The Importance of Stories

There was a tv show where a man sat his children down and told them the story of how he met their mother. However, this was not just a short story it was a build up including all the important stories that made him the man he was when he met her.

Stories are important to people, stories help us understand what is really going on. Stories reveal truth to us and help us to understand concepts previously hidden from us.

Stories can change depending on who is hearing them and what people need to understand about the world. Cinderella used to have shoes made of fur, now they are glass. But the changes don’t make the story any less true.

There are many stories about floods. There were gods, or a God who looked down on the earth and saw the people. The people stopped worshipping the gods. or the God. The gods became hungry because no one was offering them sacrifices. The God became angry because everyone was sinful. They/He decided to send a floor to punish the world and start again. There was a man called Gilgamesh/Noah who built a giant boat and took two of each animal on it.

The stories are not important because they document historical fact. They are important because they show us who we were, what was important to us, and who we are.

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Because they define my personal style

Six pairs of shoes. They define my ‘personal’ style.

It is adverts like this which led to adverts in the cube being banned. People should be encouraged to be individual and to find their own personal style but it is unlikely that they will find it in a shoe shop, or a clothes shop or any shop.

Some wisdom that I read in a book recently said ‘Don’t always try to be cool. The whole universe is cool. It’s the warm bits that matter.’

If the nicest thing that someone can say about you is that you wear nice shoes then you are not doing ‘nice’ properly.

It is better for people to remember the difference you made in their life than how pretty you looked while they were suffering.

The Humans

I have just finished reading The Humans by Matt Haig. It was recommended reading for Greenbelt 2014’s reading club. However, I did not read it before Greenbelt, which I now think is a shame because I would have enjoyed discussing it.

This quote was one that I found particularly interesting, especially so that I read it shortly before church this morning.

‘I looked at Isobel and I saw a miracle. It was ridiculous, I know. But a human, in it’s own small way, was a miraculous achievement, in mathematical terms.

‘For a start, it wasn’t very likely that Isobel’s mother and father would have met. And even if they had met the chance of their having a baby would have been pretty slim, given the numerous agonies surrounding the human dating process.

‘Her mother would have had about a hundred thousand eggs ovulating inside her, and her father would have had five trillion sperm during that same length of time. But even then, even that one in five hundred million million chance of existing was a terrible understatement, and nowhere near did the coincidence of a human life justice.

‘You see, when you looked at a human’s face, you had to comprehend the luck that brought that person there. Isobel Martin had a total of 150,000 generations before her, and that only includes the human. That was 150,000 increasingly unlikely children. That was one in a quadrillion chance multiplied by another quadrillion for every generation. Or around twenty thousand times more than the number of the atoms in the universe. But even that was only the start of it, because humans had only been around for three millions Earth years, certainly a very short time compared to the three and a half billion years since life first appeared on this planet.

‘Therefore, mathematically, rounding things up, there was no chance at all that Isobel Martin could have existed. A zero in ten to-the-power-of-forever chance. And yet, there she was, in front of me, and I was quite taken aback by it all; I really was. Suddenly it made me realise why religion was such a big thing around here. Because, yes, sure, God could not exist. But then neither could humans. So, if they believed in themselves – the logic must go – why not believe in something that was only a fraction more unlikely?’

The sermon, talking about opening our church to more people, about the idea that when you welcomed people in they weren’t always going to be ‘your kinda people’, the idea that being Christ-like meant talking to, showing compassion to and loving sinners. The idea that gay people deserved hell meant that you had forgotten that ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’.

The idea that some people are too far away to ever be loved.

And then I thought back to the words of an alien stuck on the planet Earth. There was no chance that Isobel Martin, or me, or anyone could exist. We are impossible, incredible, each one of us, a miracle. Statistically unlikely and yet, here we are.

And we spend time making other people feel worthless, making other people feel like they have no place in this world. They have overcome insurmountable odds to get to this point and yet feel like they don’t deserve to be here.

When we see a human, shouldn’t we be more amazed that they are alive and being? Where ever they currently are, it is a miracle that they are. And if we can support them in continuing to be then we are part of a miracle but if something we say or do hinders them, then we are destroying millions of years of energy and work and time and miracles.

Music in the cube

Music in the Rubik Cube of Mim is super important. It is through music that we are able to understand our own feelings. That is why a truly good song is the one that cries with you when you are sad; the one that makes you giggle every time you hear it because it reminds you of a time you giggled; the one that triggers a smell because you associate it with a smelly experience.

When I was young, before I joined the cube, I wasn’t very interested in music. This is surprising because I have played the flute ever since I was super tiny. I remember once doing a ‘play by ear’ exercise, which was where you were given the first few notes and asked to continue playing the song after the notes ran out. However, I could not do this exercise. My teacher thought it was because I lacked improvisation skills but soon found out it was because I lacked the knowledge of what the song was meant to sound like. If only he had asked me to play any song we sang in church…because I have never needed the sheet music to play church music.

When I started secondary school, it was then that I decided to take notice of the music going on around me. Mainly because I was having difficulty talking or understanding anything people were saying. We had nothing in common, no common ground to start from (5 points if you know that song reference). I started listening to music which I thought was cool. And it was very important for me to only listen to ‘cool’ music. I got very anxious when I got what cool was wrong and ended up liking music which was not cool…oh Sum41, how was I to know you were faking it?

However, as I have got older, since joining the cube, I have realised that music isn’t good because people say that it is ‘cool’ but is good when it says the things you wanted to say but had no way of saying it. When the words are not enough, some how the music makes up for it.

It can work both ways though, and that it was it can be dangerous. Sometimes, music can make you feel things that you don’t actually feel. It can pull out emotion where there isn’t anything. It can be fake.

I went on a youth weekend once where we had a busy day of activities and the evening meal had been biscuits and juice. What followed was an hour of very emotive music and then the preacher who called for us to repent. Unsurprisingly, there were tears, there were people falling over. We were told it was a sign of the holy spirit’s presence. I have always been incredibly disturbed by this incident. The music, the lack of food, the tiredness, they all created something in us that I greatly suspect were fake.

And so in the cube, we like music. We appreciate its skill in showing us how we feel, in helping us express it but we also value silence. We value being alone with our feelings so that when we hear them in the music we recognise that they were there before.

Sex is Disgusting

Rubik Cube of Mim

Recently, I read an article which featured a quote from a woman who advocated that sexuality could be changed through therapy. She said that gay sex was disgusting,  “one man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it ‘love.’ Or two women awkwardly mimicking natural procreative relations” 

It got me thinking about sex. There’s a quote in the Red Dwarf Novel ‘Backwards’ where Kryten attempts to understand how humans reproduce. ‘He understood that, in order to reproduce, humans sought each other out, got naked and jiggled up and down on top of each other until various ucky fluids had been secreted. Well, fine. It seemed to him a particularly messy process, but there: humans were stuck with it, the poor beggers. What was truly baffling was the amount of physical and mental energy the species appeared to devote to the pursuit of this sticky jiggling…

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