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Living in an area of such natural beauty, especially when one does not have to work for a living, may stimulate deep thoughts! The contrast between a peaceful life and the troubles of the world beyond may do the same.

What should we believe?

Everyone has ideas about “Life, the Universe and Everything”. Perhaps most of these ideas are not carefully thought out, but picked up from family, friends, media, etc. Many will be a vague atheism based on the idea that science has made unnecessary any belief in God, and why does it matter anyway?

My book “Out of the Cave” offers an idea which may be unfashionable today: that the Christian faith is rational and, more importantly, is true. Christianity tends to be dressed up in religious jargon and quaintly old-fashioned language, and is an easy target for aggressive atheists. Here in the Scottish Highlands it has an especially bad image among outsiders: often it appears out of date, anti-science, unimaginative, schismatic and generally uninspiring. There is much more to Christianity than most people know, but it needs to be “translated” for the 21st century mind.

The premise behind the book is that Socrates of Athens, who might be called the founder of the Western rational way of thinking, is diverted after his death into the modern world. Here he is told about this world, and finds out why things have not improved since his own day. But he also finds the ultimate answer to his questions: that God is real and has shown himself incontrovertibly to us. He finds out about Christianity in completely jargon-free terms. Oh, and he climbs a hill…

Looking for a publisher!

Meanwhile you can download it here.

DOWNLOAD A5  93 pages (0.8Mb)

“Out of the Cave”

Transcendence


The sea becomes the sky as we slip silently

across blue clarity and chaotic cloudscapes,

our wake the only mirror-breaking wave

until a dark shape darts beneath the boat,

slices the surface in a breath-taking black curve,

and we stare spellbound at the porpoise's mastery

of its own dense element.  So two worlds meet:

we the watchers agape: as angels, say,

might gaze into the material universe

which we call home and wonder at our mastery

of our own dense element, experiences denied

to creatures of a greater air and light.

And we the watched: are we porpoises?  or fish,

trapped unaware beneath the sea-sky surface

where sunbeams flicker faint and unexplained?

Oh, rather be a porpoise!  Breathe life from

that other world, feel the Sun's warmth, and know

that we are made for more than this world gives.


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A small mixed bag of other poems on Christian themes:

If only


It seemed the first morning of the earth, the birth

of light and life in land and sea and air.

The sun rose singing in a crystal sky,

as new-born hills showed off their silhouettes,

teased briefly by a few young sun-touched clouds.

A buzzard's cry called wildness to the world,

a whisper of breeze rustled the trees from sleep,

and dew-washed leaves shone with primeval green.

The air was crisp with wide-awake freshness: it was a day

for alleluias. As I stopped to drink it in,

there passed a fellow prince of creation, a man

head down, oblivious, thumbs working at his messages:

perhaps urgent to tell abroad the glories of the day?

If only.

SOME SHORT POEMS on various themes

Power Cut


Home late: the village lights below, a random sprinkle

of pinholes in the black, electric white and amber.

Close out the night with electric cosiness: light heat music...

Suddenly the house flashes into darkness, vanishes with

a startle of unelectric shock. Check the village:

it has abandoned us, or we it, and we are lost in space.


No:  a car's lights search uncertainly invisible streets

and faint glows grow into windows: the village is back,

centuries back, a candled shadow of itself,

its bubble confidence burst, now a fragile settlement

edging an uncertain ocean, fearful

of the enclosing dark... of wolves... of Viking raids...


But as we candle ourselves and join the village,

we find a web of warm light woven between us all,

an open-curtain oneness of experience, of humour

in TV-less adversity.  An hour-long moment  then

we are flicked back into the electric now, and each house

cold shoulders its neighbours, re-embraces isolation.

Autumn


Autumn is best. Not the brash youth of Spring,

nor Summer's frantic insect-ridden heat,

nor yet the chill of Winter's darkening:

all fade when seen in Autumn's golden light.

Now rowan berries richly weight the trees,

the bracken blazes, woods are touched with glory;

now nature, effort spent, can rest at ease,

and sunset's blessing closes each day's story.

For us when autumn comes and time's our own,

the golden years begin; then wisdom learned

turns toil to pleasure, noise to peace; seeds sown

long since now bear a crop of fruits well-earned.

But woe to those who waste the days of gold

and unprepared face winter's deathly cold.

The Pool


He wandered carefree as a cloud,

and came upon a pool of water,

and saw, for the first time,

himself.

Narcissus.

Wondering he stopped and gazed,

and knew, for the first time,

his humanity:

the blessing and the curse of self-awareness.


Beneath the surface lay a little world.

Slaters and snails and scuttling shrimps

sheltered in algal groves.

On the muddy plains roamed

small beetles and tardigrade bears.

Like tiny knights in armour

caddis larvae clung to their stones.

Mini-monsters, cyclops and hydra,

threatened no-one.

Overhead water boatmen winged their way

and dragons sailed the sky.


A heaven-sent frog briefly rippled the surface,

but Narcissus saw only his own face,

heard only the echo of his own voice.

Trapped in the whirlpool of himself

he drowned.

March


Time marches on and March is back:

March, month of moody ambivalence,

the adolescent of the calendar,

poised on the equinoctial fence,

swaying on the seasonal see-saw.

March it does not, but meanders,

trudging one day to a wintry dirge,

sprinting the next in a spring-loaded dance:

battlefield of the seasons, the Ides of the year.

But this Mars is a mere apprentice,

his war mercifully brief, the winner certain:

the rainbow after rain, the flowering of life,

the death of death, the victory of hope.

In this war the good clichés always win.

Time marches on and March is gone.

The March of the Months


First comes January, dashing hopefully into the year.

February strolls more slowly, grumbling, with no cause to cheer.

March attempts to march but, wind-assisted, totters into spring.

Happy April scampers as the growing year at last takes wing.

May flies, splashing all with light and colour (often water colour).

June struts proudly at the solstice summit. But the view grows duller...

Tired July just wanders idly, swatting flies and mopping sweat.

Sultry August saunters through the summer, stagnant, hot and wet.

Livelier September dances merrily and shares the stage

with October: older, wiser, cooler now in middle age.

November trudges, silent, sullen, suffering from slow starvation.

December crawls, only alive through artificial respiration.

Swords and Ploughshares


Poppies grew in Flanders fields

splashing blood-red the ground

as if there was not blood enough:

nature's innocent mockery of madness,

of the plague of rage which blew red

across the continent;

or maybe nature agonising for humanity,

sweating, like Christ in Gethsemane garden,

drops of blood.

Happier the world

if Flanders had been a garden indeed

where men dug flowerbeds not trenches

and battled only weeds,

if the blind guides who led the world into despair

had spent their ambition

caring for a little plot of land,

nurturing poppies on compost,

not on the flesh of men.


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More light verse, mostly written for Gairloch Writers’ Group:

So what is this poem about? Not just about Gairloch’s  porpoises, clearly. Allegory or parable may be more valuable than straight theology because they make the reader think. A porpoise is, in a way, amphibious: living in water but breathing air. Humans are intended to be the same, but in material and spiritual terms. And the Sun is God, of course.

Deluge


It knows how to rain here.

The minimalist music of the mist

drops a steady drizzle

of drenching predictability.

Symphonic showers arrive

in wetting wind-driven movements:

the steady pelting of the adagio,

a sunny scherzo tunefully rainbowed,

the allegro's refreshing sparkle.

And then come the operatic rains,

opening all the stops of the sky:

from a classical continuo

of splashing chords

to a Wagnerian deluge,

a storm-swept torrent fit for

the twilight of the gods.

Rain here knows all the notes.

A sort of pictorial occasional blog can be found by pressing the black button…

Creative Writing

"Beauty is God's hand-writing"  Charles Kingsley


The book opens with a bang

as reality explodes into existence.

Chaos is quickly written into order,

letters are shuffled into words,

and the grammar of the universe is born.

The author's hand is revealed

(he can not help it)

in the elegance of elements,

in the necessary intricacy of forces,

in the mystical power of numbers,

in the life and bountiful death of stars.


Into the epic immensity of the setting

another chapter brings the lyric beauty

of one particular world:

a world so blessed by circumstance,

so positioned, protected, provided,

that almost one might accuse the author

of self-indulgence.

Here is a masterwork of calligraphy,

extravagant in detail, lavish in variety:

an abundance of newly-coined nouns,

a richness of adjectives,

an exuberance of verbs.

The author's hand is revealed on every page

(he can not help it)

by the beauty of his phrasing

in all things seen and unseen,

great and small,

useful and useless.


The writer writes. But who is to read the book?

By a bold stroke, when the time comes,

he writes readers into the story, characters

blessed with consciousness of their author.

Yet more daring, he makes them free

to change the book for good or ill.

So our own chapter begins. Too soon

our scribble overwrites the author's script,

our pride and greed make havoc of the plot.


All hope of a happy ending seems lost.

Unless...

Is it possible that the author

might write into the book

himself

and offer us a way out?


The Beaufort Scale


Force One, Light Air. Small ripples on the sea,

and little sign of movement in a tree.

Unfortunately midges can fly free.


Force Two, Light Breeze. You'll feel it on your skin;

the leaves may rustle, and small waves begin.

If dry, a perfect day for walking in.


Force Three, a Gentle Breeze. Waves show some white,

and smaller twigs may tremble with delight.

It's just the time to go and fly a kite.


Force Four, a Moderate Breeze. Small branches sway,

and in the waves the first white horses play.

Take windproof clothing if you're out today.


Force Five, Fresh Breeze. The smaller trees may lean,

white horses multiply, some spray is seen.

Exciting sailing if you're really keen.


Force Six, Strong Breeze. Now larger branches shake,

and sea spray starts to fly as wave tops break.

You're taking your umbrella? — bad mistake.


Force Seven, Near Gale. Whole trees are set in motion,

the waves grow higher, white lines streak the ocean.

A hill-walk starts to seem a foolish notion.


Force Eight, a Gale. Some twigs break off and fly,

the waves with breaking crests are rough and high,

and clouds are scurrying across the sky.


Force Nine, Strong Gale, tears branches off their tree,

and airborne spray may make it hard to see.

So wood or water's not the place to be.


Force Ten, a Storm, and trees uprooted fall;

the sea is white with breakers over all.

Don't try to walk — it's easier to crawl.


Eleven, Violent Storm, may tear off tiles,

and windblown foam obscures the sea for miles.

The ferry's cancelled to the outer isles.


Force Twelve, a Hurricane. Just stay inside:

huge waves, and flying debris far and wide.

In such a wind all you can do is hide.