on acts of kindness

I’ve been in a melancholic mood lately. Mostly boredom I figure, but also this particular thought that I have been shown such kindness in my life, and yet I have done very poorly in repaying it, both to my benefactors but also my neighbours.

Then it hit me – many of these acts of kindness are slipping from my memory. And there will be a day when I’m old and grey when I will have forgotten most of them. Or just grumpy, jaded and apathetic enough to not care. Continue reading “on acts of kindness”

on subliminal gospel preaching

So I’ve been reading W.B. Barcley’s The Secret of Contentment recently and thinking about Philippians 4:11-13.

It’s one of my favourite parts of the Bible to feel smug and sanctimonious about – you know how it is, verse 13 is one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible; people use it to give every one of their actions divine backing and therefore diving legitimacy, because they can do all things in Christ. But in fact all the ‘things’ of verse 13 are precisely the unglamorous things Paul had listed just a sentence ago: being in want, having almost nothing, being hungry. So every time I read that verse I like to smugly give myself a self-five. Nice one, you’re not like the muggles. Continue reading “on subliminal gospel preaching”

sacrifice pt 3: the freedom of Verginia

Old Father Tiber has one more story to tell.

After the heady days of struggle against the tyrants, Rome grew fat. Our people had loved truth and freedom, now we lusted for coin, power and prestige. And so the ten decemvirs took power in our city. They were once good men who loved justice, but the taste of power poisoned the lot of them. The best and worst of them was the decemvir Appius Claudius. Continue reading “sacrifice pt 3: the freedom of Verginia”

on Lieutenant Dan

I share a name with Lieutenant Dan, a character from the film Forrest Gump. My mother has always teased me that we share a few more things than that: a soldier’s spirit, a love of glory, and a dangerous stubbornness. Lieutenant Dan is a soldier from a long line of soldiers. It makes him do his job well, but as events in the film unfold, you see that it haunts and crushes him. Now I’ve always thought that one of the best qualities of Forrest Gump is the way you see something new each time you watch; when I was younger I never quite saw anything of myself in Lieutenant Dan; he was a tragic but comical man who ain’t got no legs, but in the end makes his peace with God and moves on.

But watching the film again recently, I was haunted too by something he said after confronting Forrest Gump about his new disability: “What am I gonna do now?” Continue reading “on Lieutenant Dan”

on the nazi occult and evil

I’ve always had a morbid interest in the Nazi occult. Something about the inherent evil of the regime coupled with the possibility that it tapped supernatural forces to further its goals. Add to that the kookiness of the whole thing, the weird personalities involved, the freaky science, the esoteric history and mysticism behind the runes and artifacts, and the terrible majesty of the Nazi war machine, and you have something darkly fascinating.

Now one idea related to the Nazi occult is the Fourth Reich – the possibility that some remnant of the Nazi regime survived 1945 and went into hiding, possibly in South America, Antarctica, the centre of the earth, on the Moon (the possibilities get sillier each time), and has been secretly plotting revenge. So of course this idea is rich fodder for all sorts of fiction. Now my interest led me to two particular comic book series: M Mignola’s Hellboy, and K Hirano’s Hellsing. Both involve some kind of Fourth Reich (in the former, an occult-obsessed fifth column guided by evil gods, and in the latter, genetically-engineered, vampiric panzergrenadiers), and oddly enough both shed some useful light on evil. Continue reading “on the nazi occult and evil”

on looking out in despair

You remember that scene in Return of the King where Denethor pines over the mortally-wounded Faramir? He thinks his biggest problem is that his son is dead and his line extinguished, but he walks to the edge of the cliff and sees that it’s much worse: the host of Mordor is at the gates and he’s had no idea. And so he despairs, telling his soldiers “Flee! Flee for your lives!” Continue reading “on looking out in despair”

on buying things

Money has to be one of the strangest human inventions ever. Back in the dim and distant past our ancestors operated on a barter economy, exchanging certain goods for others – I chop trees, you herd sheep, I want meat and cheese and you want to build a house, there we go – but over time money evolved. Continue reading “on buying things”

on idolising women

A dear friend of mine and I were recently talking about my singleness. I was telling him that I’m actually pretty scared that I’ll be single for the rest of my life.

Now God has been outrageously, scandalously generous to me all my life. And the takeaway from that, I tell myself, should be the knowledge that there is nothing good that God will withhold from me. The takeaway is not that God has given me all good things therefore he won’t withhold a wife, but the fact that no good thing has been withheld, and if singleness is my lot I won’t merely get by, I’ll thrive. Continue reading “on idolising women”

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