Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Coming of Winter

Sometimes the Mountain Mistral blows unexpectedly through the Dark Forest and those Rangers out foraging for ironwood are caught in its icy blast. If they are fortunate the Ethereal Pixies will quickly bring warm blankets and help them to the safety of the Hearth Fire.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sitting in My Cell

I've been reading about the desert fathers at someone's suggestion.

I do like the story about Abba Ammonas and the monk of evil repute. But I may have attention deficit disorder. However I think I may be able to take no account of the scorn of men nor their praises. I have to go back to my cell.

Friday, February 23, 2007


A tree does not live only by its own roots.
A dog can wag another's tail.
But can they survive when their species is attacked?

The weedkiller does not isolate its targets.
If a shrub dies, its compatriots are affected.
The attacker must be subdued by a concerted effort.

The gardener can only prune a plant with infinite compassion.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Assistance Required

Lots of people are beavering away behind the scenes to help me.

This is because I have a useless lump of metal and plastic in front of the house. It would normally go by the title "my car" but that seems a misnomer when it won't go anywhere due to a snapped clutch cable. However the nice people at Suzuki Assistance are coming to take it away to fix it and bring me a replacement - and Priten was most apologetic that it might take as much as a couple of hours to organise.

The joys of having a new car with a warranty.

And thank you also to the AA and Hinton Rescue for picking me up on the A369 out of Portishead and delivering me home at half-past midnight last night.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Academic Definitions for Postmodern Society

Book: A source of information. Bit like a computer but smaller.

Magazine: A source of gossip. Bit like the internet but much smaller.

Lecture: Like a book but with the interesting bits taken out and idle chit-chat added.

Professor: Someone who has written a book and will read it to you for a fee.

Lecturer: Someone who has read a book and would like to write one.

Associate Lecturer: Someone who has read a book but will never write one.

Assistant Lecturer: Someone who has heard of books.

Guest Lecturer: Someone with a new book out, esp. one not selling well.

Essay: Something copied from a book.

Masters essay: Something copied from three books.

Academic essay: Something copied from a dusty book.

Thesis: Something which everyone pretends is not copied from books.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Affirmation and Challenge

I've been reminded why I am a Methodist. It's the strength and vitality given by Local Preachers.

Ralph came today and preached about prayer. He quoted Thomas a Kempes and Karl Barth and then told us in funny stories and words of one syllable what they meant. Five types of prayer which you can remember by looking at your hand.

Thumb reminds you of Thanksgiving you should offer
Forefinger reminds you of the Forgiveness you need
Inner finger reminds you of Intercession
Ring finger reminds you to ask Requests
Little finger reminds you to Listen.

Prayer is the relationship between man's impotence and God's omnipotence.
When Karl Barth was asked to sum up his faith he said "Jesus loves me this I know because the Bible tells me so".

God sometimes says "yes", sometimes "no" and sometimes "wait".

Ask the right question. Don't ask "Can I smoke while praying?", ask "Can I pray while smoking?"

And plenty more, but I shouldn't quote the whole thing (as if I could, the quantity of theology contained was fantastic) so Ralph can preach it again.

But the main thing was that it was all real. Even the speed prayer. (Short is good.)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Answer

Have you ever felt your energy being drained away?

This month's Spirit and Destiny is what you need. There's an article on spirit possession - but this can be performed by the living; someone who stalks you psychically as a negative thought form. Usually these are people trying to use your energy because of the problems they have, if I understand this right (I haven't got onto a training course yet).

Symptoms are:
Unexplained lethargy
Out-of-character behaviour, thoughts and emotions
Depression-like symptoms
Unexplained suicidal thoughts.

If you have these, consult your doctor and ask to be referred to the Spirit Release Foundation for spirit release therapy. Several NHS psychiatrists are actively involved in this area and some GPs will be open enough to recognise the symptoms and appropriate treatment. Most referrals still have to come from people reading about it in the media, however.

Well with three out of four (I don't have the last one, but the first one is particularly strong) it's worth thinking about. I think I know who it may be. I have to imagine mirrored glass walls reflecting their negative energy back onto them. I'll let you know how it goes.

On to more positive thoughts with some spells .
To help you feel less stressed about your exams, you need a yellow candle. Light it while studying.
To counter a run of bad luck, stand a black candle in a cauldron of water and as the candle burns down to the water level and goes out, so your trouble runs into the water, which you can throw away. Sorted.

Looking ahead, March 3 is a brilliant day to reassess your life (lunar eclipse in Virgo). Hmm. I hope it's more than just an exercise plan, though.

A Winter Night's Dream

Dances With Snakes dreamed that he was walking through the wilderness with his friends the Woodsman and the Bridesmaid, and they talked and sang as they went. Then they came across a strange set of objects; there was a gown and a measuring stick, a statue of a small boy covered in gold paint flaking off, a small unopened packet of corn and a design for a flying machine, and an eyepatch and a black flag. But in his dream he did not understand what these items were and the party went on their way, dancing to an old Viking song.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Pest Control

What are the correct procedures?

Set a trap? And with what bait? (Too obvious. Too slow. Too unreliable.)

Provoke the pest to reveal itself and hit it with a big stick? (Too dangerous.)

Make the environment so unpleasant that it removes itself? (Moves the problem to someone else's territory, but does not deal with it.)

Hope it goes away by itself? (Unlikely.)

Thursday, February 15, 2007


The kisses of an enemy may be profuse, but faithful are the wounds of a friend. (27:6)

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one's friend sorings from his counsel (27:9)

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (27:17)

The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice (12:15)

Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice (13:10)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Cold Retreat

Dances With Snakes was searching for his Magic Flute. It had Ethereal Quality, so it could appear in different guises; Rugged Earthiness, Airy Spirituality, Wooden Stolidity and many others. Today he planned to enter the Dark Forest so he packed it in his travelling bag in case he needed it to play an Enchanting Heart-Warming Tune.

It often seemed to present in a form suitable for the task. It had The Power of Love, but Dances With Snakes never quite knew what tune it would play. What would it be today?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Funeral in the Snow

Just come back from the funeral of Maureen Heather Trimby.

Denied the opportunity to develop her artistic ability for her own pleasure, she gave it to the Lord instead.

Rest in peace.

Pray for John, Matthew, Andrew and Robert.

Rock Communion

What a great idea.

This was the Federation Eucharist last week. I don't want to be too evaluative, but do want to reflect on it.

The music was great - in particular the really funky song played while Communion was administered. Unfortunately I don't have the lyrics/liturgy but the words were meaningful and the songs rocked (not hard, but hey). Sometimes we lost the flow, I thought, due to being too tied to specific old words. I think they might have been ditched or sung.

Did also appreciate the light sticks even if we didn't quite know what to do with them. I did think we had maybe one too many pictures of distant galaxies.

Although it was somehow slightly less than the sum of its parts, it was worthwhile and glorious. In the words of the Teletubbies: Again!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Extreme Weather Warning

It's snowing! It's snowing! Is your journey really necessary?

We've got ooh nearly a centimetre here. The schools are not shut (they never bloody shut when I was young we went in all sorts of stuff) and the traffic is flowing, well as much as it ever does.

I think I might venture out.

(I know it might be bad elsewhere. I do wonder how many feet Sweden has had this month.)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


This is the other thing I got from my Quiet Day.

To Know Him Is To Love Him. (The Crystals? The Ronettes?)

To Seek Him Is To Know Him. (How (not) to Speak About God)


To Seek Him Is To Love Him.



I've been Quiet today.

All right, I know you won't believe me. But I've been at least Relatively Quiet. (OK, OK Slightly Less Noisy.) I can be quiet when I want to be. And sometimes when I'm told to.

Anyway, I've had a quiet think, a wander, a bit of a read, a gentle conversation and a ruminative chat in sunny cold Cheddar. A good day. Of course, any day ... I won't go there. I'm in too good a mood.

What did we think about?

The Why You Are, The Who You Are, and The Where You Are (I did skip the last bit.)

It does always help your mood when the leader presents opinions with which you are in sympathy. On the topic of ministry, we thought about what picture a pastor (carefully used term, here) can present of themself. And that it does not have to be one of aloofness, it can include vulnerability, imperfection and even a certain amount of er, ridicule isn't quite right but along those lines eg if you make a fool of yourself, you can admit it, it's OK.

I think that's right. There are times to be cool and collected, when you can and must hold yourself in when no-one else can, and there are times to show emotion - I prefer the term passionate to emotional, though. And even though a pastor should always be disinterested (never uninterested) that doesn't imply dispassionate.

It was pointed out that this may not be exactly mainstream theological college teaching.


I don't know if I've put this quite right, but hey.

Dances With Snakes

The trouble with dancing with snakes is that they can still bite you any time you let your guard down. And the poison goes deep. Time for the snake to dance to my tune.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

More about sex

The young man at Helen House referred to in my previous post has apparently had his visit from a sex worker. He seemed less than thrilled about it - at least didn't seem to want to try it again (in the same way, at any rate).



Have you heard of these people?

A gardener who plants in sandy soil?
Who adds no tender care to the green shoots?

A mother who has no children?
Who knows of discipline but not of love?

A carer who does not care?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Officially Designated

I've said for a while that I'm a grumpy old man. And now I have a mug to prove it!

Sex With Prostitutes

I've been thinking about this a bit lately. Shut up at the back. In a theoretical kind of way, OK?

It started with a post on Charity's blog a bit back and then two stories from the media this week.
A biography of Lord Lambton recalls how he resigned from the Cabinet in the 60s for being caught smoking cannabis in bed with two prostitutes. He was interviewed by Robin Day who asked why such a charming man needed to pay for sex and he replied cheekily (something like) "I think every man likes a bit of variety now and then. Don't you?"

The other story was from BBC2 on Tuesday, the programme about Helen House, in which a young man with muscular dystrophy wanted help in getting the services of a sex worker, and a discussion ensued whether his carers should help him in this (including whether it was actually legal).

This might get unfocussed but let's see where we go.

As I tried to say on Charity's blog, I don't think the above men are atypical. I don't say their feelings or behaviour are right, or acceptable, or even to be condoned. But they need to be understood, for they exist, here and now. Further I think, from conversations and reading over the years, they are widespread. Common. A majority. Even the norm (not "normal" for no-one knows what that is).

I don't say whether men's desire for sex is cultural or genetic, for it doesn't matter. It just is. (For argument's sake, it fits with modern culture: everbody wants everything, and they want it now - but I understand there were plenty of prostitutes in Victorian times, at least in the cities, and that was a completely different culture.) It could be because men do want intimacy and love and can't work out what it is or how to get it, or are too out of touch with their feelings (not "feminine side" - it is human to want love, not associated more with one gender than another) or repressed/ashamed to display them and so have to resort to some kind of surrogate.

I do think that appeals to what might be called a "higher plane" - God, spirituality, discipline, whatever, are much less helpful than is proclaimed. You can have all the discipline, faith, reason there is but the feelings don't go away and when the distractions cease - and you can't keep it up 24/7 - they come back stronger than ever. Plenty of Christian men can confirm this. All of them, I reckon.

Now there are clearly some punters who will go to places where women are trafficked and either they don't care, or they can manage to delude themselves - and there's a lot of self-delusion goes on in this area - that the other party is willing. And that needs to be stopped, now. And some just go for the sex. And that you can debate. But some go for what is advertised as "Girl Friend Experience" (GFE), which is not about the sex (mostly, and as far as I can gather generally does not actually include it) but includes eg holding hands and kissing which I understand generally you don't get in the other cases. And some just want to go out to the theatre or dinner with a pretty lady (all right yes it might be just status, but it might not) like you would on a date.

So a lot of men are seeking affection, and taking what they can get, however hollow a substitute it really is - see self-delusion above - and don't really have it.

What do we say to them? Here and now? In practical terms? That will help them tonight?

I shall probably come back to this later, but that's all for now.