Thursday, December 22, 2005

Methodist Council Two - Part 1!

Good afternoon all Well I have survived Methodist Council last Monday easily enough and then my computer went into permanent restart for a particularly jovial reason - must be the seasonal spirit. Anyway this Methodist Council meeting was held at Methodist Church House (located opposite Madam Tussades, Baker Street, London) on Monday 16th December 2005. I was in attendance and spoke to a variety of items etc. As per before the general murmur or grunt was all that was required to pass an item, therefore to spare your eyes glazing over I shall only indicate if any other action was taken to pass/dismiss something.... so then, on with the show! 11am and time enough for coffee and banter, tis a fine way to start the day and catch up with friends and folks from all round the connexion prior to business starting. Then we went to item 1 - A welcome to a representative of the state Agency for religious affairs from the "peoples republic" of china. This was fascinating for two reasons - one was the ruling body of the Methodist church (in-between conferences) welcoming a representative from a country with one of the worst human rights records in the world (albeit one that is improving from disgraceful). The second was why she was here, to investigate the relationship between church and state, an area that I find fascinating myself in particular how much should the state and church be truly linked or one regulating the other, but unfortunately I didn't get to speak with here though may try and find an email to her. 2 - Opening prayers and reflections aided by an amazing picture from the methodist art collection. For all its name may betray it is in reality an amazingly robust and varied collection and I now wait with anticipation for the next piece we are shown. When discussing this with the curator bod who was at this meeting he was getting most animated about the expansion of the collection, in particular through new commissioning of works. 3 – Letters, apologies etc. I must say, beaurocratic it may seem, that the idea of sending out letters of congratulations and commisorations are infact a great idea and again it provides an interesting insight into what is viewed as important in whom it can be 4 – ethnic Monitering. Something the Methodist Church does well is produce stats, this is something it has done since it’s very start (see early membership returns prior to most other churches considering having such things) and in conference and council it has ethnic Monitering ones. These are infact more than background they cover age, gender etc and are always there to shock. Being a large majority male make-up needed to be made a point of discussion with the end result that these stats are to be circulated to all districts so that when they elect their synod representatives that the overall gender balance on the council is taken into consideration. I would stroll into this issue but it would be a post within it’self but feel free to comment on this outcome! More to come later as I am now only ten minutes into the meeting in reality! Take Care Y'All John

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Thus it was revealed

Yesterday I posted up soem Coldplay lyrics from which one was to draw a christian message. After a stunning response I felt compelled to post the answers up today! Well, to me, it is all about the exploration and realisation that no matter what situation you find yourself in that God will always be about for you. Now this may seem like a rather spurious claim but let us quickly examine the claims throughout the song. It starts by profiling the very fustrations that underpin the 21st century lifestyle, notably that of trying and never succeeding, lust for want over requirement and finaly being so exhausted that you cannot sleep. A feeling that whatever you do you are going backwards and not going anyway, certainly a feeling that I often have! Then from the outward lifetime fustrations it hints at the inner problems of loves won and lost, personal affection towards lost items etc. These more sensual problems are often more distructive then the work related ones outlined initially. For through a mixture of both of these the human mind body adn soul is coming close to distruction through distraction and fustration. So then what is the solution Lights will guide you home And ignite your bones And I will try to fix you Lights guiding us home and igniting our bones, trying to fix us? What sort of random and outrageous claims are these. We are not ships at sea! No, instead it is a brief stroll towards the idea of Christianity..... By offering Light as "guiding you home" it automaticaly shows the idea of light leading us to something new and better. For if Christ is the Light of the world then it is through Jesus that we manage to overcome our present fustrations outlined in the verses. Therefore by having followed the light we have our bones ignited by the holy spirit to set us free. Free from a life of dull repetative repreating toils that lead to no end except more fustration. Therefore having confided in and moved towards God the return for this is to "try to fix you" promising salvation of the sort that we have to work together on. Instead of opening up a sachet of "Insta Salvation" (saving souls since 1888) God will try to fix you but we are all created with free will so once we have found religion we need to continue that quest, that following of the light and God will try to fix us up on the way. Overall that was my idea around it all. I had't even considered this as a christian underlying song but a good friend of mine was dancing to this for an audition and we were discussing it and suddenly I found the above idea flowing out of my mouth, I even managed to shock myself! Anyway hope all is well Regards Ever John

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Christian Lyrics

Here we have some lyrics by Coldplay that manage to be a remarkable tale of the true power and release felt by a development of a journey of faith Fix you When you try your best but you don’t succeed When you get what you want but not what you need When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep Stuck in reverse And the tears come streaming down your face When you lose something you can’t replace When you love someone but it goes to waste Could it be worse Lights will guide you home And ignite your bones And I will try to fix you And high up above or down below When you’re too in love to let it go But if you never try you’ll never know Just what you’re worth Lights will guide you home And ignite your bones And I will try to fix you Tears stream down your face When you lose something you cannot replace Tears stream down your face And i… Tears stream down your face I promise you I will learn from my mistakes Tears stream down your face And i… Lights will guide you home And ignite your bones And I will try to fix you Prior to illuminating you as to my thinking as to where in the lyrics it lies I will instead throw open the doors to you to comment and then I shall do so! regards John

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Back once again

Methodist council blog has been typed up. this is a reference for what is to go on in the meeting tommorow. Ihave been reading, re-reading and re-analysing the papers we got through. This is because the content is not much but the meaning behind some of them could be rather big! So check back here after I have had some pizza and before father ted on More4! warm regards John :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Hot scripting action!

Well I belive I may have solved the issue with scripting and so won't be transferening any more paragraphs into links thank you very much. All will be updated this afternoon when I have finihsed editing the union newsletter so please bear with me... your readership is important to me so please stay in the que...seriously it is apreciated and I shall be back 'n blogging as alot to blog on so prepare for thrills and spills! Warm Regards John

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Technological Cock-up

Due to scripting errors that i can't seem to solve (ie whole paragraphs becoming a link) I have had to suspend the methodist council blog. This is due to it relying upon links to the relevant reports. I aim to have this solved by monday. By then my dad will have gone so I won't have any distractions. Please check back on Tuesday! warm regards John (the fustrated)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Methodist council - Day One

Well I realised I never posted up the Methodist Council blog entries I had written and so here we have the entires. The first is day one and the second is day two. Just to forwarn you all though, Methodist council meets again very soon. So please check back on the 8th December for an update and then on the 13th for a report on the previous days meeting. So then a time travel device sweeps us back over a month to the 17th October and Methodist Council day one. I manage to make it to the venue, a lovely Roman Catholic centre, with a good half an hour to go. After finding my room and thena cup of coffee it was off to the first moment of council, a welcome and induction (or should that read indoctrination ;) ) into the ways and woes of methodist council. The session was rather good with everyone saying what the represented, a whilstle stop tour of who does what and then an any questions session. My only thought from it was that the makeup of the council, by lay people (so non-ordained) betrayed the problems of having it mid-week...an issue to be returned to later..... Anywho after that it was into the session of Methodist Council. Before i prattle into that I would mearly note that if anyone wishes to read the official comment on what went on then the minutes are avaliable here we started off with an examination of the Team Focus programme and wher eit was at and going. Team Focus is the revisioning work of teh methodist Church to ensure that the central support staff (connexional team) are only doing what central can do best, rather than taking a workload away from circuit and districts when they could do it better, this is not due to a theological change in direction for the methodist church though. Instead it is a reflection of the financial situion it faces it'self in. The discussion that was had on this item (5) was very interesting with a fine talk from Mr David Deeks to lead it all off. That said I do wish I had a buzzwords bingo sheet infront of me as the ammount of phrases such as "our lense to view it" etc was shocking and I am sure I would have won a prize very quickly! The only real disagreement occured when discussion was had around the secondment of one member of central staff. This person was the connexional link for Local Preachers. Now the discussion over this was intersting as, ulitmatly, it is up to the individuals to apply for the secondment rather than having it enforced. Also I found it a strong statement of the need for laity (ie non ordained people) and the role they play in the methodist church to have their central link on a re-examining project. After that we went on to a discussion on the review of Methodist Council. This was in light of

Sunday, November 20, 2005

I cry freedom!

Hello, Back again after Methodist Youth Conference 2005. For those of you who were at the event and saw my blog a jovial hello. Feel free to comment on anything, I accept annonymous comments so don't feel you have to register to comment on what I write. I am just sorting out how to optionise my blog so you can click on a link on the side and view all the ones that I say are covered by that topic. Take care Y'All John

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

What a difference a day makes

That is the face of a man who's time is rapidly running out. I never thought I would be able to type that but that is what has happened. For those of you unaware what I am prattling on about, Tony Blair has been defeated in a vote in Parliament. The first defeat in 8 years of governance. This defeat was major because he was doing a "I stake my premiership" speech on it. So what was defeated? As part of the governments "War on Terror" (surly Muslims, editor) the government wanted to be able to detain people without a charge for more than the current 14 days to 90 days. That is the equivalent of a 6 month jail sentance for no crime at all. Whilst you could claim no smoke without fire I would counter that and say that this country cannot build its legal system from a new basis of guilty till proven innocent when it works on innoncence with the onus on being proved guilty. The whole incident smacked of the dying days of John Major and his government. Particularily when Brown was flown back in on a 3 line whip, as was Straw. Anyone else smell the whiff of desperation? Has the Y Fronts firmly been placed on the Blair premiership then? As the news broke I was texted about it and texted out which lead me to reflect upon this. What will tony blair be recieving as texts tonight then? All guesses leave as comments, don't forget I can take annons as well as fellow bloggers. Take care y'all John

Monday, November 07, 2005

Leo's Lyrics Database - Sandi Thom - I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker lyrics

Leo's Lyrics Database - Sandi Thom - I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker lyrics: "Chorus Oh I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair In 77 and 69 revolution was in the air I was born too late to a world that doesn’t care Oh I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair When the head of state didn’t play guitar, Not everybody drove a car, When music really mattered and radio was king, When accountants didn’t have control And the media couldn’t buy your soul And computers were still scary and we didn’t know everything Chorus When popstars still remained a myth And ignorance could still be bliss And when God Save the Queen she turned a whiter shade of pale When my mom and dad were in their teen and anarchy was still a dream and the only way to stay in touch was a letter in the mail Chorus When record shops were on top and vinyl was all that they stocked and the super information highway was still drifting out in space kids were wearing hand me downs, and playing games meant kick arounds and footballers still had long hair and dirt across their face Chorus I was born too late to a world that doesn’t care Oh I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair " I belive the technical phrase was - telling it like it is.....sometimes songs speak and this shouted at me! Take care y'all John :)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

THE PROCLAIMERS - SCOTLAND'S STORY LYRICS

THE PROCLAIMERS - SCOTLAND'S STORY LYRICS: "Michael McGrory from west Donegal You came to Glasgow with nothing at all You fought the landlord then the Africa Korps When you came to Glasgow with nothing at all Abraham Caplan from Vilnius you came You were heading for New York but Leith's where you've stayed You built a great business which benefits all Since you came to this land with nothing at all In Scotland's story I read that they came The Gael and the Pict, the Angle and Dane But so did the Irishman, Jew and Ukraine They're all Scotland's Story and they're all worth the same Joseph D'Angelo dreams of the days When Italian kids in the Grassmarket played We burned out his shop when the boys went to war But auld Joe's a big man and he forgave all In Scotland's story I@m told that they came The Gael and the Pict, the Angle and Dane But where's all the Chinese and Indian names? They're in my lands story and they're all worth the same Christina McKay, I learned of your name How you travelled south from Delny one day You raised a whole family in one room they say And the X on the line stands in place of your name So in the old story I'll bet that I came From Gael and Pict and Angle and Dane And a poor migrant girl who could not write her name It's a common old story but it's mine just the same All through the story the immigrants came The Gael and the Pict, the Angle and Dane From Pakistan, England and from the Ukraine We're all Scotland's story and we're all worth the same Your Scotland's story is worth just the same" Thanks alot chaps, somehow you have managed to sum up what I love about one major aspect of scotland in a song. I need add no more bar suggest you add it to your musical collection Take Care Y'All John

Connexionalism

The Methodist Church is in the process of addressing its’ pressing concerns of membership & financial returns. These are major issues that are affecting all Methodists, across the entire country – the connexion. This word, which is meant to illustrate the interconnectedness of all Methodist churches, is being lost in the debate. Instead it appears to be that the Methodist Structures are doing one thing and then telling the Methodist members what is going to happen. This shows a breakdown of connexion in the democratic sense. The establishment of the Methodist Church came about, in part, due to a rejection of the hierarchy of the Anglican Church and a wish to connect more with people on the ground. This basis of a more accessable structure, no bigger than it should be, has been illustrated by the power of both Conference and later Methodist Conference. This forum is one in which all members can present their views and can elect representatives to the various decision making bodies of the church. Yet how are we really selecting those that we send in the first place. Are they infact the people who have always done it and so can expect a letter from the Synod secretary suggesting they stand again? Or are we working as local congregations on at least a circuit level to examine who in the various congregations we wish to be presented to Synod to represent us? This is pivotal to the democratic side to the Methodist Connexion. It is all very good moaning about decisions we personally don’t like from the Connexioanl Team/Methodist Council etc but since Conference chooses them then if we are not participating in the structures then what right have we to really complain? As a friend said about the recent election, “don’t vote? Then don’t Bitch”. That said, as with any impostion of a hierarchy, being elected doesn’t then provide carte-blanche to do as you wish, instead we should all be taking an interest in what is going on and remaining engaged. Instead of just raising our hands to vote for people we should be probing them on how they voted, reacting to papers they have written and engaging in debate on whatever interlectual level we feel most comfortable. We are truly blessed tp have a church that is so accesable and easy to get involved in and we are all neglegant as members if we do not take this membership seriously by involving ourselves in the democratic life of the church on whatever level we feel “called”. For the meaning of this then look to youth Conference, MYC 2004 prompted the Methodist Year of Prayer. This was a body that was open to everyone but has a necessity of elected representatives from across the Connexion. It has seen young people feel appreciated and empowered as they see the results of what they have written and voted on come to fruition. The financial side of the Connexion will always be a contentious one. With 45% of your contribution going into connexional funds (of some shape of another) then they will be some disquiet. Why does the connexion deserve to get so much of the money we contribute to our local church? It all comes down to the idea of connexion that we are not just a church on a local level, we are a church with no walls – we are a people. This is like, in some respects, the idea behind the foundation of the welfare state. Give what you can because when the times are tough then there is support for you. There is also on-going work which no local church could ever afford to run on it’s own and needs financial help for. But why really does this mean we are a people? Because we are supporting projects and peoples all over the country to help deliver an outlook on life that we believe in. We all believe in the Methodist church and it’s teachings. The projects and people to whom the connexion contributes wish to enhance this in some way and so we can all help them. It means that a church with a regular attendance of 230 can ensure that a chapel with an attendance of 15 can continue to run as they grow together in their spiritual journeys. That by being a member we are not only committing to ensure our own patch is ok, that we are also committing to help the entire church grow and move forward. We want to help other communities build new churches , we want to aid partners overseas. We want to because we are not selfish. We have made a country a community by doing so. The spiritual side of the connexion is intermingled with the social side. This is one that can often see little examples, yet also is one that shows the strengths of the past MAYC programmes. This is because this has enabled thousands of young people to share in a spiritual journey. They have done this by organising on a national level, something that would be undoable on a local level, yet can fit into the work on the ground. This isn’t just for financial reasons though. It is because the feeling that the young person gets can inspire them as it provides a forum in which they can be themselves because “there are other people like me”. This means that young people are outside of their traditional setting, on a local level and find similar people from all over the country, an experience that few other organisations will provide. For all ages, what it also provides is a feeling that a variety of differing theological viewpoints can be embraced and encouraged because through open discussion we can all be supported along our spiritual journey. Yet where this can break down is on a circuit and district level. This seems like a sweeping generalisation, as not all circuits and districts do suffer from what is about to be outlined. The circuit interactions on more than an obligatory level can be lacking. Instead, the resources of the people who volunteer are taken up and when new ideas are tried out then they can then fail after a vital person leaves. Therefore meaning that the people “on the ground” are still as isolated as ever as they only see circuit and district level work at a short-term basis. Also, with numbers declining of certain age groups then the circuit and district can provide the space in which the proper emotional and faith support groups can grow up and work together to ensure that everyone feels welcome. Also with a lot of city centre churches catering to a mobile congregation then the circuit and district churches will have people living in them who don’t attend the local church, yet they could still integrate into the local Methodist activity outside of a once a week service. Ultimetly, the Connexion was identified as being in trouble because we have lost a true sense of what it means. The three differing reasons all come together to give the reasoning of the individuals responses to being in true connexion. By a realisation of this then the individual can ride out the changes in the Methodist Church, but can also feel fully involved in it. Therefore the changes might change, or they might not, but we will have rebuilt our true connexion.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

I put down my Guardian in my muslie and switch on the radio

This blog is entitled representation, reflection and review and we have had some of the first, much of the form and not much of the latter. Therefore I hope to rectify this with a review post every week! That said this is a good intention and I suspect we shall mull this one over in hell, along with all our other good intentions. Anywho, on with the show! BBC Radio 4 is a service like none other on the radio. It manages to fill a slot and a hole in the radio listings that couldn’t be filled in any other way but couldn’t be imagined without. This is because the versatility and variety of the content ensures that if ever there is a dull moment then you can skip off and return in half an hour ready to be engaged, excited, enthralled or enraged by the subsequent programming. The diversity of output is unparalleled. In the course of an evening we can often have our ears drenched in programmes about issues for deaf people, the history of the toilet, the world’s news and interviews whilst still finding time to fit in a tale of average farming folk every night.. Each of one these emotions are represented and embellished. But a particular one that it covers rather well is that of human interaction. Ladies of Letters, that one about the Rabbi, King Street Junior and this weeks 7.45pm show all betray that inner core. What makes the programmes so enthralling is that they are so down to earth. Whilst they may identify their middle class audience well, and I am never denying being that, they also manange to create 15 minitures in which you can easily be dragged from your world to feel for one which you never knew existed. This is not pure escapism though. This is a journey that you do not watch but that you feel to your inner being. Last weeks’ show at 7.45 has been a fine example of this. It has been the story of a lady who writes a blog online in which she vents her anger, fustrations and love of her marrage. You hear snippets of what she has written but you also hear the husband about whom she writes. I have felt I know both of them by the end of the week. The sheer escapist lust from the lady and the unstable yet loving heart of the man. Oh and I forgot to say , they are 70 years old! This relationship of marrage has been slowly exposed not as a sham but as something where they never fully find themselves knowing each other until he stumbles across her blog. Yet through reading her blog and trying out a variety of negatives that sh ehighlights in him they rediscover the joy of each other. They end up a stronger more fulfilled couple and it was wonderful. Through the short snippets I was dragged further and further in and would ensure that I tuned in the next day. Thus ends the ode to Radio 4 If this has whetted your appitite then please click here Take care y'all John

R*E*S*P*E*C*T

I have been pondering upon this issue of respect for the last few days, indeed months now, as I reflect upon my time volunteering for a variety of causes. The very phrase itself presents many a conundrum of meaning. From being a wisecracking wide-boy down with da yardies, to an upstart political party fronted by a man with a questionable ‘tash, to the wish of an elder for how to be treated. Ultimately what it all comes down to is the art of the human interaction. Now why this issue came up is due to personal feelings of un-respect towards myself accompanied by a reflection upon the work that I put in. The issue with that is that it may then appear on a purely egotistical level when in reality it is the opposite. It is almost to placate the ego but to feel self worth rather than self-loathing. To illustrate a possible over-stretched point I shall recount the following two tales. I stewarded at a festival this year that caters for around 30,000 people and all their needs. One of their obvious needs is the wish all to attend the same event at the same time. Thus it is time for the stewards to shine and establish orderly and decent ques that combine light entertainment with a nod towards health and safety at the same time. This is done through a mixture of head counting and discussion with que members so they know what is going on. Now due to the flexible timing of all events ques do tend to suddenly magnify at certain times and this was one such occasion. The que had leapt up in a matter of second from 50 to 150 and was beginning to present an issue. Therefore I walked along this line head counting to see if there was enough space in the venue for all. Midway along I was stopped by an off duty steward who duly told me that the que was far too disorganised and that it really should be sorted out right now. After quietly telling said person that I was in the process of doing that I felt ashamed. I felt ashamed because that person had belittled me in front of the crowds when I was in the process of doing the job. The steward in question was off duty and yet was clearly identifiable by the large stewards tag being worn. This may not seem like a major issue to some of you. But imagine this – you are put in charge of doing a job and you are in the process of ensuring it is being done. As you are in the process of doing it the person who did it before you, even though they no longer do said job, stops you and tells you that you haven’t done a good job. All this done in front of your work colleges. The humiliation and sickening feeling is still with me. I do not know what prompted that steward to interact with me on this level, no doubt it was genuine concern but it didn’t stop that fundamental line being crossed. That of once you are doing a job you decide how it goes and when you stop you cannot interact with the new person unless they invite it. True respect is about an underlying trust in other people’s abilities. This can be from not attacking me as I walk down the street (trust of an unknown person – often from certain socio-economic backgrounds) to the simple trust that when I switch on the radio I am listening to the news and not just opinion. That sense of respect, which can be shared, has to be earnt; but only by being a passive bystander and commenting post events about alternatives or if the person invites comment. A dis-respectful approach is where another tells others (uninvited) not only how but also why and if about a situation or an action and often undermines the feelings of others. Take Care y’All John

That's The Wonder of You!

Well I must say this week has been an odd one, but was magnificantly improved by the following news from the National Television Awards......Doctor Who wins 3 Major awards. For those of you who know little about me I rather like Doctor Who. It is a show that i can watch and always bob up smiling, so to speak. In it we explore the finer moral points of fascism, communism, collective living, geneticaly modified food, commercialism, killing.........and that was just the original series. The latest series came to our screens after over a decade absence, bar the 1996 movie, from our screens. It burst into the 21st century with the most wonderful episode that had you gripped and opened my eyes to the wonders of Billie Piper! I didn't see all the series but what I did impressed me. The series was one that was not only fast moving but knew the points it wanted to make and made them in a "no hold bars" way that kept it real whilst also being fun. I wanted to shout , scream and cry and for once not because of the script. instead it really connected in an emotional way that few series do. Therefore I applaude the awards and look forward to the return of the series soon enough. Oh and if you want some biblical reflection just watch Fathers Day. Let us say that it manages to make real one of the greatest tests of christianity. Take Care Y'All John

Sound , vision and song!

Hello there everyone I am pondering whilst listening to Zadok the Priest, a most wonderful piece of music. It is wonderful because of the way it exemplifies the wonders of religious music (tm). This idea of religious music could of course be an absolute lie or it could be a reality. For most people their experience of religious music will be the 85-year-old lady playing the harmonium or wheezy organ whilst they trundle through a weighty tome of hymns clutched in the hand. Some of the hymns and songs will bring joy and others will bring rapture and some may even bring a spiritual meaning - but we wouldn't want that to happen now would we! Yet when one hears a piece of music in a truly wonderful church it is amazing. For this I have to take you back to last September when I heard some good friends of mine performing in the wonderful St John's, Edinburgh. This building is one of the churches built with an acoustic that is as good for speech as it is for unamplified (dare I say real....) music. As I heard my friends perform my mind drifted to pieces such as Zadok and the real feel they invoke. For the way the sounds and deviances within the tune, whilst also the words and sounds created by the singers not only echoes but positively blends into the building ensuring that every crevice is reached. Indeed the level to which the music reaches the areas leads you to feel that indeed they are expressing the glory of god, as viewed by the composed, but through the music we all share in the wonder of such glory. For if we cannot all share in the ideas and emotions then we can never fully explore all the feelings. Beautiful, you may cry, but what is the relevance? Well I wouldn't be shocked if most of you attend a space for worship that often has music playing as you exit (at Wesley’s chapel we have Elvis*) and yet most of that is lost in hubbub as ones mind switches to the journey home or the fact dinner is burning etc. Yet in reality you are missing an expression of faith from the musicians. I challenge you all to sit and enjoy the sounds as they explore the building that the community had just created a worship space. Be it a beat boxer at the mic to a full stopped organ in full blast they are all expressing emotion through the only way they truly can and I am ever frustrated by the few people who appreciate and enjoy the music. That said, not all of you will get such feeling but please do try. If all else fails sit and listen to Simon and Garfunkle, for their spiritual writings are something that could and should impress and amaze us at whilst providing some stinking tunes... After all "Everywhere I go, I get slandered...libelled.... I hear words I never heard in the bible!" *Elvis is the name of the organist. If one wishes "the king" then I seem to remember Hillsong in London always blast it out.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Modern technology breaks

Hello once again well it appears my blogging has slowed to a snails pace. this is not entirely true though. Instead I have had modern technology let me down... i) wireless don't really connect at all and so back to wires whilst glowering at the boxes ii) I snapped my usb flash drive out the back of a computer at the w.end therefore havent been able to transfer all my ponderances onto this machine. Regardless to all that I would say you have 5 posts coming to you by the end of this week so put on your seatbelts and feel the gs take care y'all John

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Modern Technology Strikes

Well this is neither representation, reflection or review. this is mearly a smug post to let you all know that now I not only have Broadband at home but have set up a wireless network in the house which is all rather zippy and exciting. This now means updates to this blog should be fast and free flowing. Indeed we should have Methodist Council post one as I have had thepapers for said meeting through the post on Friday. Take Care Y'all John

Monday, October 03, 2005

Catastrophy

Hello once again. Since I last posted an incredibly large ammount has happened. This is mainly at my place of work, Middlesex University Students' Union (www.musu.mdx.ac.uk). What has happened here is a triumph of shoddyness. We have a Student Union President who has to implement student union policy. we have a policy to allow Hizb-ut-Tahir to operate on campus. The group hit the headlines over the summer and so we put out a press release explaining we felt them to be a group worth giving the time of day to and that if their allowance to operate on campus was to be withdrawn (whilst they were not a legally banned organisation) then the Student Body would make that decision through a meeting with this group. The university heard about the meeting and requested the President to stop the meeting, he didnt for the reasons outlined above and next thing we know he has been suspended. Anywho this has thrown a dis-united Union into even more anarchy and has led to much stress about the place. That said I take great strength and solice from the students of Mdx who turned out at 9am on a Friday morning to Support our President. Was a wonderful moment and did much to restore faith after the executive of this union refused to back him. What a vile meeting that was. Anywho he is now back in office and under a variety of restraining orders restricting what he can say to some prewritten statements prepared by the university. All in all a rather rum affair and duly followed everys tep of teh way by Polly Curtis in The Guardian online, so sit back and relax whiolst reading about how the sh*t really hit the fan here! (http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/news/story/0,,1582157,00.html) *Update this tale of an institutional gaggin gets better.......read todays education guardian in the Higher Education section!* Oh and what a week of hot Methodist Action! That's right I cannot wake without hearing that word. The week started with a mention of the Methodist Connexional Evangalism Co-Ordinator as he was at the launch of the 100 minute Bible. I am amused by the thought, but having been fustrated by the Guardians digested read of many books I suspect that its' good bits won't be my good bits and so will alround be fustrated. Indeed on the bible front I do tend to take much umbridge at the lack of coherance to the original text as displayed in modern versions like the Street Bible. I have no idea why they wish to leave bits out - it is too leading to the reader and generally crap. The second Methodist to appear was an ex President of the Irish Conference. Rev Harold Good acted as an observer to the decommisioning of the entire IRA arsenal of weapons. this is indeed good times and I felt strangely warmed (he he) to see that a Methodist was chosen to be the Protestant oversear. The Methodist church in Northern Ireland gets little press over here therefore was good to see such a positive role model for the religious communities in the press, specially from N.I. That said it has made me pondering over the legacy of Methodism and I suspect that you will all be subjected to a cascade of ponderances on that subject fairly soon. The third Methodist was someone who was on stage for the comedy Store playes last night. That's right, he played the Devil and it was great. A quote to summate the evening comes from Paul Merton's lips "You can say F*ck on stage, he just said "Say God's a C*nt" and he's a Methodist". Therefore I cheered heartily then but wished I had learnt the old age art of Methodist Temperance as my bank balance and also my outlook for today is not as clear as it was yesterday. As if that wasn't exciting enough I have placed an order for minutes of conference for this year having had my copy of CPD drop through my door. I think I am going to have to sit down! I will update soon, though if anyone knows of a decent MacOSX offline updater for blogger.com then please let me know! Take Care Y'All John

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Y*A*W*N

I will update post haste....need to recover from this years Greenebelt (www.greenbelt.org.uk). Take Care Now John

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Spraycan of Death or Liberation?

Today I would like to share with you some work that another friend of mine has recently found and enjoyed. This is work by the urban street artist who goes by the name "Banksy". He is a secretive chap who sprays stencils of political and social satire (often)onto buildings , bridges etc. This time he has gone one bigger and put some images on the monstrosity that is the Aparteid Wall in Israel. This wall is one that has been put up for the exact reason that the state of Israel said it needed to be formed, to protect a certain group of peopel from ethnic cleansing. Only this time it is the Jewish state that seems hell bent on cleansing the surroudnign area of their arab brothers. That said, due to the underhand way in which the state came about (oh looks like Britain has made another post colonial mistake there!) gruops within the local Palestinian population is also setting about to remove the state of Israel. Therefore we have one state arguing with another. The reasoning why I have used the definition of state is becuase you constantly hear that the people the state is meant to work for do not wish the violence. This wish to avoid violence is illustrated by the many cross cultural initiatives that occur and also with much of the peacemaking that is so prevelant. Yet for as long as western countries entertain the idea of a two state solution then there will always be issues. If one wishes to see why this could be the outcome then a glance accross the waters to Northern Ireland illustrates the absurdity of allowing ethnicity to decide who or what is the nation. Anywho,this wall is set up to keep out the Palestinians...oh sorry...palestian bombers from attacking, instead it appears to be a subtle way of building up a definate border for teh country of Israel along lines and borders that have not been agreed. By all sides, except the Israle government, it is seen as a monstrosity and Banksy has added his own twist to it. The art is rather funky, I only wish the wall was never built and cannot wait until the wall comes down. Take Care Y'All John

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Back once again with the ill behaviour

And with that he was stuck behind the desk at the office, wishing to be in the wilds and open landscape of Shetland. As you might guess I am now back at work as a sabatical officer at the student union of Middlesex University. This is a fascinating experience for me as I have not worked for a secular organisation for a while. The last one was a call centre and before that a drama group. The drama group was purley for fun and it was a pleasure to end up being paid and the call centre was a little as possible and just for cash. Yet to work for a union I had rose tinted speculations that everyone would have a dream and a knowledge about what unions are for and about and who they should serve. Instead I end up working in a very unalligned group who seem to struggle with the concept of vision and if we all have one few are articluating it. It made me reflect on the joy of my short time working as an admin staff for MAYC. It was a pleasure to work for a body where everyone knew the end game, gods kingdom and hoped to be contributing something towards it. Outside of that I need to sort out and type up my reflections on shetland. I have one in storage on nature. That said, some ponderances upon the latest shinanigans that are occuring in the name of us by T.Blair and others as they attempt to counter terrorism. Within London the idea of a terrorist campaign is nothing new. The I.R.A (Irish Republican Army) have fought a war against this city for many years. The war took the form of terrorist bombings against civillian and military targets. Indeed it was very similar both in media consultation and bombing ot what we currently see. They have at last seen the light of a non violent struggle and given up weapons. Huzzah! Yet the current government seems to have learnt nothing from this with the most heavy handed response to the latest attacks. Let us start with the hideous abuse of civil liberites being exercised by our police force (eg 8 in the head of a brazillian). The police are always in a tricky situatioatn. They are having to react to law that is produced by politicians. Yet the way that they have been able to shoot to kill all of a suden is horrific. I cannot understand why this change is needed or required. All that is then supplimented in is the police are feared as well as the few individuals who are out to cause injury. That said, the politicians are only encouraging such behaviour. At first I was impressed by T.B's response to the bombings. He made a clam dignified speech that showed a worry that people wished to harm the country. But havign been under verbal attack again over the war - well if he will start one the consequences he wil have to carry - then it is as though the shutters have been brought down on liberal britain. Instead we all have to "show ourselves to be british" and suddenly words like "evil ideology" and "islam" appear in the same sentance from our PM. This is frankly shocking rascism. Whilst small aspects of the muslim population may agree with the words given by these clerics that is no reason to launch all the organs of the press to desroy the entire faith. I am unwilling to comment further due to ignorance of the complete details of what is proposed. That said, to here the talk of putting somone on trial for treason worries me. Afterall, what state are we turing into under all these laws? A state of liberal europe or the 52nd state of America under Bush? My suspciious is we are crawling under a bush to avoid the problems with short based solutions rather than taking a liberla approach adn tackiling the real issues at hand. I will post agian soon Regards Ever John

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Update to say...... Comments from Anon's now accepted Apologies, thought that was obligatory anyway Regards Ever John

Shetland Postcard 1

Day one in Shetland is now officially over! We landed here at 8am this morning and have been on the go ever since. We are staying in a wonderful little bungalow, overlooking the voe, in Voe! It is comfortable, whilst not extravagant and house the most wonderful shower which looks more like a pod, circa 1970, and so I feel all retro as I shower. Indeed a picture of said Pod (minus me!) shall appear tomorrow methinks! The day its’ self was sluggish and slow as we were all tired, but at the same time wonderful. Compared to the enforced hustle and bustle of London life it provides great pleasure to be slowly driven through the countryside, at a slow speed, without reprimand upon reaching destination at whatever time. Indeed the whole way of life is different. Like many island communities, the Shetlands are undergoing a series of great changes. The fishing industry that has employed thousands over time is dwindling, crafting is dying out and oil is beginning to dry up. Therefore the three main sources of income on these islands, over time, have to change. This struggle is shown all around, but in particular in Unst (the most northerly isle of Shetland, therefore Britain) where the removal of the Royal Air Force base has decimated a small island community that was so dependant on that custom and trade generated. This was not just for profit, but also the diversity of residents at the RAF base meant a whole load of community resources like Schools, post offices (e.t.c) have had to face new challenges as the numbers of users plummets off. This feel has changed though, above was what I detected on my last visit here (over 3 years ago), there is a new set of commerce and small business growing and it is visible. It has been greatly helped by the inter-island games that had just ended as we arrived. Indeed on the boat we got off, there were queues of bizzies waiting to sail back to the mainland of Scotland, including one – a globalised protestor! These had left there impact everywhere with lil’ Shetland flags on the majority of cars and shop windows. There is a feel of buoyancy in the air which envigours me, compared to the more doom and gloom which greeted me last time. That said, I have only been here a day and places such as Unst shan’t be visited till Dad preachers there a week on Sunday. Yet it would be folly to end on a questionable note, after such an enjoyable day. The day ended with a visit to a local event that celebrated the release of a documentary celebrating the life of Tam Anderson, one of Shetlands’ greatest ever musicians. He lived from 1912 to 1991 and spent the majority of his adult life touring Shetland as an insurance salesman, picking up folk tunes along the way! He was a teacher that inspired many great musicians, including the wonderful Catriona MacDonald, and also he pioneered the re-education of the Shetland young folk of their folk musical heritage in a move to steer them away from the mainland (Celtic inspired) Scottish folk music to their own (Scandinavian inspired) Shetland fiddle and folk music. It was a magical evening, with a DVD that evoked so many emotions towards these wonderful isles. The event was held in a church hall and all around there would be a murmur of approval as another local face sang the praises of Tam. If one wonders why he was so great, let me summate: Pupils included Ally Bain and Catriona MacDonald and he had recordings of over 700 folk tunes played by the people he met by the time he died. A wonderful man indeed who gave the gift of indigenous culture and music back to the isles from which it sprang, a gift so truly special that the words “thank you” can never be enough. Well, it is late and I better head to bed. But before I go, a stat or two about my reading! That’s right, I have brought enough books to build a small fortress and hope/pray/shall get through them all! Read so far 1) Loudmouth by Pamela Stevenson. The follow-up to the best-selling “Billy” book, both of which document the life of Billy Connerly from his wife’s’ perspective as a physcologist. It is a cracking read, but I did wonder at points (in particular in reference to Billy’s’ tenderness and her feelings in India) as to what the aim of the books is. She comes across as rather a stroppish young lady with a keen sense of humour but also to willing to explain away simple actions with a deep reference to B’s past. Almost as though to say, he sneezes so loud to enable his head to get rid of the demons about his past life as an X. Expect more, though this time I am reading a book on the Scottish Episcopal Church in the Shetland islands between 1790 and 1860, a thrilling read so far which is chock-a-bloc with social history, a passion of mine. Take Care Y’All John

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Its not what, its who

Today I am packing to head off on holiday to Shetland. Those of you who have talked to be recently will wonder at another trip, only this one is my first real holiday since Christmas 2004 and so I believe I deserve it. Whilst on the train to Edinburgh I re-read the most recent Adrian Plass diary, “The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass on Tour”, and it emphasis the theme of today’s post. The meeting and experiencing of God through people. The idea that one can experience the Christian god, something that we cannot see but only ever feel is a crazy one. Scientists, atheists and even myself have all, over time, gone to great pains to show how god cannot be “shown” through people. Yet I have met some extraordinary people and so through meeting them I have realised that you really can experience God through people. The act of encountering is often not one that you have when you are with that person; it is what comes with the reflection afterwards. As I mull over the days events, with “The World Tonight” whispering in the background, I tend to ponder upon the influence that those I have come into contact with have had. Often it will be a simple smile, or indeed a laugh at the joke told at midday or whatever. Yet once in a while I cannot stop thinking about that person. This is not in lustful or romantic way, instead this on another level. This is where the way a person acts or what they say take on undue precedence in my life due to who they are and how they live. That is not to claim they are the second coming, instead that that particular person not only brings me something new, but also enhances my faith without even knowing it. This enhancement only happens with reflection as the joy of sharing my time with these people blots out any theological thought, bar any discussion in their company, yet I cannot stop thinking about what they have done that day. This experiencing of God, over seeing God is because from it I can not only gain but also feel closer to my God. I see God in many different people and things and am always amazed at the new sights, sounds and (well I am a student) smells that this planet holds. This viewing of the gifts of god is wonderful, but it is like watching a beautiful bird in the jungle on television. Once can appreciate the beauty whilst still only seeing it in an abstract reality created by the “goggle box” that you are watching. Whereas I experience God through people through the tales they tell to me and the experiences we share together enhance me more than in that moment. There are few people who do that, but I could write a list of people through whom I can defiantly experience God. It is wonderful, it is amazing and it has lead me to explore new thoughts and reflections that I wouldn’t have comprehended last week, let alone last year. That said, my struggle with meeting God through people is on a much more PC basis, rather than scientific or reality base. I struggle because my list comprises of 5 men and a singular woman. This is worrying because they are all white and reasonably middle class (though they would hate to admit it). Whilst I am a firm believer in god being a reflection of your culture, not an abstract culture to you, I do worry that my experiences of God are far too limited. Whilst over time I will meet others through whom I will experience, I can only hope that this is from a broader spectrum. Else the God I meet at the end of it all will be a Guardian reading, sandal wearing, muesli munching liberal…actually…. upon reflection…I quiet like the sound of that!

Friday, July 15, 2005

One Week but Many Thoughts

Today marked one week since the bombs were detonated both over and underground in London. This was a day which has shaped everyone’s’ London since. This is partly on practical grounds (the tubes are not fully running etc) but also there is a sense of slight entrepidation about as people seem to watch everyone carefully, as well as exercising added prejudice in suspicion towards people of the Muslim faith. I intend not to write on the issue of the bombs but more on the feelings surrounding it. As a Christian it is an interesting issue as it again returns to the idea of the “just war”, one that I so often struggle with. I am against violence, for the simple reason I could never kill someone so and myself would never wish it to be done “in my name”. Whilst to many it would seem rather simplistic, it is the yardstick I set myself in my life. After all, if I am not comfortable doing something myself why on earth should I wish it on others? This has become fairly ingrained into me and interlinks with my feelings on forgiveness, something I shall return to at a later date. The issue of violence appears due to the idea of retaliation or “justice” to those who perpetrated those hideous acts of violence. The ol nugget of the death penalty raises its ugly head once again in a launch for restorative vengeance to please the public need for a quick fix over real solutions. As you might guess, I am not for the death penalty and I am frustrated at those who think it is the answer for such crimes. What right have we as a nation to be in outrage at the killing of “innocent” people, if we then condemn and then murder them, even though they could be innocent themselves? We do not have the perfect justice system and we never shall, this is not the countries fault this is the fact we are human and fallible. I also struggle with the contradiction and it is one I have had with the Stop the War coalition as well. I was a key part of the original stop the war coalition in Edinburgh, in the run-up to Iraq War 2. I helped facilitate and film the 3,000 young person walkouts from schools two days prior to the breakout of war. I believed and fell for that cause. Yet as the war progressed I began to struggle with this new movement. This was a movement that was so broad and then began to narrow itself down and to spit vitriol at those who strayed to a differing path. First there was objection to the Liberal Democrats for their middle of the road “ we support the troops but not what they are fighting for” stance, which I could understand after a while. How can we really claim to support the troops by keeping them in a situation we do not wish them to be in? But my real problem is the more than tacit support for the Iraqi resistance; this is whilst also providing a platform for Rose Gentle to discuss how hurt she feels that her son (a British army soldier) was killed in Iraq. Therefore we support the families of those killed whilst also supporting those who committed the killing in the first place? A rum situation indeed. But what does this all have to do with “just war” etc? This comes back to the idea that the ever present search for a quick fix solution, from ID Cards to Coppers with Kalashnikovs, is ever destined to fail because we never look at the root of the issue and only try to solve the issue. Until we as a people are ready to do this, then we can never progress. Tempting, as it is to finish on that note, instead I wish to share a tale you no doubt have heard. A survivor of the bomb on the underground was greeted by the BBC and asked what they felt for the bombers who had destroyed the train they were on. All they said was “Pity for them (the bombers) that they think this can succeed”. This was a wonderful quote and shows how far we can come as humans. I do not know, neither do I care if they are, but for me this was something closer to the true Christian response to such inexplicable acts of violence, understanding and pity rather than another war. This was to worry why the person committed the act, rather than to seek revenge for the act committed. There is hope, if you look outside of the tabloid press. Many Regards John

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Lets us now consider the words of wisdom

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Welcome

Welcome to my space in the world. This should be a space through which I reflect on all that goes on, review decent books/films and also the crap that I pick up as well as using this as a space to publish my voting records so that I am accountable when on student union/methodist council.