For lent and Easter 2022, I’m writing six duologues between Samuel and other people in the Bible, all on the theme of living with conflict. The prophet Samuel, now deceased, converses with a series of guests in paradise, reflecting on their past experiences and what it was to live with conflict. All posts in the series are listed here.
In this, the fourth scene, he meets Peter’s wife, Abigail, inside a heavenly version of St Peter’s Basilica. They discuss the hazards of fame and the role of art in helping people approach God.
I thought this duologue would be with Paul. Last week I realised Peter was a better candidate. Then this week, I saw a chance to introduce another female voice by bringing Samuel to meet with Peter’s wife instead.
Continue reading Living with conflict: A duologue between Samuel and Peter’s wife
“I’ll give you countless amounts of outrightAlanis Morissette
Acceptance if you want it”
Alanis Morissette’s song ‘You Owe Me Nothing In Return’ articulates a lot of what unconditional love looks like.
It refrains again and again how the person she’s speaking to owes her nothing. It’s not that what she’s giving isn’t valuable or doesn’t come at a cost. But she gives without expectation of repayment, saying, ‘This is the only kind of love, as I understand it / That there really is.”
In an interview she explained the song was about wanting for other people what they wanted for themselves, but without sacrificing her own life and beliefs. She said supporting people in their choices, whilst being honest about her own choices – even if they were different – was the ultimate loving, healthy interaction.
Continue reading Christmas 2020: Week 3, Day 2: Judgement
Let’s talk about priesthood.
You may have noticed that the ‘Faith in Grey Places’ logo is a staff with leaves and flowers. It’s a reference to the staff of the first Israelite priest, Aaron, who was Moses’s brother. The story goes that when Aaron’s position was challenged, God made Aaron’s staff bud and produce almonds.
The role of the priest resonated with me when I first fully read the Old Testament. I was filled with a sense of awe for God and an aspiration for right living. And I couldn’t get over it.
My reaction was unusual. Many Christians are discomforted by the animal sacrifices and laws about ritual purity. The whole system seems built on exclusion, rather than inclusion. Plus, a number of priests in the Old Testament were thoroughly corrupt.
Don’t get me wrong, these concerns are valid. But, for whatever reason, they aren’t what I took from the text. Instead, I saw a God who deeply desired intimacy with his people, and mapped out paths to make that possible.
Continue reading Christmas 2020: Week 3, Day 1: Priesthood
Pollution is incredibly unjust.
It’s so indiscriminate, so harmful, and its effects can be so long-lasting. Its point of impact can be far removed from its cause. When you stop and think about it, it’s hard not get angry.
I don’t just mean environmental pollution. Harmful substances, ideas and actions can pollute our bodies, minds and communities. The biblical writers often spoke of wrong-doing as something that polluted the people and their land.
(They also believed some perfectly healthy life experiences were polluting, but I won’t go into that now.)
If you ask me, the unifying thing about all forms of pollution, is that it steals people’s futures.
Continue reading Christmas 2020: Week 2, Day 6: Temple