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