Saturday, January 20, 2007
I was checking out all my friends blogs today, and came across an interesting post in Richard Wright's blog. It made me think a bit about the concept of blogging. I love blogging. I love having a forum for writing down all that is going on in my head. Its very releasing, and it helps me work out exactly what my thoughts actually are. I also enjoy blogging because I am developing a real love for writing, and am very seriously considering whether I should try to write something more substantial than a blog one day. (But for now, I will stick to the blog - think I have a long way to go yet).
However, even blogging can make you vulnerable. "What will people think of me if I write this?", "Will anyone bother to read it?", "I am sure people must be getting fed up of my massive questions and the negativity that keeps appearing in my blog". "What if people can read between the lines and see what I am really thinking and feeling", (yes, that would be the worst thing in the world!). Does anyone else get this?
I love receiving comments about my blog too, and I think this is mainly because it shows that people must be reading it and it must have been in some way interesting for them if they were bothered enough to write a comment about it.
It bothers me that these things cross my mind. My blog was never started for that purpose, it was started simply so that I could sort out the thoughts in my own head. Now I seem to be using it as some sort of way of feeling like I have some kind of significance. This bothers me mainly because actually it doesn't really do that. Trying to find significance in a blog, or in attention from other people in general always leaves me so unsatisfied. the more I get, the more I need. I guess that's why I believe the Chrisitan principle that real significance only comes from finding your worth in God, which is something we should be striving for. Does that come from making an effort to not put your value in worldly things? Does it come from God? Is it a mixture based on your personal relationship with God?
Do you think it is even possible for us to really find our true significance in God and God alone whilst we are still here in this world surrounded by all the apparent security that brings, and by all the temptations to place your value in anything other than God?
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
"Consumerism is a term used to describe the effects of equating personal happiness with purchasing material possessions and consumption." - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumerism
This is apparently the definition of consumerism although I think I am speaking about it much more broadly than this. When I say consumerism I am talking about the attitude of seeing everything in terms of 'what I can get from it'. Or, 'what benefit is it to me'. In other words consumerism is focussing on 'getting stuff for self'. This is likely to be in order to achieve personal happiness, and as such is a very hedonistic attitude.
Now regardless of whether we can really call that consumerism or not, I am going to use the term in that way to illustrate my point. Richard was saying that we live in a consumer society, where people are driven by this desire for 'stuff', and actually, this attitude is filtering into the church. He mentioned this in the context of service – saying how there are relatively few in a church body who actually get involved in service, whilst many just sit back and take what they can from it.
The lack of people willing to serve is, I think, just one aspect of where the consumerism bug has hit churches. Another massive area is tithes – we will give ten percent, nothing more, and some don't even do that. I even think it has hit us in the respect of our worship. We have spent so long discussing what sort of songs we should sing, who should play them for us, and whether worship should be contemporary or traditional. I don't think these discussions are wrong in themselves, but my argument often ends up in, 'I need to feel comfortable in my worship.' Why? Worship is surely not meant to be about me or what I can get out of it or how comfortable I am. It is about God and only God. Worship is not for us.
Another thing – I bought a new car the other day, (very exciting), but quite obviously parted with a big sum of money in exchange. I always feel guilty using so much money on myself, but someone said to me, 'why not enjoy your wages'. Now I suppose this is true. Why not? I earned it. I just wonder, if there was something less selfish that needed that much money, would I have been so willing to part with it knowing I was not going to get anything out of it myself. In all honesty, probably not.
Most importantly, I am worried that our (and when I say our I guess I really mean my) faith has become just an addition to life rather than the everything of life. I am worried that faith has become about, 'what we can get out of it'.
I like going to church. I have lots of friends there and I love chatting with them. I like listening to the sermons because usually it makes me think, and I like exercising my brain in that way. I enjoy leading the book club and the small groups for much the same reasons. I love church mostly because I feel I belong, and it gives me a sense of security, and all this comes without too much personal cost. Ten percent of my wages and a cost in terms of time, and that is about all really. What if my faith suddenly required me to leave the comfortable security within the church building, and go somewhere and put my reputation, and my security on the line? Would I do it? I honestly don't know. I think I try to protect myself so much from hurt that I will only allow my faith to have a certain part of my life. Also, even when thinking about God, do we allow ourselves to only think about God's love and all the 'niceties' of God rather than needing to also have a fear of God. I know God is great, I am not saying He is not, but He is also a judge, and I wonder if sometimes we are much more ready to acknowledge all the 'nice' stuff than the judgement stuff because it makes it better and easier for us. Is this whole thing just about what I can get from it?
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Friday, January 05, 2007
So its 2007 and I am very happy about it. I love the freshness of it, like when you start a new notebook, or a new diary. I have loved the Christmas celebrations of course - I got loads of great stuff and had a lot of fun. Lee and Tracey were round for Christmas day and that always makes it more special. I totally enjoyed it so much - the family, the gifts, the discussions with my Grandad about whether or not the Salvation Army is a church (don't get me started), the laughter (and there was a lot of that!). But throughout it all, there was this underlying feeling of really looking forward to the new year. There is something about making a new start that is so refreshing. I have to wonder why. What is it about newness that is so revitalising?
I wonder if it has something to do with hope. With a new start comes hope. Hope for a good year, a better year? Hope that maybe for once the new year resolutions will be kept! But what is hope? I came up with my own definition: Hope is the thinking that something (usually good) is coming. There is something that we want to happen, and we allow ourselves to belive that it could. The web defines hope as: 'the general feeling that some desire will be fulfilled' or 'someone (or something) on which expectations are centered'
The thesaurus on my laptop suggests that the following words are all synonymous with hope: (verb) expect, trust, anticipate, wish, look forward to, (noun) expectation, optimism, anticipation, faith, desire, aspiration, dream, plan, chance, prospect, likelihood, possibility.
I disagree that hope is synonymous with faith, because the Bible tells us that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1) As far as I am aware, there is no suggestion of certainty within the definition of hope. The point of hope is that it isn't certain. I hope that the new year is good, but I don't know that it will be. I hope I will stick to my new years resolutions,(and believe me, I will try my hardest to make sure I do) but there is no guarantee that I will manage it.
I once heard or read that where there is no hope there is no joy. The problem is that if you refuse to hope you lose your joy, but if you hope and what you hoped for doesn't happen you get disappointed and embarrassed. Plus, I have to ask myself, if I am hoping in order to try to feel joy, am I not just using hope as a way of escaping the possibility of that hope not being fulfilled?
I guess my question (purely theoretical) is how much should we allow ourselves to hope, and therefore take on the possibility of disappointment, and how much should we accept things the way they are, however joyless that may be? Does that depend on what it is you hope for? If we choose to hope, should we also prepare for the possibility of thwarted hope?
I think that different people would respond to these questions in different ways. Some would always choose to hope for the best and focus on that hope. Others would choose to anticipate the worst in order to protect themselves from disappointment. I myself am the latter (shock!). Take for example exams; my housemates, and family and friends always got really fed up of me saying, 'that went really badly, I am not going to have done that well', and then ending up with a good mark.
Does anyone else do this, and if not, how do you handle the disappointment when you have hoped, but did not get the result you wanted?