No, I am not a Jedi …

Jedi

… I am a Christian and I am male which apparently places me in a relatively small minority in the UK but my Christian journey isn’t anything to write home about. I had no blinding, Damascan revelation like St Paul. Mine was more of an Emmaan journey where faith quietly developed within me and I had seemingly little to do with it. Indeed, I would be the first to admit that I am who I am through sheer coincidence of birth. If I had been born elsewhere I may have been a Muslim, a Buddhist or a Hindu: if I had not had the experiences in my life that I have had I may even have been an atheist or an agnostic … but I wasn’t and I have … so this is me and that also means that I am willing  to listen to those of other faiths or those of none!

I was born in the 1950’s and I attended a church school: I joined the church choir at the age of 8 (for no other reason than I was allowed time out of school to sing at funerals … how sad is that!) and I was bundled off to Sunday School by my parents on Sunday afternoons so that they could have a couple of hours peace and quiet (or so they said … I never did ask and I am an only child so make of that what you will) so there must have been a bit of Christian learning there, even if it was only by osmosis, but at best, at that time I would describe my faith as latent – I hadn’t put much effort in and I wasn’t really getting much out of it – but, for some reason (and excluding a couple of periods in the wilderness that I may tell you about one day), I kept in touch with the church.

I had stagnated! I wasn’t going anywhere! I was just one of those people who turned up each week to take a seat in a pew without particularly asking why! But then, in the 1980’s, I became personal friends with a young vicar and within 6 months he had asked me to become his churchwarden – obviously he knew something that I didn’t!

During our time together, and for the first time in my Christian story, we began to debate. When I started in these discussions I was shooting from the hip – expressing opinions with little real knowledge with which to formulate a case – so I went away to read and learn and to find out more simply so that I could defend my views. Needless-to-say, before long he left the area but my journey had been reinvigorated – the spark in my spiritual life had been rekindled and I had begun to grow – and so I moved on to the next chapter.

Our next vicar provided the space in which that growth could continue. I remained as a churchwarden for a total of 10 years but, during that time, I started to train as a Lay Reader  and this provided a focus and purpose for my studies. I have been a reader now for 17 years but my growth hasn’t stopped. I still question, I still have doubts, I still have theological hypotheses for which I am seeking evidence. I am not a creationist – as a scientist and engineer I have little time for the concept of Intelligent Design and delight in the Theory of Evolution. I am not a literalist – I believe that the scriptural texts need to be interpreted within the context in which they were written and I have come to the conclusion that it is okay to claim to be a Christian whilst still questioning faith and accepting others as they are.

Are there any more out there like me?

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In Memoriam …

The 6' Slide Rule

The Six Foot Slide Rule …

… well not really! When closed the overall length is probably no more than 8″ but the scale around the cylinder would be about 6′ long if it were to be unwound and that is what gave it it’s accuracy. Needless-to-say, I always wanted one but never had one … and thereby hangs a tale. But before that, let me digress.

When I was young and the testosterone kicked in, like many adolescent males, I thought that I was invincible and never shied away from taking risks. I still carry one or two of the scars from that time although nothing really serious happened to me and the scars are small. I didn’t take life really seriously until the birth of my own children …

When my first daughter was born I suddenly realised how precious life was and I became aware of the fragility of the thread by which we are all suspended … that essence, which is life itself, is so delicate and so easily lost. My own life was changed dramatically by this realisation and I grew up overnight but, hopefully, I never lost my sense of fun and adventure … I just did things more safely and my time working in the chemical industry reinforced this attitude.

However, yesterday I heard that one of my school pals had died: we had spent many happy hours together in our youth. Many will have lost friends at much earlier ages than this, and I feel for you but this is my first close friend to pass that way and I am saddened by that thought.

He lived at the top of our street and he was the same age as me: we were in the same class at school, and suddenly … I am very aware of my own mortality. Death is not something that I fear but I know that life cannot go on for ever and it is definitely for the living … SO LIVE IT!  Don’t wait for those regrets to kick in when you are 80 – “if only I had […] when I still had the energy/capability/passion” – life your life as though today may be your last … one day it just may be!

So, what can I say about my old mate David? When we went off to university we went our own ways but whilst we were at school he was a serious Beatles fan and he usually had their latest singles or albums before we had realised that they had been released. He once bought a slot racing car kit by mail from the States which, once built, had a scale speed of around 600 mph: it was okay on the straights but impossible to steer around bends so we used to drag race it and catch it in a cushion at the end of the track – we didn’t have a parachute and there was no other way to stop it! He rode a Honda 50 motorbike which he once fell off when it backfired whilst he was kick-starting it. We had some great times and I have some wonderful memories and did I mention … he was brilliant at physics and he had a 6′ slide rule …

God bless you David and goodnight.