Sunday, 31 October 2010

Responsible Blogging

During the course of this week, an incident occured that has taught me a great deal about a number of things, among which are the responsibilities that we have as bloggers. When we open these sites and pour our wisdom into them, add pretty pictures, think up a funky title for the post and press 'Publish', they are not an isoloted set of events that touch no-one. Quite the opposite is the case, more especially when the blogger is fortunate enough to attract readers, and readers who choose to comment about the material that has been written by the blogger. 

The behaviour is normally this:

1. Site construction - every blogger has a choice about what and how their blog is made manifest to you the lovely readers. The buttons, gizmos, pictures and all other functionality all rests in the hands of the author. They too come with choices and questions, along the what, why, who and how spectrum. You will discover much about the blogger by how they create their site ... it's fascinating! I urge all readers to read the site as well as the posts - and ask the question 'why did they put that there?' One such function is only apparent at a point when a reader makes a comment - and it is almost an unseen and unnoticed thing: and it is whether the blogger retains the right to moderate their incoming comments. 

2. We bloggers think up something and we write it, normally formulating it as we press the keys themselves. Blogs are organic enterprises and very often, the post is not fully 'written' before it is actually consigned to the screen. However, this seemily haphazard art is not value-free, an accident without mitigation. 
 - Why has the post been written? 
 - What is being said - does it say what it means, or mean what it says? 
 - Who is the post written to (we normally have a nominal audience per post, somewhere in our heads)? 
 - What effect are we trying to cause/precipitate? 
 - What do we hope to recieve by way of comment? 
 - Who do we hope will comment? 
 - What is the commenter's relationship to the blogger? 
 - Is that relationship mutual and reciprocal, or even atypical (some bloggers seem to write purely for the soothing balm of the comments which in those cases are normally and habitually thankful and grateful for the blogger, if not the post)? 
 - Is the post likely to hurt or offend? 
 - Is the post so valent that it is bound to hurt or offend, or divide? 
                      ... and the list goes on.

3. A comment is made. As I have just stated, a blogger (if they are experienced enough to know that they have the choice) will have set the site up in a way that will either allow comments to pass straight to the public-eye on their site, or to retain them and publish them later after moderation. It is on this aspect of blogging that I think some different sort of damage can be done over and above the potential always bound-up with posting in the first place. That moderation brings with it some more questions:
 - Who is commenting? [a friend in real life, a blog follower whose only relationship is only through the blog itself? A colleague? A family member?]
 - How are they commenting? [this will wholly revolve around the nature of the their relationship with the blogger - e.g. my mother's comments are to her son and are written in that way, and it would be odd if a colleague comment in a similar style]
 - What are they saying? [I don't think I know of any blogger who chooses to censor their commenters, but there are times when the content of comments are not worthy of publication]
 - How is one commenter regarded by another? [ e.g. does the blog-only follower know that the other commentator is a friend in the real-world? I have seen it happen where some words that are acceptable between two friends were misconstrued by another commenter, which caused a reaction]
I am a blogger who feels that I must take responsibility for all material that exists on my Site. It is my site and upon it I am to be judged. I have never yet censored a comment but if a one was written that was aimed at hurting someone or offending them, then I likely would. That is my responsbility, to protect my commenters as well as myself if the need arose!

4. Safety in Blogs - the blogger will ensure their own safety when they post because that is normal. We have the last word as well as the first, as well as the 'Delete' button. However, safety in blogs should also be extended to our commenters, those wonderful people who often mitigate the post in the first place. That safety is, in my opinion, managed by the blogger through moderation of comment, and noble platitudes about allowing questionable or hurtful materal on to the site in the interests of editorial openness is naive! People do get hurt on blogs like that - deeply hurt. Safety on a blog is also brought in question when the relationship between blogger and commenter is atypical. 'Mutual Appreciation Societies' will invariable not welcome a challenge to the blogger. Such blogs exist and are to be avoided like the Black Death!

This is a serious post for all those who take to this wonderful passtime. It is meant to be serious because in blogs people can get hurt if you don't set out your stall openly. This is also a word of advice to commenters, upon whom most blogs depend! It is a mine-field and we have all been blown away from time to time. In amongst the mines, it is a joy and one to be commended in the highest terms.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Infidel

I am not your normal film reviewer - but for this little work of wonder I shall make a small exception. 

Made in April this year, this film was written by David Baddiel and stars the world-class Omid Djalili. It is a story of a lapsed/relaxed Muslim father in a houshold of the not-so-lapsed. The story is set a little while after the main character, played by Djalili - Mahmud Nazir - has lost his mother, and during the clear-out of her possessions discovers that he was not just adopted, but born as a Jew by the name of Sonny Shimshillewitz. The plot then revolves around two things - the planned marriage of Mahmud's son to the beautiful and very devout Uzma, step-daughter of a Taliban cleric, and also around the relationship between Nazir and an American Jew - all with the backdrop of a proud Muslim trying to become a Jew in order to see his last surviving birth-parent. 
The film challenges many of the prejudices that exist between the two faiths, in a very gentle way. It does not shirk some of the graver aspects of the collisions of Islamophobia and Antisemitism, but rather parodies them in a very light-hearted way. Omid Djalili is the perfect casting for the role, as it suits his own comedy style very well. Matt Lucas [Little Britain] also stars as a Rabbi, a role he expedites very convincingly. The twists and turns of this laugh-out-loud film are brought to conclusion and greater understanding when the key players resort to their sacred texts - a fact that is not overstated and only really dawns on the viewer some time after the film finishes. 

Made with a budget of around a million quid, it has been sold around many countries, many Muslim - though not as yet Israel (one of the portrayed debates revolves around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) - and has not as yet caused upset. The narriative is deep and is a very useful look at the life of world faiths trying to love in the same small place - and whilst it doesn't involve Christianity, is a film that teaches us lots about our own faith and how we may be percieved if placed in the drama as it unfolded. 

I heartily recommend this film as a serious-but-not-heavy couple of hours well spent - you will laugh and cry, of that you can be sure.

A Summary of Activity

This is an early-Saturday post, which is to say, not worthy of real attention! Some have suggested that a good way to see the net effect of your blog is to review the reader's Top 10 posts. This is a list borne of measurable hits - or in other words, specific page-hits - and cannot include the numbers of those to enter the Site at its head and scroll through pages, if you know what I mean (probably not, I don't). Anyway, here is my Greatest Hits to date: if I am the only one to read this post today, I will have enjoyed the reminiscence!

1. Dad, Junior and the Spook [June 2010]: this post offered my own personal model of Trinity, my own way of 'working it out' - it is read a day every week even to this day, mostly by kind readers in America!

2. What the EDL did for us [May 2010]: I wrote this post at the end of the day when the English Defence League visited my home town - a kind of 'two fingers' at racism.

3. Naked Woman Flesh [July 2010]: This post was a reflection on something very unimportant, but has been a source of much amusement to me since. I get regaular hits on this page by people regularly trawling for porn - I smile every time I imagine the look on their faces!

4. The Might of Women [August 2010]: this was an instant list-maker, but my aim was only to mock the foolishness of some Christians as made manifest in their approach to women!

5. Seeing Through Bloggles [October 2010]: thanks to a direct recommendation from eminent Blogmeister The Church Mouse, this went skywards only yesterday. It is a lighthearted yet serious (as they all are) introduction to blogging, and its pitfalls.

6. Pragmatic Faith [August 2010]: in this post, I confessed a fear about not fitting the Christian mould, less still the ordained Christian mould. This sense persists for me, but I am less bothered/troubled by it.

7. On Being Self-Centred [September 2010]: this post attended to an observation that Christians seem unwilling or unable to put themselves first, even at times of greatest personal tragedy.

8. General Synod or Specific Synod [September 2010]: I wrote this post over the cavassing statements of those who sought election to the General Synod. The election has since been had with some very questionable results.

9. Liturgical Leftovers [August 2010]: a reflection on the liturgical nature of the world-faiths

10. Trust a Man to Get it Wrong [May 2010]: I wrote this on my mother's birthday, the day my dad also chose to cark it several years earlier - enough said!

It is right to offer a note of thanks to those of you who have read this stuff many thousands of time. your comments have been supportive and appropriately challenging, and for that I am most sincerely humbled and grateful. Thanks also to those who 'know me' on Facebook and offer your comment there. This lark is, in my opinion at least, is only worthwhile if someone reads it. God Bless you all.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Concerning Halloween

I was asked the very reasonable question earlier by the delightful Mrs Acular - as we are a clergy-family, is it appropriate that we 'do' Holloween?

My first instinct was to ask her to go back to sleep at three in the morning, but as I was only fantasising about having a few more hours in bed, it seemed right to grunt and ignore her anyway!

That is my way of saying, 'let me think about that, oh love of my life, and I will get back to you sometime soon'. She is a solicitor, so it always best not to commit until an answer is formed and robust, evidenced and with the support of witnesses!

My first instinct has always been to abhor Halloween, condemn it is a pagan death-fest. It has always had the feel of the anti-Christian to me, but I must confess here, that that view has always been un-informed. Even at theological college some well-meaning sort held a Not-Halloween Party for the kids, on Halloween night - and much as that is a clear misnomer, reinforced my instictive response about the wrong-ness of the whole shebang. So I have a read a little, so that tomorrow, I may furnish my queen with the appropriate Christian repsonsa.

Well, it seems at first glance like a mish-mash of many things - Samhain [Celtic], Pomona [Roman], a marking of "summer's end", All Hallow's Eve [Christian] and so on, and has become associated with purgatory [the basis for the pumpkin lanterns], souling and guising [partly the basis of trick or treating], and other spiritually based pursuits. For me at least, nothing onerous - even if I personally wouldn't much fancy it. 

However, there is the darker side to which I do have to take exception. There is the clear association with death as a living state (if you know what I mean), the occult, the devil and yes, a little bit of a dance with forces more rightly described as evil.

In my mind, and speaking as a parent, I have to draw the balance between the seaonally-based spiritual components as compared to the dark and rather sinister connotations - and my reply to my wife will be formed along the following lines:

...for the kids I consider Halloween  harmless fun, dressing up, a chance for a party perhaps. I would treat it as I would fireworks night, as something that happens from which I see no need to protect my children at the level that three-year olds recieve such things. In the wider sense, I cannot reconcile myself to its darker associations and regard what Halloween stands for to be imcompatible with what I believe about death and life, or the love of God for all people.

It does highlight the issue of how a Christian parent recieves the world for their young children. I am no exception though my public ministry does add a little pressure when making a choice for my kids - as what I do will never be just a matter for my family. Your comments would be welcomed as my answer still feels inadequate!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Holiday Jabs

I confess, I found myself today, by accident, inadvertantly and beyond all reasonable control, watching the Jeremy Kyle Show. As we know, Jeremy Kyle is the King of the Chavs, so the programme meant very little to me.

However, it is not about that that I write. In the middle of the social anthropology lesson that unfolded before my eyes as I tidied the house, there was an advert - from DFS. In itself it is not a remarkable thing, and as you read this, you are likely wondering what an advert from DFS and a bottom be-needled has to do with the price of fish.

The DFS advert in question was for its Christmas campaign - so the normal muzak was suffused with donging chimes and jingling sleigh-bells, with a merry arborfeature behind the funky furnishings, as is the wont of the marketting men when trying to evoke the festive season for us mere mortals. 

But it works. It works like that bloody awful song by Slade works (yes, Nobby, it's Chriiiiiiiiiismasssss), like  'Pipes of Peace' works, like Troika works, like anything crooned by Sir Cliff works - (though not Jona Lewie - as 'Stop the Cavalry' was released in summer in France and other places, so how it ever became synonymous with Chr ... oh yes, it has sleigh-bells for two seconds) - the case for the prosecution is complete, M'lud. The DFS marketting men, like so many in their trade, have recognised that some things have become instinctive - we are the Yuletide Pavlov's Dogs - ding a dong and we crave turkey and family discord. 

The first such dingy-dongy Christmas advert was witnessed my your humble servant, the Vernacular Curate if you please, 26 days after the end of the school summer holiday. I am an uber-cynic, but I am nonetheless a fan of Christmas - I am not divorced from the childlike expectation, the inner euphoria of its prospect, the enjoyment of the evocation of Christmas night and crackling fires, and yes, the breathtaking moment when we herald Christmas, the Incarnation and all that is perfect and hopeful about the baby Jesus at that service in the middle of the night. I get excited, in October, in November and all through December.

My excitement is always tempered with a murmering worry - what if I become immune to the effect of Christmas because of collosal over-exposure? What if the year comes when I am sick to the back teeth of Christmas by mid December, wishing it over and gone? 

I like my Christmas drug, I love it, and under its effects I too can be a child inside - and for a grunt like me, that is a rare privilege. What I fear is heightened immunity and enhance resistance to it - I fear the loss of my Christmas.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Terry Waite and the Chilean Miners

 

Thanks to Ruth Gledhill for this interview and for posting it on Twitter - a man always worth spending time to listen to

When All Around are Losing Theirs

I'd like to paint for you a picture of parish life in the Year of Our Lord 2010 - a moment in time, a snapshot -  a moment that happened, and is true. 

Imagine a vast medieval parish church, like a barn and just as drafty (sometimes). I want you to imagine that church during a normal week. That church is normally busy during that time, people popping in and out, things to do. In the north-east corner of that vast church is the parish office, and in it the Parish Administrator weaves orders of services, rides Outlook like the possessed beast that it is, delegates the completion of so many registers, attends to the needs of the telephone enquirers. She drinks her coffee black, and tries hard to keep warm. 

In the south-west corner of that church is its Refectory. Always busy, plying panini and cake, coffee and soups - homemade, delicious. The punters are regulars, friends. The queue to order food ebbs and flows, with each order coming with a chat and a giggle with the the noble folk who staff the Refectory. The food can be smelled, its tastes anticipated - drooling mouths ponder its forthcoming delights. 

In the church the clergy roam - often in pairs, mostly at speed. A rector and a curate, bearing some physical similarities it is said, though the curate is far younger. People to talk to, jobs to be done, coffee to drink, reflections to be shared. The piano is in the wrong place, the flower-ladies are due; talk about money soon follows, as always - but all will be well in the end.

In the north west corner of the church, behind two doors is a kitchen - not a little affair like a home kitchen, but one built to serve the needs of the Refectory. A large hob supports gentle simmering pans of leek and potato, harvest vegetable - in the oven bread rolls and eccles cakes gently brown and come to their moment of perfection. To the left sandwiches are typically made in quick succession, panini too - if that is your desire, kind soul. But not at this moment, not now. The kitchen is normally suffused with the smell of baking and food coming to temperature, cheese and bacon in the grills, the subtle smell of freshly cut salad, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce - but not at this moment, not now. The kitchen is a place to find laughter, chatting, the busy industry of the church-catering enterprise - such tonic, such balm for the ears amid the stresses of life - but not at this moment, not now. 

In this moment the drain had backed up, the lid had flipped and its goo had poured forth all across the floor of the kitchen. The smell of fresh baking was replaced by a more dubious odour. The calm serenity of a working kitchen was supplanted by the screams of psychotic harridans - one whirling in tight circles in one direction, one in tighter circles the other direction - like a malevolent Tasmanian Devil. The scene is one of panic and screaming, unknowing and tension - noise and haste all colliding and crashing in on one another. The pastry lady was at her wits end, the sandwich lady at the end of her tether. The mess was awful, it was everywhere - what to do, what to do - please God, help us! Their feet were wet and gooey their moods fractured, the noise levels rose to fever pitch ... except for the washer-upper in chief

....he was stood still, ankle deep in drain gunge, singing Kum Bah Ya

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Seeing Through Bloggles

A post emerged on Lesley's Blog earlier today which has precipitated another post by me about this fool's art of ours - blogging. In hers she bewailed the lack of space and time in her life, that among the other needs of her existence, her blogging was suffering. It is a common problem (well, it isn't at all, only nutters like me and her blog so fortunately it is a very rare problem indeed, but anyway ...)

If you are thinking about starting a blog, I shall now pour my wisdom down into this post so that ye may see and learn ye the arte of ye blogger. 

1. What to call your blog. Now, you can be canny or dull. They will have forgive me for so saying but 'RevXXXs Blog' is pants (no comment about BpXXXs Blog, of course) - be creative, and for my part, be honest - be you. You will work over this issue for hours, trust me.

2. Your first post - you won't know what or why you are writing. You have no audience, no readers, no followers (you will learn that there is a distinction to be made between the two). So you will write some inane apologetic drivel (I can speak only for myself, not you dear reader) and either delete it immediately and get back to Coronation Street, or press 'Publish' and wince as you realise that you might have done something really silly.

3. Your first feedback - one day (and it will happen, however good or pants you are) someone will confess that they have read your blog. Loverly! They will not be the person you had expected and if you are like me and write some dodgy stuff, having such a reader who is a nice respectable old lady is alarming. You will learn to cope with that. Eventually, you will earn a follower - a member of that Confraternity Of Blog Followers who many years ago were denied the right to vote or eat with sharp objects. They live in the dark hours and feed on Blog material. I am also given to understand that they glow in the dark, but attract them you will. 

4. Your first Comment - more often than not from some anonymous sort who wants to offer advise! You learn quickly to moderate comments not not let them emerge freely. We love comments, good or ill - it tells us that what we are writing is being read and has engaged someone somewhere - QED the blog is justified. 

5. Counters and Rankings - eventually, in most cases, the blogger succumbs to the inner itch of wanting to know how many people read the thing at all. Google Analytics, Feedjit, Wikio, Technorati - all become sites you hastily join and add their widgets (toys, just toys) to your site. I guarantee you, before you have fed the kids, emptied your bladder or even turned on the kettle the next morning, you are looking at your Stats screen, and will probably be delighted by the numbers. Wow - eight people read me. You are now a Delinquent Blogger.

6. Frequency - oh yes, Delinquent Blogger, you will soon become addicted. Charts will show upward trends and you will soon learn that if you post a dozen times a day (you will even resort to banging out the odd You Tube clip to make up numbers) you get lots more hits. In an effort to resist the urge to dribble like a fool, you will take to caffiene and murmer gently to yourselves. 

7. Holidays - the time will come when you will need to prize yourself away from your hard-won audience. Quelle domage! Resist the urge to feel like you are letting people down by not blogging. The Glowing Followers have sixty or seventy Blogs apiece upon which to feed, and will be there when you get back. Take a  break, you have not let them down. Never ever ever be tempted to take wireless GPRS enabled gismos away on holiday - you will blog your holiday and that just isn't cool (unless it is a working trip to Jerusalem, in which case it is an act of charity and kindness - of course).

The thing is this - for anyone other than a paid professional blogging journalist, this is just a hobby. We all fall into the trap of thinking that our thoughts and words are needed, that we have a duty to blog, a right even. After God, family, work/ministry, prayer, self, sleep, coffee, toilets stops, oven cleaning, drain unblocking, nose picking, bum scratching and belching the alphabet - only then is blogging on the list of things we must do in a day. Dear friend, the minute it rises up that list is the moment to stop and take a break.

I will be soon opening the world's first Clinic for Blogging Addiction - don't let me see you in there, as the prognosis is poor, and you will find yourself surrounded by grey-skinned, stooping bulge-eyed Gollom lookalikes - all of whom have assumed the physical appearance of The Delinquent daylight starved Blogger!

...perhaps it's just me then

Monday, 25 October 2010

Fact is funnier than Fiction



For a giggle .... mostly!

Anamnesis


This is my article for my forthcoming Parish Magazine - placed here so I don't have to write it twice! 
 ~~~
November is a month most associated with a key Christian behaviour—remembrance [anamnesis / ἀνάμνησις].
As many of you may know, I have just returned from a two week Seminar at the International Centre for Holocaust Studies based in Jerusalem. The school forms part of the Yad Vashem institute which was created by legal decree in the 1950s, and its name is taken from Isaiah 56:5: ‘I will give, in my house and within my walls, a memory and a name’   -   יד ושמ  - and as it suggests, is an establishment entrusted with the responsibility and task of recovering and commemorating the identities of most of the six-million Jewish victims of the Holocaust/Shoah.
This month will manifest its most famous tradition of ‘anamnesis’ in Britain — Remembrance Day when of course we remember yet more victims of conflicts throughout our recent history. We will pause once or maybe more times for a minute or two to remember those who died to assure us of a freedom that we enjoy in our day, closing that moment with the words ‘we will remember them’.
A key part (and indeed a necessary part) of the great prayer of consecration which we pray during our Eucharist services at various times during every week is the Anamnesis—’we remember his dying and rising in glory…’ - the moment when we as Christians connect with the narrative of love and sacrifice embodied by Our Lord.
In all of these things we acknowledge that we are connected with a heritage, a past that has helped form us and continues to form us in the present. Our world is one of hurried progress, or a striving always to move forwards—and of course this is right and proper in its own way—but it is for nothing if we don’t remember. To fail to remember, to connect. renders us all as accidents in time and space, and as God’s People we are certainly not that. During the course of this month we will also draw to the end of another Liturgical / Church year and we wish ourselves ‘Happy New Year’ on Advent Sunday, maybe even opening a door on a calendar. It is right to take stock of the challenges and successes of the year that draws to its close so that we are best prepared for the year that opens out before us. We can pray for lost loved ones, celebrate our new arrivals, give thanks for many blessings and ponder the lessons learned from situations that didn’t go as we might have chosen. May God bless you all this month as we begin to prepare once again to remember the great moment of the Incarnation, itself a precious moment amid the chaos of daily life, itself connecting past with present so that all people may have a future.
Fr David
 ~~~~
NB - I can manage to write like a proper vicar when I have to!

On Being 'Loved to Death'

During my recent sojourn in Jersualem (had I mentioned that I had been to Jerusalem? No! Sorry - thought I had) we sat and listened to a very senior Rabbi, British born, who has the ear of the Pope and Tony Blair (to some of you, both these names would indicate a poor man who needs help, but I encourage you not to be churlish). In short, he is a Rabbi who knows his stuff and is a very influential player in the Jewish-Christian dialogue.

His words, not mine: "We [the Chief Rabbinate of Jersualem] don't really want to deal with Evangelicals; they just want to love us to death. It is hard to sit in a room with people who are only interested in converting us". 

In many quarters this is how all Christians are regarded, as a scythe-blade of supercessionists who are only happy when converting the world. I wanted to deny this assessment but then I thought back to just two experiences of my own:

1. When I was 19, and well beyond the point in my life when I felt a sense of calling, had put in 16 good committed years to church life, and had started to read Theology, I ambled into a church with a friend. It was a charismatic church, a superbeast of a place, but despite appearances I am a very open-minded chap, and my friend wanted to try the place out! Within an hour I had been identified, separated, and moved to a small room with three or four others - where I was invited to accept Jesus as Lord - they refused to accept my confession that I really was already spliced with Mother Church. Perhaps it is because I didn't put my hand up during the singing [I didn't need the toilet] that caused me to be identified. Needless to say I left - upset, vowing never to return to the place.
2. I was chatting to a homeless geezer who I used to help out with some electricity and provisions when he was selling Big Issue outside my emporium. He had told me of another Godshop that had invited him and a load of his mates in for a lovely hot dinner one hard winter. He gladly accepted, but while they ate, they were invited to accept Jesus as Lord, or [and I speak the truth] they would all end up in Hell. He had stood up himself to tell the swanky-suited sir that being homeless is as close to Hell as it gets, so it didn't matter if he accepted the invitation or not, really - but thanks for the chow!

It seems that most [yes, these days it seems to be 'most'] Christians are hell-bent on converting the world. Sixteen gazillion lovely people have been exposed to the Alpha Course (though I note that church numbers are still slipping, so where did they go? - a post for later), and mission after mission pop off like firecrackers 

- but what are we converting these people to?

Our church is becoming polarised. If you aren't an Evanglical, you are more than likely going to be an Anglo-Catholic (until half their clergy bugger off - thanks boys, nice one ... not) - but very few are in the middle. The middle used to be a large swathe of church life where it seemed to me the real growing was taking part. It was the middle where the heat of charismatic worship and the correctness of catholic liturgy were set aside and nurturing took place. The middle is where families took their kids, where they did the prayers once in a while. The middle is where the sense seems to be spoken - the liberal view.

So what are we feverishly converting people to?

Christians have, I think become embarrassed about church life. We are so keen to specialise it that we have stopped some of the things that people know and love. Jumble Sales and Tombolas, Harvest Festivals and Cake Stalls have given way to Introduction Offers for the Newly Recruited - a course, some Tongues for some, a homegroup where you can properly intitiated and loved to death. 

Then what .... ?
What then .... ?
Anwers on a postcard.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Detescofication

No, I haven't got something stuck in my throat - I have been prondering the future effects of the Comprehensive Spending Review. 

As I sat and watched Gideon unwrap his plans I wondered what the real-time results would be. I noted, with some amusement that the word 'cut' was habitually replaced with the word 'saving' - prestidigitation perhaps but a shroud to the truth nonetheless. They are savings only for the Government, but without exception cuts for the rest of us. Euphemistic speechmaking at its best!

Anyhoo - I didn't want to become party political here so I won't. My role as priest is to watch and wait for the effects of these marvellous savings to become reality for the people among whom I work and to walk with them as they feel the pinch in their own way. 490,000 lost jobs - wow - that is two-thirds of the population of Buckinghamshire!

It seems to me that simple measures are the way forward, and this is but one example (not a comprehensive savings review) - and it surrounds the redistribution of wealth.

Using retail as an example, I turn my attention to Tesco. I am an example of Tescofied Man; a one-stop shopper, preferably online, for all my family's needs. Shame on me! I wonder what positive effect there would be on our local society if we all relied more on the local traders for our produce (lest we forget that it is still the harvest season). If I gave my bakery business to the High Street baker, my meat needs to the High Street butcher, my fruit and veg needs to the High Street greengrocers - and so on. I know Tesco employs lots of people, but employees-per-customer ratios for Tesco must be far lower than those for my local Butcher etc. Soon, many people will need jobs, and if we allow our shopping pounds to be more widely distributed, I wonder if more people will find some greater sense of security, that more jobs might be created somewhere. Maybe I am wrong, but I don't think so. 

For me, my Tescofication is a product of over-busy living, convenience and yes, laziness. I need to rethink how I live, and yes, even spend just a pound or two more on what I buy. Surely it would be better for every shopper to spend a tenner a week more on their needs and for that money to more more widely distributed not among shareholders, but among the business stakeholders in their own community. I must also commit to this on an ethical level too, and the excesses of some Fairtradeism might have to be re-thought too. 

In short, we as Christians need to support, first and foremost, our communities and neighbours. It will cost us time, cash and convenience, but in an age where the word 'saving' means 'redundancy' then we have little choice.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Mojo

I have good news and I have bad news - or bad news and bad news depending on your point of view:

The Curate is back, but I can't find my Mojo!

I have just returned from a fortnight in Jerusalem studying at the International School for Holocaust Studies, and since my return have shivered and frankly, lied a lot. I left Tel Aviv on a day when its temperature peaked at 41 degrees, and now languish in my corner of middle-England that is petrified under the oppressive temperatures scaling the dizzy heights of -1! 

Yeah, baby, yeah! I said I had lied a lot and I know you have scanned down to this point to find out how. Well, my lovely friends and family, upon my return, have asked: 'Did you have a good time?'. I say 'yes, thanks, it was a wonderful experience - a real opportunity'. I lied. The real answer is 'the experience was life-changing and valuable, but my heart was ripped out and sacrificed on the altar of ideological genocides; I have seen things that will give me nightmares for the years (and already have); but otherwise great, thanks'!

I am not complaining, for as a man I am unaccustomed to such a thing as that - but I returned to this blog from the other one I have been doing wondering how on earth I could be The Vernacular Curate again. Suddenly [for me, even if not for you] this stuff seems grotesquely trite and facile (and quite unlike the levitous Lesley's Journo-Blog) - hey ho!

With all this in mind, a dear friend (a reader - and good morning to you, for you will know who you are, Brother) stopped me yesterday and thanked me for this eyewash - a kindness for which I am deeply grateful. 

So, kids - I am back, but I seem to be devoid of me Mojo, Man. I deign to write this in the shadow of so much death and evil as this for me is living, and living is what I have to do. Life is the gift I am granted and if someone somewhere smiles or is glad to have visited this site, I have done some good in a world where we need every little bit of it we can.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Look Elsewhere, The Curate is not here

Brother and sisters - while I am resident in Jerusalem for the Yad Vashem / CCJ Clergy Conference, I will be blogging under the alternative title


Please join me there - technology allowing. 

Friday, 1 October 2010

What I Have Learned

Blogging, and all things 'social meejya' are a new thing to me. I have been ordained a mere two years but the idea of Twittering while sitting in a theological collage lecture, desirable as that may seem, was just not a possibility. 

Blogging is another thing. Whilst around some time longer, it had the same qualities to me that journalling ones spiritual life. It was only me who didn't toddle into a prayer sesh with a notepad. 

Facebook caught me half-way through. It is a blessing and a curse, though I have stopped accepting application after application. I have no desire to manage a farm, be a pirate or pretend to own a Bugatti Veyron, though I did dabble with that for a while. I am of the old school  - pre-chat Facebook. Then you could log on, race your invisible car or blat some alien or other, accept ninety people as 'friends' although they aren't, then go home to bed. Now, you have to dive and out before someone spots you and chats. It is not that I don't want them to chat, it is more that I feel bad if don't reply to them when they start a conversation.

Anyhoo, this is me babbling. Twitter and blogging have put me into circles of people that I would never have dreamed of being amongst - an eclectic crew from all edges of whatever spectrum you have in mind. God bless them all and thanks to them for their company in all of this. I recognise the profound and valuable opportunity that this stuff has for a Christian with a mission-heart, as I hope I do. I don't regard it as an evangelistic tool per se, but certainly as a carrier of my God-virus.

Twitter is awash with the pious scrawling pious things ALL THE TIME, and it grates. Blogs are peppered with oddities which make one feel uncomforatable reading. Some make me feel that I am looking through a bathroom keyhole at shower time, and I don't think I like feeling that way. However, they are also wonderful places where people can get to know other people. 

Through Twitter and blogging in particular, I have learned to be me, the ordained me - that is, the me before but ordained, not some God-botherer with a halo. I have discovered that people actually seem to respond to who I am, not who I think I should be. We bloggers think we draw pencil-line drawings of our lives, when in fact the lines we drawn connect end to end, forming a vision of us that only those who read can identifiy, like some dot-to-dot picture. I have fast discovered that the best I can do for me and therefore for God, is to just relax and be me, infectiously, authentically me. Those who don't like can lump it or comment and argue with me (either is fine) - but may God bless this thing that we do. It actually does seem to make a small difference!

Soft Squidgy Bits

Some time has elapsed between the events that I am about to describe and this moment in time, so I can talk about them more comfortably. 

I might be a gob-on-a-stick here, but in truth I am a very private man who is incredibly private about private things, so this post will pain me. I have a clear purpose in writing it, however. 

Last new year, I did the whole 'resolution' thing. Eat less, drink less, pray more, take more time, enable more free time for Mrs Acular, devote more time to the Twins Aculae, and so on .... My other resolution was self-examination of an intimate nature, for health reasons.

Like a responsible adult male, I examined my testicles, but in a rather half-hearted sort of way - the way you look behind the sofa cushions hoping to find a tenner when you know you won't. Well, on my first flight, I discovered a lump on on my crown-jewels.

A funny set of things then happened, all automatically, all in quick succession. I didn't panic but I consigned the moment to my permanent memory. I recognised that this lump had the potential to be serious and maybe even life threatening. I felt a grief that there was the faintest chance that I might not see my babies grow into the beautiful women I expect them to. In that moment, I was again reassured I had married the right woman, was doing the work I was born to do, but that I really did need to sort out my will. I felt sad for me. I like being me, and I didn't want to stop being me. Being me has its ups and downs but it is fairly jolly in the end. I wondered how dying would feel and whether I would be any good at it. I knew in a moment that I must spare my wife the duty of compiling my funeral and that I must write my own. I was clear that the family would cope and that we have planned properly for such an eventuality, so that was ok! I was scared though. I was a little boy in those split seconds and I wanted my mum.  I was mortal and one way or the other, I would die.

Later tests revealed that it was a cyst, thank God. Oddly, I discovered at the same time that one of my kidneys is rather mashed up, but I didn't care really - not when I had my trews about my ankles and a kid of a sonographer playing with my knackers, things were already odd enough thanks. Anyway, the cyst remains and here I am a few months later aching with embarrassment that I am talking about my balls. 

The reason I have written this is that I must demand that all men reading this examine themselves next opportunity. Part of my own emotion at the time was that I feared that I had maybe missed the lump for months and that it might become terribly bad by then - the what-ifs. Gentlemen, you have my permission to go and fiddle with your rocks - go do it, and do it quickly - then again in a month and then again.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...