Thursday, June 30, 2005

The meeting of minds

Here is further evidence of why it is so much more interesting being on a "committee" made up of young people. Ok so we may not have got as much done as we shoud have but most committees get sidetracked into some bizarre tangential irrelevancies; it's just that ours are funny!

So herewith are the minutes as taken by some of the young people and with only one deletion (to save your sensebilities!) and before you ask... no I do not understand all of it!

Youth Task group

Invite, VIC, Kate on to youth council
Consider Emily to come onto youth council
Also consider, Heather, Brenda, Pete, Lydia

Should the youth be on any other task groups
Finance and stewardship
Mission and outreach
Worship and music
Social responsibility


Occasionally 2 people can go to either mission and outreach or worship and music

NEXT TIME : Wheelie chairs
Meeting Tuesday 6th September!

Film night ideas:

Meet the fockers
Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy
NOT Mr & Mrs Smith
**Ask people at pulse about Films**

Respect the Squirrels


I’m in a huff
+ angry
No drumming, again may vote at pulse

Film night
• Kingdom of heaven
• Mr and Mrs Smith OR NOT
• Starwars

Who’s seen the advert with the laughing man?
I Love that advert!!!!
Me 2
Woooooo Go us


Christmas eve party
Need to check dates about christingle

ME like you

Christmas stuff
Carol singing
(8) Shine Jesus Shine (8)

Theme park going
Bowling at the us air base

Me Me Mi Mo

Lorenzo expert at creeping in the back door

NEWS FLASH: Sarah looks like the grinch

Names for benders XP band thingy

Kung-Fu Hussle
XBeat – Sux monkey tail
Logoable, and funkyable
New XP
XP Update
Randy McRider

Is Sarah the real Grinch?
October Fest!!!!!
Xp the 15th in Octomister
15th Sarah is away, because someone is dressing in white
Swapping xp and Pulse

Oh My Starry eyed surprise, sun down to sun rise we gunna dance all night to this DJ

Live in a Tree and be happy (Thx to Becky)
Too much talking not enough Sign language

Good ideas of letting people leave when they want to
Having a discussion after would, voluntarily
Youth doing testimonials, in the Discussion time

Need to find a date for mural painting
Another Weekend away PLEASE
Idea for activity at Weekend away – Let youth build tents or shelter.
Another youth hostel!

Yet another Monday

If want to be here and you want to be late – the best thing you can do is get lost on the way

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

You must become like young children...

Fantastic moment of the older and wiser learning from those younger than them this evening.

Our church has a new structure for the dreaded anglican institution which is the SUB COMMITTEE...

We've decided that ALL the groups (now task groups not committees) should meet AT THE SAME TIME in the same building and then all PCC members come together at the end of the evening if anything needs official processing.

This structure not only shows up how some people do LOTS of things instead of focussing on a particular ministry and rather challenges them to CHOOSE but it also frees up other evenings for teaching, discipling or social activities.

Yet the best bit for me this evening was the fact that the Youth Council and Youth Leaders' group has merged to produce the new YOUTH TASK GROUP. This task group was the only one to have DRINKS (a hot evening in a poorly ventilated hall!), BISCUITS (do they NEED any justification?) and a laptop for the minutes!

The vicar loved the way we worked so much (0r was it the biscuits and drinks??) that he stayed with us for quite a while when he was supposed to be "floating" from group to group.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Back on the blog

Apologies for the light posting recently...

I've been on leave and my laptop died so I've not been anywhere near a PC which has been, I'm sorry to say, FABULOUS!

So what have you missed?

Great weekend with SAOMC on the subject of Marriage.

Wonderful service celebrating the ordination of my friend (and predecessor in my current post) Pete.

Cool barbecue with lots of people I care about including lots of giggles, good food, cute little chinese lanterns, some mean croquet, FAR too many balloons for sensible adults, 8 litres of Pimms, 36 pints of beer and now LOTS of empty bottles :D

Then a great lazy day of some light tidy up and a girly day in Reading with Pauline and Ami including the successful purchase of a dress for this wedding I'm going to in October.

Then today... purchase of new laptop (being collected tomorrow) coffee with Ian M and a view of my article in Perspectives - my name in print again - whooohooo! - and the last session of term with SAOMC on Human Development int he first half and Death and Resurrection in the Old Testament themes. The sessions were both pretty cool with good discussions in each involving lots of people (though still not everyone there - you know who you are sweetie!).

and tomorrow?

Back to work.

8 am Eucharist!

Oh boy!

Friday, June 24, 2005

Thank Gromit it's Friday

Well obviously for some of you it's only Thursday but due to my somewhat discombobulated laptop and the fact that I am on leave and therefore away fromt he office PC you have to have this from the "Oxford office" computer.

Tomorrow/Today, apparently is Wrong Trousers Day.

How could I have missed this!??

Wrong Trousers Day on Friday, 24 June is in aid of the Wallace & Gromit's Children's Foundation which helps children in hospitals and hospices throughout the UK.

The idea is simply to turn up to work, school or anywhere you like wearing 'the wrong trousers'.

Of course it depends on your definition of "wrong".

Men in a black jacket and navy blue trousers is a start I suppose.

Ami would probably be able to give stylistic advice along the lines, "Those trousers are just WRONG with that top".

Others might argue that trousers might in somewhere be inherently sinful, perhaps all post-fall trousers would be encompassed in this category. Though come to think of it ... ALL trousers are post fall aren't they? aaah... there you go then!

Anyway back to the serious point...

Anyone taking part is asked to pay a pound to the charity - though of course the more you raise the better.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Fab time on my hols so far.

I am pretending that I am actually away whilst in fact staying in my own house.

I have been swimming (and plan on going again today)

Today I came over to Oxford (hence access to the internet via the "Oxford office") had a coffee with Ian and then a picnic in the university parks with Chris followed by ice-cream from G and D in Little Clarendon Street - SCRUMPTIOUS!

Then lots of girly shopping (with a brief geek moment in Millets in prep for the Taize trip!)

and finally catching up with email here at Coffee republic!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Cheekiness works

As some of you may well know, I'm hosting a barbecue on Sunday but I hadn't heard back from quite everybody I invited so I sent round a gentle (ok maybe not that gentle!) reminder with a cheeky twist.

We had the story of the great banquet from Luke's Gospel as the second reading last Sunday evening:

He said also to the one who had invited him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, "Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!" Then Jesus said to him, "Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, "Come; for everything is ready now.' But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, "I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.' Another said, "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.' Another said, "I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.' So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, "Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.' And the slave said, "Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.' Then the master said to the slave, "Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.' "

So I used it as a model for my subtle "nudge":

As some of you may have noticed the Gospel reading set for last Sunday evening was the parable of the great banquet... (Luke 14.12-24)

Can you let me know whether

a) you are coming to the barbecue on Sunday
b) you havebought a piece of land, and must go out and see it
c) you have bought five yoke of oxen, and are going to try them out
d) you have just been married, and therefore cannot come


Well it solicited six additional responses so it obviously worked!

Was it too cheeky?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Walk the walk

Very exciting news today that our youth group in July will spend some time watching Live8 on a large screen, some time playing out in the sunshine and some time desigining a mural. This is all thanks to the High Wycombe CofE School combined who are hosting us and letting us help the children of the school design a mural in their playground as part of the Fresh Noise Project.

Of course that's all the fun element of Live8 but there's a serious side too.

So if you want the governments of the world to take this all seriously what can you do?

Well of course you can go to the MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY site for inspiration where you'll find out how to get a white band to raise awareness. That means that you don't just wear it but you TALK to people about WHY you're wearing it! You can also put one on your blog or other website!

Well you can sign the list RIGHT NOW .

However there is also going to be a safer alternative to joining the masses at Edinburgh in person. You're going to be able to send your PICTURE to be pinned up along the fences to show how many people WOULD be there if they could. What a great idea, eh? Check out for more details soon.

Credo in unum deum

I did that theological world view test. erm... Not sure it's as nuanced as it needs to be!

You scored as Roman Catholic. You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.

Roman Catholic




Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox


Modern Liberal


Classical Liberal




Reformed Evangelical




What's your theological worldview?
created with

In my defence I think I will refer you to the words of a much wiser man. Hugh Montefiore wrote something just before he died about why he stayed an Anglican. It was published inlast week's edition of the Church Times. Annoyingly it's only available online to subscribers so I'm just going to type in a bit. Of course you should all be buying the Church Times if ONLY to see the fabulous cartoons of my fabulously talented friend Dave Walker.

Montefiore's arguments focussed on redressing the question of him becoming a Roman Catholic. He argued on the grounds of his differing theological outlook on certain parts of dogma, the Roman Catholic assertion that the Pope can be infallible, the overemphasis of the church on the role of the clergy rather than the laity, the assumption of the blessed Virgin Mary, sexuality and celibacy, and finally the ban on birth control and its "condemning many who will die from AIDS". Yet aside from his specific arguments I found his conclusion excellent.

"And so I make do with the Church of England. It is by no means perfect; and the Anglican Communion is gpong through a difficult timeat the moment. But Anglicanism will always go through difficult times because it is the ecumenical movement in miniature. I like belonging to a Church that contains different traditions of worship but which offers worship both from the Book of Common Prayer and from Common Worship. I am happy to worship alongside others who hold views different from my own, for we are all disciples ofChrist. I love a Church that is both Catholic and Reformed, and which is always open to new ways of expressing age-old Christian truth. I love a Church that has pastoral responsibilities not just to itsmembers but to all who live in its parishes. There are aspects of the Church ofEngland that infuriate me (and not only me) but deep down I dearlylove the Church that I joined when I first became a Christian."

Monday, June 20, 2005

"Man" with two brains?

Fasincating test online at the BBC all about whether your brain is male or female. It turns out I am indeed female.

My scores for each task

Part 1


This task tested your ability to identify the angle of a line by matching it with its twin. This is a spatial task, which looks at how you picture space.

Your score: 13 out of 20

Average score for men: 15.1 out of 20

Average score for women: 13.3 out of 20

What does your result suggest?

If you scored 0 - 12: You have more of a female brain. Scientists believe that people with a female brain find it more difficult to judge the slope of a line because they're not wired for spatial tasks. In past studies, 65 per cent of people who scored in this range were women.

If you scored 13 - 17: You found this test neither hard nor easy. This suggests your brain has male and female traits when it comes to spatial ability.

If you scored 18 - 20: You have more of a male brain. On average, men outperform women in this task and those with more mathematical knowledge tend to score quite high as well. In past studies, 60 per cent of the people in this range were men.

Interestingly, men's testosterone levels fluctuate through the seasons and studies have shown that men's scores are lower in the spring, when their testosterone levels are at their lowest.

Do our cave dwelling ancestors offer us any clues about why men and women score differently on this task? Find out more.

Spot the difference

This task tested your ability to identify which objects changed position. You lost points, if you incorrectly identified objects.

Your score: 71%

Average score for men: 39%

Average score for women: 46%

What does your score suggest?

If you scored between 0 - 33%: You may have more of a male brain. Scientists say men tend to under perform in this task. The corpus callosum, the part of the brain that links the right and left hemispheres, is a fifth larger in women. This means women can process visual and other signals at the same time more easily than men. There is also a theory that oestrogen levels in women give them an added advantage in spatial memory.

If you scored between 34 - 66%: You may have a balanced female-male brain.

If you scored between 67 - 100%: Those with a female-type brain generally score in this range. Your ability to remember where objects are may serve as an advantage to you when you're trying to find your way around places. You're more capable of recalling landmarks to get from one place to another.

Find out more about our spatial abilities

Part 2


You said your left thumb was on top when you clasped your hands together.

Right thumb on top: This suggests the left half of your brain is dominant. Many studies have tried to establish whether there is a relationship between handedness and brain dominance. Some scientists believe that if you are left brain dominant, you would be more verbal and analytical.

Left thumb on top: This suggests the right half of your brain is dominant. Some studies theorise that as a right brain dominant person, you may excel in visual, spatial and intuitive processes.

However, these theories are debatable and leave much to be said about the small percentage of people who are ambidextrous.

Find out why right-brained people may be better fighters and artists

Part 3

Emotions and Systems

This task looked at whether you prefer to empathise or systemise.


Your empathy score is: 16 out of 20

Average score for men: 7.9 out of 20

Average score for women: 10.6 out of 20

What does your result suggest?

Empathisers are better at accurately judging other people's emotions and responding appropriately. If you scored 15 and above, you are very empathic and would be an ideal person to comfort people in a time of crisis. Women in general are better at empathising.


Your systemising score is: 6 out of 20

Average score for men: 12.5 out of 20

Average score for women: 8.0 out of 20

What does your result suggest?

Systemisers prefer to investigate how systems work. A system can be a road map, flat pack furniture, or a mathematical equation – anything that follows a set of rules. A score of 15 and above suggests you're good at analysing or building systems. Men in general are better at systemising.

Scientists are keen to learn more about people who score high or low on both tests. They want to find out whether or not empathising and systemising are linked. Is a possible to make yourself more empathic?

Some scientists claim that our empathy and systemising abilities can be traced all the way back to prehistoric times. Find out more.


This task tested your ability to judge people's emotions.

Your score: 7 out of 10

Average score for men: 6.6 out of 10

Average score for women: 6.6 out of 10

What does your result suggest?

If you scored 0 - 3: Do you think you're good at judging how another person is feeling? Your score suggests this doesn't come to you quite so naturally.

If you scored 4 - 6: Your result suggests you have a balanced female-male brain and find it neither easy nor difficult to judge people's emotions.

If you scored 7 - 10: Your result suggests you are a good empathiser, sensitive to other people's emotions. Women generally fall into this category.

Professor Baron-Cohen at the University of Cambridge says that people usually perform better than they expect to on this test.

Men often think a person's eyes are sending signals of desire when that's not the case at all. Find out more.

Part 4


We asked you to measure your ring and index fingers. Your ratios came to:

Right Hand: 0.94

Left Hand: 0.97

Average ratio for men: 0.982

Average ratio for women: 0.991

It's thought that your ratio is governed by the amount of testosterone you were exposed to in your mother's womb. The ratio of the length of your index finger to the length of your ring finger is set for life by as early as three months after conception. Even during puberty, when we experience intensive hormonal changes, the ratio stays the same.

Men generally have a ring finger that is longer than their index finger, which gives them a lower ratio than women, whose ring and index fingers are usually of equal length.

Studies have found that men and women with lots of brothers generally have more masculine finger ratios. Find out what other things scientists think our ratios may tell us.

Part 5


This task looked at how you rate the attractiveness of a series of faces. The images you looked at were digitally altered to create slight differences in masculinity.

Your choices suggest you prefer more masculine faces.

Highly masculinised male faces possess more extreme testosterone markers such as a long, broad and lower jaw, as well as more pronounced brow ridges and cheekbones.

Interestingly, women's preferences are said to vary across the menstrual phase. A more masculine face is preferred during the 9 days prior to ovulation, when conception is most likely.

A typical 'attractive' female face possesses features such as a shorter, narrower, lower jaw, fuller lips and larger eyes than an average face.

Are you surprised at what researchers think they can learn from your answers? Find out more.

Part 6

3D shapes

This task tested your ability to mentally rotate 3D shapes.

Your score: 7 out of 12

Average score for men: 8.2 out of 12

Average score for women: 7.1 out of 12

What does your result suggest?

If you scored 0 - 6: Do you find yourself having to physically rotate a map to point in the direction in which you're travelling? This might explain why you scored in the lower range in the 3D shapes test. Twice as many women as men score in this category. Previous studies suggest that those with a female-type brain or with an arts background fall into this range.

If you scored 7 - 9: In past studies, 50 per cent of the people who scored in this range were women and 50 per cent were men.

If you scored 10 - 12: Are you an engineer or do you have a science background? People with these skills tend to score in this range. Past studies have concluded that people in this range have a more male brain.

Nearly a third of men who took this test got full marks, whereas less than 10 per cent of women managed the same. Find out why.


This task looked at your verbal fluency.

Your score: you associated 7 word(s) with **** and you named 10 word(s) that mean *****. We are assuming that all the words you entered are correct.

Average score for men: 11.4 words total

Average score for women: 12.4 words total

What does your result suggest?

If you produced 1 - 5 words: You are more of the strong, silent type with a male brain. You probably find it easier to express yourself in non-verbal ways, preferring action rather than words.

If you produced 6 - 10 words: Most people in this range have a female-type brain.

Women are said to use both sides of the brain when doing verbal tasks while men mainly use their left side. Studies have shown that girls develop vocabulary faster than boys. This difference in brain power is caused by levels of pre-natal testosterone. Find out more .


This task asked you how you would divide money.

If you had to split £50 with someone, you said you would demand £25

So far on the Sex ID test, men have demanded 51.6% (£25.80) of the pot and women have demanded 51.0% (£25.50), on average.

What does your response suggest?

Sex differences are small in this task. Demanding less than 60% of the pot (ie £30) is more typically female. Demanding more than 65% of the pot (ie £32.50) is more typically male.

Scientists believe that people with lower testosterone levels tend to take fewer risks so they are probably more willing to keep less for themselves. Those with higher testosterone levels tend to drive a harder bargain and are less compromising.

Men's testosterone levels fluctuate over the seasons and are at their lowest levels during the springtime. This is said to influence their bargaining power. Find out more about the role of testosterone.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Out of this world

I had a fascinating evening on Friday spending time in a totally secular group. Working for the church I find that I very rarely meet with a group that isn't made up of a majority of Christians or at least some Christians. However on Friday it was just me.

One chap, Paul started to tell us all "a funny story" about a girlfriend who had told him, "There are three of us in this relationship; you me and God!" Then realising that he didn't know me (my friend had only introduced me to him some ten minutes before!), he asked (with a nonne) "You're not religious at all are you?"*smirk* "Actually I work for a church." says I *GRIN* **innocent smile**

When he'd picked his chin up from the table he then proceeded to quiz me closely on the existence of God, Life after death, sex before marriage, evolution, the selfishness of humanity, the pointlessness of life and so much more. My friend felt he'd rather dropped me in it but actually I found it really challenging.

I dispelled a few myths that "ALL CHRISTIANS" believe certain things and talked to him a lot about the difference between God and religion (as he'd had a bad experience with a church which he felt had taken advantage of him when he was having a difficult time in life.)

Paul eventually stopped asking questions but only because the rest of the group were getting bored and some even a little freaked that we were even talking about it.

It was later in the evening that Paul returned to the topic. It was my turn to challenge him. I told him I was fascinated that he had so many questions about it
all as this showed that he wanted to know and wanted answers, despite his voluble rejection of it all as pathetic.

I was really pleased to spend time with these people, some of whom were really lovely kind and deep people (it was in the pub so some were, shall we say, less than "deep"!). It reassured me, in fact, that life without faith, without faith-based values can be so lacking in HOPE. Some of them genuinely believed that their lives didn't matter; that what they did didn't matter and this so much determined how they spent their time, not valuing themselves and settled unhappily in damaging relationships. It wasn't the time for preaching, for bible-bashing, for heavy duty moralising. I hope I showed my faith without words with most of them. I don't know. I may never know. What it DID tell me was that we in churches SO need to get outside of them more often.

It is wonderful for Christians to have a supportive community in which they are fed every Sunday (or every day... or perhaps only every month) yet I think we all need to be incredibly conscious of being the Christian in the world the rest of the time, to "shine as points of light in the darkness" through our faith and our actions. I think this may in fact be easier for those who don't work for the church as their full time employment. I remember when I was a university lecturer, most of my students and colleagues were non-Christians and life was therefore very different. It was interesting that Christian students and colleagues just KNEW I was a Christian. So too, some non-Christians just KNEW I was a Christian and even asked me about it all yet I didn't speak of my faith that often.

As we are not so able to do it, those of us working for the church should perhaps be concentrating on empowering those who spend their time outside the church to speak humbly and simply about what they believe and why. For youth workers of course, that means not only adults but young people.

How do we show young people how to share their faith in a humble way that doesn't make people feel "got at" as Paul experienced?

Friday, June 17, 2005


I just can't resist joining the throng of those playing the latest google based game which I've christened Whoogle but it was Tim's idea!

For those of you who've missed the pics on Tim and Pete's blogs, the "rules" are simple:

You type the name of a person you know into the google image search
You pick one of the pictures on the first (or perhaps second!) page
You post the picture along with the person's name
People see the post and hopefully smile (or maybe even laugh!!!)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Peter Backman (dot.bench)

Dave Walker

Anne Berit

Mark Berry

Simo - so u're not left out mate!

Peter Maidment ;oP

Ian Macdonald!

Deep cries unto deep

I spotted another blog with a Deep Thought - like title on blogshares!

This also pointed me to another one of those fascinating tests which tells you which book of the Bible you are according to your theology. I was rather surprised but there you go!

You are Proverbs
You are Proverbs.

Which book of the Bible are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

It reminded me of something I heard on Tuesday evening. A woman was suggesting that she could recommend which saints' writings a person should read or would find appealing according to their Myers Briggs personality type. Fascinating idea. I've found a website with a cute little cleric which gives a basic indicator. Straw poll - does this fit you?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Beetroot in my pocket

Great meeting at the24-7 prayer initiative called the Boiler Room in Reading with the Oxford Diocesan Youth Network. Andy Freeman told us all about the way the Bolier Room developed from a weekend long prayer event with his young people. Now they have a permanent centre which they are developing to include a music centre, an art studio and lots of different prayer rooms. He then led us in a reflaction including beetroots (so we could reflect on our own roots) and seeds so we could think about all those seeds we, as youth workers, plant in young people. I found the prayer time really empowering and connecting. It was much in the style of the Xp worship we do at All Saints with the young people (one this saturday in fact!) but of course I'm normally leading that so my experience is a bit different. Today reassured me that the style we use really does help people conect to God.

I then had to rush over to Iain Rennie at Tring for the Chrysalis Club meeting to review the feedback we had received from the volunteers, parents and children.Once again some glowing praise for the Sport and Parachute sessions so I was rather chuffed! However it was rather funny when I realised that I still had the beetroot in my pocket!

Think about where I started with this post though, Andy went from a 24-7 prayer weekend to a full time growing project?

Be warned - when you plant seeds they grow!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

And did those feet...

If you were expecting some serious theological reflection on that great favourite "Jerusalem", I'm sorry but you're going to be disappointed.


Instead you're going to get one of those random thoughts that occur to me once in a while.

This time it was whilst sitting in the chapel at Ripon College, Cuddesdon before evening prayers with the SAOMC.

I was looking up at the stained glass window, beautifully illuminated with the evening sun and I noticed for the first time that only ONE person in the whole window has a robe which is not so long that you cannot see his or her feet and even in that one instance, you can only see one foot.

What is that about?

I've noticed it in other windows too!

Do holy people not show their feet?

Why only ONE foot in some cases?

And another thing... when there's only one foot showing why is it always in a funny position forward and slightly to the side?

Best foot forward perhaps?

It does remind me of the Levitical priest actually! Not sure if I mentioned this before but a Levitical priest's foot got me into trouble!

My friend Mark and I were sitting in our evening class on Hebrews when Mark turned the page in his delightfully/cheesily illustrated Good News Bible there was a picture of a Levtical priest (with reference to the superiority of Christ's priesthood "in the order of Melchizidek" over the traditional priesthood of the Jewish community).

This was a rather silly looking picture and it was just as Alan was reiterating that the Levitical order was inferior that I noticed that the pirest in the picture only had... wait for it... ONE FOOT. At that moment my brain said "Well it WOULD be a weaker order of priesthood... he's only got one leg!" This made me giggle out loud and that made Mark look at me with a "What???" and THAT got us both told off! Alan actually used the words, "Am I going to have to separate you two?" Mark still didn't get it until I then explained it later causing HIM to giggle and get told off again!

Well I thought THAT was funny until I found THIS SITE of religious costumes

There must be people who buy these things. That is scary!

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Gathered community

We had a visiting worship band and visiting preacher at All Saints' on Sunday evening and it made me think about the importance of the pastoral and community element of worship. I didn't feel that I was part of the gathered community on Sunday evening. It wasn't that the band or the speaker were bad - not at all - but, for me it didn't quite hang together. I find it hard to express what I mean by all this so I hope you'll bear with me.

The peopel who were in church were a disparate group from lots of different churches. The band was from another church community and the preacher was from yet a different community. Now, of course, we are all part of the Christian community and so I shouldn't have found any issue with all this but I didn't feel that the people there were a community. Was it that there wasn't a clear leader to hold it altogether? Was it because the hosting community wasn't sufficiently cohesive? Was it just me being tired after a very hectic day of sport with the youth club the day before? I don't know.

What I do know is this. Worship is not just about good music, good preaching and the good book. There is a need for it to be ac ommunity gathered and for that gathered community to have a relationship not only with God but with each other.

Friday, June 10, 2005

A clean break?

Great time wandering about Oxford this afternoon with occasional pauses to add a bit of colour to the book. Fab news that Chris has submitted his dissertation today - well done mate! - and there were lots of students fresh from their last exams bedecked with glitter, balloons, hair dye and various unknown substances. Made me a little nostalgic for my former university teaching days when Coz walked into my class room with a bucket of mushy peas, a bucket of gravy and some bags of rice to "muck up" her rugby team mates after the end of their exams. It wasn't something we did particularly (I seem to recall the end of finals being a time for champagne and other similar beverages!) and I have to say I don't think I'd really like beign covered in all that goop but it is goood to see people living life with energy (even if it is the job of someone I know to stop them!! Good luck with that!)

Any other name

I had a meeting with Ian this morning and discussions with him made me realise that I hadn't actually explained the rose installation in the living room.

It is the result of some rather over-enthusiastic weeding out of some bindweed! It is in fact a relatively minor loss to the fabulous rose bush I have inherited in the garden of the youthworker's house. I just wish you could add fragrances to blogs!

Hopefully some of you can see it in all its glory when you come for the barbecue on the 26th!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Mille Failte

Went to see the new film Millions with my dad yesterday.

It is a wonderful observation of two brothers, one a young, sweet, kind, charitable lad and the other a bit of a mercernary, cool, materialistic, lovable rogue.

The exploration of the very different ways the two deal with the death of their mother and the discovery of a great deal of money is wonderful and full of lessons to thoe working with young people. One of the boys has very material aspirations and the other is so un-like his brother that actually he faces issues of exclusion.

The appearance of various saints to guide the young boy along his way is also a great idea and St Nicholas talking in Latin was just an amazing bonus for this ex-medievalist!

I'd really recommend it as a must see. It made me smile and made me cry (yeah, yeah I know what a wuss!) and yet I came out feeling the world was full of hope.

It's not only the concept of the film but also the execution of it which is fascinating. The film is set just before Christmas and yet the skies are blue, the sun shines, flowers are brightly coloured and the school playground is full of huge colourful balls. The way the film cuts from one scene to another is just delightful. It may be cheesy but I really liked it. I heard the director talking on the radio about it and he said this reflected the way that children view the world as an amazing place full of colour and flavour.

In order to enter the kingdom of heaven you must become like little children... oh so true! :oD

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Who else has a rose installation in their living room?

Youthy Work

Interesting session in the Human Development course last ngiht. We reached adolescence and early adulthood. Some strong indications that actually I may NOT yet have reached early adulthood but am in fact still an adolescent (doing lots of things at once on a computer, being eager to get that new Coldplay album, thrill seeking through dangerous sports). When someone pointed out that there ARE some people who continue this adolescent tendency (passion, shall we say to make ourselves feel better?) through jobs which basically involve "play", peopel began to suggest career types that do that including geek programmers, I added "Oh and youthworkers!" Someone else just hastily added "No, they don't!" :oO It was funny! I don't think that person knows what I do for a living.

Anyway there was an excellent discussion about mimetic desire (especially good for all thos of you reading Kenda Creasey Dean's, Practicing Passion) and how this leads to the need for ministers to act as a role model for people in their relationship with God. Charles also said a brilliant thing about LOVE:

"Love is in the gift of the giver and its economy is completely anarchic... love is not a bargain. To talk about rights, you've missed the whole point!"

A great concept to help people deal with the whole unrequitted love, rejection deal or with young people for the now oh so ubiquitous "U R Dmped" text.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

With what rapture...

Tim has already swiped it for his blog but Mark gets the credit for finding this fantastic story at Matt's blog.


A Little Rock woman was killed yesterday after leaping through her moving car's sun roof during an incident best described as "a mistaken rapture" by dozens of eye witnesses. Thirteen other people were injured after a twenty-car pile up resulted from people trying to avoid hitting the woman who was apparently convinced that the rapture was occurring when she saw twelve people floating up into the air, and then passed a man on the side of the road who she claimed was Jesus.

"She started screaming "He's back, He's back" and climbed right out of the sunroof and jumped off the roof of the car," said Everett Williams, husband of 28-year-old Georgann Williams who was pronounced dead at the scene. "I was slowing down but she wouldn't wait till I stopped," Williams said.

She thought the rapture was happening and was convinced that Jesus was gonna lift her up into the sky," he went on to say. "This is the strangest thing I've seen since I've been on the force," said Paul Madison, first officer on the scene. Madison questioned the man who looked like Jesus and discovered that he was dressed up as Jesus and was on his way to a toga costume party when the tarp covering the bed of his pickup truck came loose and released twelve blow up sex dolls filled with helium which floated up into the air.

Ernie Jenkins, 32, of Fort Smith, who's been told by several of his friends that he looks like Jesus, pulled over and lifted his arms into the air in frustration, and said , "Come back here," just as the Williams' car passed him, and Mrs. Williams was sure that it was Jesus lifting people up into the sky as they passed by him, according to her husband, who says his wife loved Jesus more than anything else.

When asked for comments about the twelve sex dolls, Jenkins replied "This is all just too weird for me. I never expected anything like this to happen."

Monday, June 06, 2005

Jumping Jehosophat

As you might have noticed from the picture filled postings of last night, I was left somewhat speechless by the incredible experience of jumping out of a small plane, freefalling for 45 seconds (and covering about a mile of sky in the process!) then gently floating to earth and playing with the clouds before a graceful landing (as recorded on DVD!) back on the ground at Weston on the Green.

I will never forget the sheer terror of looking out from a nice secure plane at the very distant ground. There is an innate sense of safety within that says “No! Don’t get out of the plane! Stay in the plane!” Fortunately I was strapped MOST securely to my tandem jumper Andy so there was no chance of me changing my mind! The next 4 seconds were unbelievably unnerving. I did scream! My entire body tried to reject the whole sensation. I was falling. My body said, “No. This is not good. Stop this” Then after the initial full body shock of falling (and I think when Andy launched the stabilising chute) we were then body surfing on the air. On the DVD you only get the tiniest sensation of what it was like but it is there. Only forty seconds later, the chute was opened and it all changed. This produced the second and final scream of distress. There was a battle between the extremely powerful force of gravity which had been pulling us enticingly towards the earth and the lesser but determined force of the drag created by the beautiful purple and black parachute. The radical change from falling to floating was INCREDIBLE. It was gentle and reassuring and beautiful. Then Andy got me to stand on his feet while he slackened off the side loops, first right, then left, so that, instead of being bound tightly together, I was hanging more freely in front of him. I was proud of myself that I didn’t get unnerved by this as he had suggested we might in the briefing. After that it was all plain sailing. Andy let me steer and we did a little bit of looping about. Then we were coming near a cloud and we steered round so that we skirted round the top edges of the cloud. It was the fulfilling of so many childhood daydreams when I was flying with my family on the way to a holiday.

I was walking on a cloud.

It was sheer heaven. I have always loved watching clouds and wanted to walk through them and to get the chance to do that was just superb. It was amazing. The cloud is there and it is tangible. It’s not like some kind of celestial marshmallow as I’d always thought or a floating breath of cotton wool. No, of course not. Physics would tell me that it is a collection of water molecules. A patch of vapour. Well in many ways that is what a cloud is but it is not what a cloud truly is. It is an amazing rush of a renewed perspective on your surroundings. It’s there before you go through it and then something entirely different when you’re in there; a cold brush of silence and a refreshing envelopment of cool vitality.

I had a wonderful view of all the fields and the soon to be setting sun while Andy explained various things to do with wind direction, airspeed, groundspeed and drift. Then he got me to practice the position for landing and after a bit of a turnaround we began our descent. It was gentler than a rollercoaster and yet more invigorating. With a careful bit of steering, Andy got us to land just in front of Chris’s waiting camera for a great cinematic landing of which I am rather proud!

The experience was all the more wonderful for all the waiting. I was put in the last jump of the day. When we arrived at 9 am that seemed like it would be some time around 3 pm which sounded an awfully long time away but in fact, because of cloud levels they had to stop jumps for a while and so I didn’t end up getting in the plane until 5.45. I’m utterly indebted to my dad, my brother Ian and his wife Louise and her parents Richard and Jackie for coming along to support me and sit around for HOURS waiting for those few moments of excitement. It was also thanks to Andy Ford and Chris on camera that I had such a fabulous time in the sky and indeed a great souvenir of the event in the form of a DVD (which can be viewed on request!)

I also want to thank all the people who have donated money so that I have raised (so far – with still a few people wanting to sponsor me) over £900 for Iain Rennie Hospice at Home. Once the costs of the jump have been carried that should mean that Iain Rennie get £700 towards their work.

I know I have said it before but Iain Rennie is a fantastic charity and having 34 people jumping out of the sky yesterday should have raised them a lot of money to celebrate their twenty years, so far, in style. More importantly I hope that the money raised will not only secure the charity for at least another twenty years but also enable the nurses to work in a larger area. Currently Iain Rennie can only serve three counties. I would love to see their fantastic work being spread across the whole country. I don’t know how they do it but Iain Rennie manages to attract some incredible people to work for them including those I’ve worked with before (and even one guy – Paul who was jumping with me yesterday!). The nurses show great skill and gentle care not only of the patients but of those looking after them and living with them at home. Through their dedication, the Iain Rennie nurses enable families to stay together and get the most out of the time they have left together. They also support the bereaved after the death of their loved ones through pastoral care visits and through events such as the Chrysalis club which I am fortunate enough to support. This is the kind of work that you just cannot put a price on in terms of value but of course it does cost. So if you haven’t sponsored me yet, get in touch or just get on to the Iain Rennie website and donate!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Jumping Jack Flash

Big day tomorrow! Many thanks to all my sponsors. I have raised an amazing £900 of pledges which far exceeded my greatest hope and expectations.

Anyone wanting to come and spectate is welcome but I don't know the precise time of my jump. It won't be until 10am at the earliest but anyone wanting to come should get in touch with me.

Just looking up the weather and it might be okay for the jump though I have to check the weather with the people at Weston on the Green early in the morning.

However I've found a source of philosophical silver lining to the potential rain cloud. You never know. If my jump tomorrow gets cancelled then I might just end up jumping with these guys:

What a TRIAL that would be!!!

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Importance of Being Austen

After a chat with a certain other blogger this evening, I am reminded that not all my readership is as familiar with my reference to Miss Bennet of Jane Austen fame as some other readers so I thought I would find for you the relevant passage which is below. I am slightly embarrassed that in fact the images in my mind were more of the excellent television adaptation than of the book itself even though it is my long-standing stand-by book for reading on my palm pilot whenever I am stuck somewhere unexpectedly. However I cannot possibly include a reference to this fantastic book without pointing out the most ownderful declaration of admiration ever written. Blow Shakespeare! This just says it all.

``In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.'' chapter 39

If a man were to say these words to me the world would indeed be perfect (if he looked like Colin Firth's Mr Darcy I think it would be heaven!)

Dreams aside, these are the passages concerning Derbyshire and in fact they have less in them than I remember but there is a wonderful description of one of those awkward conversations between two people who have feelings for one another which are unacknowledged.

From Chapter 42
"The time fixed for the beginning of their Northern tour was now fast approaching; and a fortnight only was wanting of it, when a letter arrived from Mrs. Gardiner, which at once delayed its commencement and curtailed its extent. Mr. Gardiner would be prevented by business from setting out till a fortnight later in July, and must be in London again within a month; and as that left too short a period for them to go so far, and see so much as they had proposed, or at least to see it with the leisure and comfort they had built on, they were obliged to give up the Lakes, and substitute a more contracted tour; and, according to the present plan, were to go no farther northward than Derbyshire. In that county, there was enough to be seen to occupy the chief of their three weeks; and to Mrs. Gardiner it had a peculiarly strong attraction. The town where she had formerly passed some years of her life, and where they were now to spend a few days, was probably as great an object of her curiosity, as all the celebrated beauties of Matlock, Chatsworth, Dovedale, or the Peak.

Elizabeth was excessively disappointed; she had set her heart on seeing the Lakes; and still thought there might have been time enough. But it was her business to be satisfied -- and certainly her temper to be happy; and all was soon right again.

With the mention of Derbyshire, there were many ideas connected. It was impossible for her to see the word without thinking of Pemberley and its owner. ``But surely,'' said she, ``I may enter his county with impunity, and rob it of a few petrified spars without his perceiving me.''

The period of expectation was now doubled. Four weeks were to pass away before her uncle and aunt's arrival. But they did pass away, and Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, with their four children, did at length appear at Longbourn. The children, two girls of six and eight years old, and two younger boys, were to be left under the particular care of their cousin Jane, who was the general favourite, and whose steady sense and sweetness of temper exactly adapted her for attending to them in every way -- teaching them, playing with them, and loving them.

The Gardiners staid only one night at Longbourn, and set off the next morning with Elizabeth in pursuit of novelty and amusement. One enjoyment was certain -- that of suitableness as companions; a suitableness which comprehended health and temper to bear inconveniences -- cheerfulness to enhance every pleasure -- and affection and intelligence, which might supply it among themselves if there were disappointments abroad.

It is not the object of this work to give a description of Derbyshire, nor of any of the remarkable places through which their route thither lay; Oxford, Blenheim, Warwick, Kenelworth, Birmingham, &c. are sufficiently known. A small part of Derbyshire is all the present concern. To the little town of Lambton, the scene of Mrs. Gardiner's former residence, and where she had lately learned that some acquaintance still remained, they bent their steps, after having seen all the principal wonders of the country; and within five miles of Lambton, Elizabeth found from her aunt that Pemberley was situated. It was not in their direct road, nor more than a mile or two out of it. In talking over their route the evening before, Mrs. Gardiner expressed an inclination to see the place again. Mr. Gardiner declared his willingness, and Elizabeth was applied to for her approbation.

``My love, should not you like to see a place of which you have heard so much?'' said her aunt. ``A place too, with which so many of your acquaintance are connected. Wickham passed all his youth there, you know.''

Elizabeth was distressed. She felt that she had no business at Pemberley, and was obliged to assume a disinclination for seeing it. She must own that she was tired of great houses; after going over so many, she really had no pleasure in fine carpets or satin curtains.

Mrs. Gardiner abused her stupidity. ``If it were merely a fine house richly furnished,'' said she, ``I should not care about it myself; but the grounds are delightful. They have some of the finest woods in the country.''

Elizabeth said no more -- but her mind could not acquiesce. The possibility of meeting Mr. Darcy, while viewing the place, instantly occurred. It would be dreadful! She blushed at the very idea; and thought it would be better to speak openly to her aunt than to run such a risk. But against this there were objections; and she finally resolved that it could be the last resource, if her private enquiries as to the absence of the family were unfavourably answered.

Accordingly, when she retired at night, she asked the chambermaid whether Pemberley were not a very fine place, what was the name of its proprietor, and, with no little alarm, whether the family were down for the summer. A most welcome negative followed the last question -- and her alarms being now removed, she was at leisure to feel a great deal of curiosity to see the house herself; and when the subject was revived the next morning, and she was again applied to, could readily answer, and with a proper air of indifference, that she had not really any dislike to the scheme.

To Pemberley, therefore, they were to go."

From Chapter 43
"As they walked across the lawn towards the river, Elizabeth turned back to look again; her uncle and aunt stopped also, and while the former was conjecturing as to the date of the building, the owner of it himself suddenly came forward from the road, which led behind it to the stables.

They were within twenty yards of each other, and so abrupt was his appearance, that it was impossible to avoid his sight. Their eyes instantly met, and the cheeks of each were overspread with the deepest blush. He absolutely started, and for a moment seemed immoveable from surprise; but shortly recovering himself, advanced towards the party, and spoke to Elizabeth, if not in terms of perfect composure, at least of perfect civility.

She had instinctively turned away; but, stopping on his approach, received his compliments with an embarrassment impossible to be overcome. Had his first appearance, or his resemblance to the picture they had just been examining, been insufficient to assure the other two that they now saw Mr. Darcy, the gardener's expression of surprise on beholding his master must immediately have told it. They stood a little aloof while he was talking to their niece, who, astonished and confused, scarcely dared lift her eyes to his face, and knew not what answer she returned to his civil enquiries after her family. Amazed at the alteration in his manner since they last parted, every sentence that he uttered was increasing her embarrassment; and every idea of the impropriety of her being found there recurring to her mind, the few minutes in which they continued together were some of the most uncomfortable of her life. Nor did he seem much more at ease; when he spoke, his accent had none of its usual sedateness; and he repeated his enquiries as to the time of her having left Longbourn, and of her stay in Derbyshire, so often, and in so hurried a way, as plainly spoke the distraction of his thoughts.

At length, every idea seemed to fail him; and, after standing a few moments without saying a word, he suddenly recollected himself, and took leave."

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Videos can be educational

As a result of former prosperity the small village of Tileswell boasts an impressive cathedral like church. We learned about this and other places when we were watching a fanTAStic 1970s promotional video about the Peak District which included one of those wonderful commentaries with floaty music.

As I was driving back today I nearly drove past Tileswell but couldn't quite resist a quick look so here it is.

I'm glad I did because there was a fabulous modern stained glass window depicting one of the stories we're going to be using in the Church of England school mural design this weekend. It was a real inspiration:

Let the children come to me for of such is the Kingdom of God.

A quick Peak

Here is the view of the campsite from the nearby hill which we climbed (rather more slowly than the scouts as we took a wrong turn and they didn’t – great suff, eh?!

This is the point at which I had my Lizzie Bennet moment “Beautiful!”

I think you can see why, thought. It is just incredible. God is FANTASTIC and his creation is truly awesome!

I’, particularly proud of this shot of the path/stream we walked down towards the end. I think it was finally judged to be a path as it had a gate but it certainly felt more like a stream!

Peak and Paradise

Just back from Scout camp up in Edale in Hope Valley Derbyshire. I did a far from convincing impression of Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice heroine for those who don't know - if such people can POSSIBLY exist!) in being inspired and filled with awe by the beauty of the Peak District.Unfortunately I didn't visit Pemberley and meet a bedraggled Mr Darcy fresh from his ride home. No for me it was just lots of bedraggled scouts as it rained almost the whole time I was there. It was still FABULOUS though and I'll post something mroe substantial and with pictures when I've washed the mud off!