|From The Guardian website|
Friday, 31 December 2010
I was thinking more about the Tolstoy quotation last night, and it occurred to me that he was musing on the conundrum that humans are capable of comprehending incredible beauty and at the same time committing awful atrocities. I seem to remember St James writing about a similar paradox, which is unique to human beings. "From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water."
The last of our family has left this morning, and so now Jane and I are back to our normal quiet life. We have had a very jolly Christmas with the family. As I write, friends in Sydney will be watching the fireworks over the harbour and seeing in the New Year. I'm sure they won't begrudge their Aussie friends their celebrations (My friends are Brits). They need cheering up after the drubbing England gave them in the cricket at Melbourne. No Ashes this year, I'm afraid, Australia. You'll just have to make do with burnt out rocket-cases! Anyway, have a happy New Year.
"The religious person is someone who seeks a God who is instrumental, a useful tool to get escape from hell or even sin; the Christian serves God aesthetically, for the joy of who he is" (John Piper, quoting Jonathan Edwards, according to the Rev Sally Hitchener). I was reminded of this when listening to Sandi Shaw (of 'Puppet on a String' fame, aka Mrs Powell) on 'Desert Island Discs' this morning, who was something of a contrast to Nick Park (of Wallace and Gromit fame) last week. She was talking about her conversion to Buddhism, which happened when she chanted for the money to launch a new disc (£25,000), then boldly asked the boss of Sony Music for it and was given it. That seems fair and square instrumental. How much, I wonder, am I up for the joy of who He is?