Monday, January 31, 2005

Making History

Today Agent K and I ventured to Oxfam and FINALLY purchased our white bands for MAKE POVERTY HISTORY. This is a fantastic campaign and I hope that after the great outpouring of love and support for the victims of the tsunami, people will show their support for this grand idea by simple acts.

You can wear the band, sign the petition, look at the website, tell you friends and tell the world by putting something on YOUR blog! You may have noticed the new link in my "I recommend" list and the new band in the top corner of the blog.

If you want one of these you can find instructions here. There are options for a big band or a small band and for having it on the left or the right.

Remember the only thing necessary for evil to thrive is for good people to do nothing. Make history. DO SOMETHING.

Domestic Goddess

This morning for my breakfast I enjoyed the double pleasure of my homemade marmalade. For a start it was in istself delicious, of a brilliant colour, excellent consistency and yummy flavour but of course all the more fantabulous because I had crafted it with my own fair hand. I think this may be the first of many explorations into the world of homecraft - if only I had more time to do it!

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Thai delight

Ok I am absolutely stuffed of delectible Thai food made for us by the mum of one of the young people. Heaven!

The young people came up with the idea of a CULTURAL EXPLORIENCE (great name in my opinion - though of course that's not what's important, is it Ian?) when we explore the culture of a particular country. After the events in south east asia we felt it was important that we understand a bit about one of the countries affected. So we chose to focus on Thailand and give our profits to the DEC fund. We've all seen so many photographs of disaster struck areas that we sometimes forget that these places were once unaffected communities with their own distinct music, commerce, habitat, etc.

Aside from enjoying some AMAZING culinary delights we also shared some obscure facts about Thailand and listened to some traditional and modern Thai music. Then I got the young people making collages of images of Thai life and mapping out the outline of Thailand in string on the floor and positioning the significant towns and cities within it. We rounded the evening off by playing some of the games which schoolchildren play in Thailand.

We over ran and ended up digressing from my carefully structured progamme for the evening but it was an excellent evening of youth work because we all mucked in together and chatted and laughed as a group.

Paddington would be proud!

Having begun the process of the marmalade making a few days ago I FINALLY finished it today and am the EXTREMELY proud owner of 8 jars of scrumptiously glowing jars of delicious orange heaven. :oD

Courtesy of Youthblog!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

A la recherche du temp perdu

Ok from that title, it may sound like I'm gonna do another super serious post but I'm not.

Suffice it to say Marcel Proust took an awful lot of words to tell us...

Our senses of smell and taste are powerful memory triggers.

In his case it was madelaine biscuits and a particular kind of tea. For me this week it has been the cooking of marmalade.

When my mum was alive she made seville orange marmalade every year and as stocks of the house vintage have now dwindled, I decided that I needed to explore this curiously domestic-goddess-like activity.

As my seville oranges were cooking, the smell that wafted through my house reminded me of watching my mother cook in a way mere recollectioncould not possibly conjure. It was a pleasant recollection that made me smile.

Yet it was not only this memory that it triggered. It also reminded me of one of mum's rather curious sandwich creations. Now I have never grown a desire to eat her most incredible combination of cheese, lettuce, marmite and peanut butter but some of the others did tickle my fancy.

Now I'd remembered raisin sandwiches and condensed milk sandwiches but until I smelt that marmalade cooking, I had forgotten about one of my favourites:

Marmalade and cheese.

Now I can HEAR you now AND see those little faces scrunching up in horror but trust me... They're scrumptious. I had one today for the first time in, well at least three years. I may well have another tomorrow!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Oh you’ll never get to heaven… in a ping pong ball!

It is a curious thing when you’ve been thinking about blogging on a particular topic but weren’t sure whether you should or not that you get a comment which asks you a question about that EXACT thing!

Someone in Australia has been reading my blog and says they would like to know how to get to heaven.

I’m a little bit shocked that out of all the things on the internet, my blog should be the place that this person should ask this rather important question.

I’d recommend a basic introduction to Christianity like that on the Church of England website or the answers to common questions about Christianity on the TaizĂ© site and also I’d suggest to anyone that they go along to their local church and ask the minister or find a seekers course like Emmaus or Alpha.

However, on this particular subject I do have something I was going to say so you’re gonna get it!

My Roman Catholic friend Ben and I were discussing heaven over MSN just the other day. It wasn’t so much about what we thought heaven was but about what the process is. Fair to say, the issue of WHO gets to heaven is one of the hottest topics in theology.


How do you get to heaven? Ben’s answer was simple and short (at first!):


Ok but what does that me. Well here's my explanation:

We get to heaven because God loves all of us and sent Jesus to earth in the most fragile form of human being, a baby to grow up and life a life without sin so that, being sinless and offering himself in sacrifice he would make the ultimate sacrifice for humanity.

(Exactly what that sacrifice meant, whether it was a question of Jesus putting himself in our place for the punishment of our sins or if it was a sacrificial gesture and sign of God’s love is another WHOLE debate which we didn’t get into!)

Instead Ben and I talked about whether there was any kind of process after our death, a purgatory (to give it the old fashioned name) and both agreed that we thought there was.

One of us said “every time we sin, we damage our soul, purgatory is the purification through God's love”

The other’s view was “when we come into God's presence our hearts and souls acknowledge their need for purging”

Shockingly in agreement for once!

For me, this comes from my whole (hopefully not heretical!) idea that the afterlife is a coming into the presence of God. For a very few who have addressed themselves to living a truly sacrificial life of devotion, the presence of God will instantly feel like heaven. For others coming into the presence of God will feel like hell because they will confront some difficult times in their life and for others this will be a process of reconciliation. We have all done things in our life that we’re not proud of and even those of us who try to live a Christian life go wrong sometimes, so for most people, meeting God will be a time of reflection, regret and reconciliation.

So why not a traditional hell for SINNERS? Well we are all sinners some more than others but none of us is perfect. More to the point I believe in an all-loving God and no all-loving God could exclude any of the beloved from eternal life.

Fascinatingly though, Ben and I managed to agree not only on Purgatory but also on the level of its importance for us right now. Whether we get to heaven is not THE all important thing. It is not a matter of SAVING people so that they get to heaven. No, for each of us, our Christian journey is about shining the light of God’s love and showing people how they ought to live.

It is far better to win disciples for God than to convert people solely for the sake of salvation. It is far better to build God’s kingdom on earth than to offer the kingdom as a kind of prize at the end of life. The world would be a better place if people lived according to the Christian ethos of loving God and neighbour.

So to my comment giver…

You get to heaven by being you because God loves you. The more important question is….

What are you going to do before that?

Sunday, January 23, 2005


Recently I've been pushing back the boundaries of the blogosphere and encouragin friends to get the blogging habit. In the last few weeks THREE people have taken up the challenge to my great delight.

The first is Ami, who is soon to be my housemate, - YAY! - and any resemblance to Bridget Jones is purely coincidental.

The second is Kathryn, a fellow youth worker who blends gracious wisdom and giggling silliness with great flare.

The third is Ben, one of the young people I work with, who has recently set himself the challenge of finding all the international google sites and is using his blog to show them to the world.

I know they haven't blogged much yet but do pop along and visit them and encourage them to post some more :oD

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Today is the Sunday in the Week of Prayer for Christian unity. This evening the Christians of All Saints will be hosting a service of choral evensong for Christians from across the town from the Roman Catholic church, from the Society of Friends, from the United Reformed Church from the Methodist church from the Salvation army from the Union Baptist church and beyond.

This week of Prayer for Christian Unity runs from 18th-25th January and these dates were chosen in 1908 as covering the period between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul. In today’s reading we heard a good reason why these two dates might have been chosen. Peter and Paul were the two great leaders of the very early Christian church and yet their leadership and vision led to division.

In my sermon today I would also like to lead you from St Peter to St Paul

In the Gospel we see the clarity and seeming ease of the call of Christ. Jesus says to Peter, his brother and his friends
“Follow me, and I will make you fish for people."

Jesus called these men as individuals but also to be a group, the first church; the disciples. Yet from the time of St Peter’s first calling we move to the time of Paul an s soon the churches found space for division

This great reading from Paul’s letter to the Christians at Corinth shows that even in the early days of the church, Christians didn’t agree on absolutely everything. Paul speaks very plainly:

Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.

And he goes on to chastise those who profess to follow, not Christ but himself or Peter.

Although we know these words of Paul hold a great truth; the need for our faith to be centred not on individual leaders and ideas but on Christ, yet throughout history, many Christians have discovered that they were separated, often without even knowing why.

In 1086 When this great building was founded by Wulfstan who we celebrated earlier this week, there was only one CHURCH in England – yet there were divisions hundreds of years before then about when we should celebrate Easter. Now in High Wycombe alone there are many different Christian churches.
Age-old divisions, but also recent ones, have undermined the communion between them. Christians all pray to the same God of love; how can it be that they sometimes use so much energy in opposing one another?

Today the separations between Christians, the age-old ones and the brand-new ones, make it more urgent than ever to look for solutions. It is no longer possible to keep putting off until later communion among Christians.

In my work with other youth workers in the town and the diocese we are often rather aware of our differences when discussing possible events or services. It is not only with youth workers from other denominations that this is necessary but also with those from the Anglican church who have a different tradition, theology or style of worship, even a different hymn book. The recent Windsor report which responded to the divisions resulting from disagreements over the appointment of homosexual priests to senior positions in the church shows how much we need to work on unity even within our own Anglican communion.

If we get caught into discussing how we are different and using the “elegant wisdom” which Paul rejects, we would never do anything. This is why we have a week of prayer for Christian unity not a celebration of thanksgiving for it but seeking it for without unity we are not the church Jesus calls us to be. So we need to find common ground.

The answer to this question of overcoming division comes somewhat paradoxically in the unique and individual nature of each of our callings. In our gospel we heard how Jesus called the disciples. So too now Jesus calls each one of us. He does not call Anglicans, or Methodists or Roman catholic, he calls Kate or Bill or Peter or Alison.

You might think this leads to even greater division but in seeking our own personal connection with Christ we find that common ground we are seeking. This is not a question of finding the lowest common denominator of our belief or of compromising what we believe to fit with others. No the common ground is not difficult to find. That common ground is at the foot of the cross. The common ground is where Christ is at the centre.

Christ calls each one of us to follow him and it is in following him that we find unity. It is not by seeking to be all alike and in agreement that we find unity but in the fact that we set Christ before us in spite of our differences.

And what does it mean to follow him together in that unity? To be Christ-centred on that common ground?

Well one of my favourite passages from Paul’s writing is from his letter to the Philippians. He asks us to shine as lights in the world

That light is the love of God through Jesus and to follow Jesus we commit to shining that light. Now we can all shine on our own and in part we are called to do so; to be Christ in our homes, our schools, our places of work, our communities. This raises the age-old argument that a person can be a Christian without coming to church. Yes, in part they can. Yet if a Christian IS a member of a church, that light is not just a point of light but it becomes what Jesus calls a “great light” and a great light can have a great impact.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness — on them light has shined.

For many people today, life is one in darkness, of anguish, sorrow and struggling, of stress and dissatisfaction.

Through Christian unity, with this great light, Christians can make an amazing impact on the world. In shining light on the issue of world poverty, in shining a light in places of war and disaster. In shining a light on High Wycombe

The answer seems so simple and yet bringing this to action sounds rather more difficult. I don’t say it isn’t.

Seeking reconciliation and peace involves an inner struggle. It does not mean taking the easy way out. Nothing lasting is built when things are too easy. The spirit of communion is not gullible. It causes the heart to become more encompassing; it is profound goodness; it does not listen to suspicions.

To be bringers of unity, of this great light will each of us walk forward in our lives along the road of trust and a kind-heartedness which is always renewed?

On this road there will sometimes be failures. Then we need to remember that the source of peace and unity is in God. Far from becoming discouraged, we shall call his Holy Spirit upon our frailties.

And, throughout our lives, the Holy Spirit will enable us to set out over and over again and to go, from one beginning to another, towards a future of unity.

Faith affirmed

Regular readers might remember the early thoughts for my Christian Unity sermon. Well it just goes to show that thoughts take a while to settle as I was looking at it and there isn't much in thoe initial thoughts that I ended up saying. Preaching is a curious experience. It still fills me with trepidation and my knees tremble. When I'm actually preaching I feel kinda strange and as if I'm not really there and I always feel REALLY hungry when I've finished. Well people were very kind about it. One friend said it was my "best" I hope he meant my best yet! Some of the thoughts come from Brother Roger's reflections at Lisbon over New Year.

Well I thought I'd put it in so you can think it over for yourselves.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

And Blog shall speak unto blog

Ok well I started my Blog around the world recently and if you look at the links you'll see that there are STILL a lot of gaps. So my blog pals... it's time for some de-lurking! I know that there are people out there who read this blog who come from some of the vacant time zones but I haven't come across your blog in blog explosion or blog clicker yet! Let me know where you are. Frustratingly I have found several really good blogs from the same time zone and yet some time zones still (and maybe will ALWAYS) allude me.

So this is a big pleas out to all you bloggy pals. I know I don't have a cute dog to make you all look at the site but PLEASE do look in and let me know if you have a blog in one of my unfilled zones!

Friday, January 21, 2005

Stop Press!

When you've spent three and a half years of your life writing a thesis for your PhD, there are times when you wonder if anyone will EVER use your thesis. As someone who left academia for the greater delights and rewards of church youth work, the likelihood of my thesis ever being used is even less than it might have been had I continued my university career and even more so had it ever been published - the reasons why it wasn't are a little too interesting to be blogged about.

Yet today, in true Friday style I had the joyful news that my thesis has indeed been used. Someone used my thesis. Wow. Someone had a pressing need for my thesis. Double wow!

Unfortunately the person who used my thesis was my dad (who has possession of the posh hard-bound version) and the pressing need was exactly that... pressing!

My dad used the two volumes of my weighty thesis to press some bits of paper he had glued together.

It is a fortunate thing that I am, in fact, not jaded by the fact that I do not have a lovely and wonderful job in a university with a glittering career stretching before and three book deals under my arm. If this were the case a girl could be seriously put out by such a thing.

No, in fact, I thought it was rather amusing.

So, a cheery friday thought for you all: there may be things in your life that you thought you would NEVER use again but do not despair, you may find some curious need for them in the future at some point!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The question about life, the universe and everything

Courtesy of my friend, Derek, some of life's imponderable questions!

Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are flat?

Why do banks charge a fee on "insufficient funds" when they know there is not enough?

Why doesn't glue stick to the bottle?

Why do they use sterilised needles for death by lethal injection?

Whose idea was it to put an "S" in the word "lisp"?

What is the speed of darkness?

If you send someone 'Styrofoam', how do you pack it?

If the temperature is zero outside today and it's going to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold will it be?

If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?

Why is it that people say they "slept like a baby" when babies wake up, like, every two hours?

How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on bigger suitcases ?

Any more?

Written on my heart

I know there are some people among my readers who are not having the greatest of times in the romance department at the moment and when I saw this blog entry I thought it might well speak to a few of you. It's addressed to a woman but guys I hope you can see that it is equally applicable to you all.

"We will always have those moments in our life when we have that feeling that we cannot go on without a certain person. But then we lose that person and whatever we try to do cannot bring the person back. So we sit back and just wait to see if the person will return. As we wait, we find that there can be life without that person, after all. And before we know it, we find ourself going on with our life. Then one day we suddenly realize that the person we lost has not really gone, but has become one of the chapters in our personal Book of Life. We realize that our book has to be made up of several chapters, each one leading us to the next. A book with only one chapter will be quite boring. As in any book, each chapter plays a role in leading us up to the next, so that by the time we get to the final chapter we have been, and are, thoroughly prepared for the ending...will it be a happy one? It depends, I guess, on who it is who will make up the final chapter in your book. My own guess have not met him yet. When you will know that it is HIM. How? I don't know...all I know is that it will just feel right. If you don't know how that feels, it's because HE hasn't walked into your life yet. Just wait...and have a will know HIM when you finally meet HIM. HE will not sweep you off your feet...HE will just quietly become a part of you."

Love is in the Blog

I saw a wonderful thing today. A guy declared that he had become smitten with a girl through reading her blog:

"i fell in love with a blog today. i didn't think i would.but her writing was so beautiful... and she was so beautiful.with words and thoughts so familiar, yet previously unread~my heart beat quickens (must be that second cup of coffee).not that it matters,'ll never come to anything any ways.but you can always dream :)"

I think this is definitely one to watch people!

I had a look at the blog myself and it is wonderful. I particularly liked a post quoting some words of wisdom on loving and losing. I'm going to put this in the next entry.

Do not underestimate the power of the dark spud!

I saw this at somebody's blog on blog clicker (sorry I clicked before I saw which blog!) but I just had to share it with you. It made me grin.

Luuuuke I am your father!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

All dolled up!

Courtesy of Peter, a lovely bit of time wasting kinda fun! I'dlove to come up withsome kind of justification but there isn't one. You get to dress up dolls - it's cool!

Here, hopefully is mine!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Adeste Fideles

The new book we are using for readings at morning prayer is being somewhat disturbingly serendipitous. Chris and I were only recently discussing the “faith alone” concept and then this morning we get the passage below from Clement, Bishop of Rome, here courtesy of the Corpus Christianorum. Chris had argued that faith alone was not enough because we also need God’s grace. Interesting as the man in question was really talking about faith alone and not knowledge or wisdom or good deeds. If we’re talking about what do WE have to do then faith is all we need. However if we’re talking about what is necessary then of course God’s love and grace are vital.

I think the important thing to remember in all this is that we do good works not in order to get to heaven but rather we do them because that is what we long to do if we know God’s love for us: to show that love to others. Well Clement sums it up much better.

And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. What shall we do, then, brethren? Shall we become slothful in well-doing, and cease from the practice of love? God forbid that any such course should be followed by us! But rather let us hasten with all energy and readiness of mind to perform every good work. For the Creator and Lord of all Himself rejoices in His works. For by His infinitely great power He established the heavens, and by His incomprehensible wisdom He adorned them. He also divided the earth from the water which surrounds it, and fixed it upon the immoveable foundation of His own will. The animals also which are upon it He commanded by His own word into existence. So likewise, when He had formed the sea, and the living creatures which are in it, He enclosed them [within their proper bounds] by His own power. Above all, with His holy and undefiled hands He formed man, the most excellent [of His creatures], and truly great through the understanding given him-the express likeness of His own image. For thus says God: "Let us make man in Our image, and after Our likeness. So God made man; male and female He created them." Having thus finished all these things, He approved them, and blessed them, and said, "Increase and multiply." We see, then, how all righteous men have been adorned with good works, and how the Lord Himself, adorning Himself with His works, rejoiced. Having therefore such an example, let us without delay accede to His will, and let us work the work of righteousness with our whole strength.

From Clement’s letter to the church at Corinth chapters XXXII-XXXIII

Monday, January 17, 2005

Milking it

Ok after some rather serious blog entries over the last couple of days, here's something a little lighter.

I just saw yet ANOTHER advert (for anchor butter this time) which featured cows with male voices. What is it with people in advertising? Do they not understand that the fundamentally important fact about the animals that produce milk is that they are FEMALE. Bulls do NOT produce milk. I mean, the people who produce butter MUST know, surely? Do they think that WE don't know? They can't assume that their customers are so ignorant. So why are Stephen Fry and Tony Robinson now joining the ranks of the Arnie-impersonating-"Milk it"-cow from Dairylea?

Ok. Rant over!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Test of Faith

Hopefully there aren't too many people out there in the blogosphere who will be at All Saints' next Sunday because if so you'll be getting a bit of a sneak preview of my thoughts for a sermon on Christian unity.

In my work with other youth workers in the town and the diocese we have to find a common ground on which to meet. It is not only with youth workers from other denominations that this is necessary but also with those from the Anglican church who have a different tradition, theology or style of worship. The recent Windsor report which responded to the divisions resulting from disagreements over the appointment of homosexual priests to senior positions in the church shows how much we need to work on unity even within our own church.

In all these meetings we try to find the common ground. However the common ground is not difficult to find. That common ground is at the foot of the cross. The common ground is where Christ is at the centre.

I’ve been watching the second series of West Wing on DVD recently and in one episode the president meets with a Chinese asylum seeker who claims that he is being persecuted in China for being a Christian. The president has been advised that the refugees may have been coached in basic Christianity to secure asylum.

The president discusses how the Israelites used to use the word Shibboleth as a password to see if those trying to enter were Israelites (as the other local people did not pronounce it as the Israelites did.

Bartlett ponders how he can test whether a man is a Christian or not. In the end he asks the man about how he became a Christian what his church does and who leads it. He asks him to name any of the twelve apostles. The man responds by naming them all. He then turns to the President and says:

"Mr President, Christianity is not demonstrated through a recitation of facts, you’re seeking evidence of faith, a whole hearted acceptance of God’s promise of a better world. 'For we hold that man is justified by faith alone' is what St Paul said, justified by faith alone. Faith is the true Shibboleth."

Bridget Jones over Troubled Water

Well I just read some shockingly depressing news in another blog.

Apparently, "a high I.Q. hampers a woman's chance to get married, while it is a plus for men. The prospect for marriage increased by 35 percent for guys for each 16-point increase in I.Q.; for women, there is a 40 percent drop for each 16-point rise." and men would rather marry a traditional homemaker wife than a woman with a career as apparently they think a career woman is more likely to have an affair. Now hang on a second.... If a woman with a high IQ is LESS likely to get a guy how can they be MORE likely to have an affair. That is SUCH man logic!

Well anyway, this is NOT good news for me as my IQ is 155. I'm not sure I really want to work out the precentage odds left to me. Top IQ is 170. A point drop of 16 brings it far too close. So that must make my chances PRETTY slim. Ah well. I may as well give up then.

No I refuse to give up. It's not MY fault! I can't help being bright. It doesn't make me better than anybody else. In fact I have frequent ditzy moments as one of my earlier blog entries attests. Also I happen to be reasonably talented in the cooking department AND as a youthworker I'm pretty good with children. I may be rather disinclined to housework but who isn't? Intelligence does not proclude me from caring for others, from forming friendships... why oh WHY should my intelligence mean I'm less likely to marry?

How about some feedback from the guys out there. Are the statistics right?

Saturday, January 15, 2005

This Jesus guy

At Morning Prayer this morning we had a reading from St Augustine's commentary on the psalms. It contained for me a wonderful exploration of the meaning of prayer and of our role in prayer. This was particularly interesting for me after my discussions with Ben G and others recently. It also has a fantastic explanation of Jesus as man and God. I wish I'd had that when I was writing my essay on christology! Anyway, I don't think I can say it better than Augustine so I'm just going to give you the text:

God could give no greater gift to men than to make his Word, through whom he created all things, their head and to join them to him as his members, so that the Word might be both Son of God and son of man, one God with the Father, and one man with all men. The result is that when we speak with God in prayer we do not separate the Son from him, and when the body of the Son prays it does not separate its head from itself: it is the one Savior of his body, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who prays for us and in us and is himself the object of our prayers.

He prays for us as our priest, he prays in us as our head, he is the object of our prayers as our God. Let us then recognize both our voice in his, and his voice in ours. When something is said, especially in prophecy, about the Lord Jesus Christ that seems to belong to a condition of lowliness unworthy of God, we must not hesitate to unite himself with us. Every creature is his servant, for it was through him that every creature came to be.

We contemplate his glory and divinity when we listen to these words: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made. Here we gaze on the divinity of the Son of God. Something supremely great and surpassing all the greatness of his creatures. Yet in other parts of Scripture we hear him as one sighing, praying, giving praise and thanks.

We hesitate to attribute these words to him because our minds are slow to come down to his humble level when we have just been contemplating him in his divinity. It is as though we were doing him an injustice in acknowledging in a man the words of one with whom we spoke when we prayed to God; we are usually at a loss and try to change the meaning. Yet our minds find nothing in Scripture that does not go back to him, nothing that will allow us to stray from him.

Our thoughts must then be awakened to keep their vigil of faith. We must realize that the one whom we were contemplating a short time before in his nature as God took to himself the nature of a servant; he was made in the likeness of men and found to be a man like other; he humbled himself by being obedient even to accepting death; as he hung on the cross he made the psalmist’s words his own: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

We pray to him as God, he prays for us as a servant. In the first case he is the Creator, in the second a creature. Himself unchanged, he took to himself our created nature in order to change it, and made us one man with himself, head and body. We pray then to him, through him, in him, and we speak along with him and he along with us.

Augustine of Hippo 354-430, Commentary on the Psalms

Love is all around us

This week has been a bit of tricky one, as implied in an earlier blog, someone I know rather well has been having boy trouble. I reflected on it myself, being as I am still single. For me the fascinating thing has been bouncing ideas of my plethora of male chums on the matter.

I particularly liked the contrast between comments from Chris and Tim. Chris reassured me that men are not stupid and that if this boy had said that he "had a new girlfriend" this was probably a subtle hint. Chris is convinced that this chap KNOWS that this someone likes him. Later chatting to Tim I reported that Chris had told me that men are not stupid.

"Oh yes they are!" He said.

Why do people get hurt so often in this whole love business? Well the thing that has reassured me about humanity and its goodness is the love that all my friends show me. However it was Chris who came up with the greatest wisdom... not his own but borrowed from The Imitation of Christ where Jesus' message is summarised as: "It is for my sake that they must be loved."

The message being that we love each other not for our own sake, not for the sake of those we love but for the sake of God.

Coupled with listening to In Christ Alone by Stuart Townend, this was a great source not of comfort, but of reassurance. It does not matter that I'm single. What matters is that I love and am loved by many people, even by a few people out there in the blogosphere. :oD

Friday, January 14, 2005

Oh what a tangled web..

I am watching season two of West Wing that's come through at last!

Within it was a FANTASTIC speech from President Bartlett. In response to a homophobic radio presenter.

"I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleaned the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be?

My chief of staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police?

Here's one that's really important cause we've got a lot of sports fans inthis town: touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean. Leviticus 11:7 If they promise to wear gloves can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point?

Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother, John, for planting different crops side by side?

Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads?

Think about those questions, would you?"

As he delivered it I thought... THAT sounds familiar. I read that on the internet. How fabulous that somebody copied that and put it out on the net.

Yes. I was right that it was put on the web. However it was put on the web BEFORE it was on the show.

Apparently Aaron Sorkin read it online and tried to find the author to give it a credit but was unable to do so.

From the web to the television screen.

Think on, blog pals.

What you say now could be on West Wing next year!

Out of time!

So who is the one person in history or literature that I'd like to meet?

BOY that is a difficult question! Who came up with that one?

Well there's a list I'm afraid....

Leonardo da Vinci - he was cool. He drew. He did science.
Matthew Paris - he was a chronicler. He painted. He observed nature and thought about science.
Gregory of Tours - Bishop and chronicler
Bede - historian and monk

There's a theme developing!

What is the average flying speed of a swallow?

I didn't knwo what to blog about today. It's been a bit of a week one way and another. So I asked my blogless friend (sorry my CURRENTLY blogless friend - go on u know u want to!) what I could blog about. Once she had stopped talkng about cheese... her very sensible suggestion was to ask you all a question. Excellent suggestion but I'm not sure what to ask.

Do you come here often?

(does anyone ever REALLY say that!)

Anyway I'm trying to think up a question not a chat up line - good thing too because I am deeply rubbish at the whole chat up/dating business.

So the question for the day is.....

If you could meet ONE person from any time or place, real or fictional who would it be and why?

If you're very good I'll think about that one too and make it my next blog!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Wisconsin Actually

Before we leave the topic of Wisconsin entirely... A friend reminded me that it gets an EXCELLENT press in Love Actually. It is the place that the English dork Colin Frizzell goes in search of a beautiful American woman and succeeds in finding FOUR!

So there are definitetly NO moose there ;0D

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Dogma part 4: Wisconsin

Metatron: Aaah, Bartleby, was Wisconsin really THAT bad?

Apparently not, according to my friend who lives there (although he was careful to point out he doesn’t hail from there!). Although it’s not a place you can walk around barefoot that often (according to another reliable source!)

The Metatron says these words to the fallen angel Bartleby who preferred the prospect of the end of all existence to staying in Wisconsin where he had been banished for all eternity after rebelling against God.

Well what does Wisconsin stand for? It stands for all the STUFF (as my young people would say) that sometimes makes us want to give up absolutely everything in preference for feeling nothing. Sometimes we all have the feeling that we'd rather everything was different if it meant that one tiny part of life as different.

So what is the Wisconsin in your life? Is Wisconsin really THAT bad?

Dogma part 3: Ideas vs Beliefs

Rufus: Mankind got it all wrong. Taking a good idea and building a belief structure around it.

Bethany: Are you saying having beliefs is a bad thing?

Rufus: I just think it’s better to have ideas. I mean you can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier.

An interesting concept here.

I've been thinking quite a lot about beliefs this evening. I am very much aware that the second years of SAOMC are meeting for the first time tonight and that I am not with them. It's not without regret that I'm not there but it was time to move on. I miss you guys. Let me know how you're doing!

Also this evening I have had a long discussion with my friend Ben about the nature of prayer and intercession. We have a curious habit of chatting over MSN about fairly HUGE theological topics. This is usually as the result of Ben (a Roman Catholic) asking me (an Anglican) about certain beliefs which he (and, as he would say, the established church) holds and whether or not I share the belief.

So far I've avoided being burned at the stake as a heretic. Though I'm not sure if this is only because I'm far enough away! ;o)

I like Rufus' idea of having ideas not beliefs. In the modern world where we have seen a resurgence of extremists dying and killing for their beliefs I am rather inclined to think that ideas are safer.

Is it better to have an idea of what God is like than to have a belief that might be wrong?

Certainly I think we have sometimes overcomplicated things by "taking a good idea and building a belief structure around it" Often the clearest conception of God and our relationship with God is not through highly intellectualised academic theology but through our own internal idea of God.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Dogma part 2: John 10.10

Bethany: You have issues with Catholicism, I take it?
Serendipity: I have issues with anyone who treats God like a burden instead of a blessing like some Catholics. You people don't celebrate your faith . . . you mourn it.

(courtesy of Useless Movie Quotes)

I was reading Messy Christian's exploration of membership of the church. Her reflections are fascinating for me, a cradle Christian. I've always been a member of a church so I can't understand what it would be like to be a non-member. For me being a member of the church really is about being a member of a family. Like any family it has its good times and its harder times, its strange old uncles and somewhat wayward cousins. I am rather proud of my church at the moment as we've raised over £1000 for victims of the tsunami (that's aside from other personal donations made before we started collecting) and we've also supported a local coffee shop which gave all its profits from Sunday's trade to the DEC. Lots of parishioners sat together in the coffee shop and talked, demonstrating that the church really does celebrate life. It's a small step but it was there.

Yet we're still not going so far as to demonstrate celebrating our faith not mourning it. Any ideas how we can do that?

Dogma Part 1: What Would Jesus Drive

This is really the title of a program coming up on Channel 4 about car drivers in America and links to a marvellous speech from Dogma

Rufus (the Thirteenth Apostle) : "Back in the old days with J.C., we used to walk everywhere. Did you ever hear of a fat apostle?"

So what would Jesus drive? well as my friend Chris said earlier today. He wouldn't. He'd walk. With a staff and without a second shirt.

From Drama to Dogma

Having been thinking about how the Jerry Springer Opera may more may not offend Christians, I'm watching Dogma again this evening. Wonderful film. An exploration of God and faith vs religion and dogma.

I was going to comment on a few witty one-liners but there are just TOO MANY good ones!

So the next few blogs will be focussed around a few choice quotations courtesy of Useless Movie Quotes .

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Blog around the world

At the suggestion of someone who left a comment on my blog, I recently joined blog explosion. Through this bloggers surf each other's sites and in return for this other people are invited to view their site. Basically the more blogs you look at the more bloggers look at your site. Sometimes the blogs aren't that inspiring but I've come across some really fabulous blogs that I might never have found except through blog explosion. I've also had hundreds of new viewers (though only for a precious 30 seconds in most cases I'm sure!)

Seeing all the blogs made me think I really needed to spruce mine up a bit - hence some of you who've been checking out the blog for a while might have noticed the new links and graphic. I've now got a blogroll of some of my old favourites and a few new treasures from blog explosion.

Well my aim is to get someone from every time zone eventually. Then it really will be a blog around the world. Of course until I find a good candidate for each it will be under construction!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

The still small voice...

At Pulse (our youth club) today, in addition to the very cool radio controlled car races, we helped prepare for the prayers at our worship tomorrow. We prepared a large altar frontal with the blue of the sky and a white rainbow which we're going to build up to the full technicolour with heart shaped pieces of paper in the seven colours of the spectrum.

In my talk to the young people I focussed on Tilly Smith, the young ten year old from Surrey, who saved a beachful of people in Thailand because she had learned about Earthquakes and Tsunamis in Geography at school a few weeks before. I wanted the young people to know that they can do things that have an impact on the world. The first thing I asked them to do was to cut out one of these hearts for the prayers tomorrow.

So we gave each of them the a square of paper and got them all to fold the paper in half. Then I asked them all to hold that piece of paper up in the air and be quiet whilst they thought about the people in SE Asia, the people who would use the piece of paperfor prayer the next day. It was then, gradually, that the little miracle occurred. The room went silent. There was a buzz. They really did GET IT. Whether or not they each prayed is irrelevant. They were there and they were in the prayer. I stopped myself from spoiling it all with words. We just moved from there to the place where they could cut the paper into a heart shape.

Springtime for Jerry and Daytime

Ok so I am watching the Jerry Springer Opera right NOW.

I can certainly say that many of the expletives are just pointless and rather too obvious and patronising attempt to recreate the language of "people like that" which is even more bizarre in the curious dissonant style of modern opera.

Well i'ts no Don Giovanni, La Boheme or Aida! I'm swtiching to Billy Connoly. Probably MORE expletives but all of them REAL and unforced. I never find Billy offensive because he doesn't intend to offend. Perhaps that's my issue with the Jerry Springer thing. There's an intention to be offensive. Billy intends to amuse or to make you laugh. It is so often true that it is the thought that counts!

It is our intentions which determine the tone of whatever we do and which colour the way people receive us.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Opera shun review

Thank you to the anonymous comment with this link to an article written by a Methodist Christian who has seen the Jerry Springer Opera and was able to dispel a few myths about the content and outlook of the show

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Springer is Sprung... er?

I've just been listening to a discussion on the radio (on the Jeremy Vine show) about the controversy surrounding the proposed screening of The Jerry Springer Opera which contains some 8,000 expletives including those which are deemed particularly offensive as well as portraying the Virgin Mary as a victim of rape by an angel and similarly dubious and pejorative portrayals of Jesus and God. An unprecedented number of objections has been received by the BBC some 15,000 letters of protest. Indeed I know someone who has written.

Now I am all for exploring the issues of society through art and literature. I am also not of the belief that religion should be exempt from such scrutiny and exploration. However I think that, by the sound of it, this opera is using references to Mary and Jesus in order to shock as much as possible.

The discussion on the radio was between an art critic called Nicholas De Jong and a Christian preacher called John Blanshard. De Jong came across as aggressive and dismissive. Blanshard defended his position humbly and yet forcefully.

Here are some great highlights though:

Nicholas de Jong Have you SEEN the show?
John Blanshard: No and I haven't committed adultery
but that doesn't mean that I don't know it's wrong!

and my personal favourite...
Nicholas de Jong "We don't live in a theocratic state, thank God" (!)

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

I'm a lumberjack and I'm ok

Hazel and I had great fun this afternoon taking the decorations off the large church Christmas tree (of whacky star infamy). Now we could have done this the traditinoal climbing the ladder and carefully removing everything method in order to reduce needle droppage but as the tree (which was of exceedingly poor quality but given to us for free so...) had already thrown needles all over the floor of the church we thought we'd be a bit more... shall we say original?

Ok so it was partly that the VERY tall ladder is somewhat unwieldy and one of us had a sore back but there was also a tenny bit of mischievousness going on I think, if we're honest!

So there we are with a 15ft tree covered in gold and silver baubles and two sets of lights. We start by picking off the baubles we can reach.Then after that we start unpeeling the lights at the bottom. As we get high however, we can't reach any more baubles or untangle the lights from the upper branches, we reach an impasse.

Then comes a little gentle shaking of some lower branches and the gently *ping* of baubles hitting Victorian restoration wooden floor. A little gentle hopping and looping of light cable (unplugged - worry not!) from mid height branches. We now have a three quartes bare tree surrounded by a little green sea of needles.

Second impasse. Then a lightbulb appears above Hazel's head and a big grin grows on her face. "I'll be back in a sec" she says and goes off to the back of the church only to return with a long extendable pole (and a personal fanfare!). Champion!

So now proceeds the exciting task of unhooking the upper echelons of the lights from the tree. Of course in the process of this we occassionally knocked off the odd bauble here and there. Then the exchange of mischievous glances and the removal of baubles becomes the aim! Much excitement of bouncing baubles! Very cool.

We managed to clear the whole tree (except the star which was secured firmly with wire to the very top) ready for collection by the council tomorrow. It does however now look ABSOLUTELY dreadful! I do hope the Mothers' Union won't mind when they come for their service tomorrow!

Monday, January 03, 2005

Reduces the signs of aging

The signs of aging currently being experienced...

Aching limbs after rigorous barn dancing last night (do I actually HAVE muscles there?)

Realising I've been listening to Classical music and no other kind for several days.

Remembering too many sketches repeated in a documentary about Eric Morecambe.

The thought that I would have to EXPLAIN who Eric Morecambe is to my young people.

Being called "mum" by one of my young people!

So other than purchasing small pots of over-priced skin cream (I used to be an Avon lady. Trust me there's little difference between the expensive and the cheap creams!) how do I reduce these signs of aging?

Well my current strategy involves a hot bath with rejuvenating blend from Culpepper's, a chilled glass of wine and some music (drat it's currently Vivaldi - is that me STILL being old?)

Know me know my blog

I've been exploring the very deep rabbit hole that is the blogosphere and it's reconfirmed:

My Bloginality is ENFP!!!

Dreaming Spires

I drove over to Oxford today to meet some friends and go shopping and was pleased to catch a glimpse of Christchurch as a friend of mine gave me the great news that he will be singing there from October 2005. This is excellent because he was extremely keen and he also has a fantastic voice. It also gives me yet another excuse to go to one of my favourite places now and then. I mean I'll HAVE to go and hear evensong sometimes now, won't I? In Richard's honour I purchased a CD of Christchurch College choir singing Vivaldi's Gloria which is now resounding throughout the downstairs.

Yet it's not only the whole university thing with Oxford (I have no connections myself with that institution) I just lvoe the busy rush of the place and the fact that I have no duties there. I've spent time on retreat in Oxford and often go there for a day when I need to do a load of forward planning (using my "Oxford Office" as Ian calls the Coffee Republic!) without any distractions from emails and MSN.

Of course the added bonus of some amazing book shops for the occasional resource is a pleasant distraction not to mention the other fabulous shops. I was very good today and was tempted only by the sale at HMV and even there I was restrained and only bought two CDs, the aforementioned Vivaldi and Adiemus, Sanctuary.

It's a curious thing. I bought two "classical" CDs which is not entirely within character but recently I have been listening to Classic FM as I've driven (rather a lot) through the English winter countryside to visit friends. When I looked at my CD collection, however, I discovered that much of what I enjoyed hearing on the radio doesn't feature at all so I decided to begin a campaign of rectifying that a litte. I know that in fact I used to have more classical CDs but some which I had gathered during my university years got subsumed into my Dad's collection when I was living at home and a few are still there (including a much-missed Hildegarde von Bingen collection!). I retrieved the Vaughan-Williams last year as I just COULDN'T live without that one but I don't really have the heart to repurloin the others.

So if I'm seeking to rebuild a collection of classical music on CD what else do I need? Suggestions anyone?

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Ye olde Blogge

I happened to be trying to find a website I'd heard mentioned on the radio a few weeks ago and I found a whole list of the sites that had been recommended. Among them was something far too fun. There is a site where you can build your own historic tale based on the Bayeux Tapestry. I just hope I don't use up my blogging time on tales of "the curious man" (No seriously that's what one of the images is called!")

Firmly Resolved

I made a decision to give up New Year's resolutions this year! Trouble is... like all resolutions I find it hard to keep. I rather feel that I ought to make a resolution about something. One friend suggested I should resolve to be tidier. In fact I've been trying that for a while - clearly it hasn't been too effective though if she hadn't noticed! However the office certainly needs a bit of re-ordering and that's on my agenda for this week. Yet I don't that's REALLY a resolution surely?

So maybe, for once, in resolving NOT to make a resolution I will KEEP a resolution!

Saturday, January 01, 2005


Had a fascinating discussion this evening with two friends about all kinds of things but one of the big issues we discussed was PRAYER. Does it work? What are we doing when we pray for people? Does it have a greater impact on God, on the person we prayer for, or on ourselves? Are we aligning ourselves with God? (with God's plan or God's thought or God's love for us) or are we really asking for things and expecting them to happen?

In my prayer life I consider myself to be building a relationship. The more time I spend with God the better I understand God (yet and also the more I realise how much I can't encompass God!) just as in any other relationship. I believe that God calls us to live our lives in a particular way and often to do particular things but I don't believe this is predestination. I have a firm belief in God's desire for us to make a choice to follow what God wills for us. I'm also aware that I for one don't always do exactly what God would will me to do but that doesn't mean that my life is going WRONG according to some pre-ordained plan.