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  • Attracting a Wide Audience!

    So, not only is my conference paper now done (well there is one phrase I might still alter at the last minute) the list of people who want to read or hear it is getting lionger and longer!

    Some of the interest is, I am sure, the kindly support of friends either who have/had cancer or are minister types but there does seem to be some more general interest, the latest addition to the list being my hairdresser!  All spruced up and ready to go to NZ now, no more sheep dog look for a week or two.

    I am not entirely sure how the IPR and copyright works out with something that will published within conference proceedings - but I might pick up the suggestion of my hairdresser and consider presenting it (or a version of it*) to a local audience too.  Watch this space.


    * the paper uses anonymised examples that would be immediately recognisable to a local audience and so might not be suitable, without serious editting, for such use.

  • Done!

    That's it.  Conference paper finished.  Very chuffed.

    Just seen the set of abstracts and some really interesting papers to look forward to - and some intriguing pairings of papers/presenters.

    Now I can just concentrate on the final travel plans...

  • Different Drum(mers)

    As part of my preparation for Sunday I have been researching the origins of the phrase 'marching to the beat of a different drummer' - seems the version I was told in Sunday school about 35 years ago was decidedly iffy, but the core message obviously stayed with me!

    All the thinking brought back to mind the once popular song ''Different Drum', which, thanks to the wonders of Google I can tell you, was released around 1968 (sites vary!) by Linda Rondstat and the Stone Poneys:

    Listening to it again and reading the lyrcis reminded me of my indepent twenty-something self :

    ...All I'm saying [is] I'm not ready
    For any person, place or thing
    To try and pull the reins in on me...

    Given its date, I suspect there may be an allusion to 'free love' over against commitment, but the words reminded me of my younger self who was happily single and following the beat of a different drum from many friends who were marrying and starting families.

    All these years later I have no regrets, I still follow a drum that few would choose or accept, and for me it is the right one.  I guess that's ultimately what matters.

    Nice to hear the song again anyway!

  • More Light?

    Today's PAYG centred on Mark 4: 21- 25

    He said to them, ‘Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’ And he said to them, ‘Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.’

    It's one those familiar parables that seems self-explanatory, that all the meaning has been wrung from it, that the light it provides has been uncovered... or has it?

    As I listened this morning I was struck by the suggested motive of 'hiding' and 'secret' which is evidently 'disclosure' and 'coming to light.'  These seem actually quite positive reasons for hiding something until the time is right for it to be revealed... it reminded me of the way parents hide presents so that their children will be surprised on their birthday or at Christmas... it reminded me of surprise parties and mystery trips, planned to bring joy and pleasure to the recipient.  You don't hide a lamp that you bring into a house because it is self-evident that you bring it in for immediate use - but maybe other things are legitimately hidden or concealed 'for now.  As I type this, I find vague stirrings of a memory that a 'hidden messiah' motif may be present in Mark - all the 'say nothing to anyone' commands because it is not yet time for the grand 'reveal'.

    I was also struck afresh by the 'measure for measure' message, usually seen as a kind of generous reciprocity: if you are kind you will receive kindness, generous generosity, etc. etc.  And if you don't have these then you will lack them even more.  But can this be read in the converse?  If you are angry you will receive anger, bitter bitterness, vengeful vengeance, etc. etc?  And it you do not have these characteristics does their potential grow less? 

    Many years ago, having not long moved house, I was chatting to someone in a similar situation.  Commenting that people seemed to be friendly she observed that she had always been told that you find what you expect - if you expect people to be friendly, you will be friendly yourself, and vice versa.  It may not be entirely true, but its not a bad starting point.  'What you give is what you get' - if you expect the good you will find good.  'What you don't have will dwindle away' - values, attitude, practices, those we cultivate grow stronger, those we neglect decline.

    All very fine and dandy but ultimately, 'so what'?  There seems to be something here about self-awareness and deliberately choosing to ‘grow’ positive attitudes to the inevitable detriment of negative ones.  Something about seeking and expecting to find good in others.  Something about the surprised delight when something that was ‘hidden’ or ‘secret’ is discovered – whether that is new knowledge, new friendship or shared understandings.

    This may be in no measure :-) what the parable is about but it certainly brought a little more light to my thinking and reflecting.

  • Worth the effort...

    In a bit of a Theresa of Avila moment, I will say for the umpteenth time how much of a slog it has been to write my conference paper.  I think it is nearly there now - need to shed about 300 words from the 'to read' version and move some stuff into an appendix for the 'to publish' version but overall, it's not looking too bad now.  It has definitely given me a sense of resolution that acadmeic research is not going to feature on my horizon any time soon.


    Over the last couple of weeks I have begun to feel the benefit of the hard work as every now and then ideas pop into my mind as I walk to or from church.  This has echoes of the walks into Manchester city centre of my student days, when I used to map out essays on paper serviettes whilst supping my skinny fairtrade latte in the foodcourt of the Arndale Centre.

    This in turn gives me new energy with which to reasearch and reflect ahead of writing my sermons, and which hopefully means what I deliver is more interesting and inspired.

    With that wonderful thing called hindsight, perhaps I soldiered on for too long before taking my sabbatical and then was so eager to get the most from it that I undertook way too much - certainly, whilst I really enjoyed it, I did not find it as refreshing or invigorating as I had hoped.  Or perhaps it is just that now is the 'favourable time', that the rash decision to offer a conference paper and the huge demands it has made on me have worked together for good, giving me renewed confidence for the challenges that lie, as yet unseen, just around the corner? Time will tell.  Whatever the future brings, for me at least it has been well worth the effort.