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  • Chugging Nuisance

    See, say I'm probably taking a break and words come in to my head... works almost every time. 

    Anyway, bit of a GOW one perhaps.

    Chuggers... Charity Muggers... not my expression, one I was given by someone who tried to earn a living doing it for a while.  People who stand in the street wearing charity tabbards or tee-shirts, holding clip boards and trying to sign up passers-by to make regular donations

    This week I have been 'chugged' by I don't know how many chuggers.  Three separate lots for Shelter, one lot for Unicef and, if Big Issue venders can be included, albeit at one remove, umpteen others.  In total, on Monday, as I walked along one street, passing three sets of Chuggers, I was accosted three times, and managed to evade something like 15 others, not counting the Big Issue vendors every few yards.  I have to assume that it is cost effective for the charities, that the revenue it draws in exceeds the cost.  But I find it increasingly annoying to be pounced on and to be told I "only" need to give "this much a month" by someone who has no clue of my personal circumstances or financial wealth.  Telling them I already give away X% of my income seems to make no odds; telling them (if true) that I already support their charity often leads to curt dismissal; daring to ask about the charity, how it spends its money, what it's aims are etc usually elicits a blank look.  It must be soul destroying work, pretending to be cheerful all day long, standing in the street on a cold, wet day with targets to meet on mugs supporters signed up.  But increasingly I just find it a nuisance.  I go to town, or even along the road outside the church, for a reason ... and being 'chugged' is not it.

    Perhaps all this serves as reminder to take some time to sit down and review my planned charitable giving, and to think how choose which causes to give to 'spontaneously' via street collections, as well as which, if any, special fundraisers I want to be part of this year.  I used to quite like 'flag days' as they were then called when I was a child... I guess they felt more friendly than the strategic pounces of the chuggers of today.

  • Writer's Block?

    Two posts in one day is not unusual for me, but this one just notes that at the moment I am not finding much worth blogging about, or if it is, then the words aren't flowing very well, so please don't panic if I'm a bit quieter for a while.  I seem to have a bit of writer's block, so what creativity I do have is being reserved for my sermons/services!

    Mind you, usually when I say this the next few days become extra plethoric...

  • The Joy of the Present Moment

    A number of years back I did a day's training on supporting people with dementia from a spiritual/chaplaincy perspective, and this was the title of one session.  The idea was that connections can be made, if only temporarily and fleetingly, that bring joy/delight/hope to the person whose life is blighted by the disease.  However, I think as a phrase it also expresses something of the 'present-mindedness' we considered on Sunday.

    The phrase 'present moment' as used in Leicestershire equates to the 'just now' of Glasgow or the 'at the minute' of Northamptonshire... it is a slightly woolly/slippery term, but everyone seems to know what it means, that it is more than merely this precise point in human chronology.

    The joy of the present moment, then is something about indefatigable positivity in the here-and-now, the meantime now-and-not-yet, in which our lives are so often spent.  The joy of the present moment means not being bound by our past (whether happy nostalgia or bitter regrets) at one extreme nor our future (hopeful ambitions or evasive procrastination) at the other.  Both past and future have a place in our thinking, and each will shape our living, but present-mindedness means most of our energy centres on 'now.'

    And so present-mindedness, if joyful, has a 'attitude of gratitude' as I found myself saying on Sunday, that counts its blessings and looks for silver linings without sliding into unhelpful Pollyanna fake-gladness.  Present-mindedness helps put meaning back into waiting time.  Rather than empty time until the thing we are waiting for happens, it is, in and of itself, valuable... whether as time to reflect, time to pray, time to relax or whatever it is.

    I'll try to remember that next time I'm stuck in a traffic queue on the motorway, or a medical appointment is delayed by two hours, or the queue in the post office  seems to have ground to a halt...

  • Nostalgia

    Today, being my day off and the sun shining, I jumped on a train to Edinburgh.  Once there, and realising how much has been dug up for the ill-fated tram system, I eventually wound up at the castle where my English Heritage card got me in 'free' as part of the reciprocal hoojamaflip.  And so to nostalgia... I think it is forty years since I was inside the castle walls.  A rare trip to visit my grandparents in Glasgow which, so far as I recal,l also included days trips to Blantyre and Dunoon... best revisit them again too!

    I can't recall all that much about the last trip to Edinburgh castle, apart from the one o'clock gun.  A memory that is aided I am sure but a now faded black and white polaroid photo taken by my Dad.  I remember seeing soldiers in tartan trews, and am fairly sure that the man who fired the gun wore camouflage combats; failing that it would have been khaki.  I remember the soldiers with very short hair, shiny boots and almost equally shiny faces.  You could get right up to the gun and it was exciting for a child to witness.

    Today the gun is in a chained area to keep the public a safe distance away - though one small boy of overseas appearance ducked under two sets of chains to take a photograph causing consternation for the staff.  No mishaps, fortunately, it was still a few minutes to one.  And the soldier came out, loaded and fired the gun, cleaned the breach and posed for photos with the tourists who wasted no time in grasping the arm of one of HM's armed forces.  The soldier, in dress uniform with white gloves and shiny shoes was a woman, about my age, with a rather dishevelled pony tail... I smiled to myself.  A lot has changed in the last forty years.

    I wonder if in forty years time a man will scan old photos for his childhood holiday in Scotland and remember ducking under chains to reach the one o'clock gun?  I wonder if he returns in forty years, will the gun still be fired?

    A good day, a day of gentle pleasures and happy memories.

  • Beyond 400

    There is new bloggy type website of the above name, which has some of the more creative thinkers in BUGB reflecting on the way forward of that expression of Baptistness in Britain.  I chose my words in that sentence carefully!

    The Baptist movement in Britain began four hundred years ago, there or there abouts, and anyone who has any connection with Baptists in the East Midlands (which in my view is the cradle of English protestant non-Conformity) will know that 'it all began here' no matter what anyone from elsewhere may claim.  Smyth and Helwys were what came to be termed General Baptists, something glossed over in many tellings of the story, in which the Particulars eventually gained prominence.  All of which if not irrelevant, is not really what this post is about.

    As BUGB try to discern their way into the future, the Beyond 400 bloggy thing invokes conversation from men and women, liberal and conservative, young and old and, I am assured, beyond England.  Forty people share their thoughts and via a, so far well used, comment facility (which allow guest comments) some interesting conversations are emerging.

    Of course, the fact that one commenter seems to think that BUGB is four hundred years old worries me, especially as they are commenting on a thread with a clear emphasis on the import of knowing and understanding our history (yeay, huzzah) but even the misapprehensions must help in discerning both the present context and the way forward.

    Who knows, someone may even finish the research work I started and find a better way of telling the story so that a knowledge of our past will inform our present and shape our future...


    And of course, as my congregation are exploring the concept of 'active waiting' and 'spirituality, ministry and mission in the meantime' some comparing and contrasting might be interesting too.