Monday, November 12, 2007

Dyspraxia

Mild Tangent I am dyspraxic - it is true I am 'caged in chaos'. For more info on this see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Developmental_Dyspraxia Regards John

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Standing Up for What You Believe In

It takes alot to have beliefs and even more to be able to defend them. This is the only way you can have made an impact. The Faslane365 programme of a rolling blockade has been an exciting year-long event in which non violent direct action has continuously highlighted the nuclear submerine base in Scotland. Groups from all around the country have gone and given their few hours. Recently a friend of mine went and wrote a poem about her experiences, one which I wish to share now:
There are police in a line all dressed in yellow and black, With the Trident subs bobbing just behind their back. But our eyes are open wide, to the threat that lies ahead, So we choose to lie in the road this morning, instead of in our bed. Life is the right to be a human The second you enter the race. Irony is an arrest for breaching the peace Outside a nuclear missile base. We write letters of opinion and protest to the government, Which never seem to be read. So within this democracy it remains for us, To make our voice heard through other means instead. Life is the right to be a human The second you enter the race. Irony is an arrest for breaching the peace Outside a nuclear missile base. The use of a weapon of mass destruction, Can only end in death. Which is why we non-violently, directly and actively Move closer to peace with each step, with each breath. Sometimes we'll face setbacks, barriers or get knocked down, But you know, we won't be deterred. Supporting each other, working together, These times will leave us shaken and stirred…. ….Up for more action, We're looking for a reaction Of recognition that nuclear missiles Are the face of death, while we face trials In court, will people catch on to the love That drives us to run, walk or crawl, Towards our destination, A beautiful place, Where peace will appear and oppression will fall. We are all Children of God. Life is the right to be a human The second you enter the race. Irony is an arrest for breaching the peace Outside a nuclear missile base.
The Author is Nina Carter-Brown who owns the marvelous Fairgrounds shops. Take Care Y'All John

Monday, October 08, 2007

Transforming the world through your church

Video from www.creationchallenge.org.uk Two differing initiatives are about at the moment that can really present exciting challenges to churches up and down the country. The first, eco-congregation, is a non denominational tool-kit to 'green' up your church. The second, jubilee congregations, builds upon the Jubilee debt campaign to build the congregation into a network of debt activitists. Both these are worth doing because both will change your church in different ways. Eco congregation will really enable everyone to engage with the environment and the way they impact it. Jubilee Congregation provides a much more outward looking connection with the rest of the world. It ensures that the rumble for Justice,be it economic or environmental, continues. For what links both of these is the realisation that a few prayers in the intercessions isn't enough. Instead everyone needs to engage. We live in an amazing and wonderful world. The only problem is that humanity has a good naque for messing it up, through economics or environmental impact and it is only through this self realisation of the role we all play that we can begin to create the solutions. Churches have often been a beacon of social activity. Now lets help turn that into activism! This need for activism stems from the central message within the New Testemant that we are not called to be christians just to make ourselves feel good. INstead we need to create an impact on the world around us. As humanity has become more aware of the problems it creates it often can seem like buzzwords bingo with poverty one year and environment the next. The strength within both these packs it that it shows why both these issues are lifelong concerns. Ones that need to be tackled head on. Ones that can be tackled head on and ones that should be tackled head on. Take Care Y'All John

Friday, August 17, 2007

Ned Flanders

In light of previous suggestions of ways people choose to look at the bible I thought this might amuse... Take Care Y'All John

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Hardest Thing to Do

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I was in an interesting discussion about Biblical Interpretation this week. As we strolled through a variety of issues and approaches I was left reflecting upon which passage within the bible is the hardest to live upto. As humans we can delight in free will and many of us can delight in having a free mind. Free to explore think and say what we want. Yet if one is to use the Bible as a guide or a rule book, a handy relevant reference or historical document the way one chooses to live out the message is of note. Therefore I wish to throw out to all you readers, regular and passer by, the challenge of which Bible passage you struggle the most to live upto. This is not a space to say I disagree with X or Y but instead to say I get passage Z but I struggle to live it out. For me it has to be 1 Corinthians 13 1-13. Take Care Y'All John

Thursday, August 09, 2007

09-08-07 A Day of Odities

A day of revelation for Guardian Readers as a small snippit of layout management is illustrated (see P19 of the Main Section). For Christians it is the day of Transfigeration. Which is more bizzare I do not know... Take Care Y'All John

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Two Links

Generic Image Maggi Dawn is in the middle of a fascinating debate about Church and Community, her opening post explained why the two needed to be linked and the comments have taken it into much more fundamental territory over what is this community that is talked about - is it/can it be created? ASBO Jesus is a funky cartoon style take and commentary upon church and society. Some of it looks at what society does, whilst others look at what Christianity does. I'm guessing though he isn't a fan of fundamentalists... Take Care Y'All John

Biblical Interpriation

It is a scripted version of an email that has been doing the rounds for a while. Whilst a joy to watch and enjoy, not just because of the fine performance, I think it enjoyably challenges us all in our selective, blinkered views of the bible - whatever they may be. This leads me nicely from my little mental stretch and reflex to what Wood has just put up. His exploration of the similarities between evangelical and marxist groups makes both enlightened reading and presents enjoyable challenges about institutionalisation. As groups become institutionalised and entrenched the idea of there being a better way is often forgotten, even if the organisation was formed as a better way of doing things. This is something that needs to be remembered by all people, not just those in positions of power. Change is never to be frightening, change is good. The problem is the identification of the wrong areas/type of change. Change for changes shake is damaging but hard decisions for a right conclusion are worth the hassle. This leads into an upcoming Blah learning day which explores the types and forms of leadership within the (established/denominationalised) church and what examples and challenges the emerging church church/changing population cultures present to the church. Lead by Maggi Dawn and Doug Gay it promises to be an exciting and engaging event that really grapples with the what where who and why of leadership and who should be exercising it and who should be paying for it! Take Care Y'All John

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Potted Magic

Hello This is not a comment on revelations about Cabinet Ministers and weed this week, instead a comment that I thoroughly suggest everyone gets todays Guardian because the Review section has the most wonderful cross section of predictions/mock openings for the Harry Potter book out today. Click here to read the predictions/fan fic - I actually think the kids have written the best of the pack - though sue townsend is rather amusing. Why tell you this? Because there was a wonderful moment when I was out shopping this morning of a older child getting very excited as they collected their copy of HP and proudly presented the book seller with their saved up pocket money. Take Care Y'All John

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Big Plates of Meat!

Your carbon footprint Congratulations. You've successfully completed the Act on CO2 calculator. This table represents your CO2 emissions from all three areas of your lifestyle. Your CO2 result is 2.52 tonnes per year The national average total is 4.47 tonnes per year CO2 emissions from all three areas of your lifestyle Home Appliances Travel Your Carbon Footprint 1.81 0.71 0 Target Footprint 1.45 0.57 0 National Average 2.00 0.68 1.79 (All in Tonnes per year) So find out what your carbon footprint is....click here . Whilst not the most comprehensive of questionairs it does provide some interesting thinking and send you scuttling to your appliances/bills to see true consumption rates.

Brown Now PM

Billy-ray was a preachers son And when his daddy would visit hed come along When they gathered round and started talkin Thats when billy would take me walkin A-through the back yard wed go walkin Then hed look into my eyes Lord knows to my surprise The only one who could ever reach me Was the son of a preacher man The only boy who could ever teach me Was the son of a preacher man Yes he was, he was, mmm, yes he was Being good isnt always easy No matter how hard I try When he started sweet-talkin to me Hed come and tell me everything is all right Hed kiss and tell me everything is all right Can I get away again tonight? The only one who could ever reach me Was the son of a preacher man The only boy who could ever teach me Was the son of a preacher man Yes he was, he was, lord knows he was How well I remember The look that was in his eyes Stealin kisses from me on the sly Takin time to make time Tellin me that hes all mine Learnin from each others knowing Lookin to see how much weve grown And the only one who could ever reach me Was the son of a preacher man The only boy who could ever teach me Was the son of a preacher man Yes he was, he was, oh, yes he was He was the sweet-talking son of a preacher man I guessed he was the son of a preacher man Sweet-lovin son of a preacher man Ahh, move me
Gordon Brown : Scottish Son of a Preacher Man - but will he teach us a new style of government, a new way to listen and respond to the nations needs or will he be a case of same old same old? From opening gambit seems like we are onto something slightly different... EDIT: For a good summation of the fun, hilarity and out and out strangeness of today then click here for Nick Robinson's Blog covering today.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Economic Cows

Tidying up my room in London and came across a piece of paper with the economic systems of the world explained in cows... (Afraid author is unknown but versions of this have done the rounds since time began) SOCIALISM You have 2 cows. You give one to your neighbour. COMMUNISM You have 2 cows. The State takes both and gives you some milk. FASCISM You have 2 cows. The State takes both and sells you some milk. NAZISM You have 2 cows. The State takes both and shoots you. BUREAUCRATISM You have 2 cows. The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away... TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income. SURREALISM You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons AN AMERICAN CORPORATION You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. Later, you hire a consultant to analyse why the cow has dropped dead. ENRON VENTURE CAPITALISM You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States , leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release. The public then buys your bull. THE ANDERSEN MODEL You have two cows. You shred them. A FRENCH CORPORATION You have two cows. You go on strike, organise a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows. A JAPANESE CORPORATION You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create a clever cow cartoon image called 'Cowkimon' and market it worldwide. A GERMAN CORPORATION You have two cows. You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves. AN ITALIAN CORPORATION You have two cows, but you don't know where they are. You decide to have lunch. A RUSSIAN CORPORATION You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 2 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka. A SWISS CORPORATION You have 5000 cows. None of them belong to you. You charge the owners for storing them. A CHINESE CORPORATION You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity. You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation. AN INDIAN CORPORATION You have two cows. You worship them. A BRITISH CORPORATION You have two cows. Both are mad. AN IRAQI CORPORATION Everyone thinks you have lots of cows. You tell them that you have none. No-one believes you, so they bomb the **** out of you and invade your country. You still have no cows, but at least now you are part of a Democracy....

Monday, June 04, 2007

Hot Hob Action

Tomorrow a new oven is fitted. For the entire three years I've rented my accommodation (outside of uni) in London I have used that oven. Myself and the six people who have lived with me. I took a picture for memories sakes then realised it was quiet good and so the wee film sorta happened. If justification for bloggage is needed then more then enough of my readers have been subjected/ entranced by the food produced using the oven so I'm sure there is quiet a connection (although thinking on the guest list Connexion may be better word). Anyway, I'll post a solitary picture tomorrow of the new one. Take Care Y'All John

Friday, June 01, 2007

Bank Holiday Bummell

A wonderful day as part of a four day escape to Wales. Hope everyone else had a good time and feels suitably refreshed and ready again. Take Care Y'All John

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Hot Lederhosen Action!

Today I am trying to sort out my dissertation. This has included a fair amount of reference to the Salvation Army. I'll be honest I don't know that much about the salvos, but it has been fascinating to read more about them. One area I had experienced previously was Salvation Army worship, participating in the congregation whilst being lead by a full on brass band and uniformed combo. So, why share this with you? I was listening to the Sunday Service on Radio4 and found I was reminded of them as a particularly Germanic "ompah-band" sounding rendition of Graham Kendrick's mediocre 'Jesus Put This Song into Our Hearts'. I must admit I couldn't keep a straight face whilst listening but also thought be good to try out the salvos again sometime and just see how it goes. [Edited to Add: For those of you who wish to hear "This Little Light of Mine" as a big finish, all singing dancing musical finish then please fast forward to 38 mins. I don't know who did the music but it is the most diverse music style within this weeks act of worship - surprisingly enjoyable really] Anyway, for those of you wish to hear the service click here and fast forward 15mins* then sit back, around the 20min mark the song starts. For those of you wish to sing along click here for the words. For those of you wanting to hear the original version of the song click here for Kendricks (distinctly stereotypical "Jewish musak" sounding) version. *If you have the time it is a reasonably nice service to have on in the background whilst washing up or the like. Interesting prayers/comments and tubthumping music. For those of you not interested please move along. Take care Y'All John For those of you still reading... seriously nothing more to see here!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Church Speaks Sense

Morning My head was turned last week by headline in The Gruaniad declaring (something like) "Church rumoured to be Pregnant". After blinking twice I realised the story wasn't about the latest Catholic myrical, instead it was about singer Charlotte Church. Today she was in the Gruaniad again, this time a quote in relation to a media driven "feud" and I rather liked it... (warning language slightly fruity)
(upon having her boyfriend and her looks insulted she responded with) "Look, love. When you can sing fucking Ave Maria, then you can have a go"
Now if only the Church I was thinking about spoke so clearly and precisely half the mess it seems to live in wouldn't exist... ach well roll on Conference 2007! Take Care Y'All John

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Death Humbles Us All

American Evangelical Rev Jerry Falwell died yesterday, and there has been a large amount of media coverage within the Uk about this. A very interesting discussion was had on "The World Tonight" about his influence and legacy - was he really responsible for the stratification of religious political opinion within the US? Anyway, Jim Wallis (of Sojourners) blogged about this in a way which reminded me about the above Not the Nine O Clock News Sketch.
Jim Wallis: The Passing of Rev. Jerry Falwell I was saddened to learn that Rev. Jerry Falwell passed away this morning at age 73. Rev. Falwell and I have met many times over the years, as the media often paired us as debate partners on issues of faith and politics. I respected his passionate commitment to his beliefs, and our shared commitment to bring moral debate to the public square, although we didn’t agree on many things. At this time, however, what matters most is our prayers for comfort and peace for his family and friends.
[EDIT: Here we have a wee linkcovering some of the more repulsive quotations from Rev Falwell, before you think I am trying to say is viewpoints pronounced were delightful because, they often weren't) It is bizzare how the most fierce enemies can often be just that, but only that in the political sphere. On the discussion last night it was said that Rev Falwell was very open towards homosexuals in a "don't ask, don't tell" manner and this was in stark contrast to his public persona. What this all reminded me was the sudden ability, when someone is gone to remember all the good over all the bad. Whilst they are there, living and breathing it is very easy just to think the worst, yet once they are gone you cannot be further confirmed right or wrong in your personal bias. Suddenly all you have are the memories and they shape your final perception. Maybe though there is a deeper lesson in it for us all, for with Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley suddenly sharing government can we not begin moves towards peace and reconciliation whilst we are alive instead? After all, if we are all dead there is nothing to work for. Instead we should be seizing each and every opportunity to look for the best in ourselves and in others, fine we may annoy people and all that, but that is what makes life so great. The variety and unexpectedness of what people will say or do next. Yet if we allow instead a veritable straw (wo)man to be built up, we can fail to see the great good they can be doing, even if it is shrouded in (what you may perceive as) evil. Ultimately, it reminded me of the great Ghandi saying "An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind" Take Care Y'All John (Hat tip to Dave at the Cartoon Church BlogCartoon Church blog for alerting me to the blog post)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Are You Still Sat Here?

This week is a most exciting week, as it is Christian Aid week. All round the country a whole variety of things and events are occurring to raise money for a very worthy cause. Edinburgh has the most marvellous second hand book sale, which raises thousands and thousands of pounds and for some like myself is bliss. Here we have a video reviewing a previous years sale... This years TV advert is It nicely sums up what Christian Aid is all about in many respects. It works to ensure that every has dignity and respect and help themselves in the long term to be alleviated from the poverty trap in which so many find themselves stuck. Yet this is also backed up by a hard-hitting, serious, amount of decent campaigning back here in the UK getting our Government to alter and change the worldwide and local laws that ensure we force other countries to stay in a poverty trap to ensure we can have cheap goods. Ultimately, it is an organisation that lives out its ideas to all (regardless of the receivers faith) varying its message to ensure maximum impact and greatest equality. We can all help build a world of peace and justice, we just need to all work together to ensure it. If we don't we miss a chance to make a difference to everyone's life. Our short term loss is for the worlds gain and, ultimately, will be for our own gain as well. We cannot continue, either ethically or environmentally, to run the world as it currently is and we all need to start to make the difference. So please, give all you can this Christian Aid week - if you don't have an envelope through your door or know of a local collection point then you can always donate online by clicking here. Take Care Y'All John

Radio Round Up

Hello I am knee deep in ex... ams and essays at the moment so blogging lite is altering to blogging nul. That said, in the spirit of keeping you informed, a few radio programmes that are worth listening to. 1) Mark Thomas Mark Thomas is a political comedian, insofar as he uses comedy to get across serious political points. I have alot of respect for him as he isn't overtly political more issue based. I first came across him when he aided our "die in" on the School Student Strike Against the War and since then have followed his many exploits on both television and radio. This latest escapade is his exploration of the SOCPA SOCPA (or Serious Organised Crime and Police Act)was introduced as a way of banning, or limiting protests outside the houses of parliament. Instead of just being able to turn up willy nilly with your banner you all needed written permission from the local police authority. Therefore Mark Thomas has been doing this and protesting about the widest and most diverse range of things. Anyway, click here then download and enjoy a light hearted, yet very serious, half an hour exploration of free speech and silly placards! (For more information on Mark Thomas click here 2) When is a prostitute not a prostitute? Between Ourselves is a typical radio 4 discussion programme, built upon a questionable action and two people who have shared in it in differing ways. This week examined the case of selling sex. The two differing people were a prostitute and a male escort. Both had very differing outlooks with one feeling they were not selling themselves and the other very much doing it only for the money. In some ways some of the more interesting aspects were provided by the questions asked by the presenter, questions covering issues such as family background and history. This overt moral undercurrent was a fascinating one to explore. Explored it certainly was. Whilst the majority of the programme was more like soliloquies from either individual the final ten minutes covered the two interacting over the issues raised and really challenging each others views and opinions. A truly fascinating exploration of attitudes towards money, self worth, exploitation, liberation and what it actually means to "make love". To listen to the programme click here 3) Students! One of the most interesting aspects of being a student is being part of a very transient three years. Come election time or identification then it is difficult to consider quiet where home is. Whilst the emotional home is often where the parents/ where you have come from the "here and now" home is wherever you are staying for university. But this placement really only occurs for eight months out of twelve. This effect, multiplied by the thousands of students in any one sizeable university town or city can lead to a lot of unrest. Unrest caused by students "making the most" of their time together, unrest caused by a local economy which becomes structured around an eight month high and four month trough and unrest caused by a lack of any form of integration between student populous and local population.(For an interesting reflection on what this does to Church choice and what "home" that can or can't create I can do no greater deed then suggest you read this blog entry The end result of this is what promises to be a very interesting radio programme which travels to Swansea, Wales, and looks to cover all the opinions from Student Union to local student to local neighbour in a lively and exciting discussion. The issues covered within this will not just be for students though. How many have ever gone self catering or even stayed in a hotel? What does that do to the local economies etc? I was out walking down on the Gower much earlier this year and our quick pace ensured arrival earlier than the bus so much time to spare. The temptation at that point was to locate a decent pub and relax with a pint. The only problem was no-where was open. It was a commercial ghost town which only opened any amenities during the "high season". Anyway, a preview of the show is provided in thisEducation Guardian article and the show can be listened to by tuning in (either by radio or by clicking here ) at 10pm tonight and listening to the Anita Anand Show, else use that weblink any time afterwards and listening again.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I've Come To Fix Your Fridge...

Shhh don't tell her ladyship but I have a night of pure, X-Rated viewing ahead. It involves lots of heavy breathing, tension, moments of exaltation and disappointment and a heck of a lot of swingers. That’s right, it's election-day and tonight sees the pure political pornography that is results night! This year is more remote than the last elections as I have postal voted, whereas I campaigned and went to the count last time. It was most exciting. The political grouping I attended with made significant breakthroughs and the tension and relief were all around. As we walked round Meadowbank (where the count occurred) we saw some 'familure' faces fall as they lost their seats and others get very excited as new careers start. I was there from 10pm through to around 6am and didn't see my result come in, it happened whilst I was in the car going home before getting ready for school (where i promptly fell asleep in class!). That said it is most exciting, I was a party vote counter so got to watch the boxes be unloaded and watch for the marks against my party and provide guistimates as to how we were doing. Then I was amongst the group who would gather round and argue the toss if papers were spoilt ballots or not, gaining or loosing a few extras. Yet non of this was in isolation so we all had one ear pinned to the radio to hear how our groups were doing elsewhere in the country. Not only was there a real sense of expectation, there was a real sense of change and excitement about the place. Something special was taking place and we were all making it happen. Yet this time will be different. For the smaller parties a real challenge as it is turning into a vote Labour to keep the Nats (SNP) out or vote SNP to keep Labour out. As though the electorate are being bullied rather than allowed to express their opinion. That said there is more to politics than the Scottish Parliament. There are the council elections, voted for (for the first time) under a Proportional Representation system which means we could (and should) have a much more diverse council. This means the likelihood of ending the 23 years of a Labour controlled Edinburgh (they hoisted the red flag when they first got in). Elsewhere we have Wales electing its assembly and much of England going to the polls and big councils such as Manchester have the challenge of remaining Tory free zones! Whatever your up to today enjoy yourself, vote if you can and lets see what delights tonight brings.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Real Food

Lurpak butter are running a very clever set of adverts nicely linking in with the general media bubble of environmental consciousness. The above advert is a message of love to mushrooms. I had seen it earlier today and was glad to see it on youtube. I certainly salute the person who found out mushrooms were edible to humans, though pity the human who found the ones that weren't. Here we have the blessed potato - give it it's due and don't just incinerate it in a microwave! Take Care Y'All John

Is This What Democracy Looks Like?

Adam Lyal's Witchery Tour Party - Scottish National Party - British National Party - Christian Peoples Alliance - Publican Party - Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers - Scottish Christian Party - Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party - Scottish Enterprise Party - Scottish Green Party - Scottish Labour Party - Scottish Liberal Democrats - Scottish Senior Citizens Party - Scottish Socialist Party - Scottish Voice - Socialist Labour Party - Solidarity - The Had Enough Party - UKIP Scotland - Margo MacDonald (Independent) - Alex Scott (Independent) - Duncan Thorp (Independent) - John Gibb Wilson (Independent)
Parties/Groups/Individuals Listed for Edinburgh South Regional List Yesterday I recieved my postal ballot paper for my home election (the Scottish Parliament). This one envelope contained papers which gave me three votes. 1) One vote is for my council ward 2) One vote is for my Constituency Member of the Scottish Parliament 3) One vote is for my regional member of the Scottish Parliament. This is all rather exciting and I have been surfing the web to decide who to vote for. Having made up my mind I thought about blogging to tell you, then thought that would possibly go against the idea of it being a secret ballot therefore instead leave the following random words and numbers; 1) Liberal Democrat 2) Liberal Democrat 3) Scottish Green Party Whilst I would love to explore with you reasons to vote for particular groups I realise that instead I am required to just ask you to
Get Out And Use Your Vote
The reason behind this simple message is that if you do not the fascists will get in. The British National Party are standing candidates in the Scottish Parliament elections and due to the voting system a low turnout could see them returned to Parliament. I know the Scotland that I love, that I enjoy being in and the scottish people that I know would all agree on one thing - that one of the great strengths of Scotland is its diversity. Therefore to elect a party who use fear and hatred to marginalise large proportions of the population would not only be wrong, it would also be non preportional. Secondary to that is the abomination that is the BNP claiming to be the only true Christian party, yet nowhere in the bible do I find Jesus talking of racial segregation, discrimenation or forcable repatriation. As ever the Methodist Church have produced aquality briefing on this which can be downloaded by clicking here for a general briefing and here for the more specialised briefing . Elsewhere in the blogosphere, there is a brilliant piece here about the worrying presence of the BNP in South Wales.I started with a list of all the groups standing in the regional list, I leave with another list, that of Scotlands Story;
Scotlands Story by The Proclaimers 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 (Lyrics taken from lyrics365.com)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Times they Are A Changing?

"From many sides we hear that the services are now lacking in freshness and reality; that the message is losing its distinctiveness, its passion and conviction. Attendance at the House of God wanes. Much reluctance is shown to accept any office which demands regular and frequent attendance to duty. From year to year the difficulty increases to obtain suitable Class Leaders, Local Preachers, and Sunday School Teachers, and to maintain our characteristic Means of Grace. The painful decrease in the number of Church members and of Sunday School scholars is assuming ominous proportions."
1918, Committee on Spiritual Advance (Wesleyan Methodist Church) Worrying when you read something that, in reality, is exactly what I have been reading in the Team Focus reports. Worrying because it means the church has managed to put off (through amalgamation) its immanent implosion seventy five years ago and since then has seen around 500,000 members disappear without being replaced. So then, are we really in need of another report or possibly something much more fundamental? Take Care Y'All John

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Emancipation

Today I recived a letter confirming my application to vote (by post) in the upcoming Scottish Parliament Elections. It set a rather good tone for the day, all rather exciting and enjoyable. Take Care Y'All JOhn

Reading the Bible

When God Was One of Us…by John Cooper The Bible is an imposing book. Before an examination of the contents, a barrage of stereotypes appear to remind us that it has been both the source of liberation from, and the cause of, suffering around the globe. From ‘Dr’ Ian Paisley to Archbishop Desmond Tutu it’s easy to name people who have used or abused the book to seek their ‘truth’. Yet for someone like me, with no formal theological training (just a want to explore) it is a difficult read. I have often struggled to want to read it, let alone manage to get anything meaningful out of it. It is often seen by many as the source of all truth yet all I enjoyed were the pictures. Recently I came to realise that the difficulty stemmed from its ever-changing nature. Ever-changing in both translation and personal perception. How can you learn from it if it never stops changing? Many of my friends read Bibles such as The Message which I view as awful and yet I can easily pick up the NRSV or sometimes the King James and connect instantly. Did that just make me odd? Were they all right and me wrong? Were we all wrong and there was a true version out there? So many questions before I had read a page! Yet, after many years of this contradiction, I have learned to step back and see what the Bible is. The Bible is theology. ‘Theology’, writes Richard Holloway, ‘is a human activity, something we do, but we also acknowledge that it is done in different ways.' This perception cleared up my problem outlined because by embracing the concept you can doubt and challenge what is written (because it is human-written and we are fallible) you can come closer to the real truth contained within. Once the debate is moved beyond full stops and words. then real discoveries can be made. By discoveries I mean a simple one. The exciting and challenging message contained around the key character, Jesus Christ. Through his life and works, as described by the humans who saw him, we are treated to a perception of how God had lived when he was, and the promise of returning now to live (as the song says) as one of us. Wether he will return or if we just have to delve for the key messages from the historical basis doesn't matter though. Because the ultimate message from it all was that Jesus was a man of action! When approaching the Bible, to find out how it can inspire modern campaigns like MakePovertyHistory or Stop Climate Chaos, we need an open mind. It enables themes to be noticed, contradictions to smoulder and links that are interwoven throughout the centuries of history contained within the book to become clear. I must admit though, I am not the most academic of people, so once I have begun to get an idea, I like to do something with it, play with it or nurture it in my head. To do that I tend to go for a walk and get out of the modern hurly-burly for a short time. The more I walk and explore nature, the more connected I feel to it all. Being more connected to what has come before and what is to come helps me to realise my own mortality and the implications of this. Hmmm, startlingly deep. Well no, what I mean is the idea that we are just a drop in the ocean of human history. There is much that has gone before us and much that will come after our time on this planet. So whilst I may be short-lived here, that doesn't mean I can't make a difference. As humans find new ways to destroy the fragile earth and its inhabitants, it is also up to others to fight to protect it. The phrase ‘As a Christian....’ prefacing a statement is always questionable. That said, the more I read the Bible the more I can't sit still and let injustice and poverty continue, as though by doing nothing I am allowing it to continue. But I suspect I am getting ahead of myself really as others have spread the news in better ways than I. I want to finish by turning to the works of Charles Wesley. This year sees both SCM examining the Bible and the 300th anniversary of the birth of Charles Wesley. This man, with his brother John, re-wrote the approach towards the telling of their discoveries within the Bible. He wanted to tell all about the Bible yet there was an issue of inaccessibility because of a largely uneducated (in the formal reading/writing sense) population.He worked tirelessly to ensure that songs and hymns were written to give out the key messages. Just because someone couldn’t read the book doesn’t mean they would miss out on the good news contained within. I hope this inspires you to consider what and where next for you on your spiritual journey. Bon Voyage! ‘Come, Holy Ghost (for moved by thee The prophets wrote and spoke), Unlock the truth, thyself the key, Unseal the sacred book’ H&P 469 ‘Come, Holy Ghost, Our Hearts Inspire' (Charles Wesley, 1707–88) This article first appeared as a reflection, published on the SCM website, as part of the year long exploration of the "Reading the Bible" theme by SCM. SCM is a movement of young Christian students in the UK. It stnads to question and explore Christianity from a non denominational perspectivem it doesn't leave this exploration in the meeting room and often turns its thoughts in social action! For more information, including membership and further reflections (by other authors) upon the theme click here

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Gospel According to Who?

There are few more pleasurable things in life than settling down to watch an episode of Doctor Who. There is something about this loan traveller, who comes into a world and shows it's people the error of their ways then departs, that appeals to me. It becomes more pleasurable as it dabbles in my areas of interest, religion and environment. This week’s storyline revolved around New New Earth, where a section of the population are forever stuck in traffic jams. They travel miles in years (not minutes or hours) and all want to get into "the fast lane", yet there is something spooky about the fast lane that people delude themselves about. The Doctor and Martha (New Assistant) end up stuck in the traffic jam and through one ending up in the fast lane and the other meeting the Face of Bo we suddenly come across a very wide and varied amount of Christian imagery. Whilst previous episodes (such as Fathers Day) have helped create a mock Christian perspective on the show, this episodes' soundtrack included two hymns sung by Welsh Choirs! It presented me with some clear thoughts such as is the face of Bo really John the Baptist style character (Although part of the current saving of humanity, claims is not the true saviour)? Are we going to see the battle over Gallifrey as the mother of all struggles between good and evil? Was it meant that all the traffic looked like coffins so when everyone was singing it was an analogy of death and life, just a week after Easter Sunday? In reality these questions wouldn’t matter, yet in some respects this was very much a filler episode and we are in the middle of the mother of all story arcs, covering the third series, which points towards explaining a lot more about who the Doctor is and where he comes from. Or maybe this is all just an exercise in mental flexibility that fits a generic storyline to my own personal biases and background. Fascinating mulling to have, bit of a shame I have a whole load of academic work to do else I may have written more. Take Care Y'All John

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

3 Simple Facts

* 16% of the content in the song book "Common Ground" is directly attributed to John Bell *33% of the content in the 1933 Methodist Hymn Book is directly attributed to the brothers Wesley (30% Charles and 3% John) * 21% of the content in the 1983 Hymns & Psalms is directly attributed to the brothers Wesley ( 19% Charles and 2% John) Are you not glad you know that... Take Care Y'All John

Monday, April 09, 2007

Show of Hands (Applauding)

My Easter weekend culminated in the most marvelous gig, Show of Hands at the Albert Hall. This was a gig celebrating over 15 years of this dynamic duo. The hall was sold out and, sitting in the very top row of seating, there was a notable static sense of excitement as the lights went down and first Steve Knightly walked amongst the audience singing, then Phil Beer came playing the fiddle. What followed was over two hours of unadulterated session time fun. Accompanied throughout by Miranda Sykes (on Bass) they were joined by artists as diverse as Martyn Joseph and all male vocal choir Fishermens Friend. This constant shuffling and surprise based performance managed to mix both "big stage" and intimate gig type stuff where the numbers in the hall didn't matter as we were all invited to participate and revel in the quality music. Yet how to sum up such a diverse and mind blowing night, should it be the honest potency of songs came alive on stage (such as Country Life - detailing the slow death and decline of the UK farming industry) or the song that name checks John Wesley? No, in keeping with the Easter spirit there is only one - which still resonates around two days after the gig. (Words transcribed by me, therefore all mistakes are mine) (For a free audio track of this song go to the Faith,Folk,Anarchy Website and click on Album) Faith in You I’ve no confidence, in the afterlife, but I got faith in you. And the lightening may strike twice, but I got faith in you. And the man who gets my cards and go, I got faith in you. Who plants the vines, makes them grow, oh I got faith in you Those who work right through the night, to care when there’s no-one in sight, they do their best to make things right, So I got faith in you. (Instrumental) And Mr Hughes and Mr Jones, I got faith in you Your work is printed on my bones So I got faith in you Stronger than some background noise Is the power in the human voice To unlock doors and give us choice Oh I got faith in you And I know we’re surrounded with a million worlds to share Do you really think that someone up there cares? (Instrumental) And when I lay my head to rest I got faith in you That every day you did your best So I got faith in you You made me sure about your place On this earth and in this place I can’t thank you face to face But I got faith in you No I got faith in you Oh I got faith in you Take Care Y'All John

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

New Look

Just a wee question to ask what you think of the new look. I would prefer to tighten up one or two items but overall think this is a much better layout then what I've had prior. Comments as ever apreciated Take Care Y'All John

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I'm Reporting You

Today Tearfund released a report (here) which was a statistical analysis of why people go to church and why people don't. This was done through questioning a sample of 7,000 adults and scaling up the results. It claims there are three types of people. The first being the "unchurched", second "de-churched" and finally the churched (those who regularly attend). To go into the labels slightly more, the "closed de-churched", these are those who have attended but then drifted away from/chosen to leave and not going to return. They were joined by "Open de-churched" who were those who had left etc but may choose to return. Whereas the "closed non-churched", these are those who have never attended or been involved with their church during their life thusfar and have no interest in starting. The "open de-churched" are those with no contact thusfar, but wouldn't rule out/be persuaded. The main argument of the report is a mixed one, building upon other reports done it trys to present an evangelical perspective (that is the only theological label it examines, past denomination) within the churched/unchurched/dechurched sector on what reasons people attend church, may attend church. Unfortunately it suffers from this. The outcomes, whilst interesting, don't take into full account the wide breadth of religious (let along christian) experience within the uk. It doesn't tackle if any of those who don't attend are of other faiths, it doesn't tackle buzz-word worship (eg Fresh Expressions etc) nor the manor or style of events that people attend, beyond a wee note (reproduced beneath) that says friends asking are of more importance then programmes such as Alpha.
The more personal the influence, the more influential it is likely to be. In terms of positive contributory factors, accompanying a family member is more influential than accompanying a friend. A personal invite from someone is more powerful than an invite from the church as an organisation, or the offer of an Alpha course or similar (Page 25)
That said, one underlying message within the report, that must be heeded, is that of the ticking timebomb of membership, in relation to age, and the challenge that (within itself) will bring
Older people are more likely to belong to the Christian Faith. Three quarters of 65-74 year olds and 82% of over 75 year olds, compared with an average 53%. At the other end of the age spectrum only a third of 16-34 year olds are Christian, and among under 45s the non-religious outnumber Christians. So the proportion of Christians increases with increasing age. This may be due to a cohort effect - that is older generations have greater affiliation to Christianity and younger people will not age into religion, to any greater extent.
So, whilst the outcomes are of some interest, particularly amongst those who claim to attend and their regularity (As well as the usual social-economic breakdown) it cannot be as important as a census result nor will it add much to the wealth of literature already out there. The one positive about it is it begins to present a figure of those not only unchurched , but unwilling to listen (32% - scaled up to 15.6million people). A certain wake-up, nay clarion call to all religions to look at what messages are put across. That said, these criticism can be levelled against some of the Methodist Churches recent reports about connecting with people (eg the 20-30s report). It is very easy for us (institutionalised Christians) to think that people, if attracted to religion will only look at Christianity. This is not true, many pray to an unspecified God (though it will sometimes be shown to have Christian attributes due to social factors)because they want to pray. Yet church reports never show this, so for all the acres of paperwork produced they are, in some respects, a waste of space whilst on others terms providing fascinating incite into the stratification between Christians within the UK and those not of a Christian bent. Take Care Y'All John [Edited to note: When blogger spell checking it said "unchurched" wasn't recognised and recommended "unhitched - how prophetic!]

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sorry for the Silence

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Far too much academic work to be done... (Note: Check Back Monday for a round up of Methodist Council papers - they appeared yesterday and today - i've already read them but need to finish uni work first!)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Underground, Overground, Wombling Free

The role of Non Governmental Organisations (such as Christian Aid, Help the Aged e.t.c) has altered greatly within the last thirty years. What was once a lobbying group for influence is seeing the tables turned and many groups now providing a large ammount of welfare services. This alteration to a service based approach is a long time in fruition but has not had the focus it currently does until Thatcher and her privatisation of the Welfare State, whilst she focused on areas such as Coal Mining (eg Nationalised Industries) we have seen Blair look on the "soft" areas of healthcare (for example). This alteration has also seen the position of NGOs when lobying alter and many are now accused of being part of the system they are trying to change. The problem with looking at it from this approach (eg you can't be part of the system you want to change) was summated by a source close to Oxfam who replied "Do you piss in the tent, or do you crap in the woods?" A lesson for us all really, no matter what we do, where we are or what we think as to the problems of always being outside or , indeed, being too close within. Take Care Y'All John

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Birmingham Fun + Lent Resources

As we enter the period of Lent people wonder what it is all about, therefore click here for the Church of Scotland guide - which is simple, easy and accessable. Then, if you need something to do here are some suggestions; The Church of England are encouraging daily actions to change and improve the world, rather than giving something up and their checklist is featured here. Christian Aid suggested counting our blessings and to do this by donating a small amount each day (The ammount is determined through a variety of differing tasks and calculations,the document can be found here) Some of the Connexional Team are giving up life's luxuries and living on the bare essentials and are blogging about it all... read more by clicking NoNewShoes The BBC is providing a weekly study group based on the "Set All Free" campaign reminding the UK of the Slave trade, the resources are found here and it interlinks into the Daily Service which can be heard here Finaly, as part of the Love Life Live campaign the Diocese of Birmingham is opening a Comedy Store which should be good which makes good comedy in the spirit of Christian love and peace, abit like affirming a union equal opps statement through comedy. The news story is here and more information can be found here. Happy Searching! Take Care Y'All John

Prayer Walk

The recent shootings in London have refocussed many peoples attention away from threats posed by "outsiders" to issues of urban poverty within our own country. One reaction has been from the local church groupings who have decided to hold a prayer walk - beneath are the details... "I am sure that we have all experienced varying degrees of shock and/or despair as we heard about the recent spate of shootings in London and Manchester. There has been an encouraging, spontaneous response by a Group of Church Leaders, who at very short notice planned a Prayer Walk through two of the communities in South London that have been affected. The walk will take place this Thursday, 22 February beginning at the Library on Peckham High Street, where people are invited to gather from 5 pm. After a brief introduction and prayers they will set off for Brixton via Camberwell Green, aiming to arrive at Windrush Square in Brixton by about 6.30. En route there will be a pause for a minute's silence near the school that Damilola Taylor attended. Walkers are asked to bring torches to make the walk a witness of light. Can I encourage you to use whatever means you can to let people know that the walk is taking place and to urge them to be part of it if at all possible. Sorry that this information comes to you so late, but the details were agreed only last night at a meeting at the City Hall" Take Care Y'All John

Blast from the Past

Lent is a time for reflection and exploration and the Scottish First Minister (Jack McConnell) got a hearty dose of this at a question and answer session this week (for full news story click here. It all referred back to 2003, which saw me and around 20 other students as newly politicised ringleaders of the Edinburgh School Student protest against the (then) possible War in Iraq. I was part of a group that managed to get around 2,000 school students out on the streets in a day of action that was exhilarating, exciting, peaceful and engaging. I know that day changed many peoples lives. That said, it created a major political stink as politicians were caught trying to condemn us (because we were encouraging a strike from school... oops!) whilst also say that we have a right to our opinion and to express it. What came across in the end was a mealy mouthed statement which it appears has come back to haunt Jack McConnell (the First Minister of Scotland)an election past the nearest Scottish Parliament elections to the outbreak of war. This was an argument fought out in the press and in Parliament. It was an amazing affirmation of the power of the action that we did. Why blog about this? Because I think that we need to realise that impressions once made last and also things will come back to haunt us all at the most surprising of times, often when we think we have suppressed negatives and moved on from that moment. (A documentary of the protest was made by myself and others (facilitated by Pilton Video) and is at the top of this post (in an edited format), it won many high profile awards in the UK and around the world. For the full listing etc click ) Take Care Y'All John (Beneath is the typical news reaction from the Scotsman Newspaper... "Nation's youth play truant in the name of peace SEONAG MACKINNON EDUCATION EDITOR THOUSANDS of schoolchildren and students across Scotland brought traffic to a standstill yesterday as they demonstrated against the war in Iraq. The Tay Road Bridge, in Dundee where the Scottish Labour Party is about to hold its annual conference, was blocked by a sit-down protest. Click to learn more... Teenagers, along with dozens of university students and adult protesters, waved banners and shouted peace slogans as they tried to ascend the ramp onto the busy river crossing in the early afternoon. In separate incidents, school pupils hurled stones at buses and eggs were thrown at police lines outside Dundee’s city chambers. In Edinburgh, Lothian and Borders Police yesterday described adults as "irresponsible" for encouraging children to skip school for a wildcat, disorganised demonstration through heavy city traffic. Glasgow University students and lecturers held up traffic when they too staged a sit-down demonstration for half an hour in the middle of a main citycentre thoroughfare. And more than 80 school children at Loudoun Academy, in Galston, Ayrshire, boycotted classes to add their voice to the anti-war movement. Two arrests were made during the two-hour demonstration which blocked the centre of Edinburgh for a while. There were about 500 protesters, most of them secondary-school pupils, some as young as 12. It is believed several children were detained by police until parents could be contacted to take them home. A Lothian and Borders Police spokeswoman said: "We believe adults who encouraged school children to truant from school for this demonstration have acted irresponsibly. "Officers had no idea of the demonstration’s planned route so they could arrange for protesters to walk safely through streets where there was heavy traffic." However, organisers said it was vital that children be allowed to voice their opposition to the war. Keith Prince, a Stop the War activist from Edinburgh, said: "Truancy is being absent from school without good reason. But the children here today have good reason. What better reason could there be than to voice opposition to a bloody and illegitimate war?" Gavin Forbes, 15, from Balerno High, had taken time off to attend the demo, to join the SNP MSP Lloyd Quinan and the Scottish Socialist Party leader, Tommy Sheridan. The pupil addressed the 500-strong crowd saying: "The teachers aren’t happy that we’re here today. My social and personal development teacher tried to persuade me to protest by writing letters. But I told her I’ve already done all that." Police had to second guess the demonstration’s route as it made its way around Edinburgh city centre. Headteachers voiced their fears that pupils protesting against the war were being drawn into contact with far-Left organisations and encouraged to truant. School staff have warned pupils that the walk-outs will be officially classed as unauthorised absence on their report cards, even if they have a note from home indicating parental consent. Roy Jobson, Edinburgh’s director of education, said: "While we understand the young people’s reaction to war, we are becoming increasingly concerned not just at the disruption this is causing to their education, but by the fact that these demonstrations are not well organised and young people could be putting themselves and others at risk." Jack Hamilton, the head of Boroughmuir High, in Edinburgh, said that it was entirely legitimate for young people concerned about the war to demonstrate but not during the school day. "Parents act in good faith and they may have similar views to their children, but young people are required to come to school," he said. Commenting on the prominent presence at the city-centre demonstration of adults from far-Left groupings, Mr Hamilton said: "I have grave reservations about youngsters going on something when we do not know who the organisers are.""

Monday, February 05, 2007

Show of Taste

"Now it's been twenty-five years or more I've roamed this land from shore to shore From Tyne to Tamar, Severn to Thames From moor to vale, from peak to fen Played in cafes and pubs and bars I've stood in the street with my old guitar But I'd be richer than all the rest If I had a pound for each request For 'Duelling Banjos' 'American Pie' Its enough to make you cry 'Rule Britannia' or 'Swing Low' Are they the only songs the English know? Seed, bud, flower, fruit They're never gonna grow without their roots Branch, stem, shoots - they need roots After the speeches when the cake's been cut The disco is over and the bar is shut At christening, birthday, wedding or wake What can we sing until the morning breaks? When the Indian, Asians, Afro, Celts It's in their blood, below the belt They're playing and dancing all night long So what have they got right that we've got wrong? Seed, bud, flower, fruit Never gonna grow without their roots Branch, stem, shoots - we need roots Haul away boys let them go Out in the wind and the rain and snow We've lost more than well ever know Round the rocky shores of England And a minister said his vision of hell Is three folk singers in a pub near Wells Well I've got a vision of urban sprawl It's pubs where no one ever sings at all And everyone stares at a great big screen Over-paid soccer stars, prancing teens Australian soap, American rap Estuary English, baseball caps And we learn to be ashamed before we walk Of the way we look and the way we talk Without our stories or our songs How will we know where weve come from? I've lost St George in the Union Jack It's my flag too and I want it back Seed, bud, flower, fruit Never gonna grow without their roots Branch, stem, shoots - we need roots Haul away boys let them go Out in the wind and the rain and snow We've lost more than we'll ever know Round the rocky shores of England"
Today sees the release of a digital download that will rock your world! Sublime folk duo "Show of Hands" have issued their unique single "Roots" to digital download. With recent chart success for Billie Piper due to chart downloads I think it's time for real music to bite back! The theme of the song is apt for a chart revival. It examines the role of "english" music and explains how and appreciation of the folk tradition has been rather lost. Whilst other nations (such as the mighty..ok now I'm editorialising...Scotland) can readily associate with their style of folk music, a rich tableau of audio fun, it is claimed the English just don't have it. This all stems from a comment from (then) Parliamentary Undersecretary for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport Kim Howells, who described his idea of hell as listening to three Somerset folk singers. Lets just say this didn't go down so well. But every raincloud has a silver lining and we now see a talented duo from Devon take on that idea from hell, prove why it is worth saving and gain themselves two nominations for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards (This Wednesday - 9pm - Ensure you Listen!)as well. So come gather round all peoples, reclaim the charts from ex-boy bands that should cease to be, from washed up wannabe rock groups that are about as convincing as my spelling, grapple the charts away from multi-layered/overly doctored/supremely manipulated pap! Claim the charts for real music, and it doesn't matter if you ain't English cause the song is about so much more than sheer geographical presence, it is about why folk music matters, has a place to play in modern day culture and how there are many people around the country who don't see folk music as their idea of hell! To download it click here, else go to any popular download site (ala iTunes or Napster and search for it there) Take Care Y'All John

Friday, February 02, 2007

Strangely Warmed

In this world I walk alone with no place To Call My Home But there’s one who holds my hand The rugged road, Through barren land. The way is dark, The road is steep. But he’s become My eyes to see. The strength to climb, My griefs to bear The saviour lives Inside me there. In your love I find release. A haven from, my unbelief. Take my life and let me be, a living prayer, my god to thee. In these trials of life I’ve found Another voice inside my mind. He comforts me, and bids me live inside the love the Father gives. In your love I find release, a have from my unbelief. Take my life and let me be, a living prayer, my god to thee. Take my life and let me be, a living prayer, my god to thee.
John Wesley wrote, famously, of being strangely warmed after a meeting in Aldersgate. This, for him, was the point (literal) of conversion which changed his life forever. This moment of realisation of the message contained within the bible is indeed a challenging one. But one of the lasting impacts of this has been the very touchy feeley nature of Methodism. I'll come clean. I am a rather withdrawn yet emotional person who enjoys exploring the touchy feely side of things. Touchy feely of how others feel but also in terms of a very visual hymnal that evokes many powerful and stirring thoughts and images that stay with me (not all pleasant or enjoyable!). One of the most profound moments of this side (of Methodism) is the annual Covenant Prayer. A week or so ago the Alison Krauss (amazing bluegrass/folk singer) song "A Living Prayer" was first played to me and it has stayed with me ever since. There is something so incredibly touching and personal about it. It is an incredibly lonely song, it brings to mind images of isolation and sadness yet within all that is contained a message of joy and excitement. This concept of this god being with us throughout our brigether and darker times and , that it is through all these our lives our transformed and we should become a living prayer (outpouring of Gods love). A challenge to us all in a most challenging time. Faced with local, national and international disasters that appear shaped by human hand it is all to easy to throw back your head and if not wail in dispire just quietly give up hope for the future. Yet by allowing ourselves to step back and become immersed in this god stuff, this Jesus dude, who walked and talked about peace, justice and love for all we can all begin to take a new approach for the world. This approach starts outside of ourselves as it comes with a caveat of looking out for others as you would treat yourself and once you start doing that then your entire interaction with the world is transformed, for the better. Yet it also does have shades of dark and gloom. Why do we pray? If we doubt fully what prayer does and is then how can we become a living prayer? At first I would be tempted to answer with a waggle of the eyebrows (in a homage to Archbishop Williams) and just say "the eternal mystery of faith" but it is something deeper than that. I find it a feeling that I can't name or put my hand on but that is just there. So, some pause for thought this w/end. Take Care Y'All John

Stating the Obvious

In other news... The Pope is Catholic I just hope that this signals the end to the "debate" about wether humans are having and abnormal affect upon the environment. What we all need to realise is that we are. Every hour we pump out carbon or exploit natural resources we are furthering the humans impact upon the environment. Instead of peacemeal efforts like Carbon Offsetting we need to further. We should examine what we do and why. Do we really need that plane journey? Do we really need such powerful lightbulbs? Do we really need to leave the TV on standby? Do we really need to make that car journey? Therefore once we start asking such fundemental questions we can truly begin to lessen our impact. Either that or return to your student days and put everything on a meter - that soon puts everything into perspective as you are on (in effect) pay as you go. More expensive, yes, more sustainable... well yes as you do use less of the resources! Take Care Y'All John

Team Focus

(Note: The reporting covers issues raised by myself and others only as a way of recording what went on, all decisions are supported by me (cause democratic mechanisms have said so! Team Focus is the document which sets out the new structure for the central Methodist Church support (Connexional Team). It is a document that outlines how 60posts will be lost taking a staff of 140 down to 80 and this interlinks with an overall saving of 30% required on the connexional level budget. This is important because it presents the shape of where the church nationally feels its presence and calling to be, what it thinks needs to be done on a national level. Some readers may have come across the article in the Methodist Recorder which outlined cuts in MAYC and this is true. The team would, if current plans are passed, be decimated in its current form. This presents a challenge as to what the new shape for youth work needs to be. Has the reshaping proposed gone too far or not far enough? Difficult questions which wont be tackled now, because that area of work is to report back in March so you'll get an explanation then! The major changes are the change to an advocacy based church. Whilst the current setup enables the serving of many within the church, the Team Focus paper argues that it doesn't engage with those outside the church enough and so through a focus on advocacy of the Christian Message views that as the new calling of the central team. This concept is an exciting one, yet I am a campaigner. I get excited by statements which force us to connect with the world. This is undoubtedly exciting - what church exists purely to serve it'self? Well it is odd though within the paper to look at the proposed structure which sees alot of staff dedicated to supporting the circuits and districts in their work, but not doing work on a connexional level. Two areas that were of concern to the council were the changes to the World Church and how the whole concept fits into Our Calling (the statement outlining what the Methodist Church exists to do)! The World Church, in its current setup ( area desks (geographical areas) that concern themselves with that area and do many jobs to do with it) is to be done away with. Instead there are to be two International Mission workers and then a diplomacy expert as well. This is to enable a more participatory office that echos the realisation that we are not able to send missionaries out to convert savages elsewhere, instead we are part of a global church. This change has seen a massive downsizing of the department and will present many challenges and for some, much heartbreak. This is troubling but also exciting! The excitement comes from the concept of forcing the entire Methodist People UK (230,000 odd) to grapple with the change in opinion outlined above. It enables us to really be a good and honest partner in World Methodist relations and impart our experience whilst appearing much more open to comments, suggestions and help from elsewhere. The entire World Church proposals are outlined here;
World Church Office [32] This area of work was examined by Project 6 and the Project Management Group developed the paper “Partnerships: Purpose and Practice” which explores what it means for the Church to be in partnership with other Churches around the world. From this paper flow the recommendations of the PMG that were then considered by a Filter Panel, and the JSG has used all of this material in developing this part of the proposal. [33] Further work is still to be done in reviewing issues such as mission partners, scholarships and Experience Exchange. [34] Some of the other functions currently undertaken within the World Church office can be achieved by utilising skills that will be held elsewhere in the reconfigured Team. For example, there will be very clear links around the Christian Communication and Advocacy Cluster through the International Mission Relationships Co-ordinator. Issues to do with recruitment and vocational exploration of mission partners, or formational experience of presbyters and deacons, will be part of the responsibility ofthe Learning and Ministries Cluster. [35] There will also be significant changes in the way in which the maintaining of relationships with partners is shared throughout the Connexion, and in the nature of regular contact and visits to and from partner churches. This will be within the area of responsibility of the smaller International Mission Relationships unit. These proposals represent a major change in the nature of our relationship with partner churches to a style that we believe is more appropriate for 21st century. The JSG anticipate that the Connexional Team will be able to achieve this work with fewer, dedicated paid staff
This interlinked with a very interesting discussion on a massive alteration in Racial Justice work, notably a grappling with the question of how integrated the Churches oft repeated pronouncements against Rascism show a real engagement with the issue.
Racial Justice [21] The JSG agree with the Filter Panel that there is a British and worldwide problem about racism within and beyond the Church and this needs to be addressed through Christian education. The Connexion has a responsibility for this and so has the Connexional Team. [22] However, we are persuaded that there needs to be a change of direction in what we try to achieve through the reconfigured Team. Recent years has seen the roll out of a training facility which is still relevant but the efforts of the staff within the Team need to be refocused. [23] There are some parallels with other issues currently being explored through the time limited project about Equality and Diversity. Awareness of racial justice and all sorts of disabilities needs to become part of our usual way of working within the Team and in the wider Church. We therefore conclude that this area of work should in the first place be developed into a wider Project, time limited, that would help us discern the actions we need to take in order to embrace these crucial issues in our very culture. [24] This might mean that we will need to employ a different range of skills within the Team in the longer term to support this responsibility.
In the end, the general outline of proposals was accepted with a variety of caviats. We have just been emailed round a note of them. They are to "aid our reporting back" therefore I don't think I am breaking any confidentiality if I reproduce them beneath (I await a knock on the door from the Methodist Police!)
The Council adopted the following resolution : “The Council endorses the general direction of the proposals in this paper [MC/07/04] and encourages the Joint Secretaries’ Group to develop them in line with the discussions at the Council.” In those discussions the Council requested that further work to be done on specific matters in the light of particular points made. These were: • how the proposed structure could be seen to support the Church’s emphasis on and work in Mission and Evangelism • how the proposals are to be communicated to the Church at large • the need to demonstrate that the Team has sufficient capacity and resources to deliver the work allocated to it • the number and location of office bases for the reconfigured Team (and concern for staff and the possible loss of expertise if it is proposed that one office should close) • how the proposals enable the whole church to deliver on Our Calling and Priorities for the Methodist Church • how work on equalities and diversity will be delivered in the reconfigured Team • how the outcomes from Project 3 (on re-visioning work with children and young people) will be incorporated into the proposals In discussion of the proposals to develop work to support International Mission Relationships, the following questions were identified as needing to be addressed: • how will it be ensured that appropriate expertise and breadth of knowledge (currently represented by the Area Secretaries in the World Church Office) will not be lost • whether Mission Partner schemes will continue, and, if so, will be adequately supported • how it will be possible to identify the links between the people who raise money and the people where it is being sent • how we express our theological understanding of what it means to be part of a world church in the twenty-first century • how we give and receive support in our relationships with Methodist churches around the world – linking the finance rich with the faith rich • how the International Mission Relationships work will impinge on other areas of work, eg material for children • how the work currently done by the World Church Office will be co-ordinated if parts of it are dealt with by different clusters in the reconfigured Team • whether the name ‘World Church’ needs to be changed, and how it will be carefully explained if it is
Finally, throughout all of this the issue of leadership was continuously appearing. What form of leadership do the people called Methodist wish. The current setup of Coordinating Secretaries and General Secretary is viewed to have failed and new ideas are being floated. As part of this the Council forced a discussion group to be established to bring proposals to the Council in March. I advocated, and successfully got, a young persons place reserved on this committee and so look forward to seeing who The Methodist Youth Executive suggest sits on it. Hopefully this is the beginning of the Methodist church taking Youth Participation very seriously, and it also looks at how youth participation flows to all levels and not just centrally (where it has achieved rather alot since Charter 95). Take Care Y'All John [edited: The piece in the final release is, I belive, an incorrect reflection of what the Council said about Project 3 (Childrens & Youth Work) therefore please ignore that one for now!]

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bishops, Partnerships, Pensions

(Note: i)This post is the first of two reports from the Methodist Council meeting (30-31st Jan) of January 2007. The reporting covers issues raised by myself and others only as a way of recording what went on, all decisions are supported by me (cause democratic mechanisms have said so!. ii) Rather than do chronological posts, as per before, I instead wish to have post dedicated to Team Focus and another to the other stuff we looked at iii) If you click on the name of the item the relevant paper, as presented to Council, will be automatically downloaded I start with The Use of Methodist Buildings by People of Other Faiths . This item was commissioned by the Council in Oct 2005 and is to explore the ways in which people of other faiths currently use Methodist Buildings and whhttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifat legal provision is for such a situation. The paper came back and was a middle ground approach saying (importantly) that we, as a church must live with this as an issue on which we accept being a theologically diverse church. That said, the current legal provisions of what a Methodist Church can have happen on its premises (as defined in the Deed of Union). I was frustrated by this paper not going far enough (and raised this concern), yet, in reality I have to accept that many people will not want other faiths worshipping in public (eg public act of worship) rather than private (eg a personal prayer) on Methodist Premises. Yet I would suggest you read the report as a way of seeing a concept of "radical hospitality" and how being open to other faiths using our buildings is as much part of our mission as just being a good neighbour! OutcomeThis paper will go to Methodist Conference 2007 for debate and guidance on where to go now, but there is a wish to consult for a year on how the whole Methodist people view this issue. Lets hope the Methodist people are as excited as I am cause this is something worth talking about! *Note this nicely fits into the upcoming month of prayer for Interfaith Relations which was proposed by Methodist Youth Conference 2005* Report Two Report of "What Sort of Bishops" responses Youth Conference 2005 saw da yoof memorably kick da Bishops in da Ballot by rejecting all the forms of bishop proposed within the "What Sort of Bishops" report. This was one part of a connexional wide consultation which sought answers to what form of Bishops the Methodist People would wish to see within their setup. The resounding response was "we want no bishops" though the authors of the report felt that not all group and participants had grappled fully with the questions asked instead using it as a time to vent against the concept of Bishops. What followed was an interesting discussion which covered how people on the ground saw the paper, could they engage with it at all and also how to "face" the Church of England now on the issue of women bishops (eg we want women bishops but we don't want bishops in our own structure). Outcome : A report will go to Methodist Conference 2007, but need to wait until after the March Council to give fuller details than that. This is partly because if the report authors felt that the questions asked wern't answered then if they re-consult it may appear like a move for Bishops when it really wouldn't be! There were many other items discussed and I'll pop up a sentance or two about each. These were the most interesting, non Connexional Team restructing, ones that deserved special mention. Take Care Y'All John

Thine Ears Have Heard the Glory

Earlier this week saw an exciting point of the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow. It is an all round marvelous event (ending this coming Sunday) celebrating the rich folk heritage within Scotland and exploring where the uk folk scene (although it can't really be lumped together in one homogeneous blob) is going next. One of the most important events of the week is, besides Kate Rusby in multiple concerts, the Young Traditional Musician of the Year award. Being stuck in London (unlike some lucky wibbloggers) I was relegated to listening on the radio but suggest you all tune in for an hour or so of excitement, tension and overall sound music! If folky music isn't quiet your thing, well another tune that has caught my ear has these funky lyrics.
i found something dying; it was my light it had resigned itself to night so i threw it out a fishing line and said catch your will and then catch mine
Emerging band "The Guillimots" (onto the national scene anyway) have a quality track out at the moment entitled Annie Lets Not Wait. What I enjoy about it are the lyrics which are about the internal searching, questioning, doubting.. rather than the Annie Lets Not Wait chorus. Anyway, click here for their MySpace page and take a listen yourself. Take Care Y'ALl John