Thursday, May 31, 2007

a travesty of justice...

there was no way Naomi should have been fired from The Apprentice last night. I predicted Simon's firing about 5 mins into the programme and I stand by my judgement. He was easily more culpable than Naomi for the failure of the task. Sir Alan 'cocked it up royal' (surely a new catchphrase in the making) with his decision last night (and I have a terrible feeling that Katie is going to be in the final!).

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Richard Rohr in York

I'm looking forward to travelling to York this coming weekend for the Richard Rohr conference that Contemplation & Action UK are organising.

Rohr is a Franciscan monk and the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico (had to look the spelling up on that one!). As he himself says, the most important word in the phrase 'contemplation and action' is the word 'and'.

I was blown away by hearing him speak at Greenbelt a couple of years ago and his book 'Everything Belongs - the gift of Contemplative Prayer' made a big impression on me when I read it last year.

It's great that I have some traveling companions too...Jim from the hOME community, and Ian (my brother nu-monastic Abbot from the mayBe community also in Oxford) and his wife, Gail.

Should be a good weekend.

Monday, May 28, 2007


Really enjoyed our Pentecost service last night. We focused in on the four most well used metaphors for the Spirit - fire, water, breath/wind, and oil.
I did a little thought for the day on what it means to be witnesses - which is why the Spirit is given according to Jesus (and he should know).
It seems to me that we are witnesses in who we are and in what we do. i.e. it's about identity and vocation. And when the Spirit comes something happens in these two areas that make us into witnesses. I looked at Adam - the breath/ruach/spirit of God enters him and makes him into a living being (identity) and there follows the creation mandate (vocation) to be fruitful and multiply etc. We then looked at the baptism of Christ - the Spirit comes and we are told that this is God's Son whom he loves (identity) and immediately after he begins his ministry (vocation). We then went to the Pentecost narrative and saw how the Spirit was given to form the church (identity) and to lead it into mission (vocation).
We then looked at the four images of the Spirit - fire, wind, oil, and water - and discussed what experiencing the Spirit in those ways might mean for us in terms of discipleship (identity) and mission (vocation).
I thought it was a really helpful discussion.
We then had these 4 elements laid out around the room and people interacted with them in whatever way they found helpful, turning their encounter with the elements into prayer for themselves and others.
We also read some fantastic quotes from Hildegard of Bingen, Elizabeth Johnson, Clark Pinnock and Pope John Paul II on the Spirit and I'm including jpegs of the slides here if anyone wants to click on them to enlarge and read them.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

how will you be defined in the dictionary?

a bit of fun for Saturday.....go here, enter your name, and see how your name would be defined in an (imaginary) dictionary. Mine came out as follows:

Matt --

A dance involving little to no clothing.

I also particularly liked the entry for my friend Jim who appears as....

jim --

A lewd street performer

Although it does seem like you get a different answer if you refresh so it's obviously totally random.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Katie and Eddie

is it just me or do Katie off The Apprentice and Eddie Izzard bear more than a passing resemblance to each other? See the photos below and judge for yourself.

Katie(left) and Eddie (right)

You never see them in the same room together that's for sure.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

wisdom from Benedict and Joan

Part of my practice recently has involved daily readings from Joan Chittister's commentary on the Rule of Benedict. I was particularly struck by her words this morning:

A willingness to be formed is the basis of formation. Anything else is can't get the spiritual life by waiting for it. You have to reach for it. Read things that gild your soul. Turn your mind to prayer, to a conscious response to the God present here and now. Remember who you are.
The ancients considered the gift of tears as a sign of God's great favour. If we could only be always sorry for what we have done to distort life in the past then perhaps we could be safeguarded against distorting it in the future. Regret is a gift long gone in contemporary culture but critically needed perhaps. In this society , guilt has disappeared and sorrow is labeled unhealthy. As a people, then, we separate one action from another in such a way that patterns escape us and pitfalls elude us. We simply stumble on, from one event to the next, unaware of the dangers in it for us, uncaring of our past behaviours, unfeeling of the callouses on our hearts.
Life, Benedict implies, is a tapestry woven daily from yesterday's threads. The colours don't change, only the shapes we give them. Without the past to guide us, the future itself may succumb to it.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

"it's just a step to the right....."

Well done to those who spotted the Rocky Horror allusion above.
Sad, but not entirely surprised, to see my old theological college hitting the headlines in yesterday's Guardian. It's changed a lot since I was there and I think a number of people saw this coming. A good friend of mine is studying there at the moment so I hope this won't adversely affect his training.

Monday, May 14, 2007

stations of the resurrection

Over the last 5 weeks we've been doing the Stations of the Resurrection. Instead of 'prayer' stations we made them 'teaching' stations instead. We used 11 different passages (left out the apocryphal 'Jesus meets his mother' and the ascension + pentecost which we are saving for the coming weeks).
We laid out the 11 Stations around the room each week - the passages were printed out and there were large pieces of paper and assorted coloured pens - and each week people visited a couple of the Stations, read the passage, and wrote down any questions or thoughts they had about the passage, or drew a picture, answered questions other people had left etc. The idea being that we built on each other's theological work over the course of the 4 weeks we engaged with these Stations.
Last night we wrapped it up with a recap and a discussion on what we had been learning. I really like this Latin-American idea of entrusting the Word to the people, rather than the 'professional priest' always controlling the content.
Unfortunately I forgot to take some photos but hopefully you get the general idea.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


A real privilege yesterday to conduct the marriage of Martin and Juliet - two guys from hOME - at a little village just outside Oxford. It was a great day. Suzie took some great photos (as usual) - these are from her set. The full set is here.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


So - it occurred to me do you put a crane up? Not the smaller ones on the backs of lorries like this one on the left, but the tower kind, which are huge. More like this:
To get something that big and heavy into the air you'd need a crane wouldn't you? So do they use cranes to put up cranes? But then how did the first crane (the one they use to put the second one up) get put up?

It could be one of the great unsolved mysteries of the universe.

Monday, May 07, 2007

a bit of wisdom from Dallas Willard

I'm doing my usual annoying thing at the moment - reading about 5 books at once. I wish I didn't do that but I do. Anyway, just to add to the confusion this morning I picked up another book I've got lying around the house at the moment - 'The Spirit of the Disciplines' by Dallas Willard - and read the first chapter. It was one of those 'wow' moments you sometimes get when you're reading. Here's a little taster - it's a long quote but it's worth persevering with...

Our mistake is to think that following Jesus consists of loving our enemies. going the second mile, turning the other cheek, suffering patiently and hopefully - while living the rest of our lives just as everyone around us's a strategy that's bound to fail and to make the way of Christ 'difficult and left untried'. In truth it is not the way of Christ any more than striving to act in a certain manner in the heat of a game is the way of a champion athlete....

..It is part of the misguided and whimsical condition of humankind that we so devoutly believe in the power of effort-at-the-moment-of-action alone to accomplish what we want and completely ignore the need for character change in our lives as a whole. The general human failing is to want what is right and important, but at the same time not to commit ourselves to the kind of life that will produce the action we know to be right and the condition we want to enjoy. This is the feature of human character that explains why the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We intend what is right, but we avoid the life that would make it reality.

Friday, May 04, 2007

the great church merry-go-round...ouch

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.