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  • : The blog of Frank Beswick. It deals with my interests in religious, philosophical spiritual matters and horticulture/self-reliance
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January 2 2012 2 02 /01 /January /2012 19:47



Plantng trees is easy as long as certain rules are kept.


The first rule is to plant during the dormant season. This is the winter time, when the tree is inactive. As a general rule you plant trees in months with an R in them, September to March. However, the best time is November to January, when the ground is coldest. In Britain the ideal time is November to December, but in certain places where the winter soil is frozen, the planting is best done just before Spring when the soil is warmed up.This rule applies to deciduous trees, but evergreens can be planted at any time of year.


The hole that you dig should be square to prevent roots turning into a circular pattern, though it is not dangerous to dig a round hole. Its depth should be equal to the depth from the bottom of the roots to the point at which the trunk begins. Do not plant deeper than this as excessive depth is not thought to be good for the tree.  You can place a water tube into the ground so that it protrudes. This will enable water to be passed down to the roots in dry weather.


Insert the tree into the hole and back fill it with compost. Fill it to ground level, but not deeper. Then heel down the soil. This is pressing the soil down with your heel. The purpose of this practice is to squeeze out air pockets, which prevent the roots from contacting soil and absorbing water and minerals. Ensure that you water the tree well. Do this by watering the soil around its base.




You can insert a tree stake. This is a pole fastened to the tree that enables it to hold firm in bad winds. It should be diagonal to the tree rather than vertical and fastened with suitable straps. Do not use ties that are too thin or they might cut into the tree bark. They might also snap. The tree stake should be inserted before the hole is filled.


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January 1 2012 1 01 /01 /January /2012 20:46



Green pest control is an aspect of integrated pest management, the process of combining chemical, cultural and biological controls to attack pests. In green pest control the chemical element is played down at the expense of other elements, though some chemical substances are permitted.


The first element of green pest control is cultural practices. These are the gardening techniques that kill pests. Prime among them is good hygiene. This means not leaving plant litter or debris lying around where pests can hide during the day. In greenhouses it means clearing out containers and disinfecting them to prevent pests such as vine weevils hibernating in winter. Cultural controls might also involve spraying fruit trees with jets of water to destroy aphids. This is important at the times when aphids [greenfly] are present on plants.


Cultivation of soil is important. If you dig the soil in winter certain pests that hibernate in cells in the ground will be exposed. They will then be liable to be eaten by predatory birds. Rolling lawns is a useful defence against vine weevil larvae, which eat the roots of plant, as the roller will crush them.Grease bands can be placed around fruit trees in winter to prevent winter moths from climbing into them to lay eggs. The female moth cannot fly.


Slugs and snails can be attacked by means of a variety of methods. Beer traps are useful. These are jars half filled with beer. Slugs love the smell and crawl into them and drown. Snails are also vulnerable to salt on paths, as salt dries them up. They dislike soil in which soot has been included, and they are said to dislike egg shell strewn around plants, though this does not always work.


Biological  controls involve setting predators on the pests. These can be wild animals that eat the pests. Many gardeners place nesting boxes for blue tits on the trees, as the tits eat various pests. You can also encourage hedgehogs, which eat slugs and snails. Ducks also are great consumers of these pests, so they can be kept in the garden.


Nenatodes are minute invertebrates that dwell in soil. You can purchase them from dealers and apply them by the watering can dilute in water. They burrow into the nervous system of slugs to paralyse them and render them vulnerable  to predators as they lie motionless.Nematodes need renewing every few weeks.


There are also specially bred predatory insects for greenhouses. You have to purchase the predator for the pest. Aphids can be combatted by the tiny predatory wasp Aphidoletes aphidmyza. There are other pest predators depending upon which pest you are which pest is troubling you.


Some chemicals are permitted. The soil association permits organic growers to spray fruit trees with soft soap, which gums up their respiratory systems. There are also organic slug pellets. Non-organic pellets are monstrous, as they poison not only the slugs but the hedeghogs and birds that eat them. Hedgehogs die in agony if they eat slugs that have consumed these pellets. Organic pellets do not poison the slug but swell inside it and gum up its bowels.


All techniques are useful, but it is important to avoid certain chemicals which are thought to be environmentally harmful. Any organo-phosphates should be avoided, as they are a threat to useful wildlife. Neonicotinoides have been implicated in threats to bees. Organic growers cannot use these complex chemicals.

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January 1 2012 1 01 /01 /January /2012 12:52



When planting a garden you must realise that a garden is an ongoing process. You do not simply plant, sit back and enjoy. Instead, you enjoy, but there is ongoing work for the whole life of the garden or your time there. A garden never stays the same, it evolves and grows over time.


The first requirement is to have a structure in mind, as a structure allows you to organise your thoughts and activities. Some gardeners create a structure of paths and beds. The paths may be wood chip, gravel or brick. The beds may be raised or at ground level. If they are to be raised they need wooden or brick sides, though brick is expensive. In a flower garden it is possible to demarcate the paths and beds with box trees, which must be kept pruned to below knee height. But these need renewing every few years.


Gardeners must take care of their soil. Most soils fall into the medium pH range. This is the acidity scale. A pH of 6.5 -7 is considered fine for plants, but there are soils that differ on either side of the extreme. A friend of mine with a place on a Welsh mountainside had a soil pH so acidic that little or nothing would grow, so she had to use raised beds to grow anything. You can get your pH tested by purchasing a kit from a  garden centre.


Gardeners must ensure that they nourish their soil. This is done by the addition of compost and or manure, which can be laid on top of the ground or dug in. The manure should be well-rotted. Nowadays manure pellets are available from certain suppliers, but if you add these you would need to add compost to provide some structure to the soil, as pellets add little of this. Seaweed meal, ideally as liquid seaweed, should be applied in diluted form, as this enriches the soil with trace elements. However, the nourishment of the soil is an ongoing process that must occur constantly through a garden's life. Leaf mould is another useful addition to soil. This is made from leaves that have taken a year or so to rot down. It adds some structure to the soil


The beds should be well dug prior to planting. Dig them over and leave them for the winter, then break up the soil with a hoe until it turns into a fine tilth.Tilth is a crumbly soil made up of fine particles. If you are growing vegetables add a base dressing at this time. this is fertiliser applied to the ground before planting.You might need to add fertilsir during the growing season, but never in excessive quantities, as this can burn the roots.


Vegetables need a crop rotation. This means growing plants in sequence in each bed. The Standard British rotaton is four fold. Potatoes, followed by root crops, beans and peas, then brassicas, members of the cabbage family. but this is the most simple rotation, and professional gardeners can be quite sophisticated in their rotational patterns. Rotating crops prevents a build up of plant diseases and pests in the soil.


Flowers are divided into annuals, biennials  and perennials. Annuals die yearly and need replanting. Biennials take two years to live and perennials live indefinitely. Herbaceous perennials die back to their roots and regrow. It is a god idea to lift them once every two or three years and divide them. This involves spliting the root clump into two and replanting. Rhubarb can be treated in this way. I do it to rhubarb once every five years. Woody perennials, those with woody stems, do not die back and are not divided in the manner that I have just described.


Bulbs and coms should be planted to a depth of twice the size of the bulb. Do this in Autumn according to the advice given by the bulb seller. Onions, however, need to be peeking just above the ground. But you might need netting to protect them from curious birds, such as wood pigeons, which are becoming  nuisance in gardening.


In cold climates you might need to start young plants off in a greenhouse or cloche. This brings me to an important point. Some planting books give planting times for the south of Britain. But the planting dates are later as you go further north. Take into account the likelihood of frost before you plant. Beans in particular die quickly in frost, as do tomatoes. Not even a greenhouse will protect against frost, unless it is heated.





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December 31 2011 7 31 /12 /December /2011 19:47



Vegetables can be grown indoors, but you must choose the correct conditions and vegetables. The main condition is light, which must be maximised for vegetable growth. If you have a conservatory, all the better, as this is  small greenhouse attached to the house, but you can use window ledges. These should be south facing to maximise sunlight. They should also be free of draughts, as cold draughts can damage sensitive plants.


Containers need to be properly watered, as they dry out easily. But you should not overwater them, as this can drown the plants. The growing medium should be kept moist, but not soaking.


You also need to ensure that the medium contains enough nutrients. Soil in containers will soon run out of nutrients, so you need to add fertilser at a regular rate, every two or three weeks. But you must not over-fertilise, as doing so can damage or even kill the roots. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on the fertiliser packet. You must also ensure that the medium is suitable for the plants that you want to grow. Most plants grow happily at pH 6.5-7, but some plants need a higher or lowe pH. pH is the ratio of hydrogen ions in the soil and measures acidity. A low pH is a highly acid soil, and a high pH is high alkaline. You can measure the pH with a special measuring kit easily purchased from a garden centre. If you are growing annual plants that last for only a year, then the soil can be changed every year, but if you are growing herbs that you want to ensure for more than a year, you may need to repot them yearly. This means taking them out of a container and potting in another, possibly larger one.


Do not allow plants to sit in still air. They need a flow of air around them. This is to provide the carbon dioxide that they need. It is also to prevent a build up of humiditiy that can cause fungal diseases to set in.


Select your plants carefully. I have seen a banana plant growing in a corner of a room, but no bananas came from it. The problem was that this plant has a high light demand, and a corner could not therefore provide enough light. Tomatoes and peppers are excellent for indoor growing. They grow well on south facing window ledges, even in cold climates. You might also be able to produce aubergines in similar conditions, as these are plants that grow better in protected conditions in the British climate.


Herbs make great indoor plants, as they are small and can easily grow on window ledges. Basil, thyme and sage grow well in containers. They can grow on the kitchen window ledge, if it receives enough light.


Mushrooms can also be part of your indoor garden. Contrary to common belief they do not require darkness, but they do not like over-much light. Unlike plants they are air breathers, so they need a flow of air around them, though ideally not a cold breeze. Mushroom kits cna be purchased from some garden centres and a number of suppliers on the internet. A cellar or the space under the stairs can be an ideal mushroom cultivation site.



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December 31 2011 7 31 /12 /December /2011 17:35



The question of whether tomato is a fruit or a vegetable is a non-question. In the broad sense of the word all plant material available to be eaten is a vegetable. However, we subdivide the vegetable fruits that we eat into different kinds, and this division has given rise to the question of whether or not tomato is vegetable or fuit.


In looser usage we group certain foods together as vegetables. These include those that grow underground, such as roots and tubers. Potatoes are tubers and carrots are swollen tap roots. We eat the leaves of other plants, such as lettuce. Some other plants can have edible flowers, such as cucumbers. All these we class loosely as vegetables as oposed to fruits. However, this loose usage finds many people classifying cucumbers and marrows as vegetables, even though they are actually the fruit of the plant. This mistake probably arises because they are green, like the bulk of what we call vegetables.


This loose colloquial usage has the word fruit reserved for the seed bearing organs of the plant, such as apples and berries. Tomato certainly belongs to the category of fruits, as it is a seed bearing organ of the plant. Yet it is eaten as a vegetable in salads. But so also apple can be included in a salad, even though it is a seed bearer.


So you see the division between vegetables and fruits is a false one depending upon the loose usage of terminology. Tomato is both fruit and vegetable.

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December 29 2011 5 29 /12 /December /2011 13:36



Modern educational philosophy speaks about skills, knowledge and attitudes. Even religious education has fallen into this pattern. Now there is nothing wrong with these criteria. We need skills, knowledge and the right attitudes. But we are overlooking one ancient concept that was at the heart of education for millenia, the concept of wisdom.


All ancent cultures knew wisdom. The Confucians of China offered a path to wisdom. The Bible speaks of Hokhmah, wisdom personified as the feminine side of God, emanating from the deity to enlighten the minds of those who receive her. There is a substantial corpus of wisdom literature in the Old Testament, in Proverbs,  Wisdom and Ecclasiasticus. The term Philosophy means the love of wisdom, showing that for the ancient Greeks who coined the term,  the path of Philsophy led to a higher kind of knowledge. In some societies wise people were known as sages, whereas in Greece they were known as philosophers. The Anglo-Saxonsand mediaveal English spoke of a wise woman or cunning woman. Cunning does not have its modern meaning of craft, but denotes knowing. The wise woman was one who knew herbal cures and could apply them for human benefit.


So what is wisdom? To answer this we must examine what its practitioners do. The Confucian thought of a wise person as one who understood the cosmic order and could harmonise with it. It was an internalisation of the manner of things. The key idea is that wisdom implied knowing the good and living by it. This idea is implicit in the Hebrew Hokhmah. The Hebrew sage studied the law of God and the Jewish faith, and attempted to live his life by it. So we have the idea that wisdom is knowing the good and living by it. The Greek idea has much in common with these other views. For Plato the philosopher's mind ascended beyond the illusory reality of the everyday world and reached the forms, the ideas of justice, truth, mercy and so on, culminating in the ultimate, Form of the Good. But none would be called wise if he knew the forms and ignored them, so we would expect the philosopher to have internalised his principles and live by them.


Wisdom, I suggest, is the knowledge and love of what is true, good, and beautiful. The wise person has sought the truth, loves the good, and appreciates the other element in that trilogy, the beautiful. This trilogy is found in the ideals of Indian sages of the Hindu faith. Thus wisdom can be distinguished from practical knowledge, phronesis in Aristotle's terminology, as the latter is not knowledge of the good, but of the practical means to attain it in life. This is not to downplay practical knowledge, without which we cannot live, but to assert that in contrast to the claims of many in the mdoern educational world it is not the whole of knowledge. Jesus, as we know, was a wise person, in that he knew the good and lived by it, but he was by trade a carpenter, so he allied wisdom with phronesis.


Yet if we saw a scholar or religious minister,  who presumably knows the good according to the lights of their own belief system, getting drunk or committing various acts in opposition to what they purport to believe, would we think of them as wise? I suggest not. So merely knowing what is good is not enough, it is vital to conduct one's life by it. It is vital to make elarning part of oneself rather than a mere possession. It is possible to be a trained barbarian. When we see greedy bankers, who often are selected from well-trained university graduates, ruining the economy with their greed, we are not looking at wise people. We are seeing people with unwise minds armed with some skill and training, skill grafted onto an unwise heart and mind. So a wise person must have internalised the good that he/she knows to the degree that it governs behaviour.The wise person then is one whose life is governed by the true, the good and the beautiful. He/she loves them, seeks them and internalises them. A wise person is one whose life is permeated and governed by their wisdom


Would we think a person wise if that person did not use their wisdom to benefit others? I think not. The good is not merely a  private possession. It is to be shared among humans. A wise person may teach or give advice when asked. But it is also possible for their wisdom to shine through in all their relationships and to enrich the lives of people around them. A hermit may be wise, but would we think of an antisocial recluse as a wise person. I think not, as rejecting others is not good.


Science alone is not wisdom. If pursuded out of love it enables us to come to one aspect of the truth, but other aspects, such as religious, philosophical, aesthetic and moral truths are not part of science. The person who thinks that science is the sum of wisdom is intellectually impoverished, though what he has is beneficial as far as it goes. A wise person needs a balanced coverage of all aspects of the truth. Such is the span of modern knowledge, no one can drink fully of its depths, but it is important to have a balanced view of all areas of it.


The ideal of wisdom needs to be reintroduced to education. Too often in my teaching career I have encountered the victoms of a narrow view of education who say that they only want to learn what gets them a job. We need to promote the view that education is for the wise life, the life governed by the love of the true, the good and the beautiful. Religious education has a vital role in this process, for wisdom and religion are close compnaions, historically and philosophically.


Wisdom is not an either/or affair. We must grow in it. Maybe it is like seed that grows in our hearts and minds. As we internalise the good more and more we become more wise. It is probably a lifelong process. Am I there yet? Am I wise? Not yet, though I am trying.





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December 26 2011 2 26 /12 /December /2011 15:34



Today I read a letter in a newspaper which asserted that religious faith rests on the second hand testimony of people in the distant past. I do wish that atheists would adequately study religion before they make assertions about it. There may indeed be people whose faith rests on the second testimony of people in the distant past, but this is not how faith works for man or most. 


The essence of Christian faith is that the Spirit of God is active in the community of the church, guiding, inspiriing and strengthening, giving wisdom and spiritual charismata. The church has always recognized that the Spirit is the product of Jesus' ongoing presence in the heart of his community, which is a particular case of his presence in the world. John's gospel describes Jesus as the Word incarnate among humankind, and the church has susceptible to his influence acting through the risen Christ present in the world


What does this mean in practice. It means that at the heart of any Christian faith there are charismata, the divine influences in a person's life. There may be some people who occasionally or more often enjoy a sense of presence, but Buber, the Jewish thinker, probably has it right when he speaks of presence/power. For most Christians the root of their faith is the spiritual strength that they draw from their membership of the Christian community and from prayer, both private and collective.


Thus the statment that faith rests on acceptance of testimony from the distant past is wrong. It is far more dependent on influences in the present. But what then is the role of such testimony. As humans we rely on knowledge passed on from others. We discover few , if any new ideas ourselves and have to be educated through contact with the human community and by sharing in its culture. Thus the experience of God or the reception of charismata do not depend upon a human community, but as humans we depend upon others for the ideas by which we understand and interpret our experiences. Put simply, I would not understand Christianity without the human community of the Catholic Church in which I was raised and of which I am happily a member.


Faith is a plant that needs constant nourishment by a prayerful life. Without prayer and the reception of divine influences therein it will soon fade. I have so far not met an atheist account of faith that even recognizes this fundamental fact of religious living. This is a testimony to the poverty of thought in modern atheism.


The church provides the story of Jesus which gives me the narrative tradition that explains the identity of the community whose prayer-life strengthens me. It provides the theology which enables me to interpret my religious life. This is not to say that I am uncritical or believe everything said to me, far from it. I am in constant dialogue with my spiritual tradition and develop my own critical thoughts therein. The church also provides the language of worship. Without this language I would have to have made all the spiritual discoveries myself, and that would have meant that little progress would have been made.


The cultural community is the locus in which the first steps in faith are made, and its stories are the vehicle through which divine influences operate. I have a great deal to thank my parents  for, as they gave me the religious background in which faith could grow. My thoughts on theology have outgrown theirs over the years, but they provides the home in which spiritual influences could flourish and in which I could be sensitive to them.


A weak faith rests on second hand testimony, but it is the kind of faith that will probably fade quickly under pressure, like the seed that fell on the path or the seed that fell among thorns. But a deep religious faith is an ongoing process of discovery, thought and growth that is rooted in the divine influence in life, but nourished by the linguistic/ conceptual culture of the community in which its holder grows



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December 23 2011 6 23 /12 /December /2011 10:59





Today I read a letter in a  newspaper that referred to the Bible as a collection of fairy tales. This is characteristic of much secularist thinking: it is critical from a poor basis of understanding.


The Christian Bible is two separate anthologies compiled over a period from about nine hundred BC to the second century AD. It is composed of a variety of literary genres. The first five books of the Old Testament , known as the Pentateuch, were originally compiled from the Hebrew folk tradition  and are known as the Yahwist source,  the Elohist source, the Priestly source and the Deuteronomic history. These  were blended into one strand and then subdivided into the five books that we know now. They are composed of the following literary genres. The first eleven chapters of the first book, Genesis, are myth intended to deal with the origins of the universe and the human condition. The genre changes in chapter 12 to become folk history, a coillection of anecdotes about ancestors. Folk history is the content of much of the rest of the Pentateuch, which covers the story of Moses and the period in the wilderness.The Pentateuch contains detailed tracts of law dealing with daily matters and with ritua concerns. The food laws are contained in this section. So even a casual study of the Pentateuch would reveal that dismissing the book as fairy tales is a simplisytic statement based on limited knowledge.


The history of the Hebrews covers a large part of the text. As they settled and developed their civilisation  the dating becomes more accurate, as the history follows the annals of the various kings of Judah and Israel, the two kingdoms into which the Hebrews were divided. There are also works of prophecy. This is not primarily about foretelling the futture, but about warning people of the consequences of their lifestyle. Prophetic works are not fairy tales, they are poetic material with a moral message based on profound religious experiences.They comprise much of the Old Testament.


There are also the wisdom books. These are collections of sayings and the advice of wise men. They contain a variety of works, including the book of Psalms, a collection of ancient hymns. The fairy tale genre does not even remotely describe what is present in these books.


The New Testament deals with the story of Jesus and his implications. The gospels are the testimonies of the early church based on those who knew Jesus and they recount his great works and spiritual impact. Much of the rest of the New Testament consists of letters from apostles such as Paul to various churches giving religious advice. Little tale telling is contained therein. There is also the Acts of the Apostles, which deals with the spread of the early church through the activities of first Peter and then Paul. This is very factual, as it deals with the course of missionary journeys round the Mediterranean. The final book is the Book of Revelations, the Apocalypse, which is an extended religious vision in which religious messages are given through rich and dramatic symbolism.


Thus simply dismissing a book as fairy tales is unjustified. It is a rich collection of religious worlks of various genres written over a period of more than a thousand years. I would like to finish with a plea to  critics. Before you criticize a book, why don't you take the trouble to read it?



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December 23 2011 6 23 /12 /December /2011 09:25



One simple fact about history is that there is no certainty. There can be near certainty, especially about recent events, but technically nothing can be known. As we go further into the past there is less certainty. The ancient world recorded little, so we can at best reconstruct the events as well as we can with limited data.


Two gospels, Matthew and Luke, tell us that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but they have differing stories, focusing on Jospeph and Mary respectively. In recent years Scholars have tended to hold the opinion that Jesus was born at the family home in Nazareth. However, certain factors have been overlooked, and these lead me to think that the gospel tale is correct.


In the Middle East extended families lived close to each other. It is very much a clan society. Joseph came from the family of David, who were a clan based at Bethlehem in ancient times. Although they were exiled by the Babylonians in 587 BC along with other Jews, Cyrus the Persian king, allowed all Jews back in 527 BC and let them reclaim their lost lands. The family of David would have reclaimed the lands in Bethlehem. It is likely then that they lived there, tending their lands as they had done for centuries.


This is significant because it indicates that Joseph came from Bethlehem rather than Nazareth.So what was he doing in Nazareth? Easy. He is reported to have been a tecton. While this is translated as carpenter, it can also mean builder. A fundamental principle of the building trade is that builders have to go to where the buildings are being erected. As Herod the Great was conducting a massive building programme in Galilee, it is likely that Joseph went where the money was and found work in Galilee. There he met Mary.


In those days the woman was taken to live in the man's house, possibly the clan home with other membvers of the extended family. Joseph would have expected Mary to do this and she would have seen it as normal.It is likely then that Jospeh took Mary to Bethlehem.


The stable is a historical mistake. The word denoted the manger on the lower level of a Jewish house. The houses were split level, with the lower one being where the animals were housed. It is likely that Jospeh's family home was small and cramped with members of the extended family present, so the manger may have been the most comfortable place to place a baby.


Also erroneous is the image of Joseph being present at the birth. Even up to modern times the presence of males in a house at childbirth was considered unluckly, so the family women, who attended a birth, would have sent the men outside. It is also erroneous to think of the wise men attendeding the stable. If they existed at all, the Bible says that they came to the house where Jesus was living.


Nothing is certain in history. We can at best reconstruct the past on the basis of what we know. Our reconstructions are always tentative and we should not become too attached to them.


















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December 20 2011 3 20 /12 /December /2011 15:58



The Latin word mediato means I think, so strictly speaking meditation is thinking, but in the religious context it denotes thinking in a reflective way about religion. All religions have their own meditation tradition, but in recent years the image of meditation common in the West has been drawn from Eastern faiths. Hinduism and Zen Buddhism have been a major source of this Eastern image. Hindusim has given us the idea of a person contemplating the sacred slyllable om, whereas Zen Buddhism has given us the koan, the practice of reflecting on a question with no rational anwer, such as what is the sound of one hand clapping. It is clear that each religion has its own meditation tradition tradition that distinguishes it from other religions. I intend to outline the Christian meditation tradition tradition here.


In Christianity meditation involves finding a quiet place, but it does not end there. It is a way of drawing closer to God by thinking on him [I use the masculine pronoun here by necessity not because I think that God is male.] Meditation is a way of approaching communion with God. The Christian ideal is to enter into this communion, which is a union of distinct beings in love, as opposed to some Eastern ideals where you attempt to lose your individuality in unity with the divine.


The Jesus prayer originating in the Orthodox church but now used across Christianity is the practice of repeating the name Jesus until he completely fills your mind and and heart. This has proved popualr and successful with orthodox monks, and many find it a useful means of prayer.


In the Western, Catholic tradition there are several methods.One that is found useful is to take a prayer, such as the Lord's prayer, and reflect on it line by line. Sometimes people do this with a hymn. Having a prayer with a set text takes the strain off an individual's imagination, which is useful because you can dry up when praying. Others take a scene from the Scriptures and reflect on it.This may be the crucifixion or the resurrection, or one of Jesus' healing miracles. Using a picture to support this is found useful by some worshippers. Others may read a Bible passage and then reflect on it.


Yet there are higher states of prayer than meditation. The higher state is contemplative prayer. This is an attempt to focus on the divine presence and communicate with God. The contemplative is aware of the divine presence, to varying degrees of intensity, and enters into close communion with him. Contemplation is a profound means of prayer. It cannot be easily accessed and it is something to which a worshipper must rise over time. It is linked to the prayer of silence, when a person ignores words and simply focuses on the presence or idea of God. Those who enter these higher realms sometimes require spiritual support from experienced spiritual guides, as there can be ups and downs and spiritual difficulties that are better not faced alone.


The christian meditation tradition has not been as well proclaimed as it might have been and has been overlooked in the last few years for more fashionable eastern ways, but my aim here is to help readers become familiar with its outlines






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