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  • Dear Telephone Chuggers...

    I know you have a job to do, and I expect the pay is dreadful.  In fact I seem to recall someone telling me it is often related to how many mugs donors you manage to recruit.  But please will you learn to LISTEN to what I say (yes I do know about the arctic fox, the plight of the whale, the need for child sponsors in this or that nation, how terrible the regime is in that place, and so on and so forth).  And please don't chuckle away to yourself as you rattle through your script, it's really annoying.  Try to keep in mind that most people you call are a lot older than you, have heard a million times or more what you are saying, and have probably forgotten more about this regime or that environmental concern twenty years ago than you will ever know, so don't talk down to us as if we were eejits, numpties or came down the Clyde on a banana boat.  Oh yes, and when I say I already give away X% of my income (substantially larger than a tithe) and really cannot afford to take on even just £2.38 a week to save the one-horned, one-eyed, flying purple people eater I mean NO - and I am also NOT going to give you £1.69 instead.

    OK rant over!

    I do give a lot of money, both planned and spontaneous, to assorted charities and causes.  I do try to keep aware of what's what in the world.    I review and adjust my giving sometimes. I even try to be polite to the telephone chuggers.  But please, no more annoying calls from underpaid twenty-somethings who sound as if they have no more interest in the cause they represent than I do in reading the Hong Kong phone directory.



  • I never thought I'd be saying this but....

    ... I am going out shortly to buy myself a nice new book to use as a reflective journal!

    For the first two or three years of my engineering career, I had to maintain a 'training log book' - essentially a journal, writing about what I had learned each week and, in the parlance of nowadays, reflecting.  It was sometimes fun and sometimes a chore, and I did it dutifully, meeting training requirements and working towards the professional qualifications I still pay good money to maintain.

    When I began studying theology they made us keep a reflective journal - but at least it was pretty much free-form, whatever struck you and whatever reflections arose.  I still have that bundle of A4 paper, with doodles, hymn words, prayers, postcards and miscellaneous outpourings of my journey through the MRC process to be allowed to start training for ministry.

    So four more years of journalling through college, some free-form and personal in a notebook; some pastoral cycle and assessed, hand-written and then typed up...  Then three years of compulsory weekly reflections for my NAM period...  Then another four for what was meant to be a part time DPT but ended up an MPhil, one of which coincided with a year of doing it online for a training module on mentoring (something I've been well and truly over-trained in!).  Some overlaps for sure, but at least a decade of being made to keep journals.

    A girl can have enough!  So for the last couple of years I have ceased keeping a reflective journal around ministry/church/spiritual stuff - which has been good, I needed a break (I do have a very private 'cancer journey' journal running to around a hundred sides of A4 typing so I guess I never quite stopped). 

    Now, after a decent break, I feel the lack - the discipline of sitting down once a week for an hour or two to look back over what I've been doing, what hints of God's influence I can spot, what things I have learned about myself or others or the 'job', etc., is something I need to restore.  Not in a legalistic way.  Not rigidly following a pastoral cycle or any other model.  Not nicely formed.  Including doodles and diagrams and pictures and postcards.  With prayers and outpourings.  And of course, for once, no-one will be reading it except me (well, and God, obviously).  No-one will be checking to see if I have understood a method properly.  No-one is assessing my competence as a reflective practitioner.  It will be my journal: MINE!  And I am looking forward to it.

    All of which means the self-indulgence of a trip to Paper Chase (other fancy stationers available) to buy a lovely notebook  in which to scribble, write, draw 'stuff' and, by dint of that to continue to learn and grow.  There, I said it - now I just have to do it!

  • Random Thoughts on Voting Day

    A miscellany of thoughts from the day...

    When I got to the polling station this morning I was directed as usual to a wooden booth with a stubby pencil attached by a piece of string and a drawing pin.... That was roughly two inches (five centimetres) of twine on a pencil about two and a half inches long, and pinned to the right hand edge of the booth.  Not terribly helpful if you are left-handed and actually want to pick up the pencil.  Don't tell anyone but I released it from the drawing pin!!

    During the course of the day I was asked by two lots of people for directions to polling stations!  First was a couple who had read the name of the school but not the address, so had arrived outside the wrong site.  Fortunately when I explained where the school has now moved to, they were able to go and vote.  Then was a near neighbour who may or may not be in the same ward as me (strange situation where housing complex opens onto two streets in two different districts!) - she wanted to vote but had lost her card and assumed I would know.  I sent her to where I voted and hoped for the best.

    Unusually, there has been lots of activity on blogs and social media about voting, reminding people to get out and do it, and then debating whether or not spoiling a ballot paper was a valid choice.  I've always been of the view that it is, but some argue that it isn't, merely taking up time for the sorters and counters.  Hmm.  Not entirely convinced - surely a substantial number of spoiled ballot papers would say something to someone?  I didn't spoil mine, by the way, I've only ever done that once and accidentally due to wrong instructions on a postal vote.

    Quite what any of this really means, who knows.  I am encouraged that there may be a good turnout (though I have seen reports of scarily low turnouts (so far) at some Scottish polling stations) which will hopefully dilute the impact of extremists - time will tell.

    As others have said elsewhere, there are still just over three hours to vote if you haven't yet done so...

  • Pernennial Plea...


    Tomorrow it's the European elections.  Use your votes, people - and use then wisely.  You may not share my political views but there are some parties that really are worrying in their views and apathy may allow them to gain ground.

    The last time these took place I was in Leicestershire, and we came scarily close to electing a BNP MEP (indeed had East Midlands not had their quota reduced by one, we would have done).  In Dibley we had a lovely person who had come over from Barbados donkeys yonks ago to drive our buses, a job beneath too many native Brits - he was terrified about what might happen if they were elected (we already had a BNP councillor at the time).


    God, grant us wisdom enough that, even if we can't choose 'right' then we choose 'less bad'...

  • Oops!

    I just realised that due to a typo on my part we had the 'wrong' Psalm on Sunday - I had wondered why it didn't accord with my recollection and why it was so 'smite mine enemies' in tone.  As I was preaching on John 14 not the Pslam, it didn't matter quite so much, and I did manage to make a reference to it as 'tricky to hear but very honest as an epxression of someone's feelings'.  Not convinced, as some in some churches would say, that it wa sa divinely induced slip, more down to careless checking what I'd typed.

    So this week I wil be extra, extra careful!  And I have just extended the lectionary gospel reading by an additional ten verses too :)