Showing posts from September, 2011

Who needs therapy?

Part of an interesting article over at The Guardian:

Reel therapy: can films make us feel better?
... In 2005, researchers at the University of Maryland school of medicine compared the effects of watching the first 15 minutes of Saving Private Ryan to watching 15 minutes of Kingpin. They concluded that comedy is brilliant for the vascular system. If you're the kind of person who gets grouchy when denied a weekly trip to the cinema, there could be a genuine medical reason. Graef points out that film is "like a kind of active meditation". Meditation has been found to lower blood pressure, aid relaxation, improve concentration and even slow down brain deterioration due to ageing. Regular practitioners report feeling irritable and depressed if forced to go without. If watching a film really is like meditating, that could be why you get prickly when denied it.

My sister on T.S. Eliot + God

A moving blog post from my sister Mo over at Catholicism in the 21st Century:

T.S. Eliot speaks of God Catholic in 21st Century - Mo Friday I was reading a T.S. Eliot poem on-line, Little Gidding, searching for a quote I  wanted, and when the words of a friend's passing came to my ears the poem became  a prayer.

…With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongue…

The beauty of our natural world: Astronomy Picture Of The Day - 27 Sep 2011

This is a quite stunning time-lapse view of our beautiful planet, courtesy of Astronomy Picture Of The Day (
27 Sep 2011 - Flying Over Planet Earth
Image Credit: NASA; Acknowledgement:Infinity Imagined

Have you ever dreamed of flying high above the Earth? Astronauts visiting the International Space Station do this every day, circling our restless planet twice every three hours. A dramatic example of their view was compiled in the above time-lapse video from images taken earlier this month. As the ISS speeds into the nighttime half of the globe, familiar constellations of stars remain visible above. An aerosol haze of Earth's thin atmosphere is visible on the horizon as an thin multi-colored ring. Many wonders whiz by below, including vast banks of white clouds, large stretches of deep blue sea, land lit up by the lights of big cities and small towns, and storm clouds flashing with lightning. The video starts over the northern Pacific Ocean and …

"So you're here to save the world... Jeez, what a mind job!!"

I'm giving a workshop on film + spirituality next Saturday at a weekend charismatic event. The workshop will be quite wide-ranging. One aspect will be looking at "saviour" figures. Just out of interest, who are your favourite "saviour" figures on film (apart from actual Jesus movies)? e.g. Neo in "The Matrix" - "So you're here to save the world... Jeez, what a mind job!" (Cypher to Neo).

Interestingly, when you look up this topic on the internet most of the references point to male saviour figures, and to be honest, when I think about it myself I spontaneously do likewise, but there are female saviour figures in the movies (thanks for the h/t Dan!), perhaps the most obvious being (at opposite ends of the cinematic spectrum) Joan of Arc (especially in Carl Dreyer's classic 1928 film "The Passion Of Joan Of Arc") and Lara Croft (Tomb Raider).

Which would you chose and why (male or female)... ?

World Youth Day - Bilbao/Madrid 2011

It is now 3 weeks since we got back from World Youth Day in Spain and I think I have just about recovered! It was a tremendous experience, made all the more special because our group were so wonderful. It consisted of 18 young people, two brothers including myself and brother Francis and a good friend and youth worker from Liverpool. The youngsters included pupils from our school here in Southampton, former pupils of mine from our school in Liverpool where I worked until two years ago and young people from Lymington in the New Forest. It was wonderful to see the different members of the group get on so well. Firm friendships friendships were made that I think will endure. Indeed some of the Southampton pupils have been to visit the Lymington members since we got back.

The actual trip itself consisted of a week spend in Bilbao (N.W. Spain - Basque region) as guests of the Bilbao diocese and a week in Madrid where the other 1.5 million or so pilgrims congregated. In both cases we stayed…

Grace at work in suffering

I mentioned earlier today that I feel our Mum is willingly going through an extended Calvary experience for the sake of our family, Dad first of all, offering it up for us. I do not pretend to understand suffering or want to suggest that it is in itself "good", or to be wished for. It is not. Though I do believe that good can come from it through the way that a person lives their suffering. 

Mum seems to be drinking just enough water and medication to keep herself alive for now. She has been bed-bound for nearly 5 years now, due in part to the cumulative effects of epilepsy drugs she has had to take for nearly 30 years, following a brain tumour which left her epileptic. She has had many highs and lows these past 4 years (we thought she was near her end back in 2007... that's a whole other story - and an incredible one at that - which I hope to get round to telling sometime), but this time it does look different. She is barely conscious, has refused all solid foods for man…

Benedict XVI: art is a doorway to God

An interesting article (with which I heartily agree) quoting Pope Benedict's weekly address at the General Audience in Castel Gondolfo (his summer residence just outside Rome). I would also add film to the list of arts that he refers to.

Benedict XVI: art is a doorway to God
Beautiful art is not just for cultural enrichment but is an important way to experience God and become aware of the human thirst for the infinite, Pope Benedict XVI has said. A sculpture, a painting, a poem or a piece of music can arouse a feeling of joy when it becomes apparent it is something more than just a chunk of marble, a canvas covered with colours, or words or notes on a page, he said. “It’s something bigger, something that speaks and touches your heart; it carries a message and lifts the spirit,” he said as he held his weekly general audience in the town square at Castel Gandolfo. “Art is like an open doorway to the infinite, toward a beauty and truth that go beyond everyday reality,” he told 3,000 …

End of summer musings...

Well, it's been over a week since we got back from World Youth Day and I don't feel as if I have really got anything done since then. I suppose that's not such a bad thing in itself as it has been a pretty action-packed summer and I certainly needed some time to just relax and recharge the batteries before the onslaught of the new school year.

I have, however, also been away for another three days in the meantime at our Mother House in Brittany for our annual gathering to celebrate the jubilees of Brothers who have spent 50, 60 or 70 years in religious life. This year our very own Brother Augustine from our community here in Southampton is celebrating 70 years in religious life. And Gus, as he is known, travelled with myself and Bro. Francis for the celebration last weekend and stayed on in France to do his annual retreat with another 30 or so Brothers.

Br. Gus (left), aged 85, last Christmas
Another - more decisive reason - for not having got much done this past week is t…