what we do or believe whereas my Christian ones see it as a spiritual crisis that must be prayed for.

Not sure where I stand. I have non-Christian friends whose actions are Christ-like (they just don’t know it or know God) and I see some Christians who are judgemental and small-minded! But I also see some great Christians and some pretty awful non-Christians.

Only The Lonely

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Bright and Shiny (album)

Bright and Shiny (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I believe that loneliness is one of the biggest killers in the world (the developed world, that is. Am sure disease is a bigger killer world-wide). How come, then, that this Bank Holiday weekend (UK) Facebook is crammed with people gushing about their trips to Italy, their great nights out, their happy, happy lives? Shiny, happy people.

 

I don’t buy it. I find FB a useful tool but the way people use it to give validation to their lives, to convince everyone they know (either IRL or virtually) that they are having a great life seems empty and narcissistic. I know one friend who uses it a little like this but the truth is a little less rosy. Not saying she’s lying but the good stuff gets posted up on FB and the arguments, the bickering, etc, all left out.

 

I am sure I am guilty of this myself. It troubles me.

 

 

The Out of Control Disciple – Leonard Sweet

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FutureChurch_Think_Tank_Advance2010_31

FutureChurch_Think_Tank_Advance2010_31 (Photo credit: George Fox Evangelical Seminary)

This was read to us at church last night. It’s almost like a rap/hip hop/rapturous prayer/declaration/poem. Fabulous.

A Magna Carta of Trust by an Out-of-Control Disciple from Leonard Sweet’s Soul Cafe (March 1996 Vol. 2, No. 1)

I am part of the Church of the Out-of-Control. I once was a control junkie, but now am an Out-of-Control Disciple. I’ve given up my control to God. I trust and obey the Spirit. I’ve jumped off the fence, I’ve stepped over the line, I’ve pulled out all the stops, I’m holding nothing back. There’s no turning back, looking around, slowing down, backing away, letting up, or shutting up. It’s life Against the Odds, Outside the Box, Over the Wall, the game of life played Without Goal Lines other than “Thy Will Be Done…”

I’m done lapdogging for the topdogs, the wonderdogs, the overdogs, or even the underdogs. I’m done playing According to the Rules, whether it’s Robert’s Rules Of Order or Miss Manner’s Rules of Etiquette or Martha Stewart’s Rules of Living or Louis Farrakhan’s Rules of America’s Least Wanted or Merrill Lynch’s Money-minding/Bottom-lining/Ladder-climbing Rules of America’s Most Wanted.

I am not here to please the dominant culture or to serve any all-show/no-go bureaucracies. I live to please my Lord and Savior. My spiritual taste-buds have graduated from fizz and froth to Fire and Ice.
Sometimes I’m called to sharpen the cutting edge, and sometimes to blunt the cutting edge. Don’t give me that old-time religion. Don’t give me that new-time religion. Give me that all-time religion that’s as hard as rock and as soft as snow.
I’ve stopped trying to make life work, and started trying to make life sing. I’m finished with second-hand sensations, third-rate dreams, low-risk high-rise trades and goose-stepping, flag-waving crusades. I no longer live by and for anything but everything God-breathed. I can’t be bought by any personalities or perks, positions or prizes. I won’t give up, though I will give in… to openness of mind, humbleness of heart, and generosity of spirit. When short-handed and hard-pressed, I will never again hang in there. I will stand in there, I will run in there, I will pray in there, I will sacrifice in there, I will endure in there– in fact I will do everything in there but hang. My face is upward, my feet are forward, my eyes are focused, my way is cloudy, my knees are worn, my seat uncreased, my heart burdened, my spirit light, my road narrow, my mission wide.
I won’t be seduced by popularity, traduced by criticism, by hypocrisy, or trivialized by mediocrity. I am organized religion’s best friend, and worst nightmare. I won’t back down, slow down, shut down, or let down until I’m preached out, teached out, healed out or hauled out of God’s mission in the world entrusted to members of the Church of the Out-of-Control… to unbind the confined, whether they’re the downtrodden or the upscale, the overlooked or the underrepresented. My fundamental identity is as a disciple of Jesus–but even more, as a disciple of Jesus who lives in Christ, who doesn’t walk through history simply “in his steps,” but seeks to travel more deeply IN HIS SPIRIT.
Until he comes again or calls me home, you can find me filling not killing time so that one day he will pick me out in the lineup of the ages as one of his own. And then… it will be worth it all… to hear these words, the most precious words I can ever hear:
“Well done, thou good and faithful… Out-of-Control Disciple.”

Sisters in Christ are Doing it For Themselves

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The Pointer Sisters at the "green carpet&...

The Pointer Sisters at the “green carpet” for the Save the World Awards 2009 . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is the single ladies in the church who do most of the ‘heavy lifting’ emotionally. (Some of the married ones do too, but mainly the singles.)

This lets the guys off the hook.

What do I mean? Well, it is the single women who are just…. there for you! They are the ones who text you last thing at night to make sure you are okay when you are going through a tough time or feeling vulnerable etc. They are the ones who cook the pastor a meal when there’s a crisis. They are the ones who comment and offer support and prayers on the church’s (private) Facebook page.They are the amazing ones!

It may be that the blokes support each other in this way too. They bond through football and other man stuff and attend the Men’s Breakfast. And there are some fabulous men in the church. But do you know what I think? Just as in the wider world it’s the women that take on the emotional work in a family (and church is a kind of family). That ticks me off!

To paraphrase The Pointer Sisters: “Sisters in Christ are doing it for themselves!”

Utterly Puerile Verdict

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Austin - South River City: More Home Slice - N...

Austin – South River City: More Home Slice – Notorious B.I.G. (Photo credit: wallyg)

I have seen a turnaround in my music listening over recent months. I was giving Notorious B.I.G. a spin the other day (yeah, I know… at my age…) and I thought, ‘This is utterly puerile!’ I do like the laid-back sounds but the lyrics are nasty – but not even in an Eminem uber-Gothic way. Misogynistic.

I think one’s ‘walk’ does affect how you listen/see things – in a good, refreshed and renewed way.

Am not giving up my R Kelly though! Thing with Kelz is that his lyrics have a lot of humour  – and that gospel singing background and his religious upbringing make him a more complex artist. Plus the man is a modern day crooner, big time. I find listening to his music so relaxing. Reviews of his book Soulacoaster say R Kelz comes across as a bit of a jerk. But a jerk with humour is more acceptable to me!

See Mark Anthony Neal for more on R Kelly. 

Having lots of Delirious? moments this week.

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‘Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing, Baby

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I do worry that the only times I seem to be happy, socially, these days are when I am doing things with the Church or my Christian friends – and a few other non-Christian friends. 

Will I detach from other friends/acquaintances and be left high and dry? Am I a victim of the Be Thou My Hobby syndrome? Yet… another part of me thinks this is who I am becoming, that this is the real deal. I hope so.

My main concern about My Church (i.e, this particular church) is that many members are conservative in nature and Conservative politically whereas I am from a Left-Liberal background.

Spring Heeled Jack as depicted by an anonymous...

Spring Heeled Jack – Cover of an English penny dreadful (1904) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I made a comment, quite a long one, in Life Group the other night and I did feel that they hadn’t a clue what I was talking about. It related to modern day versions of the Penny Dreadfuls like Chat and Take a Break and how publishers use them to make the poor and disenfranchised feel like their situations are not so bad after all in comparison to the horror stories they read.

There are people who are more on my wavelength in the church. They are a more intellectual (not saying I am, but I was quite political at university and so are some of my old friends and my Ex). I live in a fashionable, liberal area of a small city about six miles from the church. The church itself is in a semi-rural area.

My home area gets on my nerves, TBH, but I kind of fit its profile. It’s the hot spot for Guardian readers, public sector workers, same sex couples, Greens and liberals,  and snooty-nosed bicycle riders from down South who have settled here. (Actually, it really does get on my nerves!) 

In the church, female friend BL, Pastor 3, male friend SB and a couple of women who go to the divorce group seem to be more…thinking. Male friend SB is definitely the one person I’ve met since my separation who I have most in common with. (We are just friends and likely to remain so). He is a bit ‘out there’.  He can’t be classified easily. I’ve made assumptions about how he might think in the past – then he surprises me. That’s a good thing!

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History Maker Grabs Me

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History Maker

History Maker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Delirious? have done it again. They’ve grabbed me with this 1996 corker, History Maker. I really should start living in this century, huh?!

“Is it true today that when people pray
Cloudless skies will break
Kings and queens will shake?
Yes it’s true and I believe it
I’m living for you

Is it true today that when people pray
We’ll see dead men rise
And the blind set free?
Yes it’s true and I believe it
I’m living for you

I’m gonna be a history maker in this land
I’m gonna be a speaker of truth to all mankind
I’m gonna stand, I’m gonna run
Into your arms, into your arms again
Into your arms, into your arms again

Well it’s true today that when people stand
With the fire of God, and the truth in hand
We’ll see miracles, we’ll see angels sing
We’ll see broken hearts making history
Yes it’s true and I believe it
We’re living for you

Written by Martin Smith ©1996 Curious? Music UK

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I Would Be… Frail

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Jars of Clay at Toronto, Canada.

Jars of Clay at Toronto, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A quote I found on the web about the song ‘Frail‘ by Jars of Clay from Much Afraid.

“I always considered this song to be one of the most perfect examples of audio melancholy I had ever heard. It never failed to move my mood to a contemplative hue. Now that I am no longer a christian and very opposed to that religion, I still find myself listening to Jars of Clay. I have ceased to listen many other Christian artists I used to like, such as Steven Curtis Chapman, Audio Adrenaline, etc  For me, Jars of Clay have always been the real deal. When all their peers have been making lackluster sounds with mediocre boring lyrics, Jars of Clay has always had a great sound with killer poetry infested lyrics.”

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“….I bought the company”

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Cover of "Much Afraid"

Cover of Much Afraid

“I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company”. Do you remember that catchphrase/advertising slogan from entrepreneur Victor Kiam?

I haven’t bought the company yet but I have bought another Jars of Clay CD. This one is Much Afraid from 1997. Yeah, I am pretty behind the times!!

I’ll let you know how I get on with it.

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Digging the Christian Music!

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Jars of Clay

Jars of Clay

Well, I never thought I would write that.
I’m still obsessed with Inside Outside by Delirious? but also bought the eponymous album by Jars of Clay from 1995 which is ACE! It’s a little ‘earnest, young man’ for me but it is so melodic. The track ‘Boy on a String’ is very strong but the highlight is ‘Flood‘ – anthemic, melodic. This is a great track to listen to when you feel wretched and want to pray but can’t: Jars of Clay sort of do it for you. Give it a listen on Spotify or elsewhere.

There is such a variety of Christian music out here. I am shocked! I had no idea. Quite a lot of rap and rock. Just been listening to Manafest on Spotify. Perhaps a bit young for me but I do like some of it.

What’s good about listening to contemporary Christian Music (CCM) for a novice like me?

  • helps focus your brain on the divine
  • makes you focus on the positives… not happy clappy but things other than ho’s and beeeatches, if you know what I mean
  • introduces you to artists you previously knew nothing about
  • helps if you want to pray but don’t know how to or what to say
  • cos it sounds good.

Of course, some of it is inexorable but that’s true of all genres.

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Cool Music – More Recommendations Come Pouring In

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From one of the pastors… “some good stuff I like”:

shai linne
dylan – saved | slow train coming
lecrae
sixpence none the richer
rich mullins (read more on the geezer)
julie miller (weird but cool)
the choir
david crowder band – a beautiful collision
charlie peacock
phil keaggy
bruce cockburn
keith green
larry norman
Lost Dogs – “Little Red Riding Hood”
Iona – Book of Kells + anything else”

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For the lips of a strange woman drop as a honeycomb

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Michael Jackson

Cover of Michael Jackson  

He’s been a controversial figure but Michael Jackson has a lot of Christian fans. I first discovered this via a huge feature in The Observer newspaper (UK quality broadsheet) back in 2004. I’m a huge fan myself as anyone who has read my posts on Secular Songs That Talk of God will know.  You have to develop a tough skin being a Jackson fan, esp when I discovered him in 2007. Everyone has an opinion. It’s not easy to rtell people you are a Christian – or at least heading that way – either. EVERYONE  has an opinion on that too!  I digress:

Here’s some Biblical referencing from Jackson in his song, ‘Dangerous‘.

For the lips of  a strange woman/Drop as a honeycomb/And her mouth was Smoother than oil. But her inner spirit and words Were as sharp as/two-edged sword…. But I loved it – ‘Cause it’s dangerous 

And here are the words from Proverbs, 5:3

For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:

But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.

The Dangerous song (Michael JacksonTeddy Riley and Bill Botrell, 1991) beautifully encompasses MJ‘s dual desires – to be good,  to be the godly person he was brought up to be, and to resist the temptation of a dangerous woman, and the urge to succumb to the pleasures of the flesh. He adds:
I have to pray to God cause I know how Lust can blind 
Jackson’s dilemma mirrors that of Marvin Gaye, a godly man who was very, very caught up in sex.  It was a struggle that affected Gaye all his adult life. I think MJ was tortured by his strict religious upbringing. He tried to pull away from it but it was always there.
The relationship between MJ and Lisa-Marie Presley too: I find that one fascinating. So-called ‘haters’will not take LMP’s words seriously, about how she did truly love him and about the reality of their sexual life together and also that after their split they were on again, off again for a further four years.  MJ did not help himself through his relationships with children, pets, women and his veneer of asexuality but accepting that MJ was attracted to grown women (even if he did not do anything about it until he was older) is too challenging for those who want to cast him as a freak, the reviled… but that’s taking me into the realm of my other, now static blog with its focus on the outsider, race and the gothic.
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I see you in the storm, I see you in a kiss

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Jesus Culture

Jesus Culture (Photo credit: AdamRozanas)

“I see you in the storm, I see you in a kiss,  I’ve been around the world and never found a love like this.”

I can’t stop listening to this Delirous? song ‘Inside Outside‘. I have not taken to any other their other songs so far, just this one. It definitely sounds like U2 but has a really sexy (yes, sexy!) driving beat, and a love-filled lyric sung in a caressing voice. The bass line is really mellow. 

I do like these songs that sound like they are about a girl/boy but also about the ‘beloved’, the divine. 

Not listened to much Christian music. What I have heard is very much on the soft rock spectrum, a bit sub-U2, rahter earnerst. The only other Christian song that I adore is “Your Love Never Fails” (Live) by Jesus Culture.

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I Too Have Erred

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Kenneth Williams

Kenneth Williams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I too have erred…” is one of my favourite lines from the classic 1960’s radio comedy Round the Horne. These words are uttered by Kenneth Williams in the role of a judge.

But seriously… I have erred. Constantly. Reading Max Lucado’s book brought me up short. I’m so full of faults, it is ridiculous! I try to be a good person but daily I’m plagued by being an idiot! Not listening properly, being irritable,  judging people, seeing folk’s faults rather than their good points, finding it hard to be told what to do (but then again, those “If I was you” comments would get to anyone!) – the list of my wrongs goes on and on!

I do need to cultivate better habits and better behaviour.

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The Vows of Silence

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I am currently reading The Vows of Silence by Susan Hill. Yes, the Susan Hill of The Woman in Black fame. What a story THAT is! Not sure about this later novel though. It is part of her Simon Serrailier detective series.

Hill is a Christian and most of her writings are imbued with her faith. The Vows of Silence has many Christian themes and references but the whole seems confused, broken up, sporadic. It is also dark and depressing encompassing not just murder but death in all its forms.

She does show different facets of how people engage with God and Christianity though –  in the likeable character of former nun Jane Fitzroy (is she the potential romantic interest for Serrailier?) and in the fanaticism of the character of teenager Tom Creedy. All in all, I would say this is a ‘confused’ book. I’ll see how I feel once I have finished it.

Cover of "The Vows of Silence"

Cover of The Vows of Silence

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Why I Like My Own Blog!

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Blog Machine

Blog Machine (Photo credit: digitalrob70)

I like this blog because it seems a little different from other blogs that are centred around religion. There are lots of writings out there that are deep, inspiring and so on – and mine is not one of of those! But it is chatty and unpretentious. I have always loved religious art, something introduced to me by my step-father, so incorporating religious paintings and other images here is a pleasure.

I am a flawed person – not evil but no angel, someone who has lived a non-Christian life yet not been a thoroughly bad person either, who is engaging with new people, new (to me) ideas and spiritually seeking. I am not having a midlife crisis and I don’t feel obsessed or otherwise unhealthily consumed by my quest. I’m not zealous but I am curious.

I hope these brief posts engage you too.

Thanks for dropping by.

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