Friday Fun 19: Steve Turner’s MY DAD

All is not what it at first seems. It starts out like the classic boast of the school playground. But the playground is certainly not where it all ends... Steve Turner is a wonderful poet whose poems always twist and jive with the best of them. I just wish he'd get back on the case and write some more... Get on with it, Steve!! So here's  My Dad, taken from his first collection for (not just) children, The Day I Fell Down The Toilet and other poems.

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Love’s warnings and Picasso’s prophetic perception

Love is never abrasive, destructive or cruel. But it can sometimes be straight and difficult. It may even be unpalatable. But that is the nature of love-motivated truth. And for something or someone to be truly prophetic it must be both - loving truth and truthful love. I was struck by an anecdote about Picasso, as related by Martin Gayford to David Hockney, in his wonderful A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney. For it really got me thinking about what constitutes the truly prophetic, as did other elements of their conversation.

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Bonhoeffer’s Blessings of Mutual Confession

In follow up to yesterday's Graham Greene depiction of the callousness of the religious to the irreligious, it is perhaps good to note where mutual confession can work well and be a real blessing. Bonhoeffer in his seminal Life Together, and which I've drawn from a few times before, offers profound wisdom on the matter. He sees it as a means to honest and humble community, where there are no illusions or hypocrisies. It can be a wonderful means to the full assurance of faith. However, he is all too aware of its pitfalls and problems.

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Crisis in the Confessional from Graham Greene’s Human Factor

Maurice Castle is the wary protagonist of Graham Greene's 1978 novel, The Human Factor. He works on the Africa desk for the British secret service. He loves his South African wife and her young son but has a deeply burdened and heavy heart. He is a very sympathetic character - a man who, as his mother cuttingly observed, an over-inflated sense of gratitude. And it is his sense of gratitude and indebtedness that gets him into trouble. But I won't plot spoil.

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Friday Fun18: Some Essential Relationships Advice from the New Yorker

Oops - I've not done a Friday Fun for a couple of months. Terribly sorry, dear reader. Anyway, here are a couple of perfectly formed little numbers from recent New Yorkers - including this very week's edition - how up to date is that?! Anyway, I'm sure we all need a bit of help with our relationships. Here's a little nudge in the right direction for the cause of improved male-female communication...

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When the Good do Bad: David Brooks’ Reflections on Human nature

It's not every day that you find a newspaper column quoting Calvin, C S Lewis and G K Chesterton without odium or censure. But that is exactly what happened in a New York Times Op. Ed. on Monday. It's even more surprising when you realise that its writer is a Jewish American social commentator, David Brooks. He is a thoughtful writer who seems genuinely concerned to understand what makes people tick, without prejudice or name-calling. Some will only know him for the fact that he was the one who wrote the piece on John Stott back in 2004 (which was arguably the principle catalyst for him becoming one of the 2005 Time 100).

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Memories, Diaries and Surveillance Reports: Reflections on Garton Ash’s “The File”

So you think you can remember stuff? Sure we all have trouble remembering names and details - but most of the time, we assume we have an ability to grasp and retain the basic details of our own experiences. But as the great composer Shostakovich mournfully observed towards the end of his traumatic and tragic life, "memory slips through one's fingers like sand." It's remarkable how certain we can become of inaccuracies and even complete fabrications.

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