March 2011 Archives

Men, Women and the Bible

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On the 15th June the Sophia Network are putting on a day at CPAS at Warwick, it's called, Men, Women and the Bible

Back from some advanced retreating

Thoroughly enjoyed my 26 hours at the Depth retreat with a wonderful bunch of people, two thirds of whom are staying on for another night. It was a beautiful couple of days to be at Douai Abbey enjoying the place, space and ..... great food!

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If you were on the reatreat: Thank you for your collective and individual engagement with 2nd Peter 1 1-11, I learnt a lot from our conversations.

If you wanted to track down the film, it was Lars and the Real Girl.

The two children's books were:
'Some dogs do'
'Alexander and the terrible horrible no good very bad day.'

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The session we had on 'Potholes that can wreck a ministry' was from the creative wisdom of Duffy Robins from this book. (Chris Darnell has blogged his notes from the Potholes talk here which are great but note that #2 should instead read "Professional Holiness" if I recall correctly).

If you have any feedback then please e-mail (or any ideas for DEPTH V)



I will be incommunicado after 11am today for 24 hours as my Michael Jackson intolerant colleague and myself are leading the Depth retreat. (Where, apparently " I really have to stop" humming the tune 'Ben')

Really looking forward to the space, the worship and the quiet. It'll also be good fun to spend time with a fab bunch of children's and youth workers. Praying that it will be a great 'place' for them to retreat, refresh and recharge

Ooh, I'm thinking, "theme tune" for the retreat ;-)

"If you ever look behind
and don't like what you find
There's something you should know
you've got a place to go"

Nice bodywork

charlie reg.jpg

I went to visit Charlie Van at the 'Hospital' today and he's looking good. The windows are all out, the rust is treated and the replacement sections welded in, the doors, bumpers, windows and bonnet are all neatly stacked and treated. Almost ready to go to the paint shop.

I dropped up a couple of new number plates. No, they aren't really personalised Number Plates. But his great online shop allowed me to design the plates around the actual 'J' reg pate it is adding the VW logo .... and have in small lettering under the registration, "A tribe called Macdonald"

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Charlie also has a new sun canopy! I saw some rather nice ones on line BUT have managed instead to make one for £8.99 thanks to a great trick from this web site. I've got some salvaged poles to which I have added a rather funky shower curtain (£3.99) and a packet of rare earth magnets (£5). Job done :-)

Youth groups destroys childrens lives

Don't worry to much about the authors shock tactic headline, he's mainly arguing for inclusion whilst critiquing some worst excess BUT worth a read.

Being the Christian you are

I was preaching at the informal 6:30 service last night, continuing the series, "Heroes of the Faith"

Each of the characters has an accompanying video made by the Youth Group. The one on Esther last night was phenomenal ... but sadly not on Youtube as I'd love to point you to it.
I was given chapter 4 of Esther as the focus and it was Mordecai's line, "and who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" that really stood out to me.

I explored what Esther had to teach us but particularly the aspect of doing the right thing even when it's not as clear cut as knowing exactly where God is and what he is doing.

The theme that emerged was, Being the christian you are in the places you find yourself.

Arctos Wristwatch


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My dad only ever had one watch as far as I'm aware, it's this Arctos German watch that he bought while on national service in Germany sometime between 1950 - 1952. I've been wearing it quite a bit as it feels like a great link with my dad and his life. I spent a bit of time tonight trying to track down some info about it reckoning that it must be quite good if, as a mechanical action watch, it has been going strong for 60 years. (Dad wore it every day for at least 58 years I reckon)

Very cool to find that the Germany company still exists. Arctos started in 1923 although it was destroyed in the 2nd world war, it resumed production in 1947 and dads watch was a relatively early example from post war production. I've found some other Arctos watches from the 1950's on the internet but not this particular one that has the words, "Arctos Parat Waterproof" below the '12' and "hubis" above the small dial. I also know that dad had to have the winder replaced at some stage as he had worn it completely smooth over the many thousands of daily winds.

Definitely making me happy to wear it ... and if i ever need to replace it, I reckons it will have to be with another Arctos.


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New Chitty Chitty Bang Bang books

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Frank Cottrell Boyce is writing a trilogy of sequels that follow on from "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." This is causing some debate as to it's merits, but you can't argue with the choice of vehicle:

"The new story is about a family where the father has been made redundant and sets about trying to reconstruct a VW Camper Van. He unwittingly uses the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang engine for the camper van, which has its own agenda, to restore itself. The trilogy follows the car's adventures during its restoration and is illustrated with black-and-white line drawings by Joe Berger"

Story here

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* Technically I'm impressed. Shoehorning the presumambly large engine from Chitty into a Type 2 would be quite a feat, but at least there seems to be a radiator added to the front to cool the beast. Oh yes, looked again properly, the exhausts suggest a V8 centrally mounted, clever (unless you want to have any where to sit in the back, lol)

Youth worker for Archbishops' Council

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An advert looking for someone to join Archbishops' council and bringing with them an understanding/involvement-in Children's or Youth work.
Details here: Archbishops' Council appointment C2216-246-CT.pdf

Wisdom of Solomon

This seemed very sagely advice (having encountered it at a meeting venue recently) and I thought I'd share it as it might save you from making the mistake yourself.

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Creative Installation

I need some help my creative Youth workery and ministerial friends. I had an idea for an 'installation' at the 'Mend the Gap' day, a participative learning experience that highlights cultural changes, and thus the problems and opportunities. A kind of 'labyrinth' that would be fun but informative.

The long and short of it is I aim to produce a room sized 'Snakes and Ladders', where participants walk the board, snakes and ladders. The ladders being opportunities that churches grasp, or things they do that help with their engagement with young people. The snakes being the reverse, cultural changes, set methods of working etc that defeat or undermine work with young people.

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So, my fine friends: Pithy and short lines or scenarios that form the base of a ladder, or the head of a snake. Thanks :-) (PS If your comment doesn't appear, please please e-mail, this will be due to epic battle at the moments with the Spamalots)

Youth Ministry conference

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What to go to a Youth ministry conference but not by going anywhere? Well, how's this. Willow Creek make the Youth Ministry conference online and there is some GOOD content.
How's about pulling your local network together and 'going'

Details here.

History and Future

I really enjoyed the session with the youth group on 'history and future' (thanks for the two brilliant comments that I eventually found in a sea of 7000 spam comments, Grrr)

In the end I started of the session with a relay race and we talked about the baton of faith (and hence what it meant to be church) being passed from one generation to the next. Talking about the responsibility of the giver and the receiver in this metaphor.
We then chatted through how our faith, church, denomination is built on 'human reason,' 'The Bible' and 'Christian tradition' ... and the interplay of these.
Having set the scene we brainstormed the questions and 'stuff' that it would be good to explore. Some great stuff emerged from this and it was obvious I was going to have to ditch the idea I had had of using some massive Jigsaw pieces to build a picture of church for this generation, and look instead at Church history.
A quick scoot around for something to use produced a marker pen and a roll of toilet paper.

Thus we made a map of the history of the church, the significant points and the various denominational turnings all out of toilet paper. It provided a great visual, looking at how our faith heritage has been shaped for the good and the bad, and linked all Christianity back to the Cross and the Apostles. I was thrilled with how engaged the guys were and the 'stuff' it raised and illustrated across the whole timeline of post resurrection Christianity.

(Tried to track down some video of relay races where the giver fumbles the baton or has it in the wrong hand, and what I think was an Olympic race where the receiver was looking at the big screen and missed the fact that he needed to be ready to receive. If you have any links then it would be fab to have them alongside this outline)

Up and away

Epic Saturday! I was invited by a friend to Shalbourne Gliding Club to have a go at this flying without engines lark.

Two days on, I still have a grin of glider-wing-span proportions from an awesome introduction to the sport .... and my fabulous sunny flight in the Spring sunshine.

The gliders are propelled into the air by a 7.5 litre winch engine which is housed on a 1950's truck parked about a kilometre from the take off point. A cable runs from the winch and clips on below the glider at a point underneath the cockpit behind the wheel.
The first surprise was that the instructor sits in the back whist you, the pupil, get to sit up front. The other lovely surprise is that the cockpit is a lot like a fast jet canopy with visibility all round (not like a Cessna or the like where the windscreen gives you the impression of being in an Austin Allegro with wings).

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So, equipped with a parachute I found myself squeezing into the front of the glider ahead of Steve my instructor. We welded the lid, and the slack on the cable was taken up. At this point the ground crew yelled "All Out" and the guy at the winch let it rip. Under a second before wheels off and then a steep climb up into the blue and a loud bang as the cable released.

Once in the air all was calm. It was quiet enough to chat at a normal conversational level whilst the only sound came from the variometer indicating whether we were lifting or sinking. Steve found a thermal and we circled for a few minutes building some height before setting off for a bit of a tour. I took the controls for a while but I'd forgotten how difficult it is to turn whilst keeping the plane from diving or climbing and happily handed back to Steve so I could just observe rather than make a pigs ear of piloting.

Twenty Two minutes later we were back on the ground. Big Grin city, fab
(I mustn't take up another hobby
I mustn't take up another hobby
I mustn't take up another hobby)

History and Future


I'm doing a session with a youth group on the history of our faith (and the Anglican tradition) and how that links with the now and the future.

Any suggestions?

My shed

Loving this Matt Harvey poem. A kind of an ode to the shed (which could be written about my workshop apart from mine doesn't smell of Cuprinol, it's more of a Creosote, wood and hint of petrol perfume/odour). ht to Cris

Matt Harvey
Where Earwigs Dare

"A silver trail across the monitor;
fresh mouse-droppings beneath the swivel-chair;
the view obscured by rogue japonica.
Released into the wild, where earwigs dare -

you first went freelance - and then gently feral.
You worked from home - then wandered out again,
roughed it with spider, ant, shrew, blackbird, squirrel
in your won realm, your micro-Vatican.

No name conveys exactly what it is -
Chalet? Gazebo? You were not misled
by studios, snugs, garden offices,
workshops or outhouses. A shed's a shed -

and proud of it. You wouldn't want to hide it.
Wi-Fi-enabled rain-proof wooden box -
a box to sit in while you think outside it.
Self-rattling cage, den, poop-deck, paradox,

hutch with home-rule, cramped cubicle of freedom,
laboratory, thought-palace, bodger's bower,
plot both to sow seeds and to go to seed in,
cobwebbed, Cuprinol-scented, Seat of Power"

Arusted development

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Charlie the Van is going to the Bodyshop for three weeks.

It had become increasingly obvious that all the glass work needed to come out in order to de-oxidise and arrest the rust. It was also evident that the work required was beyond my arsenal of enthusiasm, spray paint and half can of Kurust.

So I booked a trip to Carls kool Campers

Carl and the crew were really welcoming when I went to visit and I enjoyed a cup of tea, some great stories and some expertise advice. Fab

They agreed that the windows had to come out AND also found some other areas of 'interest' that need some attention
They are going to strip Charlie down and then treat, weld, blast and finish. Then Charlie is having a full re-spray (in similar colour scheme to now).
Having seen the before and after pictures below on a digger they refurbed, I'm feeling quite confident that Charlie could soon be entering an Automotive equivalent of Crufts.

dig before.jpg

dig after.jpg


My fourteen year old daughter is off to Morocco in May on an expedition trekking in the mountains (and going higher than I have ever been *envy*) and is still busy raising the fees.

To that end she abseiled down Clifton Gorge on Saturday as a sponsored event. I'm incredibly proud of her and thus couldn't resist posting a photo: (She should have worn a bright top, but look carefully she is there on the face about a third of the way down)

Ellie Abseil.jpg

Thanks to all those who sponsored her :-)

Rob Bell

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Rob Bell is touring the UK in April, talking on stuff relating to Heaven and Hell. Details here

Prayers for Japan

Not having a TV I've not seen much in the way of footage regarding the horrific events in Japan. I've read quite a bit and been enormously saddened by the pictures I've seen. I have however just seen this video online and it is hard to comprehend the events unfolding during these three minutes of video, the horrible and terrifying destruction is almost beyond comprehension.

Friends reunited


Back at the desk after an awesome weekend away with my long long term blokey friends. These are the lads I was in a Youth group with and our meet ups now are around a quarter of a century further on. Some things change, but much doesn't.
One of the things that we did this time was re-enact some photos from back in the day (easily done as we are STILL going to Woolhope, as we did then) but with us as we are now. This turned out to be absolutely hilarious and I may allow some of the photos to see the light of day when they return from Nepal (none of us had a card reader and the friend with the camera was heading East, straight from the weekend). Reproducing this pic' wrapped around the roof beam did present a challenege but we did manage it.

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One of the other highlights of the weekend was Llama Trekking. It turned out to be a really engaging activity given the process of learning a little about Llamas in general, haltering and getting to know your assigned Llama, grooming and feeding it and then a 2 hour walk in stunning country side with, in my case, Brodgar the Llama.

llama view gang crop 350.jpg

If you run a youth group, you never know the friendships that may form through that group and just how important those might be to young people that you work with.

Regeneration Summit continued

Ali has blogged a more detailed account of the day than I managed, so if you want to know about the Regeneration Summit: have a read

Being a bloke

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I spoke at a Mens breakfast last Saturday at a REALLY nice hotel. It was one of those quirky gigs that make it into my diary solely on the basis that they sound fun. Fun, it was too; A good breakfast, the company of a great bunch of blokes* ... and the chance to explore post-modern faith from a blokey perspective (not given to as much heckling as I'd hoped but some great questions).

This weekend is our Churches men's breakfast** but I can't make it because I am away on a Mens Weekend .... well, me and my mates are away on our quasi bi-annual get together. I tend to organise this and I've been struggling to find an activity that we haven't actually done, but I may, at last have found something. There is a 60% chance that we'll be going Lllama Trekking. (Am just trying to decide whether to book it or not).


* I like the word 'bloke' but know from Kevin the Canadian that the word is not necessarily known t'other side of the pond; so for 'bloke' read 'guy'

** It seems that any 'ministry' or 'outreach' to the half of the population allegedly from Mars seems to have the prerequisites of Breakfast or Curry.

*** I looked up "Mens Ministry" to find an illustrative picture for this post but encountered some stuff that was cheesier than the quiche that the curry and breakfast acts as an antidote too. I dare you to have a google yourself!! *shudder*

Lent 'In' and 'Out'

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We enjoyed pancakes as a family last night and then read the account of Jesus in the wilderness. It's been an interesting conversation about what we are giving up (and why) and what we are embracing for Lent. Interestingly my youngest son, S seems to have adopted the most radical approach with sweets and 'games on the computer' on hold until Easter.

I'm trying to eat more simply, waving goodbye to cakes ... whilst only eating at meal times, to have more of a balance and rhythm to food and the day.
Jo and I are reading "Barefoot Disciple" as a kind of Lenten study.

Quite a few of my bretherin and sisterin are abstaining from Facebook which i think is a great idea .... toyed with it myself but quite a few young people and young adults communicate only through this and I'm not sure I can get Yellow Braces and Mend the Gap together without FB. Other people's example though will challenge me on when and how I use FB over the next 6 weeks me thinks.

Other stuff that's around:

The Love Life, Live Lent initiative is up and running again
Roots have produce a Lent Calender
Dave Walker's visual summary of Lent
The Image at the start of the post is from an excellent piece by Tim Hyde at Living Open Source, well worth a read ...

"So give up chocolate by all means, but it is what you do while you are not eating chocolate that will probably make a bigger impact on your life"

love life live lent.jpg

Small Source of Comfort

Sitting in the armchair listening to the New Bruce Cockburn album that came out today. It is called "Small Source of Comfort" and I'm liking it.

small source of comfort.jpg

I am really really hoping that the album release may see him play some gigs in the UK this year? (I miss the good old days of him playing Greenbelt every other year)

Social Media a fad?

ht to the Chris

And whilst it may be here in a big way and be an entire paradigm changer, its dangers are also being explored. eg, via the Guardian article here

Zip it, block it, flag it

Good summary and approach to internet safety. Could be a useful one to recommend
Click Clever, Click Safe

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Regeneration Summit

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It was my enormous privilege to be in Sheffield on Thursday at the Regeneration Summit alongside 150 young people, both the Archbishops, around 40 bishops and 20 youth workers.

THe Summit was billed thusly:
"Regeneration is about a group of young people calling the Church of England to think seriously about how it can better resource, equip and reach young people and offering help to do so"

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It was a day therefore of listening and exploring. The programme had been put together by an organising committee that was mainly composed of young people aged around 19 or 20 and was a mixture of fun, process and creative ways of feeding back.

I arrived in the nick of time, a tad under 4 hours door to door, and found I was leading the group work for my alloted group of teens and bishops. It proved to be a good process though and I loved the bunch of secondary school aged young people that made up ' group 11'

The things that came through most strongly in our group were:

  • Sunday morning is a terrible time if you want to explore Church with young people.
  • Stuff in church is aimed at children or adults but always misses out the teenagers
  • Faith is not tied to denomination, churches should work together
  • Sermons should be more interactive and more connected in with real life
  • Faith/Church needs to link more with schools to connect to the needs and realities of young people.

I'm looking forward to seeing the amalgamated feedback from the day but that may take a while. I'm really hoping the day will lead to some bold and strategic adventures.
(What's in no doubt though is the impact it made on the young people I spoke to)

The day drew together a pledge which those participating were asked to sign:

Regeneration Youth Summit Pledge

Gathered in Sheffield for the Regeneration Summit we are excited by all the positive work with young people across our nation. We rejoice that so many young people are involved in the life of our Church, yet we yearn for more.

As Bishops and Church leaders we pledge ourselves to find new ways to listen to the voices of young people, and encourage... them in their Christian walk. We will work to enable young people's voices to be heard better both within our Diocese and the national Church. We will seek to find new ways to empower young people both in leadership and ministry. We will endevour to work with colleagues to enable new mission initiatives with young people, and consider if new financial resources can be made available to support these.

As young people gathered at the Regeernation Summit we affirm we will work hard to encourage and support our church leaders. We will pray for our Bishops, and so all we can to bless their leadership amongst us. We will work positively in our local churches, to encouarge our leaders. We plegde ourselves to pray for our friends, and to try to find new ways of sharing our faith with them.

Together, we commit afresh to pray for the Church we love, and to ask God to work a miracle amongst us, that He would use us to help many more young people across England come to a living faith in Jesus Christ.

The Pursuit of a Proflex


I'm still on a major nostalgia fest and trying to track down the Proflex 4000 I used to ride way back in the 90's.

I had an e-mail from a really nice bloke in Lancashire who had one but over the years it had lost the Girvin forks and the comparable componentry. Last night I came within £5 and 2 seconds of snagging the model before the 1998 4000 (the Proflex 857) on the e-bay, darn! (It was my first time in a bidding war on e-bay and I couldn't type/respond fast enough. Interestingly though I reckon the bike would have gone for at least £75 more if the owner had put it on Preloved)

Google alerts brings me news most days of Proflexes, but they're mainly in the States. Mind you for this one maybe I should head out there.

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Job Clubs


With Youth Unemployment running at terrible levels and likely to get worse, I am very keen to see if Churches can work with local young people on 'job clubs' (where one doesn't exist already) and help young people develop the skills and confidence they need.

Can anyone point me to an existing project?

Confirmation reading and resourcing

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I'm delighted to announce the arrival of two important books around confirmation, one relooking at the whole subject, one a film based preperation resource. (It's doubly exciting because they are by friends and colleagues .... and I even get mentioned in them I think*)

Reconnecting with Confirmation#3#.jpgThe theory book: Reconnecting with Confirmation, by Pete Maidment and Susie Mapledoram. Their publisher says this: Many children now take communion before they are confirmed. What does this mean for the importance of Confirmation? Does it still have a role to play in the Christian journey? This new guide explores the importance of confirmation, its origins and theology and its place today. Exploring youth culture and young people's needs for rites of passage, it will help you put Confirmation at the heart of youth discipleship. Written by practitioners with extensive experience of youth culture and sacramental ministry, it includes practical guidance on creating the best Confirmation experience both for young people and the local church.

Moving Images Changing Lives#3#.jpegThe practical (course) book: Moving Images, Changing Lives, by Sarah Brush and Phil Greig. The publisher writes: 'Film is one area of popular culture that isn't afraid of exploring life's big questions. So why not use it to help young people explore Christianity? This 11-session 'basics course with a difference' uses clips from popular, recent films to explore the Christian faith in a lively, engaged way. Written by experienced youth workers, it is suitable for Confirmation preparation, youth clubs and schools groups. The book includes equipment lists, ice-breakers, prayers, photo-copyable activities, questions for reflection and links to on-line clips.

*(I am very chuffed to get a mention as a couple of recent books have cited people who were either quoting me or got the idea from the blog. Still, it keeps me humble, I hope)

Just the job

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scoot.jpgFor those who know my son H. He has started work one day a week in a 'job experience' placement and couldn't be more chuffed. Yesterday was his first day at work in the 'Shop Mobility' scheme manning the desk, lending out and looking after the mobility scooters.

(You'll be amused to know that he gets to park the scooters on their return)

I am incredibly grateful to the school who worked hard to find him a placement, and to the placement themselves who are being brilliant. H is walking a couple of inches taller and taking a great deal of pride in his job.

Average premiums! Is that just mean?

I can't quite get my head around the European Court ruling on gender and Insurance! I know we are used to some fairly bonkers legaslative impositions from the mainland involving the agreed European standard shape of fruit and the like, but this really takes the biscuit.

So, life insurance can no longer take into account that women live longer, whilst driving insurance cannot take into account that women have fewer (and less expensive) accidents. I'm not sure it's a ruling in line with gender equality at all, I'm sure it's a ruling against statistics though.

It is hard to see, logically, how the European court could not follow on from what they see as genderist pricing, with a ruling on ageist pricing. That is that drivers should not be charge a premium for being statistically more likely to have an accident, whilst a reduction is given to those who are a less expensive 'risk'.

I am wondering too whether I can expect a reduction on my car insurance, given that I pay extra because of the estate I live on (surely this is blatant geographyism)

Anyway, I'm not a lawyer so may be missing a key piece of understanding in the European Courts' rejection of statistics.


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