Friday, May 12, 2006

Down the Line...

I, like many Guardian Readers, choked on my late night coffee this Thursday whilst listening to another dreadful edition of the "Live Phone In" entitled Down the Line. This weeks edition was uncomfortably unsettling in that it dealt with religion and, although now revealed to be a spoof, one didn't realise so at the time. Therefore I sat agog as people came on and ... well ... I suggest you listen yourself . Having listened I am sure you will recognise views within that. My personal favourite was the "old lady" who phoned in talking about how to attract people to church and declared that they had put on tea, coffee and now did squash and even Lemon squash! It was classic but true. Really , the way she said it made you think her skin was crawling at the thought yet they would do it anyway. It reminded me of an incident at church a few weeks ago when the local Quakers did the tea/coffee etc after the service. In true Quaker style they included some fancy herbal teas as the options , alongside the teabag stuff and it was really only the white middle class folk who were taking teh herbal and almsot everyone else was going for plain ol tea and the same was true in terms of which home made snaks were taken... all most amusing but amazing at how trenchant we can become in our ways. But we are all guilt of that anyway - heck I sit at a particular pew to ensure I don't have to neal at the communion rail that Maggie Thatcher donated. But suppose you need to hear absurdities like that to reawaken you and cast a quick reconsideration upon the views you may espose to otehrs and wether they are really helpful or just prejudicial. This brings me very swiftly onto todays "Today" programme which had some very intersting interviews about the Assisted Dying For The Terminaly Ill Bill which is in its second reading in the House of Lords*. Parliamentry convention is that things are usualy passed in the second reading easily in the HofL but this time it is different. This is because the religious groupings within the Lords are revolting and they are rebelling to put forward a view that it shouldn't be passed. The nature of the debate can be rather well summed up by the aforementioned interviews from the Today programme. It started with a very moving interview with Sally Mackintosh, who is a beliver in God who is in the middle of dying from cancer and belives that the free will God gave her means she can take her life when she feels fit to make that decision because her quality of life was at such a level she wanted to prolong the suffering no further. A very precise case which she phrased very well. This was then "countered" by the Archbishops' Williams and Cormack O Conner who were presenting a more abstract argument around the idea of the common good. I must admit that I really struggled to "get" the point they were trying to make. That said, they did make one very good and pertanent point that some people might take their life "if they felt they were a burden on others" . This is a good point and one that often isn't taken into account. That said I think the first interview swayed me. Ultimatly it is the individuals right to choose when to go. With the way us humans have developed technology etc then we can indeed do so safely and humanely. That said I suspect this will be an argument that shall run and run and one I am more that willing to engage in. Take Care Y'All John


Well folks, Hope you are all doing well. The secrecy deadline has been and gone so I can spill the beans on the latest Methodist Council meeting. As some of you may know the Methodist Church is in the middle of restructuring the programme for Pre-Ordination training to fully reflecdt modern training needs, as they percieve it. This was illustrated by the paper presented at the Feb and then the April meetings about the new style of training on offer. Seperate to that was a look at the training institutions that shall be used for residential training. This very seperation seems a most random one and, to me, sums up one of the major weaknesses of alot of the revisioning work that is going on. We are seeing the results of bits 'n bobs which are half connected but are being done by seperate people therefore they never fully reflect one and another. This was illustrated by the last two councils and everyone being rather bemused as how one impacts 'tother etc... Anywho, back to this particular incident. The emergancy meeting was called because the Council rejected the suggestions for the two venues where the training should be offered in a residential format. This is a very big decision to be made as it does show where the Connexion wants to send its people to train and thus a big showing on the state of the mind of the world. So, to cut to the chase, where were the two places that were decided upon at this emergancy meeting..... ...... Nearly there ..... "06.3.11 The Council therefore agreed that the combined ‘package’ of Queen’s College, Birmingham, and Wesley House, Cambridge, provided the advantages of two contrasting institutions, giving a wide range of ministerial training and learning opportunities within Methodism. Queen’s College was seen to offer valuable formational experience and multi-cultural and cosmopolitan opportunities, plus strong ecumenical and world church links. Wesley House, Cambridge, offered a contrasting experience with an emphasis upon teaching, learning and research." So cambridge and Birmingham. A fascinating duo and not the two I prefered anyway! I was thinking that Birmingham and Durham would have made a nicer pair and would have taken it out from a more central / southern english outlook for a church that is meant to serve all of the uk. That said we shall see, maybe this is just some of my personal bias which doesn't always look on Cambridge that favourably. But the room was full of ex cambridge bods so when the voting took place it didn't surprise that they chose that place. So the Methodist Ministers of the future, who decide to go residential to train, will indeed go to Birmingham or Cambridge..... what japes! Take Care Y'All john

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Graciou swith it over half a month since I last updated then one or two of you may have thought I had fallen off the end of the earth. this is not the case but I shall update today and tommorow - council tommorow as we are "embagoed" until then with that news. Take care Y'all John