Tuesday, 29 July 2008
Friday, 25 July 2008
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
This morning I started to read a research report that had landed on my desk in recent weeks. I didn’t even get through the Executive Summary before I binned it.
The problem wasn’t the content – I didn’t read enough of it to be able to assess its value. The issue was the use of language. Maybe it’s a symptom of my increasing grumpiness in middle age, but I am thoroughly fed up with government agencies, quangos and other people who don’t directly deliver services talking about the need to drive up standards.
To talk of driving up standards infers two things to me.
Firstly, it suggests that standards are not adequate as they are. This begs a further question – is it the standards that are inadequate or the performance against these standards?
Secondly, the assumption that improvement can only come through driving up implies that there is a significant degree of reluctance from at least one of the parties being discussed.
The people producing these documents are frequently the same people who exhort those working in UK public services to work collaboratively; to develop partnerships; to breakdown artificial barriers between agencies etc, etc. Yet the rhetoric doesn’t match the reality.
In my view if they wanted to work in genuine partnerships, they would use language that fitted with that approach.
Here endeth the rant… (for today!)
Monday, 21 July 2008
Friday, 18 July 2008
Thursday, 17 July 2008
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
Friday, 11 July 2008
Thursday, 10 July 2008
Wednesday, 9 July 2008
Tuesday, 8 July 2008
Monday, 7 July 2008
Sunday, 6 July 2008
The river wasn't absolutely still, but it struck me that the gentle movement made it seem even more beautiful and peaceful. The effect of the reflections on the river’s surface was almost like some of the Impressionist paintings (the photos don’t really do this justice).
I guess that there would've been strong currents beneath the surface, but the overall feeling was one of tranquillity. After taking some photos I simply stood and watched for a while. I felt completely relaxed and ‘in tune’.
That feeling of tranquillity has kept coming back to me, and it feels like God is speaking through it.
Over the course of the last week, I’ve been grappling with Mark’s account of the Transfiguration, and have found myself returning to the voice from the cloud:
“This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
Listening is easy – hearing and heeding are harder. How do I get from listening in my head to obeying in my heart?
Well, in some way it seems to be about hearing the gentle whisper, rather than the roaring wind. It’s about combining being still and being restless. Being still to hear, and restless to obey. The tranquillity of knowing God’s presence and hearing his voice, and the restlessness of desiring and seeking change.
As ever, Heschel seems to capture it more comprehensively and eloquently:
“We ring the hollow bell of selfishness rather than absorb the stillness that surrounds the world, hovering over all the restlessness and fear of life – the secret stillness that precedes our birth and succeeds our death. Futile self-indulgence brings us out of tune with the gentle song of nature’s waiting, of mankind’s striving for salvation.”