So, a slightly belated Happy New Year to you all. Before we move on to new things, how was 2014 for you?
For me it was a fairly challenging year that I’m not entirely sorry to bid farewell to. Continuing government cuts meant some unsettling changes at work, and I’ve been further inducted into the Dark Arts of Marketing. And the protracted saga of selling our home of 13 years, buying and moving into a new one felt a bit like pulling teeth and took the best part of the year. I also took a year out of regular church commitments, and my attendance became sporadic at best – which I attempted to justify here…
Highlights of my year included pilgrimages to two places of personal spiritual significance – the Harry Potter Studio Tour (only half joking 😉 ) and the lovely St Hywyn’s Church in Aberdaron, North Wales. This was the church of 20th-century poet-priest R.S. Thomas, and it’s a beautiful place where you kneel at the altar to hear the waves breaking and the cry of seabirds. I’ve decided I want to be buried there, though hopefully not for a few years.
I also happily rediscovered live music, both rock and classical. The former took me to the very civilised On Blackheath festival in September (Frank Turner, Athlete, The Levellers, Imelda May). The latter saw me at the London premiere of UK composer Jonathan Dove’s brutal-beautiful choral work in commemoration of WW1, For an Unknown Soldier (my write-up here if you’re interested).
2014 news round-up
Meanwhile the earth limped on, somehow managing to evade Armageddon for another year. And out in the wider world, there were one or two news stories that even the most hermit-like of us are unlikely to have missed.
The Middle East and Syria continued to be a horrific bloodbath, with no obvious solution in sight. Islamic State and Ebola reared up in competition to be humanity’s deadliest scourge. We had the tragic suicide of Robin Williams – which who among us can afford to condemn?
On a happier note we landed the Rosetta probe on a comet – a remarkable technical feat, albeit raising questions of how much money it’s justifiable to throw at scientific missions.
Apparently we had a World Cup (which I happily missed completely), ending in defeat for the host nation, and locally a Scottish Independence referendum with an arguably similar result.
In the smaller Christian world, Vicky Beeching came out as gay, and Archbishop Welby confessed to having doubts. And possibly the best Pope of all time continued to be a thorn in the flesh of his own Catholic establishment.
Business and finance news… sorry, I neither know nor care. Except that the financial crisis has continued to hit the poorest hardest, and some of us are starting to wonder if there’s any alternative to unfettered capitalism.
Book and film of the year?
So what was your book, album, film or TV series of the year? Though I haven’t finished it yet, my book choice will probably turn out to be Lamentation, the latest in C.J. Sansom’s superlative series of Tudor detective mysteries with their hero the hunchbacked lawyer Matthew Shardlake. The danger and atmosphere of the troubled period grab you by the throat, and the plot revolves around heresy hunts and religious tensions between traditionalist Catholics and reformist Protestants in the last days of Henry VIII.
Film of the year… I’d hoped it would be Hobbit 3, and it had some great moments, but I got bored by all the CGI silliness and computer-game fighting.
TV series – spiritually speaking, it would have to be Rev, or (at the risk of losing all masculine credibility), Call the Midwife. I’ll add Doctor Who and Sherlock in too from sheer personal bias.
Music – I’d hoped that the new U2 album might deliver something good, but looks like that didn’t work out. Bastille and Biffy Clyro have been my bands of the year, and for classical I’ll shout out for Jonathan Dove again.
Meanwhile, this blog has been going exactly 4 years now, and I thank you all very sincerely for bothering to follow it. I’m well aware that blogging always runs the danger of being merely a vanity project, so please nudge me if I’m getting self-indulgent.
Over the last year we looked at a range of subjects, including whether God has a perfect plan for your life, whether and how we can hear from God, and what to do with our uncertainties. I also investigated the cheerful topics of suffering and sin, and revisited the ever-uncontroversial subject of homosexuality.
I rather ironically ended up arguing with atheists under a post titled ‘Stop arguing with atheists!’ And the other most active post this year has been an old one, ‘Hating God’, which appears to have attracted a sizeable new audience of people feeling aggrieved with the Almighty.
Looking ahead… a recently reduced commute means I can’t blog as much, which may come as a relief to many. But as always, I’ve got a massive backlog of posts awaiting the cold light of day. Here’s a short selection if you’d like to see any of them move up the publication schedule:
- Series on the Bible, inerrancy and other fun stuff
- The myth of redemptive violence
- To believe or not to believe?
- Why I gave up trying to save the world
- Why doesn’t God just make everyone Christian?
In the meantime I wish you all an excellent 2015. Please keep commenting – it gets a bit lonely otherwise! 😉