Category Archives: Some Thoughts About . . .

All Saints Day

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 12:1 NRSV)

I love All Saints Day and everything that it stands for. I am not very enthusiastic about venerating particular saints, but it’s good to remember that the Church has her heroes and heroines just like any other section of society.

What I enjoy about All Saints tide is that it reminds us that we are not simply ploughing this furrow all on our own. We are, as the writer of the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews declares, surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses.”

We will only hear of the name of a very small number of those who have gone before us and stood steadfast in their faith. Most will remain unknown to us.

But we know they are there, probably in their millions, like a cloud surrounding us. Now the thing about a cloud is that it’s hard to see the individual droplets of water, but put all those tiny droplets together and . . . !

The one danger in focussing the Saints is that we can end up looking wistfully backwards to some imaginary golden age. But the saints did not, and do not, do that.

The saints of old lived their lives in the rough and tumble, the danger even, of everyday life. They lived heavenly lives in the here and now, and their eyes were set firmly on the future.

The task of today’s saints (that’s just ordinary Christians, by the way) is to do the same. We are called to live our lives in the everyday world, looking to the future and with our hope firmly fixed on Christ our Saviour and Intercessor.

Halloween Terrors

Do you want a really scary Halloween?

Do you want to call up a storm that will thunder through your home and make you fearful of your safety?

Do you want the night air to be filled with heart-stopping shrieks, blood-curdling moans and wails that make your flesh creep?

Do you want every door to slam with such force that the windows rattle and the china falls off the mantelpiece?

Do you have the courage to face the consequences?

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Ok. Hide your teenager’s smartphone*.

(*offer is valid on other days of the year, too).

Halloween

We’re not that keen on Halloween,
We think its over-rated.
And ethically this “Trick or Treat”
can surely be debated.

“Just fun for Kids” we hear you say,
“A harmless old tradition.”
Well, maybe so but dabbling low
may harm the soul’s condition.

Have fun of course, let laughter reign;
and celebrate with friends;
but think on good, and life and love,
and not that which offends.

All Hallows Eve – All Saints Day prior –
A festival of light
in memory of a billion souls
who lived, unknown, for right.

Nigel Carter

Where May She Be Found?

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Where, then, is Wisdom to be found?

In the fashions of the day,
whereby the new replaces the old,
art and culture are created, at the cutting edge,
and former things discarded,
even mocked?
May she be found here?
Well, perhaps a little.

In traditions long-established,
form and formula well-devised,
respected, revered, honoured;
a place for everything
and everything in its place?
May she be found here?
Well, perhaps a little.

In learning and deep knowledge,
researched and well documented:
empirical; measure it, log it;
if you can’t see it, it’s not there;
rational, thought deconstructed?
May she be found there?
Well, perhaps a little: or maybe a little more often.

In lines of laughter and tear,
the smile of welcome and costly love in her eyes;
holding her grief with dignity to her breast;
forgiving with her lips, understanding with her heart:
looking beyond the here, the now, the me; hinting of the Divine.
There she may be found
by those who seek her blessing.

Nigel Carter

Today

Today I did it.
I hadn’t expected to do it.
I hadn’t planned to do it.
In fact, it seems like years since I last did it.
It was great.
It was wonderful.
Deliciously decadent.
Marvellously mischievous.
In sight of the neighbours.
To the rhythmic pounding of someone’s bass track.
I could really get to like it.
Should do it more often.
Because today, without any shame at all . . .

. . . I sat in the garden, in the glorious sunshine, and read the Sunday newspaper.

Nigel Carter

Words Matter

Words matter,
Words chatter,
Words flatter.

Words relate,
Words debate,
Words mediate.

Words communicate,
Words obfuscate,
Words encapsulate.

Words imitate,
Words deviate,
Words repudiate.

Words shape,
Words rape,
Words escape.

Words inspire,
Words lift higher,
Words set fire.

Words strive,
Words connive,
Words survive.

Words matter.

Nigel Carter

Movies and Violence

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Violence 3 (Photo credit: joeszilvagyi)

Does watching violent movies inspire violence in the real world?

The problem with this issue is that it is, like so many social issues, more complex than can be encompassed by a simple statement.

For example, those who argue that violence in films and on tv presents a direct causal link with violence on the streets and between communities must seek to explain what the causes of such violence were before the advent of film and TV, or they must somehow show that those times were less violent than our own.

And what to we mean by violence? “Tom and Jerry” is violent, “Star Wars” contains scenes of violence, as does “Lord of the Rings”, Harry Potter and “The Passion of the Christ.” Are these examples to be considered in the same light as the more avowedly violent films, from “A Clockwork Orange” onwards.

I pray for a world which is free of violence and I would suggest that in such a world there would be no violence shown in films or on tv. Film producers and directors are aware, however, that it is such features which sell the films to many members of the public. In that sense they are merely responding to market demand. They might also argue with some justification that to expunge all violence from their productions would severly limit their ability for their art to imitate life fully.

In addition, I might genuinely believe that I am not drawn to violent films and yet I love to watch a James Bond movie. (I might also add that this has never given me the urge to saw someone in half with a laser or steal an atomic bomb to hold the West to ransom!).

On the other hand, it is perfectly reasonable to claim that gratuitous violence in movies will influence those of a vulnerable state of mind. Just as children act out on the playground what they have seen on TV, so there will always be those adults who get their inspiration from the graphic presentation of violence on TV. However I would suggest that in such cases the movie or tv show is the “trigger” rather than the cause.

Further, in our age of instant global-reach tv news we are witnesses to violent events around our world on an almost daily basis. It may be that we need to see some of the real consequences of violence on our TV for us to grow up as individuals, communities and societies.

Ultimately, the, the context of the violence being depicted is as important as the detail of the violence shown. Violence is a tragic fact of life and to pretend that it doesn’t occur is both infantile escapism and dishonouring to those who risk their lives to protect us. To celebrate an act of violence of one person or group against another is, though, a different matter altogether.

So I would argue that for a small minority of vulnerable people violence in movies may well trigger some real-life event. For many, it is mere entertainment or it reflects a particular story or historical truth. Gratuitous violence is abhorrent, distasteful and potentially harmful to young minds – and therefore they need to be protected from it.

This is not an argument in favour of violence in films or on tv, (far from it) but a reflection on the impact such depictions have on our society.

Nigel Carter

Oh No! Dad’s Gone Viral!

Oh no! Dad’s gone viral!
What in the name . . . ?
He’s all over the web now;
I must up my game!

Quick . . . hide all those photos
from Ibiza and Greece!
If he gets to see them,
he’ll give us no peace.

And all of those links
to pubs, wines and beers
will cause him a seizure –
a man of his years!

He’s posting and tweeting
all over the place;
and blogging for England!
Oh, what a disgrace.

It must be his age . . .
because, left on his own,
the old fool is not able
to answer the phone!

It might be a fad –
there’ve been plenty of those –
but just to be certain
we’ll follow his prose.

At least when he’s blogging
We know where he’s at.
We just wish he’d go out
And purchase a cat!

Nigel Carter

The Eyes of a Child

You found me, Lord,
Through the eyes of a child.

Life was ok,
we were going our way
till you found me, Lord,
through the eyes of a child.

Five pounds of new life;
happy husband and wife;
then you found me, Lord,
through the eyes of a child.

Those eyes looked at me,
later on would I see
that you found me, Lord,
through the eyes of a child.

“Dad’s besotted”, she said.
and mum nodded her head
when you found me, Lord,
through the eyes of a child.

A generation ago;
a lifetime to grow
since you found me, Lord,
through the eyes of a child.

Nigel Carter

One Hundred Doors

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.”

(Psalm 22:1-2 NRSV)

Don’t answer the phone,
don’t go to the door,
don’t draw back the blinds
don’t hoover the floor.

Don’t talk to the boss,
don’t go to find hope.
He’ll only get cross,
it’s the weak who can’t cope.

Don’t speak to your friends;
they’ve enough on their plate
without you complaining,
bemoaning your fate.

Don’t go to the doctor,
to get some support.
You know there’s no help,
she’ll make a report.

Don’t mix with those people;
they’re better than you.
Remember your status;
get back in the queue.

Don’t go to bed early;
you know you won’t sleep.
Your failures I’ll show you;
a diary I keep.

Don’t look to your Bible;
there’s no comfort there.
So you got religion?
Too bad, life’s not fair.

Don’t talk to your church;
They’ll not comprehend.
You’re called to be perfect,
a bough that won’t bend.

Don’t pray to your God,
He despises you, too;
If he even exists –
do you think it is true?

Too tired to live on,
too scared to just die.
You’d do them a favour,
like a coward, you cry.

Don’t take any risks;
just stick to your chores.
Stay here in this room
With one hundred doors.

Nigel Carter

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that depression is “a touch of the blues.” Whatever its causes, and they are many and varied, it is a condition which locks you into a vicious cycle of anger, self-doubt and self-loathing. At its worst, it takes you far below the level of self-pity, below the level of tears even – though it is an extremely “selfish” illness.

I once heard it described (sorry, I can’t remember where) as if you are in a room surrounded by a hundred doors, but you are too confused and too paralysed by fear to open a single one, to see if it is a way out.

Depression is like a “black hole”. Not only does it eat away at the heart of the sufferer, but it also sucks in everyone around and harms them, too.

As a minister I have seen it hamper many people’s lives and I have fallen victim to it myself. I have been fortunate. I have a deeply loving family and one or two wonderfully caring friends. I also have a strong faith in a loving God which helps me to see through the lies which the condition constantly speaks to the soul.

Though we should not wear our depression like a badge, allowing it to excuse us from our responsibility for life (for that, too, is part of its tragedy), we should not fear talking about the subject. A first step in challenging the thing is to know it for what it is and to talk about it. The next is to help those in need to get proper support, without stigmatising the sufferer.

Nigel Carter