Quote of the Day

Serious this one…I’m going to use it on Sunday…

‘A fairly new worshipper shocked her friend; ‘Before I became a Christian, I told lies; now I sing lies.’….. can we allow ourselves to ‘tell it like it is’ in worship?’
(Roots magazine Jan/Feb 2009 p2)

…not always….. see this http://revjph.blogspot.com/2009/01/cross-rewritten-for-modern-people.html and leave a comment. This site is always interesting and frequently controversial..

Comments, Please!

Image from www.lawyersconveyancing.com.au/img/im_gagged.jpg. It is amazing what images come out when you put the word ‘gagged’ in…

Ok- I know that some people read this blog. A chosen few I actually know; most of you I don’t. You do it either because:-

(1) You know me and it is to keep me quiet.

(2) You accidentally clicked on ‘diggingalot’ when you were looking for gardening supplies or you are a hep hip cat kind of dude that ‘digs’ things.

(3) It is part of your asbo/community service order /rehabilitation to surf the net.

(4) You do not have a life.

(5) You like it (really…?)

(or it could be a combination of all 5).

But not many of you comment!!!

Therefore, to make it easy for you I’ve put some sample comments below. All you have to do is cut and paste into the comments field! It couldn’t be easier! (well breaking wind and picking your nose probably is….).

Sample comments:-

* ‘Thanks for your blog; it is the most wonderful thing written ever! ‘

*’Amazing; have £60,000 a year and come and work for me.’

* ‘I will report you to your church; you are a heretic and should be burnt at the stake or at least forced to watch God Channel for 65 hours a week’.

* ‘Sorry, I just stopped by whilst looking for Dutch porn (you are not by any chance from Zeebrugge are you….thought not…)’

(visitors should note that I often use a concept called ‘Irony’ (TM) in my postings…)

Quote of the Day

….I never meant this to be a daily thing…..I just keep finding quotes…. I guess I always did…just never had anyone to inflict them on….. plus they got lost….

‘The Seldom Seen Kid’: another CD I must blog on soon (still yourselves…settle down…). I have always had a soft spot for Elbow as one of the lead singer’s friends was once part of a former congregation (Don’t you just love hanging on the coattails of fame? Did I ever tell you the story of when I saw ‘Wham’ in a service station?….ok I won’t).

This CD is beautiful, yearning and just lovely. Take the mystic yearning of ‘The loneliness of a tower crane driver’:-

‘Now I live off the mirrors and smoke.

It’s a joke.

A fix.

A lie.

Come on tower crane driver.

Oh so far to fall.

Send up a prayer in my name.

Just the same.

They say I’m on top of my game.

Gentle gentle love.

Send up a prayer in my name.’

Ah….. turn the lights off…kick your shoes off…light a candle…light several…..find a mature single malt… lie back… and once you know this song. I defy you to sing it in this mood and not have tears pouring down your face.

Church…what is it good for? (again)

(From ‘Naked Pastor’- see links. It is such a brilliant site…)

The blog title says it:- ‘musings from the web’…

This is one I unearthed a few days back, quoting from someone who trained for the ministry (Chris Hedges http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20081229_why_i_am_a_socialist/) who now rarely attends worship. It is from a USA perspective (I think):-

‘the inanity of the sermons and the arrogance of many congregants, who appear to believe they are “honorary” sinners. The liberal church, attacked by atheists as an ineffectual “moderate” religion and by fundamentalists as a “nominal” form of Christianity, is as its critics point out, a largely vapid and irrelevant force… it does not understand how the world works or the seduction of evil. The liberal church is largely middle class, bourgeois phenomenon, filled with many people who have profited from industrialisation… and global capitalism. They often seem to think that if “we” can only be nice and inclusive, everything will work out. The liberal church also usually buys into the myth that we can morally progress as a species… [and has a] naive belief in our goodness and decency – this inability to face the dark reality of human nature, our capacity for evil and the morally neutral universe we inhabit……
Religious institutions, however, should be separated from the religious values imparted to me by religious figures, including my father. Most of these men and women ran afoul of their own religious authorities. Religion, real religion, involved fighting for justice, standing up for the voiceless and the weak, reaching out in acts of kindness and compassion to the stranger and the outcast, living a life of simplicity, cultivating empathy and defying the powerful. It was a commitment to care for the other. Spirituality was defined not by “how it is with me,” but rather by the tougher spirituality of resistance, the spirituality born of struggle, of the fight with the world’s evils. This spirituality, vastly different from the narcissism of modern spirituality movements, was eloquently articulated by King and the Lutheran minister Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was imprisoned and put to death by the Nazis’.

(HT: http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/)

His bile is against the ‘liberal church’, but it could be any of us. Is church really worth anything if we just attend from time to time or even attend regularly, but spend ages on what goes on inside (and just become banal and safe)?

I was leading something this week based on something that ‘Fresh Expressions’ http://www.freshexpressions.org.uk/index.asp?id=1 produced. It talked about how if Western churches make a move from isolated souls just happening to share the same space once a week, they move towards a ‘pastoral’ model- caring and loving each other, but that is where it stops. We have to move to a ‘missional’ model (horrible, horrible jargon) where our relationships show Christ, where we bleed and rejoice together, but where we turn outwards at the same time… so the hungry are fed and the humble lifted high (hmm… wonder where I have read that before?).

I guess when we just look at ourselves and get all pastoral, we end up getting obsessed with stuff that, although important, just doesn’t matter in the global scheme of things: worship styles, defining the word ‘missional’, is this a ‘proper’ communion?, are they ordained? etc etc etc. Or is this just me? Or is this just one of my dark January rants?

Fleet Foxes

‘This leads me to something weird about the power that music has, it’s transportive ability. Any time I hear a song or record that meant a lot to me at a certain moment or I was listening to at a distinct time, I’m instantly taken back to that place in full detail.’

Warren Gamaliel Bancroft Winnipeg Harding
Chicago, Illinois,
April 6th, 2008

Sleeve note- Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes (2008)

I must blog about this CD sometime. It is incredible. Cool name as well. ‘Gamaliel’….wow. The quote is ‘right’ as well. Music takes me to another place.


….Praying….. most Christians talk about it like going to the toilet…it is assumed that you do it…you just don’t talk about it in polite society.

I spent some time today at a church prayer breakfast. As always there was a lot of breakfast. That is why I have put these pictures in; to brighten up this posting. There wasn’t a full cooked English, but there was a lot of food……

I have been musing on a friend’s blog posting of a day or so ago. I have worked with this friend before. I respect him immensely. He has taught me a lot about abandoning my English reserve (which I have not effectively put into practice!).
Check out his web site….a good illustration of what happens to a retired Boeing Exec who hits 60 & decides there must be more to Christian retirement than going to church and dying on the golf course http://efmdg.org/efmdg/
This is the blog posting:-
I struggle with prayer. In many ways it seems so pointless. I’ve seen more rationalization about prayer than any other spiritual topic.
The most fervent prayers seem to be for things we want. It can be for health, money, relief from suffering, preferred outcomes–you can fill in the blank. After the prayer comes an expectation of an answer in the near future. Sometimes the thing we pray for comes about, more often (in my experience) it doesn’t. Then comes the rationalization. God is saying “no” or God is saying “wait” or something similar to that. Sometimes we think that maybe the prayer didn’t go through and then we think about James’ statement that “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” Maybe the problem is that I’m not righteous enough. Or again James says “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Maybe my motives were wrong. As Mordecai says “Who knows?” In the end, we really don’t know why the request was not fulfilled–that’s why we have to rationalize.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus prays for God’s will to be done, the coming of the Kingdom on Earth, daily bread, forgiveness of sins (conditional on our forgiving others), avoidance of temptation, delivery from evil. Nothing there about good health, a promotion and raise, a new car, healing of others. The only time that I can think of when Jesus prayed for himself was in the Garden of Gethsemane and that request was refused. He accepted the answer and moved on albeit sorrowfully.
I tend to avoid praying for specific things or outcomes. There are several reasons for this:
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that God knows what we need and, as a loving Father, provides those things to us. Jesus also points out that God does not give harmful things (stones and snakes). As I look back over my life, I realize that a lot of things I prayed for were best left unanswered. I realize that in so many cases I was praying for rocks and snakes instead of bread and fish. This leaves me with a strong distrust of my ability to discern the difference.
If I pray that God’s will be done, then maybe I should leave it at that. What is my wisdom compared to God’s? If, as Jesus says, that God is a loving father, perhaps I should spend my time finding the benefits of the things that He sends my way–even if they are trials that build my perseverance. Perhaps the time I spend praying for what I want but don’t have would be better spent in giving thanks for what I do have.
There’s a lot more in the Bible on prayer. And there’s a lot more to prayer than asking for things. But praying for specific things and outcomes seems to me to be running into dangerous territory. I think I’ll stick to the Lord’s Prayer.
Well it made me think…. a lot….
Then I scroll across to ‘naked pastor’ (see links)

You have to read this blog- it is an antidote to the ‘God has touched me and my life is a state of perpetual bliss’ (or ‘why I listen to CCM music all the time’). Today’s post http://nakedpastor.com/archives/2532#comments deals with existential crisis and actual crisis (note to those who wonder about random pictures- that is why I have the above picture). One of the comments to the posting says:-
In the end the only way through is to find meaning within the the world around you. For those of us who are believers, that means prayer, community and scripture. But the most important of these is healthy, compassionate community which is a precious commodity in our churches. Very few people in our individualistic society are capable of engaging in true community. I have learned too that there are some questions that have no answers and some pains and trials that simply must be endured. No explanations given, despite our pleas. But if you have the Holy Spirit and a friend/lover/dog to walk beside you, its amazing what the soul can endure.
Perhaps that is why the prayer breakfast I went to somehow ‘works’- there is prayer, some of it with tears. But there is also food, banality, friendship and community. I can never fathom or give a reason to prayer, but if it is just personal and never corporate and divorced from a community that bleeds…is it ever really prayer?
Today…. for our troubled times (although when commentators write that about the developed west, I wonder if they have ever spent any time in Africa… )check out the wonderful http://davidkeen.blogspot.com/ and ‘prayers around redundancy.’

Quote of the Day

From E.W.Hornung ‘Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman’ (1899, Penguin 2003) p17:

‘The truth is that I was entering into our nefarious undertaking with an involuntary zeal of which I was myself quite unconscious at the time.’

Don’t you just love being English? There was a multitude of quotes that I could have chosen from that book, but that one is a beauty. I have no idea what it means, but it sounds just lovely.

What is there to fear from a nation that can come up with phrases like that? How could anyone hate a nation that encouraged phrases like that? True, they could snigger behind their hands at a nation like that… but hate us….Pah unhand me you blaggard, you dashed scoundrel of the first water….