Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Many paths at the crossroads

Mark talked about this. How do you know which is the correct way? Sometimes it isn't clear which is the narrow path.

There used to be an old logic puzzle about the island of liars and truth-tellers where you have two paths to choose from and you are only allowed to ask one question - but you don't know which tribe your responder belongs too.

When you've worked out or been told that one - and it crops up all over the place so I'm not revealing it here - you get asked what appears to be a harder puzzle which is how you choose correctly with multiple (in mathematical terms, n) options.

Actually this one is easier. In fact it's blindingly simple, but after the first puzzle you look for something too complicated. You do it by elimination (and that doesn't quite give the solution away if you want to think about it).

In real life it's sometimes difficult to eliminate multiple options at one go. Yet sometimes you can. But you need to know how many options there are - a much more difficult question. In any case, one at a time still works; it just takes a bit of effort.

This one is going to run and run. Not like me!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Whose fault is it anyway?

I've said that I'm a grumpy old man and I don't mind admitting it. When the programme is on the telly, my main reaction is not laughter but sage nodding, punctuated by the occasional shout of "Yes!".

I haven't found Grumpy Old Women (the programme again, let's be clear) generally as affirmative. Much of the first series I felt was very self-obsessed. The second series started on Friday and I felt more in tune with the content. However the participants placed a lot of blame specifically on men; while the GOMs never placed, to my recall, any blame on women. They (the GOWs) also raised the old tired and to my mind completely false theory that women are better at multi-tasking. I think I shall post on Great Myths of Our Time and this will be number one.

The above is, of course, merely a factual observation and no criticism at all can be inferred of any person or persons or group of persons. Perish the thought.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Xenophobia or incompetence

Used to be, in the good old days, that when a foreign act won Eurovision, they were on Top of the Pops the next week and the single was in the shops the week after, with English lyrics on the A-side and original lyrics on the B-side. Even ones that were nowhere near winners turned. I still have a copy of "Et Bonjour a Toi l'artiste", my favourite Euro song till now. It came nowhere.

So I went down the shops today to see if I could find a CD of the winner. Zip. Nada. Nothing. The nice man in the shop had the compilation with all the rest of the rubbish as well and his database had an album by Lordi - not including the Eurovision song.

Come on - where is it? Surely a marketing possibility. This is how Abba got started! Do we not care any more? Are we even less Euro-aware than ever?

So, anyone know how I can get hold of this song? (How can I not want a song called "Hard Rock Hallelujah"?)

Maybe a friendly techie with a CD burner can download and burn me a copy? Oh, and if you could stick a copy of the English entry on too, that would be just grand.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Emotional wellbeing

I was away at the weekend so I only just watched the second part of the Cyberman story - and I'm aware that the picture opposite is from a parallel universe to Saturday's episode.

It's all about emotion. Some people might say "can't live with them, can't live without them". Emotions make us human but when we see ourselves as we are our emotions can kill us. Without our emotions we're effectively dead anyway.

Should we control our emotions? There are times to do so, but inhibition is not an option. We use our emotions. That can mean that they take over us from time to time - but never to the extent of damaging us. For our emotions give us hope.

My emotions make me stronger. If I feel then I can learn and grow. I can overcome. I will not be a robot.
Don't underestimate my strength and resilience. It lies not in discipline but in passion.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Much progress

A breakthrough was achieved when the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church .....

produced a joint statement saying that they could agree on the doctrine of justification.

Isn't this exciting!

What will they do next?

I'm waiting ...

I'm still waiting ....

Could be a while .....

Zzzzz .....

Perhaps the Catholic and Anglican churches can contribute?


Oh well.

Let's rejoice in what ecumenical dialogue has achieved.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

More irony

Why do you always get just what you want when you don't need it any more?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A few nuspeak slogans

Justice is Mercy.
Truth is Love.
Humility is Authority.
Anger is Passion.
Rebellion is Reflection.

with thanks to Donald.

A visit to Old Trafford

Prawn sandwiches in the directors' box. A thrilling history and an unbroken tradition of success. Memories of Best, Law, Busby. Champions' League Highlights. Playmaking skills of Rooney. Red wine. A day to remember. The Doc still to come.

I still appreciate The Blues. And then there's the Athletic.

Friday, May 19, 2006

New catalogue

If you think there is something wrong with these pictures from a catalogue (and particularly if you don't) then you need to go here to see which organisation I got them from and what they mean.

Here is some text from the same source:

Welcome to Teleshop
where trading in arms is as easy as saying ‘load, aim and fire’.

Whether you’re a small time crook, a military dictator, a guerrilla fighter or a drug baron, Teleshop has the weapon for you. Of course there are laws to stop this sort of thing. But frankly they’re so riddled with loopholes that any arms broker worth their salt can find a way through them.

Unfortunately we’re unable to deliver to the UK without the necessary government permits - but we’re an ideal service for ‘friends’ and ‘families’ living abroad, Most other international destinations are catered for and as an experienced arms broker we’re used to finding our way round most bureaucratic obstacles.

So have a browse and place your order because taking up arms under the current international controls really can be as easy as that.

9mm Pistol
Hand guns are all the rage right now. On the streets of Brazil they’ve claimed over 265,000 hves in the last decade alone. The real beauty of these powerful semi-automatic pistols is that they can fire many rounds in rapid succession. So they’re making a real impact out there on the streets.

Rocket-Propelled Feeling adventurous?
Then why stick to guns? The RPG is a Grenade Launcher shoulder-fired, muzzle-loaded, antitank grenade launcher that can penetrate up to 330mm of standard armour. Just the thing for attacking villages of unarmed civilians.

One of the most successful and devastating weapons of all time — and also one of the most popular- Capable of firing 10 bullets every second, there really is no telling how many lives this famous weapon has claimed. Thanks to its light weight and ease of operation even a child can quickly master its rudiments. No wonder the AK-47 is such a popular choice in countries like Liberia and Angola where many of the child soldiers are as young as just eight years old

Apologies to Elvis

Well, since Lord Jesus saved me,
I found a new place to dwell.
Its down at the end of hopeful street
At heartsease hotel.

You make me so holy baby,
I get so holy, I get so holy I won't die.

And though it's always crowded,
You still can find some room.
Where broken hearted children
Are released from all their gloom.

Well, the bell hops love keeps flowin,
And the desk clerks don't wear black.
When you've been a while on hopeful street
You ain't never gonna look back.

Hey now, if your baby leaves you,
And you want a friend to tell.
Just come and walk down hopeful street
To heartsease hotel.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What is a bishop?

Since no-one else has done it, looks like it's down to me.

A bishop has pastoral care and oversight roles.
So that rules out the President and Connexional Secretary.

A bishop shows leadership and manages.
But a District Chair is subject to Synod.

A bishop is a figure in the community and nationally.
So is not a Superintendent.

Looks like we have no-one who fits the bill.

We'll have to do without for the time being. Unless the Holy Spirit can show us what we're missing.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Move along, now

1933. Conference decides OK to ordain women.
1948. Conference decides not OK to ordain women.
? Conference decides OK to ordain women.
1974. First women ordained by Methodist Church.

40 wasted years. Typical.

Talk about resistant to change. At least you can't say that we rushed into it.

At my teacher training College you got, as well as all the traditional well-known stuff, all the funky new ideas and were encouraged to try them about. Because you need encouragement - it's difficult enough to think of and try out new ideas in a new job even so, and next to impossible if you haven't been inspired. You just get ground down learning a new situation.

Where at Wesley are we given the funky new ideas to chew on? Who will pursue them in the church today if not the fresh new faces? Either that or you have to wait 25 years until the main job is so pat that you can finally begin to imagine new ways, even if it is only desperation. And some of us don't have 25 years.

We need a lead - and don't just tell us to "be creative" when those we are working with know what they like and want it the same. That's not encouraging and it certainly isn't easy.

If we only get shown the same old things then the same old things will be regurgitated. And more ministers and deacons will be produced who look and act just like the already existing ones. And the Church will die, and it will deserve to die.

Move along, please.
Move along, now.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Race against time

OK I'm in a hurry, so today it's a pop quiz ...
How long should a service of worship be?

Time's up. Answer, please.

If you said an hour, you are probably a Methodist, or you could be.

If you said just under an hour, you are probably a Methodist who's put the dinner on.

If you said an hour and a quarter you are probably an Anglican who likes to take Communion.

If you said two hours, you are probably an evangelical.

If you said at least three hours you probably attend a black church.

If you said it depends on the sermon, shame on you.

If you said twenty minutes ......
either you are in a tearing hurry, slow down
or you are very enlightened
or you recognise that a service can be complete in that time ie you have been to Barrow Hospital to a service in which all elements are included and Communion received in that time scale.

So .... why are services so traditional? Do we spin things out from a sense of duty? Is it not worth going out unless you get your money's worth? Or what?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Other People's Churches

One of the joys and privileges of being a local (itinerant) preacher is worshipping in churches that you do not regularly attend. It is both a blessing and a cross, though.

I've just been to the service at Barrow Hospital (my second time) and will reflect on that in the future. Today's topic though is that, what with being away next weekend - diaconal exploration (another topic for the future, they are getting stacked up, please pray etc) - and my church not having an evening service, by the time the end of the month comes around it'll be a whole month since attending a "normal" service at my own church (tonight's discussion service should be fun but is not typical).

Blessings first. You do meet some interesting people, who, because they live in different locations, have a different view of life. It opens your eyes. You get a variety of styles of worship. You get intimate services and grand services. There is architecture and design.

But you quickly can lose touch with the folk in your own congregation. The notices sheet can't contain all the news - the small things, which are still important, pass you by. Who's had a good week, who's been away, who's going away. You feel disconnected. One of the pluses of not preaching lately (at least elsewhere) - discipline of theological college study - has been feeling a much closer part of the community. There's that word again, you see.

I wonder how Amos felt at being called away? Paul? Did he lose the feel of a "home" church? To quote Neil Diamond "LA's fine but it ain't home, New York's home but it ain't mine no more" - (Neil is always better at sad songs) put in your own placenames and see if you understand.

Did Philip talk to the eunuch because he was desperate for contact? Did Luke start writing to reconnect? Peter?

Perhaps I should have called this post "the loneliness of the long-distance preacher". It seems to have lost its way a bit itself. To be continued ....

Friday, May 12, 2006

Good growing weather

Second time in three days, a fabulously sunny day is followed in the evening (early evening in today's case) by a thunderstorm. No wonder non-natives of England can't understand us and how we have to be adaptable.

And the plants shoot up - I'll never get the grass cut at this rate. (OK so I should have done it three weeks away.) It's now into scythe territory.

We need both, and we need both together. Constant rain is too depressing, and constant sun leads to complacency. I'm talking about life now, you've guessed. Help me at the end of a busy week to respect and enjoy life's storms as well as the lazy, hazy days.


These days money drives everything, or appears to. Perhaps it has always been so and we only see it more clearly, or cynically. Money is power.

Wouldn't it be nice if just one institution, the one not supposed to be bound by earthly values, could give a lead in a different direction?

We have to be realistic, without forgetting to be idealistic, for we cannot be powerless, which would be untrue to the Gospel. But we should be reluctant to descend into the pragmatic. If there isn't enough in the bucket, we should seek to fill it, not to drink less. Then we can give our resources away to those who need them most.

Pray for those who deal daily with these issues and those who make decisions.


Lord, give me the humility and understanding to hear people's opinions; the wisdom and sensitivity to discern the correct action to take; the strength and courage to implement it; and the grace to peform it all in such a way as to reduce to a minimum the hurt to those who will be wounded.

And may it all be done in the power and authority of the Holy Spirit.

May others who also have to take tough decisions also find themselves able to pray this prayer.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


When a tree falls in the middle of the forest with no-one around, can you be sure it makes a noise?

When the fridge door is closed, can you be sure the light goes off?

When you can't think of anything to say, can you be sure that God still hears you?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A moving experience

So we got the last of the stuff (apart from a bit of rubbish left over - sorry) out of my mum's old house and brought it 250 miles to be put into store and eventually looked through and sorted/kept/junked/given away as appropriate. Don't hold your breath.

Which means that I will no longer go back to the house where I was brought up and which was my home for what still equates to half my life.

I thought I'd feel a bit more emotional about this significant moment; it hasn't been home for 15+ years but it's still a bit of a wrench - but not too bad. I thought about a picture, but not early enough to do it or bad enough to regret not doing it.

So maybe I kind of understand a little better the attachment people get to buildings - and I'm clearly thinking churches, of course. But maybe I still don't.

People move house all the time (well some people anyway - me I try to keep it to a minimum due to the stress and time involved) with little apparent regret. So why are churches so significant? Is it a symbol of stability in a changing world? I think it's the folk who don't have to look after them who get upset - those who do realise the need for change, as most people do with their own houses (redecorate, conservatory, water feature etc) Life moves on, surely? Perhaps it's guilt, like when someone dies and you hadn't visited them - change to an old building, or knocking it down, becomes a sort of death. I wonder if there are other meanings.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

This is the Sunday that the Lord has made

The preacher on Wednesday preached on Sunday. Perhaps he's been reading Kierkegaard too. Anyway, I understand the bit about special Sunday and special Sundays I think. But if he spoke about special Wednesday I missed it. And I think I missed the link to the question at the end too, but that's possibly another story. Or it might be the vital bit.

Paradox time again. The more special Wednesday is, the less special Sunday is. But all the days are special and must have prizes as Carroll might have said (?) Is that right? There are too many for us and they are too close. And then there may be special times ... let's not complicate.

Why is it a problem? Because we can get too focussed. Reserve one day and all the rest are free - but the one day becomes so special that you may choose to use it for other purposes. Kind of an opposite to Catch-22 - all the rules work in your favour! Let us rejoice and be glad.

Friday, May 05, 2006



We have a brand new answer phone. It has been really hard since the last one gave up the ghost. Did anyone phone? Have we missed anything important? (Particularly when you have always told folk "oh yes phone any time, leave a message we'll get it" etc.)

Of course no-one has left a message yet! Maybe while we didn't have one, they all gave up on us - but then we never got very many anyway; but enough and important enough so that I used to think that it was one of the most important bits of kit in the house, ahead of the telly, ahead of the CD player, way ahead of the Dyson (obviously) and rivalling the computer.

But it's nice to get the person you want without having to leave a message and waiting anxiously for the reply. And although you can have conversations by email, and I do, thay are not as instant.

Thank you Lord for always being available, not on the other line, or busy, or out. Thank you that I don't get placed in a queue and have to select the correct option. Thank you that you contact me without me having to take the initiative; for often I am lazy or fearful. Thank you that if I am out, you will keep trying and not just leave a message and wait for me to "get back to you".

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Most people confuse this with a no-win situation. I seem to have reverse-engineered one however. Ironically the use of irony has created an unbelievable situation. This is a metaphor.


The words are too easily given away and they lose their value. So we have invented a new set of words. But you need to join to find out what they are. This will involve some commitment. The words cannot be published in a public area. You will need to learn the password.

Are you committed enough to do this? How far dare you go?

How will you know when you have the experience to join? You will be given the new words. These will bring you closer. The journey will continue. It will get deeper. How many layers are there? Who knows? Perhaps it will be exciting to find out.

Who can help you? That too, sadly, cannot be published here.


Where is God?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Why do we drink?

To remember or to forget? Gary knows.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Quiet Time?

What's the point of dialogue?

Edit: On reflection, the question I intended to ask is what is the purpose of dialogue?

Possibly other similar questions can and should be asked also.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Free wheelin'

How many sums must a girl get right Before she enters the world?
Yes, 'n' how many prayers must a preacher create Before she's not just a girl?
Yes, 'n' how many times are the magic words said Before they can be overturned?

The answer, my friend, is written in the rules.

How many times must a split come about Before we can see what is real?
Yes, 'n' how many cries must all of us hear Before we suddenly feel?
Yes, 'n' what dreams must be shared so that we all know That now is the time to heal?

The answer, my friend, is missing and not found.

How many years does a building exist Before it's needed no more?
Yes, 'n' how many ways can expression go on When we're seeking to answer the call?
Yes, 'n' what is the core of our living today, And how do we get through the door?

The answer, my friend, is too deep for me. But maybe someone can say.

With apologies to Bob.