Please do not ask management for complimentary tickets for your friends. If your friends will not pay to see you, why should the public?
Quoted in Bradford Theatres summer 2014 programme
According to rumour, this quote was placed on the dressing room doors of the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford by its founder, Francis Laidler. The man has a point!
One of the things I have on my life plan is that I want to always seek to understand others’ ideas and perspectives, and always represent them fairly when explaining them. It is my conviction that when we state an opinion that we disagree with, we should do so with such clarity that someone who does hold that opinion would recognise their own opinion and acknowledge that you did it full justice. If you think someone holds an opinion that no sane person could possibly think was a good one, you probably aren’t representing your opponent well. If you can’t find any appeal in their views, maybe you haven’t understood them rightly. It seems to me that only once we have understood and appreciated an argument can we then argue against it.
I was reminded of this recently, while considering the writing of Erasmus at church. I believe that Erasmus was, quite simply, wrong in his debate with Luther, but it struck me as important that we allowed Erasmus to speak for himself, rather than only reading Luther. It is difficult to be persuasive in how we express the viewpoint of someone with whom we disagree, but to read Erasmus’ own words removed that problem. Indeed, in several places he wrote with great persuasiveness, and people found themselves challenging their own beliefs. This challenge to our own ideas is what makes this sort of exercise valuable, and it is only when we feel the same force of an argument that its proponents feel that we can benefit from it. We do not have to accept the truth of someone else’s view, but only by appreciating it can we learn from it and sharpen our own views.
The importance of representing opinions well even if they are not our own was also brought home when I was reading a commentary on Philippians recently in preparation for a talk I’ll be giving in a few weeks, and found the author had suffered from someone not accurately portraying his opinion.
“In the process of making a case for his interpretations, there is a tendency to represent the views of others in less than accurate fashion. In several instances … my own position has been badly misrepresented… It appears to me that other scholars have also not fared well, but they will need to speak for themselves.”
Moisés Silva, Philippians (2nd edition) in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series, p33
Let’s all make sure that we take the time to portray others in a fair light when we disagree with them.
When I started this blog, I decided it was primarily for my own interest. Selfish maybe, but I decided I wasn’t going to be blogging to make other people happy (though that would of course be a desirable side effect). I always said to myself that if I stopped finding blogging enjoyable, I would stop blogging.
From looking at the frequency of my blog posts, you could be forgiven for thinking that time has come. As it happens, that’s not true. I have obviously got over the novelty which drove my May blogging spree, but I still love writing out my thoughts and sending them into the void for anyone to read. It takes much more time and commitment than I ever expected, but my head is buzzing with ideas I can’t wait to put into words.
If you’re not a fan of this blog, then this would be a good time to stop reading it. In fact, why are you here anyway? If, however, you do derive some enjoyment or use from my meandering missives then this would be a good time to keep an eye open for new posts. I won’t promise regularity, or an abundance of material, but I do intend to put out a lot more blog posts in the near future.
But not just now. That would be too easy wouldn’t it‽
I use gmail, which means there are adverts at the side of my screen when I’m reading my emails. I just noticed one which read thus:
How happy are you?
Your “happiness score” revealed. Complete the online survey.
I haven’t bothered looking at the website, but how sad that before even getting to the survey there is already an assumption than prosperity is the route to happiness. If only they knew the joy of Jesus.
Isn’t it vain to start a blog whose name is deliberately chosen so its initials spell your own name? Yes, it probably is. But I hope This Is Me is an appropriate title. I want this blog to be about me. I want this blog to show me to the world around me. I want this blog to be honestly me. Is that too self-centred? Possibly, but I hope I can let people into my life without missing out the people (particularly God) who help mould me.
I think the obvious content for my first blog post should be the reason behind starting a blog. As it turns out, there are several. In no particular order, I want to:
- Jump on the blogging bandwagon. Yes, I know this is about 6 years after everyone else. At the time blogging first became popular, I blogged a few posts on what was then an MSN space (now a windows live space). I didn’t have anything to say, and there was no-one to read it. The first of those situations has changed. The less said about the second, the better I suspect.
- Improve my writing skills. I think writing is a useful life skill, and I want mine to become clearer and more polished. I would also like this to translate across into the way I think and speak. A blog will encourage me to critically review what I am writing, and think about whether or not there is a point in writing it.
- Let people keep up to date. I don’t expect many friends and family to read this, but if any do they will hopefully find it a useful tool to keep in touch with what’s happening in my life. If this blog is read by friends I have lost touch with, I would love for them to be able to get back in touch and know what’s going on in my little corner of the world.
- Let people get to know me more. According to facebook I have 274 ‘friends’ but most of them are not people I regularly speak to. Most of them are genuine friends who I simply don’t often get a chance to speak to. I hope this blog will enable them to feel they still know me, and will enable friends I do see to gain an extra insight into who I am.
- Share my feelings. Being a stiff-lipped Brit, it’s not easy for me to talk about how I feel. It’s always been easier for me to put my emotions into words when no-one is present. Most of the few deep personal conversations I’ve had have been over email or instant messaging. The only time I am completely open with my feelings is when writing in my diary. I know there are people who care about how I feel, but I can’t talk to them about feelings. I don’t object to people knowing how I feel (obviously, or I wouldn’t be making them public on the internet) but it’s easier for me to share them via a keyboard.
- Share my thoughts about God. As I grow as a Christian I trust God will deepen my understanding of who He is, and enable me to learn more from His word about His Word. As my relationship with Him strengthens, I want to be able to encourage and challenge my brothers and sisters in Christ, and give them a different (though not better) perspective on life, the universe and everything.
So now you know why I’m embarking on this blog. I hope I will keep it up to date, and I have many ideas for blog posts. Why not join me on this journey and see where it takes us?