At least 3-4 weeks ago I promised one or two contributors that I would begin reading Brian McLaren ‘A new kind of Christianity’. Well, finally I have.

I’m about a third of the way through and eventally I will start posting extracts/thoughts/reviews. As this book has been so controversial, I will not do so until I have completed it. That is because I want to hear the whole voice of what McLaren says and then think about it before writing. If someone has put thought and effort in, I feel I should. Initial thoughts: interesting- at some parts I am shouting ‘Yes!’, others ‘I’m not sure about that’…..others ‘Hmm….I think I need to read to the end’.

Part of that is a character trait- I like to try and understand before reacting, part of it ‘British fairplay’ and part because a couple of years ago I heard Brian McLaren talk over a few days and was fortunate to have a brief chat and prayer with him.

So watch and wait with bated breath people…

A brief quote from page xi

‘Even though I am no longer a local church pastor, I love church life. I love churches. I love singing good songs, praing rich prayers, sharing in the Eucharist and listening to sincere, passionate and thoughtful sermons. (As a listener, I’ve noticed I like them shorter than I did back when I was a preacher!)’

Amen to that!

Weekend seriousness part 2

The guy who gave this link ( , thought this was a spoof, then he thought it was serious.

I’ve looked at the parent site and I’m thinking it is a very close to the knuckle spoof Anyway it made me laugh- surely no one can really write stuff like that and mean it (or do Americans really take things that seriously?).

See also which often appeals to me…


Weekend seriousness part 1

A friend sent me this link Christian stuff that once made sense and now is hopelessly anachronistic. This one is about my favourite.

I remember when I was first a Christian in the mid 80s, someone passing me a book called ‘Pop goes the gospel’- even then I thought ‘Mate- you have missed the point’.

Random quotes:3

It is not possible to quote Homer Simpson and get it wrong. There is truly a ‘Homer for all seasons’. I have innumerable favourites. This one does it for me right now on this Friday after an intense week:-

“Weaseling out of things is good. It’s what separates us from the other animals…except weasels.”

I have nothing to add: that is perfection.


Random quotes:2

Some seriousness from the great John Wesley (I have never quoted Wesley in the almost two years that I have been blogging-shows you how bad a methodist I am):-

“Have I rejoiced with and for my neighbour in virtue or pleasure? grieved with [her] in pain, for him in sin? … Have I revealed any evil of anyone, unless it was necessary to some particular good I had in view? Have I then done it with all the tenderness of phrase and manner consistent with that end? … Has goodwill been, and appeared to be, the spring of all my actions toward others?” John Wesley 

I read all manner of blogs, so it is the last sentence that sticks with me today…..even if I do not get on and don’t like someone’s views…..has goodwill been the spring that has determined my action towards them?

Rememebering a thought from a few years back ‘I will not let her treatment of me determine my treatment of her.’

Random quotes:1

As I may have noted before; this blog reflects my head in that it zips everywhere, so a few days of random quotes. This from a book off my shelves that I flicked through when searching for something else:-

‘Evangelism often feels as if it should only be about doing things, but perhaps if we concentrated on waiting patiently, we should see the prodigal from far off more clearly’

Makes you think doesn’t it (especially if you read it for what it is saying and not what it isn’t saying…) ?

(Anne Richards p70 in ‘Evangelism in a Spiritual Age’ CHP 2005)

Would we do the same?

There was a story doing the rounds a week or so ago about a street preacher in Workington being arrested under the Public Order Act for condemning homosexuality (I don’t know the technical term). I initially took this with a pinch of salt as it had appeared in the Daily Mail; a paper that I have little time for; it has an agenda in these matters that seems to run along the lines of ‘We are being overrun by politically correct lefties who are crushing our rights to be bigoted and wealthy and by the way we are being swamped by criminal immigrants…..bring back the birch/keep the pound’.

Reading the story in the Mail (no mean feat- I had to lie down afterwards and read the Sermon on the Mount to realise that being a British Christian was more than just being cross of and suspicious of everything) it did seem that the arresting officer was a tad over zealous.

So far, so typical, and then the story took a twist. Peter Tatchell, the gay rights/civil rights activist who has several times been beaten up for his sexuality or opposition to regimes who harrass gay people (in fact he sustained brain damage at the hands of Zimbabwe Government employees in Britain) offered to speak in his defence. That would be the same Peter Tatchell, once a Sunday school teacher, now an athiest, offering to stand up in court to defend a man he had no common cause with as he felt he was unfairly treated.

This from

“Although I disagree with Dale McAlpine and support protests against his homophobic views, he should not have been arrested and charged. Criminalisation is a step too far,” said Mr Tatchell today.

“Despite my opposition to his opinions, I defend his right to freedom of expression,” he added.

Tatchell added: “Soon after I offered to appear as a defence witness and to argue in court for Mr McAlpine’s acquittal, the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case. The sudden withdrawal of charges may have been mere coincidence, but perhaps not.

“Mr McAlpine should have never been prosecuted in the first place. While the arresting officer may have acted with well-meaning intentions, he was over-zealous and interpreted the law in a harsh, authoritarian manner.”

Mr Tatchell said that although he regarded Mr McAlpine as “clearly homophobic”, he “did not express his opinion in a way that was aggressive, threatening or intimidating.”

The human rights campaigner, who had to stand down as a Green Party election candidate after sustaining brain damage following attacks following protests against persecution of gay people in Zimbabwe and Russia, said: “I am surprised and shocked that the CPS allowed the case to proceed at all. The Public Order Act is meant to protect people from harm. Dale McAlpine’s views are misguided and offensive but I see no evidence that they caused harm to anyone.

I wonder if all Christians would be prepared to speak out in such a way for people who oppose them , sometimes at risk to themselves?

Monday Music

One of the great things about leafing through that massive pile of music that I was given is finding lots of stuff I’d heard about but not heard. I have set myself the task of limiting myself to the best 10 or taking more and donating to a charity that one of my churches support that helps refugees and asylum seekers. The way things are going, I am a long way down the latter road- I’m on a working ‘keeps’ pile of around 30 at the moment. Bleed for me, oh my people, bleed for me.

I am just working my way through a trio of Regina Spektor albums (Gravediggers…, begin to hope and Soviet Kitsch) which are keepers. Wonderful quirky music a long way from introspective woman/man with a guitar singing ballards about why they have perfect teeth and hair whilst the world is in a mess (all encased in a matt finish gatefold sleeve in tasteful pastel shades). What is not to like about someone who has song titles like ‘Ode to divorce’, ‘Ghost of corporate future’ or ‘Oedipus’?

Current favourite ‘begin to hope’, especially ‘Fidelity’. I’ve just checked the cover; oh dear- she does have perfect teeth and hair….why is the world so unfair?



We don’t really ‘do’ Pentecost in established/mainstream churches do we?

Christmas? Tick with bells on

Easter? ditto

Harvest? yes, but declining. Of course Jesus was often to be found at harvest services. Not.

Pentecost? well we have Pentecost Sunday and ….erm that’s it. To be honest, I’m not sure if we know what to do with it. It’s a bit embarrasing to our refined western sensibilities:- noise, disorder, worship so riotous that people think the participants are drunk and different languages….erm…excuse me- is that the time, I really must go and check the joint in the oven/the cricket score/my grandma/the paint drying…

Christmas– we have a baby, new people come to church and we can celebrate the true meaning ie buy lots of stuff and have a nice spiritual gloss put on it by worship. Easter– well if you are going to go more than once a year, this is your second call, plus it’s happy (try, please try and avoid the pain on Good Friday….we want to be happy) and you get a bank holiday. Harvest– well at least you can look at stuff like amusingly shaped fruit and flowers (not amusingly shaped) and you can give the tin of stuff at the back of your cupboard that you always meant to use, but is now 3 years out of date, to the poor….

But Pentecost….. well you can’t buy stuff, have a holiday or look at stuff……it’s all about being ‘sent’- much rather do the other 3 which seem to be about sitting, being warm….but sent- can’t we restrict that to ‘outreach’- ie the loonies and enthusiasts? After all we need to be built up first, constantly, all the time. Play with fire- you’ll get burnt.

I always think there is a delicious irony, too, in the formal way that Acts 2 is read. I think I would struggle to contain the giggles hearing it in a cathedral with all the pomp and splendour within. You know- a reading of wild danger, noise and disorder, read in a mannered safe English way. Guess we do that all the time with a dangerous book though; make it safe and containable, or if it seems wild, think ‘Oh that is for church; real life is different’

No, we don’t do Pentecost around these parts.

One of those cds

So I now have piles of CDs in my study (think box room with barely enough room to stand up…..don’t get me started on Methodist manses…..I’ll only rant for ages) and I’m going through them, deciding which ones to keep and which ones to sell (I’m basically giving them away and asking for donations to a refugee/asylum seeker cause that the church supports) when I come across one by Yusuf.

You know Yusuf- formerly Cat Stevens, became a Muslim and stopped recording. After well over 30 years he came back to recording. It’s a CD I have heard from time to time, so it’s a keeper. When no one is looking or listening, I’ll put it on (I have a ‘cool rating’ to consider….) and listen properly.

I was intrigued by this quote inside (the album is called An Other Cup) which is a famous Zen saying, apparently:-

A spiritual master recieved a learned man who came to gain deeper insight into the mysteries of life.

His master prepared tea. While serving the tea he began to explain, but the learned professor kept on interupting with his own opinions. So the mastor poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The learned man watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself, ‘It is overfull. No more will go in!’

‘Like this cup,’ the master said, ‘you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you anything unless you first empty your cup?’

And I’m thinking of a quote from my own tradition (Augustine?) ‘Only wonder understands…