Skip to main content

Something as simple as a glass of water

In a fictional tale, told by David Foster Wallace, an older fish swims past two younger fish and sayswe can't live long without waste "Morning boys, how's the water?" They swim on for a while until one turns to the other and says "What the hell is water?"

It's said we take for granted the technology that already exists when we're born. We adapt to what is developed as we grow up. And then we get suspicious of the stuff that arrives after we turn thirty.

The middle aged person today critiques today's youth for relationships based on texting and snapchat, wishing they would just make phonecalls... and yet that's a call for one kind of technology instead of another. Face to face unmediated contact is ultimate (1 Cor 13) and so maybe a phonecall is better than a text message, but we all have technological bias.

I graduated University without having a mobile phone, and having never drunk real coffee. I'm not sure how long I could survive today without both of those.

The ability to drink a glass of water is one of those things we take for granted. But in a well populated world where you can't often just drink from a river and be sure it's clean... we depend on the ability to turn a tap and get water.

We can't live long without water. 

The glass takes a lot of technology to make - glass from sand with heat... tools, machines, electricity (power plants, oil rigs and pipes, boats, navigation systems, drills etc)....   and then the water has to be piped from somewhere, cleaned, delivered through a network of pipes, through a tap into a ceramic sink with all the technology required to design and make and deliver and install each of those things and the many more parts that don't occur to me along the way.

And it's all part of our story of cultivating this world. Genesis, when you get past the God vs. Science fog tells of a God of spreading goodness who paints in broad brushstrokes and commissions humanity to add in the detail, taking up words and tools to do that, cultivating wilderness into a garden and a city for God and man to dwell together. And it takes everyone's work to do that.

We can't live long without water. 

Hearts get re-made by the technology of words through which the Spirit brings new life... because the technology of execution crucified the Christ, and roads and language and much more enabled that news to spread. But that story finishes pretty fast without food and shelter, and most of us depend on the work of a great many people to have those things today.

I'm thankful, and learning to open my eyes just a little bit more to the simplest things like water.

Richard Sibbes noted:

"We commend the witty industry of those that from springs remote bring rivers to cities, and by pipes from these rivers derive water to every man's house for all domestic services..."

We can't live long without water, and so also (which Sibbes was illustrating) the even greater living water, but that's for another day.


Popular posts from this blog

"Big eyes full of wonder"

Books. Fiction. Libraries. Second only to churches as are the best gateways in your community to ultimate reality and new possibilities.

Our local library has just re-opened after refurbishment, and I love that our boys have spent several mornings there during the summer holidays, discovering some wonderful new stories.

I realised a few months back that I wasn't reading enough fiction. My work necessitates reading a lot of non-fiction, a mix of historical and contemporary thinking, biblical studies and theology. But fiction is the cinderella. Easily overlooked, and yet able to awaken my imagination and show me the way things are meant to be.

So I've picked up a few more lately - bought and borrowed. Not every book attempted flies, and that's ok. These have been winners though.

Ink. This is Alice Broadway's debut novel. It's young adult fiction and tells the story of Leora who lives in a world where the events of your life are tattooed on your skin. Nothing gets hid…

Uniquely Matthew

Reading gospel accounts in parallel is sometimes used to blur the differences in perspective between the evangelists, seeking to harmonise the texts and find a definitive historical account of what happened. No such thing exists because every account is biased and limited. You simply can't record everything. You have to hold a vantage point. And that's not a problem.

Matthew, Mark and Luke take a very different vantage point to John who was of course an eyewitness himself of the events. Comparing the text of Matthew, Mark and Luke across the death and resurrection of Jesus yields two steps.

Firstly, the common ground. All three accounts tell of...
Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross…. · Jesus labelled as King of the Jews…. · Criminals crucified with Jesus… · Darkness in the daytime… · Jesus' loud final cry… The women who witnessed Jesus death, and Jesus' burial… · The tomb lent to Jesus by Joseph of Arimithea… · The women who went to the tomb on the morning of the…

Songs we're singing in Church

Christians are a singing people, it's part of what we do when we gather.

Our church meets morning an evening on a Sunday - normally using 5 songs in each service. So, over the year that's about 520 song-slots available. The report from the database system we use ( tells us that in the past year we've sung about 150 different songs.

Our current most used song has been sung 11 times in the last year, just under once a month. Our top 10 are used about every 6 weeks. By #30 we're talking about songs used every two months. The tail is long and includes loads of classic hymns from across the centuries, plus other songs from the past 40 years, that we have used around once a term or less.

1. Rejoice - Dustin Kensrue

2. Come Praise & Glorify - Bob Kauflin

3. Man of Sorrows - Hillsong

4. Cornerstone - Hillsong

Rejoice was a song I didn't previously know, along with a couple of others that have quickly become firm favourites for me: Chri…