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  • Architectural Memories

    malcolm inglis npton.jpgMy endeavours to locate a photo of the carved Glasgow coat of arms in Northampton failed miserably, but I think this is part of the same building.  Thanks to mira66 for posting this image under a creative commons on Flickr.  (I hope this constitutes adequate attribution)

    So far as I can ascertain this company is long defunct and this is probably the only surviving building bearing their arms.

    Other branches were in Leeds, Leicester, Bristol, Manchester and London.

    It's always worth looking up when you're walking around as there often amazing, or at least interesting, bits of architecture to check out.

    (It seems  from other searches that this firm were tanning factors which fits in a shoe town)

  • 25 Books

    (Editted to work with MS Explorer)

    Just when you thought memes had died away...

    I was tagged to come up with 25 books that had 'made an impact on me in whatever way' and that it shouldn't involve too much thinking.  I deliberately opted not to have too much theology and mostly picked fiction.  Not planning on tagging anyone, but feel free to make your own list!  I didn't find it easy to get to 25 'significant' items.

    So here goes...

    1. Beauty and the Beast (Ladybird) the first book I remember reading over and over and over

    2. The Railway Children ( E Nesbitt) adventure, morality and even a bit of mild theology!

    3. Ballet Shoes (Noel Streatfield) especially Pauline who wanted to be an engineer! Even if as a child I never imagined I'd end up as one

    4. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) – I remember wondering what "the ch-olera" (as I mis-pronounced it was) and loving the story.

    5. Heidi (Johanna Spyri) – doesn't everyone read this?!

    6. Last Term at Mallory Towers (Enid Blyton) well there has to be something by her doesn't there... I collected and read the whole series. Always more Sally than Daryll and never understood why a girl had a boy's name (all the Darrells I'd met were male and thugs-in-training!)

    7. Tom Brown's Schooldays (Thomas Hughes) I loved this classic, and re-reading years later was amazed how rich the Christian overtones were.

    8. Winter Holiday (Arthur Ransome) and indeed all the Swallows and Amazons series; this was the first one I read.

    9. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) my all time favourite book! First read at age 11, regularly revisited.

    10. Eagle of the Ninth (Rosemary Sutcliffe) I cannot recall any of the story, but I do recall loving the whole series of historical novels

    11. Anne of Green Gables (L M Nongomery) which was serialised on the BBC and I later read the books. I think I probably envied her confidence and mischief.

    12. Jude the Obscure (Thomas Hardy) having been made to read Far from the Madding Crowd for 'O' level English and told to read more Hardy by our English teacher, this was my favourite. Some say it explains a lot!!

    13. God's Smuggler (Brother Andrew) which led to a long commitment to supporting Open Doors and sending money to smuggle Bibles. My one bit of deliberate law breaking ... even if it was USSR law.

    14. The Bible (!) Began reading regularly when I was 13; significantly, when I was about 20 I read it front to back in about a term... bad move... but I still read it almost daily. My absolute favourite book is the Letter of James, my call to ministry comes from 2 Timothy, my key ministry passages from Matthew, my favourite gospel is Luke and OT is Psalms. It always surprises me – something about being a living word I guess! (Is that really 66 entries?)

    15. Light a Penny Candle (Maeve Binchy) the first novel by this writer; I've read almost everything she's written but this was probably my favourite.

    16. Picnic in Eden (Sally Spenser) an amazing exploration of friendship. A 'dark' story, very dark, but I loved it.

    17. Today's Christian Women (Ann Warren) showed me there was life beyond Sunday School or tea –making (I was young a long time ago!)

    18. Step by Wicked Step (Anne Fine) and others by her. Read at a time when some friend's marriages were failing and re-juggling; it seemed funny and informative in equal measure. She tackles many issues creatively for children/youths.

    19. Skallagrig (William Horwood) a bit of mystery-cum-thriller exploring issues around learning disability.

    20. The Wonder Worker (Susan Howatch) whether it was this one or not, I'm not sure, but it was one of the trilogy, I then read the Starbridge series. Fantastic!

    21. Transforming Mission (David Bosch) seminal work on mission; massive impact on my thinking.

    22. Giraffes Can't Dance (Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees) a lovely book with a great message.

    23. The Book Thief (Marcus Zusak) a great story narrated by Death!

    24. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant) a fascinating twist on a lesser known Biblical tale from a different perspective

    25. The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips (Michael Morpurgo) a fabulous children's book set in WWII on the Channel Islands.

  • Three Decades in One Month?

    This morning I've been working on some reading for my sermon on Acts 15, and wondered what the time lapse was from Acts 10-11 which we looked at last time I preached.  I then wondered about the time lapses to Acts 17 and Acts 28, the other stopping off places in our journey through July and into August (four preaching Sundays).

    It seems that the book of Acts covers a period of roughly three decades and, as luck/serendipity/Sophia would have it, the four stories seem to occur pretty much equi-spaced throughout that time.  Thus, for example, around ten years elapse between Peter and Cornelius and the Council at Jerusalem.  I think this is significant/important and something that is easily missed... the issue of what was required of Gentiles was not resolved in a few days, the 'paradigm shift' wasn't achieved in the 'twinkling of an eye', it all took time, lots of it.  This is not the main thread in my upcoming sermon, but it's a valid one.

    Here's something to ponder, which may or may not find its way into the end result... What were the issues in church that occupied your mind a decade ago?  Are they still live today?  What has changed?  What hasn't changed?

    Rome - and the Church - was not built in a day.  Sometimes we need to be reminded of that.

    Oh, for amusement, according to the timeline I looked at, The Council at Jerusalem coincided roughly with the Roman invasion of Britain... I wonder where the use of wode/woad (spelling seems interchangeable) might have fitted in to the edicts given...?

  • Satire

    If you enjoy religious/Christian satire and/or if you live in or around Dibleyshire, you may like this. From the creator of the now disbanded Beaker Folk of Husbourne Crawley it will make you laugh, think, scowl or worry.  I was momentarily bothered that people might think this is how 'real' Baptists are, but my fears were allayed by this post.  Take a peek and hopefully enjoy.  I'll certainly be following with interest.

  • Truth in Fiction

    Last night's Rev was, for me, quite thought provoking, exploring the idea of clergy envy.  Adam is envious of the radio and TV vicar with whom he trained.  Late at night after one too many at Adam's vicarage, the media vicar admits his own loneliness and emptiness.  Granted he returns to type at the end of the episode (an utterly predictable final scene).  Two real themes: envy of the seemingly successful minister/ministry and loneliness/isolation of the ministerial office.

    I guess I'm fortunate not to suffer from envy, at least not very much, I did at one point wonder if I'd ever get a Baptism when the church down the road seemed to have droves of them!!  Similarly, I rarely feel lonely or isolated but of course it happens, it is an occupational hazard.  What the episode disclosed was some of the inherent dishonesty that pervades the church - that few dare admit their loneliness, emptiness, envy, feeling of failure or whatever.  Instead, all too often gatherings become the 'my church is better than yours' or 'I pray longer than you do' bragging leaving the tired, dried out, hardworking small, shrinking or stable-sized church minister feeling useless and alone.

    One of the themes explored in the university summer school was 'truth as pure honesty.'  There are (at least) two problems with this... firstly no one ever is that honest  and secondly no truth is ever pure and uninterpreted (I recalled a Susan Howatch character in the Starbridge series who wanted 'unvanrished truth' - there's no such animal).  At college our pastoral care/theology tutor used a concept of 'appropriate vulnerability' which is probably a useful foil for 'pure honesty.'  If ministers can learn to practice 'appropriately vulnerable honesty' with each other then I suspect the envy, isolation and a whole host of other struggles might be less pernicious.

    I am very glad of my networks of Revs, mainly VIKs but not only, with whom something of that is attempted, even if we may not always fully succeed.

    There are many hurt and hurting 'vicars' out there, I pray they may find safe-enough spaces to be vulnerable and honest.