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  • Who would you choose? (A totally frivolous post)

    In recent weeks a bit of a debate has been breaking out in Dibley about who is 'The Thinking Baptist Woman's Crumpet' - so this is a really unworthy post to let you know our views!  You have to bear in mind that I am the youngest person who has taken part in this discussion, which may reflect our choices.  And of course, all this is utterly holy appreciation of God's wonderful creation.

    Straight in at Number 1 is Trevor Eve whose rugged good looks have many of my 70 somethings all atremble!  He also appeals to those of us of more tender years.

    The other two main contenders are Martin Shaw (aka Judge John Deed) and Neil Pearson - maybe reflecting the views of those of us who are too young to have appreciated the looks of Eddie Shoestring - Trevor Eve's first major TV role.

    So, who would you choose?!  (And who has the potential to cause Baptist males to need to gouge out their eyes?!)

  • Careless Headlines

    Chapelcross (pic by Neil Burns) 

    (Picture nicked from BBC news website)

    On the 6 a.m. Radio news this morning (don't ask) one of the headlines was that a nuclear power station in Scotland was to be blown up this morning.  Now that is careless - careless headlining that is - blowing up a nuclear power station is exactly what you must not do.  Let's just wipe out Annan and its envrions; I don't think so.

    They actually blew up some cooling towers - just the same things you get at coal, oil or gas power stations.  Things that, unless something went drastically wrong, have never been 'nuked' as the saying goes.  Lots of people came out to watch the event apparently - so presumably fear of getting zapped themsleves by nasty stray neutrons (or alphas, betas or gammas) was allayed.

    What it made me wonder though, as happens every time I hear a careless headline, is how much other rubbish I swallow whole because I know no different.  What a massive responsibility it is to speak to the public... 

  • Handspammed by Roberts?

    Giving my age away - the old 'hand-built by robots' advert for Fiat (I think) and Typepad's and Blogger's antispam verification systems.

    Typepad do a delightful black on black system (or that's how it appears on my PC) with a sort of fingerprint design for the background.  Usually it takes about four goes before I can decipher the letters/numbers from the background - and my colour and close vision is good.

    Blogger seems to need me to adjust my internet privacy settings to 'allow all cookies' and then gives brightly coloured wavy writing for me to copy.

    Blogspirit once in a blue moon ask for a verification a bit like Blogger (Google) but without the need to alter settings; usually they just let me post my comments.

    I guess I am left wondering if the desire to prevent "automated robots" actually just ends up putting off real people from commenting or if it is just a cunning anti-Catriona device?!

  • Best and Worst

    I have managed to get myself into a bit of hot water in some circles by posting my dislike of a certain worship song, but hey, I make no secret of my opinion of this song and people are free to disagree.

    I have always believed that all songs and hymns are created out of a genuine desire to offer praise, worship etc to God, and that quite a lot of the time our likes and dislikes are more about taste than theology.  At the same time there is a theory - which I don't entirely subscribe to - that says, essentially, what we sing shapes what we believe.  One way and another, what we sing is important.

    A few years ago I did some work looking at Christian and Hindu iconography for an essay I was writing, an exercise that made me realise how lax western protestantism, and particularly evangelical protestantism, is about training its artists and song writers.  In Orthodox traditions, in order to be a Christian icon painter, a person must first be trained in theology - they are not just painting nice pictures.  Similarly, although the statues used by Hindus can be made by skilled artisans, only a suitably trained and 'ordained' person can dot the eyes, invoking the deity.  How different from our banner groups who are generally composed of people who like sewing and have not a clue about liturgy or theology.  I wonder if the same is true of many of those who write hymns and songs?

    'Good theology' does not automatically mean theology I agree with, rather it is grounded in careful study and prayerful reflection.   In my view, the hymns and songs with the best theology - whether or not I like or endorse them - are written by people with some theological background.  Hence, if asked for 'good theology' I would probably point to people such as Timothy Dudley Smith, Brian Wren and John Bell - to choose without much thought three rather different 'schools' - and away from some of the things that are popular in big gatherings, even when it draws very heavily on verses of scripture.  Let's face it, if I could write songs (which thankfully I can't) I could have "fun" with things like the end of Psalm 137 (dashing babies' heads on rocks) or Proverbs 26:11 (dogs and vomit).

    So, prompted by one or two others, this is your chance to share your views and/or the best and worst hymns/songs you have encountered.  I recognise that it is easy to criticise, and I am sure the writers do indeed intend to offer worship, but maybe sometimes we need to be a little more critically aware of what we sing?  Offers please!

  • Balance?

    It's a word I've been hearing a lot this last week - a week in which physical and mental exhaustion has loomed ever larger and my ratty levels have been getting higher and higher.

    So here it is.  On the one hand I really enjoy, and feed on, the banter, disagreement, playfulness, profundity and even banality of the stuff that floats around cyberspace.  On the other hand I am constantly challenged by questions of justice, of poverty, of what it really means to be a disicple of Jesus.  But on the other hand... (its OK my Jewish ancestry allows me more than two hands with which to weigh things up!).

    On the one hand, by UK standards I have a modest income, work long hours, and live a fairly basic lifestyle.  On the other hand by world standards I have an enormous income, enviable freedom and live in luxury.

    On the one hand I am enjoying researching academic theology and believe that one day it will have a practical outworking.  On the other hand there are the day to day practicalities of attempting to lead a small congregation through humungous (spelling?) transition at a time when daily more people hit major personal crises.

    On the one hand is a call to lead a church, on the other to care for them, and on the third (!) to be their servant.  How do I reconcile being paid by people with needing to challenge them about disicpleship?  How much does one who pays the piper have the right to call the tune?

    Finding balance is incredibly tricky, and I am really bad at it!  I think that life is so incredibly complicated that I could send myself insane trying to work out just what I ought to worry about.  So instead I plod on doing the best I can and every now and then needing a little splenic venting!

    I suspect I will spend the rest of my life trying to find this balance, and never finally succeed.  Maybe being aware of the questions is a step in the right direction?  Any thoughts from those who manage it better than I?