Music for the terminally fey

Music by this group, especially music from earlier in their career, reminds me of autumn. I don’t know why that should be the case, although the first music I ever bought by them over 10 years ago was on a chill autumn day.

There is something about the thin yet weary voice, a few simple chords and a wistful longing that suits my mood at this time of year. The singular world view of the lyrics also attract me. Not off this track but earlier in the album, the couplet:-

‘So I gave myself to God
There was a pregnant pause before he said ok’

always gives me a wry smile…

Plus this is from the closing scene of a Truffaut film; what could be more artistic for a Friday in late September?


That gay issue…

I have almost nothing in common with American megachurch pastors (although- if you read my post of yesterday, this one has resigned and does not currently fulfil that role) but I liked this post:-

I do not like the phrase ‘the gay issue’: there are human beings and we are not ‘issues’. My denomination has committed to a pilgrimage of understanding on sexuality : this means we listen, we learn, we dialogue….we may not eventually agree but perhaps we understand more.

I am so pissed off (I did think about writing ‘hacked off’- but that would have been an understatement) with evangelical grandstanding on this area- grandstanding is easy to do; you never have to listen, you get more enjoyment out of shouting (heck, you can even write off any hurt you cause as being down to the other being in sin). I think I am annoyed because I would descibe myself still if I was forced to (I loathe labels) as being in the evangelical camp….albeit pulling out tent pegs and skulking around the exit.

I think this guy is listening and being open:- some choice quotes, but read the whole article:-

‘The gay folk I am meeting are not a support group or a good book away from becoming straight.  They are as gay as I am straight.  Asking me to not be a heterosexual would be like asking me to not be a human.  It is a core part of who I am.  I don’t know how to not be straight.  I’ve always been this way’.


‘Sexuality is complicated in general. Marriage, dating, celibacy, rape, abuse,and all issues of sexuality are far more nuanced and difficult to understand than pastors and churches ever acknowledge.  The result is most often over-simplistic, uninformed answers to amazingly complex issues’.  


‘In my opinion, the American Church today most looks down on three groups of people and I think it makes me (and you) more like Jesus when we befriend them. What we do with that friendship is up to us.  Jesus always left people better than when he first encountered them.  Those three groups are

1. Homosexuals

2. Illegal Immigrants/Undocumented Workers

3. Muslims’

Go read: it is one of the most open and thoughtful posts I have read from a conservative evangelical perspective.


Thoughts from an unlikely source….

I lifted this from  as I liked it:-

‘What I am saying is that church attendance, Sunday morning services, sermon-listening (or even sermon preaching), song-singing, hand-clapping, amen-saying and all the other things that “Christ-ians” have lifted up so high look so little like Christ himself that I am utterly convinced that we are completely off base with what discipleship means. Considering all of this, I think I have given up on church as I knew it. Big buildings. Huge crowds.  Few disciples. I’m not with it. It’s inefficient and just doesn’t feel right with my soul. This is not a rejection of big buildings or huge crowds, but an indictment on how few disciples are being made in the process of it all. A better way has to exist’.

From a smaller perspective makes a similar point. and also adds:-

‘Over time Shaun came to understand that “the overwhelming percentage of our time, energy, skills, budget and creativity were spent preparing for Sunday morning services, getting people to our Sunday services and getting them to volunteer for our Sunday morning services.”  Then, Shaun made a big “mistake”.  He tried to change all of this.  He tried to create a discipleship oriented church where the “time, energy, skills, budget and creativity” went primarily into caring for people and meeting needs in the city.  And, since he was the senior leader, he could make this work.  Right?’

The guy ended up resigning. It was noted- as long as he was preaching about this change, people loved it. When he tried to implement it…..they hated it….

Hmmm…. I am really wondering about what ‘discipleship’ is. I have not been good at encouraging this. It is something that I am trying to work on. Similarly, the worst times for me in a churches life have been when people have tried to do things to make good news known to those who do not yet know it; we love hearing about it….but when it comes to the process of it happening…..


‘Ees not the Messiah’ part 2

A week ago I blogged on ‘Messiah complex’ I suggested one symptom and a possible cure.

Here for you on Monday, faced with a full in box and the temptation to go into overdrive, I give you symptom number 2:-

‘I haven’t managed to have a day off since x/this is my yth night out this week/ I haven’t managed to have a holiday this month/year/decade’.

We all have times when pressure is intense; that is how life goes. But what I do, I consider a privilege- talking about how intense I am working or how overloaded I am tells people listening that it is not a privilege; to be ‘holy’ you have to have no quality of life and always be busy.

Underneath, I am thinking that broadcasting the fact in fact may be saying:-

(1) I am significant: look at me- look at how I am greater than normal mortals and how important what it is that I do.

(2) I am really not worth very much; to make me feel more worthwhile I have to fill every moment and talk about it so that you will love me more.

Possible cures that others have given me:-

One man died for the church- we don’t need anyone else.

God created the earth in 6 days and rested on the 7th- so what makes you think you are greater than God? Or if you want to work 7 days, which day do you want to work without God?

Just stop talking about it- you aren’t the best advert in the world for faith if you do. Ink some time off in your diary- stick to it. No one else controls your diary except you.

Cultivate a hobby/garden/go running/cycle- you preach about life being given in abundance- try and practice it.

…..all cures of course need to be practiced rather than preached or blogged about….

Ordinary grey afternoons

Most of life is not vivid colour, it is grey Tuesday afternoons where not much happens apart ‘from the sound of our children’s skin growing’ (That is a line from a poem that I have not been able to trace). If we have Faith it has to be located on those ordinary grey afternoons or ok days when not much of great significance ever happens.

It is helpful to hear stories of ‘great heroes’ of the faith; although I do not like the phrase ‘great hero’- it implies a divide between ‘ordinary’ and ‘special’ Christians. I can understand why we have them: think of a sermon without reference to Mother Teresa, Bonhoeffer, Billy Graham et al. However, if all we hear as an examplar of what it is to follow Jesus are people who did fantasic, massive things, it can lead to a radical disconnect between ‘real’ life and ‘Christian’ life: ‘Oh that is Sunday talk; now back to ‘the world”.

I think I’m saying I want to hear fewer stories of how someone heard the call to offer their life to Christ, gave up their job, went to Africa, saved 1000s of lives and led 1000s to Christ and more about Mrs Smith, 87, who is losing her mobility and mind and is trying to follow Christ or Amy Jones, 15, who is struggling with peer group pressure  and praying and holding on with her fingertips or Bill Jones,52, in a low fulfillment job,bored, but wondering where God is in all this (I claim a new record for sentence length).

So I get what Peterson is saying on p112 and it encourages me:-

‘Most people, most of the time, are not in crisis. If pastoral work is to represent the gospel and develop a life of faith in the actual circumstances of life, it must learn to be at home in what novelist William Golding has termed the ‘ordinary universe’the everyday things in people’s lives- getting kids off to school, deciding what to have for dinner, dealing with the daily droning complaints of work associates, watching the nightly news on TV, making small talk at coffee break.’

If today’s worship has a role, it is to help us locate Christ in the middle of that; not to find an escape from that.


I have seen this guy in concert with Dan Le Sac.

This is just beautiful for a September Saturday as the memory of another cricket season fades and as autumn becomes ever more present (I could have added ‘with it’s initmations of mortality’ but that would have been too affected wouldn’t it?).


Friday Music:69 Love Songs

It is a vain conceit to produce a triple cd with 69 songs about love (geddit?…ok… maybe not). But this album is vast, sprawling, untidy and it somehow works. Another cheap buy of a cd I have tracked for ages.

Enjoy this extract: every home should have a song about the ending and longing of a gay love affair*:-


(* occasionally I use a concept called ‘irony’. If you like writing angry responses or going ‘Harumph’, then you better try another blog…)

3 conversations

Monday mornings I prefer in the study. Over time I have realised that is how a week works best for me: slow reading of the text for Sunday (if I am not traeting it as import, listening to it, giving it time, how can I expect anyone else to?), a bit of admin, some planning for the week and generally trying to pay attention to how the week might unfold. Oh, and coffee; good coffee.

This Monday morning was different: I ended up having 3 conversations in 3 locations: ones that gave me excitement and a sense that something is happening out there.

There was the guy leading a freelance Bible study/exploration in one village that I was in. He was talking about the intense concern he has that mission was about finding what God was doing and joining in…..about refusing to do ‘outreach events’ and instead making relationships and hanging out in places where church wasn’t or wouldn’t go. He shared some of his reluctance about doing church events in ‘secular’ spaces without taking time to build up relationships and the tendency human beings have to find safe spaces (like churches) and then once they have found the safety to ignore the outsider as that was not ‘safe’. And then about the local links he had…..really stimulating- some points of agreement and some of difference, but with a sense of ‘wow’ and creativity.

Then, being in another village at a village coffee morning that began out of a small chapel’s prayer that there was no community in that village. Listening as they described their first village open day and their desire to do another one next year. Being able to make some connections to take back to chapel and work out how we might increase the way that we are joining in.

After that, meeting with someone else describing an intense period of personal growth when much of their religious paradigm was shattering. Finding a sense that God was ‘out there’ and a desire to engage with their community and ‘help’ as well as worship in a church.

Mornings like that fire me up- help me to sense what could be and help me to be part of what is being. I love having space to do this: traditionally it might be called ‘pastoral visiting’, but that does not do it justice. I lost my space for contemplation, but I also drank a heck of a lot of good coffee….