Approaching Death with Open Eyes – By Peter Lilly

Written late 2013.
Written as part of my reflecting on people I know who have passed away after struggling with addictions.

I recently learnt that what I tried to do in this poem is use a ‘mondegreen’ in each stanza to communicate something more of the essence of the poetry behind the words. The definition of mondegreen according to is ‘a word or phrase resulting from a misinterpretation of a word or phrase that has been heard.’ … so maybe a deliberate mondegreen is an oxymoron… but hey, this is my version of ‘mondegreen poetry’, and I felt it needed a video to help communicate it, so if you read it watch the video as well.

Glancing in toxic, hated
and simmering shadows.
Scolding these curious claws,
clattering tarmac in retreat.
Always open.
Fixated onto logical arguments
of crescendo victory.
Volume defeats thought
with every drop of poison.
Still open.
In determination, just if I can
taste another day of this dirt,
but delay is denial of the basics and
death becomes you whilst you’re still warm.
Forced open.
Fear of being in truce with
your unwanted images,
illuminated eyelids never stop
with those twisted faces.
Half open.
Well, come in to my
chasing exhaustion.
Movement should be left
to the animals that pursue me.
Wide open.
Start yelling suspected memories
at my silhouette
my spine bends with the slats
of this palate that is my solace.
Perpetually open.
I may jinx my survival
with hoping for harbour
But this ocean has been licking at
my soars for three eternities already.
Blindly open.
Crushing doors are not seen because
distractions dance on my corneas.
Foetal, like sleep, not stirring
as blindness envelopes my every member
Left open.
Rest or execution? 
You will never know my final act, 
lost to that decomposition 
of five days undiscovered.
Still my neighbours stir at morning birdsong
and complain against the blooming smell of my passing.


To Debate or not to Debate – that is the question


At the last election, we had three debates between the leaders of the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour; this was watched by 22 million people.  That is a massive audience, 22 million people watched politicians!   Many commentators feel that the next election is going to be one of the closest and most important elections we have had for many years.  It seems crazy that these debates might not happen, so what’s causing the problem?

The broadcasters (Sky, BBC, Channel 4 and ITV) put forward a proposal for debates for the election:

Broadcaster Debate between
Sky and Channel 4 Cameron vs Miliband
BBC Cameron vs Miliband vs Clegg
ITV Cameron vs Miliband vs Clegg vs Farage

David Cameron has come out and said that he will not take part in any debates if the Green party is not included.  Most people see this as Cameron trying as hard as he can to get out of any debates because he thinks the debates will hurt him.  He also thinks it will help UKIP and so wants the Greens there to hurt Labour.  Cameron realises that if the Greens are let in, then the SNP and Plaid Cymru will bring court proceedings in order to be let in too, and so the debates will probably not happen.

Cameron will try everything he can not to have the debates because he doesn’t see how the debates could help him, there is no upside there is only a downside.


So why UKIP and not the Greens?

OFCOM (the regulator for broadcasters) produces before each election a list of what it calls “major parties”.  The point of this list is to determine how much election coverage parties get, for example those parties with “major party status” will get two party political broadcasts rather than a single party political broadcast that the smaller parties will get.

At the last general election OFCOM gave “major party status” to Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems.  This time however they have added UKIP to the list but not the Greens.  So what criteria do they use to decide?  The following is a quote from the OFCOM report:


“The list of major parties reflects the fact that some political parties have a significant level of

electoral support, and a number of elected representatives, across a range of elections

within the UK or the devolved nations.”



From this they justify including UKIP because:

“Ukip has not demonstrated significant past electoral support in previous general elections, achieving 3.5% of the vote in 2010 and has not won a parliamentary seat at a general election.

Ukip’s performance in a number of other significant forms of election has, however, been stronger. Notably, Ukip has won two seats in parliament at recent by-elections.

Ukip demonstrated a significant level of support in England and Wales in the European parliament elections in 2014 (29.2% England, 27.6% Wales) while its share of the vote was lower in Scotland (10.5%). Ukip also demonstrated significant levels of support in the English local elections (15.7% in 2014 and 19.9% in 2013).

Opinion poll data indicates that Ukip currently has significant levels of support in England and Wales [15-18%] and has the third highest rating in those polls after the Conservative and Labour parties.”


And not including Green’s because:

“The Green party has not demonstrated significant past electoral support in general elections. The Green party has performed better in some other forms of election, such as the 2014 European parliamentary elections, obtaining 8.0% and 8.1% of the vote in England and Scotland.

In terms of evidence of current support, the party’s opinion poll rating in Great Britain-wide polls has increased in recent months to 5.9% in December 2014 (4.0% on average during 2014).”



So for OFCOM the Greens haven’t shown the increase that UKIP have over the last 5 years.  UKIP won the most seats at the European elections and have constantly come in third place in opinion polls while the Green’s have only improved slightly.  I must note however that OFCOM states it is up to the broadcasters to decide who to include in any debate.  Also political parties have until 5th of February to respond to OFCOM who will then release a final report.

So Cameron is running scared!  He has decided that it is better to not have the debate and be called a “chicken” or “frightened” then to have the debate and face the other leaders.


Internet to the rescue!

There is one final twist to the plot, known as “the digital debate”.  “The digital debate” is a consortium made up of The Guardian and The Telegraph newspapers, along with Youtube.  They are offering a debate to all 5 parties (Con, Lab, Lib dem, UKIP and Green) and it will be shown on Youtube and offered to any TV broadcaster that wants to show it also, David Cameron was invited last week but has not responded.  So is this problem solved?  I doubt it!

General Election 2015 – the lay of the land

The Tories and Labour are neck and neck in the polls, with the Lib Dems trailing – not in 3rd, or even 4th behind UKIP – but in 5th place behind the Greens (in two out of the 7 polls this year).  UKIP and the SNP are the big winners of 2014,  UKIP winning the big share of the vote (27% and 24 seats) at the European elections back in May, and even winning a seat in pro-European, left leaning Scotland.  While the SNP lost the war that was the record breaking (turnout 84.5%) Scottish referendum, there can be no doubt that they have won the peace, gaining significant new powers and riding high in the polls for the upcoming Westminster elections (43% ICM poll 28/12/14).  This huge increase makes it look certain that the SNP (currently 6 seats) will swipe a large number of seats from Labour (currently 41 seats), unless the newly appointed Scottish Labour leader Jim (not John!) Murphy can turn things about.  Labour’s woes in Scotland with the SNP are matched by the Tories’ problems with UKIP.  Two defections, and winning both the resulting bi-elections, have kept UKIP flying high and the Tories wondering what they can do to stop them.  One of the big questions is whether UKIP can mastermind any more defections before election day, timing them for maximum effect.

So, I’m sure it will come as no surprise to you that UKIP want to fight the election on immigration, the Tories on the economy, and Labour on the NHS.  All three of these parties will want to move the debate to these issues because on each of these issues respectively the public trust them the most (yougov 6/1/15):

which political party do you think would handle the problem the best?


Labour 34%

Tories  22%


Tories  35%

Labour 19%


UKIP 26%

Tories 22%

The battle then is which issue is the most important to the British public.  The graph below shows what the public think is the most important issue over the last two years.

It’s important to note that different polling companies will come up with slightly different results.  What we can notice from the graph though is that in the past 2 years, the issue of immigration has gone from around 20% to almost 50% of people saying its the most important issue.  Showing again that UKIP have taken control of the debate.  The economy has dropped, which could be down to people thinking the economy is improving, and therefore less of an issue now then a couple of years ago.  The NHS has moved up a little over the last two years.  The latest poll on this from yougov says:

Which of the following do you think are the most important issues facing the country at this time?

Results from 8th-9th of December Results from 5th-6th January
Immigration & Asylum 49% 52%
The economy 49% 52%
Health 33% 46%

The yougov shows a 13% increase for health which will feed the Labour narrative.  The three issues are very close and the election could be decided on which issue dominates the public mind over the next couple of months.  One caveat to note though is if you dig a little deeper you see another question that the pollsters ask:

Which of the following do you think are the most important issues facing you and your family? Results from 8th-9th of December Results from 5th-6th January
The economy 44% 49%
Health 38% 40%
Pensions 28% 25%
Immigration & Asylum 19% 20%

So when the question relates to your own circumstances, immigration drops to 20% and below pensions, meaning that UKIP have done really well to convince people that it is the most important issue facing the country even though the public only think its the 4th most important issue facing their own family!

Polling data taken from the great website

Jesus is Passing by…


Luke 24: 13-35

In the Gospel of Mark Jesus walks on water. It says

“they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out”…

He meant to pass by them.
Similarly in the Gospel of Luke, it says

“A blind man was sitting by the roadside begging… Hearing the crowds going by, he asked what this meant… They told him ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by’, and he cried out”…

Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.
Similarly in today’s Gospel reading it says

“So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly saying, ‘Stay with us’”.

He acted as if he were going farther.

Jesus is meaning to pass by, he is passing by, and he is acting as if he will pass by.
If you think about it, this is all quite strange, Jesus passing by. Jesus is the last one who is supposed to pass by.
Does he not tell us a parable about passing by?
Jesus says,

“By chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side… Likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.”

Jesus is meaning to pass by, he is passing by, and he is acting as if he will pass by.
It makes no sense, is he condemning himself?

The New Testament was written from the perspective of a particular culture, and can often only be understood from the perspective of that culture.

It was written by Jews, and draws upon many ideas exclusive to Jews.
‘Talking about Jesus passing by’ has Jewish significance.
In other words there is a deeper reality in the way it is said, in the wording, than in what is said, the plain sense of the text. In the Old Testament there are many written accounts of people having an experience of the divine. The Old Testament is made up of many authors. Many of these authors try to put into words their mystical experiences. One could even define Religion as the attempt to use human words to express the inexpressible. In a way, that is what we do every Sunday, as we try to express the inexpressible in the liturgy. Words always fall short; they are always inadequate when talking about God. As such they express something which is not quite reality, and not quite make-believe.

So now let us consider ‘Passing by’ not from the New Testament, but from the Old. In Exodus 33, Moses asks to see God’s glory. Moses is said to hide in the cleft of a rock while ‘God’s glory passes by’. Similarly Elijah meets the LORD on Mount Horeb, where the writer notes, ‘The Lord passed by’. And similarly again in Job, Job says, ‘God passes by me, and I see him not; he moves on, but I do not perceive him.’

These passages all seem to be groping towards something which cannot be expressed. Job says, God passes by, and yet he is not seen. He moves on, but he cannot be identified (From the Septuagint). Realities and experiences that seem so real in one sense, and yet so unreal in another. So now returning to my original three examples of Jesus passing by; it is interesting to note the context.

In the first, Jesus’ miracle of walking on water. The second, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. The context here is a miraculous healing. And the third, today’s Gospel reading of Jesus appearing to people post-crucifixion. The context of ‘passing by’ is always wrapped up with miraculous accounts, whether that is people experiencing God in the Old Testament, or people experiencing Jesus in the New.

In other words, the phrase, ‘passing by’ is a reminder from the authors, to the Bible’s readers, that words are failing us. A reminder that words are being used in metaphorical and in creative ways. I fear that this exercise of wrestling with words on the edge of meaning, the art of attempting to express the inexpressible, is a dying one. It is a dying one because it is so damn hard. It is so much easier to have a McDonalds style Christianity: neat little packages of pithy sayings that make us feel all warm inside. To this end I hope and pray, that you do not understand everything I am saying. Jesus taught in parables, not that he could be understood easily, but to force his audience to think for themselves. In fact, almost every time Jesus is asked a question, he responds with a question. He never gives simple answers.

As we break bread together this morning, let us bring to mind that saying – Jesus is passing by.

Let us experience Christ in the Mass.

Beyond words, and beyond meaning.

Beyond our understanding.

But present and alive in our hearts.


More – by Peter Lilly


Litter grew around us,
teeth gritted in impatience
for the filthy fruit
of our consumption,
that is transported from beyond
the individualist’s horizon.
Your universe hates you
when the lights are off,
shutting its eyes to your waking,
and all those words
you bring to life as you read
from pages that appear as you turn them.
Anaesthesia dissolves the teeth
leaving you with mysterious bite marks
and bitter amnesia,
it clouds the resolve of your blinkers
and your mirrored walls.
Echoes of outside draw its fingernails
across chalk boards of yet to learn lessons,
coughing up childhood traumas of empathy.
They drain opaque from your worldview
and leave you with the monsters,
and the monstrous landfill skyline
that scowls at your children’s future.
Yet beyond that refuse view
there are leaves with the colours of depth.
There is living matter never to be synthesised,
and mass produced.
There is an oceans of faces,
ever changing and unrepeatable faces.
Individualism is a cage
from freedom of the other,
the freedom of responsibility,
it closes eyes to contrasting perspectives
and the possibility of being wrong.
Written October-November 2013. 
It is mainly a critique of a worldview that, afraid of pain and tragedy, misses out on true friendship, family and altruism by building walls and indulging in merely the self. It is a worldview that can easily seep into our lifestyles, causing a comfortable isolation and keeps us from growing.

Disappearing (Matthew 16:24-26) By Peter Lilly



I am disappearing,

down into the linen

that caresses my body

as my mind criss-crosses,

chasing through meandering crises

of nocturnal fabrication.


I am full of hope,

and dread… and whispers.

Soft chalk runs out

before the lesson is learnt.

I was truant anyway,

day dreaming of summer.


I am disappearing

into something,

yet I still see

my shuffling footprints,

scoring a perforation

through this continuum;


a seam to tear

and a void to feel expanding.

Fields of livestock

and houses of television faces,

all lost in the gap that is left.

It is potential hidden in false humility.


I am disappearing,

if I fight it I sever

the umbilical cord that

attaches me to my Father.

It is an artery,

with flow too fast to cauterise.


I would disappear in the

dirty needles and

forgotten-butt fires.

Lucid, as I feel my significance

hang its head from my skin

in shame.


I am disappearing,

and I can embrace it,

for my portrait is not

the meaning of my art,

my mansions are all made

of someone else’s whispers.


I can disappear within my home

inside walls of emancipation.

Content, as a mole

beneath the tallest mountain,

to blindly fulfil an unseen purpose.


I am disappearing,

and it is okay,

because my name is

a collection of letters,

and my words are

a series of synapse sparks,


and there is much more purpose

to their existence

than merely themselves.

I am disappearing

and that is the best thing

I can think of.  

Matthew 8:1-13 (Commentary and Reflection)

This passage comes directly after the Sermon on the Mount.  Now Matthew the writer of this gospel wants to draw a parallel between Jesus and another.

The previous two verses to our reading says:

Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as their scribes.

And the opening verse

When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.

The parallel is between Jesus and Moses.  Jesus like Moses descends from the mountain.  Moses received divine commandments and Jesus interprets them in the Sermon on the Mount and in the healings that follow.

The healing of the leper provides Jesus the opportunity to extend to this ostracized and desperate man the compassion that he had only shortly before commanded of his disciples: to do to others as you would have them do to you.  It is also a miracle in which Jesus is able to demonstrate his fidelity to the Law of Moses.

So the leper comes and asks Jesus to heal him, and Jesus places a hand on him and heals him.  Jesus tells the leper to go and show himself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, this again shows Jesus’ fidelity to the Law of Moses.  Not to bring a new law but to fulfil the law.

Not only was the leaper healed physically but on the instruction of Jesus he will be able to be integrated back with society because Jesus told him to show himself to be clean to the priest and so fulfil the Law of Moses

After the healing of the leaper who was excluded from the congregation because of his illness comes one of the most well known stories of the bible, the faith of the centurion.    The gentile centurion who was excluded from the congregation because of his race.

He comes to Jesus and asks that Jesus heals his servant, and Jesus offers to come to his house and cure him, but the centurion says no.  The centurion understands how authority works, He sees that Jesus has authority,   and therefore like himself can with a word command those under him, Jesus with a word can command that his servant be healed.

How many times do you see in the Gospel that Jesus is shocked or surprised?   It doesn’t happen very often.  In fact the word ‘marvelled’ that is used here only appears once more in all of the gospels and that is in Mark.

Jesus marvelled at the faith of the gentile centurion.

Truly I say to you, I have not seen such great faith in the whole of Israel.

The faith of the gentile and the lack of faith of the Jews are driven home in the next verses:

I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of heaven,  while the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Powerful words from Jesus, hard words.  In essence Jesus is telling us the criterion for entry into the kingdom of heaven, to gain a seat at the great end time banquet is not a racial one, it is not down to where and to whom you were born or what inherited religion you might have, the only criterion is Faith.  Faith like the centurion.  Faith and faith only will gain you access to the kingdom of heaven.

Three things jump out at me in this passage:

Authority, exclusion and faith.

We saw the crowds astonished at Jesus’ teaching because he taught as one with authority.  And we have seen in His actions that accompany those words of authority, the healing of the leaper and centurion’s servant.  The challenge for us Christians today is to ask: What does it mean to recognize, and submit to, the authority of Jesus.  What does it mean to call him ‘Lord’ and live by that?  One answer is to reach out to those who are excluded in our community today, I will leave it to you to think who that might be.

Authority, exclusion and faith.  Faith is not just an awareness of some supernatural dimension or a  general trust in the goodness of some distant divine being.  But rather faith is in Christian terms, believing precisely that the living God has entrusted his authority to Jesus himself, who is now exercising it for the salvation of the word. (Wright)

Jesus invites us to share in this.

Our faith in him opens up the kingdom not only to us but to those we share it with.