Peter's Blog

And the walls came tumbling down

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Wiesler, Stasi agent, The Lives of Others

It has been a very long day. A morning of administrative work (yes, even ministers are submerged with paperwork these days!), an afternoon planning a holiday club for the Easter holidays, and an evening out at Law for the induction of a colleague to the church there. So, tonight while Carolyn is working away in the living room on her studies, I treated myself to a movie before planning tomorrow's assembly at the primary school.

The film was Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others), a German film set predominantly in 1984 in East Germany. Not too promising for a light hearted evening's entertainment, I grant you!

A song for all mothers

Written by Peter Johnston on .

This had us in stitches. Hope you enjoy it too. If you are a parent count up how many of those lines you have heard coming out of your own mouth!

(Hat tip to David Burt) 

Memory Lane...

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Songs of Praise

Lots of old photos in amongst the stuff from Glasgow. Including this one from around 1983 when the BBC were filming Songs of Praise at Peterborough Cathedral. No guesses who's the chorister with glasses! 

The Careful Movers

Written by Peter Johnston on .

A van full of stuff

I'm pretty tired already and it is still afternoon! It was an early start today to pick up a van rental then my sister's partner to head up to Glasgow where we were going to pick up some furniture and other items from my parents. They are moving house imminently.

Why so tired? Well, they currently live on the third floor so we were up and down the stairs more times than I could keep count. It was much easier at the Cambuslang and Blantyre ends when we unloaded straight to the ground floor.

Hope for the World

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Tablets and Pills

Extraordinary news today in The Guardian that the drug giant GlaxoSmithKline is changing its policy towards pricing and patents in order to bring medicines to the developing world cheaper and more effectively. Wow, great news. They are even pledging a proportion of profits to aid hospitals in developing countries. It will be fascinating to see what the other drug companies do in response. 

At a first read it sounds like a good step forward, though I suspect it is just a first step in a longer journey. 

Jesus' life in 10 minutes?

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Jesus laughing

As part of The Easter Code: Can you crack it?, our Easter event for primary schools, we wanted to spend ten minutes in bringing the pupils up to speed before we launch into the events of holy week. We are tussling with different ways to do this. I spent some time this afternoon trying to write an account from Jesus' baptism through to Palm Sunday. It is quite a challenge to discern what to include and what to leave out so that you get a good overview of what Jesus was about, how people reacted to him and how his impact began to spread.

Although I have tried to be balanced, I am sure my own personal response to Jesus has an impact on the choices made.

Mrs Beamish

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Richard Stilgoe and Peter Skellern perform a great wee number for the C of E (Church of England).

(Hat tip to Scott Rennie) 

The Easter Code

Written by Peter Johnston on .

The Easter Code: Can you crack it?

Following the great success of "Bubblegum 'n' Fluff", the Christmas event the Calderside Learning Community Chaplaincy Team put together for the 350 or so Primary 6 children in the associated Primaries for Calderside Academy, we are at it again!!

We've been meeting weekly over the last few weeks and our plans for an Easter event to which we will invite all the P7 pupils from the associated Primaries are now really taking shape. And... we have a name - The Easter Code: Can you crack it?

Being Christian

Written by Peter Johnston on .

A typically thoughtful article from Simon Barrow on what it means to be a Christian in a post-Christian society. There is some resonance to my post of yesterday.

I particularly liked this:

'Faith', therefore, is not about submission to proposition, the refusal of reason, the deifying of texts, or clinging blindly to dogma. Rightly understood, it is the opposite of these things - it is a letting-go which goes on trusting beyond the definite 'full-stop' of certain kinds of rationalism, because it does not (and cannot) claim the power to impose limits on the love it encounters.

I respect atheists, but for me it would simply be impossible to claim that I can know enough to rule out God (which would, ironically, make me god-like, and eliminate those intimations of unquenchable love which I cannot simply rationalise away, so powerful are they).

For me, faith is continual ‘reasoning with a mystery’, without allowing yourself to be deceived into thinking that you can have an adequate handle on either reason or mystery, or that you can abandon one for the other – the temptation of both the ideologically religious and the ideologically non-religious.


And indeed the Christian faith has as its core the conviction that God comes through to us not as a text, a formula or a theory – but in a person who remains on what I would call ‘the disturbing margins’ of our attempts at world-construction through empire, religion and rational control. 

Reading the Bible

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Reading the Bible

At the end of our fellowship time following the service on Sunday someone came up to me and told me, with a wee smile, that, as the minister I should be careful of saying that something in the Bible might not be right.

The context was our look at the story Jesus told of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18: 21-35) that we used to explore the themes of patience and forgiveness during the service.  

Don't you wish you had an uncle like this?

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Bugatti found in shed...

Hand up... I am a self-confessed car nut. I've been following the story of the Bugatti Type 57S Atalante that was found in the shed of Harold Carr where it lay in its original condition for over 40 years. It is one of only 17 produced and dates back to 1937. For those of you who are sensible and do not suffer from this car nut condition you will see the picture and think - aye, just an old motor. But... for those in the know... it makes your legs go wobbly to think that this beautiful Bugatti was sitting in a shed in Newcastle for all that time.

Humble, like a child

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Watching a Storykeepers DVD

The podcast for this morning's service has been edited and is at the moment uploading to the website so you can listen or get an update on your iTunes this afternoon with part 4 of our Fruits of the Spirit series: Patience. There were quite a few folks on the way out today who told me it was a particularly meaningful message. Patience is one of those themes, isn't it? We could all do with more of that!

Yesterday we had a good day with folks travelling from all over to gather at St Andrew's for a training event for children's ministry leaders.

Building for the future

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Life and Work Survey

Apologies for the quiet blog this week. A combination of toothache - more about that later - and all spare hours being taken up on a job for Life and Work, the Church of Scotland magazine, as part of my role on the Publishing Committee of the Church of Scotland.

At some point last year I had mentioned the possibility of helping the Life and Work team analyse the results from the survey that appeared in November's edition of the magazine with the assistance of Robin, my stepdad, who had helped on a previous survey I did for presbytery. Needless, to say they took me up on the offer...

Wheee, snow!!

Written by Peter Johnston on .

View from front door

With relatives in Alaska, I know it is a bit pathetic to get excited by a whole inch of snow, but... it wasn't just the kids that were excited this morning to see the snow everywhere! It is such a rare occurence here in Blantyre, enjoy it while we can!

I'm really glad I told that old story of the "weight of a snowflake" in yesterday's sermon now.

Baby play

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Ever wondered how those toys get everywhere? 

Making peace

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Gene Stoltzfus

This evening I made it over to the Christian Centre in Falkirk town centre to hear Gene Stoltzfus speaking. Gene was director for many years of Christian Peacemaker Teams. This organisation exists to live out the gospel imperative of non-violence in parts of the world that are wracked with violence, such as Columbia, Israel/Palestine, and Iraq.

It was enlightening, encouraging and motivating to hear Gene talk about his experiences in Iraq in Baghdad following the invasion in 2003.

Whirring again

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Inside my PC

I'm finally getting my desktop computer back the way it was. It takes an age to reload all the programmes that you use regularly, and about 7 hours on top of that to restore all the documents from the backup.

A new hard drive got me back up and running, but the computer is still open to the elements as you can see above, and whirring away until the replacement for the broken hard drive arrives - which will make a nice extra storage drive inside the machine. No sense putting it all back together until that arrives - but I will need to try to make sure prying fingers don't get sliced off in the CPU fan!

Drive woes

Written by Peter Johnston on .

I've reverted to the laptop as now Vista is throwing up "Hard Disk Error" messages on the main computer. Another hard disk has been ordered, should arrive tomorrow, but I will still need to do a couple of piece of work on the desktop tonight to prepare for a funeral - so it is shutdown at the moment to prevent it getting worse. Then I'll need to send the faulty Samsung disk off for a replacement as it is less than a year old. Anyway, it means my attempts to get the desktop machine back up and running are on hold until the new drive arrives and I am not able to pick up email. Grumble, grumble...

Ominous signs...

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Hard Drive Internals

My main desktop computer has been playing up for the last two weeks - I haven't lost anything but almost all the time it would hang when asked to do something (sometimes for 5 minutes or more) throwing up a [Not Responding] message in the title bar of the program you were working with. Very frustrating when you are trying to get work done. I had tried troubleshooting my way through to work out what was the offending item (whether hardware or software) to little avail. Eventually I resigned myself that it must be some clash of drivers in the system, and as it had been over a year of accumulating umpteen different programmes it was probably time for a fresh install. [There's more...]

Love can build a bridge

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Holy City SubWAYS Map

I am not long back home from attending HolyCITY, a worship and discussion evening hosted by the Wild Goose Worship Group of The Iona Community, and held at Renfield St Stephen's Church in Glasgow. I was leading one of the workshops tonight, which I titled "Love can build a bridge".

The theme for the evening was "love".