Swiss reflections

I liked switzerland ….. how could you not like a country that takes its’ sheds so seriously? The Alpine meadows were strewn with fantastical wooden shackery that looked awesome, and were larger than the depressingly functional 8×6’s of middle England. They had sheds for animals, sheds for wood, sheds you could live in, Nice!
I loved the language, I was in a German speaking bit where they mostly understood my German and talked with a lovely sing-song tone that made even the train announcments a joy! Talking of which the trains ran EXACTLY to time with no deviation EVER, this confused me muchly coming from England where the timetable is broadly aspirational but, mostly fictional.
I didn’t get the idea of Cuckoo clocks? Why did they start making them? Why do they continue making them? Oh and the other thing I didn’t get was entire shops dedicated to the Swiss army knife!!!! There must be a limit to the amount of knives you can usefully use? more so as some of them were pushing the boundaries of usefulness, I ACTUALLY saw this in a shop that specialised in Cuckoo Clocks and Knives (to be consistent they should also have had a clock that a full size Emu popped out of on the hour methinks!)
swiss army knife uber nuts.jpg
But, needless to say, I loved the mountains completely, utterly and hopelessly, they were geological poetry and gargantuan pieces of worship installation …. in a Rock genre (literally!)


It’s the season for Annual church meetings in my denominational sector at the moment. Dave walker had me cracked up with his live reporting from theirs via Twitter and Facebook. Like all flavours of church, committees are both the red blood cells and potentially the cholestral in the living organism of mission we are.
Oh, give me a pity, I’m on a committee
Which means that from morning to night
We attend and amend and contend and defend
Without a conclusion in sight.
We confer and concur, we defer and demur
And re-iterate all of our thoughts
We revise the agenda with frequent addenda
And consider a load of reports.
We compose and propose, we suppose and oppose
And the points of procedure are fun!
But though various notions are brought up as motions
There’s terribly little gets done.
We resolve and absolve, but never dissolve
Since it’s out of the question for us.
What a shattering pity to end our committee
Where else could we make such a fuss?

Copyright (c) Phong Ngo
(I have been trying to track down the author to get permission to use this but can’t find a site to point to. This piece seems to be readily available in lots of places but none are the original. I’m very happy to attribute or remove.)

Ski Trip review

I meant to write up the ski trip stuff but *woosh* time flies! However due to the most humungous diary cock-up EVER (not entirely my fault) I have a few minutes free to scribble:
One of the aspects of the ski talks that I really enjoyed was that the ideas that formed them were collabrative and as such felt more grounded and more creative. Being able to have a ‘conversation’ via the blog was/is for me a really important thing.
On the first night i introduced myself and expressed some discomfort with the idea of being THE ‘speaker,’ asking instead to be thought of more as the resident minister and the ‘listener!’ I did however say that I would be leading some input but I really wanted that to be part of a conversation that happened in (and more importantly) beyond the evening meetings.
I then talked about the week being a Lenten reflection on whole life spirituality and then using the image of me failing to learn the counter-intuitive art of kayak rolling, talked about the challenges of living out our faith, embracing and living a counter-intuitive lifestyle, exploring being authentic as disciples of Jesus.
Using five different books of the Bible we then explored some of the dynamics of whole life spirituality:
Spirituality of: Life to be FULLY lived (the book of John). Asking what is the “life to the full” that Jesus offers and what gets in the way. We talked about the idea of Acedia (spiritual lethargy) and how that takes hold allowing stuff to get in the way of Life.
Spirituality of: Questions to be grappled with (the book of Psalms). This was the session that seemed to resonate the most and generate the most conversation. Looking at how God meets us more in the question that the answer. What does it mean to be in dailogue with God, learning from the Psalmist, being real in the struggles of faith.

Spirituality of: Discipline to be embraced
(the book of James). The call to discipline and obediance, the struggle with what does it mean to be ‘religious,’ to have faith. Freedom that exists in obedience.

Spirituality of: Wisdom to be gained
(the book of Proverbs). This was a fun session looking at how culturally there was a lot emphasis on knowing, doctrine, faith, certainty etc. We explored the idea of Wisdom being deeper and maybe messier, a ‘knowing’ that was whole life and whole person. We also taked about Wisdom as a preventative to being shaped entirly by our culture or churchmanship.

Spirituality of: Suffering to be wrestled with
(The book of Job). This was the talk on Good Friday so fiited well. Looked at the reality of suffering, of a fallen world, of Jesus weeping by Lazarus’s grave. This session dovetailed with the one one Psalms, living with the questions not having all the answers. Living with both the reality of suffering, of a hurting world BUT the presence and promise of HOPE.
The group on the trip were fantastic and really up for a messier approach to the evening sessions where it wasn’t aliterated three points and tidy sermons. This was the first time I have been so utterly post-modern-youth-minister with an adult group and the response was great. I loved the fact that conversations flowed out of the sessions, I loved the fact that people were happy to be part of the questioning.
Enormous thanks to the wonderful crew at Gold Hill holidays for inviting me!


So, a couple of weeks ago I finally got round to watching the film Juno! I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Reviewing it is complex though as it will really depend on what angle you are looking at it from, e.g screenplay, handling of issues involved, accuracy etc etc. I also think it’s quite annoying when a reviewer reveiws a film from a standpoint which the director never intended to take. (A bit like attacking a coffee cake recipe on the grounds it couldn’t be eaten with Spinach or wasn’t on-message with healthy eating)
So, I enjoyed Juno as a piece of entertainment. I liked Ellen Page (Juno) and Michael Cera (Bleeker) enormously and thought this film was a great offering in the ‘teen movie’ genre. It was actually an interesting story and explored a range of relational dynamics. Like most movies though, the values running through it and its coherence with reality need some reflection.
Anyway, the best thing about the movie has been that it has led to some important/fun/useful/interesting conversations with young people about sexuality and relationships. Conversations that may well not have happened without the fact we arrived at them via discussing films and in partcular Juno.

Sort of, dunno, nothing ….

This week on the blog could have been sponsored by youtube BUT couldn’t resist this.
Ht to Weird Hippy.
(If any of the teenage readers see this one: Annoying or funny? (or both)

The more I watch this video the more I love it. The juxtaposition of the two characters is brilliant, the music is such fun and the humour is wonderful. I love the fact that the teen’ winks at the end. Fab 😉

Sophia Network

The Sophia network continues to grow and develop and there is good news on the Sophia front for women and for men!
Good News for women = It’s now free to join!
Good news for men = All the Sophia stuff is available online and free to read.
BTW, has anyone done any work on the percentages of female/male Church based youth workers?
Captains Log Supplemental: I have just done a tally up of employed workers in the Diocese of Oxford (including students) and arrived at 28 male and 23 female!

You WILL volunteer

I read in the paper this morning that the government would like to make it compulsory for young people to volunteer!
Is it me?
“David Blunkett, the former home ­secretary, is to draw up plans for the prime minister to make all teenagers take part in voluntary work …..”
(Steve Tilley flags up more anomolous reporting from the news today)

In the Falling Dark

My son has been listening to this track by Bruce Cockburn, repeatedly recently, meaning that I have to as well! This however is not a problem as it is a truly great lyric.
I love the imagery Cockburn weaves of what he sees, feels and hears as the darkness falls, but even more I love the concluding observation, so easily overlooked, “From the first to the last, we are all one in the gift of grace!”
In the Falling Dark
and the lights lie tumbled out like gems
the moon is nothing but a toothless grin
floating out on the evening wind
the smell of sweat and lube oil pervades the night
and the rush of life in flight at the speed of light
a million footsteps whispering
a guitar sounds — some voices sing
smoke on the breeze — eyes that sting
far in the east a yellow cloud bank climbs
stretching away to be part of tomorrow’s time.
earthbound while everything expands
so many grains of sand
slipping from hand to hand
catching the light and falling into dark
the world fades out like an overheard remark
in the falling dark.
light pours from a million radiant lives
off of kids and dogs and the hard-shelled husbands and wives
all that glory shining around and we’re all caught taking a dive
and all the beasts of the hills around shout, “such a waste!
don’t you know that from the first to the last we’re all one in the gift of Grace!”

You can hear the track here if you are not familiar with Bruce Cockburn