Showing posts from September, 2006

So, postmodernity it is then...

Have been trying to get my head around the whole concept of postmodernity/postmodernism, and admittedly not succeeded very well. What can't be denied (though i am sure there are plenty who will) is that Western culture is undergoing a radical shift in outlook - though there is some debate as to whether we are in the apex between two ways of understanding the world, at the end of one (modernity) or the beginning of another. Are we late modern, post modern, the malaise of the modern or what? Perhaps it would help to think a bit about what Modernity as a 'world view' is (very broadly speaking, i don't claim to be an expert). Modernity is a post-enlightenment, rational/reason based view of the world characterised by a belief in the constant progress of humanity through technology and reason, the growth of institutions, the elevation of reason and rationality and science and a sense of always moving forward towards ultimate truths. This is a woefully inadequate summary,

Thinking continues

Have rediscovered my interest in 'postmodernity' - ie considering what cultural change our society is undergoing and wondering how the church should respond to it. Am reading a couple of books on the subject 'Who's afraid of Postmodernism' and 'the out of bounds church' as well as continuing to plough through my emerging church reading matter. I say this because having started reading and thinking on this all about 12 years ago i just left it and got caught up in the world of 'church' and 'ministry' - so often focussing on maintaining the church as it is and keeping things going (whilst on a pretty steep learning curve with regards to what it means to be a priest!) without, in many ways, engaging very much with the society around the church. Of course i constantly interact with people, and pastor those both inside and outside the church, but i wasn't necessarily doing the thinking and praying and engaging with things that perhaps i shou

So true

Another we blog cartoons offering, and right on the money I reckon Cartoon by Dave Walker . Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons .

Still musing on Merville

Don't know if I mentioned that last week's conference was in Merville, France (Nord Pas-de-Calais) so the title might not make much sense - not that i am making any claims about making sense anyway! The title i chose for my last post on these things sums things up really 'random acts of theology'. The week seemed to be a week of small explosive bits of theological reflection and revelation. We had a series of Bible Studies/readings by the Rector of Guildford, Revd David Bracewell, which took the story of Jonah and verses from 2 Corinthians and, via lots of anecdotes and jokes and stories, used them to guide some reflection on the conference theme 'the hope of our calling'. Some (many?) didn't like David's style, but for me it was enjoyable and had both depth and levity in it. Sessions one and four were excellent, two was good, and three happened but didn't stand out quite as much as the others! The theological reflection by the Bishop of Huntin

Some music

I thought I'd not mentioned any music for a while, so I will take the opportunity to add a few links from a favourite artist of mine who is a wonderful songwriter and musician and whose music i have enjoyed for the last decade. Pierce Pettis: I am in fact listening to this as i write, a masterful exposition of the singer-songwriter craft. Or if that sounds too pretentious a wonderfully written, well played, well sung album filled with intelligent lyrics and excellent melodies, coupled with Pettis' bittersweet observations of life and musical craftsmanship. Highlighting both his songwriting gifts and guitar skills, as well as a cracking cover of the Mark Heard classic 'tip of my tongue' this is a great album for inspiring smiles and tears. Highlights include 'god believes in you' and a wonderful one for parents 'my little girl' - in fact every song is a highlight Possibly my favourite Pettis album - though it depends on what time of day you ask m

up and running least in 'trial' format, the podcast and website are now available to check out and give feedback for. As it might not interest everyone (anyone?) and because it is still in trial do send me an email fracme[at] if you want to listen to it. Its about church, theology and all that stuff....

Blue like Jazz

Whilst away the main book i read was by Donald Miller called 'Blue like Jazz' - there's a fair amount of buzz about this one around as it offers what Miller calles 'nonreligious thoughts on Christian Spirituality'. It's a good read and approaches the issues of faith and what it means to be a Christian in a very accessible way. A collection of essays, the language is straightforward and the style quite simple, yet there is plenty to think about in this book. Some of the insights are surprising, some seem banal yet are filled with meaning. It's a book of contradictions - simplicity with depth, poignancy with humour, meaning in meaninglessness. It's certainly a good introduction to the core of Christian faith, which is Jesus Christ, and responds to many criticisms aimed at church and Christian believers with down-to-earth yet passionate conviction. Its laid back style, which some might find infuriating, belies the passion with which Miller has sought

Random acts of theology

So, I continue to think about the encounters of last week. It was a very helpful conference in lots of ways, not least because there was no compulsion to go to anything! I went to all of the Bible Studies, some of the 'worship', and just over half of the keynote speakers! Just over half because there were four - one i missed due to being over tired and one i had to leave because i felt nauseous and flushed. I'll probably say more about all the different sessions another time (then again, maybe not - i can just keep you all on tenterhooks then - whatever they are) but I had revelation this last week as to how I have changed in these last few years. Three years ago, when we had our last Clergy conference for the Diocese of Ely, I went to everything - mandatory or not. At that time I identified myself as a 'Myers-Briggs E - Extrovert' meaning that my energy came from being with people, and in case of tiredness i would head for the nearest group of people and fee

Another we blog cartoons offering

Cartoon by Dave Walker . Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons .

Still Learning

My trip away for the Diocesan Clergy Conference reminded me of one thing - I've still got so much to learn. I knew this anyway (one of the things i say when i visit couples preparing to have their children baptised is 'if i ever claim to have everything all sewn up about faith then its time for me to give up as i've obviously misunderstood faith completely') but the sessions that were offered, the conversations I had with my fellow Clergy, the times of worship, and the opportunity to sit and read gave me that chance to refresh my ignorance that reminded me that after 30 or so years on this Christian journey i am still always beginning. One of my late lamented Theology lecturers, Fr Michael Nevin, put in his Ph.D thesis that no one ever becomes a Christian, there is just the daily possibility of becoming Christian - a reference to his interpretation of St Augustine's theology. That resonates with me as i constantly wonder at the daily offering of God to myself, an

but before i go to bed

found this and liked it Your Theme Song is Beautiful Day by U2 "Sky falls, you feel like It's a beautiful day Don't let it get away" You see the beauty in life, especially in ordinary everyday moments. And if you're feeling down, even that seems a little beautiful too. What's Your Theme Song?

Too tired to blog

It was a fantastic few days away and i will go into detail at another point, but have been struggling to keep awake for the past two days, so am going to continue the hiatus for another day or two. Pretty stupid staying up until midnight, but there are some things I don't seem to be able to get out of the habit of....

A brief hiatus

I'm not going to be blogging for a few days, i did wonder about presenting this as a blog fast, which i have seen a few others do - often citing very high ideals for doing so. Unfortunately i have no such ideals, I am going away early in the morning for a conference of all the Clergy in our Diocese. It should be a good few days, with the usual seminars, talks, worship that goes on at these conferences, the bonus is that, for financial reasons, we are going to France! Odd as it may seem, it is cheaper to bus 150 Clergy to northern France to a nice ex-seminary (where they serve wine with the meals) than to go to a less comfortable but nearer British Conference Centre. Another bonus is that i am going on my motorbike and a few of my guitars, amps, music books, pedals, leads etc have made their way in 'the van' that is taking most of the gear. So I don't have to spend four hours or so on a bus with 50 other Vicars! Not that i would mind that, really, the Clergy of thi

Thoughts for today

A long post, so you might not want to dive into it! We are starting a series of talks on 'Jesus and...' and this is my introduction for the theme, about 2500 words, so quite a trek - took about 30 minutes or more to deliver. I don't claim to be a great preacher, or to be a fanastic theologian, but offer this to anyone who might be interested... Team Evening Worship September 16th 2006 Jesus and people Welcome to our new season of Team Evening Worship, and as you (I hope) may know we are embarking on a series of ‘Jesus and…’ – getting back to the real heart of our faith as we look to Christ and try to know a little more about him in order that we may know him more. Tonight’s thoughts are based around ‘Jesus and people’ – I would like to say it was deliberately cryptic choice, but to be honest it was the only thing I could think of to describe the very broad approach I want to take for the next twenty, twenty five minutes or so because I want to say something about t

This is me

apparently... My Personality Neuroticism 43 Extraversion 47 Openness To Experience 65 Agreeableness 91 Conscientiousness 5 Find your MySpace/Xanga/Hi5 soulmate / pysch twin Test Yourself Compare Yourself View Full Report MySpace Surveys , MySpace Codes and hi5 by Pulseware Survey Software

Faith and reason

A couple of days ago i said that it is impossible to argue anyone into the love of God. This comes out of the vitriol i have found on the blogsphere against religious faith, the main argument against which is 'it isn't reasonable'. I do believe Christianity stands up to intellectual scrutiny, and that it is a rational system of belief (although there are certain key elements that cannot be reduced to rational propositions) but in the end Donald Miller in the excellent 'blue like jazz' when he talks of a conversation he had with someone at college sums it up like this: "I had no explanation for Laura. I don't think there is an explanation. My belief in Jesus did not seem rational or scientific and yet there was nothing I could do to separate myself from this belief. I think Laura was looking for something rational because she believed all things that were true were rational. But that isn't the case. Love, for example, is a true emotion, but it i

Sitting thinking

About what to say tomorrow... The readings for the day are Proverbs 1.20-33, James 3.1-12, Mark 8.27-end and the one that stands out as 'obvious candidate' for thoughts for the day is the reading from Mark where one minute Peter tells Jesus 'you are are the Messiah' and moments later Jesus is saying to him 'get behind me satan'... Not an easy one to tackle in an 'all age service' - which is the main service tomorrow. But then the James and Proverbs readings don't offer an obvious hook either, at least not one that i think young and old can grasp. Also tomorrow evening I am doing a longer talk on 'Jesus and People' - part of a new series of 'Jesus and...' talks we are starting in our 'informal service'. I plan to talk about the way that people encountered Jesus and his encounters with them - I might even post both sets of thoughts here if it seems appropriate.

Its my day off

So no blogging, at least not at length have got motorbike repaired (broken valve in the rear tyre) so am now ready to go to France next week for a clergy conference - I'm also planning to have a bit of a blast tomorrow, but will have to wait and see if i can fit it in with my appointments back to family time! see you (or not)

Religion but no brains

I just read a quote on a blog that said 'there are two types of people in the world - one with brains and no religion and one with religion and no brains.' (apparently taken from an 11th century text) Obviously I disagree with that, some of the most intelligent people i have ever met with are committed Christians. Interesting how those who seek to dismiss religious faith have to make themselves feel better by saying those with faith are stupid. Not that i deny that religion doesn't make people do stupid things! Or rather that some people who profess religious faith do stupid/abusive/careless acts - but we could say exactly the same about atheists or agnostics or whatever. My experience has been that in the end, those who disagree with faith end up shouting at the 'faithful' - there are some things that arguing doesn't achieve. No one has been argued into the love of God!

I like my new look

My blog that is! Now i have got everything up and running I am quite pleased with how it has turned out. Unfortunately the only person i have asked the opinion of is my co-conspirator in the podcast world, Brian. Brian has a good eye for this kind of thing and is a graphic designer and generally creative type and he says he preferred the old layout... At least Jem seems to like it...

Prayer room pictures

I promised a few weeks back to try and add some prayer room pictures from our 24/7 prayer room (or rather weekend of 24 hour prayer) so here are some.


We actually managed to record an hour's worth of material for our podcast, taking in such themes as accountability, every member ministry, commitment, and church structures and institutions. It was a fun and revitalising way to spend a couple of hours in an aftertoon and the results will soon be available for anyone to download and criticise, or comment on or whatever.

Podcast here we come

Me and my friend, colleague and co-conspirator Brian plan to do our first podcast recording today, though my expectation is that we will drink lots of coffee, wonder about what to say, smoke too much and then come back another day to do it. I have set aside a couple of hours for this out of a hectic day because i am off to a long meeting this evening and want to do something theological and ecclesial with some time... If and when this all comes off, please don't expect to hear the end of it!

Interesting conversation

Over at Sunday Papers I've really enjoyed taking part in a conversation about incarnation, theology and trinity - which for many of you will stretch the boundaries of what constitutes an interesting conversation, but Mark Porthouse (who is also a webdesigner and graphics bod, if you want to follow his link) has put forward lots of interesting things to think about so check it out... Like to keep the theological brain cells ticking over, it's a site worth blogmarking for that reason... Or you can always come back here and follow my link to the site...

Blogger Beta

Following Moog's comment about blogger beta i have now discovered I can switch to beta and i have, hence many of my links have gone astray and the scheme for my blog has changed. This was not unexpected and i saved all of the links i wanted to keep in another file for cutting and pasting later. Beta looks and feels great, it is easy to use, more intuitive, more variety - unfortunately i still can't manage to add two sidebars (one on each side) as none of the available templates support it and i don't know enough to do that myself. Unfortunately, despite having put all of my links in again, played with colour scheme and generally got the blog feeling like i wanted to none of it will save - i have tried a number of times, i have logged out and in again, i have taken out some of the changes and left others, then tried taking out most of them, then just changed the font and absolutely nothing happens to the blog itself - the preview comes out looking just as it should, but n

Dave Walker - cartoon blog

He never fails to raise a smile - sometimes we need it... actually most of the time we need it Cartoon by Dave Walker . Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons .

September 11th

Having passed the day (at least here in the UK) I just wanted to say something about the fifth anniversary of the atrocities committed on September 11th 2001. I have been impressed, on the whole, with the blogsphere's response to this anniversary and particularly moved by many of the tributes to the 2996 people that died that day which have appeared on many blogs - each one remembering one individual. If i could add one thing, it would be an equal remembrance for those who have died since, in terrorist atrocities, factional fighting, and as the result of nationalist and fundamentalist aggression. The world often seems a dark place to live in, and those who have remembered the significance of the individuals who paid the price for fanaticism and intolerance are seeking to reclaim some of the light of those lives extinguished by these acts of terror. I hope we can all continue to seek the light and turn away from the darkness.

No longer taking risks with links???

I wrot e a few weeks back that i was including a world cinema amazon link in my sidebar with lots of reasons as to why, even if the content might suprise some people, i thought that the benefit gained from opening ourselves up to wider cultural experiences was a good thing etc etc. Well, the more observant will see that the link is gone - mainly because every time i looked at the page there were usually links to rubbishy films and a few TV series which wouldn't really qualify as world cinema except in the sense it wasn't made in England. So that exercise in risk taking proved to be somewhat pointless. Will consider whether to put another link in my sidebar, or (as Moog helpfully pointed out in a comment in the last post) whether i can play in Blogger Beta and put some other links up as and when it becomes available - I have been told upon trying to sign up that Beta is only available on certain accounts...

We need to talk about Kevin

Wasn't sure whether i started reading this because it was one of those 'everybody's reading it' books or because i was interested in it for its own sake. I'm glad i read it but i didn't enjoy it... Or rather, its not a book to be comfortable with, it isn't fun to read, it is a difficult read in terms of content, it is hard work. On the other hand it is compelling, well written, a good read in the sense of being able to appreciate the craft of the writer, the details which make up a life, a style which is engaging and involving. I would recommend this book, because if nothing else it causes the reader to ask questions, to consider where evil acts come from, to wonder about the depths of human nature, to think about our society and to wonder at the messed up world we live in. Not a piece of escapist fiction or a celebration of violence or a stark account of the world this is unquestionably a book of depth and resonance. As a parent i found it disturbing, a

End of a long sunday

Just a quick note to keep up the blogging, the sermon from yesterday was received well, despite the fact i thought it was slightly controversial (maybe not, perhaps i was just stating the obvious). I was interested to see Conrad Gempf's take on it - a wonderfully thoughtful way of expressing that the statement Jesus made was a test - good to read a solid bit of exegesis that disagrees with mine! On another note, I'm quite pleased with increase in blog traffic here, but not many comments! I was also interested to see that i was surfed by the pentagon a few days ago - maybe because in one newspaper article which referred to the Iranian President's entry into the blogsphere he was described as 'New Kid On The Blog'. there are a few of us with that name, but i've not found one older than mine yet, so i can at least feel a bit original... Again on another note, i have enjoyed using blogger but am increasingly seeing blogs which say that typepad(?) is more flexibl

Be opened

Wasn't planning to add this week's sermon to my blog, but here is a version of it. I think it is because I finally said something of what i wanted to say about Mark 7. 24-37 Year B Proper 18 (2006) RCL Principal Ephphatha Today's Gospel reading is a familiar passage, the story of a Syro-Phonecian Woman who approached Jesus with a request to heal her daughter, and was dismissed by him until she came back with the esquisite reposte ‘even the dogs get to eat the crumbs under the table’ – a phrase that has sunk deep into the spirituality of the English as our Prayer Book has included it as the foundation for what is known as the ‘Prayer of Humble access’. “We are not worthy even to gather up the crumbs under thy table” we will pray later on in this service as we recognise our own sinfulness and the response of God’s grace despite that sinfulness. But it is an uncomfortable story, at least it should be if we look at it closely. We believe in a Jesus who said (other words

Making peace with your thighs

Hmm, wonder if the title of this will confuse some search engine fanatics... Went into a Christian bookshop this morning and was greeted with a book that stood out as soon as i entered the shop with the title (you may have guessed due to the subtle hint in the title of the post) 'making peace with your thighs'. It certainly got my attention! I've not read it, so this is not a comment or reflection on the substance of the book, but i was impressed by the blurb of a book from the mainstream evangelical world which said that we (in the west) needed to get a grip with our self-image obsessions and get on with being who we are! Considering that i have also seen a book called 'fat is a spiritual issue' which seemed to claim that those of us who are large are so because we are not faithful enough it seemed like a good thing! In a culture that is nuts about looking 'good' there are a huge majority of people (including me) who don't fit in, and the idea of a ch

And one more

Benedict says... PS This is the last one, i promise

And another one

Church sign generator

An amusing diversion

Found this site that generates various useful (actually useless) signs, posters and seals (amongst other things) so i have put together a seal for my site and here it is...

wish i'd thought of it first

Have been going over and over the idea of a book for ages now - writing, not reading one, i do plenty of that! On trawling the net i see the title i was thinking of has been taken 'radical orthodoxy' and it exists as a sort of movement which claims not to be a movement already. In some ways i am really pleased, because it combines my own love of patristics and Christian basics with a desire to re-state such Christian foundations for the contemporary world (which is, arguably the role of the Church through history) but in other ways i feel that i rather missed the boat not writing this in 2003 when i first thought of it! Having said this, apparently a collection of essays which kick-started this non-movement called (inventively enough 'radical orthodoxy') came out in 1999, which means my talks at Greenbelt in 2000 & 2001 were on the cutting edge back then! It also means the actual process of putting this onto paper (or rather, commiting it to disc) started well afte

What does it mean to be a leader?

After a very helpful evening with a deeply committed (to the Church, or more accurately to the Gospel) couple this evening I am left with a questions that has dogged me for about 8 of the 10 years i have been in the ordained ministry - what is a leader? My 'style' (if you can call it that) has always been one of 'going with the flow', of supporting those who are doing things, in many ways (though i hate to say it) of 'propping things up'. I now feel a new phase of my ministry coming up, we are at the stage in many of our fellowships of needing a clear and unequivocal statement of vision and direction. The joy of being in a Team of Clergy is that I can work together with my 'senior partner' (The Team Rector) and my other colleagues in putting this together, but the bottom line is that I am receiving, with some frequency, the calling to 'be a leader'. People actually want me to say what we should be doing in our churches! Now beyond the belief th

Little and often

Apparently the secret to a readable blog is to post short posts (that phrase looks odd, but its staying because its my blog and i can post whatever post i want to post...) and update it with some frequency. This is a short post, and not long after my last one (have been back to school for assembly since last post and am back in a mo to do the reverse of this morning in retrieving my offspring) Is anyone really interested in this? Probably not, but it is a short post.

First experience of being a stay at home dad!

I wanted to call this post 'lifechanges' or something pretentious, but really couldn't bring myself to do that, so a slightly inaccurate, but getting vaguely something of the point i want to across heading it is then! I wouldn't want anyone to think I've never had the children to look after for the day, but our new pattern of life is slightly different 'and it got me to thinking' as a witty and catchy friend of mine used to say. My daughter started school this week (soooo sweet in her school uniform) and Jo and I are learning to juggle our work/home/school commitments in a whole new way. On three days of the week I have to go to the school (about 10 mins walk) with the two kids, drop Katherine at school and take Jack on to the childminders (another 10 minute walk), then about 10 minutes back (a triangular rather than a circular route). This may not seem like much but it changes the whole shape of the day and means that i can't be at morning meetings u

House of Tea and Biscuits: Breaking News

House of Tea and Biscuits: Breaking News There's something almost sublime about this response to the situation in the world at the moment... 'Ahh you'll have tea' - 'no thank you Mrs Doyle...'

How about a podcast?

Following on from thoughts a couple of posts ago I was talking over the issues of applying management models to Church - or rather to 'churches' (as I'm pretty sure that it would be impossible to apply any one model to the Church as a whole) - with a friend of mine who is 'teaching deacon' at a local baptist church - we warbled on so much that we actually came out with an idea, or rather he did. We thought we might go for a podcast based on thoughts about running the church. Watch this space...

Sunday reflections

Yes I know its Monday, but having not posted a sermon in a few weeks I thought I would put up my sermons for the last two Sundays - quite a chunk to get through if you are inclined to read them, not necessarily my best but reflecting something of where i am coming from at the moment. So here they are... Sunday 27th August Year B Proper 16 (2006) RCL Principal 1 Kings 8. [1, 6, 10-11] 22-30, 41-43 Psalm 84 Ephesians 6.10-20 John 6.56-69 Tough Christianity I’m not usually a reader of the Times, but some time ago there was an article sent to ministers in the Diocese of Ely which was written by Matthew Parrish in which he rejects all things Christian, and then goes on to lament the fact that the Church doesn’t stand for anything any more. Parrish particularly drew attention to the matter of the consecration of homosexual bishops – and as a gay man himself he said that he rejected religious faith because it could only be founded upon revelation and that in the Bible the revelation was q

Church and Management

After a variety of conversations in the past week, culminating with a very good chat with a friend earlier today, I find myself thinking about how we as a Church should take on 'good management practice' - and from that thinking about what is 'good management practice' and just how much can be applied to Church. There is various talk about 360 degree review, performance reviews, accountability, strategy, communication of ideass & activities. Lots of talk about how we can do what we do better, and what new things we should be embarking upon. Its quite exciting and dynamic talk, and likely to translate into some quite exciting and dynamic action - but I still maintain a certain wariness about what it means to apply business models to the life of a Church/Parish/Team/Clergyperson. I, as previously stated on these pages, have no problem at all about accountability - in fact i think it is something that the Church needs to address on the whole - but i do have problems