2016- Reflections on a year.

Herein, I will share some soppy ruminations on a year in my life, based loosely around three areas which inevitably overlap and intertwine- The World, Family and Friends, and The Spirit in the realm of ideas.

For many, 2016 is a year in which they will remember the election of Donald Trump as President or for the slew of celebrities who passed away. Both unfortunate but neither all that surprising in the big picture… Life will go on and I personally will not allow my mood, my mind and emotions in an ultimate way, to be dictated by what’s happening in far places to people I do not know, affect me. In fact, the whole cult around political leaders, around celebrities and the increasing overlapping of the two is what disturbs me more.

Anyway, the meaning of the year, any year, that is worth speaking of is what it means to you personally, so I just wanted to express a certain gratitude for the many blessings i’ve been fortunate to receive this year.

I have still got a lovely supportive, healthy and happy family at home, am enjoying living in London with my brother and have met many amazing people. My family and friends are scattered around the world but are generally happy and whilst they are getting on with their lives I know that they will always be there for me and we can just slip right back into delightful conversation after an age apart.

Finishing my PGCE in a lovely environment at St Mary’s and meeting so many fun and interesting people has been a gift. To be highly educated and have true career options is something that most in the world can only dream of and I do appreciate it more than most probably realise.

…Then, there is ‘the girl’; again I feel blessed that I’ve met a girl that is beautiful, sweet and caring. So far we’ve already seen and done so much together and share so much in common. To share visions, goals and a plethora of interests with someone is an amazing blessing. We both love travelling and have managed to get away together already, to the lovely Cotwsolds and have Switzerland to look forward to in 2017. Indeed I always hoped i’d meet someone with a great sense of humour, someone who is adventurous, lovable and respectful. I’m in a position whereby I can say that I am looking forward to the next year and beyond together; Thanks be to God for his Grace. Haha

For me, at another level, I have read many great books this year, seen many great films, been to new and exciting places, achieved personal goals(not without help) and have a clear sense that life is worth living, probably now more than ever. I have never been more convinced that there is a justification for a real hope and that even though life is hard and there is much work to do to make the world right, that God is ultimately in control and there is a meaning to it all.

Anyone who knows me well will know that I love reading, movies and various arts. Among the leading lights for me this year in making the world appear a better, more Godly and more humane place, as well as giving life’s big issues context, are:

Fr John Behr- This man has the clearest and most commonsense Theological view of Marriage and Sex I’ve ever seen, as well as profound meditations on Theological anthropology in general. http://www.svots.edu/sites/default/files/marriage-ascetisicm-sobornost.pdf

Dr Gregory Boyd- Whose ‘warfare worldview’ answered a lot of the questions i’ve had for a long time about ‘the problem of evil’. His books and talks on this subject are stellar and i’d recommend to anyone who wants to become a more thoughtful and caring human being. Dr Richard Beck, his friend, is also fantastic on reintroducing an understanding of evil in the world. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Olm5RTphmPM

Neither of these gents are not without their problems Theologically and otherwise but they’ve played an invaluable role in my own developing sensitivity.

Dr Peter Leithart- Why be grateful at all’ what is it and why is it significant? This man provides beautiful answers in his work ‘Gratitude, an Intellectual History’. http://bookzz.org/book/2635128/1279cd

Fabrice Hadjadj- For bringing the Gospel to life in an immanent and intelligible way, there is no one better. =I’ve gained a lot from his insights into the every day and taken for granted. http://www.ilsussidiario.net/News/Culture-Religion/2010/10/4/FABRICE-HADJADJ-Our-Terrible-Longing-for-Happiness/117016/

Dr Paul Gottfried- This man is the most controversial on the list but offers an irreplaceable criticism of the cultural and political left, which is almost non- existent in Ireland or Britain. He is well aware of the naivety of ‘liberal Christians’ susceptibility to leftist and anti-Christian ideas. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYPAvT-3Fvs

Best Movies and TV I’ve seen- Finding Dory, Stranger Things, The Boondocks, The Gods must be crazy, Rogue One.

New Years resolutions- Go back to boxing, the gym and do some voluntary service.

2017 is a chance to go deeper into the mystery, discover new places and people and become a better Christian.

Happy New Year to family and friends, loved ones and strangers.

Shalom.

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