Wednesday, August 31, 2005

the last lunch

As you can tell by my ridiculous amount of posting today, I'm not exactly hard at work. Today I had lunch with my Mum and Dad, and my brother Andy and sister-in-law Liz.

Andy and Liz are moving to Germany on Saturday. Having spent the last eight or so years in Guildford, Andy doing a lot of stuff at St. Saviour's, particularly with the student and young adult congregation there, and Liz working for the YMCA, they have decided it is time to move on. To Germany.

Andy will be doing student outreach stuff for a church in Marburg (about an hour from Frankfurt), called Christus Treff (I know this website is in German, but you can translate it into English). Christus Treff has links with St. Mary's, Marylebone.

You can find out more about what Andy and Liz are up to here (it's a pdf file).

two blogs worth looking at (regularly methinks)

Among the new people I met at Greenbelt were Ian and Dave. They have blogs.

Ian runs Youthblog, which as the name suggests reflects on youth work and youth ministry.

Dave runs The Cartoon Blog and also Cartoon Church which provides cartoon based resources for churches.

the importance of blogging holistically

During the sesion on the Spirituality of Blogging, the point was made about the importance of blogging holistically. There was a brief discussion about running a number of blogs, writing to different audiences, and whether this constitutes keeping bits of our lives seperate? Whether it does or not, I believe it is important to have a holistic attitude to blogging, to blog about all areas of our life, in a manner which shows who we are as whole people.

In the past people have questioned my blogging about football, in particular Chesterfield F.C.. But a being a Chesterfield fan is a part of who I am, it helps to define me.

For this reason I will contine to blog about football, in particular the ups and downs of Chesterfield F.C., and will take this opportunity to shamelessly celebrate our second victory of the season, which sees us climb out to the relegation zone (Unfortunately I am thinking about relegation before August has finished).

running into god

Went to hear Dave Tomlinson speak while at Greenbelt. The title of this post, the seminar, and Dave's new-ish book, is Running Into God. Here are some rather brief notes I made during the seminar....

The WHOLE earth is full of God's glory - not just church, the Church, or whatever we consider to be 'Christian'.

So how do we see the world? God is in everything, in the little, ordinary, every day things, these rumours of glory, these transcendant windows.

The ordinary is the sacrement of the divine.....

How can we discern God outside the Church?
It's not about things labelled as being of God, nor is it to do with religious orthodoxy, rather it is to do with people's fruit - the fruit of God's Spirit...

Dave spoke quite a bit about Amos (the prophet, in the Bible).
Amos 9:7 - the Israelites meaning the same to God as other nations....God hears the cry of many peoples....the oppressed, destitute, lonely...

What sort of God do we beleive in? A God who would judge people simply due to the culture they were born into, or a God who is bigger than that?

spirituality of blogging

Here are some notes from the session at Greenbelt by Andrew Jones on the Spirituality of Blogging.

Andrew started of with a variety of thoughts around the subject of blogging....before moving on to ten or eleven 'points' about the spirituality of blogging.....

We are undergoing a second renaissance. Readers are becoming writers. Consumers are becoming producers/co-creators.

We can access information freely and quickly from the huge database of information we are currently contributing to. This database will continue to be accessed (in some form, by whatever means) for years to come.

Athanasius, writing in the 4th century, wrote about the accountability which can be developed through regular writing. (Andrew has blogged about this here).

Apparently a new blog is started every two seconds.

We know more than our Pastors.
Bloggers are the vanguard of the participatory church.
We are seeing the rise of a new kind of preacher, whose methods work both inside and outside of traditional church structures.
(Tim Bednar)

Why blog?
to participate, it's in the 1st person, it's a discipline, to preach, to earn permission, care, to build the Kingdom

1. To blog is to find yourself in a place of PRAISE
Praise meaning to publically acknowledging.
Publish our glad tidings daily....

2. To blog is to find yourself in a place of ACCOUNTABILITY
Athanasius stuff
Eph 5:21
Is blogging more accountable than writing books, in that we have the opportunity to repent?

3. To blog is to find yourself in a place of VULNERABILITY
Blogging gives people a window to your life.
A challenge to open up our lives...

4. To blog is to find yourself in a place of GIVING
The blogosphere operates on a gift economy.
Gain reputation not remuneration (Google ratings etc)
A good name is better than riches (Proverbs)
Freely you have recieved, freely you give.
Yeast - building things up, not puffing up
To blog = to give away

5. To blog is to find yourself in a place of CREATIVE NAMING
Just like Adam in the garden, it is in the blogosphere where ideas rise up, concepts are being named....

6. To blog is to find yourself in a place of REPENTANCE
(see the ACCOUNTABILITY stuff)

7. To blog is to find yourself in a place of FELLOWSHIP
Hyperlinks - one of the greatest inventions of our time???
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Linking to one another, as our stories become intertwined we have a responsibility to care for one another

8. To blog is to find yourself in a place of EVANGELISM
Showing, sharing the whole of our lives....

9. To blog is to find yourself in a place of INTEGRITY
Where our writing matches our speaking
Informality - in the physical world we use facial expressions, tone of voice, body lanugage etc., in the virtual world we are beginning to find other methods to informalise eg. smileys, .....s, erms, uncorrected typos.
When we comment on other peoples blogs we must assign our own place, other people do not know who we are, with what authority we speak etc. But we must remember to take the lesser place at the table
In what way does the appearance of our blog reflect who we are, where we are at (messy + untidy, neat + tidy)???

10. To blog is to find yourself in a place of WATCHFULNESS
Spiritual discipline of watching and praying
Watching out for one another, covering people's backs...

11. To blog is to find yourself in a place of POSTERITY
To store and guard the things of God
Permanence, part of the database
We are historians, journalists...

Andrew finished the session with the Blogger's Prayer (also on his own old site)

Control your own stories + Be found...

Update Andrew has added his own notes here, along with links to other people who have blogged about the session.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

back from greenbelt

After a rather hot, slow and slightly smelly coach journey, I got back from a great weekend at Greenbelt.

Overall I had a really good time, even though I might have tired myself out trying to cram in a bit too much. Heard some great speakers (more on them in future posts), listened to some great music, laughed/cringed at some brilliant comedy, 'did' worship in a number of different styles, caught up with some old friends and met some new people as well.

At this point I'm aware just how many hyperlinks I could list, but I'm not gonna do that now. It would be dull. Instead I'll break my musings down into more posts, which will appear in due course......

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

whale rider

Just watched Whale Rider. I saw it going cheap in Tesco this evening, and thought it was worth the few pounds they were asking.

I remember Jonny Baker writing a post about this film some time ago. As he, and others say, the film raises a number of questions about the way in which communities pass on their traditions from one generation to the next, especially in a changing context.

If you've not seen it, it's well worth a watch.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

this week

This week I am working in our local secondary school - Abbeydale Grange. I'm helping out at a summer school for young people who will be starting Year 7 in September. It's pretty cool actually, getting to play, i mean work, with computers and digital video cameras (the school has Specialist Media Arts Status). The young people are making their own music videos which will be entered into the BOOM! Music Video Awards.

The BOOM! Music Video Academy is something run by MTV and Adobe. It supports teachers as they encourage young people to develop their creative skills. It seems pretty cool.

Then on Friday I'm off to Greenbelt for the weekend. It's going to be a long week, and I'm looking forward to next Wednesday when hopefully I will get a day off.

Friday, August 19, 2005

how taize changed the church

A really good article continuing to reflect on the life and work of Brother Roger.


I've finally got myself in gear and have just booked my Greenbelt ticket.

I'm actually quite excited. I wonder to what extent my emotions have been affected by the fact that Colin and Edith have just played the theme tune to Baywatch. Anyway.

Tag greenbelt2005

what classic movie are you?

So I've never actually watched this film. But apparently its a film on which the 2002 Adam Sandler film Mr Deeds is based. This happens to be one of may favourite films. It's somewhere in my top 10 (don't ask what the other 9 are - I'm not sure yet).

what famous leader are you?

Which is nice for me. Obviously a personality test comprising just nine questions is not the most accurate thing in the world. But interestingly, I do share the same Myers-Briggs personality type as Gandhi. Maybe the test is accurate after all.....

Thursday, August 18, 2005

endings and beginnings

I wasn't really sure what to post when I heard the sad news about Brother Roger, so as you will notice, I just posted a couple of news reports.

Having had some time to reflect on what happened, I find myself experienceing a mix of emotions. Obviously there was a certain amount of shock and sadness on hearing of the way in which Brother Roger died, and the very fact that he had died. But in all honesty, I think people, including Brother Roger, were prepared for him to die. He was ninety, and although he was continuing to play his role within the Taize community, he was a frail man, who knew that his time on earth was coming to an end.

This year was my first at Taize, and what I witnessed this year was incredible. People come together at Taize, from all over the world, representing different denominations, different faiths, or even no faith at all. And in spite of all these differences, people live, work and reflect together as a community, serving one another, and serving God.

Brother Roger no longer heads up that community here on earth, but the spirit in which he founded and led the community lives on, a spirit of peace, harmony and simplicity. There is much to be learnt from the way Taize operates, much that we as individuals, communities and societies as a whole could learn. I for one am very glad, that this example of living together as a peaceful and simple community will carry on under the leadership of Brother Alois, Brother Roger's appointed successor. My prayers are with him, and with all the members of the Taize community.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

a peculiar species

This evening I have once more been reminded of the peculiarities of the human race.
Now some people will now that I have a fondness for supermarkets. I know that I shouldn't. But I do. This evening I popped down to Tesco to buy some dates and some chocolate. Originally I had wanted bananas, but they'd sold out. Anyway. I was in the queue waiting to pay, when I noticed something of a disagreement in the queue ahead of me. Withing seconds, two fifty something year-old men were threatening to knock each other out. As the men came in my direction, I instinctively tried to restrain one of the men, while thankfully, another passer-by restrained the other guy.

Now I'm not trying to make myself out to be some sort of a hero - I just followed my instincts. I've broken up a few fights in my time, thats to be expected as a youth worker. But I have to admit I've never stood between two feuding fifty year olds. It really was rather strange.

I later found out that this whole fiasco had been caused by one of the men passing comment on how long the other was taking to pack and pay for his and his wife's shopping. I mean really, come on. Does it matter? Your fifty, but you're acting like you're fifteen.

On arriving home, I found myself watching a rather bizarre programme called A Week of Dressing Dangerously. Basically, some fashion expert, forced a housewife and mother of two, to parade around her local community in a range of ridiculous fashion disasters, culminating in a bunny girl outfit.

The point of this programme, as far as I could tell, was to help this poor woman learn something about herself and who she is, by reflecting on the fact that wearing different clothes caused her to act differently in a range of everyday situations. Wearing these different clothes 'liberated' her and helped her explore certain hidden aspects of her personality.

I don't want to go into the pschology of the programme, because I don't know an awful lot about psychology. But this programme intrigued me. Not only did it make me cringe every other minute, it also got me wondering about where people find there identity. It showed just how much this woman's behaviour changed depending on what she was wearing. It was almost as though the clothes she wore defined who she was and how she behaved.

Now I know that many people like to express their identity in the clothes they choose to wear, but I have a confession to make. I found it more than a little disturbing that this programme seemed to preach so blatently that your identity is defined solely by what you wear.

As I reflect on the events of this evening, I realise once again, that us humans are a funny lot.

a statement from taize

Frère Roger has entered the life of eternity

During the evening prayer on Tuesday 16 August, in the midst of the crowd surrounding the Community in the Church of Reconciliation, a woman - probably mentally disturbed - struck Brother Roger violently with knife blows. He died a few moments later.

In its sorrow, the Taizé Community thanks all those who are supporting it by their affection and their prayer. On the morning of 17 August, after Brother Roger’s death, the following prayer was read in the church:

“Christ of compassion, you enable us to be in communion with those who have gone before us, and who can remain so close to us. We confide into your hands our Brother Roger. He already contemplates the invisible. In his footsteps, you are preparing us to welcome a radiance of your brightness.”

The funeral of Brother Roger will take place on Tuesday 23 August at 14.00.

Each afternoon, from 15.00 to 19.00, his body is placed in the church of Taizé, so that all who wish may go and meditate close by him.

Eight years ago, Brother Roger designated Brother Alois to succeed him, as the person in charge of the community. Brother Alois has entered straightaway into his ministry as servant of communion at the heart of the community.

from the Taize website

taize founder dies after stabbing

The Taize religious community in eastern France, says its 90-year-old founder has died after a knife attack during a prayer service. Police detained a Romanian woman after the attack on Swiss-born Roger Schutz, who was known as Brother Roger.

Around 2,500 young people were at the Reconciliation church in Burgundy at the time of the attack.

Brother Roger founded the community during World War II when he provided refuge to people of all religions.

Brother Alois, 51, who Brother Roger had nominated to be his successor, was returning from the World Youth Day jamboree in Cologne to take his place, a community spokesman said.

The Taize community unites members of several Christian denominations from some 30 countries and attracts tens of thousands of young people each year for prayers and meditation.

Some of those at evening prayers on Tuesday are reported to have overpowered the woman after she stabbed Brother Roger.

"We are in shock; there is a lot of confusion here; nobody understands what happened," a nun told AFP.

Church leaders have paid tribute to Brother Roger.

German Prelate Heiner Koch said in a statement: "All the participants in World Youth Day are praying for this great figure. We express our deep compassion to the Taize community."

President of the French Bishops' Conference, Archbishop of Bordeaux Jean-Pierre Ricard, has written to the Taize community expressing his "deep grief" after the murder of "this great figure of a researcher and witness of God, impassioned by unity among Christians and reconciliation".

from BBC News

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

church, pressure, time, worry....peace?

Speaking of which...on Sunday evening I was faced with the dilemma of where to go to church? Normally Sunday evenings are work time, but being the summer holidays the youth group is taking a break (even though young people are now even more bored thatn ever). I couldn't decide between somewhere that would be socially easy yet spiritually not where I'm at, or somewhere socailly difficult but more reflective, Taize-esque, a bit more where I'm at. I was sharing this 'dilemma' with a friend on MSN (philipjamesgoodacreAThotmailDOTcom - should you wish to add me). They pointed out that there is no way that I could recreate my time at Taize by going to a reflective, Taize-esque service, and that if I wanted some time to reflect, or to use their words, "spend some quality time with the Almighty", I don't need to go to church to do that.

It seemed like the most obvious thing in the world. I knew (somewhere in my head) that this was the case, but for some reason I felt that I ought to go to church. Scary.

Anyway, I went to possibly my favourite place to sit and 'be' for a while. It was great. As I walked up there, I was amazed by the colours around me. The heather was so purple, and the clouds were kind of purpley-grey. As I sat for a while, I was reminded of Matthew 25-34, especially when Jesus talks about the lilies (He'd have spoke about the heather had He been doing His thing in the Peak District). I've had this bit of the Bible quoted at me so many times, but it still doesn't fully sink in, or rather, I need to be reminded of it time and time again. Perhaps we all do.

taize, one week on

Well it's just over a week since I got back from Taize. It was never going to be a normal week, coming back from an experience like Taize is always going to give you things to think about and reflect on. Spending some time reflecting on where I'm going in life, about work and relationships, has been pretty tiring, and kind of stressful. I've struggled to concentrate on work (not much new there then), but it can be hard to focus on the short term things when you're considering some longer term things.

Perhaps I needed a bit of a kick up the back side. Maybe I was/am feeling too comfortable at the moment. A little bit of disruption cause you to reassess where things are going, whats important etc.

I know Taize gave me plenty of space to think and reflect. But it almost seems like all my questions about where my life is going, have come to a head after I get back. My initial thought was that this seems to be the wrong way round. It would have been great to reflect on some of these questions while away. But perhaps my time at Taize has shown me how much I need some structured reflective time (as against time when I just sit around and think about stuff as and when) in my daily life. It has shown me that I am able to be that disciplined.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

this evening i found...

This evening I found two blogs belonging to people that I actually know. Which was nice. I first met Richard Passmore a few years ago when he was leading some training in detached youth work.

Amanda Roper is the wife of Neil, who was youth and children's worker at St. Thomas', Brampton. I used to go to St. Thomas' as a teenager, and my parents are still involved there.

first 'proper' game

Today was my first 'proper' game of the season. Although I'd been to watch Chesterfield v Scarborough a couple of weeks back, pre-season friendlies don't count.

Disappointingly, and possibly rather unsurpisingly, Chesterfield played in a somewhat mediocre fashion this afternoon, which, predictably, led to a miserable 1-0 defeat at the hands of Rotherham. The weather was horrible. It had been raining for a good part of the day, and only stopped raining with about 5 minutes of the match to go.

Friday, August 12, 2005

thoughts on life, dreams for the future.....

Some time ago I blogged about a couple of books, one called Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life, the other called Healing the Purpose of Your Life. Both these books are written by the Linns - Dennis and Matthew (brothers) and Dennis' wife Sheila. The books are great. They're really easy to read with lots of pictures. They almost look like kids books, but they're not.

Anyway, why am I revisiting these books on my blog? Well. Both books are to do with the purpose of your life, trying to help you work out what it is that 'Gives You Life', what motivates you, what makes you tick, etc. Now I'm not saying that I've worked out what the purpose of my life is, but, as I reflect on my experiences at Taize there are a couple of things I've picked up on.

One of the things that moved me most during my week away was seeing the smiles on the faces of all the Brothers as they welcomed a new Brother into their community. It's moments like this in films that always get me emotional as well - seeing people having right relationships with one another, loving each other, caring for one another, accepting each other no matter what.

The second thing, which is kind of similar, is just the whole Taize experience itself. Seeing people come together, living as community together, accepting people no matter who they are or what they believe. It's how I think church ought to be. It's how I think society ought to be.

Some people reading this might think I'm getting a bit too idealistic, maybe even naive. I hope not. I think we need to dream big dreams, dreams that are unachieveble on our own, but not with God.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Disappointingly Chesterfield lost 3-1 to Brentford last night. Thankfully I didn't go. Hopefully they'll do better at the weekend against Rotherham.

Disappointingly I am not still at Taize. I really did have a great week. It was just what I needed.

Disappointinlgy I am now back at work. On the whole I do enjoy my job, but its just hard to be motivated at the moment. There's not a whole lot going on at the mo. A lot of people are away on holiday. I'm also increasingly aware that in a few weeks the new vicar (my new boss) starts work. All the time I have been here has been during the interregnum. It's been quite nice in a way. Things are inevitably gonna change now, hopefully for the better, but being human I'm not a huge fan of change and the unknown.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

top of the league

Yes I have faith in the boys, yes I know that there has only been one match this seson so far, and yes this is obviously a position which will be repeated throughout the season, but I would just like to point out the fact Chesterfield are currently top of Coca-Cola League One after a brilliant 3-1 win at Blackpool on Saturday.

sixteen hours sleep

Sixteen hours unbroken sleep. Nice. Surpsingly enough this was not on the coach home from Taize, rather it was in my bed on return from Taize. I woke up at about half four this morning following lying down at about midday yesterday. Fantastic.

I had a wonderful time at Taize. Wonderful in so many ways, some a little more unexpected than others. I've got lots to chew over in my mind, and I will probably share some of this in due course.

For the moment, I will settle for a few brief reflections on my week away. I've come back feeling healthier - spiritually, physically and emotionally - than I have done in a long time. The rhythm of community life has been really helpful. I've realised how little rhythm my 'normal' life has had. Rather than being constrictive, the regular events of life at Taize have enabled me to experience freedom in a new and liberating way.

Following on from this, the simplicity of life at Taize has challenged and provoked me. I've always known I'm a bit of a hoarder. In the words of Elton John in a Post Office advert some years ago, "I like nice things". I do. I know I do. And I know that so much of it I can really do without. But in all honesty, its not the nice things that cause me problems. It's the mediocre, crappy things in life that end up weighing me down. Crap TV, an unsatisfying burger from McDonalds, pointless worrying about things that don't matter, etc....

Anyway. I met a lots of wonderful people during the week. In a meeting with my line manager before I went away, she prayed about this - even down to the little things like who I would sit next to on the bus on the way there. Needless to say that prayer was answered. I went with a group led by the Bishop of Pontefract, and although it was kind of a Diocese of Wakefield trip, though there were a number of people from the Doncaster area, Sheffield and even Soctalnd as well. Met some lovely people from the Diocese of Oxford - bloggers being Sarah and inspired by Sarah, Rowan. In the interests of fairness(!!) Sarah is a youth worker/blogger/published author. I also spent quite a lot of time with a group from Leicester Cathedral as well as some youth worker-ish types from Sweden, many of whom I swept floors with every morning.

For me the most moving part of the whole week was seeing Brother Bart (yes he does have a cool/funny name) from the Netherlands making his life vows to the community (apparently this kind of thing only happens once or twice a year - so we were rather fortunate to witness this). This was so challenging for me. Seeing somebody that committed to God and to a community of people, that they would give up everything, actually everything, for what they believed in. How much 'stuff' am I hanging on to? But then to see the smiles on the faces of all the brothers, as well as Br Bart, as he was welcomed into the community after making his vows. Afraid that had me in tears. It was beautiful.