Picture from above of medical equipment used by people with type 1 diabetes. Title text: "Offering and greed: the apocalypse of price gouging". Side text: Matthew on money: The cleansing of the temple. A satire. Matthew 21:12-13. Faith in Grey Places.

Offering and Greed: The Apocalypse of Price Gouging (a satire based on Matthew 21:12–13)

Today, I wanted to write about price gouging – a practice of exploitation through unnecessarily high prices. I noticed some similarities between the story of insulin (how it was discovered and how it is now priced in the US) and the story of Jesus cleansing the temple. 

The sketch is 1,000 words long, but it’s also light-hearted for a satire and has a refreshing declaration of Jesus’s ministry. 

Continue reading Offering and Greed: The Apocalypse of Price Gouging (a satire based on Matthew 21:12–13)
Black and white photo of a church where the ceiling has fallen in. The photo shows the broken pieces of the ceiling and the top of the high altar where a cross with INRI over the top is placed.

This is my tent: a poem for passion week

For lent 2022, I’m writing six duologues between Samuel and other people in the Bible, all on the theme of living with conflict. The duologues are taking longer than I’d hoped to write, so this week I offer a poem instead.

It’s no secret that on Good Friday, Jesus suffered a long and agonising death. I have long struggled with Christian imagery and literature on the passion of Christ. On the one hand it shouldn’t be sanitised, but on the other it’s almost too much to bear thinking about. I’ve also struggled with depictions of Jesus’ suffering that seem to revel in the pain; it makes me wonder whether the artists in question have any comprehension of what torture is like. 

And then of course, I come back to the fact that I barely know myself. 

Continue reading This is my tent: a poem for passion week
A single cross standing on a dark plain, silhouetted on a blue and purple sunset, with the words: Father, forgive (two poems inspired by Jesus's words on the cross) Faith in Grey Places

Father, forgive (two poems inspired by Jesus’s words on the cross)

Bible references for these poems: Luke 23:33–35.
Also: John 14:25–31, John 16:5–15.

Two short poems this week, both reflecting on a prayer Jesus made whilst he was on the cross on Good Friday: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” 

It’s recorded in Luke 23:33–35, though some manuscripts don’t include it. Curiously, the NET footnotes say that “even those who regard the verse as inauthentic literarily often consider it to be authentic historically.”

Continue reading Father, forgive (two poems inspired by Jesus’s words on the cross)
Close up picture of a rich woman in a large ornate room, sitting on a red and gold couch, wearing a tiara, looking out towards the light with a concerned look on her face. Has the text: His blood and his body, a poem reflecting on when Pilate washed his hands

His blood and his body (a poem reflecting on when Pilate washed his hands)

Bible and other references for this poem: Matthew 27:11–26, Mark 15:1–15, Luke 23:1–25, John 18:28–19:16.
Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’: Act One, Scene V; Act One, Scene VII; Act Two, Scene II; Act Five, Scene I.
Also: Matthew 23:27, Daniel 7:28.

Last week I wrote that I’ve written these poems starting from a blank slate, meaning the end result often surprises me. Again, this one surprised me.

Also, I hope you like Shakespeare.

I wanted to reflect on Pilate’s agency, especially how on Good Friday he tried to wash his hands in public and absolve himself from the guilt of Jesus’s death. The account is in Matthew 27:11-26, Mark 15:1-15, Luke 23:1-25 and John 18:28-19:16.

Continue reading His blood and his body (a poem reflecting on when Pilate washed his hands)
Sunset over the sea with small waves crashing close to the camera. Text over the top: The Longest Sabbath - A poem reflecting on Jesus's prayer: "Not my will but yours." Faith in Grey Places

The Longest Sabbath (a poem reflecting on Jesus’s prayer: “Not my will but yours”)

Bible and other references for this poem: Matthew 26:36–46, Mark 14:32–42. Luke 22:39–46.
Also: Genesis 22:15–19, John 1:1–3, John 11:42, John 17:1–5, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien.

I’ve written these poems starting from a blank slate, meaning the end result often surprises me. This one… this one really surprised me. In short, I started out wanting to write about Maundy Thursday, but ended up writing something peaceful set on Holy Saturday. I also cried a lot while I was writing it (but in a good way, I think?) 

I wanted to reflect on Jesus’s agency and will, when he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, the night before his crucifixion. He was so overwhelmed with sorrow, knowing what was about to happen, that he asked God (the Father) if it was possible for him not to suffer. But, having prayed this, also prayed that the Father’s will be done, not his own.

The account is in Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42 and Luke 22:39-46.

Continue reading The Longest Sabbath (a poem reflecting on Jesus’s prayer: “Not my will but yours”)
Profile picture of a young donkey with the text over the top: My neighbour's colt, a poem inspired by Jesus's entry into Jerusalem. Faith in Grey Places

My neighbour’s colt – a poem inspired by Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem

Bible and other references for this poem: Matthew 21:1–10, Mark 11:1–11, Luke 19:28–40, John 12:12–19.
Also: Zechariah 9:9–10, Isaiah 11:3, Exodus 20:15–16, Deuteronomy 6:5, ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind’ by John Whittier.

In this poem I wanted explore the idea of following orders in the context of Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, a week before his crucifixion.

When systemic injustice is uncovered, you often hear this point raised: can the rank and file be blamed for complying with unethical instructions from their commanding officers?

Continue reading My neighbour’s colt – a poem inspired by Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem

Neutral choice (a poem inspired by Mary of Bethany when she anointed Jesus with spikenard)

Bible references: Matthew 26:6–13, Mark 14:3–9, John 12:1–11.

For lent and Easter 2021, I’m writing a series of poems, each exploring the theme of agency through the lens of stories from Jesus’s passion. This first one is inspired by Mary of Bethany when she poured a pint of spikenard over Jesus’s head.

Actually, the gospel accounts vary. 

Continue reading Neutral choice (a poem inspired by Mary of Bethany when she anointed Jesus with spikenard)
“On this day, the priest will do this to make you pure and wash away your sins.” The LORD to Moses, Leviticus 16:30

Christmas 2020: Week 3, Day 6: Fragrance

I once took some spikenard to church. 

The oil had lost much of its pungency in the 10 years since I had bought it. And I only had a 5ml bottle. But it was still plenty strong enough. 

It was two weeks before Easter, Passion Sunday. And by “passion,” I mean “suffering” – because that’s what the word originally meant in Latin. That Sunday, and the two weeks that follow it, are when the church remembers Jesus’s suffering and his death on Good Friday. 

The Bible reading was about a woman called Mary (not Jesus’s mother). She had a pint – note: a pint – of spikenard and poured it over Jesus’s feet (John 12:1-8). People criticised her saying it was a waste of a year’s worth of wages. But Jesus defended her; he said she was preparing him for his burial. 

Continue reading Christmas 2020: Week 3, Day 6: Fragrance