Wednesday, February 27, 2008

been a long time coming

We moved back into our house (after the flood last summer) last weekend and consequently have no broadband (which is killing me). As a result I haven't been able to blog on a very significant event - Spurs victory over Chelsea in the Carling Cup Final at Wembley last Sunday. Some even thought I was being modest by not mentioning it. But no - it was purely down to the lack of net access.

So that's us in Europe next year. Good to do it via a convincing victory over one of the country's best teams who were playing to win too.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Joke from the West Wing

It's impossible to say how much I am enjoying the West Wing. It is surely one of the best programmes ever to grace our TV sets. We went right back to the beginning (having missed it when it was on TV) and begged, borrowed and stole (ok, not the last one) the DVD box sets. We are now approaching the end of Season 5.

One of the many reasons I love it is the humour. It can be genuinely hilarious at times. This may not be the best example of that but here's a joke from President Bartlett from the episode we watched last night:

A pessimist and an optimist are talking to each other.
"Everything's terrible. It couldn't get any worse", says the Pessimist.
"Yes it can" says the Optimist.
Well, I thought it was funny anyway. Although it was taken from a speech of his that bombed so perhaps I'm in the minority there.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Oxford Open

Very pleased that I managed to finally get along to Modern Art Oxford yesterday, after a meeting in town, to see The Oxford Open.

It's a free exhibition featuring the work of any local people who wanted to contribute something. In many ways it felt like a reclamation of space - an art gallery that has been temporarily taken over by 'ordinary people' rather than the artistic elite. I say 'ordinary people' but the level of creativity was quite something to behold and the overriding feeling I had whilst wandering round was about how extraordinary it is that people have expressed themselves in such a diversity of ways. Only a few of them are doing it to make a living (like my friend Clay Sinclair who had a great piece there). The rest are just pouring this stuff out from the depths of their being in their spare time.

It's only on till tomorrow so if you're local and you haven't been yet hurry along down.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

with preaching like this, why wouldn't people come back to church?!!

This is just too funny. Thanks to Andrew Jones for linking to the original blog post. This is just wrong on sooo many levels, I don't know where to start. So I think I'll just let it speak for itself. You've probably already seen it via Andrew's blog but just in case you haven't I thought I should put it up here too.

Monday, February 11, 2008

has spring sprung?

Beautiful early Spring day here today in Oxford. Mondays are now my childcare day as Pip has now gone back to work 2 days a week. So today the little'un and I went to the swings and hung out in the back garden.

Here we are in our matching yellow with the french doors open and Neil Young and The Band blaring out.


Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Rugby

I felt I should officially declare (before today's game) that I have
decided to support Wales in this year's 6 Nations Championship. I do
have some Welsh blood after all.

Anyone got a problem with that?

Friday, February 08, 2008

U2 3D

This looks amazing. U2 are releasing a 3D concert film in IMAX cinemas in a couple of weeks time.

In the UK that means London, Birmingham, Manchester and Bradford.

Apparently one is closer to Bono than his mic stand and he was worried that it might make him look like a 40 foot tall 'lardass'!
Might have to try and get a group together for an outing.

Read the BBC report here. Visit the official site here.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

ash wednesday

Last night was our Ash Wednesday service. Our fifth one now, and the first one not to involve burning things!!

We borrowed St Alban's church - which we use for high days and holy days. The focus for the service, coming through the readings particularly, was a call to a life of integrity - where our inner life and our outer life are in sync and one is not running ahead of the other. It's not healthy to put on a show for people - being the person we think people want us to be - whilst we are somewhere else on the inside. Similarly, it's not healthy to develop our interior life and not express this in our engagement with the world - then it just becomes a private piety.

This led to us talking about the masks that we wear - what do we try to project to people about who we are, and who are we really?? We then spent some time making masks from card and clippings from lots of different magazines etc. On one side of the mask we collaged what we show to those around us. On the other side we collaged who we felt we really were.

We then used the ashing as an affirmation of this essential, often hidden, identity. A recognition that God knows who we really are and loves us in all our brokenness.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Super Tuesday

So yesterday was Super Tuesday. I was and am fascinated by the whole thing and I woke up this morning wondering what had happened overnight.
I guess I feel a little disappointed that it wasn't the decisive day that many people thought it would be. Obama and Hillary are neck and neck - like they were before. McCain is emerging as the frontrunner - like he was before.
One question I do have though is this....a lot of people I know are really turned on (in a political sense!) by Obama, but as far as I can tell there isn't much to choose between his and Hillary's policies. So, let me ask you this - particularly my American readers - why Obama and not Hillary? Is it to do with Bill?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday

So today is Pancake Day.
I'm all for pancakes. Got nothing against 'em. Eaten quite a few of 'em in my time. Will eat some more tonight (courtesy of Rich and Sarah).
Everyone knows about Pancake Day, but ask people what tomorrow is and I imagine you'll get some blank faces.
For me, this is a classic example of the remnants of a once Christian culture now still hanging around in a very anachronistic way. Even the name we now give it is telling - Pancake Day rather than Shrove Tuesday. Admittedly, I don't know the provenance of the word 'Shrove' - I'll just look it up on Wikipedia. Hang on a moment....I'm back. Here it is:
The word shrove is a past tense of the English verb "shrive," which means to obtain absolution for one's sins by confessing and doing penance.[7] Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the shriving (confession) that Anglo-Saxon Christians were expected to receive immediately before Lent.[8]
Anyway, my point feels a little odd to make so much of Shrove Tuesday which only exists because of what it precedes, but to have lost an understanding of the thing that makes it meaningful. Now it's just an excuse to eat a lot of pancakes.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Contemplative Prayer Group for Lent

I'm planning to host a prayer group during Lent this year.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Extreme Pilgrim - thoughts on spiritual leadership

I really enjoyed the Extreme Pilgrim mini series on TV recently. I thought the first one was a little weak but the last two were really good.
I watched them out of order and ended up watching the second one last. Even though the last one was about the Jesus prayer and the life of an Orthodox hermit, it was the second programme I found most thought provoking.
In it Jones travelled to India and met a Sadhu or Holy Man. He then went to the Himalayas, to a village where he lived in a cave and was the de facto Holy Man for the village for a while.

It thew up lots of interesting questions but the one I have been left to chew over is the particular understanding of spiritual leadership that the Sadhu tradition offers.
His vocation was really to be an 'enlightened one' on behalf of the village - so, much of his time was spent in meditation and prayer, and the villagers supported him out of their meagre resources in order for him to do that. His presence was enough for them.

Much leadership in the church in the UK (and I guess I am talking particularly about the Anglican church now which is what I know best as it's my 'tribe') seems to me to be managerial and administrative in style. I am more and more convinced that what we actually need is more of a Holy Man/Woman approach.

But I am, however, a little conflicted on this as I was slightly troubled by the suggestion that the Sadhu (in Owen Jones' film) was doing/being something that the ordinary folk couldn't do/be. And that doesn't sit well with me either.

My friend Kath, who comes from a Tibetan Buddhist background and brings that flavour to her practice of Christianity (which I really enjoy and am fascinated and challenged by), talks about how important, in the Eastern tradition, devotion to a teacher is. And how we don't really get that in the West. I want to talk to her more about this. I am wondering what this means in terms of Christ being our teacher and also with what St John said in 1 John 2:
"As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you." (1 John 2:27).

Friday, February 01, 2008

too good not to share!

the final healing?

some of you will know that my Father has been seriously ill for a number of years now. Well he has contracted pneumonia in the last few days and the outlook is pretty grim. We are making an unscheduled trip to see him this afternoon. I will update my blog if there is any development.
In a twist of 'fate' my Grandmother has been admitted to hospital as well and is also seriously ill with a urinary and chest infection.
We're up in Wales now and the doctor has been out to see my dad and it looks like he has improved a bit. We'll see how things develop.

when everything is a fresh expression is anything a fresh expression?

I received a clergy mailing this morning from - subtitled 'a fresh expression of Christian retailing'. Are we now at a point where the term has become almost meaningless?