Somewhere Amazing

A WordPress.com site for celebrating the amazing!


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Time for a change…

Somewhere Amazing is changing, at least the way it looks.

I am removing the darker background in favour of the ‘normal’ white background. This may change again but for now I’d like to see how it looks.

At first I considered this near blasphemy because I, generally, don’t really like ‘ordinary’, or rather having the same as everyone else. But I’ve just decided to see how it goes.

Of course, because I’ve been using white font colour (color for my US friends…see, I even change spelling for you!) this means going back over every single posting and changing font colour (color) again, or else no one will ever see any posts to read them (unless you’ve studied at Hogwarts and have some magic ink that turns font from white to black if you pour it over the screen…okay…back to reality…).

Its going to take some time to change the font colour (color) in every post so I’ll do a few each day and hopefully get there in the end.

Thanks and any feedback welcome.

I have a thick skin, I can take it 🙂

Thanks for reading.

Somewhere Amazing

ps, oh, its halloween…so…BOO!

 

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Shut up and let me speak!

I was channel hopping the other night and, being a bit of a closet Trekkie, stopped when I saw a program where William Shatner (good ole Captain Kirk) was being interviewed by Stephen Sackur for his show Hard Talk.

I was left disappointed for the simple reason that most of the talking was being done by Sackur and Shatner seemed to have to interrupt Sackur to actually try and answer the questions.

It seemed to me the wrong way round for an interview. The interviewer shouldn’t take so long to ask their question that the guest may as well be a part of the audience. At one point, Shatner tried to interrupt to attempt an answer but Sackur ploughed on right through Shatner, who eventually gave up and just let Sackur drone on. I was astonished that when Shatner did finally get a chance to answer, he could actually remember what the question was!

I had the distinct impression that Sackur liked the sound of his own voice and was impressing himself by asking complicated and admittedly intelligent sounding questions. The problem of course was that he was enjoying the sound of his own voice so much that Shatner wasn’t getting much airtime and me, the audience (or one of them) was becoming frustrated with not hearing Captain Kirk and eventually changed channel.

I’ve noticed that, when I sometimes watch BBC’s Question Time program here in the UK, where chairman David Dimbleby presides over a panel of politicians, newspaper editors or other such ‘distingushed’ guest, that Dimbleby has become quite bad at interrupting. Not that the chairman should be invisible as such but he shouldn’t interrupt so much that he becomes part of the panel. He is surely there, yes, to maintain order (and that does require him to interrupt) but also to guide the debate so that the guests views take centre stage rather than he, the chairman. He used to be fairly good at this but I’ve noticed in the last few years that he gets worse and worse at interrupting when I want to hear what the guests have to say.

Okay, sometime he interrupts when a guest says something which seems to contradict the line of the party or paper they represent, and that is good interruption. But other times I’m convinced that, like Sackur, Dimbleby just likes the sound of his own voice.

Please Mr or Mrs interviewer or chair person, don’t take forever to ask your question, and don’t keep interrupting. Yes, its your show, but I tune in to hear the opinions of guests, which is after all the reason for your show, and if you speak more than the guests, I’ll just change channel.

Thanks for reading.

Somewhere Amazing


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I don’t agree with it but I’ll argue for it.

Not so long ago I had to write an essay in which I was basically arguing in favour of a viewpoint that I actually disagreed with. I had to think for a bit before deciding to do this. It didn’t sit easily with me. Could I really, in all good conscience, argue for something I didn’t agree with?

Some colleges do this as an exercise in understanding opposing viewpoints, without necessarily agreeing with them. You choose a topic you strongly agree with, say for example, capital punishment (that wasn’t what I wrote about but lets use it as an example at it tends to polarise opinions). So you write an argument strongly in favour of capital punishment. Then, for your next essay, you have to write an essay which argues against capital punishment. You begin with “I am against capital punishment because…” even although your conscience strongly favours it.

Is that a sell out, an unacceptable compromise? Or can it be a good exercise in understanding an opposite viewpoint to your own?

It struck me that some politicians do this as a matter of course. They have their own private beliefs but if their party takes one particular line, and that line is the opposite of what you believe, then you are still required to argue in favour of the party line. Usually this only comes out in the wash after the politician has retired and written their memoirs! Of course sometimes the politicians are allowed off the leash and given a free vote, to vote according to conscience, but not always. 

It makes a difference as well if you are arguing ‘merely’ as an exercise in attempting to understand another viewpoint, or if you are arguing before an audience who might actually be persuaded by your argument and end up believing a viewpoint that you yourself oppose, even though you’ve just argued in favour of it. Confusing? 

It is also possible that you may end up convincing yourself that the opposing view is actually the right one, or you may at least arrive at a balanced opinion somewhere in the middle. Difficult with capital punishment but remember that’s just an example.

There is another perspective when arguing for something you disagree with. You can basically quote lots of other people who believe what you disagree with (more confusion…), so that you are merely writing their words but you yourself have never at any point actually said that you believe what they believe. That would be simply reporting another person’s view, I guess. John Smith said “I believe that the moon landings were faked because…” You can argue a whole case like that, without actually advocating it yourself. Sorry, just to add confusion I changed the example there, you noticed and it confused you more…sorry…

So, to get back to the question.

Can you, in all good conscience, argue in favour of something you actually disagree with?

Over to you (anyone…)

Thanks for reading.

Somewhere Amazing


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Hymns and Mental Illness

Soothing Sounds

My mum (mom) if you’re reading in the States :-) suffers from mental illness.

There are times when she finds it helpful to listen to hymns, the ‘old fashioned’ or ‘traditional’ kind. Her favourites include “I Need Thee Every Hour”, “Onward Christian Soldiers”, “The King Of Love My Shepherd Is”, “I Know Whom I Have Believed”, “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go” and “Love Divine All Loves Excelling”, though there are many more. She’s ‘old school’, brought up in a generation steeped in hymns with theological imagery flowing through every verse. That was an era when hymns were written by people who were theologians first, rather than musicians first (forgive the huge generalisation).

Listening to these helps soothe her, provides succour and a measure of peace to flow through an often troubled mind. I confess that, although I’m happy to listen to more modern expressions of musical worship, I prefer the ‘older’ ones as well, I find their substance more compelling although there are indepth modern ones. I was brought up listening to and singing the older ones and they remain fixed in my memory to this day. Its not a bad thing to have fixed in your memory.

Frequently being in the same room as my mum, if she listens to these hymns  then I listen to them as well. In fact I have learned to know when mum is struggling because she will specifically say to me “Could you put the hymns on please?” I confess that although I love hymns, listening to the same ones over and over again ad infinitum gets a little wearing at times. Its like being in church and the minister chooses the same hymn or song choice every week, it sometimes loses its appeal. The same as listening to a new song on the radio, we like it at first but after its been played for the hundredth time it loses appeal. Mum doesn’t seem to have that problem. Listening to them genuinely seems to be like an oasis in a desert to her, or maybe not a desert, maybe more of an oasis in a ‘troubled zone’ in her mind.

I remember I had, I think I still have it, a cd of the Scottish Philharmonic Singers singing the Psalms of Scotland. I have it on my iPod now. Modern it can’t be described as but it is one of the most edifying and cleansing pieces of music I have ever heard. There is an organ I think but that’s it as far as instruments are concerned and sometimes that’s so far in the background that all you can hear are the voices of the choir. All of it is spirit enhancing and some of it is breathtakingly beautiful. You could close your eyes and imagine you were watching a heavenly sunrise with the Psalms as the background music.  ’Just’ simple human voices lifting their praises to the heavens and the One who dwells there through the medium of singing words penned by God’s servant from the Psalms so many many years ago. I think I just wrote that it can’t be described as modern, I was wrong, you can’t get much more modern than eternal truth. Its not to everyone’s taste, and different people will have widely different types of music they listen to if they need help at any given time. My mum (mom) finds the hymns work for her, they are something akin to medicine that no doctor can prescribe. The Psalms work for me, as well as the hymns. Medicine prescribed by a master Shepherd.

It can calm my mind like few other things can.

Such hymns and Psalms have a cleansing effect on my mum’s mind like nothing else I know of. Other than prayer of course. Then again, many of these pieces of spiritual worship are prayers in their own right.

Thanks for reading.

Somewhere Amazing


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Technically…

Always optimistic…?Easier said than believed I know.

Easier said than believed I know.

But still.

It’s a thought.

What does it mean?

Possibly…

…that the glass is half full with hope…

…and the other half, even if more pessimistic…

…is still very much redeemable.

Therefore…

…the glass is, technically…

…always full.

As I say.

It’s a thought 🙂

Somewhere Amazing


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To God or not to God, or to God without mentioning God, that is the question…

Some readers of this blog will know that I’ve sometimes had a dilemma over whether to include Christian postings here (being a Christian) or to leave them to a separate blog entirely? 

The original intention with Somewhere Amazing was simply to describe and share those times and places where I’ve found hope and encouragement on many different levels. From that point of view, posts should be shareable from SA regardless of whether they mention Christian things or none at all. 

However, I fully understand that blogging on religion can limit readership and put people off, and indeed gain attention from other Christian blogs, not all of which I’d want to be associated with (I’m talking here about Christian sites with beliefs so bizarre and attitudes so aggressive that I’d be embarrassed to be associated with them).

There have been times when I’ve been on the verge of publishing specifically Christian thoughts but have held back because I’ve known that might alienate some people. I have thought long and hard about this and decided that’s okay. Some postings may well put some people off but I think it may draw others too, hopefully listen and maybe interact and mutually grow.

Its my own fault I’ve felt in a dilemma really, as I started with two blogs but I don’t really have time for two now and sometimes even one is difficult to make time for as circumstances change. Not all my SA postings are directly Christian, but because I am a Christian, even those which never mention God, Jesus, or any other such words, will have theological underpinnings. Everything anyone says inevitably has pre-conditioned underpinnings. I am fine with that. If someone wants to read a specifically Christian posting, great, if it puts others off, that’s regrettable but an unfortunate consequence which I’ll accept.

I am not, I don’t think, a religious nut case or mad person or such like. I’ve been through phases in my life where I’ve been a right wee Holy Joe evangelist, trying to convert anything that moved (just ask the dog!). I’ve been through times when I have, to my shame, been too forceful in thinking I could get someone to accept what I believe by simply repeating my argument in stronger and stronger terms. If I’ve done that with anyone, I apologise. God never forces His views on anyone, He gives us all a brain and presents us all with His views and we are free to think about them and accept or reject as we desire. If we try to argue via force and aggression then we’ve already lost the argument and may have done damage to someone else’s view of the Christian faith which may take years to mend, if at all. I strongly believe that any and all Christian debate and discussion should be rational, reasonable and fair minded and should try to understand an opposing viewpoint as well as your own. To be aggressive and forceful with your views is both a disservice to the God in whose name you speak, and totally counter-productive to the message you’re trying to convey. 

I realise there are plenty of Christians and Christian groups ‘out there’ who are shouty, weird, verging on a lunatic fringe at times (apologies if you’re in those groups), but I hope I’m not one of them. Part of the problem is that nowadays, merely saying something like “I believe in Jesus” or “I don’t agree with this or that” in a normal non-argumentative tone and in a completely rational way, is enough to have you labelled as a God botherer or Bible basher or some other such term. Its like someone simply saying they’re Muslim and others immediately labelling them as terrorists to extremists and immediately being suspicious of them. Its an over reaction and vast generalisation (unless you have evidence to the contrary, and that goes for Christians too). I don’t agree with the Muslim faith, but simply saying you are Christian, or Muslim, shouldn’t have you immediately labelled in a derogatory way. I don’t agree with atheism and I don’t agree with many political parties but to descend into a slanging match by default, is distinctly unChristian (what I call being an unChristian Christian) and again, counter-productive. 

I’ve been warned that being explicitly Christian could bring interest from spammers or cult like people etc who may try to latch onto my blog. If that happens then I will do my level best to latch them right off again. But, as long as I am saying something in a reasonable and non aggressive way then I won’t choose to ‘not’ saying something because of the fear of either spammers coming my way or turning an audience away. Let those who wish to listen, listen, and if some don’t want to or are put off then I respect that. I do appreciate advice though, it makes you think and react and hopefully grow where otherwise you may not.

I have a twitter account and I have had the same issue there, not knowing whether to be Christian or ‘neutral’ or what. There are many Christians, on twitter and facebook (which I use much less these days) and WordPress who, frankly, I wouldn’t want to be associated with as I view their opinions as, sometimes well meant, but so ‘out there’ and antagonistic that it embarrasses me as a Christian and, as I keep saying, it makes their whole argument counter-productive anyway.

I follow and am followed by Christians, atheists, those of some faith and none. Being a Christian doesn’t mean quoting the Bible every sentence, it doesn’t mean shoving God at people every other second (although, again, sometimes simply saying “I believe in God” is enough to have you labelled as someone who imposes their faith on others). I hate swearing and I don’t follow people who swear excessively, although I accept the odd expletive here and there. Its a bit like friends ‘in the flesh’, if I refused to listen to friends who swear then I’d lose a few very good friends. Its part of life. But that’s another topic.   

So to cut what could have been a short story very long, I will incorporate Christian thoughts into Somewhere Amazing, not all the time but as I see fit, and if some don’t want to follow or like or whatever then I respect that choice. But it will be me, being me, which is very important.

Being Christian doesn’t mean quoting God every minute, God is enjoyed and experienced through art and music and books and stories and cartoons and life experiences and nature etc. In so many places where the word ‘God’ is never mentioned.

For Christians, onwards and Godwards.

For Christians and everyone else, onwards and upwards

🙂

ps. my chest feels alot lighter with all that off it, thanks very much.

Thanks for reading.

Somewhere Amazing


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Nothing’s gonna beat you in this life

Hope, laughter, they’re seeking you out 🙂

You think everything is possible

And nothing’s gonna get you baby

Everything is touchable

Nothing’s gonna beat you in this life

It’s alright

Holding hands

Drinking cans

In the orange light

Summer breeze

Feeling free

Kissing the first time

From Stereophonics song Innocent.

Okay, these words are taken slightly out of the context of the whole song but I love these words.

Possibility, belief, endurance, stickability, fun, love, joy, enjoyment, peace, hope.

These are all present in these lyrics.

Of course, anyone with any experience of life knows it isn’t always that simple and life knocks you down as well as giving you wonderful experiences.

But I am trying, and this has been on my mind alot lately, to remember the good every time thoughts seem consumed by the bad, to try to do something to lift the spirits every time the clouds descend. Doesn’t always work but the more I try the more I want to try, the more I succeed the better I feel each time.

The innocence of thinking everything is wonderful is shaken by the reality of life, but the knowledge that tarnished experiences which move from wonder to trauma can still be rescued, can be risen from, can be redeemed, is wonderful.

It is worth fighting to retain that wonder, that fight for hope, shedding the tears knowing that laughter awaits. Believing that laughter will return, that the sun will shine, that hope will show itself once more. Believing that as much as you scream now, you will laugh again, love again, live again, hope again, enjoy life again.

Head bowed? Mind screaming? Tears flowing? Been there. Still go there.

Its alright, hang on, hope is tearing down every barrier, moving the heavens and the earth, demolishing the barbed wire fences, to find you again. 

Laughter will not stop until it has you crying tears of joy again. 

Hold on.

You are, frankly, amazing 🙂

Thanks for reading.

Somewhere Amazing