Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The day I nearly died

Today will always be remembered as the day on which I nearly died. Very nearly.
Oh I covered it up pretty well, lived as if nothing in the world were troubling me; devil-may-care, happy-go-lucky. All of that stuff.
But in fact, the day started with a brush with death more terrifying than anything I have ever experienced. I nearly never made it out of the house this morning. In fact, I nearly never made it out of the bathroom.
Yes, our story starts, once more in the bathroom (This is the other time a visit to the bathroom went pear shaped: Oh, there's a bird perched on the shower curtain rail.)
I had breakfasted on peanut butter, lavishly spread across a slice of Kingsmill medium white. Doesn't sound particularly civilised or refined, but you really can't beat it, especially when washed down by a cup of tea with milk and one sugar. So far so good.
Breakfast done with, I went to go and remove its taste and smell from my mouth by brushing my teeth. Now I try to be diligent with my mental, I mean dental, health, lest the evil orthodontist man (See http://joshramble.blogspot.com/2011/07/mouthful-of-abuse.html) shout at me again for not brushing properly. Git. Anyway, his telling off of me worked, because I brushed with standard brush, then with the little one, then I went for mouthwash. This is where the problem started.
Before I actually reveal my folly, I will explain a little more. I was tired! I had stayed up quite late reading the Bible, and that is the actual truth, I'm not just trying to Christian myself out of the blame, and this lack of sleep was taking its toll the morning after the night before. I wasn't fully awake, and was operating on auto-pilot somewhat. Auto-pilot, like any modern technology is fantastic when it works, as it had done for my breakfast and brushing. Where auto-pilot falls down is when it fails.
Auto-pilot says when you have a piece of toast, you spread peanut butter on it. Well, mine does anyway.
Auto-pilot says when you have a boiled kettle, you pour its contents into the same mug as your tea bag, milk, and one sugar.
Auto-pilot says when you have a toothbrush with toothpaste, you rub it across your teeth.
Auto-pilot says when your pour a liquid into your mouth, you then swallow it.
Great with tea. Bad with mouthwash.
Hopefully you can see where this is going. If not, I'll spell it out. I swallowed my mouthwash.
As I did it, I was looking in the mirror at my out-of-focus face. I watched as it drank the mouthwash, and for a split second, looked like everything was fine. I watched its throat gulp. I saw as its eyes widened a moment later, and all of my face's features panicked. Only then did my mind register what was going on, and it panicked.
I snatched up the bottle, without really knowing why. I hoped it might calm my fears somehow, perhaps by showing me some chemical ingredient that comforted me. 'Oh phew, it's made of C7HO9PRx! That positively masaaaages the throat!'. That didn't happen. Instead, the bottle screamed 'DO NOT SWALLOW' in capitals and everything!
It was about this moment that my throat started to burn. I put my hands to my larynx and started choking, and collapsing to my knees, before I realised that it wasn't actually that bad. I got up, feeling like an idiot, and that was when the belching started. I don't like to be too vulgar or anatomical, this is a family blog after all, but honestly, these were real bone-shakers, right from the diaphragm. (What a ridiculous word.)
These subsided eventually, and I did survive, and have since gone on to live a normal, healthy life, but it does raise serious questions about society. Somehow.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Funny thing, Infinity

I sit here with my laptop. The very same machine on which I have typed up every post on this blog. I haven't had it long, but long enough for my backspace key to feel a bit tired, and my space bar do sound more like a typewriter. And I think about what I might get next time I come to buy a laptop, and when that might be. The point is, this thing around which a large part of my life is based will be here for the blinking of an eye, and then it will be gone, and forgotten.

Let's zoom out to my life. 10 years after I die, will I be remembered? How about 50 years, or 100, or 1000? The answer is, probably not. And in the context of the whole world, it is fair to say that I am nothing more than a vapour, a tiny little blip on the radar of everything.

We zoom out a bit further. Jess has, on her wall, an old map of the world. It has the USSR on it, the Belgian Congo, Rhodesia and so on. These would have felt like mighty, massive states at the time, particularly to the people who lived there; like they were built to last, something to be relied on. History has said otherwise. They are gone. And one day, they will be forgotten.

Even the beautiful image that is the surface of the Earth hasn't always looked like this, and won't always do. They say it used to look like this:
And will one day look like this:

The Bible tells us that one day, the whole thing will cease to exist, and God will build a new one. 

So my question is, why put your trust in something that is here today, gone tomorrow? My laptop, qualifications, a good job, money, sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, your country, your ideology, empty religion, mankind.
You can build your life around any of these things quite easily, but the life you build will come crashing down when they do. 

And after they are gone? One Thing remains. The kingdom of God. The only thing that can stand up to the test of infinity, and the only thing designed to have lives built around it.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The biggest, greatest, most villainous brain teaser ever!

Here's one for you. This afternoon, I was sat dining with Jess (that's my girlfriend, on the off chance I have any readers who are not close personal friends wishing to humour me, who don't know). It was some sort of pasta tomatoey concoction. Nothing out of this world, but nourishing and enjoyable nonetheless.
 Then came the good news; her mother stands up and announces that there is a small amount of Ben and Jerry's ice cream remaining. Now, this blog has never been, and most probably will not be given to product placement (oooohhh look, my brother just walked past drinking a delicious, refreshing looking bottle of Coca Cola, generously priced at £1.20 in the co-op. See their website for details and promotional offers. Don't visit the one Bernice works in though), but the fact is that whomsoever Ben and Jerry happen to be, they make Ice Cream from an entirely different league to any other ice cream manufacturer before or since. If you disagree, you may post me samples of alternatives.
Anyroad, I was very excited by the prospect of this tasty-and-surprisingly-good-value dessert, and it was brought forth from the freezer. The lid was peeled back to reveal a pot of brown mush. OK, it wasn't all that bad, but I would not describe it as 'freezing'. My preferred adjective might be 'a bit parky'. (That means quite cold, if you're foreign or stupid.)

We were a little alarmed by this, and Jess observed that a few things had come out of that freezer not quite frozen.
'Perhaps the freezer needs to be turned up a bit' Suggests her mother. And then it hit me. The brain teasing conundrum of this fledgling century:

When you make a freezer colder, are you turning it up, or down?

No, don't turn your computer off! Read it again! Because there is a good case for both sides.
In order to make the freezer colder, the power must presumably be turned up.
But in the very act of turning the power up, you are turning the temperature down!
And if you wanted to increase the temperature, you would turn the power down, in order to turn the temperature up!

Well, as you might imagine, this has blown my mind completely. Of those whom I have asked to provide me with some sort of answer, 99% don't care, 0.5% abstained, and each side earned 0.25% of the vote. So I am asking you my readers (who either like this blog, and may care, or otherwise have stumbled across it and don't. If you're in the second category, leave this page now, go on with your daily life, preserve your sanity, pretend this never happened) to decide! Answers on a postcard or a comment, I get very few of either.

Sorry for the recent glut of posts by the way. They're like buses you know...
(I mean you wait ages for one then 2 come along at once, in case you were in any doubt. If you were, you're a dipstick.)

Monday, 2 January 2012

The Gravity of Jesus

I'm reading a book at the moment, and right now it's discussing the various responses we saw to Jesus at Christmas, and the responses we still see every day.
At Christmas, there is a beautiful contrast between the visitors of Jesus when he was born. The wise men or Magi were astrologer priests from what was the Persian Empire at the time, and could not have been more different from the shepherds. The shepherds were Jewish and the Magi were gentiles. The shepherds were poor, uneducated, simple people, who survived only by their love and understanding of animals. The Magi were scholars, and rich ones at that, judging by their gifts.
Imagine Stephen Fry, Noam Chomsky and Stephen Hawking arriving at the same time as a bunch of Somali pirates. This really was the ultimate mix of social haves and have-nots.

But this shows us something about the Christian faith. It shows us the unrivalled breadth of its appeal, the nature of its God as the ultimate Welcomer, the absolute certainty of the truth in Romans 2v11, that God does not show favouritism.
And we see the fruits of this all over the world today. It becomes increasingly clear that almost all religions are more or less ethnic. You would be more surprised to see a white Australian Sikh, perhaps, or a West Indian Hindu than an Indian Christian. Christianity is the only religion I am aware of which bucks this trend; it is absolutely not a white man's religion. In fact, about 80% of the world's Christians are non-white and non-Western. That amounts, according to my hasty calculations, to 1.76 billion people who are non-white, non-Western Christians. In fact, the country with the most Christians in the world is the USA, followed by Brazil, Mexico, Russia, the Phillipines, Nigeria, DR Congo, China (the fastest growing Church in the world), Italy, Ethiopia, Germany and Britain.

Why is this? Coincidence? It'd be a big one. Or is it the universal appeal of Jesus? The gravitational pull of a God who transcends all, yet chooses for the sake of love, for the sake of us, to enter our world as helpless and leave it triumphant? The same pull that brought the shepherds from their fields and the Magi from the East? The same pull that draws in people of all cultures every single day, providing one of the most convincing evidence that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world?
I rather think the latter.