When Nathaniel was very young, I often went to Oxford by train. So I had weary hours at Birmingham New Street. I browsed in the shops to ease the pain. One day I bought a book written and illustrated by James Stevenson called Don’t Make Me Laugh (Andersen Press, 1999; ISBN 0-374-41843-8 pbk – you can find a lot of his work on Amazon).
It is not hard to guess what kind of book it turns out to be. It is quite funny for a four-year old looking at it three times, so he has to go back to the beginning a few times, but soon learns self- control and keeps a straight face.
This well-worn book, still on the shelf, gives me an idea.
I have been given this blog-space on the church website.
I am aware of the privilege. Serious about the responsibility.
I ask myself: What shall I do with it?
I am tempted by the power. I could call it Mr Frimdimpny’s Blog and say,
But that would not do, for several reasons. I would guess Mr Frimdimpny has copyrighted his name; if he won’t let me smile, he won’t let me usurp his claim. Furthermore, this is a church website, and it is here to serve God in the way of Jesus Christ. So I cannot call it mine.
I don’t want to run it as mine because I fear the fate of the unforgettable Max, the night he wore his wolf-suit: I might make mischief of one kind or another and the church might call me Wild thing and I would have to sail away over a night and a day to where the Wild Things are, and while I might have wild fun gnashing my terrible teeth with them, I would get weary with them and their nonsense and long to be where someone loved me best of all. So I would have to get into my boat and sail home – where I would find my supper waiting for me (wouldn’t I?) still warm, and be left asking myself why I ever bothered to go away to a land I could think my own.
[From the well-loved children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak 1963]
This blog is not mine: that reminds me of an old house in the Austrian mountains which Hilary and I came across years ago. Inscribed on its white wall, in what seems to me somewhat unusual German, it says:
In a civilization whose God is Property, including Intellectual Property and the Owning of one’s own Body, there is a word of wisdom tucked away on that wall.
So whose is this blog?
It is like the web, belonging to everybody because it belongs to nobody. It is like a true Baptist church, which belongs to everybody who cares to be a member, because they have to share in the making of it. That is very different from churches that belong to a bishop, or to a celebratory preacher, or to a rich sponsor. Belonging to everybody by belonging to nobody might be a clue to what the kingdom of God is like and why it is radically different from the way we manage to do things on earth.
I would like this blog to belong to anyone who wants to join in making it a worthwhile meeting place. It is not quite a free for all, say anything you like, gossip shop. Who wants to put a lot of work into producing triviality? There are many important things in the world and we cannot talk about them all at once. I want to dedicate this place to Thinking about God as God is in Jesus. It is not so easy to find places where you can do that with other people who also want it. So it’s worth working to make this one of the too rare places where there are Springs in the Desert (Isaiah 43.19)
The title, Thinking about God as God is in Jesus, is just a first ranging shot at what this blog will be. What it will be is something to work out together. Is there a better way to describe what it is about? Suggestions about names and guidelines are welcome. But we might make best progress if we try to do something worthy and then choose a name when we can see what is going on.
You are invited to contribute the sort of thinking that you judge fits the bill. I shall edit this blog with a light hand but enough to help us to keep going in the right direction. In this blog we are all coming into the light, to be open to one another, to learn from one another and to help one another. This means judging what we read – rather than whom we read. It means judging, caring about truth and wisdom and goodness and faithfulness, but judging only as we are willing to be judged: not to be condemned but to be called to be better. I think this kind of living together in the light is involved in being Christian together. What God wants to do in the world requires it. God made us thinking beings and his work cannot be done if we withhold our thinking power from his service. Jesus’ story about the unfaithful servant who hid his talent in the ground and got a negative bonus from his Master is relevant to our thinking and our blogging.
What happens in this blog is very serious, no doubt, but it does not have to be dull or boring. Good thinking means good talking, good writing, and good here means interesting, lively, clear, forceful, informed. Good thinking and good writing takes many forms. We shall even have poetry sometimes.
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