Wedding 2

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to be blogging this today.

A while back, after I had left church ministry, someone I had known since I came to this place announced that he was getting married. I was overjoyed- all who knew him in this village were. He and his wife to be asked me to marry them. It may have been the ‘atmosphere’ in the Bay Horse that night but I nearly burst into tears.

It was not to be: I was initially refused any involvement in the service (This is not the place to comment on the issue but I still struggle to comprehend the handling of it with any grace…). After a few months, I was allowed a reading as a ‘family friend’. I was OK with this: a wedding is about the couple and not the celebrant/minister.

However, following a change of minister I was asked to have a fuller part and preach. This will be a huge day for the lovely Tom and Michelle, whom I really like.

It will be big for me- more healing I guess: the first time I have done anything in the name of the church where I was once minister. Like last week, I am looking forward to it, although I am much more nervous….

Thank you for grace, affirmation and permission…

Friday Music


Last week, unbidden, this song came to me.

It was on an album I borrowed from a library: Robert Plant and the Band of Joy. I was attracted mainly as he covered two ‘Low’ songs. However, on listening, one song grabbed me.

He covers an old blues/gospel standard. From anyone else I would find this song twee (if done for the Christian marketplace I would not listen to it: already I can hear the faux emoting, with the distinctive rawness taken out of it) but the way he sings it; with respect, but also pouring his brokenness into it constantly takes my breath away..

Grammatical Rant:8

I sometimes get my apostrophe usage mixed. It is easy to do.

My biggest lapse is ‘its’ and ‘it’s’: I hang my head in shame whenever I commit this appalling faux pas. However, for some people it seems to be not an occasional lapse but a wilful habit. I am not a violent man, but at this point, dear reader, I struggle.

Occasionally I have opened an official email and struggled to grasp what the writer means where the apostrophe usage is non-existent or deployed enthusiastically whenever a plural ‘s’ appears. Even if I can just about grasp the sense of the email, I lose the will or desire to do so- so painful is the English.

Please don’t get me started on social media usage… I am currently having dental treatment for a large filling that has sheared off. My dentist wonders if it is to do with my grinding my teeth. I don’t know why he say’s that….

This posting, although satirical, says all that I feel and more :

Grammatical Rant:7

I would of stopped here if I could. Maybe I should of…


Stop it.

Stop it now.

‘Of’ is not a verb. ‘Of’ never follows ‘would’, ‘could’ or ‘should’ (Unless it happens in a phrase like, ‘She would, of course, have done that‘) At least it should not if you have reached school leaving age and have had a reasonable education. Below that age when you are still learning the complexity of the English language it is (occasionally) excusable. Above that age it is never excusable.

I am constantly amazed at the numbers of people with a good education who respond- particularly on social media- with the usage of ‘of’ in this way. As soon as I see it I stop reading.

Did I say amazed? I meant outraged, incandescent & sneering… if you want to be taken seriously or credibly: speak properly…please.

Grammatical rant:6

A week or so I was looking for a new mobile phone contract and perusing some high class shops in the genteel town of Middlesbrough. There was a shop offering some good deals with a noticeboard saying ‘OMG: look at these deals!’

I didn’t go in: I cannot see why something as trivial as a phone should be sold by invoking a deity- it is just lazy English.

Similarly, this is a comma- ,

This is not a comma- ‘god’.

Why is it then, that when people speak they so often use ‘god’ as a comma: ‘I went out, god it was cold’. English was designed for: ‘I went out, it was cold’.

I don’t have a problem with swearing; sometimes a sentence can be improved by the addition of ‘bloody’, ‘bugger’ or even a well placed ‘fuck’- when I get lost driving around Yorkshire those words are ‘occasionally’ close to my lips…. I do have a problem with the unimaginative and casual use of ‘omg’ or ‘god’: think of something bleeding original to say, please!

There is a book of Stewart Henderson poems I have yet to find since moving house. In it there is a poem about the same thing. It begins with the line:

‘You say my name every day- it is not as if you know me’ and he continues with a wry look at what the name ‘God’ means and how ‘big’ the word is and not to be trivialised.

So please try something more original: if Baked beans have been reduced by 3p, your cat has been sick or your nephew got 7/10 in a spelling test you may well find it amazing, but it is hardly significant enough to invoke the Lord of Heaven and Earth to back it up….



Grammatical Rant:5

‘Your so good’

I’m sorry: your ‘what’ is so good? Your tree, dog, significant other? It certainly isn’t your grammar.

‘Is this you’re bag?’

Is this you are bag? Are you into surrealist sentences perchance?

We can all make grammatical slip ups: I do from time to time (and hang my head in shame when I do). However, the confusion of ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ is so bad, so major that each time I read it on social media I am tempted to unfriend the person. How does someone over 30, with even a modicum of education manage it?

Honestly- I’m tempted to write a passive aggressive blog post about it.




Sunday Poem.

So you are a Christian: how can you believe in the story of Adam and Eve?

You can’t be a Christian unless you believe in the literal story of Adam and Eve.

I have no time for either of those statements and see little point about debating the literal truth of the creation story , although I do not believe it is literally true. If you read it- really read it, it is a wonderful story.

This poem gets to the heart of it….

The tree of knowledge was the tree of reason.
That’s why the taste of it
drove us from Eden. That fruit
was meant to be dried and milled to a fine powder
for use a pinch at a time, a condiment.
God had probably planned to tell us later
about this new pleasure.

We stuffed our mouths full of it,
gorged on but and if and how and again
but, knowing no better.
It’s toxic in large quantities, fumes
swirled in our heads and around us
to form a dense cloud that hardened to steel,
a wall between us and God, Who was Paradise.

Not that God is unreasonable—but reason
in such excess was tyranny
and locked us into its own limits, a polished cell
reflecting our own faces. God lives
on the other side of that mirror,
but through the slit where the barrier doesn’t
quite touch ground, manages still
to squeeze in—as filtered light,
splinters of fire, a strain of music heard
then lost, then heard again.

(Denise Levertov: ‘Contraband’)


I am preaching today.

I haven’t preached as such for over 8 months. I found the preparation a powerful and liberating experience- the joy of getting inside a Bible passage again. There is also the sense of acceptance and the feeling of coming home: some things that happened as I was leaving and when I left were not nice or pretty and I lost some confidence.

I am looking forward to it. But I am looking forward to saying something and then ‘getting out of the way’ to allow Rachel and Joe and their friends to celebrate.

Happy wedding Rachel and Joe and thank you for being part of the healing.

Friday Music


I rediscovered this album a week or so ago when I friend asked me for a copy.

Mercyland’ was a kickstarter album by a producer/singer who was/is a Christian who had become disillusioned by what passed for ‘Christian music’. This is a disillusion that I have had for very many years.

He wanted to gather artist of faith, those who were not sure and those who were sympathetic to faith but did not regard themselves as having faith. He also wanted to be true to his genre.

I think he carried off what he wanted to do and whilst the genre is not my chosen one, it is a very good album. This is one of the standout tracks.

I could not go there again:3

This is one of the few posts on church governance I ever post. Those suffering from insomnia, read on.

Reading through the profiles of churches seeking a minister, I wondered: how long can this go on? I mean: many of the profiles seemed to require an almost Stakanovite attitude to work- how could one human being do all this? When would the system break? When would a minister break (although I have seen the casualties: it is not pretty) ?

It is not possible to keep putting more and more on a prospective minister whilst expecting them to cope- they will crash and caretakers of multiple churches will eventually become undertakers of the same.

I read somewhere of a British church that is proposing not to deploy ministers to churches in areas where churches of other denominations are close by. Mission can best be served where other churches are far away. Whilst not ‘the answer’ (I don’t think there is one), it was courageous and different.

I just hope that someone, somewhere in my own denomination contemplates such radical action before it is too late.

Thank you: I hope your insomnia is cured now.