PART 4. LIFE, THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING: A little less conversation, a little more action please, or so long and thanks for all the fish

Please see part 1 as to why I am writing this….

Once again, the opinions expressed are my own, informed by my faith and experience and not intended to offend.

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I think that dancing, laughing, eating good fresh food, loving nature, music and art are universal and are to be enjoyed by everyone regularly. Singing  is particularly important and powerful. But no one way of doing it is better than another.

Personally, right now I’m listening to Babel by Mumford and Sons, singing the old hymns, dancing with my children to anything you can have a good dance to, and I just got hold of Graceland again. I’m finally appreciating silence. As I teenager, without proper direction, hurt, confused and angry, I loved the prodigy – music for a jilted generation, the doors, nirvana, the cure (still love them), and the smiths but also U2 and the Beatles. I had a huge crush on Bono, from when he went down and picked that girl out of the crowd at Live Aid. And don’t tell anyone, but I think he is still my secret crush. I loved Cindy Laupers album – A Night to Remember. I can tell you the Beatles films off by heart, I watched them nonstop. (Although I was also watching Pink Floyd, The Wall, at the same time, and was falling in love with film because of the amazing Robert De Niro in Godfather 2 and Taxi Driver). My maiden name is Lennon, and when I was young, I found an album with a person with the same name on it. I thought he must be family. I could be wrong, but I think my dad said that he could have gone to a party with them all when they came to Newcastle in the 60’s. Like, OMG! I always loved John the best but also I really liked Yoko too, and I really liked the way that they loved each other.

I thought this picture was it, but still wanted the riches of our modern world. I was wrong. I  learnt pretty early on, again with hurt to me and others, that drink, drugs, sex and hedonism is fun but pointless and destructive.  Please forgive me, all that I hurt at that time.

jilted gen

King Solomon said it much better than me – Ecclesiastes is a great read. Solomon was richer and more powerful that anyone here today and this is what he concluded:

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

13 Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing,
    whether it is good or evil.

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I’m learning that if I can’t explain it to a child, in a way that they understand, I’m saying too much. And that real laughter and sobbing can sound the same at first. They both take your breath away.

My body is beautiful, especially when pregnant. I do need to take more care of my skin, hair and teeth though. I do have a bit too much hair for my liking, but God is gracious! I’m thinking I may get the braces that I was too ashamed to get as a child.

I think we underestimate everything, especially ourselves. Nelson Mandela’s inauguration speech says it so much better.

I think everyone is a bit of nature and nurture and their own choices but none of these have to define us. I have a genetic tendency for hemorrhoids; it doesn’t mean that’s what I am.

Farting is just funny. In our house, they’re called windypups and they make us all laugh.

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Art and science are not exclusive, they are meant to inform each other. Some of us have inclinations for one in particular, but maybe you can’t have one without the other, and understand truth fully. The universal is bigger than I can even start to imagine, and smaller than anything I will ever know. I just don’t have all the answers of how it all that stuff fits together but I’m glad that other people are curious and diligent to want to find out. From what I understand, quantum physics is basically about how things change their nature when they’re observed. And that things can be 2 separate things at the same time, a wave and a particle, dead and alive. Well, I think your right. I think we are observed by a being that for want of a better word we called god, and his observation of us changes our behaviour. And instead of reducing him to the size of a wafer on Sunday, he is as big as all the parallel universes that you can’t even begin to imagine. And I am both alive in Christ and dead to myself at the same time. My great teacher George Alexander said we have to hold it all in tension, all the conflicts of belief, because everything is two things at the same time. Although it is easier for our tiny finite, lovable, under-used brains that they are just one. And maybe this creator had the infinite galaxies for us to explore like in Star Trek or Dr Who but we’ve been too busy trying to take land, power and resources from each other, or by painting or nails and curling our hair – in a quest to make up for what is lacking inside – to pay attention to all the fun we could have been having. Or maybe we were so noisy, the creator needed the whole of the rest of the universe to rest in.

I think opposites attract is an important principle. Like repels like. Men and women are different for a reason. The colours of our skin are different for a reason. We have different abilities for a reason. I know it is comforting to stay with what you know, it is safer, but it is not right. Living in a community where there is just your own colour or background just makes fear of the other worse. Interracial marriage is one of the most wonderful things in the world. It’s tough, I’m sure, but I get a real thrill when I see it. (Kate and Consol, you’re beautiful people and I can’t wait to meet your little girl when she comes). Racism and sexism are born out of our of fear of the other, usually white men who have had their way for too long. Men have literally raped, beaten, abused and neglected those that were in your care – their women. There’s grace for them, but its time you took up the responsibility that is theirs. ‘You have caused confusion and delay’, as the Fat Controller in Thomas would say. Times are changing fellas, I would love to see a world where the African, South American, Indian and Asian nations have a more equal say, and take up the responsibility they hold, not being beholden to the whites, but lovingly, carefully, responsibly bringing their own unique characteristics to the world. I do have a evolving theory, that the African Americans/Africans have suffered more than most in this world, and maybe they have a really special place to play in the future. Many have tried to suppress their great spirit but none ever could. You are better than the guns, drugs and warring give you credit for my friends. And the Jewish people will always have a very important place in God’s heart. My Lord was Jewish, and I respect this people, including those in my family, that have gone before me.

Maybe the wonderful Latina woman, Imelda, who has cleaned many a house and toilet in Dallas, could be a better leader than we have now? Or her wonderfully bright and generous son. (And I don’t think you should ask someone to clean your toilet unless you’re sick or have a disability. No one likes doing it and maybe it is to remind us of our stinky humanity).

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Unlike my wonderful  father in law, who has taught me much, I don’t know enough about the other religions to really know how they fit in. The desperately wicked things that have been done in the name of Christ or by his people, from the Crusades, to slavery and child abuse by priests and cruelty by nuns, (see film, the The Magdeline Sisters), will be repaid, I have no doubt of that. But as I heard someone say, what about the countries who rejected God altogether? How many millions and millions died at the hands of Stalin, communist China or under Pol Pot? As my friend Jo and I concluded after studying Marx, Weber and Durkheim  for a semester “Yes, its nice in theory  but it just doesn’t work in practice”. Unless people are compelled to share what they have with others from a deep seated love of God, knowing that none of their possessions are theirs anyway, I think the socialist way can’t work because above all else, the human heart is evil. I really need to get into , The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. Ravi Zacharias has been blessed with an ability to say it all  much better than me! http://www.rzim.org/.   I do know that Jesus is the Son of God, and that those who deny that unfortunately are misguided. I think we have so much to learn from the Muslim community about diligence, the need for regular prayer, respect and family. But I don’t think good works get you to God. The true Buddhists can teach us about peace, respect and inner reflection, but my experience has been that without Jesus at the centre, it’s impossible to find true and lasting peace. Japan and the Japanese people will always have a special place in my heart, and I really do love their traditional food, design, ideas on space and order, simplicity, honour, respect for others and love of nature, more than most other cultures. I will try again to learn your language to understand you more. But worship the creator and not the creation.

LGBT community – I believe the Christian community owes you a huge apology. We have represented God to you in such a way that we have made you hurt so bad and made you angry. I should say, I only have vague ideas on this, and I am still thinking it all through.

When God said let us make man (human beings) in his image, I think ‘he/she/it’ meant just that. And God is the Father, Jesus is the Son, but I’ve only just realised that The Holy Spirit’s character is more like the female figure. Maybe something to do with mother nature, call her what you will. She is extremely powerful, wild, fun, a comforter, a guide, a counsellor , a teacher, is wisdom itself, is gentle, infinitely loving, and has a still small voice.  Her Son learnt from her, and she is the ultimate in obedience. She will not come to you unless she is invited, but she can sometimes knock really loudly. On earth, maybe men and women were meant to look like our spiritual counterparts but we, being us, have got it terribly wrong. And sin just means ‘short of the mark, like an arrow when it doesn’t meet it’s target, not that you are bad and evil and unforgivable. Quite the opposite.

I’ve learnt that it is almost impossible to trust an invisible all powerful being until you have had a human being on earth that you have been able to fully trust and who loves you. I personally couldn’t do it and wondered why the whole time I called myself a believer, why I couldn’t fully trust Him, when he said it was so important to do so. I know now I do trust at least one person on earth, and actually a lot more, and it has released me to trust God. Those of you who have got close to him and been rejected by the rules and hypocrisy of the church, who expected you to perform or be a certain way without loving you first and gaining your respect and trust, well I admire you hugely and I’m sorry for what the body of Christ has done.

I clearly can not speak for you all, but those of your community that I know and love, are some of the most loving, caring, fun, intelligent, creative people to be around. It is not our role to judge anyone, God alone is judge. My understanding  is that the bible teaches us to admonish and encourage those within our spiritual community when they sin, (and you are not sinful if you truly love, lust is sinful), not those who do not believe in Him. My marriage is not in any way diminished by you marrying (if by marriage we mean one partner for life, that we love who is our cheerleader and encourager for life), but I believe God’s plan was for a man and a woman, see above – like repels like, opposites attract. It’s tough for a reason. We can’t do it unless God helps us. My experience has been that my friends who are gay have been deeply let down by the same sex figure in their lives, and the love that they so desperately needed – and were more sensitive to not getting by design – was cruelly and painfully taken from them. The figure of God that should have been represented by those on earth was deeply corrupted.   I’m so so sorry.  I would like to listen to your stories. And better that a child be in the house of a gay couple being really loved, than in a house of hypocrisy and abuse.

TBC…..

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Part. 1 INTRO: A little less conversation, a little more action please, or so long and thanks for all the fish

OK, where do I begin? This will be our last blog post, or should I say, posts. I’ve had to break it into 6 easier-to-digest chunks. I just started to write some thoughts and it turned into 11,000 words. If only that had happened at university.

So, I will say this only once (dodgy French accent), and then shut up.

This is my Jerry Maguire moment.

And enough of the social media, especially facebook, at least for now, I’ve got too much other stuff to do. Friends, if you want to get hold of me, please email, skype or call me, or better still, come see me.

I do and say all of this for a few reasons, but the main one is that there’s a lot of people talking. Sometimes that is a really good thing, as some people have never had a chance to talk. But unless it’s really important, I don’t want to add any more noise to our already too noisy world. I have found my peace. I stopped trying to do everything, and finally gave in – a ‘diving bell and the butterfly’ moment, Thelma and Louise jumping off the cliff. And I got caught. Yes, there is a God, He saves, He redeems, His Grace is huge and bigger than anything you can imagine. Jesus is His Son, and He died a horrific, painful, shameful death so that we can come back to our Father and rest in His love. I’ve called myself a Christian for over 15 years but have only just got this. It’s awesome, in the real sense of the world. And wonderful, and scary, and big. It’s how our life is meant to be, and not like The Office. It may sound crazy, but I am of sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Anything by  C.S.Lewis says this much better  than I ever could.

So, I need to stop talking. And also telling people how to do things, or how great God is and just do what He tells me to do. When I am obedient, it is actually really fun and releasing and free from worry. There are people here and now who really, really need help, right now. Dallas is the place I am in for now, and it is full of hurting people, and they’re right here and I’ve been too busy worrying what you might think of me, or that I needed more money, or more stuff to help them.  I’ve been the Sadducee who walks to the other side of the road, and I’m sorry. I don’t need the stuff and I don’t want to clutter up your life either, but if I have it and you need it, my hope is to let go of it, and to give it to you.

I have been an angry Martha watching Mary for so long that I didn’t realise that all I had to do was sit at His feet and listen. His yoke is easy and his burden really is light. The transition for me to stop trying is hard, its like stopping a hurricane, and bringing forth new things is as painful as childbirth, but a new creation is evolving in me.

I have held my sweet daughter’s hand – her right hand – pretty much from the moment she was born. Now, despite all our efforts to try to get her to sleep with a ‘lovie’, a toy or a blanket like my son, she finds it hard to sleep with out holding my or my husband’s hand. And you can criticize me for my parenting style,  but I love it (and for a long time I put her needs before mine, which is our very normal and natural instinct mothers, but its wrong, you can’t love others if you can’t love and care for yourself). I love to hold her hand and have her close, as much as she loves it too. And she is able to do what I can not yet do but which I must learn from a babe – that you can sleep peacefully, when you know you are safe, and loved.

The opinions expressed here and in the next 5 posts, are my own, not God’s. If you want to find out what he says, ask Him. I am a deeply, deeply flawed human being, saved by grace. Grace is what makes the difference. I say none of this to offend, to hurt or to place blame (apart from the bit about the guns). But I also don’t ask for your approval for my opinion, gained through my experience,  my knowledge, my heart and my brain. But I do need to get it off my chest. It is a wee bit longer than I thought I was thinking, it turns out I have a lot to say, but  if you’re up for listening, get a cuppa and a creme egg and have a wee sit. (and i take no credit for any of the clips).

To be continued….

Family, the section below is from blog no 5, coming up. I wrote this 3 weeks ago. It becomes all the more poignant after the events of today, so just had to include it.

Please my dear father, do this one thing for me. Put as much effort into getting help for your bodily pain as you do worrying about it. As wise Merit says, you need to change your diet, start doing yoga and/or get a dog so that you can relax. Your health was the number one reason that I would have come home (and that I know you both miss your grandchildren so much) but I can’t make you take care of yourself, only you can. Do it quickly, because I love you more than pretty much anybody else on earth and I’m not ready to let you go.

Mercury Undercover

When you meet other independent filmmakers, you know you are in the company of like minds – people who do things for the love and not the money, who often work very hard, and when it comes to their own projects, work for free. When making our teaser trailer for our film, Crew 713, we had the pleasure of working with Daniel Montoya and his partner, Elizabeth Hong, who exemplified these traits, as well as being lovely people.

Daniel kindly helped us with the editing and some graphics on the trailer. We got to talking about their previous work, and it turns out they had been working on a project that was very close to my heart, well, more like close to my mouth. Their film is Mercury Undercover, a documentary about the use of the extremely poisonous substance – mercury – in fillings. Daniel and Elizabeth found case studies of those that have been affected, dentists and conservationists who show what a horrific effect this chemical has on the body and the environment. What is scary is that dentists have known about its harmful effects for over 100 years, and yet it is still the most common type of filling. The documentary is well made, with great graphics and animation that will really make you think about what dentists are putting in your mouth.

The reason this is especially resonates with me, is more personal. When I was in my first year of university I started to have symptoms that were similar to Crohn’s disease – specifically oral Crohn’s. Anyone who knows about this particularly nasty disease will know it’s not pleasant and affects all parts of your life. Apart from an inflamed gut,  one of my main symptoms was swelling in my mouth, which, to be fair, made me look like I had had my lips pumped with something that shouldn’t have been there. Considering people pay to look like that, it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. But as the symptoms continued, a bright doctor considered doing an allergy test. The contents of my fridge and some odd chemicals were put on my arms and back and monitored over 5 days. At the end of the 5 days, the doctor made an unprofessional squeal when they saw my back. I didn’t see it, but apparently it was pretty bad. That was where the tiniest bit of mercury had been. Turns out, just like everyone on the planet, mercury is really bad for me. And because I have a sweet tooth like a child, I had a mouth full of it. The fillings were taken out and replaced by shiny white ones, which was a complicated procedure, as they had to protect any mercury from going into my gut. It took 3 or 4 sessions with gauze over my throat for nearly 3 hours, but almost instantaneously  my Crohn’s symptoms disappeared and, unfortunately, my lovely big lips.

thankfully, I did not look like this

Crazy but true. I highly recommend you find out about the way mercury fillings may affect you. And you can see a film by some great local filmmakers.

Here’s the link to the film: http://www.mercuryundercover.com/ and the facebook page : http://www.facebook.com/mercuryundercover

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The Origins of Animation?

If I was to ask you when animation began, where would you go? 1995, Toy Story (don’t laugh, there are kids out there that can’t imagine even that far back!). OK, more serious, the 1920s, Disney? How about Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in 1911? Earlier? OK, what about Emile Renynaud’s 1892, Pantomimes Lumineuses? But then there was the Zoetrope from William George Horner in 1834. But even that can trace its origin as far back as AD 180(ish) China. So is that it? Animation started in China sometime around 180 AD? Well, apparently not.

It’s been I while since I’ve put finger to key here and offered any peas of my mind. What with back surgery, welcoming a new baby, a stereotypical toddler and working up to 4 projects at a time, there’s not a lot of opportunity. However, last week as I was making an urgent nappy (diaper) run to the store, I caught a few minutes of PRI’s The World on the radio. And in these few moments an interesting story caught my ear.

Marc Azéma, a French archaeologist and film maker, has been studying French and Spanish cave art for 20 years and has come to the belief that many of the depictions were deliberately designed, not just to show the subject is moving, but to actually show that movement. He proposes that they should be viewed sequentially in much the same way we would a modern animated cartoon and has created a video to demonstrate this;

He also makes the bold suggestion that these cave paintings, estimated to be in the region of 30,000 years old, mark the beginnings of cinema – albeit several evolutionary stages away from what we have now. I’m not wholly convinced myself, it’s a wonderful idea and in the video he has created a great supporting visual for his idea. But it is a video he has made himself by superimposing the various paintings over one another, not exactly concrete scientific evidence.

So, were the Neanderthals of prehistoric France and Spain the originators of the moving image? Or is Mr. Azéma’s theory yet another of archaeology’s grand speculations – I mean, come on, can we really know what colour a stegosaurus’s belly was?!  Why not take 6 minutes out of your day to listen to the man yourself and watch the video, then make up your own mind.