Monday, September 24, 2007

Shane and Shane

Saw a friend of mine last week who introduced me to these guys who write and sing wonderful worship songs to God. Check them out on You tube and I particularly commend the songs - when I think about the lord, the answer and yearn. I hope it is blessing to you. Eric, who I was college with, used to sing their songs with amazing passion in Chapel and I never knew who they were so this is an especially happy discovery and memory jogger. Ahhh college chapel.....those happy days!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Greys Anatomy

Sometimes you watch a programme on TV that seems to speak into a time of your life. Greys Anatomy is the story of young medical students learning how to become surgeons and it is the best thing I have watched in ages. It is a mix of romance, friendship, ethics and the challenge of acquiring vital and life saving new skills. Learning how to be a surgeon and learning how to be a pastor have uncannily similar trajectories. Excellent stuff and the best thing around since the dearly departed West Wing. Enjoy.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Passing the ball

Tom works in my church and said an interesting thing recently. He's a football coach and he said that in simply passing a ball to another person we have started a relationship whether the person on the receiving end realises it or not.

Too flat out

A fascinating article from the Times.....

August 27, 2007

I’d love to live a more rounded life, but I’m too flat out
Caitlin Moran

Someone said something amazing to me last week. I was trying to arrange a business lunch with an acquaintance of mine – a big-shot record producer, web entrepreneur and social maven – and he said: “I can do any day that week, really. I haven’t got much on at the moment.”

I was so astonished by what he’d said that my mouth went all strange. I gabbled “I, er, er, er, er, better look at the calendar and call you back! Bye!” and then hung up, in some state of discombobulation. Hadn’t got much on at the moment? Any day that week? What did he mean? No one says things like that any more. He was talking like some crazy throwback. He might just as well be saying: “I’m off to catch a zeppelin to Constantinople.”

No one has “not much on at the moment” these days. That’s just a 21st-century fact. Talk to a stay-at-home mum at the school gates – dropping her kids off for the next six hours – and she’ll tell you that her life is currently “a bit hectic”.

People with perfectly normal office jobs are “flat out”. People with slightly more demanding jobs are “not even putting my head above the parapet before Christmas”. Even my dole-scum relatives – whose lives revolve around the sofa, the microwave and the dodgy baccy man – still talk of “fitting things in” and “things being a bit mental at the mo”. Although, of course, for the one on Incapacity Benefit for psychotic and schizo-phrenic tendencies, that’s obviously just a factual statement.

And if you ring up someone “in demand” – a celebrity, businessman or politician – and ask their “people” for some “face time”, they just laugh hysterically and put the phone down.

I think that, currently, you’re allowed to say a single, well-chosen word to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie before being whisked out of the hotel suite. Then their “people” fax you their answer, later.

Everyone is time-poor. Everyone is rushing around. I dare say there are tramps in Central London who are booked up until mid-September. No one will admit that they had quite a quiet week last week. That something got cancelled at the last minute on Friday, and they spent all day on Facebook, popped to the gym, and then went home to play Grand Theft Auto in their pants.

As part of the work ethic bashed into us during the Thatcher years, it has become morally suspect to be anything other than rushed off our feet. Most people would rather develop some disease that makes them smell of fish than admit to sizeable tracts of free time. Being unengaged is worse than being poor, fat, friendless, or having a borderline Asperger’s-like recall of the life, career and great thoughts of Balearic DJ Danny Rampling and his Manumission posse. In that order.

But of course, it’s not the implicit moral superiority that has made busyness so universal. After all, you could claim instant moral superiority simply by reusing a plastic bag, and we’re still being apathetic about that.

No. Busyness is so popular because it’s the magic ticket to doing whatever the hell you want. You have carte blanche to live a wholly selfish life, if you have a full enough diary. And just like some life decision that allows you infinite recourse to shout “And no returns!”, there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

Take society. You know, you simply don’t need to bother with society if you’re “busy”. Lonely old lady next door? Toddler group that could do with more helpers? Pool tournament need arranging for troubled youths? Obviously somebody needs to go and do these things – and probably quite urgently, judging by that odd, stair-falling sound that came from the old lady’s house last night – but it’s not going to be someone who’s chockablock until mid-Oct, earliest, is it?

Likewise, your family and friends. Obviously in an ideal world you would go and visit your mother every weekend – but do you know what’s standing between me and you, Mum. Munich. Crewe. And this three-day “thing” that’s just too tedious to tell you about. If you plaintively ask me again to come and see you, it will be borderline abuse. I might burn out on your doorstep, and have to go to the Priory.

You can weasel out of rotas with a rueful “I’m snowed under”. The absence of a birthday present can be unarguably explained with an almost cheerful “I’m so busy! I forgot!” Inform people of your busyness early on in a conversation – effectively win the battle of who is the most in demand – and it gives you an almost Godlike ability to dictate the terms of your relationship for the next ten years.

There are people of my acquaintance who established their debilitating busyness so early on that they have never yet had to pick up their own children from school, cook a meal, answer a text message within 48 hours, turn up on time, or talk about anyone apart from themselves.

Additionally, when someone “super-busy” deigns to actually talk to you, you’re apt to feel so pathetically grateful and “chosen” that you eagerly agree with everything they say, try to stop them fiddling with their BlackBerries by repeatedly telling them how amazing it is to see them, and leap up to get their coffee to maximise your time-slot.

In short, being busy gives you nearly every life advantage that celebrity does, but without the hassle of the paparazzi. No wonder everyone is so keen to appear frantically occupied.

Even if they are just on the phones to their mums, lying about how busy they are, and attending to a “poking” backlog on Facebook.

Who do we know?

I have been following the story of the McKans over the past few days in my early morning stupor of news radio. I confess to never entertaining the thought of them being suspects. It has though made me think about innocence and guilt. Listening to their friends I have been heartened by their support, belief and commitment but I can't help admitting to joining the thinks balloon asking 'Did they do it?' The answer is who knows, but imagine if that was you or I. On what basis do we change what we think about those we know? Evidence hopefully, particularly if you are the police one would hope. However, who do we really know and who have we let in enough that we can let them speak with confidence about our motivations or capability to do anything? I hope I have a few people in this bracket, but it is food for thought. I can't say I have advanced my thinking much on this but put it down just to get it out there.

Growing up?

I am off on holiday at the end of the week and can't wait. I have really enjoyed my first stint of work but now it is definately time for a rest. I am off fishing in Yorkshire on the Wharf and am planning to fish the river at Bolton Abbey. Then its on to the Inn at Whitewell with the chance of a salmon I hope. Should be a time to chill and recharge the batteries and then back via Oxford for a couple of days all finshed off with a family wedding a week on Saturday.

I have never really got poetry but, as with most things, I have Eugene Peterson to thank for the introduction to the work of Czeslaw Milosz ( New and collected Poems 1931-2001). I started reading them last week and am just going on the journey of through his work. It is not so much it seems about comprehension, more just letting him tell his story and descibe his world, people, thoughts, faith and questions. Perhaps I am entering my poetry phase. I have always thought poetry was a bit lame but I am beginning to realise that to have dismissed a whole literary genre out if hand may have been a tad hasty. Perhaps I am growing up...?

Other things going in the bag for the hols are the Churchill biography by Jenkins and an unchallenging novel. Yet to decide what.

Saturday blog-sweep

 Some interesting books for pastors The State we're in Attack at dawn Joseph Scriven Joy comes with the morning When small is beautiful