If You’re Feeling Sinister

“Hillary walked to her death because she couldn’t think of anything to say

Everybody thought that she was boring, so they never listened anyway

Nobody was really saying anything of interest, she fell asleep

She was into S & M and bible study’s not everyone’s cup of tea she would admit to me

Her cup of tea she would admit to no-one

Her cup of tea she would admit to me

Oh, but, her cup of tea she would admit to no-one”

From “If You’re Feeling Sinister” by Belle And Sebastian

I have long loved the chirpy, childlike, music of Belle And Sebastian.  The funny little characters and stories that often fill the songs contain such depth and profundity on closer inspection.  I love the lines above. The name of this blog also comes from one of their songs which includes my favourite ever lyrics which I have explained here.

Bible study’s not everyone’s cup of tea.  It sounds so boring.  I use the phrase “small group” rather than “bible study” when describing the things I get involved with because studying the bible is only part of what that group of folks is about.  I talk about “reading my bible” or having a “quiet time” in that half hour or so I carve out after my morning run before the rest of the house awakens and the chaos of the usual routine ensues.

I recognise that spending time reading the bible, thinking and praying about it are some of the most important things I can do with my time and, yet, if I’m honest “bible study” sounds so dull.  I have discovered countless trite bible study materials that seem to have stretched simple points or made fairly tenuous links between a few verses and a bigger concept.  Thankfully, I have found other books and ideas that have really captivated me and pushed me to really grapple with verses in their context and to try to see how to work out what they should look like if applied to my life today.  I’ve certainly not got it all together, but I’m in a place where I am stimulated and pushed to address how the Bible speaks today and to get beyond theology or tradition and to try and rediscover truth that resonates.  I owe many folks in my small group for introducing me to authors and resources that I now cherish.

Last year our small group worked our way through the book of James.  We’d read a chapter at a time in our own time and just scribble down our thoughts and questions.  When the group met up we’d discuss what it had made us think about.  One week one of the members of the group set us some homework.  He asked us to go away and create something in response to the chapter we were reading and to bring it to the group the next time we met.  It was great because it really got me thinking about what the key thing within the chapter was for me and how that dove-tailed into what I had been learning over the past 12 months or so.  It took me back to my teenage years when I found more time to actually be creative, before the demands of everyday life took over to such an extent.

When we reassembled I think everyone felt a bit vulnerable and exposed showing what they had brought and explaining what had inspired it.  But everyone else was enthralled to see what God had been saying to individuals through the Bible and how they had interpreted and expressed that.  We had collages, painting, photography, powerpoint slide shows, poetry, the chapter translated into someone’s own words and we had home-cooking  – all to express what we had taken from it.  It was fresh and really sticks with me as a special evening over the past year.

I don’t know how or whether we could incorporate some of those ideas into “church” or “worship times”, although I have some ideas.  Would it put some people right off?  Would it draw others in or connect with them?  Would it change the most common misconceptions of church?

I actually think there’s something fairly profound in the missing link explained in further lyrics from the same Belle And Sebastian song (and please don’t misunderstand this as any comment on a particular denomination, but more so on the church in general),

“Hilary went to the Catholic Church because she wanted information

The Vicar, or whatever, took her to one side and gave her confirmation

Saint Theresa’s calling her, the church up on the hill is looking lovely

But it didn’t interest, the only things she wants to know is

How and why and when and where to go

How and why and when and where to follow

How and why and when and where to go

How and why and when and where to follow”

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"The priest in the booth had a photographic memory for all he had heard. He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State That I'm In"". From "The State I Am In" by Belle and Sebastian
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