Lists of Sven

November 30, 2004

I am ridiculously busy at the moment, so haven’t blogged for a while. The house situation is looking slightly brighter because my housemate is finally getting his student loan next week and is going to pay off what he owes, just hope he gets the loan before the landlord gets all legal on us.

Rather humourously, someone here in Manchester chose option E for me and told his girlfriend the situation hahaha. Things are on the up, but I’m moving out soon so I’m not really bothered in one sense.

I’ve decided to start making lists on my blog. I’m not usually a list-person but lists are great when you’re feeling lazy and uninspired on the creative front. Some lists coming to World of Sven in the near future are:

* 100 fascinating things about me (apologies to Valancy Jane for nicking your idea)

* 50 songs you have to listen to before you die

* the 10 most influential books in my life ever

* 25 things I want to do before I’m 30 (and only 7 years to do them in….panic)

* other things I haven’t thought of yet.


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November 27, 2004


Books: I own approximately 450 books, which sit proudly on my many bookshelves. Slightly obscuring this picture of my books is Jonny with his guitar. Jonny is a great musician, but does not yet like metal. But then, he hasn’t moved in with me and Pete yet. Posted by Hello


Pete pulls out his own kidneys

November 27, 2004

Pete pulls out his own kidneys
Originally uploaded by svensvensven.

Fig 1.1 Not many people know that Pete is able to reach into his own body and pull out his own kidneys. Do not try this at home children.


Eyelashes

November 27, 2004

Eyelashes
Originally uploaded by svensvensven.

Yes, I have have freakishly long eyelashes for a man, as you can tell from this picture.

Today this led two of my male co-workers to conclude that I was gay, and so they proudly announced that they were going to get me drunk and do unrepeatable things to me.

Yuck.

One of them was called Phil, who is hilariously funny and will be featuring a lot more on this blog soon I suspect.


Where to start?

November 27, 2004

I’ve been at college or at work all day and accumulated a load of ideas to blog about when I finally got home, but now I’ve forgotten most of them. I’ll get the boring idea out of the way first. It’s probably my longest ever blog entry (over 1300 words in fact), but worth taking the time to read and critique. Probably a bit too heavy on theology-essay-speak, but I’m working on that.

Thoughts on hope and suffering

If you’ve read this blog at all over the last few days, you’ll have noticed that financially, domestically and academically, I am in a world of deepest poo and trouble.

I almost feel embrassed to talk about ‘suffering’, because compared to most of the human beings that have ever lived, I have life so easy it’s untrue. I’ve never been starving, or in a holocaust, or been a refugee or anything like that. In a small sense, I am suffering though. I feel stuck in a mess that’s largely beyond my control and has potentially very nasty consequences.

Although I am not necessarily a very consistent one, I am a Christian. Violent outbursts of temper like the one I posted yesterday aren’t probably all that loving, and not all that well thought through either. However, I promised myself when I started this blog that I would just write what I thought, and not modify or change things or try and cover my tracks when I messed up or went back on something, so I’ll leave it all in.

I am a Christian though, and I follow and worship Jesus. So I have to think through my faith in times like this. I’m vulnerable, and things are bigger than me. Where is God? What can I expect from him? What does he require from me? Does he hear me when I pray? Will he answer my prayers? So much headmess going on.

The cross, the resurrection and hope

Christianity begins with the cross, and the death of Jesus. Before the church, and more important than the Bible is the core Christian belief that God became man, suffered and was killed on a cross. Hanging on the cross, Jesus’ dying words were “My God, my God – why have you forsaken me?”,and then he dies, unanswered and alone.

I feel like that a lot – not to be all melodramatic or anything – but I often wonder where God is. But in the cross-event, God himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, enters into this unique state of aloneness, hopelessness and isolation. In doing so, Christ becomes the companion and brother of everyone who experiences suffering, loneliness and affliction of any kind. He is with me in this.

There is then no room for protest atheism, which rejects a belief in God because of the existence of suffering. The cross is God’s own participation in suffering and rejection, and it is his acknowledgment that humans undergo such trials. In Jesus however, God experiences what it is for humanity to suffer. In his life and death Jesus experiences everything that is bad and dark about human existence. He experiences rejection, loneliness, temptation, being hated, being tortured and everything else that humans suffer. The cross and the death-cry of Jesus show that God is not up in the sky being angry at us, but rather he is alongside us, he is identifying with us, and above all he is for us.

In the resurrection then, God raises the dead Jesus to life – but not the continuation of the same life he had before – it is a new kind of life, one that has overcome death, suffering and sin once and for all. It is a triumph for life and goodness in the face of evil, suffering and death. So God not only identifies with humanity its suffering and weakness, but he transforms it into something new and more glorious. God then opens up whole new possibilities for humanity and for the whole of creation, and we participate in these possibilities by belief in God’s promises about the future and we experience and realise them through the gift of the Holy Spirit, who is a deposit that guarantees what is to come in the future. What God began in the resurrection, he will eventually for all of creation. The resurrection becomes a promise which guarantees that which is to come, it is a defiance and defeat of death and sin.

God’s promises stand in a radical contradiction to the present mess we (and I) find ourselves in. There is injustice, but God promises justice, there is death, but God creates life, there is a feeling that we are abandoned by God, but God enters into this state himself and so abolishes any possibility of real godforsakenness. God’s promises for the future stand in a dialectical contrast to the mess of the present, and believing and acting on these promises, faith is created to transport us to these new possibilities arises and carries us there.

A better hope

What has this got to do with hope then? Well, the creation of new life out of ultimate death becomes a guarantee of what is to come, and opens up the future (don’t worry theologians, I haven’t become Clark Pinnock) in that it unlocks the present from sin, despair and transience. God’s work in Jesus becomes our hope, he is in fact the God of hope, the hope for something different.

So when I talk about hope, I’m not just being mindlessly optimistic or longing for some utopian better future. Jesus is our hope, he is the future, and so he defines what the content of that future will be. The future is glimpsed at the end of the Bible, where there is no more suffering, crying, mourning or pain. The old way of doing things passes away and is replaced by the new, just as the cross was followed by the resurrection. The future will be according to Christ, and will be a future of justice, love, peace, healing and reconciliation between God and humanity.

There are then two sins I could commit against Hope. The first is presumption: I hope and demand something from the future that is contrary to Christ and the opposite of what God wants. I want a way forward that is in contradiction to everything that God stands for.

The second sin against hope is despair: I deny the reality of the faith I proclaim when I fold inward and say ‘there is no hope’. There is, and the quality and location of hope is fixed in the person of Jesus Christ.

Another sin follows, and one I have committed a lot. It is the sin of judging someone. When I judge someone (see many previous occasions on World of Sven), I freeze them as they are. By declaring them to be worthless failures, I also deny any future possibility for them. I view them from the present, and see all their errors and selfishness, but by insisting that someone will always be that way, I deny the reality of the transforming power of Hope, and the ability of God to change people. I forget how much he has changed me, and is changing me.

In closing

So what has this rather lengthy blog entry got to do with anything? In my current mess, I identify more strongly with Jesus on the cross rather than Jesus in his resurrected glory. I do know that there will not be a rapture-like escape out of this mess, but there will be a way forward from it. God is with me in my bleakness, but he will also transform it (and me) because he is faithful, and he has done so many times already. This is why I have a real and unquenchable hope for the future, even when I get really depressed and discouraged, because God is present in suffering, but he is also present and active in transformation and new creation of life, and will never be overcome. God is always with us, and he is always for us as he shepherds us towards the goal he has planned for all creation.

Circumstantially nothing has changed, but I now feel better equipped to deal with life and I will now approach my mess with a great deal more humility and whole lot more hope.

The end (?)


Reality blog – Day 2

November 25, 2004

This is it.

The last straw.

I am way beyond the end of my tether and on the verge of doing something loud, violent and full of swearing as regards my house situation. Why is this you ask? Remember how I was annoyed that my lazy bum of a housemate was effectively being subsidised and kept with a roof over his head by my overdraft and it was annoying me to the point of violence that he just sat on his arse and did nothing about it?

Things just got worse.

I got a letter this morning from our landlord stating that we are now £747 (yes, that’s $1,404.88, or $CDN 1,658.34) in arrears with the rent, and they are going to try and repossess our house.

Guess who hasn’t paid the rent for over four months? I am so PISSED OFF (‘scuse language).

Happily, the overwhelming majority of e-mails and text messages thus far support options A and B (extreme violence) in the voting system, rather than the other ‘softly-softly’ approaches. Here’s a reminder on how to vote, and what the options are:

A. Let my feelings do the talking and smash his head in with a bat.

B. Punch him repeatedly until I get really tired.

C. Confiscate his possessions as collateral.

D. Cut off gas, water, electricity, internet access and the telephone connection to his part of the house.

E. Tell his girlfriend hat she has got herself in for.

F. Direct the baliffs round to his room when they inevitably come round to take things.

G. All of the above, in any order.

To have direct influence in my life and to make my decisions for me, text ‘SVEN’ followed by the appropriate option letter (e.g. SVEN D for option D) to 0044 7779 097234 or alternatively e-mail me here.

Thanks for all e-mails and text messages so far.

Jonny, would you be a character reference for me if I ever went to court?


Just briefly…

November 24, 2004

Before I run off to work…

I have spent hours and hours on this blog despairing over the state of various parts of the Christian faith, and the stupid lengths people go to to be as stupid as possible in order to accomplish their goal of being the most stupid people in the world ever, bar none.

I have found the worst thing ever.

The guy who made this thinks that Pat Robertson, Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell are liberal antichrist sympathisers, so you know he’s got to be a bit MENTAL.

Turn on your speakers, and tune into the audio-visual spectacle that is Hypocrites on Parade.

(My favourite bit was the ‘Lake of Fire prologue’.)

Disclaimer: World of Sven is a Christian organisation, though I often struggle to live appropriately (see post below for example). I do know however that this particular website has nothing whatsoever to do with the Bible, the historic Christian faith, and certainly not Jesus Christ.