Monthly Archives: February 2009

The Rabbi’s theory of probability

Chief Rabbi Sacks

Chief Rabbi Sacks

Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks is the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of  the Commonwealth, and he writes an occasional column in the Saturday edition of The Times. His contribution is frequently thoughtful, incisive and wise and today’s Credo is no exception. Rabbi Sacks delivers a thought provoking assessment of the law of probability around faith- prompted by the recent atheist bus adverts claiming “There’s probably no God so stop worrying and enjoy your life.” He writes, “The more science we learn, the more we understand how little we understand. The improbabilities keep multiplying, as does our cause for wonder.” Sacks then takes us on a brief trip through history from Abraham to Barack Obama to illustrate that reality has always triumphed over negative probability- who would have thoguht that “a small persecuted sect known as the Christians would one day become the largest movement of any kind in the world?”

Rabbi Sacks tells us that the man who invented probability theory, Blaise Pascall, gave up maths and science at the age of 30 to devote the rest of his life to the exploration of religious faith. Rabbi Sacks concludes his piece; “All the great human achievements…came through people who ignored the probable and had faith in the possible. So the bus advertisement would be imporved by a small amendment….”Improbably, there is a God.”

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Suffer the little children

Ivan with dad

Ivan with dad

This week we all shared in the unbearable grief of David and Samantha Cameron’s loss of their young son Ivan. In the House of Commons Gordon Brown, a parent who has also lost his first child, told the nation that the death of a child was something that no parent should have to experience – and unbearable sorrow. The business of the House of Commons was suspended as a mark of respect to Ivan and Nick Robinson’s moving BBC TV report said; “Ivan never spoke a word in life but now in death the commons speaks for him.”

Over 9 million children die before their fifth birthday but they don’t make headline news. To find out more follw this link http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/en/4112.htm . Suffer the little children- who speaks for them?

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Hospitality for the stranger

jim-haynesThis week I read about a remarkable man called Jim Haynes. Jim is 75, and for the past 30 years has hosted dinner parties with a difference in his Paris home. The guests can be total stratgers- anyone who calls or emails to book (subject to an upper limit of around 70) can come and share a meal with Jim. He claims to have had only one bad experience and reckons to have had around 130,ooo people to dinner over the years and remarkably he breaks even as although there is no charge for the meal many bring a contribution.

What a brave and great idea- imagine how we could transform our communities if as Christians we were brave enough to do this and see people come to the feast from invitations out in in the highways and byways as the Bible says. I’ve enjoyed a few Alpha suppers in my time but a Jimmy style meal for anyone and everyone is really something else.

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Don’t give up- start something instead

love life live lent

love life live lent

Mmnn…tomorrow is Pancake Day, when many of us will over indulge in that heady mix of flower and water drizzled with lemon, sugar or maybe  maple syrup or chocolate, but what about the next day- Ash Wednesday or the first day of the season of Lent. To many Lent seems to have lost its  real meaning of a  40 day long prayerful preparation for Easter through, study, prayer and  self-sacrifice. It has become a date which provides a little extra incentive to give up something like chocolate, sweets, cakes or pastries; not in order to discover some spiritual truth but to lose a few inches off the waist- a slimmers holy day!

For the past few years the Church of England has tried to promote Lent as a season of celebration and action with their Love Life Live Lent campaign. It is a new way of marking Lent. Instead of giving up chocolate or going on a detox, it encourages people to undertake a simple act of generosity each day. The actions are small and fun to do, but make a real difference in homes, families and communities.

It began in Birmingham in 2006 and since then over 250,000 people nationwide have participated- why not give it a try yourself? More information from http://www.livelent.net/index.html

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Back to the future- nifty at 50

The new film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button seems to have divided the critics. Fascinated by how a three hour film can originate from a 28 page F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, I pulled down the book from my shelves. It’s such a gentle, curious and charming little story, but for those of us in or approaching  middle-age, there is a particularly  lovely passage. As Benjamin rolls back the years having been born seventy years old he finds the love of his love who tells him:

You’re just at the romantic age….fifty.Twenty-five is too worldy-wise; thirty is apt to be pale from overwork; forty is thr age of long stories that take a whole cigar to tell; sixty is- oh, sixty is too near seventy; but fifty is the mellow age. I love fifty. I’ve always said that I’d rather marry a man of fifty and be taken care of than marry a many of thirty and take care of him.”

So, any fifty-year olds take heart-  you are living the best of your romantic years even if at times you may think you are living  life backwards!

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Truth & simplicity

I am reading a book by the Anglican Bishop Tom Wright called ‘Simply Christian’. The title intrigued me as I don’t find being a Christian simple at all  but staying faithful to the teachings of Jesus a hard path to follow at times . I wanted to discover why Bishop Tom sees it so simply. The book outlines the relevance of the Bible and the Christian story for the contemporary world and in explaining God’s plan, reveals the central importance of Jesus and what it means to follow him. From time to time I get a little over excited about the concept of truth, and found Bishop Tom’s description (below) very helpful, so I wanted to share it on this blog:

” The quest for truth. for reality, for what we can be sure of, is infinitely more complicated than simple yes-and-no questions will allow. There is appropriate  complexity and appropriate simplicity. The more we learn, the more we discover that we humans are fantastically complicated creatures. Yet on the other hand, human life is full of moments when we know that things are also very, very, simple…We honour and celebrate our complexity and our simplicity by continually doing 5 things. We tell stories. We act out rituals. We create beauty. We work in communities. We think out beliefs. ..In and through all these things run the threads of love and pain, of fear and faith, of worship and doubt, of the quest for justice, the thirst for spirituality, and the promise and problem of human relationships. And if there is such a thing as ‘truth’, in some absolute sense, it must relate to, and make sense of, all this and more.”

Ah, so the God’s honest truth is as simple as that mate!

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Zodiac Christ

Zodiac Jesus

Zodiac Jesus

Jesus is the model for all kinds of people to look to as they seek to become fully themselves and reach their potential. It could then be said that if we can speak of the star signs as representing different personality types, we can speak of Jesus as possessing the best traits of each. ‘Zodiac Jesus’ explores this each month showing how Jesus embodies the best of each type. See more at http://www.rejesus.co.uk/site/module/zodiac_christ/

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