Thursday, December 30, 2004

restoring lost wonder

mike starkey's book
Originally uploaded by Matt Rees.
getting our new kitten this week has really made me think about the lack of wonder in contemporary life. i have found myself getting a bit goo-ey over the little chap while i have just sat there and watched him play etc. it's been a new source of wonder for me and it's made me realise that i pay little attention to wonder in my life.
last year i read Mike Starkey's wonderful book - God, Sex and Generation X : the search for lost wonder - and i've been thinking about it again the last few days. As far as I remember, Starkey talks about mission in terms of restoring wonder to people. a kind of re-sacralizing of the world i guess (if he doesn't talk about that then someone somewhere should do!). i like that idea. at the end of the book he lists things that you can do to restore lost wonder (like take kids to the zoo etc.). I would definitely add 'get a kitten' to his list.

blogging is catching on

it seems that blogging is really beginning to catch on. there was a major piece in the Independent yesterday which you can read here. apparently the thing all of us bloggers now need to fear is comment spam on our blogs (which will ruin blogs in the same way it ruined usenet groups). what is up with spammers? what is it that gets them out of bed in the morning? i just don't understand the motivation of a spammer.
Anyway, here are some famous people's blogs (I make no apologies for linking to celebrities - how many of you bloggers out there link to Andrew Jones or Maggi Dawn!)

Jamie Oliver
Anita Roddick
Anna Kournikova
William Shatner
Alicia Keys
Gillian Anderson
Gene Simmons

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Getting Catty

are you R2D2 in disguise?
Our kitten has arrived! we collected him yesterday. i realise i may be losing all my manly credentials here but he's so cute!!! and bundles of fun. we're calling him a 'he' but we're not absolutely sure that he is male at the moment but we'll find out next week when we register him/her at the vet. i'm sure you will all be pleased to know that he has succesfully used his litter tray a couple of times. he is playing a lot, being very adventurous, and making lots of R2D2 type noises. we will announce his name to the world when we are sure of his sex

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Boxing Day

enjoying a quiet Christmas at my parent's home in North Wales. plenty of fine food etc. etc. amongst other presents my wife gave me, I was delighted to receive the final special-edition DVD of the Lord of the Rings trilogy - The Return of the King. Apparently, if you were to sit down and watch all three extended edition DVD's now you would need to set aside over 12 hours. and have a trained first-aider on standby i suggest.
anyway, not much to post but i did receive a very funny junk e mail today which i have cut and pasted below:
Become a legally ordained minister within 48 hours

As a minister, you will be authorized to perform the rites and ceremonies of the church!

Perform Weddings, Funerals, Perform Baptisms, Forgiveness of Sins
Visit Correctional Facilities

Want to start your own church?

Press here to find out how

I don't think the link will work from here - I hope not anyhow! (oh - I just checked it and it does so go ahead and get legally ordained, start your own church - it's the new punk). Anyway, Happy Christmas friends!

Monday, December 20, 2004

free mp3 downloads

for those of you that have been stimulated by some of the thinking that the guys in emergent are doing at the moment (and for anyone in hOME who enjoyed the evening we had with Brian Maclaren a couple of weeks ago) there are MP3's of the sessions from Emergent's U.S. conference with Walter Brueggemann available here. Brueggemann is one of the most progressive thinkers and writers on the Old Testament. I've downloaded them but haven't listened to them yet - saving them for the long car journeys over Christmas. There are some panel discussions available for download too.

m y l o - my lord!!

one of the guys from hOME (thanks Nita) has given us the Mylo album - Destroy Rock and Roll - for Christmas...and I've been a naughty boy and opened it already. and am i glad i did! this is an extraordinary album made by a guy on his computer on the Isle of Skye. It's the catchiest slab of electronica i've heard for a long time : fat bass lines and beats, some great samples etc. - very, very impressive. The title track opens with a sample from an American preacher calling down the judgement fire of God upon a long list of musicians (including U2 and Band Aid - hilarious!). 'Scotland's answer to Royksopp' say The Face. For more acolades and a review go here. You need this album in your life!

Leadership : Positional or Functional

I thought we had slayed this beast but it seems there's still quite a lot of thinking on leadership around that sees it more positionally than functionally i.e. it's a position you hold rather than a function you carry out. Of course even those who see leadership positionally acknowledge that there is a certain functionality to leadership but would see it as flowing out of a place of position i.e. you do what you do out of the place you have been given.
I just can't buy into this. we must see leaders as those in the community of faith who have certain functions (which they do on behalf of the community) rather than people who have a certain status e.g. a priestly class.
I guess if there is a positional side to leadership it is one of being the last and the least - that's the position : servant of all.
As I'm writing this i'm wondering how it connects with a view of Ephesians 4 where it is the people themselves (i.e. apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers) who are the gifts to the church rather than what they do per se. But i don't think Paul is talking about different kinds of leaders there (read the text - he's writing to the whole church and he says "to each of us grace has been given....some to be apostles etc.) so perhaps that's the answer.
what we do certainly flows out of who we are but those of us who are leaders in the church must never see who we are in a positional sense of status.

Suzie starts blogging

My friend Suzie Lipscomb has started blogging! View her blog here.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

time to switch your web browser?

I've recently switched to using Mozilla Firefox as my web browser instead of Internet Explorer and I'm already finding it much better. there's a great search bar where you can search in Google, eBay, Amazon, or - and if you use bloglines to read blogs then you can add in an alert to notify you (by use of a little red dot) if there are any new blog posts in any of your feeds. It will also automatically update and transfer all of your favourites and bookmarks etc. from IE. So...down with Internet Explorer and up with the Fox. Get your free download here.

Saturday, December 18, 2004


just woken up after a night on the tiles (more like a sticky floor) dancing to Lottie (see post below). got to bed at 3am so knackered now but it seems like Jim (who was also there) was up at 8.45am judging by his post. Thought she was good but not as good as last two times i have seen her. it seems that the current flavour of the month in the clubbing world is for a more electro sound, which is great for a while and then gets a bit too much.
anyway, in about an hour Pip and i are going to meet a kitten that someone is giving to us. i know - it's supposed to be a baby substitute...yada, yada, yada...but anyway, it'll be a lot of fun to have around i think. so the question for the day is : what should we call him?? My current favourite name is 'Dave' but Pip doesn't seem to be so keen. Any of you have a suggestion?

Friday, December 17, 2004

a story of the Northumbria Community

"A terrible fire ravaged the whole building, and when, afterwards, she went back to inspect the remains of her office all she could do was shake her head and be grateful that she had not been in the building at the time. certainly none of the files of papers had survived.
With one backward glance her eye fell on a tiny blackened vase still standing on the charred remains of her desk. she had a new office now in a different place and was able to move in there instead. well, little vase, she said, you and me have survived and you shall come with me into my new office.
it stood in the usual place on the corner of her new desk, but when people came in she noticed a difference in their reaction. Before they would say,
'Oh, what a beautiful vase.'
Now, since it had been through the fire, they said,
'Oh, what beautiful flowers.'"

where religious art and Little Britain meet!

oh dear!

The First Laydee of house!

Tonight Lottie plays the Zodiac club here in Oxford. a posse of the hOMEies will be making an appearance. can't wait! this is the third time i will have seen her play and she has rocked the house every time, so tonight should be a stonker! 'AVE IT!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Jim starts blogging!

great to see Jim blogging. i'm not sure how he can comment on films though as I'm not sure he's ever made it through one without falling asleep! Anway, find his blog here.

Wedding Anniversary - quite eventful

me, the missus, and Colin Dexter

Just got back from our wedding anniversary trip all the way up the road to the Randolph Hotel. Those of (the many of) you that follow this blog will know that a little while ago - when Pip and I went to 'An Evening with Colin Dexter' - we won a night's B&B for two at Oxford's prestigious Randolph Hotel. So we arrived there yesterday lunchtime and found that they'd upgraded us to the Presidential Suite (we were expecting a bog standard double although there's not really any such things as 'bog standard' at the Randolph). This is where Bill Clinton stays when he comes to Oxford we were told by the concierge. It was HUGE! Two bathrooms, lounge, biggest bed you've ever seen etc. with a view out over the Martyr's Memorial etc.
We booked a table downstairs for an evening meal and I'd just ordered the wine when the manager of the hotel came over to us and said "we've got a little surprise for you" and then Colin Dexter appeared! Those of you that know Morse will know that Colin (we're on first name terms now!) is the author who wrote the original books. Those of you that don't know Morse may as well navigate away from this page now! As you know I am a massive Morse fan so we were absolutely dumbstruck as he pulled up a chair and sat with us for about half an hour talking away. We took the above photo in the Morse Bar in the hotel which the hotel named in honour of Oxford's most famous detective. As we said goodbye Colin gave us his address and told us to drop him a line to see if he could arrange for us to be extras in the forthcoming progs they're going to make based on Sergeant Lewis (or Inspector Lewis as he will be then).
So we had a great time topped off by a fantastic breakfast this morning.
A two and a half hour extended lunch with Pete Ward after that brought me back to earth with a bump!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

the emerging church mono-culture

i'm loving the new adbusters mag (which I previously blogged about). i've been reading through the 'media and culture' section and there's a very interesting article by Nicholas Klassen about cultural homogenisation. Apparently, "in Africa, two thirds of film screens show American movies; CNN beams to the farthest regions of the planet; Disneyland outposts in Paris and Tokyo will be joined by one in Hong Kong by late 2005; American-english is becoming the global language".
Obviously this has loads to do with new technology creating a global village. whereas cultural diversity was previously protected by geography and distance, satellite technology, mass accesible air travel and the internet have given rise to a globalised culture.
Klassen's article made me think about how culturally homogenised the emerging church could become (or is becoming). I love what's happening all over the western world (cos it is primarily in the west) with the re-thinking of church - and i continued to be inspired by the stories I read. And i think perhaps a homogenised global culture will inevitably, and possibly rightly, give rise to a culturally homogenised response from the emerging church as it incarnates itself in the new culture. but should we not at least be asking the question as to how helpful it is for us to collude with this process? emerging churches look very similar in places thousands of miles apart. how do we keep a local flavour? is it important for us to do so?

Friday, December 10, 2004

lest we forget

It's my day off. i'm sitting on the sofa enjoying the benefits of wi-fi. Lemon Jelly are on the stereo. and i've got a bottle of Black Sheep Ale (a really fine real ale) on the go. there's a roast dinner in the oven consisting of organic chicken, locally grown roast vegetables, and herbs from the garden. a bottle of nice red wine is being left to breath. sometimes you've just got to stop for a moment, give thanks, and think of how good life can be.

mmmm nice

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

thoughts in progress I

have you ever wondered where we get this idea from that repentance means 'saying sorry to God for the things we have done wrong'? try as i might i can't seem to find this idea in my Bible. if i'm missing something really obvious will someone please let me know!

let adbusters feed your imagination for creative resistance

thanks to a tip off from Jonny I picked up the new edition of adbusters mag yesterday (I also bought my copy of the Band Aid single so I ended the day feeling very 'right on'!). some of you will remember that i blogged about taking part in a Buy Nothing Day Demo a couple of Saturday's ago. adbusters are behind that whole anti-consumerist protest movement. Anyway, the mag looks fantastic and is full of great material to fund counter-cultural resistance. it's organised into different sections - media, the environment, commerce etc. i highly recommend you getting yourself a copy - it's available in Borders.

adbusters mag

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God

one of the ideas that's been going round my head a bit after last week is this idea of the difference between justice and mercy. Maclaren illustrates it this way:
if you're standing at the side of a river and you see someone drowning and you help them and pull them out of the river, that's mercy. Perhaps, as you're standing there you see more people - lots perhaps - also in danger of drowning. so you help them too. at some point though, someone needs to go upstream and find out why all of these people are ending up in the river and hopefully stopping it happening. that's justice. we need both and the church needs to be involved in both. some people in the church will be better at one and some better at the other. we need people who have a vision for feeding the hungry, and people who have a vision for dealing with the causes of their hunger (trade justice etc.).
but we must take this more seriously. i think it's all about how we understand the gospel - but i'll say some more about that at another time.

Monday, December 06, 2004


while i was in London I finally managed to fit in a visit to the Tate Modern. it's HUGE! there was some interesting stuff going on but for me the whole experience was the thing. it's like the Tate building is a Tate experience which is itself the artwork. don't know what that means exactly but it sounds good.


a sane voice in a crazy world

been without blog access for the best part of last week, so I'm gonna blog about it all in a moment but before I do i just wanted to let you know about the latest video by Sarah Maclachlan. we're probably all familiar with how pop videos these days cost millions. instead of doing that Maclachlan has made a vid for $15 and decided to do some really worthwhile things with the money that would have been spent instead. the video she has produced catalogues what she's done with the money. It makes you wonder whether it is absolutely obscene for this amount of money to be spent when we live in a world where there are however-many-gazillion people living on next to nothing. But then are we saying that art is a luxury only to be enjoyed when all the world's hunger problems are sorted out? Ben Bell - a real art nut - questions whether the national gallery should be shut down until everyone in the world is fed. That is the question. I saw a bit of TV yesterday that was talking about the life of Britney Spears (it's Ok - my wife was in the room!). apparently she spends $6000 a day on hairdressers etc. etc. this is just plain immoral. obviously Britney's hair is not art but you know what i mean. anyway, the Sarah Maclachlan video can be seen here.

Sarah Maclachlan

more craziness

my time away didn't start particularly well as Jon and I went to see Spurs v Liverpool in the Carling Cup on Wednesday night. it was a dreadful game which saw the Spurs first team eventually (after extra time and penalties) go out to the Liverpool youth team. embarassing! the best part of the evening was the banter of the season ticket holders around us. At one point, when one of them said that we are apparently going to buy Neil Lennon from Celtic, one of the other said that we'd be better off with John Lennon - in fact why don't we buy all the Beatles, they'd be better than the muppets on the pitch. After this performance he's got a point. Went to stay with Paddy after the match - so as to be in London for the conference that started the next morning. good to see him albeit briefly.


Emergent Conference

spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Emergent conference (co-hosted by Steve Chalke's Oasis) in London. It was billed as a three day 'conversation' but most of the conversation took place at the front. It was great that they tried to make space for dialogue but it kinda felt like we were observing other people's dialogue rather than taking part in it ourselves (I'm speaking on behalf of the rank and file 'punters' here). There were a couple of slots for regionally based groups to come together to talk but these felt kind of token. somehow i've got to balance that critique with a recognition that i didn't want to spend 3 days listening to people i've never heard of from places like Swindon talk in a group context. i really went to listen to Brian Maclaren (whose books are really helping me to articulate stuff i've been feeling for a while - i say 'helping', it's bloody uncomfortable!). there was some great content from Brian, Steve Chalke (sadly still at the centre of the storm), and Doug Pagitt (whose seminar was one of the highlights of the 3 days - you really should get his book). I guess the overarching theme for the 3 days was getting away from a gospel that is focused on the individual to one that is focused instead on the world - discovering the mission of God in the world and then, as church, learning how to participate in that rather than telling people it's all about them! you know, as Brian says, we have a personal computer, a personal phone, a personal hi-fi, and now we have a personal saviour and a personal route to heaven when we die! we are in danger of re-translating John 3:16-17 into - 'For God so hated the world, that he sent his only son, to save the church, so that the church may be saved and have eternal life. God did in fact send his Son to condemn the world but the church is ok cos it's not in the world anymore'!!!
Steve added into this some good stuff on the Myth of Redemptive Violence but nothing that Walter Wink hasn't been saying for years. people do need to hear that stuff though.
a guy called 'Fuzz' who was on one of the panels on the final afternoon left us with a tantalising thought : what if, after 9/11, Bush had stood up and said, "I'm a Christian, and because I'm a christian we're not going to seek revenge for this terrible atrocity that has been committed. instead we are going to forgive those who have done this, and we're going to pray for them". Can you imagine how different the world in which we live would be if he had said this!!!
So overall, a good few days. nice to connect with people like Jonny who introduced me to a guy called Hadge. I think, though, we need some new models for how to do conferences that preserves the input from those in the know but gets beyond this expert/audience speaker/listener dichotomy. sorry about the long post - well done those of you who have made it this far!

brian and steve

Monday, November 29, 2004

daily prayer resource added

just added a link to the re-Jesus daily prayer site (it's on my links sidebar under 'ancient-future daily prayer'). it's really one of the best daily prayer sites i've come across. it has scripture, meditation, and creative prayer ideas and is updated daily. have a look!

in the marketplace of ideas...

b.n.d. nov 04
On Saturday I took part in a demo for 'Buy Nothing Day' (see previous post). Just handing out literature about ethical consumerism/fair trade, giving out free cups of tea etc.
I did it for two reasons : i'm looking for contexts where i can build relationships with people outside of church; and i believe in this issue...i happen to think that people of Christian faith have something important to say about these things. I think the first factor without the second factor lacks integrity i.e. i'm only here to try to convert you. So it's important that I can put my hand on my heart and say that this stuff really matters to me.
We've been talking in hOME about how we do mission and one of the phrases that's been used is 'mission in community around activity' i.e. we build relationships with each other and with people outside of church around doing something together. This, I think, is quite similar to some stuff that Pete Ward talked about in Liquid Church, and also the notion of communitas put forward by Hirsch and Frost (may their names live forever!). (communitas being about uniting around a common quest a la 'the fellowship of the ring' sort of thing). So we look for contexts in our locality where we can, with integrity, engage in relationship-building around a common activity like sport, or community action groups (like culture-jammers/buy nothing day etc.)
What was quite funny/intriguing was the amount of groups who were all hitting the streets to promote their 'thing'. So we had church carol singing groups, the Jesus Army, some sort of Parade, Christian Aid etc. I did have a moment of schizophrenia when the Jesus Army band stopped right next to us and decided that would make a good place to sing their songs about the 'blood of the lamb' etc. I was asked by one person whether i was part of the Jesus group and I (quite thankfully) said 'no' and sent them off to a man in a brightly coloured denim jacket and fluroscent cross. I'm just not at all convinced by this idea that singing songs on the street achieves anything at all - judging by the reactions of some of the people walking past the Jesus Army it just got their backs up.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

the big chill

the legendary 'big chill' festival happens each year at the beginning of August in the grounds of Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire. Sadly, I have never been. I've wanted to go for the last couple of years but it's always clashed with the New Wine conference. Next year Pip and I will probably opt for the Big Chill and we're hoping that a posse from hOME are going to come too. It is supposed to be far and away the nicest summer festival. The Big Chill are pioneer advocates of everything chill-out - so who's up for a blissed out long weekend then? for more info go here.

the big chill 2004

Friday, November 26, 2004

Phoenix Night II

another great night last night at the Phoenix last night. did a review of the 4 spiritual disciplines that make up the 'inward disciplines' - meditation, prayer, fasting, and study.
when it came to prayer there was some interesting discussion (and it would have been great to have had more but time did not allow) about the classic traditional "if it be your will" prayer tag-line. I was suggesting that actually you don't find that line being used that often in prayers in the bible - with obvious exceptions like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. the feeling from Rich was that was a different order of "if it be your will" prayer. in fact the word "if" doesn't actually appear in that prayer. What Jesus actually says is "nevertheless not my will but yours be done". When we use that phrase it's often because we don't know what the will of God is but that's not the sense that you get when Jesus prays - it's more of a struggle to submit himself to the will of God that he already knows. so when jesus says that phrase it's about him laying down his agenda not questioning what the will of God might be.
most of the rest of the time in the scriptures people don't use that phrase in the same way that we often do (and certainly how i was taught to pray). I think that's because there is a such a sense of being in synch with God we already have a sense of what his will is and therefore we're free to pray with a greater sense of confidence and authority. so there's a challenge there to keep 'in step with the spirit' and then pray from that place. I know that could sound like presumption - and there's always the chance that we can get it wrong - and what I'm saying is not meant to suggest an arrogance or over inflated self-confidence when it comes to prayer (thanks for your comment last night on this point, Justice) but i still think we can pray more confidently and more humbly at the same time.
anyway, i am beginning to really love our nights in the Phoenix bar.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Buy Nothing Day

In our struggle against consumerism we need more initiatives like 'adbusters' and 'buy nothing day'. The British buy-nothing-day is coming up on November 27th (this coming Saturday). here's a quote from the site:
"The challenge is to try simple living for a day, spend time with family and friends, rather than spend money on them. People make a pact with themselves to take a break from shopping as a personal experiment or public statement and the best thing is - IT'S FREE!!!"
It's not going to cure us of our consumerist impulses overnight - but it's a start. Give it a go!

'buy nothing day' promo pic

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

i've seen it all now

this is classic! a ten year old piece of toast has fetched $28 000 in an ebay auction because the face of the virgin Mary is apparently visible on it. now where did I put that potato that resembles Nicky Gumbel? read the article here.

virgin mary toast

Monday, November 22, 2004

busy blogging day....nothing to do with mental block on talk (see previous post) honest!

just read an interesting article in the Times online edition. It's good to see that in most people's opinion the church comes just behind the local shop and just in front of the local post office in contributing to a sense of local community! well done the church! Ben Bell asks what would happen if everyone who helped out on an Alpha course went and worked in a local pub on that night instead. interesting question. below are the results of the survey. you can read the whole article here.

Which one place within a “community” contributes most to social interaction and develops interpersonal skills?
Local pub 58%
Church 14%
Post office 11%
Shop 16%

Which of the following social activities do you do more frequently?
Go to the local pub with friends 43%
Play sport 11%
Go to the cinema 26%
Play bingo 3%
Hold dinner parties 15%

Why do you go to your local pub?
To get drunk 6%
To socialise and meet friends 62%
To get out of the house 2%
I don’t go to pubs 23%
Other 3%

Blessed are the Cheesemakers (where would we be without the Life of Brian)

doing a talk on Weds morning this week on the verse 'Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God'. really struggling to come up with something worth saying without getting deep into the pacifist/just war debate. i think i may have to plunge headlong into it. if anyone has any (interesting or otherwise) perspectives on the verse I'd be overjoyed to hear from you!
I do think that, when it comes to the Beatitudes, Jesus is primarily referring to the disciples and those who would follow in their footsteps. Otherwise we have Jesus saying that the poor are blessed just for being poor which just doesn't sound right to me. Interestingly in the parallel passage in Luke it says that Jesus turned to his disciples and 'Blessed are you who are poor' etc. So perhaps the Beatitudes are there to describe the character of the disciples : poor, mournful, meek, hungry and thirsty for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemaking, persecuted. When we are like this we will know the blessing of God upon our lives.
It's hardly a 25 minute talk though! I'm gonna need more than that!

mum's birthday

today is my mum's birthday. gawd bless 'er.



reading Richard Foster's book : Celebration of Discipline : has made me think about a number of things. One of them is the discipline of studying. I have decided that - as part of my Rule of Life - I am going to set aside some time regularly to study. I have also decided that this should not be study for a talk I have to do or anything like that but study for the sake of study, or rather, study for the sake of spiritual formation. I am going to make a list of things I would like to know more about and then just study them to enlarge my understanding. I happen to live in one of the best cities in the world for studying, with one of the best libraries in the world. There's a picture of a bit of it below. It's called the Bodleian library and I have a Reader's Card. I would be a fool not to use it.

a bit of the bod

Friday, November 19, 2004

amazon wish list

at the bottom of the sidebar I've now added my 'wish list' so all you lovely people who want to buy me a Christmas present now have no excuse!


band aid 20

well I got it wrong about the new Band Aid vid. it certainly wasn't being similtaneously shown on all 5 major channels at 6.05pm last night. you can't trust anyone these days. i did see it for the first time later on on BBC3 and again this morning. I think I'm gonna have to disagree with Rich - I think it's quite a good re-recording. I like most of it apart from the Jamelia/Will Young bit. the Radiohead/Thom Yorke dimension really adds something and I thought Bono acquitted himself quite well. Anyway you can download it here.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


in our huddles this month we are studying the first part of Richard Foster's classic book - Celebration of Discipline. The book is divided into 3 parts : The Inward Disciplines, The Outward Disciplines, and The Corporate Disciplines. We're looking at part 1 this month. Tonight me and the boys had a really good discussion about the discipline of fasting.
I think, for me, the danger is to make the disciplines an end in themselves. but actually they are just simply a means to an end. There's lots of good things in our culture, but i don't want to be a man who is squeezed into the world's mould (in the negative sense). I think the disciplines are there to provide a context - to put us in a place - where God can mould us and shape us instead. That's the goal.

A Manifesto for Corporate Worship

A couple of weeks ago we had a night at hOME where we reviewed the vision behind what we are about. one of the things i presented was a 'Manifesto for Corporate Worship'. Now before you all get on your high horse I know that worship is about the whole of our lives etc. but this is a set of values that relate specifically to our times of gathering together, as a community of faith, to express corporately our worship of our God. below are the 11 points that i think inform what we are doing in this aspect of our life together. some of these things are already coming through strongly and some are more aspirational at this point. anyway, see what you think.

A Manifesto for Corporate Worship

God centred : Our worship is not primarily for us. It is for God. We will not indulge ourselves in worship but seek to honour and reverence God before everything else.

Passionate : We want to not be ashamed of an enthusiastic response to God in worship. We will not judge each other for displaying an exuberance before God in worship. We will not judge each other for NOT displaying an (outward) exuberance before God in worship. We aspire to not care what others think of us but to be abandoned to God. We want our worship to be intimate but acknowledge that it is sometimes hard to be intimate with God in front of others. We recognise that passion can be expressed in many different ways.

Honest : We are not into putting on a show in public that does not really reflect who we are or where we are at. We will attempt to find the balance between being honest about our situation as we come before God in worship on the one hand, and CHOOSING to worship God despite our circumstances on the other hand.

Experiential : we do not seek to be ‘seeker sensitive’ but to allow our worship to offer the opportunity to experience the presence of God

Creative : We want our worship to be creative because this is a reflection of our being made in the image of the creator God. We want to distance ourselves from worship that is routine, formulaic, and unimaginative whilst at the same time seeking to avoid doing new things for the sake of doing new things. We aspire to be a community that welcomes artists of all kinds just for who they are and also as those who can help us to honour and delight God by the creation of beautiful, imaginative acts of corporate worship.

Rhythmic : Whilst honouring and highly valuing creativity and originality in our worship we acknowledge the value in a sense of rhythm in our worship which will incorporate the various liturgical seasons of the church year, and a daily rhythm of prayer.

Holistic: we want to bring our whole beings before God in worship so we want to see worship happening that connects us on a mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional level to God. We want to see all of our senses engaged in the worship of God.

Home grown: (linked to creativity) we want the worship of this community to arise first and foremost from this community. That means that we will not import or buy in pre-packaged worship from elsewhere but look to develop our own worship materials because we want our worship to be an offering to God that represents who we are. At the same time we want to acknowledge that we are also part of a wider church both historically and contemporarily, so we will express this by our use of historic material (e.g. creeds) and material from other parts of the church because we do not exist in isolation from the rest of God’s people.

Communal : we seek to recognise that God is far more interested in a people than in a bunch of individuals engaging in a privatised spirituality. Therefore we aspire to worship God in community. That will mean joining together in liturgy, song, meditation, study of scripture etc.and collaborating to create worship material. It will also mean being sensitive to each others needs in the communal setting.

Spacious : In our corporate acts of worship we want to create space for people to encounter God in many and various ways. We recognise that people need a variety of different kinds of space in order to connect with God : physical space, musical space etc. the worship we create will recognise the importance of space.

Open : we want our acts of corporate worship to be accessible to those who are not-yet Christian and for our worship gatherings to be spaces where people can encounter God

Buy a piece of the moon - an acre to be precise - Buy 1 get 1 free

Buy a piece of the moon - an acre to be precise - Buy 1 get 1 free are now offering the opportunity to buy a piece of the moon. with only 40 or so shopping days till Christmas the offer has come at just the right time. i'm particularly pleased to see that for a limited time only you can get 2 acres for the price of 1!! follow the link above. we like to own things, us humans.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


i've finally got around to adding some links to my sidebar (scroll down) and will continue to add more as time goes by.

The Da Vinci Codswallop - THE DA VINCI CODSWALLOP
I for one really enjoyed this book - in fact I couldn't out it down and read it in a few days. i realised at the time that it was complete codswallop - enjoyable codswallop though (by the way, what is the eytomology fo the word 'codswallop'?) - but i thought it was interesting to read this article about it in The Mirror today (have i given myself away?!). It's not often you find a newspaper commenting on how Jesus was divine after all with proof texts to boot! Hilarious!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Band Aid II

apparently the song's crap (Rich Body) but we should buy it anyway (Rich Johnson). I haven't heard it yet so can't comment. I do know that they are broadcasting the new video on Thursday evening this week (6.05pm) similtaneously on all 5 major channels (is Channel 5 a major channel?)

Monday, November 15, 2004

the weekend - part II


Jim - who has to be one of the most generous guys I've ever met - threw a party for about 25 of his friends on Saturday night. I am lucky enough to be one of them. Some top tucker, top chat and one of the finest firework displays the world has ever seen made it a top evening. Thanks mate!

the weekend - part I

Martin Jol - Spurs Head coach - the face says it all

The North London derby on Saturday lunchtime - featuring my beloved Spurs against our arch-enemies Arsenal - proved to be something of a classic. we lost 4-5. it was an extraordinary game of football. we opted for the 'one step forward, two steps back approach' as we kept scoring and then giving away a goal at the other end. It certainly kept me and Marchy on the edge of our seats in the Radcliffe Arms, Jericho. Still I'd rather see us lose like that than lose 1-0. there i go again trying to look on the bright side!

Sunday, November 14, 2004

am I charismatic?

am i really charismatic? in all many genuine healings have i seen in the last five years beyond the "my back was aching a bit but it seems a bit better now" variety? How many genuine prophetic words have i heard, beyond the "i feel the Lord is saying the word 'truth'" variety? i'm not blaming everyone else - how many people have I healed? (and before you start telling me that it's not me that does the healing it's God go and read the account of Jesus sending out the 72 - he told them to heal the sick (it should go without saying that it's by the power of God)). How many prophetic words have I given that have had any weight? well, ok, a few but not that many.
where is the expectation that the kingdom of God really can break in and change things dramatically? perhaps we spend a lot of time maintaining the illusion of expectation but really we aren't that expectant. sure it happens in Africa and China - pretty much anywhere really apart from the unbelieving UK.
if being charismatic means believing and seeing on a regualr basis the supernatural in operation then I'm probably not one. but i do speak in tongues so i guess that gets me in the club.
i know this probably sounds very cynical but i think it comes from a place of frustration with church and a desire to see our walk match our talk.
and another thing...Simon preached a really good sermon this morning on 1 Corinthians 12 and the gifts of the Spirit. but i wonder whether we need to understand that in the context of worship i.e. when the church gathers together for worship the Spirit manifests his/her presence by giving gifts to the different believers so that the body may be built up as it is gathered. In other words the gathered part of that concept is key. i.e. it's not about us personally and individualistically being given gifts of prophecy or whatever to take away with us - you cannot remove the gifts from the context of the body gathering for worship. that's where the gifts make sense. it's not about praying that an individual will receive the gift of prophecy as everyone is heading to the back for a cup of coffee. it's about the church gathering and the Spirit being invited to come and the expectation that when and as he does so he will manifest his presence in certain ways as we are worshipping together.
that's what i think Paul is getting at in 1 Corinthians 12.

Friday, November 12, 2004

hOME had the first of its (our) monthly worship nights last night. we have begun exploring a new pattern of meeting through a 4 week month. week 1 we meet in huddles, week 2 we have a central meeting with a worship focus, week 3 we meet in huddles again, and week4 we have a central meeting in the bar of the Phoenix cinema (that i have previously blogged about) with a discussion/learning focus. i guess if there's a five week month we'll have a party.
we are trying this pattern because we slightly felt like we were cramming a lot into our usual twice monthly hOME-central meetings and we wanted to take more time over what we were doing without feeling like we were in a rush. Not that the worship-focus was devoid of teaching or the learning-focus devoid of worship. We had a 10/15 min spoken worship (liturgy etc.) beginning last time we met in the Phoenix. And last night Pippa did a 10 minute homily, and Kate did a meditation based on Mary and Martha. We also had some great prayer stations provided by Jules, Naomi, and Justice. Jon, Tom and Lois led us in some sung worship. Jim supplied his usual talents on the visuals (some great VJing last night). I led communion (we were slightly caught out by the number of people there so we ended up with a bit of a long queue for bread and wine!). Nita and others were welcoming people with a friendly word and a drink. Rich was running the PC that displayed the words for the songs and liturgy. and Oli played the bongos. quite a team effort! It was great to see everyone combining like that to create a great evening of worship in lots of diverse ways. there was a real sense of space and opportunity to take time to focus in upon God and encounter him in different ways.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

music plasma

music plasma is a great site where you can enter the name of an artist or band you like and watch while it creates a kind of musical family tree, plotting your artist in relation to other artists of a similar ilk. particularly good when you know you need some new music in your life and you want to explore some unfamiliar artists.

Monday, November 08, 2004

unspiritual Christianity

it is almost a cliche today to talk about the re-spiritualising of our culture. we are continually told how people today are more open to the spiritual side of life than they have been for a long time. one of the most interesting things for me - a deeply sad observation - is that the church is seen as being unspiritual. if someone is spiritually curious the last place they will think to look to explore the spiritual side of life is church. it's not a very spiritual place.
Carol Midgley of the Times illustrates this point in a recent article (which you can read here).
I found it really interesting that she contrasts 'religion' with what she calls 'holistic activity'. to me it highlights how badly wrong the church has got it for such a long time. isn't christian faith supposed to be a 'holistic activity'!!
we need to recover a holistic Christian faith that impacts our bodies, minds, souls, spirits etc. etc.
that's why I'm glad that at our home-central worship service this coming Thursday night one of the prayer-stations will be exploring 'body-prayer' i.e. using our bodies to pray. this will be uncharted territory for some of us but we must be willing to re-spiritualise church if we are going to connect with the world around us.

hi priest

a little while ago the Church of England in their wisdom decided to make me a priest. i just got given a photo of the occasion - here we are out the front of St Mary's church in Bloxham, near Banbury, where the service took place, with Charlie (my boss) and the missus (on my left) and some of the guys from hOME - (you can click on it to see it larger should you so wish).

they'll let anyone in these days

seeking the kingdom...building the church

time for some extrovert processing. a thought has been buzzing round my head for the last few months and it is to do with what we are called to do. in my job/vocation - serving the missional community of faith which is 'hOME' - i spend a lot of time doing churchy type stuff.
but as i read the New Testament it would seem that we are called to seek the Kingdom more than we are called to build the church. the latter task God (in Christ) reserves for himself ("I will build my church"). Now obviously one of the ways God builds his church is through human beings. and i don't think I'm saying that we should therefore pay no attention to church. but what is the relationship between 'seeking the kingdom' and 'building the church'.
Perhaps I've overstated the case. Paul does say in 1 Corinthians 3 that he is an 'expert builder' (it would seem he never had a crisis of confidence!) who laid a foundation which someone else is now building upon.
but it's something to do with focus I think. am i more focused on running a church or on looking for signs of the kingdom.
hmmmm..unfinished thoughts.

Friday, November 05, 2004

more on Bush

I've been wondering about the Christian vote in the U.S. election. my guess is that most of the evangelical Christian vote went to Bush and that's probably because of his stance on pro-life and homosexuality. these are seen to be big Christian issues. but isn't the fact that he refused to ratify the Kyoto treaty on Climate change a big Christian issue? isn't his aggressive foreign policy a big Christian issue?
it's not that issues of human sexuality or abortion are un-important but i do wish we Christians could think more widely about what is and what isn't a Christian issue.
i guess as long as he's pro-life nothing else really matters.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

you go away for 24 hours, come back and find that the world's gone mad


Chris and Annie at New Wine meeting

busy week

it's been a busy week in my world. had a st aldates staff away day on Weds in a place called Clanfield. We hada guy come in and do some Myers Briggs stuff. I am an ENTJ apparently although the J/P thing was quite borderline. spent the whole time trying not to think about that classic episode of The Office when they get the trainer in and Brent ends up going home to get his guitar!

The last 24 hours I have been in Reading at the home of Chris Russell for an extended overnight meeting about New Wine. I am privileged to be a part of the team that co-ordinates the 'emerging church' side of New Wine. We have been talking amongst ourselves and with John Coles who came for the first (pre-curry) part of our meeting about changes that will be made next year. can't say any more than that right now but watch this space.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Emergent Conference

Just booked into the UK Emergent Conference in December in London. If you're interested you can book in here. I'm currently reading Brian Maclaren's book : 'A Generous Orthodoxy' (I guess I'll blog about it when I've finished it) so it'll be good to go and hear him. He came and did a younger leaders day here in Oxford last September and was very good value then.

Brian Maclaren

bonfire night

on Saturday night me, Pip and some of the home-eys went to the annual round-table bonfire and firework display in South Park, Oxford (not named after Cartman and Kenny I assure you). Those of us that had previously lived in Edinburgh - myself, Justice, and Rich - were being a little bit superior about the fireworks ("you haven't seen fireworks till you see the display at the end of the festival" - that sort of thing). but they were really good and everyone made the appropriate 'ooh' and 'ahh' noises at the appropriate points.
I was asking why we had our night this weekend instead of next weekend. Apparently the queen has her own firework dude - 'keeper of the royal fireworks' or something. and he's a clergyman that lives in Oxford. He does the Oxford firework display the week before Bonfire Night so that he can go and do the Queen's on the day itself. So there you go.

bonfire night in South Park

Saturday, October 30, 2004

sometimes being a trainspotter pays off

as some of you will know, I have a rather embarassing secret. i am a huge fan of Inspector Morse (the best TV cop ever). There are probably some deep psychological reasons for this which I am not going to go into here and now but you are welcome to speculate on what they might be. I have read all the novels by Colin Dexter (I think) and seen 32 out of 33 TV episodes (the fact that there is an episode of Morse that I have never seen gives me more pleasure than you'll ever know - I have it on DVD but I have refused to watch it yet because it will be the last ever time I watch a Morse for the first time!!). I have just bought the Inspector Morse board game on ebay. I even have a model of the car. I am a sad man.
It's great when your partner understands your idiosyncracies. Pip will often sit down and watch a Morse with me and I think that secretly I have perhaps turned her into a bit of a fan too.
About a week ago she told me that she had a surprise for me on Friday 29th October and that I had to keep it free in my diary. Last night we got in the car and I had no idea where we were going. We ended up driving up to Westminster College (on Harcourt Hill, North Hinksey) which happens to be my old college. I thought perhaps we were going to some sort of college reunion but when we arrived there I saw the sign : 'An Evening With Colin Dexter'! Brilliant. Most of you lot would probably have preferred to watch paint dry but I absolutely loved it.
AND...we entered the raffle and won first prize! So this year on our wedding anniversary in December we will be travelling all the way to the Randolph Hotel in Oxford for a night there which we wouldn't have won if I hadn't been such an anorak.

Friday, October 29, 2004

ladies and gentlemen..the president

video footage of George Bush from a few years back has been unearthed just a few days before the presidential election. hilarious! read the full story here.

oh yes!

Phoenix Nights

The Phoenix Cinema

Last night we ('hOME') had our first meeting in the upstairs bar of the Phoenix Cinema, Jericho. We thought that the terrible weather and the fact that a lot of people were away for one reason or another might mean we had a low turnout but we actually had a really good number. The plan is that we will be in there the fourth Thursday of each month for a central meeting with a learning/discussion focus. Having said that we still said some simple Celtic prayers and liturgy together at the beginning. It was great to offer prayers in a non-church venue. The staff at the Cinema are real people of peace and have bent over backwards to accomodate us - taking things off the wall so we could project, giving us a couple of bottles of wine at the end as part of the financial settling up etc. - they've been brilliant. In fact the bar manager remembers the band that I used to play in 10 years ago in Oxford (coincidentally the chief projectionist at the cinema used to be our bass player!) so he was quite surprised to see that I've ended up as a priest!
Anyway, we had a great time last night with some great discussion on the theology of community and what it meant to be both a 'community of acceptance' and a 'community of resistance' in our culture. there was a bit of lively debate and a general feeling that to be a community of resistance might mean taking a negative stance which needs to be balanced by a desire to be a community that celebrates the goodness of the life offered to us by God. Top banana - I love our church!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

tuning in and dropping out

i had a great day at Stanton House yesterday and i only fell asleep once (briefly) - honest! one of the things i learnt is that i can sometimes go on days like that and just expect to click my fingers and hear God's voice. i think i started off the day yesterday a bit like that. but, paradoxically, I felt God speak to me on the subject of him speaking to me! I think it's to do with cultivating the art of hearing God. i can't just expect to not live a prayerful life and then decide to go away for the day and hear God. It's an art that I need to develop. So, it's not a case of God being obstinate and refusing to talk to me because i haven't talked to him for a while. it's more a case of me not being able to hear him even though he wants to talk.
i think that at the moment it feels a little like i get an occasional e mail from God but it's person-to-person communication that we both want. we all know the trouble with e mail communication : you can't pick up inflections in people's voices, you can't read their body language etc. I want to get to a point where I am much more attuned to the subtleties of what God is wanting to say to me...and the only way I can do that is to cultivate a life of prayer rather than to expect it all to happen easily on quiet days. Having said all of that, i did feel that God spoke to me yesterday. It was when I went for a walk (I am learning that I often find it much more helpful to do something active whilst praying). He reminded me of some things that he said to our team at the beginning of last month and helped me to have a deeper understanding of some things that are happening now. which was nice.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

on retreat - introvert processing anyone?

Today I am going to Stanton House for a quiet day on my own. It's a beautiful, fairly small, retreat house just outside Oxford which I use fairly often for small group retreats etc. (our team went there for a couple of nights in September). What's quite unusual about it is that it is an evangelical retreat house and I haven't come across too many of them. Maybe that says something about the nature of evangelicalism. I know that I don't do this sort of thing anywhere near as often as I should. I'm not good at retreating. But I am coming to recognise the importance of it. I - with a group of friends who are part of hOME - am developing a rule of life for myself. One of my commitments is to take a quiet day each month to re-focus on God, listen to what he has to say, process stuff going on in my life...all of that sort of stuff. I think the tendency for activists such as myself is often to keep going and keep going, until we reach breaking point and something has to give. and that's when we tend to snap and damage those around us. so....i am trying to become a more reflective person who spends regular quality time with God, and that's what today is all about.

Stanton House

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

being honest about weakness

how do you react when things get tough? When he appoints new staff American spiritual guru Francis Frangipane apparently asks them 'what are your weaknesses?' We've all been asked that in interviews and we normally just try to find a little weakness to share : small enough to not compromise our ability to do the job but significant enough to show that we are good at recognising weakness! Frangipane goes on to really press the point with his prospective staff saying that if they don't tell him about the parts inside them that they know are broken then those things will emerge in times of pressure and cause great damage. Rich Johnson has posted a very interesting list of ways that we react when the s*** hits the fan. The temptation is
- to look for a way out
- to give up on your dream/calling
- to let yourself be a victim
- to distance yourself emotionally from God and others
- to find comfort in places other than the presence and promises of God
- to lose perspective and put everything in to one big black cloud
- to assume that the future is determined by the current season
- to resent church
I really recognise some of those temptations.
I want to be part of a community that is honest about weakness in a care-ful way. I know that I need to be more willing to be honest about the areas where I am weak. We mustn't be squeezed into the mould of our culture which despises weakness.

Monday, October 25, 2004

the year of the Rooster

I've just updated my blog profile and it has automatically told me that i am a Taurus (knew that already - is there anyone out there that doesn't know their star sign...even the people who dismiss it all as pure bunkum) and it's also now told me that I was born in the year of the Rooster!! Cool. Does anyone have any ideas as to the significance of that for me? On reflection I'm not sure it's that cool! I think i would have preferred the year of the Jaguar or something a bit more rock and roll. or..take it to the other could have been quite good to be born in the year of the badger, or the chipmunk, or the squirrel (all of which would have been options for my gladiator name had I ever been in the TV series 'Gladiator').

I'm not a Man Utd fan but yesterday I felt like one!

As many of you will know Arsenal had gone 49 games unbeaten and it just really had to stop, it was getting ridiculous. You may think that just because I am an ardent Spurs fan this is all just sour grapes...and you'd be absolutely right. I celebrated Rooney's goal (Man Utd's second) as enthusiastically as I cheered Robbie Keane's for Spurs on Saturday!

van nistelrooy celebrates

Sunday, October 24, 2004

andrew jones has moved to Orkney!

Andrew Jones (tallskinnykiwi) has moved to Orkney to set up some sort of new monastery. sounds crazy but i like it! haven't you ever felt like doing something like that? i know i have!
since 2001: andrew jones blogs on the global emerging church

Bill Nicholson dies

I'm sure most of you won't know him from Adam but a man called Bill Nicholson died yesterday. He was the most successful manager my team (Tottenham Hotspur) has ever seen. the first british manager to win the league and cup double, he also led us to victory in European competitions.
I was at the game yesterday at White Hart Lane (v Bolton) which unfortunately we lost 1-2 in the torrential rain. it wasn't a great tribute to the man but it was good to be there nevertheless.

the great man RIP

Thursday, October 21, 2004

hands up if you're crap at praying...

i am crap at praying. i've got a spiritual director and every time i meet him (normally every few months) i normally find myself saying the same thing: 'i don't know how to pray'. over the last few years i've been discovering different ways to pray. this was important for me because being generally crap at praying it's good to have some different approaches. one of the things i have found really helpful is liturgy (I am after all a good Anglican). i have found some of David Adams' (not to be confused with Brian Adams (he of highly dubious AOR fame) as my wife calls him) stuff brilliant (he has a book called 'Rhythms of Life' which has morning, midday, evening and night prayer for each day of the week, each with a different theme e.g. Sunday - Resurrection). more recently i have been using the daily office produced by the Northumbria Community. What I like about this one compared to the Brian, sorry, David Adams' stuff is that includes a lectionary and a different meditation for the day. it also includes feast days (odd expression) for saints so when a particular saint pops up in the calender it has a reading about that person's life which can be quite inspiring. some of the readings and meditations can be a bit 'hey nonny no' know..a bit folky...and i would love it if they got someone to take the structure/framework and do a kind of young adult/contemporary culture version of the readings. with a lot of these Celtic prayer communities there can be a bit of a surface culture of fiddle playing, yohgurt weaving folkiness. but i think there is something really valuable below the surface which is worth excavating. i bought the book which is quite a nice things to have but the link below will take you to the online version of their daily office.
Welcome to the home of the Northumbria Community online

a tune that's in my head

'Gravity' by Embrace was the tune that was going round my head when i woke up this morning. it really is a top tune and i've just ordered the album ('Out of Nothing') from play. apparently this single was written by Chris Martin of Coldplay, as a thankyou to the Embrace boys for giving Coldplay a leg up when they were just starting out. back in them days Embrace were a much bigger band than Coldplay and they invited Coldplay to support them on tour. which was the beginning of Coldplay's meteoric rise to fame and glory. Anyway, this is definitely my tune of the day.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

the inspiration for this blog...

here's a scan of the Edward Ruscha picture I mentioned earlier - where I got the name for the blog from. He painted it in 1984.

surely the best free flash games site on the web - enjoy...but not too much

if anyone can get past level 3 on the volleyball one i'll be very impressed!
Addicting - Flash games

Edward Ruscha�Art Images

the title for this blog comes from the artist Edward Ruscha. i don't for one minute claim to understand his art but i really like it. he does a lot of very intersting stuff with words and i came across him when Modern Art, Oxford exhibited some of his stuff a couple of years ago. here's a link to a site where you can see some of his stuff (for some reason 'Lost Empires, Living Tribes' isn't there - dunno why).

Edward Ruscha�Art Images

i always said i wouldn't blog!

well, actually i never said that. this is the second one i've started though. i recently re-read my first one - which i haven't posted to for a year and a half - and i just thought it was too embarassing to continue with. then i thought i couldn't possibly start another one as, well, everyone's doing it now and i don't want to just jump on the bandwagon. but that's just pride i guess. ain't that funny though - it's not exactly an act of humility to publish oneself - in a sort of self aggrandising, self-pimping way - on the web! but anyway, i'm not expecting many visitors and it's a way to help me to extrovert-process my world. of course, it'll be selective, possibly pretentious and often self-important. there will no doubt be times when I cringe as I read what i've written - just like i did just now reading my old blog. but there we are.
a line or two of introduction. i am one of the leaders of a new (1 year old) missional faith community in the city of Oxford, UK, called 'home'. you can read more about us at our site. i should say at this point that any of the views expressed here are not necessarily the views of the community as a whole! there's the disclaimer out of the way! we have been taken in (double entendre intended) by the Church of England and St Aldates Church have carved out some space - financially, physically and ecclesiologically - for us to explore life and mission in the culture we find ourselves a part of. I will no doubt say more about all of this in due course.
I am married to Pippa. we don't have any kids or any pets yet but we think the latter might come along next year. we can hear the pitter patter of a puppy's feet. we also have a bit of river at the bottom of our garden and when we moved in (in May this year) someone gave us a couple of boats (canoes) to play with. we've only fallen in once.