Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Paris Today

sorry about the lack of a 'Happy Christmas to all my readers' post. have been at my parents house in N Wales for a few days. got back to Oxford last night and today we are heading off to Paris for a few days on Eurostar. We have a friend who has an uncle who has a flat in the Latin quarter, so we get to stay in a top location for free...which is nice.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Ricky Gervais podcast

very funny! go here for RSS feed and links to previous episodes you may have missed.
UPDATE : having just listened to episode 2 it's not for the faint-hearted!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

definitely my favourite advent image

i think it speaks for itself.

Re:mix. Re:make. Re:configure. Re:consider.

I'm loving this! San Francisco creative collective Rebar paid the parking meter for a couple of hours in a built up area of downtown San Francisco and used the time to create a garden in the parking space figuring that the time was theirs to do whatever they wanted to with it. Passers by fed the meter to keep it all going, and some sat down on the bench, read the paper, chatted...
I think it's a wonderful idea - a real image of redemption for me. It kinda reminds me of Isaiah's garden in the desert. More info and some wonderful pics here.
Thanks to Jonny for the link.

Monday, December 19, 2005


We had a great end to the hOME year last night at our carol service - a service of 9 lessons and carols - (idea knicked from Jonny and Grace's re-interpretation of this old tradition). We borrowed a fantastic old Oxford Movement/Anglo-Catholic revival church (as it was set back from the road some of our guys made a brilliant illuminated walkway using tea-lights in jam jars to lead to the church door) for the night (perfect ambience for some pre-service Sigur Ros), lit it, fired up the projectors, dusted off the mirror-ball, and then 9 members of the hOME community re-interpreted the 9 traditional readings.
They were all great - but I particularly enjoyed Jules's use of 'Planet Telex' by Radiohead in the first reading (from Genesis) - "everything is broken, everyone is broken", Esme's dramatic soundscape (which she made herself using Pro Tools) of what the shepherds might have heard on the hillside the night the angels appeared, Chris's imaginative story helping us to put ourselves in Mary's place, and Julet's movement piece (to Nitin Sawnhey) where she danced while holding a light and started high up on the balcony and then moved down and in amongst the congregation to represent Christ the light of the world coming to earth and presencing himself amongst us.
But mentioning these items particularly makes it sound like the others weren't any good, which of course is not true. It's just that some of the pieces impacted me more than others.
Tom did a great job on the music front - unearthing some fantastic re-workings of Christmas carols by electronic composer Mars Lasar (you can find him if you search in iTunes) as well as contributing some of his own pieces. So we ended up singing 9 re-worked carols too which was great.
That was our last service of the year and it felt like a good end to an eventful 12 months.
more pictures are available here.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Churches decide not to bother with Christmas

Apparently some of the mega-churches in the U.S. have decided not to have a service on Christmas day. I say 'why stop there?' Why not go the whole hog and stop celebrating Easter as well? Of course, this is slightly hypocritical of me as our little church has its last service of the year tomorrow night (our carol service - see here for more info) and won't be having a service on Christmas Day. But we were planning to until we realised that hardly any of our small congregation was going to be around. We are small. Willow Creek has a congregation of around 20,000. What's their excuse? Read the whole story here.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Sufjan Stevens Christmas Tunes

absolutely loving the Sufjan Stevens Christmas songs available for download free (for some reason!) here. Thanks to Jonny for the link. I think we'll be using some of these at our Carol Service this coming Sunday.

we do romance too

Just back from a fantastic 24 hour wedding anniversary break at The Falkland Arms (winner of countless Real Ale awards) in a beautiful, classic English, village called Great Tew in North Oxfordshire. Any townie looking for a romantic (4 poster beds etc.) get-away should give it a try.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


I have been reflecting a little on the Advent Sunday lectionary readings for last Sunday and the coming Sunday. There's a lot in there about John the Baptist. He makes the comparison between himself and Jesus - 'I baptise with water, one comes after me who will bapstise you with the Holy Spirit'. I wonder whether John's baptism has to do with turning from something and Jesus' baptism (with the Holy Spirit) has to do with embracing something.
It's not enough just to turn/repent, we also need to embrace.
I think my concept of holiness for too long has been to do with NOT doing certain things - i.e. defined by absence. I wonder whether I/we need to rediscover (cos there's nothing new) a concept of holiness that has to do with DOING things (that are good) rather than NOT doing things that are bad. i.e. defined by presence (of good things).
You can either try to remove the air from a jam jar by sucking it out or by filling it full of water. i know which one is easier.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Ancient-Future Time

My office is just behind the Christian Bookshop in East Oxford. I pop in once a week for my copy of the Church Times (oh I am so Anglican!). Normally for buying books I use Amazon, or, being in Oxford, we have a fantastic selection of bookshops in the city centre. But this book - 'Ancient-Future Time' - caught my eye so I picked up a copy.
I know that Robert Webber is 'Mr Ancient-Future' (has he TM'd the phrase yet!) and this is one of a zillion books he seems to have published with that phrase in the title, but as we are at the beginning of a new liturgical year I thought he might have some interesting to say about a spirituality that is formed by the seasons of the church year. we'll see.

Teaching Team

we're looking for some new models for how we do teaching at hOME. Last night we had the inaugural meeting of the newly formed hOME Teaching Team.
The idea is to explore some more collaborative teachings styles. At the beginning of each month those with an interest or a sense of calling to wrestle with and teach the scriptures in the context of our community will gather to look at the Sunday lectionary texts for the following month (so last night we were looking at the texts for January). Out of the creative discussion that follows ideas and themes will emerge which people can then take away and shape up into talks (and the plan is that some people will work in pairs etc. and think of creative ways of helping the gathered community to engage with the texts).
We had a really great first meeting. To me, as someone who has spent many hours over recent years sitting alone in a room trying to come up with some interesting and spiritually nourishing things to say from a text, to work on texts in a group setting was a very rich way to approach the task of doing a talk. Especially if, like me, you are an extrovert processor. We were finding that there was a real synergy to this approach as one person tossed out an idea which someone else then developed and added to.
And I like the idea of broadening the teaching base and democratizing it a bit more - taking it out of the exclusive domain of the 'professionals' and releasing more people with a gift/desire/passion for this work, to learn together and from each other.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sigur Ros

Sigur Ros are playing a one off show at the Hammersmith Apollo in London on March 29th. pre-sale tickets go on sale today. i'm tempted but £25 a ticket seems a bit steep to me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

There's only one Edgar Davids

As a Spurs fan I couldn't let Edgar Davids' first goal for Tottenham go unmentioned on this blog. For my money he is still one of the standout players in world football and he is doing a great job for Spurs. It was great to see him really enjoying scoring his first goal for the club on Saturday.

Monday, November 28, 2005


In the process of switching our broadband and phone over to Bulldog who are offering 8 meg broadband for £9.75 per month. The offer expires at the end of November so get your skates on if you're tempted.

Advent Sunday

Yesterday, of course, was Advent Sunday - the beginning of the church year. A season of anticipation and expectancy. We had our regular Eucharist but added some Advent spice with a short candle lighting ritual at the beginning using the U2 track '40' (in darkness) followed by the Delirious track 'There is a light that shines in the darkness' (I know - I've lost all my emerging church kudos by mentioning Delirious...woops) as Pippa lit the 'Christ' candle at the back of the room and walked into the circle of sofas and then lit each person's candle. Simple but effective. We sang some of our home-grown songs (and it was good to have Martin singing for the first time), read the lectionary readings and Suzie shared some reflections on 'Watching, Waiting and Hoping' (I particularly enjoyed her tie in with the 'buy now pay later'/instant gratification culture we live in). We then prayed the eucharist liturgy together (and Jim has brought back a fantastic chalice and patten from Iona for us to use).
One of the things that I was most pleased about last night was the way people lingered after the service had 'officially' ended and prayed for each other without it being 'organised'. We have been struggling for a while to find some natural ways to incorporate 'prayer ministry' (for want of a better phrase) into our services without reverting to the overly hyped-up practices of many charismatic churches. It was great to see people in 2's and 3's around the place just simply and quietly praying for each other where they sat. I hope we see more of that.


A dozen of us from hOME went down to Devon for a couple of nights this last weekend. 5 of the crazy fools even went surfing in the Atlantic. I was not one of them. They tried to convince me that a winter wet suit would see me right but I wasn't buying it. I mean, there was snow on the ground for crying out loud. Anyway, a good time was had by all and we got back in time to celebrate Advent Sunday last night (see next post).

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Big Ideas of 2006

Even though I am more sceptical these days of the adbusters agenda after reading 'The Rebel Sell' the end of year issue of the adbusters magazine is always worth getting. I picked up a copy from Borders the other day. Get yours at all good newsagents now!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

more on the emergent conversation day

Jonny has reminded me that there is some stuff that really chimes in with what we were talking about on Saturday in the introduction to his book 'Alternative Worship'. Reading his blog post sent me back to re-read it, and i wish I had done so before we went to St Albans as it's really relevant to what we were talking about. here's an excerpt:

"Alternative worship was 'post-charismatic', particularly in the determination of most groups to reject the culture of chorus singing and the worship group with worship leader. We have already noted the time lag between the musical forms (soft rock, easy listening) adopted by the charismatic renewal and the forms current in 'secular youth music'. There was a reaction against a performance-based musical idiom, in favour of one oriented to communal celebration and participation. People were also reacting against a model of the working of the Holy Spirit which stressed immediacy, spontaneity and extemporizing as the true signs of 'the Spirit moving'. The charismatic renewal contained an explicit critique of liturgical tradition as 'formal therefore unfree'. Most alternative worship groups have rejected this opposition and turned to embrace form, set prayers and liturgical patterns. Both the turn from choruses and the turn from an exclusive emphasis on 'free prayer' reflected an aesthetic and a spiritual disillusionment with these forms; a sense that they had produced a culture of banality in worship. A number of groups have retained a strong affinity with the theology of charismatic renewal, which they seek to explore within a new cultural mix."

I found that to be a helpful summary of some of the stuff we were talking about on Saturday.

I am still trying to discover, though, more groups like the one Jonny mentions at the end there - having a strong affinity with the theology of charismatic renewal but seeking to explore that within a new cultural mix. I'm sure there must be more groups out there like that - perhaps similar to us in hOME in wanting to explore the intersection of ancient/future liturgical forms whilst holding on to a charismatic spirituality - I just haven't found many yet. If that describes you, get in touch.

The Constant Gardener

Pip and I went to see this last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. we stopped off at 'The Big Bang' beforehand which is a sausage restaurant (choose a combination from a selection of sausages, mash, and jus - I went for the traditional Oxford sausages with a carrot and swede mash and a red wine jus - delicious). Anyway, it's a really well made film by the director of 'City of God'. without wanting to spoil it for those who haven't seen it yet, it does make you wonder how much of this sort of thing really goes on and how much is covered up. if you haven't seen it yet that will obviously make no sense whatsoever! do go and see it.

Monday, November 14, 2005

photos from the emergent day

Jason has a collection of photos from the Emergent discussion day last Saturday here.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Emergent Conversation Day : The Holy Spirit in the Emerging Culture

Yesterday half a dozen or so of us from hOME went across to St Albans for a discussion day, looking at the subject of the place of the Holy Spirit in the emerging church/culture.
Jason Clark and I facilitated the day with a few minutes of input from the two of us at the start of play to get the ball rolling. we both shared our stories and how we had come to be having this conversation.
my take on it was really about wondering why, as i connect with people from the emerging church and alternative worship scenes, that i keep coming across so many people who could perhaps be described as being 'post-charismatic' i.e. "I used to be into all of that 10 years ago but i've moved on now" - that sort of thing. and i wondered whether the two things (i.e. emerging church and being post-charismatic) necessarily went together.
there was some very helpful discussion about babies and bath water - and how perhaps people had rejected charismatic spirituality becuase it had become so closely identified with a mono-cultural expression of christianity that in distancing yourself from that culture you also distance yourself from the essence of the spirituality behind it because the two have become so intertwined.
so i shared about becoming concerned with some of the things i had witnessed over the years in the charismatic/pentecostal movement - using two phrases - 'revival fatigue' and 'spiritual viagra' - to describe what i had seen. i am particularly concerned about how a purely charismatic spirituality (i.e. ignoring the other traditions) can so easily lead to burn out i.e. it is not sustainable.

i suggested there were two possible responses (although there are probably more):
1. adopt (and integrate charismatic spirituality within) a more 'preaching-centric' view where long term spiritual sustainability is acheieved through a basis in regular biblical exposition or
2. seek to integrate a charismatic spirituality within the liturgical-contemplative tradition to offer increased sustainability.

i said that hOME was exploring the second of these options - we are investigating a spirituality that emerges at the intersection of the liturgical/contemplative (in new forms) and the charismatic. unfortunately we don't seem to have come across too many others attempting to explore that territory.

all in all it was a good day. i was pleased we attempted an open-source approach with people writing up their questions on post-it notes and then self organising them on a wall - leading us into small group discussion and then feeding back.

i thought we lost our way a little bit in the afternoon with the feeding back session. it was probably a little on the long side and also it felt a little like we were struggling to stay on the subject and avoid a general discussion about the emerging church in general.

Monday, November 07, 2005


I am currently working on the hOME (hOME is our church in case anyone is visiting here for the first time) budget for the coming year.
we are a small and fragile emerging/alt church community with a vision for mission and growth but while we are at the early stages of our community life it's kinda tough making ends meet.
we're getting there and some of our guys are really giving sacrificially which is wonderful.
but if there is anyone else out there in the blogosphere - any individuals or fellow emerging churches - who believes in what we are doing and feels prompted to support our mission then we would be very pleased to hear from you.
you can e mail me at matt@home-online.org

Friday, November 04, 2005

Why Halloween is bad

thanks to Chris for this hilarious photo.

Courtney Pine tonight

I'm looking forward to seeing Courtney Pine play tonight in Cheltenham. A friend of mine once described Jazz as the musical equivalent of speaking in tongues. i'll be seeking the gift of interpretation this evening. Jazz club....nice.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Clustr Maps

I'm glad Rich put me on to Clustrmaps a while back. Now I can see where in the world people who visit my blog are from. I'm pleased to say I have now had visitors from most continents. If you are at all interested - and who wouldn't be!! - then you can see my Clustr Map here.

Jamie Oliver in Italy

anyone see this last night? Jamie Oliver was visiting a monastery as part of his tour of Italy (apparently they had a legendary herb garden). there were some great lines: "I don't even know what religion I am. I think I might be Church of England." and "food is my religion, and the dinner table is my altar". He offered to say grace before meal and got it slightly wrong in an amusing way: "for what we are about to receive may God be truly thankful".
But seriously, it was fascinating to see these decrepid old monks - who had been eating tinned vegetables and the like, much to Jamie's displeasure - come alive with some good cooking. Jamie did a BBQ outside and got them all involved with the cooking - he wanted them to share in the experience of preparing the food and to have a laugh as they did so - and then even had them dancing a little bit to The Cure that he had playing from the stereo of his VW Camper Van.
In a funny sort of way he was a bit like the way I imagine Jesus would have been.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Bishop Richard

Richard Harries, our Bishop here in Oxford, announced the other day that he will retire next Easter. I, for one, have a great deal of respect, fondness and admiration for him though I am aware that he set the cat amongst the pigeons somewhat with the whole Jeffrey John affair. He has always been kind to me and I will miss him.

Saint Eddie of Izzard and the college of preachers

just got my hands on the Eddie Izzard box set which I've been after for a while. still by far and away my favourite comedian even after being given a good run for his money by people like Demetri Martin and Ross Noble.
Someone I once knew wrote an essay in theological college entitled "The Stand Up comedy of Eddie Izzard as a model for contemporary preaching". The point he was making was that a lot of Eddie Izzard comedy is based on his ability to take something that we are overly familiar with - the fact that bees make honey for instance - and play around with it in such a way that enables us to see again how wonderful (and occasionally bizarre) life is.
This is something that good preaching should do (and sorry, fellow emerging church travellers, but i still believe in preaching...perhaps there are some different ways to do it but still..). Good preaching/speaking/chatting/dialoguing should enable us to look again at something we have perhaps looked at a thousand times before, and enable us to see it again for the first time.

Friday, October 28, 2005


yesterday i worked later than i planned to at the office and therefore when it came time to cycle home it had got dark and i didn't have my lights.
as i set off from St Clements a guy was getting out of his car and just said "lights" as i cycled past. for some reason this kind of thing gives me 'cycle-rage'. of course i was too slow (and cycling too fast) to come back with something witty (like, i could have shouted "...camera, action" or "manners" but didn't think of it in time). so i just looked back and said "what?" to which of course he just shouted "lights" again. i just let it go and cycled off.
i think i'm usually a fairly patient guy. i get a little road-rage occasionally when i'm driving (as my wife will confirm) but nothing too crazy. so why does this sort of thing really wind me up? i guess it could be to do with the fact that there's no chance of a conversation - it's just someone shouting a word at you. anyone care to psychologise?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

very funny

this is hilarious! U2 (and friends) as you have never seent them before. thanks to mootblog for the link.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Monday, October 17, 2005

the gift of our presence

after a night at church where lots of friends weren't there for various reasons I was stirred to read these words from Jason Clark's blog this morning:

"I suggested to our church family that one of the greatest gifts we can give each other in a consumer society is our time, and presence."

"Community, takes time, proximity, interaction, and above all the cost of giving our time to others."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Cutting Edge Retreat

hOME is partly funded by a Diocesan group called 'Cutting Edge Ministries' which has been set up to fund new missional communities in the Diocese of Oxford. i am away for a 24 hour retreat with them and we have some input from people like Stuart Murray-Williams, Mike Moynagh and Pete Ward.
i think when i come on these things i am always looking for a good balance between the conceptual, the spiritual, and the experiential (i.e. connecting with what's actually happening on the ground). i think this retreat (we are just about to start the last session) has had a pretty good balance to it. this morning Pete led a helpful session where we started from our experience of what's happening (which we uncovered by using imaginative journey + the nuts and bolts of how we spent our week last week, what our focus was in the first week we started our 'project' (not a word I like), and also choosing and telling a story from the last two years) and then looking for theological motifs and scriptural texts that illuminate what's actually happening.
as well as that we have had some nice reflective worship, including some body prayer and the use of a Japanese drum last night.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

hOME now podcasting

we are now podcasting the talks from hOME. you will find us in the iTunes podcast directory under podcasts/religion & spirituality/christianity and then under the h's. we are about 7 places above HTB, but it's not a league table.
you can also get the audio direct from our web site (and the RSS feed is there too), but as i'm compressing the files they are not playable in Windows Media Player at the moment - some might see that as discrimination in favour of Mac users, but even Windows users can use iTunes these days so it shouldn't be a problem.
the podcasts may seem a little 'old church' at the moment - they are all of me talking, and the talks are a little on the lengthy side. but that's because we are in a new season of the life of the church and are doing some re-envisioning. it won't always be me on the podcast, I promise.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Rant: I hate insurance companies

Last night Pip and I went for what we thought would be a quiet drink in a village pub a few miles from where we live. we parked our car in the car park (as you do) but someone driving a 4x4 reversed into it on their way out of the car park. they didn't stop but instead drove off. we knew nothing of this as we were still inside the pub. Someone who was in the car park at the time came into the pub and asked for the owner of the car. It may not look like much damage but we can't close the door properly and these kinds of bodywork jobs are always pricy.
I called the Police. we were told to go and report it at the Police station. which we did. took till about 12.45am. I didn't do this because i was particularly bothered about them catching the guy (we only had a partial reg number for the car so i knew it was unlikely) but to cover us for when i called the insurance company. I needn't have bothered.
Apparently even though it wasn't our fault, and even though we have a witness, and even though we have reported it to the Police, we are still going to have to pay for the damage one way or another - either directly by paying for the repairs or indirectly by claiming and then losing our no claims bonus. Insurance companies are such a rip off. You pay them hundreds of pounds a year and for what? We have fully comprehensive cover. that is a very misleading phrase. they make sure that whatever happens it's you that's going to be out of pocket, not them. I have no idea why i bother having insurance at all (I know, I know, it's a legal requirement etc etc.) All i know is that this morning we are seriously out of pocket for a car accident that isn't our fault even though we have fully comprehensive cover. that ain't right.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

No Direction Home

anyone see part 1 of Scorcese's Bob Dylan documentary - 'No Direction Home' - on BBC2 last night? i taped it as the Spurs v Fulham game was on Sky but i've watched the first few mins today and it looks like great stuff. As i'm also a huge fan of 'The Band' who backed Dylan when he first went electric it was great to see some footage of them on the UK tour when Dylan was getting booed - people shouting 'Judas' etc - because he had moved in from being purely acoustic. Part 2 is on tonight, again at 9pm on BBC 2.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

we need a spirituality of the land

Pip and I get our vegetables from the local organic foodbox scheme. yesterday the farm that grows them were having an open day where their customers could go and see where they come from and have a guided tour. i went slightly reluctantly. Pip is far more into this side of things than me and i thought it would just be a load of trendy-leftie, Guardian reading, hippie types. and i was mostly right! but i ended up really enjoying it anyway. the farmer - Ian Tollhurst - looks suspiciously like a hippy to me (see pic) and I am sure there was a small greenhouse or two that he wasn't showing us - tucked round the back with some truly organic herbs being home-grown...if you know what i mean. but it was a very pleasant afternoon, all in all.
Nature is so finely tuned to deliver fruitfulness without the need for artificial tampering. the problem is we have got so used to trying to bend nature to our will rather than working with it and allowing it to shape us. for example, in the post war period farmers were given grants to take out their hedgerows so that they could get combine harversters in and supposedly increase productivity. now they are being given grants to put the hedgerows back in because there is a recognition that the kind of biodiversity that they bring is important for fruitfulness.
Farmer Ian also told us about how they really respect and protect the earthworm population in their fields as earthworms increase nitrogen in the soil which leads to greater fruitfulness. and by looking after some species of local wasp they can keep the cabbage-white moth population down (as the wasps eat cabbage white larvae) and thus reduce damage to their cabbages without the need for spraying them with pesticides etc.they also rotate their crop cycles and leave fields fallow.
here is a place where they have learnt that working with the land rather than against us can yield enormous fruitfulness.
listening to Ian - his passion for the land and for organic farming - made me think about how us city dwellers (and I live in Oxford which is probably considered the countryside by you Londoners!) desperately need a spirituality that connects us with the land. I know that there are some great theologians working in this field (pardon the pun) - yesterday i thought i must give this area some more attention.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Monday, September 19, 2005

Leaving St Aldates

Last night we officially said goodbye and so long to St Aldates church - the church that has been our mother church for the last two years.
It was a good service. they gave me an opportunity to talk for a while about how things had developed and how we got to this point. then they gave us some symbolic presents - a spade, an apple tree, and a rose bush - which were lovely and which tied in with the whole theme of moving on to continue this whole process of planting a new expression of Christian community in Oxford.
there was a good representation of hOME people there and they got us all up on stage and prayed for us etc.
then we all went to Pizza Express.
It felt important to have an opportunity to mark this important occasion in the development of our community, to have a good ending to that chapter as we enter into a new one.
we will always be thankful and grateful to St Aldates for giving us a start in life.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


tonight hOME is being bidden farewell by our parent church - St Aldates - at a commissioning service, where we will be prayed for and sent out. not that we are leaving Oxford but we are leaving the patronage of St Aldates and becoming more adult, more responsible for ourselves as a community in our own right.
we begin our new season of Sunday night gatherings next Sunday (25th). we did have a great venue for this lined up but it has unfortunately fallen through due to some complex ecclesiastical issues, so, at this moment, we are a hOME without a home. but hopefully we will have somewhere by this time next week. if you are in Oxford and know somewhere great to do church in East Oxford then do let me know!

Monday, September 12, 2005

well done England

i am chuffed to bits with the final result of the ashes series. what a summer it's been. i don't follow the county game too much but i enjoy the internationals. this summer has been extraordinary entertainment. i am truly sad that it is over, especially with legends like Warne and McGrath (not to mention Richie Benaud) making their final bow on English soil. it is an absolute travesty that the ECB have sold the TV rights to Sky - i thought the coverage by Channel 4, fronted by a dream team of commentators, was superb.
i guess my first love will always be football - Spurs in particular. but this summer will always be remembered as the year that the start of the football season was totally eclipsed by the wonderful, wonderful cricket that has been going on over the last 8 weeks.
well done England, but well done all involved - it's been special.

Friday, September 09, 2005

what's your theological worldview? at least i'm consistent

thought i would do this again as i have heard of a few people who re-did it again recently and have come out with a different result. i'm quite interested that this time i come out as almost Roman Catholic!
You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.



Roman Catholic


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox


Classical Liberal




Modern Liberal


Reformed Evangelical




What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

Thursday, September 08, 2005

iPod nano

it's a thing of beauty. it's the new apple iPod nano

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

more techie queries

can anyone out there recommend an online photographic service that can develop slides from JPEG's?
also, can anyone recommend a good printer for postcards/fliers?

Monday, September 05, 2005

Discussion Day: The Holy Spirit in the Emerging Church

Jason Clark and I are hosting a discussion day on Saturday November 12th in St Albans.

As we have talked we have mused about why it is that being involved in emerging church/alt worship very often means being post-charismatic. We wondered why that was and whether the two inevitably went together and whether others had questions in this area.

we are wanting to create a space to look at issues around how to express a charismatic spirituality, whilst also being formed by other spiritualities (liturgical, contemplative etc.) and without buying into the UK-charismatic-sub-culture/scene (which seems to dominate the way that charismatic spirituality is expressed).

this will hopefully be a great opportunity to connect with others exploring the same issues. it will be a fairly unstructured day - no big name speakers! so, come ready to contribute and participate.

More info, and booking (it's free!) can be found via Jason's blog here.

windows users getting desperate....

How to Pimp Your Windows XP Desktop to Look Like a Cool Mac Desktop

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Blog-geek question

here's one for the blog-geeks out there...i am thinking about switching from Blogger to Typepad and i am wondering whether it is worth the money. one reason is that i have started using ecto for composing blog posts and while it's a great programme it doesn't support image uploading to blogger (but it does to typepad). in these days of feed aggregators don't most people read blogs without visiting the actual blogs anyway? that would suggest to me that there is little to be gained by upgrading. does anyone have any thoughts on this?

for the doubters out there!...

this was taken yesterday at the end of my garden. what a monster! o ye of little faith!!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Michael Moore on Bush's response to New Orleans

the acerbic wit and biting political satire of Michael Moore are once more clearly in evidence in this open letter to George Bush....



Dear Mr Bush,

Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.

Also, any idea where all our National Guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?

Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her!

I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you for this - after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?

And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them - BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!

On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.

There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.

No, Mr Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 per cent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing - NOTHING - to do with this!

You hang in there, Mr Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit.

Yours, Michael Moore MMFlint@aol.com; www.MichaelMoore.com

P.S. That annoying mother, Cindy Sheehan, is no longer at your ranch. She and dozens of other relatives of the Iraqi War dead are now driving across the country, stopping in many cities along the way. Maybe you can catch up with them before they get to DC on September 21st.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

feeling like a tourist in your own city

had a great time the last couple of days, post-Greenbelt, hanging out with karen Ward from Seattle who has been our guest here in Oxford. yesterday we had coffee with Pete Ward (no relation!) and then i showed Karen around the sites of Oxford. She was obviously very excited to see some of the locations where they filmed Harry Potter and practiced her english pronounciation of the word 'Potter' (you don't pronounce the T's - well at least you don't if you're doing a London accent). we also drank some nice Belgium beer and smoked some nice cigars, but then you probably wouldn't have expected anything less.
Ian Mobsby turned up today to accompany karen on the next leg of her tour round the UK to see Maggi Dawn in Cambridge. Before they left we had time for a canoe down the river to the local pub for lunch - Ian in front, me at back, and karen in the middle like the Queen of Sheba (all that was missing was a couple of slaves wafting her with big ostrich feathers!).

Greenbelt Pics

had lots of fun at Greenbelt. highlights were Richard Rohr, the two COTA services (the Marvin Gaye Service was fantastic!), hanging out with lots of friends old and new - lots of laughs with Ian Mobsby (Moot, London) and Karen Ward (COTA, Seattle) in particular. see my flickr album with a few (but not many) pics from Greenbelt.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Greenbelt tomorrow

Pip and I are off to Greenbelt tomorrow along with 1 or 2 other homies. really looking forward to it mostly for connecting with people - old friends and hopefully some new ones to. there are some people who i have connected with over the web and it'll be great to meet them in the flesh.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Scottish Holiday II - rain stopped play (temporarily)

found this Peanuts cartoon and it's hard not to feel like this sometimes! we were on the Isle of Mull looking at the weather forecast and it seemed like everywhere in the UK apart from where we were was sunny. so, partly due to the miserable weather and partly to save a bit of cash, we gave up on our idea of taking another ferry out to the islands of Coll and Tiree and we headed instead up to Skye which neither of us had visited before. it's supposed to be really beautiful - that is if you can see anything through the low cloud and drizzle. after staying one night in a very creepy, deserted, hostel (complete with creepy warden and NO other guests) that reminded me of a movie set for some sort of 'I know what you did last summer' type of horror movie, we checked into a hotel where we holed up for 24 hours till the rain passed.
then we decided to cut our lossed and head down to Edinburgh where we have some very good friends and where the festival was in full swing. Our friend Wendy Ball put us up for 5 nights and almost singlehandedly salvaged our very soggy holiday.
by this time the weather had changed for the better and we had some really good sunny days. we saw a great comedian - Demetri Martin - (pictured above): anyone that makes a joke about a guy who paints icons for agnostics is ok with me. you can find some quotes here (if you like Steven Wright you will like Demetri).
With the good weather we even managed a day on the beach on Saturday. the East Lothian coast west of Edinburgh has some great beaches. Pip and I even donned the wetsuits and braved the scottish sea.
after spending some time with our good friends Kenny and Bridget Macaulay and their kids we headed back to Oxford via my parents in N Wales and got back home today. altogether we'd driven 1700 miles.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

a city boy in the country

ok - so i thought i had some dial up internet access in the cottage we are staying in on the Isle of Mull but this turned out to be false and so i am writing this quick update in a hotel on the Isle of Iona (cradle of xianity in the UK - where Columba set up base around AD 500) where we've just had lunch. today - Sunday - is the first sunny day we've had since we got to Scotland on Wednesday. I realised what a hardened city dweller i have become when i freaked out for the first few hours after we got on to Mull. i just thought 'this is just too remote and there is so little in the way of human culture, there's no internet, no teletext on the TV (yes there is a small TV in the cottage) and hardly any mobile phone reception' - i felt like i was in the back of beyond. so all of those romantic notions of doing an Andrew Jones and relocating to the middle of nowhere in some sort of monastic wanderlust have been blown right out of the water.
you'll be pleased to know that I seem to have acclimatised a little more now and am having a good time.
tomorrow we get the ferry back to Oban and then out again on Tuesday by ferry to the island of Coll and then on to Tiree on Wednesday.
don't expect any more blogging - we're going even more remote!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

holiday time

well, Pip and i are heading off to Scotland this evening. breaking the journey at my parents in N Wales and then arriving in Oban tomorrow evening. Catching a ferry from there on Thurs morning to the Isle of Mull where we will be for 5 days or so and then we're going to catch another ferry to Coll and then on to Tiree which are two beautiful (apparently) small islands even further out from the mainland. Tiree apparently has more hours of sunshine - due to its westerly position - than anywhere else in the UK and it also has some good atlantic surf so we're taking our wetsuits.

i will have some dial up internet access while we're on Mull so there may be some blogging happening but probably not a lot.

we'll be back just in time to go to Greenbelt which we're really looking forward to.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

yesterday: a day of jazz and fish

yesterday was a good day. i got my original vinyl pressing of John Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme' through the post via eBay in the morning. then in the afternoon i borrowed some fishing tackle from my neighbour and sat at the bottom of my garden fishing. considering i hadn't fished for around 23 years i was quite pleased to catch 3 beautiful roach - using Babybel as bait!
i do wonder whether i am turning into an old man though - fishing, jazz, golf, and i even smoked a pipe recently! what's happening to me!!
last night was Jim's birthday party - a good end to a good day.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

control arms

the night before last i managed to squeeze in two hUBS in one night: our campaigning hUB and our poetry slam hUB that serves the Oxford performance poetry community, in particular 'Hammer and Tongue' which is one of the leading poetry slams in the country.
i really enjoyed both of them and i find it really stimulating to see such a diversity of mission going on.
the campaigning hUB focussed this time on the 'control arms' campaign which is being run jointly by Amnesty, Iansa, and Oxfam, to try and get an international treaty in place to control the sale of small arms to countries and regimes that have a poor record when it comes to human rights etc. apparently someone is killed by small arms (which include machine guns and all kinds of crap) every minute and small arms kill far more people than 'weapons of mass destruction' but are not subject to any kind of international regulation. so the campaign is to try and get an international treaty in place. the idea is that you take a photo of yourself (like the ones above) and upload them - they are trying to get a million photos which will make it the largest photo petition ever. you can get involved and add yours here.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

island hopping

next week Pip and i are holidaying (great word) up in Scotland for a couple of weeks. we have free use of a cottage on Mull and we also plan to take a small tent and do some island hopping around the Western Isles. does anyone have any suggestions as to where we should visit?

Friday, July 29, 2005


thanks to Chris Bullivant (I think..) for this.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

a pilgrimage on your doorstep

this afternoon i did something i've been meaning to do for a long time: i went to see the home of CS Lewis - The Kilns - on the outskirts of Oxford.
in order to do this i had to become an American tourist for the day. there's a conference on in Oxford at the moment for about 450 Americans. The CS Lewis Foundation put it on each summer and get mega speakers to come and talk - Rick Warren was there on Monday morning. Chuck Colson at some point. Joss Ackland, the actor who played Lewis in the film 'Shadowlands' is coming to do a dramatic performance of one of Lewis's sermons - 'The Weight of Glory' - on Friday night (edit: it was Anthony Hopkins - Ackland played Lewis in something else). the Americans pay big bucks for all of this.
as some of the sessions are held at St Aldates church, where i am still currently on the staff, i snuck in (snuck in? i've been surrounded by Americans all afternoon and i think it's rubbed off) the other morning to hear Rick Warren, more out of curiosity than anything else. apparently, 'The Purpose Driven Life' has been the best selling book, globally, for the last 3 years in a row - more even than Harry Potter. Anyway, I wasn't expecting to like Warren at all but surprisingly i thought he was a really good speaker who had a lot of really good things to say. maybe i'm not as 'emerging' as i thought i was!
so, all week they're doing these tours of Lewis's house 'The Kilns' and i was talking this lunchtime to someone who used to work at St Aldates and is involved now in organising the conference and she suggested i hop on the coach and go. so i did. i pretty much managed to conceal my nationality all afternoon by being a miserable git and not talking to anyone.
It was great to visit the house, and the church down the road where Lewis and his brother Warren used to go for more than 30 years (and to sit in the spot he used to sit in). The CS Lewis Foundation have restored the house from old photographs to what it would have been like when Lewis lived there and it was very evocative to sit in his study and imagine him sitting at the desk and writing the Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity etc.
It's not just a museum but also a working study centre and there are a small number of post-grad students who live and study there during the academic year.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

here's a half baked thought

we had a great weekend away back in february this year. weekends away always seem to be times of accelerated growth and community building etc. after our last one a number of people said we should have 2 a year rather than 1. i have been thinking over the last week and i've had a crazy thought:
if weekends away are such significant times, why don't we JUST do weekends away - like one a month or something like that. the first weekend of every month could be a weekend away. and not do anything in between (or maybe do small groups or something). a fund could be set up for people who would struggle to pay for it. it could be quite a monastic thing - eating together, set times of prayer etc. and you get all the benefits of having recreational time together etc.
ok - maybe it's a bit of a crazy idea, but you gotta admit it's a pattern of church we haven't seen before.

Monday, July 25, 2005

a question

i heard someone the other day talking a lot about 'kingdom theology' which i agree is a very interesting and important subject. in my experience the Kingdom of God - or 'signs of the kingdom' - is often defined quite narrowly - it's about people being physically healed etc. as i have pondered some of these things over the last few days i have been asking myself the following question: if there was the same standard of health care, medicine, hospitals etc. in Jesus' day as we have in ours would he have healed as many people? did Jesus heal so many people because there wasn't really any other way that they would have got better if he hadn't?
it's an honest question? i don't have any agenda or axe to grind.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

what's your ecological footprint?

this is interesting. find out what 'ecological footprint' your lifestyle leaves. My 'footprint' average comes out at 2.4 global hectares. the average for people in this country is 5.3 global hectares. there are apparently 1.8 biologically productive global hectares per person on the planet. so, if everyone lived like i did we would still need 1.3 planets to sustain our lives. take the test here.

Monday, July 11, 2005

holiday reading

Holiday in St Ives, Cornwall

just back from a great week in St Ives, Cornwall, one of our favourite places, the place where we got engaged. if you're down in Cornwall this summer and you haven't been to St Ives before i encourage you to go - i think it's got a bit of everything: a great beach, some fantastic restaurants, the Tate gallery plus lots of other little galleries (there are apparently 500 working artists on the St Ives peninsular).
we stayed in a great little fishermans cottage (he didn't seem to mind) right in the heart of St Ives with the beach at one end of the cobbled street and The Sloop Inn at the other.
the weather wasn't great but at least it didn't really rain so we could still do stuff. it's very hard to resist the temptation to think that the whole world's against you when a heat wave starts the day you are leaving though! we did get our wet suits on and get into the sea a few times anyway.
It was Pip's birthday on Friday so after going out for dinner we drank champagne on the beach watching the sunset (everyone say 'ahhh'..) and then we decided the perfect end to the day would be a swim in the sea (funny how you get ideas like that after a bottle of champagne), so even though it was 10pm we went for it anyway.
we definitely didn't want to come back! we stopped off at Perranporth on the way back for one last sea-swim and saw a shoal of mackerel really close to where we were swimming.
anyway, now we are back in landlocked Oxford - pretty much as far as you can get from the sea in any direction. still, it's home.

Friday, July 01, 2005

emerging church/post-charismatic : do the two necessarily go together?

had what felt like a very helpful chat with Jason Clark on the phone yesterday about how i feel clearly called to engage with new expressions of church (and lead one) but how that doesn't necessarily mean that i want to be 'post-charismatic'. these two things seem to go hand-in-hand very often and i'm not sure why. anyway, Jason tells the story of our conversation in more detail here and there's a bit of chat about it in the comments if you are interested.

line spacing on my blog

for some bizarre reason Blogger has recently decided to condense the line spacing on my blog. it used to be spaced like the text in my profile on the left hand side of the blog but now it is squashed. i don't like it. does anyone know why it does that and how i could fix it?

Podcasting - the next big thing

Now that the latest version of iTunes - 4.9 i think it is - includes a podcast facility i think podcasting is gonna go ballistic. i have experimented a bit with programmes like iPodder but it's a bit of a pain in the butt. having podcasting integrated into iTunes is gonna be the thing that sparks it off big time i think. i, like Jonny, have subscribed to Mark Kermode's film reviews from Radio 5, and also i'm trying out Tim Bednar's podcast, and one from an emerging church in Minneapolis called 'Bluer', and one called the Leadership podcast. these, i think, are all available from within iTunes via the Music store (look for the new podcast section). there's bound to be a lot of rubbish so i think it's a case of trying some stuff out and seeing what's hot and what's not. anyone found any really good ones

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Quote of the Day

"Christians find their true identity when they are involved in mission" - the inimitable David Bosch (of course).

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

St Irenaeus

without wanting to distract attention from the previous important announcement i couldn't let today pass without drawing attention to the fact that it is the feast day (not sure why they are called that anymore) of St Irenaeus of Lyon. He is definitely one of my favourite early church fathers (2 generations from the N.T. apostles). he had a tremendously rich understanding of salvation which has been called 'representation' (to distinguish it from 'substitution'). For Irenaeus, it was vital to understand that Christ was the last Adam who represented the whole of humanity (like the first Adam did) - taking it through death and out into resurrection. There's lots more that could be said but this ain't the time or place. here are some other facts (from religionfacts.com):

Born: c. 115 AD, Smyrna
Died: 202 AD, Lyons, Gaul (France)
Feast day: June 28

St. Irenaeus was bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, which is now Lyons, France. He was a disciple of Polycarp, who himself was a disciple of John the Evangelist. He is recognized as a saint by both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology. His most famous work is Against Heresies, a lengthy description and refutation of Gnosticism.

Announcement: 30 people in 1 coracle

well - having had all the necessary conversations - i can now finally announce (although most people reading this will already know about it) that hOME - our fledgeling Christian community - will be de-coupling from our mother church this September and learning to stand on our own two feet a bit more. St Aldates has given us a start in life and has incubated our egg. but it now feels like it's time to move on. the egg is hatching and so the mother hen is getting off.

we still have the full support of the Bishop and the Diocese and we will be relocating in Oxford. we are in conversation with another church about the possibility of some sort of partnership and a mutual sharing of resources but it won't be the same kind of relationship we've had with St Aldates.

I'm really excited about the future possibilities and this move feels really right although it will put a strain on our resources and may involve me finding some other work. we'll see.

so, those in our community who feel the missionary call of the great missionary God to go with us will be getting into our coracle and heading out in a couple of months time. and we'll see where the Holy Spirit takes us.