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.