Book recommendation – Ancient Christian Devotional: A Year of Weekly Readings

I’ve just had this book recommended by a friend. I’ve ordered it online straight away.


What influenced me? This quote from Hilary of Poitiers, a French bishop of the fourth century, and a great defender of Trinitarian orthodoxy:

‘If the soul has not breathed in the gift of the Spirit through faith, even though it will continue to possess the faculty for understanding, it will not have the light of knowledge. The one gift, which is in Christ, is available to everyone in its entirety. What is present in every place is given insofar as we desire to become worthy of it. This gift is with us even to the consummation of the world. This is the consolation of our expectation. This, through the efficacy of the gifts, is the pledge of our future hope. This is the light of the mind, the splendour of the soul. For this reason we must pray for this Holy Spirit.’

If I am going to get more of that, I want the book!


Belgian child euthanasia. Lives no inherent value or worth… they should die?

The Belgian Parliament will hold a debate next Wednesday before voting the following day on a measure to allow minors to ask for euthanasia if they are terminally ill. This is supposed to be for if they are in great pain and if there is no treatment to alleviate their distress. It follows a 50-17 vote in favour of child euthanasia in the Belgian Senate in December.

The Council of Europe Written Declaration is against this abhorrent proposed legalisation of child euthanasia in Belgium.

The Declaration (which has been supported by parliamentarians from across Europe) notes that the move “betrays some of the most vulnerable children in Belgium by accepting that their lives may no longer have any inherent value or worth and that they should die… [and] promotes the unacceptable belief that a life can be unworthy of life which challenges the very basis of civilised society.” medical images


Some commentators suggest that the bill is being fast-tracked because opposition is growing and supporters want it law before it is blocked.

Several Belgian studies already exist proving that in Belgium:
(1) euthanasia is widely under-reported (2) euthanasia is often done without an explicit request (3) and nurses are lethally injecting patients, even though the law does not permit it.

In Belgium adults have been put to death simply for being depressed.

Belgium is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). How this proposal fits the UNCRC is a puzzle to me. How could anyone be sure of the competence of the child to both understand the consequences of euthanasia, and to choose death over the benefits of good palliative care. Surely they need our protection not abandonment to the limitation of their own knowledge and experience?

Words can not describe…


The problems of silence.

I heard a speaker suggesting that for the period of Lent all the people in his audience should try spending 5 minutes a day in silence. I was struck that it was presented as such a huge challenge, to be silent if only for 5 minutes per day.

It got me thinking. Silence may be rare for many people in our time in the West. What a curious age this is. Silence can be filled by switching on a radio, TV, putting earphones in that brings into our heads anything the internet can offer. We can pick up a telephone and talk to someone, or we can be near to a person and listen to them.

In our time silence is a challenge, even five minutes a day of it, but not in the days when people walked.

SoylentGreen / / CC BY-SA

Imagine a world where almost everyone walked everywhere. Sometimes the walking would be in the company of others but often in would be alone. No earphones, just the silence of ones own company. Three miles an hour, in a state of inner quiet, as sights and sounds are processed.

It is our age that is out of step with human history. For thousands of years, what we consider unusual, was the normal. I wonder how many hours per week, on average, people, before our modern age, would have spent in the silence of walking. I wonder what tranquillity we have lost, as a society, simply by not walking.

I could feel smug and remember that I run regularly, that I don’t use earphones but enjoy the silence and solitude. But if I am honest with myself I will have to admit that even that is a smaller proportion of my life than would have been the norm at one time.

Perhaps the challenge within the suggestion of the 5 minutes a day is the realisation that fitting it in to a busy day is simply not easy. Silence seems to have become a precious commodity that many can no longer afford.

And the value of silence? I suppose it depends upon what we hear within it.

Photo credit: SoylentGreen / / CC BY-SA

Think, for a moment, about a day in which we wake and remember what we already have, the blessings that we have already been given…

“Think, for a moment, about a day in which we wake and remember what we already have, the blessings that we have already been given, the things that we have already earned, the love that we have already found,” writes Andrew Bienkowski, a Polish psychologist.

We are prone, he observes, to focus on our “wants” instead of our “haves”. But we could, alternatively, approach our present situation thinking this:

“I have breath!”

“I have life!”

“I have shelter”

“I am here…”

Imagine starting each new day by saying this a few times over, before the worries and the fears rush in. Breath, life, shelter, presence – perhaps the greatest gifts we could receive, and yet the very things we are most likely to take for granted.

And here’s a thought… “If you are in a position to take things for granted,” writes Bienkowski, “you are already blessed beyond your needs.”

From: Less Is More, Spirituality for Busy Lives, by Brian Draper

Let faxes butter-curl on dusty shelves. Let junkmail build its castles in the hush…

I have been enjoying the poetry of Ros Barber recently. And this poem is such a delight. It is like the sign of rest as I come to prayer. It is called: How to Leave the World that Worships Should.

The title is open to being misunderstood but it means those that worship would needs (or should) to be done.


Let faxes butter-curl on dusty shelves.
Let junkmail build its castles in the hush
of other people’s halls. Let deadlines burst
and flash like glorious fireworks somewhere else.
As hours go softly by, let others curse
the roads where distant drivers queue like sheep.
Let e-mails fly like panicked, tiny birds.
Let phones, unanswered, ring themselves to sleep.

Above, the sky unrolls its telegram,
immense and wordless, simply understood:
you’ve made your mark like birdtracks in the sand –
now make the air in your lungs your livelihood.
See how each wave arrives at last to heave
itself upon the beach and vanish. Breathe.

I have a book token to use so am going to get her book: The Marlow Papers. Sounds great!

Today I saw a sad sight, a burning cross in Afghanistan

We know what it is about, a USA soldier, presumably during a psychotic episode, went on a rampage and killed innocent Afghan citizens, including children.

Now crowds gather to show their displeasure over the occupation of their land by foreign powers and in the incident I watched on TV I saw a representation of Christ’s cross set alight before being cast into a larger fire. Interestingly, the narrator made no mention of what we were seeing regarding the cross.

How is it that Christianity and the love that God has for Afghanis, as expressed through Jesus, has become so associated with the USA and with oppression? What a disaster!

As I pray about this and issues such as this one I have to continually remind myself of the unforeseen and unintended eternal dimension of so many of the things we do in this life.

If enough Christians in the coalition with the USA had been able to anticipate what a defeat their adventure in Afghanistan would turn out to be, would they have risen up to speak against it?  I wonder what a difference it would have made if they had foreseen the harm it would do to the work of Christian world mission for generations.

God have mercy on us.

A Sceptics Prayer

Is this a prayer a sceptic can pray? Some Christians would claim that a greater certainty, more leaning in trust, is required to be heard. I think this is valid though. I think God is keen to hear and constantly stoops to listen.

God, I don’t know whether you even exist. I’m a sceptic. I doubt. I think you may be only a myth. But I’m not certain (at least when I’m completely honest with myself). So if you do exist and you really did promise to reward all seekers, you must be hearing me now. So I hereby declare myself a seeker of the truth, whatever and wherever it is. I want to know the truth and live the truth. If you are the truth please help me.

By Peter Kreeft and quoted by D’Souza in the excellent book What’s So Great About Christianity.