Friday, June 27, 2014

Seven men

'The society of the spectacle creates passivity among its citizens, a reluctance to initiate, to lead. Instead we are encouraged to view, to consume. We fear committing, worrying that by doing so we will reduce our freedom, cut ourselves off from a myriad of choices that constantly entice us.'

Mark Sayers, Page 60

I have just returned from Men on Mountains.

We think it's been going 15 years but our middle-aged memories are a little hazy.  The quote above suggests 'we fear committing' in today's culture, which may well be true, but this is something all seven of us have committed to until we drop.

Incidentally, one of my books of the last 18 months was 'Seven Men: And the Secret of their Greatness'.

We have a few more creaky knees and aches and pains but we still managed to scale two impressive peaks and all stay in a one room camping barn on the floor. The words 'Bed and Breakfast' are still not being entertained. 

My job always seems to be capturing a few thoughts and recommendations from us all so here they are.

Three of us listened to Simon's two talks in the car on the way home. I am reflecting on the fact that his father reads the Bible through 4 times a year, except when he's busy when he just manages the once. 

TV and Film

We watched a variety of things this year. Happy Valley, Broadchurch, Boston LegalSuits, The Good Wife, Borgen and House of Cards

On the film front, Calvary was the strongest recommendation. One of our number thought potential ordinands should simply be required to watch this and then write an essay on why they want to be a priest. An interesting idea, given the reasons some have shared with me down the years about the 'why' of their vocation. I shared with the lads that I heard of a Bishop in Singapore who will not even consider someone for ordination unless they can demonstrate they have lead at least five people to the Lord.

The other film that got everyone enthusing was 'Seaching for Sugarman' which clearly completely passed me by.


'Mountains of the mind' (this is now the set text for MoM and we are all going to try and read it for next year)

One of our number reviews books for Premier and his current favourite is Alister McGraths 'Deep Magic, Dragons and Talking Mice'

'If Mayors ruled the world' is a good read about the importance of cities. 

'Falling upward: A spirituality for the two halves of life' is apparently a great read for any in the midst of a mid-lie crisis.

'If God then what?' by Andrew Wilson is by all accounts a 'Mere Christianity' for our time. Andrew Wilson is the chap who debated Steve Chalke on 'Have we misread the Bible?. This is a wonderful book to add to your list of 'Give to friend with questions about God'. It's destined to become a classic.

'Lowside of the Road' was the recommendation from the muso of our gang. He's loving it. He also enjoyed Pinker's 'The Better Angels of our Nature' and do check out the conference he's pulled together. 

Michael Sandel's 'What money can't buy' prompted one of our many discussions up the mountain about the economy and ethics.

One of us if he were recommending one book he would give you to read opted for St Francis by G K Chesterton


We did enjoy singing along to Stevie Wonder: The Collection at the end of our long day. The new music recommendation was Audrey Assad

Food and Drink

One of us stayed in a Cistercian Monastery and told us about 'terce' which is prayer that happens at 3am in the morning [N B my pal read this and apologised for misinforming me - Terce is in fact post- 9am and Vigil is the horrifically early one as, of course, the word implies]. He went to Vigil. I am sure I should have known about terce but it was all news to me. I did do a placement a Vicar Factory at Burford Priory but somehow missed 'terce'. As an aside, the monastery my pal stayed in makes the world's best beer. By all accounts, its near impossible to get hold of- unless you do Terce and Vigil :)

We all enjoyed a glass of Tamdu which is a nice drop.

A crisp flavour that was new to me


We meet to hold our lives account and once each of us have told the story of our years we get cross-examined.

Questions like: 'Tell us about your sin?'

I confessed to my new fitness regime :)

New questions this year:

"If your wife was here what would she want you to tell us?"

"Where in your life are you experiencing most freedom?"

"How can we best support you over the next year?"

We spoke a lot about raising children and I spotted this new book about growing up as a pastors kid which might be on the reading list for next year.

I told all the chaps they should read 'Finishing Strong' at some point.

Prayer and Scripture

'Enrich Lord

heart, hands, mouth in me with faith, hope and charity that

I may run, rise and rest in thee'

George Herbert

The text of the year was Psalm 131 and was the springboard for much prayer and conversation. One said of it

'It's the text I have tried to fashion my heart on'

Word of the Year

'Juridical' used by one of us which apparently means 'pertaining to the justice system'


Reflections for daily prayer

Finally, I've been pondering on one quote from someone who when they shared the gospel got the response

'Christianity is for people who can't cope'


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