ENTRY 1299 | JULY
. . . those who live
according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the
flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their
minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh
is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it
does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot; and those who
are in the flesh cannot please God.
from the Epistle to the Romans chapter 8, from today's
Orthodox lectionary readings
See the homelitical thought below.
After posting yesterday's thoughts about how much easier it is for
me here in Northern Ireland to get opportunities than in San Jose,
a friend replied from San Jose to the effect that I am proving the
axiom that a prophet is not without honor except in his own country.
I don't doubt the biblical axiom, but her comment gave me second thoughts.
I realized it's not Belfast itself that is making my lot easier here
than there, and not even most people here, but a few friends
who've chosen to encourage and "use" me. It may or may not
be easier to find people who are willing to give a friend a boost
here than there, but that's what I've found. But they are individual
people who have their own wills and their own motives, and if they
moved to Silicon Valley they would probably be just as supportive
and helpful there.
In fact, back
in "the day" there were friends in San Jose (Steve
Lester, as one important example) and during my Stanford ministry
years (Tim Bartol, especially, comes to mind) who made many things
happen that I could not have accomplished without their encouragement
and support. So the motivational books have a valid point: what you
do to find the right kind of people to support your vision and goals
and your success in choosing to spend time with such people makes
a world of difference. Maybe I've been doing that here and now without
having set out, consciously, to do so, just because I came here to
get a "fresh start," and thus I have my antennae up for
the people and the opportunities. But I still think there some advantages
in being in a small but vitally alive city like Belfast where, as
friend Marda says, everyone is separated by only "two removes"
rather than the "seven removes" that places like the San
Francisco Metro and New York are famous for.
absorbed by C.S. Lewis for some years now, I have often wondered what
had been the keys to his great success. Though there were many, a
large one that I've never seen addressed head on was the friends he
made. Especially J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams encouraged him
in important ways and their conversations must have inspired some
of the topics of some of Lewis's books and his approach to his topics.
All of the Inklings (of which Tolkien and Williams were two) must
have stimulated more work and creativity than any of them could have
assessed at the time.
When I was
growing up in Blacklick Valley, I was more famous than any of my peers,
because two savvy adults took me under their wings and promoted me.
Rhea Taylor, the schools' music director, make me a star of the Big
Bend School stage, and Andy Rogalski make me a star of the local media.
When I left school I didn't find a replacement for Mrs. Taylor (nor
did I look), and when Andy left Nanty Glo I was left to my own devices.
After I moved to New Jersey (as managing editor of the Christian
Beacon) one of Johnstown's most successful businessmen, whom I
had met only briefly while I was editing the Journal, wrote
to say that he was sorry to hear I had left Cambria County, as he
had expected big things from me. I've always wanted to know "what
big things" but of course I never will.
to more important topics, it's parading season in Belfast, and the
cross-community (which means the Protestants, Catholics, and a couple
of Orthodox who regularly meet to consider how to ease the tensions
between the districts delineated by "peace walls" or, as
one doctoral dissertation calls them, barriers, that criss-cross Belfast.
Right now, the city is holding its breath because July 12 is the most
important date in the "Protestant" faction, somewhat akin
to the States' Fourth of July but with a different kind of fireworks.
Parades have already begun, most of which are made up of Orange Order
fife and drum bands who come together to march from the outlaying
sections of town into the city center.
I put the
quotation marks around Protestant above because as far as I can see
it is not the "observant" Protestants who build 30-foot
highrise bonfires to light up at midnight July 11 but the ones who
live secular lifestyles or, as author Tony
Macaulay calls them, the "atheist Protestants." I am
told that Belfast virtually closes down on July 12 and doesn't open
again until the 14th or 15th. The people who can afford to, get out
of the city for the duration, but we'll be here. I had hoped to get
some visuals of the bonfires, but learning that they begin at midnight
put a damper on that. I've always been a night person but not a "wee
hours of the morning" person if I can help it.
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thought: Christianity has no dualism between the material
(flesh) and the spiritual as Eastern religions do, but teaches that
the flesh is also from God, created by Him and redeemed through the
Son's redemptive work and our own spiritual work (prayer and obedience
through use of the sacraments).
§ § §
my mission to Northern Ireland in your prayers. You
can read my overview of this undertaking here.
My residence/postal address is 227 Crumlin Road, Belfast, Northern
Ireland BT14 7DY, UK. Mobile: 44 7455 980890.
Webmaster Jon Kennedy