I know your name

I seem to have done lots of work in schools recently. This makes me very happy; I feel alive and fulfilled, plus I learn a lot.

A couple of random observations from the last two weeks:-

A child in a reception class who discovered that their name was the same as a book in the Bible. Then hearing of their reaction when they got home and the desire to connect with church because their name name was now known there.

An older child whose face lit up when they realised their middle name was in the Bible. Then the excitement of writing it in Greek.

Those two children show much more interest now whenever I encounter them: ‘My name is known’.

And I’m thinking of dignity, worth and value and the importance of being careful when I use anyone’s name in any context. And I’m getting a buzz out of scriptures which begin with ‘I know your name’ or ‘tell me your name.’

Forgive me; I am a sinner.

I forgot. My religious observance has been lacking. I have been deficient in my praise.

The English cricket season began on Sunday and I didn’t mark it with my customary blog post. Admittedly the traditional fixture of MCC v champion county took place in Abu Dhabi, but the principle is there of the cricket season beginning.

Still, if the match had lasted, today would have been the 4th day. But I have been deficient in my holy obligation.

Forgive me.

Some thoughts…

Today I am mostly in a synod. In Methodism we have synods as we don’t have a doctrine of purgatory.

Tow thoughts that I picked up last week, budget week in Britain, that have made me think about the area I live in and aspirational British culture:-

“There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” G.K.Chesterton


  • We allowed ‘freedom’ to be defined as “essentially a state in which you have the largest possible number of choices and no serious obstacles to realising any of them.  And politics has accordingly been driven more and more by the competition to offer a better range of choices…  But as our current debates seem to indicate, we have woken up to the fact that this produces a motivational deficit where the idea of the common good is concerned.”
  • http://nickbaines.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/big-society-big-questions/ from a recent lecture by Rowan Williams

    I take for granted that part of a balanced worldview is that you give yourself to serve others; you get stuck into your local community, you find spaces to serve others. I may not always acheive this, but I’m good at talking about it! And yet, proportionately few of my age group operate like this: the village where I live is largely run by the generation above. Ok my generation have families, demanding careers etc etc. Thing is, I suspect the generation above did too, yet still found spaces to serve.

    Grotesque simplification coming…….I am part of a generation and class that increasingly consumes and chooses. We will commit to small scale friendship networks but not so much to ‘the common good’. I find this concerning: have I got the right view here? Or am I being extreme?

    Welcome to worship

    OK, I confess; I think too much. Sometimes I get to the extreme of when someone says ‘Here is a cup of tea’ having an internal dialogue that goes along the lines of ‘Why is that a cup of tea?’

    Today, if you go to church, is ‘worship day’: Sunday. In my experience when people evaluate how ‘good’ a church is (and didn’t Jesus say ‘Look around and chose a good church that meets your needs?’) they generally mean the hour on a Sunday. Often when a minister evaluates how ‘succesful’ s/he is they mean ‘how many came on a Sunday. I don’t like this, although I do it and I’m getting more uncomfortable with it.

    I’m also thinking about how our emphasis can be ‘Lets sort the worship….and can we have any volunteers for mission?’- like that 2nd bit is extra for those who have time.

    There is an excellent introduction to this at http://www.emergentkiwi.org.nz/archive/can-mission-be-embedded-into-the-worship-dna/#comments that I have found really helpful and thought provoking. But then, I do think too much…..

    Happy Sunday!

    The best things in life are free (well under £3)

    (This is not me)

    Being a minister in a village is a little bit like being a wondering Indian holy man. I haven’t yet taken to walking around naked apart from a dhoti (it is North Yorkshire, plus I’m not ready for that level of being laughed at hilariously just yet), but just like the wandering holy man gets presented with food etc, I get presented with ‘stuff’.

    A couple of years back, someone gave me a bike: an old one and it languished in the garage as I did not have the knowhow to get it working. Last week a friend got it working and with the aid of a new inner tube (cost less than £3) I can now cycle.

    I haven’t cycled for years, but now lunchtimes mean trips in the country. It is so addictive that a planned 20 minutes quickly goes into 40 or more. I may end up losing weight- I may end up looking svelte…. I may yet end up wandering around the village in a dhoti.

    The best things in life may not be free, but they can be under £3…

    It’s Friday and music again…

    I have had a long, long wait for the new Elbow cd…. moral of the story: don’t buy cheap from unnamed online retailers who promise to deliver with a ‘Bang’: they don’t.

    So this CD, given to me on my birthday has been on repeat and it is lovely.

    I can’t work out how to describe them and their style: certainly the singer has a ‘smoky’ voice. This album has moments of real beauty: if anyone has written a song as beautiful and deep in metaphor as ‘Only God can save us now’, I want to know.


    And also ‘All my favourite people are broken’:-

    ‘All my friends are part saint and part sinner

    We lean on each other

    Try to rise above

    We’re not afraid to admit we’re all still beginners

    We’re all late bloomers

    When it comes to love’

    Beautiful, wonderous, lovely…..

    and I’m still watching my letterbox for Elbow…next time amazon….

    ….and while we are about it: the joy of music

    Let me face it: my wife and I have divergent tastes in music. I like almost anything that is not manufactured and twee and she doesn’t. I like music played loudly and she doesn’t. I like the angular, the unusual and thoughtful and…yes…. she doesn’t.

    So I was suprised a few days back to find a Radiohead CD out ‘I was trying to tell the children about different types of music but didn’t know where to start.’

    This is the kind of housework/spending quality time with your children/ helping them with their development that I love. Absolutely.

    So for the last couple of weeks I have had carte blanche to experiment. I’ve not quite got to The Aphex Twin, Beta Band or the Streets just yet…..

    This is what has been rocking our boat a lot recently, from one of my favourite albums of all time:-


    Trouble is I used to have a mental image of driving around sunny Bristol in the mid 90s playing this…now the image I have is two boys playing football in the front room, fighting, committing horrible fouls and screaming…

    In which I stray briefly into politics…

    I don’t do politics on this blog. That is not that I don’t think politically- I do (and I ascribe to the poster I had on my wall as a student. It featured Desmond Tutu saying something like ‘When people say religion and politics don’t mix I wonder which Bible they are reading’). I just think other blogs deal with it better and have more insight.

    However, I came across this editorial in the Daily Mirror for Monday. I agree with it.

    My friend Dyfed asks if he is a voice in the wilderness http://www.dyfedwynroberts.org.uk/index/stop-bombing-libya. He is not. I cannot see how more Western intervention like this will ‘solve’ anything in the long term. Neither do I support inaction (there are other alternatives- see the German stance).

    Whatever the jargon, there is no such thing as ‘clinical strikes’: more civilians will be killed and I fear we will be committed to years of civilian and military deaths. I also wonder if our outrage (which was absent when we were selling weapons to and courting Libya not so long ago) would be so great if there were not oil there….


    ‘Gaddafi calls it Colonial, Crusader Aggression, the bombers call it Odyssey Dawn. So far 48 people had been killed and 150 wounded in the Western air strikes by early on Sunday in Libya. Three US B-2 stealth bombers dropped 40 bombs on a major Libyan airfield (Remember the precision/surgical bombing?) that was not further identified. Hours later, U.S. and British warships and submarines launched 110 Tomahawk missiles on Tripoli. 150 Weapons of Mass Destruction at Tripoli and for that count 48 deaths is really a conservative estimate-if one knew what Tomahawk and B2 bombs mean.

    The military intervention in Libya has nothing to do with the humanitarian pretexts offered by the conniving Western powers. Innocent civilians are going to die in numbers in the coming days and UN Gen. Sec. Ban- ki moon and his cohorts should be pulled up in the War Tribunal to go by the common logic.

    After Iraq, this could be the beginning of the war for the resources, may be the third World War by extension.

    Military intervention in Libya, whose energy resources have made it the object of imperialist ogling for decades, is used both to secure access to oil and to bring a strong military presence in the region. A military presence in Libya would help the West to intimidate the Arab world -not the rulers of the Arab world whose faith and cultural conscience are more Western than Muslim.

    The bombing would not protect human lives, but would transform the country into a battlefield with thousands of innocent victims just like in Iraq, where finally and shamelessly the perpetrators blamed it on the intelligence reports that there were no WMDs. None of the countries which killed the 200,000 still face any accountability charges! 300,000-330,000 civilians killed in Darfur but the so called humanitarians didn’t do anything about it. 800,000 were killed in Rwanda in 1994 and still nothing happened.

    Why are the great powers not applying the same criteria in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the regimes they back employ brutal violence against any opposition? And what of Bahrain, headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet, where Sheikh al Khalifa has shot down unarmed protesters with Saudi support? What about Gaza, where these same powers stand by as the Israelis massacre Palestinians? What about Yemen, where the Western-backed President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Friday shot dead some 50 protesters? asked a news editorial on the web.

    Funnily French President Sarkozy, received Gaddafi just a few years ago with great pomp in Paris to negotiate trade deals worth billions, recognized the Transitional Council as the official representative of Libya. The truth is the ‘Council,’ has guaranteed international oil companies unhindered exploitation of the country’s mineral wealth.

    China and Russia, which abstained in the U.N. Security Council vote last week endorsing intervention, expressed regret at the military action.  Funnily enough, neither vetoed the move.

    Which endorses the unsavoury fact how much the emerging markets (BRIC) depend on the West for their economy and growth’.

    More on ‘Christian’ music

    A while ago, I put this on this blog and I think it is fantastic, so I’m reposting it:-


    Searching around to see if I could pick up the CD cheap to see how good it was I found the artist’s blog and I loved it.

    In particular I was attracted by this post ‘Why the Christian music category shouldn’t exist’  http://www.gungormusic.com/blog/?p=65

    Some gems:-

    ‘Imagine you were hungry for some pizza, so you do quick Google search for nearby pizza joints.  You discover a new one only a few blocks away from you and it’s called Pete’s Christian Pizza.  And of course the logo is a Christian fish on a pizza.

    “What a strange name for a pizza place”, you say to yourself.

    “How can pizza be Christian?”

    I’m not sure what decision you make at that point.  Me, I probably opt to not go for it.  I figure that if they need to slap Christian lingo on there box to try to sell that pizza, there might be something wrong with that pizza…

    Does anybody but me find it not only odd but actually offensive to walk into a record store and see a “Christian and Gospel” section?’

    and this

    ‘So certainly this category of “Christian music” can’t be solely based on lyrical content.

    What else could it be based on?  Whether or not the artist is a Christian?  Certainly not, there are plenty of Christians in the other sections, and there are a number of people who are not actually Christians who are in the Christian section, so that can’t be it either.

    Um… running out of ideas here…the record label? Well, I’m not even sure what a Christian record label would be defined by, but nearly every Christian record label is actually owned by a larger mainstream label, and all of these companies have people involved in the business that aren’t Christians.  Conversely, there certainly are Christians within mainstream record labels all over the place as well, so that can’t be what defines this category either.

    Where this leaves us is that it makes no sense.  But it exists.  So why does it exist?  Well, I will tell you my friend.  Money.  That’s all.

    There was (or perhaps used to be) a large enough market segment of the population that would gravitate towards a sign that said “Christian” on it.  I lived in Tulsa for a little while, and trust me, it would be far more likely to see something like “Pete’s Christian Pizza” there than it would be to see it in Denver.  Why?  Because there are enough of the type of Christians that would gravitate towards that fish symbol when making their pizza decisions that it makes commercial sense for Pete to put that fish on that pizza box’. 

    Read the whole entry and the comments-  http://banksyboy.blogspot.com/  I’m looking at you…..