This morning I was reading Paul's Prison Epistles - Chrysostom describes Ephesians as "sublimely difficult", James Denney found in Colossians the Christ who is the "last reality of the universe", and Philippians, that masterpiece of pastoral diplomacy and theologically powered subversion of the spiritually overwrought ego!
Ever since I bought G B Caird's wee commentary on the Prison Epistles and worked through them guided by that concisely elegant and pastorally alert volume (which cost me £2.25 in 1975), I've gone back to these letters when I need to get my horizons stretched, my mind lifted above the mundanely essential concerns of getting on with life, and my conceptuality refurbished with dimensions that are eternal, transcendent, and regenerative of faith, hope and love.
The unsearchable riches of Christ in Ephesians, the mind that was in Christ Jesus in Philippians, the Christ who is the Head of all things and the Church in Colossians, and that crucified and risen Lord as the inspiration for the radical liberation of Philemon by Onesimus, - these are realities to place alongside the precarious Eurozone, the terror and brutality of Syria, the commercial hysteria of the Olympics which threaten the very integrity of Olympic ideals, the cynical dissolution of truth, human respect and social responsibility exposed serially in the circumstances giving rise to the Levenson enquiry.
One example - how to close a newspaper in 2012 -
whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue,
and if there be any praise,
think [report and write] on these things. (Philippians 4.8 - King James Bible)
Make that the basis of news reporting and perhaps then phone hacking, bribery, nepotism, corruption of office, invasion of privacy, exploitation of the vulnerable and much else would be disqualified. The irony is, the verse was carved in stone outside BBC House by Lord Reith. A first century exhortation, scratched on papyrus and sent to a tiny religious community in a Greco-Roman city, describing healthy mindedness that sustains community, serves as an ethical benchmark for one of the most respected broadcasting institutions in the world. Not bad Paul, not bad at all.....
What Paul could have achieved with an Ipad.....