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  • Beyond Sabbatical Studies...

    Recently two totally separate people alerted me to this upcoming conference/symposium in New Zealand next February, suggesting I might like to submit a paper.  Having contacted the organiser, he seems to think my work fits perfectly with what they are seeking (though I've been around long enough to know that conference organisers tend to be very glad of enquiries at this stage).

    Anyway, my working title is "Public Faith and Privtae Pain: A Quest for Authenticity" - and I have about three weeks to come up with a synopsis and get it sent off if I go ahead.

    What do any lovely blog readers think?

  • The Wanderer Returns

    A really relaxed and enjoyable weekend visiting a central London Baptist church whose minister said it was 'nice not having to explain' to a visiter what they were about.  And it was nice not having to cringe too!  Arriving on Friday I was a bit apprehensive, not least as my hosts would not arrive until Saturday and had entrusted their home to me.  Going into someone else's home always makes me a bit anxious, so the fact they weren't there compounded that - but all was well, and indeed the place had an 'air' or 'aura' of calm (at various times people have said that about my house but I've never really 'got' what they meant, to me it's home and it's noisy).

    It was good to see this church at work, to share worship with them (morning and evening) and to have some very, very long chats with the minister who was hosting me.

    Among the things that have struck me on my travels are

    • that a lot of Baptist churches like to think they that 'there's no-one like us' when actually we are all far more alike than we realise
    • that the myths that relate theological stance to size or dynamism are exactly that - myths.  Or at best generalisations; I've been to large liberal churches and tiny conservative ones
    • that the best place to serve after service refreshments is in the same room as you worship, or failing that immediately between it and the main exit
    • that the best after service refreshments are undisputably served at the Gathering Place
    • that independent coffee shops rule!!

    My travels have mainly been a source of encouragement... The Gathering Place holds its own among churches in similar contexts with similar challenges.  I don't think this is just a nice cosy consequence of visiting CLU (Churches Like Us), I think it it is a fair reflection on who and how we are.

    I now have four full weeeks based in Glasgow - and I am glad.  Travelling hither, thither and yon is fun, but takes its toll.  I think I know the West Coast Main Line, and parts of the East Coast Main Line better than I ever wanted to, and could get a job doing Virgin safety briefings in my sleep.

    Today is devoted to catching up on some domestic tasks with varying degrees of overdueness... booking someone to come and fix my washing machine (that's only taken me six months to organise) and booking my car in for its annual service and MOT (ouch).  I feel a big outpouring of stirling from my bank in the next couple of days... but it is only money and, as the saying goes, there're no pockets in shrouds!

    It's been a happy summer, and I am really grateful to have been permitted to spend it as I have.

  • Exporting... Importing...


    Goodies heading south for my hosts.... along with a nice piece of thoroughly English gala pork pie for me!!!

    Scotch pies

    Macaroni pies

    Sultana pancakes


    Tattie scones


    Macaroon bars

    Lorne sausage

    Island cheese (sic 'cheddar')


    Anyone heading north is invited to bring...

    Proper Eccles cakes

    Banbury cakes

    Bath buns

    Chelsea buns

    Blue Shropshire cheese

    Sage Derby cheese

    Red Windsor cheese


    Tater pie (Lancashire hotpot)

    Bedfordshire clanger

    And anything from Oliver Adams or Lawrence's bakers in Northampton


    Fair exchange is no robbery, I feel ;-)

  • Reality Check

    Thanks to Simon Woodman for leading me to this article citing Rowan Williams talking good sense... alas I'm not convinced Lord Carey emerges so well.

    Being teased, made fun of or ridiculed suggests that Christianity has - or maybe Christians, especially the stereotypical ones have - some degree of interest to other people.  I think that has to be preferrable to being ignored as irrelevent, doesn't it?  In any case, persecution it is not.

    The wearing of crosses - which seems to lie at the heart of so many claims of discrimination or persecution - really annoys me, there is no obligation or recommendation for Christians to wear crosses, fishes, doves, WWJD, PUSH, clerical collars, flowing robes or anything else whatsoever.

    Sometimes you might be forgiven that Jesus said: "if anyone would follow me let them go to their local jeweller, deny themself the price of a few large lattes and purchase an elegant silver cross which they will then wear visibly at every possibly opportunity" which was probably right after he said, "sinner, pray this little prayer with me and I'll give you a ticket for the glory train..."

    Alternative scripture plagiarised from Veronica Zundel via Simon Woodman.

  • Away Weekend - Again

    Tomorrow I head south again (I am getting to know Virgin's routes to/from Glasgow rather well!) to spend the weekend with a Baptist Church in London's theatre-land.  It will be interesting and informative, of that I am sure.

    A bit short of things to post this week - nice domesticity, friends round for tea, catching up on jobs and the usual little things that fill up time.

    After this weekend I need to do some concentrated writing up of my sabbatical reflections and begin to start the gentle stroll towards the reurn to normality come October.

    No cupcake baking this time - but I will nip to the shops to pick up a few Scottish delicacies to take to my hosts...