Monday, 30 June 2014

Monday blog hop: Graham Criddle

Today I am honoured to host my father in law Graham Criddle's answers for the Monday blog hop. Check out his blog When Kingdoms Meet for more.

As part of the “Monday blog hop” engagement Mel, the lovely wife of our youngest son, asked me to write a post for her blog. On it she writes powerfully about what is going on in her life – the highs and the lows – giving a deep insight into what she is experiencing and her journey with God. Always challenging, sometimes hard to read, real, honest and open.

I was asked to comment about four things regarding what I write:

What am I working on?

Why do I write what I write?

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

How does my writing process work?

What am I working on?

I write for lots of different reasons – notes for sermons, church documents, my blog and academic papers. The academic papers are for assignments associated with my MTh in Applied Theology with the most recent being “the church, the world and the kingdom of God” while the next will be looking at the area of Christian Leadership.

These are all very different with different intended “audiences” with academic papers probably just being seen by one or two people who will be looking for a disciplined approach to reasoning and argument while notes for sermons help me to prepare to communicate God’s message to people in a church service who are looking to meet with God and grow in their relationship with Him.

Whatever I am writing it is an opportunity to explore new ideas, to grow in my understanding of God and what He is calling me to be, to think about my relationship with Him and to try and work out how living as a Christian in my particular context works.

Why do I write what I write?

My blog is focused on exploring the idea of two different “kingdoms” – the kingdom where God rules and the power structures of the world in which we live – and how these intersect and challenge each other.

Many people think about God, if they think of Him at all, as some powerful being in heaven who has no involvement in what is going on in this world. Others look at the things going on around us, and the injustice and suffering which is so prevalent, and blame God for not intervening. Jesus, in the prayer He taught His first followers recognised that God did reign in heaven but that His will was not being fully seen on earth – but that this was something to look forward to, to pray for and to work towards:

“your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)

On the other hand, it is easy to look at what is going on in society and to accept things as they are without really reflecting on them and questioning whether they are “right” – in the sense of whether they are in line with God’s will or opposed to it. Some examples:

Are our politicians engaging properly with the challenges and issues which we face and, in particular, how are they providing for those who are marginalised and suffering in our society?

Should we simply accept “the market” as an impersonal force which can’t be challenged or should we ask questions as to whether some of the things done in its name are appropriate?

Is the incredible power and influence exercised by the media a good thing and do we too readily accept the messages and biases which it presents?

Is being a “consumer society” a good thing or do we accept it too easily and not explore some of its implications?

As a Christian I believe that I am a citizen of God’s kingdom while also being a citizen of my country. This dual-citizenship gives me dual responsibilities as I am called to live as a representative of God in the country in which I live. One of the things which this entails is speaking out against things I see which are not in line with God’s ideals which include love, justice, grace and mercy. I don’t believe I have the right to do this in a strident or arrogant way – I don’t speak from “a place of power” - but believe it is appropriate to “speak to power” when I see things which are wrong. As such I seek to be a voice in the debate around what our country should be.

But my main focus is on reflecting on a Christian response to what is going on and to think about how Christians should engage. And my primary target for these musings is me as I try and work out how I can most effectively live out this “dual-citizenship” role. And if other Christians read what I write and find it useful that is great.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I don’t really know the answer to this one. I do look at a range of different blogs but haven’t found one which approaches things in exactly the same way I do. This is probably a reflection on the relatively narrow focus of my blog which, while self-imposed, I sometimes find a bit constraining!

How does my writing process work?

I tend to treat the screen (I do all my writing on computer) as a blank canvas and write in a fairly sequential way. I often end up producing blocks of text which then need to be manipulated and worked together to produce something which flows more coherently. If I were more disciplined in producing an outline and “storyboard” before I started it would probably be much easier to write and result in a better product but I’m not convinced that is going to happen!

When writing a blog entry it is normally in response to something which is going on, something I have seen or heard, something which is reported in the news which triggers a thought and it goes from there. Normally, it isn’t a long process, probably a couple of hours from start to finish. One time when I was on holiday I saw something to which I wanted to respond but wasn’t able to until I got home a week later. That gave me time to think and reflect and get some ideas together while I was away, which probably resulted in a more thought-through article, but I did find it frustrating at the time!

Next week I am hoping to host a blog from my good friend, Vic Van Den Bergh. Vic is a vicar in Tamworth with involvement in many different areas of life with a real heart for God, for God’s people and those who need to experience God’s love. He has been blogging for seven years and  his blog is at  

Thank you so much Graham! Your wisdom, integrity and commitment to engaging with our society in a way that is faithful to God's teaching inspires me. Check out Graham's blog next week to follow the Monday blog hop trail.

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