Quote of the Day….

I have just realised that WordPress does not count visitors the same as dear old Blogger. WordPress counts visitors during a 24 hour period only once (I think). So my WordPress count looks lower than my old Blogger one. These things are important to me (if I was talking like this at a party, by now you would be edging away from me; welcome to the blogosphere- hang out for social misfits and anal retentives….). I seem to be getting about 30 hits a day during the week- thank you very much- my ego is being massaged. Just as I take this in, some words from the immortal ‘Frankly Mr Shankly’ (by the incomparable The Smiths, of course)  hit me:-

‘Fame, fame, fatal fame; it plays hideous tricks with the brain.’

I won’t, though go on to quote the next line;

‘Still I’d rather be famous, than righteous or holy, any day’.

Ooops, I just did.

Happy Saturday evening….


The title ‘Saturday…’ is another in my series of ‘lame post headings’. Others I’ve not yet used are ‘I’m writing a post’ , ‘This one is funny’ or ‘Exciting things that happened during my holiday in Frinton on Sea’.

You may not know that I am BA (Hons), BD and MA… so I loved this (which means that I am extremely wise; certainly wiser than you & able to appreciate the subtle nuances of this cartoon). http://asbojesus.wordpress.com/ is one of the great blogs- funny, thoughtful and controversial although never in a way that is arrogant- which is perhaps why his blog has become a community…


Quote of the Day- part two

Context of this quote: he is talking from the perspective of his local church. I can understand the motivation, but I have always thought that the phrases ‘I’m looking for a good church’ or ‘That church didn’t seem right for me’ or ‘I felt it was right to leave that church and look for another that suited me’ sounded very close to the deifying of customer choice as God….

‘The commitment to making one’s family of faith something that does not involve a commute is radical and offensive to many, yet it is truly the thing we appreciate most about our church. It is also the thing that, in so many ways, continues to press for us the death of self-love. When your parish is blocks and streets and not a given social or ethnic or age demographic, the mission field surely holds a hefty does of the people you would not readily choose to invite to your table. As my denomination’s president once so aptly put in response to a well-known church-growth expert saying that pastors should build their congregations out of people who they would most enjoy spending a vacation with or playing some leisure sport: “Who wants to play tennis with Lazarus?”’


HT: http://marksayers.wordpress.com/

A luvvie scorned


Well I didn’t get the audition, but it was fun and I would have liked to.

In a world of suffering , death and unanswered questions I did give some serious prayer to this (there is a terrible irony in that sentence- is it western narcissism?). So I could say ‘it is the Lord’s will’…which I suppose it is.

Except…except…. I have heard some Christians say that phrase and its cognates over and over again. I can understand the outcome- I agree with the underlying theology of it. But when I’ve heard that phrase used I’ve wondered if it is used to suppress feelings (inner dialogue ‘I feel like shit….I can’t understand this…grrrr’ Outer dialogue: ‘I am at peace. The Lord has things in hand’) and turn God’s wild, unpredictable big messy story into the equivalent of a 10 minute morality play with no loose endings.

I once asked someone to share a particular time of questioning and uncertain direction. You know the kind of thing: I trust God, but I can’t sense a way forward right now. I thought it might help those of us who are aware that life/our own lives are often messy and unpredictable. The person preferred to wait until the situation was ‘resolved’ and then the story could be told.

OK, there were wider issues there- maybe I should not have asked at that time. But I’m wondering what is the long term effect on the body of Christ in the West if our ‘public stories’ are predominantly those of ‘victory’ , ‘overcoming’, famous Christians or ‘success’? Those things do happen, but rarely are they neat. Maybe the effect of constantly hearing neatly tidied stories is a gradual seething resentment or a kind of ‘practical athiesm’ (‘we hear this in church-but that’s ok- the rest of life is different’)?

I’m going off now to play some Leonard Cohen, throw all my acting books away and to wail at the moon (which for this time in the morning is no mean feat)…. you won’t destroy me- I am an artiste….

A wise quote from a song from the ever wise Martyn Joseph: ‘He never said every little thing’s gonna be all right.’

Quote of the Day…Part One

This one hit this postmodern slacker right between the eyes (2nd part tommorrow):-

‘If there is one element of “the missional church” or “missional theology” as I understand it that at once compels and terrifies me, it is the invitation to live an incarnational life. Philippians two tells me that my “attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” and then it describes the most terrifying emptying of all power, privilege and self-preservation imaginable. An emptying that leads to death, and not just any kind of death but one so humiliating and horrific that it would not have been discussed in polite company.

I think if there were one thing I would want us to remember today as we consider all things missional, it would be that as we talk about incarnational living and incarnational ministries and being incarnational wherever we live, we are talking about a way of life that leads to the cross. It did for Jesus, and if I read Philippians correctly, it should for us as well’.


HT: http://marksayers.wordpress.com/

To be a luvvie or not?



I read an excellent post yesterday ( http://goodinparts.blogspot.com/ for 24/1/09) ; an ordinary vicar/curate reflecting on life and ministry. It has reset me thinking. Note: I left a comment- I think it is good netettiquette to do so from time to time…hint…….hint…

What is it that makes a ‘good’ minister? Well I guess we all downgrade what is important (and this is not mine, it belongs to Eugene Peterson- he should know, he’s friends with Bono, has produced a translation of parts of the Bible and a series of top books on vicar-ing) like being able to pray longingly and lovingly and spend time with the Bible….. many active and ‘good’ ministers downgrade this for more visible stuff- ‘activity’. It is rather like a club buying a new striker and the crowd praising him for his car and the immaculateness of his kit and his warm up routine…….. actually- looking at Middlesbrough’s recent form this may not be too far from the truth (although a 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge last night represents something of a pyrrhic victory. Just a shame that the Premier League don’t give points on the basis of Greek tragedy….).

But if you were forced to rate a ‘good’ minister, you might subconsciously rate all the church stuff he/she does. A night or so ago, recapping all the stuff I did/ feelings I had on sabbatical, I realised that if I do not have an active hinterland I become less and less effective/less ‘missional’.

Last night I went for an audition for the village Hall Am Dram Society’s forthcoming production (I have my eyes set on the role of a drunken, incompetant east European hotel porter which is surely typecasting, just as last year my role as a seedy cook given to embezzlement and adultery was also so ‘me’). This is no ordinary village hall am dram society- Wendy Craig is our patron & we have a ‘name’. Plus Am Drams are one of the ‘big things’ in this area.


I don’t know if I’ll get in- demand is high. But here is the rub: if I do, I will have to move meetings and get out of others. All the time part of me is thinking ‘That is not what good ministers do’: last year I got a lot of flak for moving one meeting (to which I say: sometimes people just need to ‘get a life’). Yet if I don’t and don’t get down the village pub at the rate I do (I’d like to do more)…. all of this talk of ‘missional engagement is complete crap, to put it politely.

Of the people auditioned so far, 2 are granddaughters of someone I did a funeral for 2 weeks ago, one used to live in this house, one goes out with someone I was at Poly with, one I have acted with before, one is a church member, then there is the church organist and her husband and there is also an ex member of the church’s youth fellowship. This village is that kind of place…

We will see- I find out tonight. If I don’t get in, I plan to tell the director that I have a number of appointments in the West End…… well I live at the west end of the village and I will be forcibly reminded by my wife (who believes that I am out too much anyway) that I have appointments with the decorating, the house, the children and …her.

Last news; my youngest son is 5 today….

Quote of the Day

This one is by a filmaker sympathetic to faith, but also a ‘recovering evangelical’:-

‘God uses some of the most screwed up people to do his bidding. I think that story is sometimes tough to deal with. I sure don’t like it at times, but nobody left me in charge.


What bothers me is the disconnect between the raw honesty of the Bible and the manner in which the institutional church conducts itself. I get the sense that the biblical writers didn’t have an eye on political correctness when they wrote. The graphic sexuality of Song of Songs to the harsh statements of the prophets to the holistic nature of Jesus.

All of this reveals to me a much more fully-orbed worldview than I see reflected when I find myself perusing what is coming down the pipeline of the evangelical community. I am not saying that there aren’t things to cheer about. The church is not a monolithic entity. But there is always the need to reform’.



I’m three quarters of a man!

I just tried http://genderanalyzer.com/ and these are the results of my blog:-


We think http://diggingalot.org/diggingalot/ is written by a man (75%).

Is this correct?

Puzzlingly, it was only 72% before I posted this morning. So that last post was oozing with testosterone. If I’m 25% female, I’m going for my nose and both my arms and some of my thought processes. That demolishes my thesis that all ordained men are, in fact, feminised men………….

Stories from the frontier…

Relaying info back last night about what I did on my sabbatical. My usual freestyle riff which worked for some and not for others; sometimes I have too much going on in my head….


3 powerpoint slide shows since you ask:

‘why do ministers go on sabbatical?’ to a soundtrack of ‘Numb’ by U2.

‘what I did’ to a soundtrack of ‘Glastonbury Song’ by the Waterboys (my excuse is my children like it…)

‘what I learnt’ to a soundtrack of ‘Videotape’ by Radiohead.

I enjoyed it- juxtaposing random, non-linear images with music that connected and disconnected…

Just to remind me and keep it somewhere where I can access it, I came across 3 ‘stories from the frontier’ that Stuart Murray Williams gave us when I was at Cliff College back in September..

(1) Whilst being shown around La Sagrada Familia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagrada_Fam%C3%ADlia) in Barcelona, an American in his 20s asked who all the pictures in the Cathedral depicted. ‘It is Jesus’ was the reply. ‘He looks quite young- how old was he?’ He said. ‘He was 33 when he died.’ was the answer. ‘What did he die of?’.


(2) A succesful Nigerian evangelist came to see his friend in London. When he got on the airport bus, as was his custom, he began to preach the gospel. No one responded- people looked awkward. He arrived at his friend’s house and cried out ‘Something is wrong; I have lost my annointing.’


(3) A church in London had a large annexe that was used for artist’s studios etc. The vicar was a familiar site around the place. The studios tended to be shut on Sunday. One artist, however, had forgotten something so came to pick it up. He saw the vicar at the church door, shaking hands with parishioners. He went up to the vicar ‘What are all these people doing; I thought church was closed on Sundays’.


‘Food for thought’ he thought. ‘Perhaps some people should wake up and smell the coffee’, he mused…..

Quote of the Day…

I was going to post something trivial, like some choice lines from ‘Octopus’s Garden’ by the Beatles (if you haven’t heard of them; they were a popular r’n’b combo that some people liked once….) but no…it’s serious time…..

This one is from the immortal Nick Cave (if you haven’t heard of him, then you are on the wrong blog) of Bad Seeds fame…..

     “The Gospel According to Mark has continued to inform my life as the root source of my spirituality, my religiousness. The Christ that the Church offers us, the bloodless, placid ‘Saviour’ – the man smiling benignly at a group of children or serenely hanging from the cross – denies Christ His potent, creative sorrow or His boiling anger that confronts us so forcibly in Mark. Thus the Church denies Christ His humanity, offering up a figure that we can perhaps ‘praise’ but never relate to. The essential humanness of Mark’s Christ provides us with a blueprint for our own lives so that we have something we can aspire to rather than revere, that can lift us free of the mundanity of our existences rather than affirming the notion that we are lowly and unworthy.”

Nick Cave- intro to St Mark (Canongate books)

Funny how those from outside the household of faith can sometimes ‘get it’ when we can’t isn’t it?