Monthly Archives: November 2014

Emotional Healing at the Alpha Course

I want to share that after an Alpha Course evening on healing, in which I received prayer for my psychological dependencies…

…  I went home, tuned into one of my usual nostalgia-triggers, feeding the addiction for the illusory out of mechanical habit, and out of that draw of longing in my heart and my mind for emotional satisfaction in anything, anything but God…

… I put the music on, hoping for the wash of dopamine to come as the familiar memories and imaginations came into my mind…

But tonight, now, after receiving healing prayer at Alpha, something else happened instead. Every time my mind tried to go to those thoughts, the rhythm of that enduring bass line pounded in my head, frazzling it. Where my thoughts tried to gravitate back to the idolatrous images, that solid, pacing beat caused the front of my head to ache. I could not send my thoughts to where my psychological addiction wanted them to go, without it hurting. So I stopped trying. And I let the peace of God wash over me. And you know…? Through that song, which I had used again and again to take me away from my consciousness of God and into the illusory, imaginary world of self where I would give free reign to my psychological addictions and emotional dependencies  – I actually managed to worship with a clear head. Tentatively, I saw and touched the divine through my trigger-music. I even enjoyed it more. Now I feel empowered. I feel empowered and I feel real, and I feel immersed in the present. How long will this last before I relapse? I don’t know, and I don’t want to imagine. But I’ll be getting more prayer as and when, and if. Thank you God for all that you did at Alpha tonight, and for your beautiful music, and for all that you do and continue to do. You are totally amazing.

The piece of music is below. My apologies to the wonderful pianist whose playing and ad-lib style I greatly admire. Your playing is beautiful, and I’m sorry that I misused it.

 

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Our debate was censored this week. Here’s our side of the story

 

My introductory comments to this reblog are not brief – and they are not brief because this is a matter that is very close to my heart. It concerns an instance of political freedom of speech being institutionally suppressed by my alma mater, Christ Church, Oxford University, and I speak as an alumnus with a strong affection for the place I came to know as my intellectual home. As a student I had felt welcome and safe to make my voice heard no matter how esoteric or controversial my views were. From French and Italian literature tutorials to ad hoc discussions with friends and acquaintances in the Junior Common Room in the early hours in the morning, no matter how sharply we disagreed there was usually an abiding bond of respect for each other’s right to hold their perspective. It was a bond that I treasured, because it gave me the room and the freedom to grow into what I am today, and it pains me to see in light of recent events that it is the ones who would see that bond dissolved who are holding the greatest sway over the college’s powers that be.

I found out few days ago about a high profile abortion debate that was to be hosted within the grounds of my old college, and was cancelled by the college authorities on spurious grounds of ‘security’. This was after a radical feminist group within the college had threatened a disruptive protest over Facebook in their insistence that male pro-life voices had no right to a public platform in the college and expressed their aim to have the event shut down at all costs and by all means. Sympathisers roused support from the undergraduate democratic body to the effect that their representatives should convince the authorities to terminate the debate in view of potential ‘welfare issues’ and ‘security risks’. The college authorities, in spite of possessing the power to act against the student body, granted their request on the rationale that had been presented to them by the representatives, and shut down the event before the protests could take place. The high profile debate was to be held between two prominent male journalists, one pro-choice and one pro-life, and was organised by Oxford Students for Life. The story has been covered in student, national, international and transnational media and the institutional suppression of discussion that it constitutes, as well as effective success of what was a deliberate plot by the radical feminist group to institutionally suppress the right to freedom of political expression in a university setting, has outraged many individuals, Christian and non-Christian, students and non-students, left-wing and right-wing, and of pro-choice and pro-life persuasions.

I was appalled by the way my alma mater used its power to silence voices rather than to nurture them, and to censor thought rather than promote it. It was to a large extent Oxford that taught me how to think, and how to express myself through my thinking. It shaped me – like a nourishing mother – by growing and liberating my mind and my voice, and it did so especially when it engaged with that voice by disagreeing with it and challenging it. For this, I have the deepest respect and a warmth of regard towards all who personally taught me, and it would be irrational – let alone unfair – to tar them with the brush of the institution.

But in a broader sense I feel betrayed by her. By using paltry excuses to shut down discussion between these two male journalists at the bidding of the politically protected pro-choice feminist party that wanted to ensure the suppression of pro-life voices, I feel that she has by extension illegitimized the voices of all those who differ from the liberal orthodoxy by signalling that our time is up, our toleration as dissenting voices is over, by sheer force of majoritarian muscle the door to the debating platform has been slammed in our faces to force a close on the negotiations, our voices are no longer worthy of being heard, and we are no longer welcome to live and move and have our being in the context of this forum of intellectual life. These are voices that were still being developed and shaped within her walls by the internal instruments and organs that had been ordained to do so – voices like mine, who sing similar songs as mine, who had trusted in the sustenance she provided for our minds, and the space to grow into what we were destined to be. By removing this sustenance, shutting down this space and giving in to the pressure to silence, censor, cancel, abort, she has struck out at her own progeny rather than equipping it for its eventual carriage into a world that would strike out at it for her. The title of the debate would have been “This House Believes that Britain’s Abortion Culture Hurts Us All”. Whether Britain’s abortion culture hurts us all is evidently still be up for debate – but I will lend my voice to say that even in the meagre form of my alma mater’s intellectual termination, it has hurt me, and hurt me deeply.

For the original story I’ll just post a few news links – a piece by each of the guests of the debate, one righty and one lefty, an apparent insider scoop from Buzzfeed with a lot of primary material, a further break-down of the arguments from later after the outbreak of the news, and a broader politico-ideological commentary from First Things from a more US-centric perspective.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11239437/Oxford-students-shut-down-abortion-debate.-Free-speech-is-under-assault-on-campus.html

http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9376232/free-speech-is-so-last-century-todays-students-want-the-right-to-be-comfortable/

http://www.buzzfeed.com/alanwhite/heres-what-happened-when-two-men-decided-to-debate-abortion

http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2014/11/the-top-students-who-are-too-lazy-to-argue/

http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2014/11/when-does-the-left-like-sexism

Image credit: Tom Quad, Christ Church 2004-01-21.jpg, photograph by Toby Ord, taken from Wikimedia Commons

 

Oxford Students for Life

quadaugust360

We didn’t ask to be in the middle of a free speech controversy. But free speech does matter, and we’d like to set out why we think Tuesday’s planned debate – between Tim Stanley and Brendan O’Neill  on ‘This House Believes Britain’s Abortion Culture Hurts Us All’ – should have gone ahead.

While we have hosted two all-women panel debates over the past year, this motion was about the wider social questions raised by abortion, and Tim and Brendan were invited as well-known commentators who have something to contribute to the discussion. But last weekend, a Facebook page was set up by OxrevFems denouncing us for our choice of two male speakers and threatening to sabotage the event by using ‘oh so disruptive instruments’.

In one exchange on the page, a student of Christ Church – where the debate was to be held – asked a campaigner from Abortion…

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Fellowshipping the healing process

I’ve said that I pray laptop closed… but I want to fellowship my healing today. This is new to me. Enter, dear reader: you, the one sitting there in your chair, behind the fourth wall. Come and sit with me as I try to connect with God. If you can’t bring yourself to accept his reality, feel free to eavesdrop anyway if you can stand the heat. Whoever you are, I know that you are there. Accompany me in my isolation; keep watch over me lest I turn back to my imaginaries as I pursue God. I cannot see you and I do not know who you are, but I know that, whoever you are, you are real and you are there; more real and more there than any known, familiar figure I could conjure into my imagination and pretend were there instead. Hopefully you are emoting with me as I pour my heart out right now, rather than wondering if I’m some kind of lunatic, but you are what you are, and that’s not something I can dictate. Here is a song for the ride. I apologise for any awkward associations it might have with you. It just captures my emotive state right now, and I invite you to share in that if you want to.

For God alone my soul waits in silence.
Why should I invite imaginary ghosts from my past into that sacred space?
From him comes my salvation.
Why should I draw back from him in my need and run to my mind’s pantheon of expired greats?
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
Why should I keep lying to myself that they will do anything but shackle me here while the walls of the vault crumble all around, when I have seen it with my own eyes – when I experience it over and over?

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is found in him.
Speak to them no more. Leave them. Forsake them and come into the light. Believe. Trust.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge, is God.

O you who hear prayer,
to you all flesh shall come.
When iniquities prevail against me,
you atone for our transgressions.
Let that blood, that rich, glorious blood, ever atone for me, precious one. I feel I need it more than any soul on earth. Teach me the height and depth and breadth of its spread. Teach me how foetid the dirt it can cleanse, how ingrained the disease it can excoriate, and still leave its subject alive.
Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
to dwell in your courts!
Heavenly Father, in your mercy, let me see how richly I have been blessed, that you chose me to bring me near!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
the holiness of your temple!
Heavenly Father, in your mercy, I am ungrateful and blind. Grant me that I may be satisfied with the goodness and holiness of all that you are. Enough to make me leave my past behind and make you alone my salvation, my glory, my mighty rock, my refuge.

All quotations taken from the Bible, ESV.

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