Friday, 22 May 2009

Learn With Every Goodbye

After a while, you learn the subtle difference
between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats,
With the grace of a woman,
not the grief of a child,
And learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans,
And futures have a way of falling down mid-flight
And after a while, you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And learn that you really can endure...
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth
And you learn
and learn...
With every goodbye, you learn.

Author unknown, posted by Josephine

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Gill's Stations Of The Cross

At a recent Art class, our model had a look at my life drawing and said my work reminded her of Eric Gill's. Having never heard of Eric Gill I was of course delighted and proud to have my work compared to a "proper" artist. However, when I did a Google search, I discovered he described himself as being of, "sufficient, if only just sufficient technical ability combined with a complete and genuine ignorance of art school anatomy and traditional academic style". Somthing of a back-handed compliment then!
However, I then discovered that Eric Gill was the artist responsible for the carved Stations of the Cross in Westminster Cathedral. As I work near Victoria I was curious and went to pay a visit.
I would like to say I had a go at walking around the cathedral, empathising with the depictions of the passion as Catholics traditionally do at Lent. As it was, I had picked a time to visit when the Cathedral was chock full due to an initiation rite being held on the same day. I find the idea appealing though, comparable in some ways to the labyrinth walking that goes on at Rosslyn Hill. I would also agree that spiritual inspiration can be found from the lives and works of artists, not least artists as afflicted by the darker sides of the human psyche like Gill.
Anyway, I think the last word in a post on Stations of The Cross should go to John O'Farrell's newsbiscuit.
Take care all! Scott

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Tawney, Temple and the Credit Crunch

Last Thursday I attended the dialogue held in the memory of RH Tawney. Tawney was an academic who along with Temple and Beveridge believed there was a role for the state in creating a welfare society. Furthermore, his own personal faith informed this perspective.
This year the Tawney dialogue covered the issues of the credit crunch from a faith based perspective. Examples include how a principle of Islamic finance is that there should be a link between the borrower and the lender. This has broken down in the creation of derivatives that packaged debts. Others might consider how the incentives offered by city bonus culture led to reckless or greedy behaviour. This might imply possible financial market reforms. In any case the recession following the credit crunch has turned a financial market problem into a social problem. Social institutions such as churches and all people of goodwill will be called upon to respond to this.
Unitarians have a history of being on the side of social reform. In the modern era the church as an institution has had to deal with the question of how far concern for a fairer society is the responsibility of the private citizen or the state. Now more than ever, this is a debate that cannot be ignored.

A Different Perspective

Last week I went to the V&A Museum to watch an evening of Rare Buddhist Dances. There were performances by nuns from India, a Nepalese traditional dancer, but the most striking performance was by a group showing Japanese Noh theatre. It was quite unlike anything I've seen before and I found it quite uncomfortable to begin with. There was a strange vocal quality and ghost-like movement - it would be called avant garde if it weren't hundreds of years old. It probably didn't help that I missed the introduction so didn't really know what was going on, but after a while, I began to sink into a meditative state and felt quite exhilarated afterwards. Apart from the performance itself, another interesting experience was observing the drop-in audience. Late-comers sneaked in excitedly as they passed people tip-toeing out unable to stay in an uncomfortable state. It made me realise how we often don't allow ourselves to feel uncomfortable or take risks to try something new. Putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation can sometimes lead to discoveries about yourself, your boundaries and your strengths.