A Curious Girl

The musings of a girl who is curious in both senses of the word. Life, God, and York. Oh, did I say York? I meant Bradford!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

For the benefit of other students in my lab

What does the above sign mean?

A) Completely harmless, feel free to work in this area
B) Please steal all my utensils
C) What? Is this a trick question? I don't see a sign!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

What will I do when I grow up? (TM)

Play dough animals and Ark
Originally uploaded by sweet-indigo.
I've been wondering what my vocation might possibly be. I think that finally, I have found it.

But seriously... the old questions linger, I'm nearly finished with my degree (that is, if I pass) and people are applying for Masters courses and PhDs and graduate placements. As for me, although I suspect I'd do better with more practical work and fewer lectures, I'm not feeling desperate to continue with Biochemistry. At all.

I mean, I wouldn't mind going back to Cambridge for a short while to earn some money, but right now, being 22 and not having children, I feel I at least ought to attempt to get a job I love rather than settling for something that just brings the money in.

I was considering going to Bible college or on mission. I'm not entirely sure Bible college would be a great idea, even if I do have a sudden renewal of faith tomorrow, because I think I'd find it a difficult situation to be 'real' in. At least, if it's anything like a week of Bible camp, it'll be fantastic but extremely difficult to apply afterwards, when messy, flawed 'real life' creeps in.

I want to help people. My life is a horrible introverted mess, and selfishness is rather like sleeping in until 2pm (I actually did that yesterday). Feels good at the time. You somehow manage to feel awful afterwards though (why is it that if you sleep 12 hours you feel tired but if you stay up all night then have a half-hour nap you can be alert all day? Isn't something seriously wrong here?). Granted, I'm selfish, lazy, proud and greedy, but I never quite understand why this is supposed to be enjoyable. I don't understand why sin continues to remain popular :) Truly, I'm extremely selfish for not wanting to be selfish - despite being extremely good at it and well practised, I dislike it even more than I dislike exams. I think about these kinds of things and wonder if I want to help people just because it'll make me feel better. Sigh. The fact is that in my old age (well, I'm older than 21...) I'm just getting fed up of all the hedonism and the stuff. Or perhaps that's just because it's Christmas soon and I'm skint. And I still wish people would give me book tokens instead of money :) Or do one of those things where they buy me a goat in an obscure Asian village. That'd be cool. It'd be nice knowing that I own a goat, somewhere. Like having a pet but without the work.

Hmm... where was I? Oh yes, hedonism and stuff. I wonder if perhaps our measure of civilisation is our capability for boredom, and for its alleviation. When I owned a television (well, I still do, but it's down south still) in Cambridge, it was mainly used as a solution for boredom. Boredom and unhappiness should not be confused. Money can alleviate boredom. It doesn't get rid of loneliness. It shouldn't be too surprising that even with lots of money, the developed world is still a mixed up place full of conflict. It also still makes me mad that anyone could refuse to buy Fair Trade goods because "they're expensive". CDs are expensive. Divine chocolate bars aren't, and besides they're much nicer than Nestlé. It also makes me mad when people yell, "Hypocrite!" whenever a celebrity tries to do anything to help others. Give me a break. I'm sure there are celebrities who do these things to give their career a jump-start, but that doesn't mean we're any better. ("Voluntary work looks great on your CV!") Besides, I think some celebrities are definitely sincere.

I get mad and frustrated at us, doing fantastic things but not solving anything, often even things that ought to be easy, like getting AIDS drugs to the developing world. And I want to do something that will make this world a little less rubbish. It'd be nice if we cared about each other.

As to what, I don't really know. I've actually been thinking about nursing. I'm not sure if it's my "vocation", although I'm sure the biochemistry will come in handy. I still want to work with children, but I'm not sure about teaching. I'm not sure if I'd work well enough in the environment to be a decent teacher. Perhaps I ought to try voluntary hospital work again.

Anyways, sorry I haven't written in a while. Been thinking a lot and going to bed far too late. I've also been to lots of parties. The Christian Focus end of term meal was extremely nice :) (Also I won a big bar of Green&Blacks Chocolate! Yay, my knowledge of trivia comes in handy at last!)

Hopefully be back with more diary-ish stuff later. *hugs*

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

David Cameron Caption Competition

I don't really care who leads the Tories (although obvious I'd like it if it was someone honest, decent, caring, sensible, compassionate and unmoved by tabloid propaganda, but... hey, is that a flying pig over there?) but isn't that picture really scary? (stolen unashamedly from the BBC news front page)

"Now... give me my crown!"

I also think this picture really needs a caption:

Ideas, anyone?


Thursday, December 01, 2005

A hypocrite, an evangelical, and a liberal walk into a bar...

Robin Hood's Bay
Originally uploaded by sweet-indigo.
I've discovered I'm very good at pretending.

Current crisis of faith was put on hold for a while. I'm now examining it again because I hate sitting in Christian meetings pretending to be a Christian. Sigh. Jesus had a word for this - hypocrite.

I kinda got the impression those are the sort of people that annoy him most.

So honesty - sadly the only other option. If only it weren't so bothersome. If only I could honestly say that I believe the whole gospel and then I could quite happily have all that 'blessed assurance' stuff without questioning or pretending. As it is, I'm struggling with Calvinism (abhorrent), Arminianism (slight improvement), Calv-Arminianism (just plain confusing)... Annihilationism (depressing), eternal torment (really depressing), universal reconciliation (would be nice, but can it be true?)... and who is Jesus? (Do we make him too nice? Are Christians nicer than Jesus?)

I went on the Christian Focus weekend trip last weekend. CF are different from Christian Union in a number of ways. It's hard to list all of them... I think CF is more about individual faith and CU more about collective faith. CF is ecumenical, CU inter-denominational (but *not* ecumenical). CU is for conservative evangelical Christians. CF has conservative evangelicals and woolly liberals, and proud liberals and Catholics and Protestants and Quakers and even me, the occasional Charismatic (I've no idea what I am, especially when I feel like this). And probably a few non-Christians too. Also, CU is very big and CF is quite small. There are a few other differences but I don't have time to go over them all. And I imagine, at their worst, CU are Pharisees (or maybe Essenes), and CF are Sadducees. At their best, CU are St. Paul and CF are Mother Teresa. Or something.

The CF weekend away was nice. However, I've noticed CF-style worship (or at least worship done by CF type people) tends to involve silence.


It's really no wonder I spent my first Quaker meeting thinking about duct tape and doing maths in my head and secretly wondering whether Quakers value pacifism more than faith and what they'd do if World War II happened again.

Silence is a very powerful tool for prayer. 'Night prayer', which is a weekly event at the uni's local church, involves mostly silence.

Trouble is, you get silent and you start thinking.

You get silent and then all the troubling thoughts about God come back. And then you think, "What if God's right here and listening?" Then you do some very messy and very sincere prayer.

I actually often missed the silence at my Cambridge church, which didn't seem to believe in silent contemplation during services. It was very disconcerting coming to sing a loud rock song then realising I had to repent a few things and surrender some things and be reminded that I had to come back to God whilst trying to sing some bouncy Hillsong track.

Anyway, I guess it would be getting off topic, but it really was a lovely weekend. I got to know some CF people better, went paddling (in the North Yorkshire sea, in November. Hah!) and there was a fascinating discussion on evangelism led by "Geoff" who's also a CU person (although had to resign from his small group leader post because he confessed that he didn't believe the entire Doctrinal Basis anymore). It seemed very right that he should lead it, somehow, since it's good that a few people can be CU and CF at the same time...

Perhaps I should explain a bit more... if you're still reading and haven't given up in boredom, that is :) I often get the impression there are two types of Christian on campus. Those who are in the CU and those who aren't. Many of those who aren't don't really like the CU as a body (though there's a great cliché of "but individually, they're lovely!"), mostly because of their Doctrinal Basis and the attitudes associated with it.

The Doctrinal Basis is a statement of beliefs provided by the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF)that all CU committee members must sign in order to have a position of responsibility. You can see it on the UCCF website. Also to be members of the CU you have to say that you honestly believe this:

"In joining the society, I declare that I accept Jesus Christ as my Redeemer, Saviour, Mediator, Lord and God, and I will seek in thought and action to be ruled by His teachings written in the Bible. I give my active support for the aims of the society."

(That second sentence wasn't there when I originally signed up three years ago... Oh well...)

Whereas to join CF you just have to pay your £3 fee required by the Student's Union (admittedly, CU is free) and sign on the page.

On Monday night York's UCCF worker (same woman I meet for coffee to discuss my deviancy, actually :) ) came to CF to talk to us about what UCCF does. Thankfully she has very thick skin because it could have descended into a bloodbath. Every single grievance against the CU came out in some form or another. Afterwards she joked that we could burn the Doctrinal Basis. I'm glad she said that because I'd made the same joke half an hour before.

My favourite part of the meeting was the end. After various CF members vented their problems with the CU, and some CF members spoke up in defence, and the brave, brave UCCF worker bore it all with a smile, "John" (CF's chair) suggested closing with the Lord's prayer.

So we recited together, some NIV, some KJV, and the Catholic chaplains saying whatever Catholics do (sounded KJV to me, but the KJV is a Protestant Bible). Some said trespasses, some sins, some debts. Some said "from evil" some, "from the evil one". And we all said Amen.

And later I joked to a girl from the Student Christian Movement (which broke away from UCCF in the 19th century) that I was amused by some SCM publicity reading "If Heaven's full of Christians, do I want to go there?" After all, we fight so much, do we really want to go somewhere where there are no non-Christians to distract us?

I don't know, but I do think that deep down we really do want to get on with each other. I don't know how God will sort us out, but I left the meeting, and the bar afterwards (where the UCCF rep sat chatting with CF people while some of the more liberal CF members rewrote the Doctrinal Basis in a woolly fashion) thinking that we may just be all right after all.

But as to my crisis of faith... bah. The woman from UCCF (whom I might as well call Jane) lent me some books today. We were supposed to meet up to talk about the whole Hell issue but we haven't managed to yet. She lent me a book called Ultimate Realities which talks about the Gospel in light of the Doctrinal Basis, which is interesting but as I read it I can't help but think it contradicts itself. First it says that salvation is entirely dependent on God and then it says that those who do not repent will be justly condemned. But surely if God leads us to repentance no one will be permanently condemned?

I don't know. Sometimes the CU frustrate me. Sometimes CF frustrates me. My faith often frustrates me, but it'd be worrying if it didn't... I like Jane a lot - I met her in February last year at a CU talk and she's the kind of person who doesn't mind you asking her all sorts of hard questions about Christianity. Even the old and tired ones. It feels odd because I don't entirely approve of UCCF, and to be honest the "evangelism" of the CU gets a bit wearing (Believe-in-Jesus-go-to-Heaven-don't-believe-and-go-to-Hell!)

Yeah, I'm still having a crisis of faith.

Well, that's life. It doesn't make sense to my tiny mind, but hey, it would be boring if it did :)

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