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I’m down to do ‘Thought For The Day’ on Wednesdays in September (3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th, 7.40 am BBC Radio Bristol)

Today I was reflecting on the BBC Drama ‘God on Trial’, which is to be shown tonight (Wednesday 3rd) at 9.00 pm on BBC 2.

Why is there is so much suffering in the world? That’s the question at the heart of a BBC drama to be shown this evening, provocatively entitled, God on Trial.

Set among the kind of extreme torment few of us will ever face, a group of Jewish men, awaiting their fate in Auschwitz, debate that most perplexing question – why suffering?

But this is not a unique to the holocaust. As the producer suggests, the drama was commissioned because we all have unanswered questions. We all wrestle with and try to understand why people are cut down in their prime. Why people would want to fly a plane into a skyscraper killing hundreds. Or why thousands are wiped out in an instant by a tsunami – and why God doesn’t do anything to stop all this.

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I was flicking around in i-tunes and came across the album ‘Angels’ by Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip. For obvious reasons I was drawn to the track ‘Letter From God to Man’.

I was going to comment, but that seemed inappropriate given the drive of the lyric, so I’ll leave you to make your own interpretative errors.

Lyrics are below, but do check out the video on myspace.

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Todd BentleyLove him or hate him, it seems there is no escaping Todd Bentley and the latest revival taking place in Florida. I’m open to accept that amazing things might possibly be taking place, and if people are genuinely being drawn to Jesus through these meetings, then let Todd preach. However, having lived through the Toronto Blessing and Brownsville Outpouring , as well as a number of more local ‘revivals’, I can’t say I’m rushing to book my ticket for Lakeland. I guess I’ve come to feel that ‘outpourings’ are the spiritual equivalent of an economic boom and bust. It’s great that the boom happens, but the bust is inevitable, with the result that many Christians simply get depressed and either constantly hark back to the ‘good old days of revival’, become fixated with finding the next outpouring, or simply give up on a faith that in reality has to be lived out in mundaneness of everyday life.

I think part of the problem lies in the fact that we have come to believe that the supernatural and the miraculous are what make us like Jesus, when the thrust of the New Testament writings suggest that it is the more ordinarily human things – feeding the hungry, providing water for those Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.’ (Everybody’s Free: To Wear Suncream – Baz Luhrmann).

I hope Baz Luhrmann is right on this one, because today (Friday 27th June) I turn 40 and I still don’t really know what I want to do with my life.

In my time, I’ve been a student of art and theology. I’ve worked as a photographic technician, and in the newspaper industry. I’ve packed crisps, frozen peas and waited tables. I’ve guided students through distance learning theology degrees, and written dozens of magazine articles and several books. All these things have had their delights and their tedious frustrations. And all have contributed to making me the person I am today – but that person is still not sure what he really wants to do with the years he has post-40.

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Gormley Fourth PlinthHmmm? I see Antony Gormley has won the latest competition to have his artistic creation installed on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. Basically, members to the public can sign up to occupy the empty plinth for an hour at a time. I think it’s a great idea. I would – because I suggested a very similar idea to a member of the Fourth Plinth Committee around three years ago during a debate on Radio Five Live. It caused rather a lot of interest at the time and it was put to the member of the committee that the idea should be considered. Naturally, it was dismissed because ‘they had a short list’ – in any case, what would a member of the public know about public art and its importance?

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A few days ago I sat with some friends and watched one of those Rob Bell ‘Nooma’ DVDs. It was called Noise, but it was really about silence – or rather than absence of silence in our lives.

The concept is really clever. As the viewer, you are watching Rob, watching TV. There’s lots of background noise going on. He’s switching channels and adjusting the volume. At times the noise is distracting you from hearing what Rob is trying to say. Then he turns the TV off. There is a blank screen. And there is silence. A silence that you really notice. Which got me thinking. Is silence simply the absence of noise, or is it something more tangible than that? And is it something we should be pursuing?

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YazooIn 2 weeks time I will have finally left behind my thirties. So what better thing to do on the cusp of such a momentous stage in life than to regress to being 15 one last time and go and see Yazoo, who last performed together 25 years ago.

Within a few electronic pulses of ‘Nobody’s Diary’ I was transported back to impromptu teenage parties, cheap cider, menthol cigarettes and making out with anyone who would. I was rake thin, my clothes were tight and black, my arms adorned with silver bangles; my head with a floppy fringe.

But then I opened my eyes, and I was back in a concert venue, with 3000 of Bristol’s middle-youth, dressed like the middle-class, eco-conscious, balding adult I’ve become. Thankfully, no one had Read the rest of this entry »

Spring WatchAs regular readers will know, I’ve been attending a Happiness for Life Course. Well sadly (how ironic) the course finished last week. But that’s OK, because the ending of the course was simply the beginning of the rest of the journey into a happier and more fulfilled way of being – and I’m sure I will continue to blog about my discoveries.

Two things that are currently agitating my happiness genes are the fact that summer is now here and as a way of celebrating this, the annual BBC Spring Watch Programme is currently being shown every night on BBC 2. If you’re not fortunate enough to live in the UK and able to watch Spring Watch live, you can check it out at BBC iPLayer – though episodes are only archived for a week.

But if you really want a treat and something guaranteed to make you feel happy and glad to be alive, then you simply Read the rest of this entry »

Sad Smiley FaceReflections from the Happiness For Life Course.

Well, I’m 5 weeks in to my Happiness for Life Course and I may have found my way forward – meditation.

My problem is, I think – a lot. Actually, I find it really difficult to shut off. In all the personality and strength tests I’ve done, thinking always comes out top. Which, as these tests suggest, can be a strength. But it can also be the cause of much angst. For while thinking is at times productive – I am, after all a writer – I also examine life, with all its problems, from every possible angle, too often concentrating on the negatives and worst possible outcomes. (Though surprisingly I come out pretty average on the pessimist/optimist scale). I guess the issue Read the rest of this entry »

Ice Lollies MeltingWe had some friends visiting us from New Zealand this weekend, with their newly adopted children. For reasons of confidentiality, I can’t say much, but if I could tell you their story, it would break your heart. Anyway, we decided to visit a local park before the whether broke and we encountered yet another April shower. My wife went on ahead to the swings and things with our daughter and two of the children while I played soccer with the older brother.

On arrival at the park, I was confronted with what looked like a situation that needed some intervention. My three-year-old daughter and her new friends where atop a climbing frame awaiting an opportunity to launch themselves down the slide. But their path was blocked by three older boys Read the rest of this entry »

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