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Experiencing Christ’s Love: Establishing a life of worship, prayer, study, service and reflection – John Twisleton

July 6, 2017

This is a good guide to making a rule of life if you are fairly orthodox. Although he prays for an hour a day and has a full ‘to do list’  allows time for serendipity.

There’s overlap with his book on the Jesus Prayer.

He rightly says that Christians often don’t advance their knowledge beyond that of Sunday School.

He is wary of reading criticisms of Christianity but maybe it would help him and others to be better apologists I, for example in pub discussions and in witnessing.

He welcomes ‘Pierre Teilhard de Chardin ……..prophesied the connecting up of human consciousness that we now experience in the global internet.’ Given that the majority of it is pornography, I wonder whether such a welcome is deserved.

He rightly points out that far from producing guilt complexes, Christianity releases forgiveness.

I was surprised when he said: As a scientist I got excited, and still do, by new frontiers opening up before me as I applied thought to paradoxes like space being all curves in relativity theory and granular in quantum mechanics. I know that both theories work well independently but they can’t both be right.

I thought paradox in science allowed for it in theology. Otherwise we get scientic fundamentalists.

He says that ‘As a spiritual director, I make myself available for an hour or two, three or four times a year, and people come and go.’ Most SDs would regard that as too little. Indeed, it help to explain why so few clergy give direction and it is a largely lay ministry.

Quotations:

 Lifelong learning gets applauded in many spheres but not enough in the church.

When Richard Dawkins published The God Delusion, I was fascinated to see two reactions among fellow Christians. One was to read the book so as to engage with, or at least be familiar with, Dawkins’ objections to faith; the other was to ignore it. Although I was in the first category, I grew in sympathy with the second, because we choose what we study, and to study something hostile to Christ can damage us. It’s a point made by Paul when he writes, ‘Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things’ (Philippians 4:8).

I try never to allow myself to get deceived into defending God, the Bible or the church, for they are well able to defend themselves. Explaining doctrine is another matter. Contemporary media distort Christian truth so much that you can’t avoid providing the occasional clarification to those who are finding obstacles to belief. One area of study that has been enormously fruitful for me is on forgiveness. There are occasions reported in the media when people really stand out for their forgiveness of others who have done them or their relatives enormous harm. When I study the media, these are the stories I keep in mind, so as to engage people better when they accuse Christianity of being guilt-inducing rather than guilt-ridding. Wherever society balks at passing over evil and engages with it creatively, we have a pointer to what God is ready to do for anyone who will bring him their hurt or sin for healing and forgiveness.

Scientific research is engaging and mind-expanding but it’s lonely. Your ideas get distilled by working in a group, but the narrow field you’re exploring takes you away from common-or-garden life. One day, a colleague described the ‘shallow conversations’ he had overheard in a bus queue. It rang alarm bells. As a College Fellow, I was surrounded by brilliant, lovable yet eccentric individuals with an extraordinary focus. I needed a circle of acquaintance and of service that connected me with life lived by most people and the wisdom distilled from it that I found in abundance when visiting my pensioners. Some were evidently lonely, others more happy to be alone, but all those I met enjoyed connecting up with young people, listening and speaking.

Loving my neighbour is helped by my being generally interested in people. My danger is in getting so carried away with what I have to say (helpful, of course, when writing a book) that I fail to give space to affirm those I’m in company with, by the discipline of listening.

As a young man, Albert Einstein was told off for wasting time, although overall he made a wondrous application of his life to science.38 Deep thinking, making friends and keeping them are among the fruits of keeping blank pages in the diary. One member of my family keeps two mobile phones, one for work and one for everything else, and the work phone is ignored at weekends. Phones with Internet can keep us busy with our own and our work agendas, and we often need to decide betweerr them—and we need to keep phone fasts when we really do waste time and make acquaintances wherever we are. Friends provide the nearest thing to holding a mirror up to our souls, but we cannot make friends, let alone witness to God’s friendship, if every minute of the day is assigned a purpose.

 

.Contemporary media distort Christian truth so much that you can’t avoid providing the occasional clarification to those who are finding obstacles to belief. One area of study that has been enormously fruitful for me is on forgiveness. There are occasions reported in the media when people really stand out for their forgiveness of others who have done them or their relatives enormous harm. When I study the media, these are the stories I keep in mind, so as to engage people better when they accuse Christianity of being guilt-inducing rather than guilt-ridding. Wherever society balks at passing over evil and engages with it creatively, we have a pointer to what God is ready to do for anyone who will bring him their hurt or sin for healing and forgiveness.

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