Tuesday, May 23, 2006

crunch time

We are entering crunch time as far as our attempt to acquire the lease on the Ultimate Picture Palace is concerned. There are some crucial meetings over the next couple of days. If you are the praying sort then do remember us in your prayers....if you are the giving sort (or have access to someone who might be) then do get in touch (matt@home-online.org). Our time is running out to raise the up-front cash.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

sour grapes

As a Spurs fan I can't say I'm too disappointed about last night's Champions League Final result (understatement of the year). I am less than impressed about Arsenal's lack of graciousness in defeat - accusing the referee of bias, accusing the Barcelona players of diving etc. The fact is Jens Lehmann was rightfully sent off - there can be no argument about that - and the better team on the night won. It was good to hear David Pleat on the commentary though - I particularly enjoyed the classic line: "the sight is in end" (where he was suggesting Arsenal were on course to victory just seconds before Samuel Eto went and equalised).

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Apple's replacement for the iBook - the MacBook - has arrived and it looks very impressive - and very reasonably priced. Comes with built in iSight, remote control, etc. and starts at £749. If you are a switcher in the making - there are now NO excuses for not making the move! Full spec etc. here.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Yesterday I bought a hammock. It rocks.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

wasn't expecting to like this...

I am not normally a man who delves very deeply into the world of modern-day soul, it's not normally on my musical radar. I was surprised - I'm not sure why - to hear that U2 had recorded a version of their song 'One' with Mary J Blige. Then I heard it in Vancouver and it absolutely blew me away. Got straight on the net and downloaded it from iTunes. If you haven't heard it...boy...the girl can sing. It's even brought a tear to my eye. So...there's no accounting for taste...maybe I should explore further (and while I'm at it I could go the whole hog and 'pimp my ride' - can you do that to a Honda Civic?!).

San Francisco

The last leg of our trip - San Francisco - was, again like Vancouver and Seattle, fantastic. As previously mentioned (below) we had found a great hotel on the web - right in the heart of the city just off Market Street.
On our first day there we walked around Haight Ashbury which of course was the centre of the whole 60's hippie counterculture - nowadays more of a hippy museum than anything else but still worth a look anyway. We hired some bikes and cycled round Golden Gate park & saw the Japanese tea garden and De Young museum - well worth doing. We also sat and chilled out in the Panhandle - a smaller park nearby where Hendrix played in the Summer of Love in 1968.
It was great to connect with Mark Scandrette and his household and we had dinner at their place in the Mission District that night.
Day 2 was spent taking a look at Grace Cathedral, then lunch with Bob Carlton, Chinatown, and North Beach - particularly City Lights Bookstore owned by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and the centre of the Beat scene in the 50's and early 60's. City Lights - the first bookstore to sell paperbacks in the States - was the epicentre of that whole scene, getting raided for selling banned books, Ginsberg and Kerouac hanging out etc. Here's a shot of me outside it:
So we rode up and down on the Cable Cars - went all the way down to Fisherman's Wharf and saw Alcatraz from a distance.
Day 3 we hired a car and drove out of the city - over Golden Gate Bridge (see pic above) and into Marin County. Stopped in Sausalito for lunch, found a great beach, drove for a while up Highway 1 before heading back over the bridge to the city where we found another great beach at the end of Golden Gate Park. had a quiet night as it was our last and we had to get up early to catch the plane to Vancouver for our connection back home.
San Francisco is a wonderful city - colourful and creative, great to look at, fascinating. I have wanted to go ever since seeing The Last Waltz (and by the way I saw THE guitar that Robbie Robertson played in TLW in The Experience Museum in Seattle - how excited was I!).
I was sad to leave and really hope to be able to go back.

Monday, May 08, 2006


So - I finally get around to blogging the rest of the trip (now that we are back in the UK and we've got our jet-lag on). First up (following Vancouver (see post below)) - Seattle.
We had such a good time there. Very people intensive. Karen picked us up (we took the boat from Vancouver Island) and we headed straight to Brouer's Bar where they have the finest selection of Belgian ales known to man.
We were staying in the COTA Abbey (pictured) in the Fremont area (North Seattle), courtesy of our good friend Abbess karen. It was great to see how creatively they use the space and also to see their plans for the future of the building - transforming it into a totally multi-functional arts/community/worship/cafe space.
So we were there for the day conference on new-monasticism that COTA hosted, and it was great to connect with guys from the east coast - Shane Claiborne and Amber from The Simple Way in Philadelphia, and Chris and Cassie Haw from Camden House in Camden, New Jersey - and to hear about their communities, as well as hearing about the monastic element of COTA. I shared a little of our journey in the monastic tradition here in hOME, Oxford.

I think it's true to say that the East Coast guys represented one stream of new-monasticism (probably Franciscan - very involved in living amongst the poor as the primary expression of their faith (and it was amazing to hear the kind of radical lives they are living in community) - and COTA and hOME representing another stream of new-monasticism (probably Benedictine - more of an emphasis on prayer and spiritual practices). At some point I would like to develop further this idea of the different streams of new-monasticism as reflections of the different streams of classic monasticism - where are the new-Dominicans, the new-Jesuits etc.??

On the Thursday evening - after the new-monasticism day - we headed to the COTA Theology pub (in Ye Olde English authentic pub called 'The Reading Gaol' - v kitsch, especially with Pip actually coming from Reading) with Travis in the chair.

The Friday and Saturday were spent participating in Tom and Christine Sine's 'Church has Left the Building' conference along with Mark Pierson, the guys from Thursday, Rachelle Mee-Chapman, and plenty of others who I hadn't met before. It was a good time. Mark and I had a little freak out moment when we both thought we were covering the same material in our repsective seminars - both drawing from the 'slow food' movement - but as it turned out, he was taking it in a worship direction (local tastes and flavours etc) whereas I was talking about spiritual formation.

My seminar seemed to go well (you can never really tell - Christians are always so nice!) but, rather ironically as I was talking about slow-church, I seriously struggled to keep to time and had to rush through some of the interactive stuff that I had planned to linger longer on.
Perhaps I shouldn't have spent the first 5 mins talking about The Waltons but I couldn't resist it after I found a great rocking chair which I decided to sit and rock on whilst doing the talk (see pic - I know, it looks like I've rocked myself to sleep!).
Pip was worried that my Bristish humour (and that of Eddie Izzard of whom I showed a couple of clips) wouldn't translate. But people seemed to laugh in the right places. Again, perhaps they were just being kind!
Anyway, the material was a kind of theological reflection on mine/our journey over the last number of years from what I would call a 'fast-church' model (un-reconstructed charismatic-evangelical) - using phrases like 'revival fatigue' and 'spiritual viagra' - to a more blended-spirituality that I was calling 'slow-church'. This isn't the place to unpack all the points I was making. Another time maybe.
So it was fun to connect with people from Evergreen church in Portland, and also Nadia from Colorado (who I had met previously when she and her husband Matthew had visited the UK recently) - all of whom were also staying in the Abbey.

Anyway, we finished the conference with a meal at the Sine's house along with the other participants. And then on Sunday we took a look around the Fremont area (including the famous 'Fremont Troll' - thanks for the tip Sue!) before the COTA Taize service.

Then after a fantastic meal out on Sunday night with Karen and Travis (see photo), on Monday morning Travis took us to the airport for our flight to San Francisco.
At some point I'll put a flickr album up. Well done for reading such a long post!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

San Francisco update

I'm going to blog about the last week which we've spent in Seattle - which was great - in the next post but just wanted to do a quick update on where we're at now.
We flew into San Francisco this lunch-time and headed downtown to find our hotel. Having found it you can only imagine my joy when I discovered that it was literally spitting distance from the main Apple store in town (Market Street) - the mother ship - or as Karen called it last night - The Vatican (see picture). I write this entry from there. So if any of you emerging church mac addict types are planning to visit San Francisco may I recommend our hotel : The Mosser - a funky little boutique hotel that even has a built in recording studio for some reason.
So - thanks to Karen (our fantastic introductions agent!) - we are hoping to hook up with Mark Scandrette (dinner at his place tomorrow night) and Bob Carlton while we're in town. It's great to be part of the global emerging church family - friends in every town!
Anyway, when I get a chance I'll blog Seattle.