Monday, May 16, 2011

reviews Life and Death of Methodism on BBC Radio 4

""I am still a Methodist, You can never get it's special glow out of your blood" Ellen Wilkinson

BBC Radio 4 and Methodism are core to my very being. Without realising it, they have shaped, nurtured, challenged and (to be honest) encouraged me to discover all I can about the world, while still not being content with the lot we are given. Therefore it was with some excitement that I picked up a tweet from Methodist Media highlighting a program broadcast on BBC Radio 4 challengingly titled “The Life and Death of Methodism”. Therefore it was with a nervous excitement that I tuned my dial to radio 4 and listened in, either I was going to plunge into a half hour utopia or (instead) realise that the media is great until you know about the subject they discuss....

The program, while 30 minutes long, managed to do fine justice to Methodism's long history and distinct charisms. Mixing personal testimony, diary extracts, fascinating facts and editorial narrative, this is a good 'primer' for anyone wondering why Methodism managed to capture the heart of the UK, then the world. By starting with discussions of the Holy Spirit and 'strangely warming' it was clear that this was taking Methodism seriously.

What was fascinating throughout all of this was the bizarre mix of personal and corporate. Individuals live were transformed and yet this was only possible because of corporate decisions towards training, engagement and access. Words such as 'participation' were thrown about and women spoke movingly about being allowed to have a voice in an otherwise patriarchal world. However the end conclusion of the program was simple - modern day methodism has slipped and just doesn't capture the spirit in a way accessible to the public.

Reflecting on the program it is clear the programs end summary 'methodism is dead, but it hasn't stopped trying' is both right and wrong. It was sad to hear Rev David Gamble, ex president of Conference, discuss how he saw Methodism as 'part of another church' in a hundred years time. This concept of giving up is a clear opposite to the very fire and enthusiasm that marked true methodist . To non methodists I urge you to listen and understand why Methodism had something important to say. To Methodists I urge you to listen and understand why our heritage is important, why our model and understanding of faith still has something to offer and I urge you all to listen and consider this - what principles do I hold dear, how are they shaped and what can I do to pass them on?


  1. Anonymous3:11 am

    It's always the same with you. Disappointed by the fact no one wants you in a position on power because it will treble your ego and you will do a terrible job you take it out by demeaning what you didn't get.


  2. Hello 'Anonymous'

    Thanks for your comment. I'm rather bemused by it - what part of the review covers any personal ambition I may have to serve an organistaion?

  3. Anonymous11:46 am

    A stark change from completely pro methodism when you are I. The running for something and then suddenly a lot more negative when you don't get power.

    Of course you disguise them as neutral but the content still refers to issues you have with the Methodist church. Your twitter has rather a lot of negativity on this subject too.

    Based on that - I wouldn't give you any power. No one would vote for you. They never do.

  4. Anonymous11:54 am

    A stark change from completely pro methodism when you are In the running... iPhone autocorrect wonderfulness.

  5. Anonymous - would be great if you could print your name... anyway onto the point you make

    I don't set out to present an overly negative image of the Methodist Church. I think it does many wonderful things and I've been very lucky to have been employed to do various things. As a result, some of my time has been restricted because (due to social media policy)it is not wise to blog about your employers therefore my usual appraoch doesn't fully work.

    However, as I am not employed by the church - merely a member - then I feel I have more freedom to think outloud. This doesn't mean being critical all the time - far from it - recently I've blogged in support of the new Hymn Book because I see it bringin value to the church.

    I appreciate I do have some bugbears and do often blog about them - but they are fairly constant and I talk about them as well as blog about them.

    I hear what you are saying and will be more postive about the Methodist Church but (overall) some of that simply comes down to time. I would certainly say that this was a positive post about the church.

  6. Anonomouse12:45 pm

    So was there a correlation between content and rejection? Honestly?

  7. Anonymous, I am somewhat bemused by your comments. I don't recognize this post, this blog or John in them.

  8. Anonymous, can you point out where John has done the things you accuse him of? I have read John's blogs and tweets for over three years and spent 24 hrs with him and a group of other bloggers as part of a retreat. I cannot honestly say I recognise the person you are describing. As he and I come from different theological wings of the church, we certainly don't always agree with one another, but I still see someone who loves the Methodist Church and wants it to be all it's called to be. Perhaps you know him better than I, but he certainly seems surprised by your comments as well. It would help if you would clarify what you're saying.

  9. Anonymous,

    I think Christians of all sorts of traditions have things about their tradition that they rejoice in and things that they find more difficult or maybe even irritating or downright wrong. I don't always agree with John (and if you've followed the twitter streams recently you might have noticed!) but it seems to me that he's committed to Methodism (and Christianity!) even though there might be criticisms he would have. I am the same - a lifelong Methodist who probably has Wesley down the middle like a piece of rock but there are some things about our tradition that I find extremely frustrating. It's right that we can discuss these things openly but in a spirit of charity.

    I'm afraid that I struggle to see any kind of appropriate spirit in anonymous comments of this kind. If you're not prepared to own up to your comments, don't make them.

  10. Thank you to everyone who has posted comments on the blog today.

    Anonymous - I would agree with others that to put such a harsh character critique yet hide behind 'anonymous' isn't very good however....

    "So was there a correlation between content and rejection? Honestly?"

    I don't know what you mean by 'rejection'. The only time I have moderated my own posts have been
    a) When employed by the Methodist Church - to ensure I was neither becoming an arm of the PR team nor breaking the Social Media policy in force for all employees
    b) After Methodist Council meetings when we were bound by 'collective responsibility' for decisions made.

    Outside of that blogging follows a simple pattern - do I have time, do I have something to say, is there time to edit it and is it still relevant/interesting - if so post it, if not it joins the many posts sitting in draft.

  11. Anonymous10:40 am

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.