Thursday, 25 December 2014

CS, The Magician’s Nephew and I

Being true to form I chose this day, it being Chrimbo and all, to talk about something else. I’m sure you will find lots of proper Christmas posts on the true meaning of Christmas and do read those, a lot of them are great but I’m here to talk about something else after all this, my one reader, is my Journey in Cyprus. So Haway we go, not a typo.

The cover that I saw. I hope to remember that feeling for years to come

C S Lewis is my favourite author, almost of all time, I think the man is brilliant. An unparalleled genius. His books have a way of painting images that take you to a time and place, his ability to paint metaphors in both broad and delicate strokes is borderline brilliant. To say the least I am a fan. I discovered C S Lewis in January of 2008. We were on a vacation in Cape Town as a family and on one of the days my Dad decided to mix business with pleasure, he went to a bookshop to get books for his studies, he recently got his PHD so I think such missions are behind him. So we reach the bookshop and for the life of me I can’t figure out why at that time it was just me and him. No idea where everyone else was.

As he was speaking to the guy at the counter, it could have been a female but lets work with the generic word ‘guy’, I begun to snoop around the shop. The shop was a dream for any bookworm, and I am quite the book worm. Imagine one of them shops that has shelves stacked and tables intermingled with a sofa or two, a couple tables and some wooden chairs. The shelves had books, the tables had books and the wooden chairs had books and there was one book that just caught my eye. It was a thick black paperback with a Lion on the cover. Just the face of a Lion, mane and all. I remember thinking how good the cover was because the Lion was just magnificent, little did I know the Lion was Aslan, we’ll get to him soon enough.

I read the cover and it said ‘The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis’. I had heard of the book but never read it so I asked my Dad if he could buy it for me. The book was cheap if memory serves me right, it was a real bargain. The moment he bought it I tore into that bad boy and I’ve never looked back. Before I get to the actual review of ‘The Magician’s Nephew’, which is the reason you my one reader are here, one more little memory. Before we set off for the trip Dad had come from one of his preaching trips and came back with MP3 players from one of the families at a church he preached at. We all got one and I remember putting Michael Card’s Joy in the Journey Album, which is an absolute gem. As I read the book I kept playing two songs over and over and over. They were ‘God’s Own Fool’ and ‘The Final Word’. To date those songs always take me back to that trip, when I would have the book in my lap, my brother and sister next to me in the car and my parents in front of the car driving around Cape Town.

Down to the book. The Magician’s Nephew is the first book in the series called ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. It is the beginning of Narnia for all intents and Purposes. I will not break down the story because only C S can really do that but I will give you the parts that got me good. The book has an element of Creation and the Fall of man in it. The character that sprung this whole little piece is a boy called Digory. And Digory is me. The decisions that he makes the things he says, it reminds me so much of me. The book brought me to the painful realisation that if I were in the place of Adam on the fateful day that sin entered the world I too might have acted in the same way.

If you were to buy the book on it's own this would be the cover or something like it

Before I get to a couple quotes and standouts there is one more thing about Digory that makes me feel so much attachment to the character and this is Digory’s need to atone for his sin through his own actions. I get that so much because I try to do it over and over and over in my own life. I try to add to my redemption because of some vain sense of duty where I want to help out God because I know I have let him down so much. Aslan, who is the God character in the book also the Lion, clears that up with Digory in a way that is so clear and amazing I wont even try to bring it out myself, Just find the book and read it, it is an absolute gem!

Down to the quotes. I will do two and break them down slightly. The first happens when Uncle Andrew shows up in Narnia and hears the animals speak. He could not comprehend how or why the animals were capable of speech and kept denying it to himself. Here is the quote

“When the great moment came and the Beasts spoke, he missed the whole point; for a rather interesting reason. When the Lion had first begun singing, long ago when it was still quite dark, he had realized that the noise was a song. And he had disliked the song very much. It made him think and feel things he did not want to
think and feel. Then, when the sun rose and he saw that the singer was a lion ("only a lion," as he said to himself) he tried his hardest to make believe that it wasn't singing and never had been singing—only roaring as any lion might in a zoo in our own world. "Of course it can't really have been singing," he thought, "I must have imagined it. I've been letting my nerves get out of order. Who ever The Chronicles of Narnia 1 - The Magicians Nephew heard of a lion singing?" And the longer and more beautiful the Lion sang, the harder Uncle Andrew tried to make himself believe that he could hear nothing but roaring. Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed. Uncle Andrew did. He soon did hear nothing but roaring in Aslan's song. Soon he couldn't have heard anything else even if he had wanted to. And when at last the Lion spoke and said, "Narnia awake," he didn't hear any words: he heard only a snarl. And when the Beasts spoke in answer, he heard only barkings, growlings, bayings, and howlings. And when they laughed— well, you can imagine. That was worse for Uncle Andrew than anything that had happened yet. Such a horrid, bloodthirsty din of hungry and angry brutes he had never heard in his life. Then, to his utter rage and horror, he saw the other three humans actually walking out into the open to meet the animals.”

The idea that one can go so far in convincing himself of what he doesn’t believe that he soon forgets the process of convincing himself and just moves to full fledge disbelief. We see that so much in this day and age it’s RIDICULOUS. C S shows all of this in his little way. It’s great

The last quote comes towards the end of the book. This is a conversation between Aslan and the two main characters Polly and Digory. Without further ado

"Oh I see," said Polly. "And I suppose because she took it in the wrong way it won't work for her. I mean it won't make her always young and all that?" "Alas," said Aslan, shaking his head. "It will. Things always work according to their nature. She has won her heart's desire; she has unwearying strength and endless days like a goddess. But length of days with an evil heart is only length of misery and already she begins to know it. All get what they want; they do not always like it." "I—I nearly ate one myself, Aslan," said Digory. "Would I—" "You would, child," said Aslan. "For the fruit always works—it must work—but it does not work happily for any who pluck it at their own will. If any Narnian, unbidden, had stolen an apple and planted it here to protect Narnia, it would have protected Narnia. But it would have done so by making Narnia into another strong and cruel empire like Charn, not the kindly land I mean it to be.

Seriously! Wow!! A lot of people will try to tell you that the promises this world and the devil give will happen. Uh.. They might. Problem is even if they do the end product is not what you want it to be. It will never be the peace, joy and fulfilment that you so long have sought. I won’t waste anymore of your time my one reader, JUST GO READ THE BOOK!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Britney Spears vs Ruslan

I was bored recently, it is imperative that you remember that first part, so I clicked a couple Britney Spears videos on YouTube. The old stuff not the new stuff, I’m not a big fan of either I just find the new stuff more annoying, sue me. Three videos in I stumbled across the video for “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman”. I remembered the song from a movie that I have long since forgotten but in the process of trying to remember the movie I heard the lyrics. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!! That was the guy in my head shouting by the way and boy was he right. The song is a justification for bad decisions.

Yeah... That was my reaction too

Across the three songs that I heard, the last one was the last straw, I have since moved on. But as I was saying across the three songs I heard I realised that Britney Spears would write her songs to express her actual feelings. Which in a sense I applaud because it brings about less generic music but my goodness the wrong thinking behind it is immense. I know some people are all about the whole “it’s her opinion, and she is right to her”. NO! Contrary to popular belief there is such a thing as right and wrong, opinion or otherwise but this is not me bashing Britney, she probably does that herself, this is about two songs and their meanings.

Enter Ruslan. Ruslan is an artist I found while I was still in Zambia, admittedly I was late to the parade as most of my friends had already heard him and appreciated him by then. He is an artist of Azerbaijan origin, which is quite boss because I have a friend over here from Azerbaijan and he is a solid chap. Anyway in his 'Carry On' album there is a song called “Victim of adolescence”. This song is the polar opposite of the Britney Spears song “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman”. I will leave links to the music in here somewhere for those who wish to indulge themselves but I highly recommend you listen to the Ruslan song, it’s a REALLY good song.

In Ruslan’s song he explains how in the view of most people these days there are three stages of the growth of a man. Boy, Adolescent and then Man. He doesn’t agree and neither do I. The idea is that during the adolescent stage a person is allowed to behave like a child(boy) even though physically they should be considered grown(man). He explains how this is a line of thinking that is propagated by the world and subconsciously most of us have come to think of it as normal. He has this line that I must mention “It’s been a minute, I’m ashamed to admit it, not only did I buy into that lie I also lived it, victim of adolescence”. I hear a hammer hit a nail almost every time I hear that.

Had to squeeze in a boys who shave reference

In comparison in Britney Spears’ song she keeps making justifications for her actions whatever they may be based on her not being a woman. I’m not grown so I can make all the mistakes I want BUT you can’t keep bringing your ideology and expecting me to go by it because I am not a girl either. I am free to make all the mistakes I want, behaving like a child, continuous life of play and it’s perfectly justified because I am in the middle stage between girl and woman. WOW! Just Wow!

In my understanding, and heads up I’m on Ruslan’s side if you didn’t already know, I get my understanding of the development growth wise from the bible. One of the main parts that I like a lot in reference to this is the famous 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter. ‘When I was a child I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child. When I became a man I did away with childish things’.  That right there is the bible and it’s dead clear. Granted there are others but this one always got me so I will talk about it.

This one bugged me for ages, still does because it is one of the many things that shows me the sin in me. The times I have looked at my conduct and realised that my actions resembled the child in me than the man God wants me to be it hurts. It is easy to give the excuse that I’m not yet grown so I can behave like a child, thinking life is a constant pursuit of play but it’s not, for the man it was not supposed to be. Play is a part but not the whole, heck it’s not even the largest or the most important part. Yet at times I have found myself so keen to make it the largest part.

In truth the fight between these two songs, the fight between Britney and Ruslan is one that happens in my head. No idea if it happens in anyone else’s but in mine it is a constant one and I think I will struggle with this till my dying day. The fight to choose the responsibility of the man over the pleasure of the boy. The struggle continues and thankfully both God and I are on Ruslan’s side

Monday, 8 December 2014

Killed By Their Dreams


I was reading Joseph’s story, you know the one in the bible, the guy who was his father’s favorite and got sold by his brothers for being a dreamer and a tattle tale, yeah that guy. It’s a bit unfair to call it a story because the idea of a story is something that did not happen when this one actually did, let’s call it a narrative. So as I was reading the narrative of Joseph I came to the part where he is in prison falsely accused of sleeping with Potiphar’s wife. Anyhoo so Joseph is in prison falsely accused and soon finds favor in the eyes of the chief jailer and is given a role in the prison. It was though this role that he meets the two guys who this is all about.
The baker is almost always bald in pictures, this has always puzzled me

Enter Pharaoh’s Chief Baker and Cup Bearer, I’d like to call the first guy the Baker in Chief, it sounds a little more promising. These guys had pretty good jobs, one of them had a pretty sweet gig in my opinion, the cup bearer. He would go everywhere with the Pharaoh and make sure Pharaoh had a cup in his hand when he got parched, turns out it was a pretty high risk job because the guy was in prison as a result of the job. So both of these guys get the sack around the same period of time and probably stuck together because of their similar backgrounds. They probably stood out like sore thumbs among the general population.

So Joseph would probably meet up with them while doing his rounds and this one time he is walking passed and they are more sulky than usual, he asks what’s wrong, him being the helpful guy that he was and they open fourth like a fountain of words about their dreams. He helps them out with his interpretation, strictly speaking it was God’s, and they eventually come to pass, as all of God’s degrees do. The reason you my one reader are here is the ‘why’ of it all.

As you may know the narrative the Baker was killed and the cup bearer was restored. Logically speaking this is a stupid move. You kill of the guy who is more skilled, probably has more traction with the people in his field and has the more useful task, after all bread and all baked goods should be more essential than wine and even more than a guy whose very job is to hold a glass before it is taken from him. The baker was more useful than the cup bearer.
Which ever way you think about it, food trumps wine

These two guys had sucky lives after their demotion to prison. Serving a Pharaoh who sounds bipolar to me must not have been a walk in the park. The man would hire, fire, kill or pardon at a whim. So whereas their lives at this point sucked there was hope, small, but there was hope. Then came the dreams. I’m sure they struggled to think of the dream as a mere dream or something that should be taken seriously. I can personally imagine them meeting each other on the day post having the dreams and both would be absent minded, Around noon they would discover that the other guy was not looking spry either at which point they would spend the rest of the day denying anything was wrong. Only to confess the real deal to the other guy the next day. I figure the baker caved first, he strikes me as the softy.

Now each would have not just his own sucky dream to figure out but his friend’s too. SO when Joseph walked in with his solution things must have looked up a bit. Things changed very fast after Joseph told them the meaning of their dreams. You can imagine how tricky it was for the cup bearer, hoping that the prediction was true yet trying to convince his friend it was not. It must have been a weird wait. Come the day Joseph’s interpretation proved to be right. One was exalted and the other was demoted. Where am I getting with this? Well I’m glad you asked.

God’s choosing of who and what he wills is not based off of the human view of what is important. It is based off of what he wills, period. And what he wills always comes to pass. We all have our hopes and dreams and the world encourages us to dream “shoot for the stars”, they say. “Nothing can hold you back” uh…. Wrong. God owns and controls it all. Dream as you might there is a serious flaw in all you plan on doing if you do not make him paramount because at the end of the day he is paramount. It is he who says to this happen and it does or to the other do not happen and it does not, whether we think something is to our good and benefit or not.
Uhhhh... WRONG! Completely wrong!

It is the way of the sinful nature to have you think that you are the main determining factor in the way of your life but everything in the world is telling you contrary. You cannot change time, make it move fast or slow. You cant even determine all that you will do with your time, no one is that free, a lot of your movements are determined for you by people who have their moves determined for them. The student has his movement determined by the lecturers, who have their movement determined by some sort of chancellor, who has his movement determined by an owner of the institution, who have their moves determined by a government who have their moves determined by the people. It’s an endless cycle of a lack of power and control.

The illusion of control is sold at every corner by the world yet disproved by the world itself. God on the other hand is the determining factor of all. Knowing that God controls it all is only step one unfortunately. The main step is submitting to this and living with this, in the words of the song ‘At The Foot of The Cross’, forever in your view.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

When Liverpool Lose

Another weekend that has gone south. I woke up in good spirits like usual on a weekend. Weather was great, I woke up early enough, had a nice sesh with me morning devotion and even snuck in a good hour with The Magician’s Nephew by C S Lewis, great book, I will be doing a review when I’m done with it. All was looking good, I even forgot Liverpool were playing till my phone gave me the courtesy beep that signals thirty minutes till a Liverpool match starts. Like the football addict I am I soon begin searching for a stream to watch it online, the channels over here are pointless, almost like ZNBC back home, they are oblivious to football matches or anything good.

Great book by an even better author

I find a stream that was pretty good just in time to catch the last bit of You’ll Never Walk Alone, Liverpool’s anthem. The squad line up was shown and I was pretty psyched, we had just won our last two matches and I was going to watch Coutinho, Lallana and Sterling in the same line up, what could go wrong? Stupid question Mwansa, stupid question. First thing to go wrong was the internet went off so the stream goes right out the window, laptop almost followed it but I had a bit more control.

I started flicking through all the channels on the TV in a vain attempt to find any possibility of watching the match. 152 channels of nothing! Absolutely nothing! So I was left with my last option, follow the match via twitter. I spent just over an hour flicking down to refresh the app every minute or so. Any small movement by my annoying roommate had me up against a wall ready to rip him to shreds, all because of a footy match. I was hoping for anything, any sign of life, any bit of hope to tell me the team was doing well and would win. Nothing came.

I did that for an hour then someone came to distract me for the last ten minutes of the game, thank God. As I was helping him out my phone gave me the dreaded whistle, full time had come and the score was nil-nil. What a let-down, the lads had failed to win again. I was beaten broken ready to throw away another weekend in sulking just because the team had lost. After the guy I was helping left I remained alone with my thoughts and my roommate who was doing his best rendition of The Annoying Roommate, Oscar winning performance by the way, when I realised that things need to change.

The annoying scoreline that has haunted me today

In actual fact I have had this thought almost every weekend that Liverpool have had a bad result which in retrospect is every other weekend but this time the subject was different. Before I was thinking along the lines of things need to change at Liverpool. Tighten up the defence or improve the attack or bench this player and bring this guy on but the problem was not Liverpool, the problem was me, the problem is me. I had placed Liverpool into the be all that ends all of my weekend, a position it was never supposed to occupy.

The truth is I am an addict. Anyone who knows me might be quick to say I’m addicted to coca cola and maybe I am but the addiction here is football. Football is my addiction and my laptop is the altar on which I worship, I realised that in full colour today. I have put so much of my satisfaction on the success and failure of not just Liverpool matches but football in general. I spend a lot of time watching it, I know stuff about it that is borderline ridiculous at times. I am usually able to tell what boot manufacturer players get their footwear from and not even the high profile ones, I’m talking mid to lower table. I follow U21 and U18 football and watch matches, all bragging aside this is a problem and I cant ignore it any longer.

In the words of Jefferson Bethke if you cant put it down you don’t own it, it owns you. This might be true of me ad football and I am going to find out. Most of the things I put on here are problems I have already solved, well this is a new kind. It is an issue that needs solving. I need a break from football before I put it so high that I cannot bring it down without an earth shattering system overhaul. We’ll see how things go in the next couple weeks.

If you can't give it up you don't own it, it owns you
- Jefferson Bethke

Lastly it is possible that all of this is a reaction to my team not doing well. I could be the wolf in failing to get the grapes that are high up and walking away calling them sour, no idea why a wolf would want grapes but it’s an actual metaphor. This could be a decision sparked by that but the reason I think it is more is because I see the need to wean myself off of all football ad not just Liverpool’s. We’ll see how things go but of this I am certain, the only thing I want to have such a strong hold over me is that which already has it’s hold over me, my loving service to my God.

I might be shivering from withdrawal in a couple days or weeks’ time but hey, it’s the road to recovery

Friday, 5 December 2014

What I want

At many stages of my life I have thought to myself ‘what do I want in life?’ This is one of those questions that is rarely answered well because the answer changes a little too often. At one point in my life all I wanted was to build Voltron, that is a Japanese cartoon that was popular when I was growing up. I would imagine going into the “dump”, and I use that word loosely, behind our home back then and finding pieces of metal and wood and using my father’s tools making the enormous robot. I would start with the foot at the side of the house, come back from school the next day and keep working on it till it was done. And that was my dream, I wanted to build Voltron. As I grew up the dream changed, the dream changed…

That's Voltron, a couple lego parts would have made the dream a little easier

At different times of my life it has been different things. To be a sportsman, to be my Dad, to live a life of quite isolation and seclusion with books, to live with my friends each growing and helping each other along. But all these dreams are fleeting and they change so often. At the end of the day it is a quest for happiness, one that has us looking to the future for an ideal scenario that has us happy. Our vision of the future is just that, it is a painting of what a happy future looks like. For a while recently it was me as an Architect, coming home to a wife and six kids, three my own and three adopted. Funny enough that is almost my Dad.

But the reality that always hits me and I bet it hits you too is that the picture changes because the level of happiness that we want is not found here. It is not found in life, and no this is not a mass suicide piece. The truth is the one thing that supersedes happiness is peace. You see the reason why we are always looking for that new dream and scrapping the old one, chasing after that new high is not just for the happiness factor but it’s because of the restlessness that is in us. That thing in us that keeps telling us that this is it.

Restlessness is what keeps us searching after a new high. Whatever that high maybe to each one of us. Restlessness is what keeps us flicking through channel after channel on TV looking for something because the previous show was not enough. Restlessness is that thing that has us wake up the day after our sports team wins it all think ‘okay, what’s next?’ It’s all that but it’s even more. Restlessness is the cause of our woe and laziness. It is our supposed lack of ambition in many parts of life because we try to fight off that restlessness inside us but even that doesn’t work because it drives us into other avenues to scratch the itch.

The annoying feeling no one can shake

I know that itch very well. I know it from the times I have been in the zone with my work, ready to do the best work I have ever done. Gone all day and all night getting that one idea properly represented on paper, listening to the right music and thinking the right thoughts, hand moving in perfect harmony with my brain, body moving with the grace of a ballerina to the sweetest of orchestra music and yet after the work is complete I feel the itch, ever there.. Ever there…

The good news is that I have known peace. It is a very good feeling I tell you, not just the feeling of happiness but peace. I remember the first time it hit me was late August 2004. It was one of those days when under normal circumstances I would have been running to the TV for my next batch of entertainment, it was a Sunday you see and like all football fans know, Sunday night means football. But this time my interest was more on what I had heard at church that day and I enjoyed thinking it over, I remember going back to my room and having one of those conversations with my brother that usually result in the arguments of two highly opinionated young lads with the genes of Conrad and Felistas Mbewe but this time, I saw no need to go down that road. The argument would not scratch the itch because, there was no itch.

That was not my exact thought word for word, well thought wise anyway but you get the picture but that was it. I remember going to see my Dad and interrupting a conversation between him and my mum and we stepped into his study and I told him “Dad I think I have become a Christian”. I remember that because the words just came out, I had not planned it on the way there but there it was. He asked me why and I gave him the full version of events that happened before. I’m pretty sure I did a whole blog about that so I wont go into that now. He told me to pray and think over it over the next coming days and we would talk about it again.
Granted you are not likely to find me in that position at for my quite time
but I do like the idea of that prayer every morning

I remember that time because that was the first time I noticed the change in my life. Now I am not saying that my itch is gone completely in that there is still that desire in me to search for peace elsewhere but now I know not just where the peace is found but that the peace found me. I know where to go for that joy and comfort. I know that none can satisfy like he can. Not my career to be, not books that I enjoy to read, video games that I enjoy playing, friends I enjoy hanging around or even the woman who I might marry. The source of my peace is there with God and l need to make all my efforts in life have meaning is in him.

What I want is that peace to continue with me, what I want is to never forget that peace. What I want is to return to that moment again and again and again. What I want is to echo with David, ‘Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and renew a right spirit with me’. What I want is that.. simply that