Remember last year's Lent Bible study? I was just starting to overcome my anxiety disorder, and leading the meeting was a huge step for me - a triumph. A year on, the anxiety is more sporadic, and I am no longer depressed, but I was honestly not looking forward to leading the Lent meeting again last night. The negative association with last year's anxiety was itself a source of anxiety for me, so I was a little bit nervous, but I need not have been. It was a wonderful occasion, and I had chance to share my experience of reconciliation from last year's Lent course. I had to chuckle when I could see my old Methodist Sunday school teacher nodding and grinning in agreement as I shared how the Methodists had been my childhood church, how I had become arrogant in my teens and joined a "more spiritual" church, and how the last joint-Methodist-Anglican Lent class had been a time of reconciliation for me.
So after having a wonderful time amongst friends last night, the events of this morning knocked me for six. Having been stabbed in the back by my former colleagues at the local website I run, they are twisting the knife further with a very nasty-sounding letter to my other colleague making all kinds of outrageous demands and proving that they will stop at no lengths to undermine our hard work. The whole situation is most upsetting, not least because the whole basis of my work with them was simply good faith, and I believed they were friends.
At the moment I feel nothing more than contempt for the pair - this is where the ideal of forgiveness really hits the road, I suppose. I don't think I'm wondering whether to forgive so much as how to forgive - what does forgiveness mean in practical terms at the very moment that an erstwhile-friend is on your back plunging in a knife and trying his best to destroy everything you've put your heart into?
If forgiveness isn't back in vogue, at least it has been in the public eye a lot recently.
Gee Walker, mother of teenager Anthony Walker, who was murdered last summer not two or three miles from me, wore her Christian faith on her sleeve in the aftermath of her son's racist killing. She said she felt no bitterness towards his murderers, but forgave them - and the media praised her for it.
Jill Saward, the vicar's daughter raped in the most unimaginably brutal way twenty years ago, again reaffirmed her forgiveness towards her attackers this week.
Of course, not everyone can bring themselves to forgive - and I can't blame them. Forgiveness is an ideal, but not always a realistic one in a complex world. A vicar whose daughter was killed in last year's London bombings resigned this week because she could not forgive the terrorists.
Most interesting, in my opinion, has been the recent storyline in Coronation Street. I confess, in the last six months I have become utterly addicted to this show, which is still the one of the finest dramas on British television after forty-some years. In the latest plot turn, Emily Bishop - generally a tremendously dull character who hasn't had a good storyline to herself in eons - comes face-to-face with the now-genuinely repentant killer of her late husband, and sinks into a deep depression trying to reconcile her feelings of hatred with her devout Christian faith.
On last night's episode she forgave. I suppose some might find her turn-around hard to accept, even grossly unrealistic. All the same, I think Corrie was bold to tackle repentance and forgiveness head-on with this storyline, especially since the ambiguities of the situation defied easy answers.
Even the soap operas seem to be getting in with the forgiveness trend.
I've just realized the common thread linking these stories is that they are all about women. What's with that?
So much for Alistair Campbell claiming, "We don't do God." Apparently the Blair government now does do God, but only under great pressure. Last week on the Parkinson Show the Prime Minister revealed that he prayed before making the decision to go to Iraq, and continued by saying his decision would be judged by people, by history and - ultimately - by God.
But what's all the fuss? I'm the last person to defend Blair on anything, but I really couldn't construe from what he said that he was invoking God as justification for the Iraq War. On the contrary, it seemed to me he was simply taking responsibility for his actions. Given the political and religious climate, his momentary lapse may well have been unwise, but I think it would be a twisting of what he said to suppose he was claiming divine support. Journalist Rod Liddle was out-of-whack when he said on last night's Question Time that praying before making a decision was equivalent to claiming infallible authority from God.
I'm sure Tony wishes he'd never opened his mouth on the issue; but the fact he did does not make him a mad fundy on a mission from God. His madness is all his own, and I don't think he has claimed otherwise.
You know your relationship with your readers isn't what it should be right now! You know you've lost your love for the blog, and you know that needs to be put right tonight! Come on down to the front, right now! Oh, glooory!
Where did the blog go wrong? Well, life got busy, that's all. I frequently have ideas for blog entries, but never seem to get round to it. A month or two back I had a great idea for a regular blog, and it was great for about two weeks - and then just kinda flopped.
The main thing keeping me busy has been the local website, of which I am editor and sole news reporter. It became a lot more work recently because, to cut a long story short, my colleague and I got stabbed in the back by other colleagues, and now we're on our own. It was a horrid thing to have happen, especially since the guy who did most of the stabbing was an old school chum who I thought was a genuine friend, and it turned out he was prepared to pull everything out from under me without a second thought.
I sure did learn a lesson, though. It's taught me what's really important in business, and that's people, community and integrity. Quite honestly, by breaking off from those colleagues - unpleasant as it was - I think I was saved from being suckered into a model of business that, frankly, I want no part of.
But it's going good: The community is interested in the project, and we're gathering pace.
I'm not going to make any firm promises, but I do intend to try to get back to blogging.