Monthly Archives: January 2015

Theological Conundrums

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“The trouble with schools is they always try to teach the wrong lesson
Believe me, I’ve been kicked out of enough of them to know
They want you to become less callow, less shallow
But I say: why invite stress in?
Stop studying strife and learn to live “the unexamined life”…”

I love reading. And I love discussing and debating and forming my own opinions, finding out what other people think about the world. As a literature student, I love doing this through books and what richer text to do this with than the Bible?

When I first came to university, I was worried that I did and would have no Christian friends around me, no one my age to spark off inspiration about the Bible, that theological thirst might run dry. Not that I wouldn’t be able to hear and learn about the Bible, just that I might not have that excitement to always find out more and go deeper. Well, I think it’s fair to say, I needn’t have been worried.

Just before heading up North again, I got to spend the weekend in Cambridge with truly irreplaceable friends sharing in inspirational testimony and simply, great fellowship. It was a fantastic stop on the way back to uni (and gave me the opportunity to pretty much hitch hike all the way back to uni for the grand total of £8.20 including a Burger King stop).

That was before spending the Wednesday to Saturday before term started in Cumbria with my Bible study group. Here we had three days of questions, discussions and teaching. Now, this may not sound particularly interesting but I had changed my views and learnt so much that when we got back I immediately went over to my friends flat to tell them about the retreat (well, and to actually see them and wish them a Happy New Year and all that). But, expecting to spend about half an hour there saying hello and catching up on Christmas breaks, I mentioned one of the things that was discussed at the retreat and well, I was there for a bit longer than half an hour. In fact, after a little while, I realised it wasn’t going to be a quick discussion when my friends went to the extent of cooking me dinner, thinking I probably wasn’t going to leave so they might as well feed me. It was great though, talking with such different people, I was there with my four friends, three were in the CU and went to church, one was a feminist, one had pretty fundamental biblical views and one wasn’t a Christian. Suddenly, everything I had previously learnt and discussed was opened up so much more when talking to other people, just when I thought I actually understood some things. But, to be honest, I think some Christians can be pretty naive to believe we can only learn from other Christians or even just other Christians with similar theologies. Anyway, I got there at about four in the afternoon and well, at about half past nine, I decided it was probably time to go and say hello to my own flat.

The next day followed with a great and challenging sermon and a Bible study, both only raising more questions. This was great as I met up with loads of people in our next CU meeting two days later where discussions continued and we got deep into a variety of issues and topics. In the last week, I had covered everything from predestination to marriage to prayer, asking questions like “Does God want everyone in Heaven with Him?” “Does prayer actually change things?” and “Does the Bible tell us everything God wants us to know?”

This was only made better when I was invited back to a friends flat for stew. Now, considering we had all just come from the bar, it was nearly eleven o’clock in the evening and we had all already had dinner, when I heard “stew”, I was expecting a small slightly sparse studenty supper. This was simply not the case. In fact, just thinking this was clear proof that that was my first time in their flat. When we got there, they piled spoonfulls and spoonfulls of rice onto my plate before getting to their elaborate and exciting spicy African stew that had been left to cook all day, leaving what I would call an absolute mountain on my plate. I looked at it and it did look and smell beautiful but I thought I could never eat all that. That was when they opened the oven and pulled out a full leg of lamb that they had roasted that day and started carving it. I have to say, my instincts were right, it was all beautiful but sadly, I did have to turn down the banoffee pie that followed. That’s what I call a good student dinner.

So, it’s been a good start to term but my brain has been well and truly stretched and molded and messed up and put back together in different ways before I even began lectures so I may need to go and sleep for a very long time while it all processes. However, to sum up, here are a few things I’ve learnt about Christians over the past couple of weeks:

If you find people equally interested in theological discussions and healthy debates, there’s a good chance they’ll feed you.

Christians are not people that know everything about God. Nor do they need to know everything about God or even always agree.

In terms of Christianity, the Bible isn’t everything. Now this may sound controversial and don’t get me wrong, it’s hugely important and immensely useful, but it isn’t everything.

Just because you’re a Christian does not mean you can’t have an opinion of your own.

“He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Be like children; have the willingness to believe but never stop asking questions 🙂

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University Take One

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People say the culture shock of moving only really comes on returning back home. Well, I’ve just returned up North after a lovely Christmas break at home and it’s fair to say, there are some differences I hadn’t fully appreciated while being at university as quite simply, I was expecting everything to be different at university. Like having a sofa. Just being able to sit down on a comfortable sofa and switch on live television, suddenly there was a new found wonder of having endless channels showing programmes of any genre you could want all happening right now. Also, good home-cooked food. Now this one may have been slightly exaggerated as for the last week of term I was desperately trying to finish up the dregs of my cupboard which pretty much just consisted of carrots and mayonnaise and came home to a variety of food in Christmas quantities, however, now I am back at university, today what I have eaten consists of a packet of Tangfastic Haribo, a kiwi fruit, a chocolate orange and a packet of barbecue beef Super Noodles.

It was absolutely wonderful to see old friends and family again though, eleven weeks away and I had so much to catch up on. And of course there was the usual franticness of Christmas preparations including plenty of carol services, concerts, Christmas shopping and Christmas parties.

We had a splendid Christmas spent with family, including my sister getting engaged just to add to the festivities – Chief Bridesmaid here I come. And of  course, the fun carried on into the New Year with family and friends where I had the surprise of meeting someone in my own house who happens to go to my university.

After all the fun of the party, I started 2015 going up to Cambridge for another fantastic weekend with OneSound. It seems hardly anytime at all since the last gig but still, since then, we’ve had three engagements and a wedding. As always, there’s still so much to catch up on, so much changing. We might not have seen each other for a good couple of months but it’s not like life stops and waits for you to catch up. Once again, it was simply incredible, if possible, I actually think every weekend away with these lovely people may even be getting better and better.

So, the question is, now I’m back for take two, did I actually achieve or even just stumble across anything I set out to do, avoid or expect from my first term at university? Well, it’s true, I have actually set the fire alarms off whilst cooking (three times to be precise), pulled an all-nighter (however not due to work responsibilities), lead a campaign, joined a whole load of societies that I’ve never turned up to and hopefully made some life-long friends. The truth is, I’ve loved every minute of it, every day in some way seems to be a good day and I can’t wait to start again. I’m only slightly concerned that I came back from a great OneSound weekend, naturally turning on my music and singing at a somewhat indiscreet volume to what I thought was an empty flat, only to wake up realising that there is actually someone else in the flat, making me scared to leave my room and find out who it was. It is now twenty four hours later and the mystery of my secret flatmate remains.

Well, all there is to say now is that I hope you all had a very wonderful and blessed Christmas and wish you an exciting and prosperous New Year 🙂