Wednesday, December 23, 2009

cartoon: ode to cart

cartoon: ode to cart

Posted using ShareThis

With a hat tip to The Naked Pastor, loving this image and ode..

Sunday, October 25, 2009

[Hold:: this space] has a new look

One of the people who I am linked with via the YouthMultiMedia group on Yahoo is Cheryl Lawrie, an artist / minster / creative thinker / writer / poet etc etc based in Melbourne, Australia.

Her blog and website have been redesigned and put in a new location - if you've saved this to favourites in the past, you'll need to reset your link to this on [Hold::this space]

The site is beautiful, and as a place to share her insights and ideas it works well. Go take a look and see espcially how Church, the arts and public spaces might come together in profound ways.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The wrong questions at the wrong time

Last night the BBC chose to include Nick Griffin, leader of the far-right British National party, in it's weekly politics panel discussion “Question Time”.

I guess it's the watercooler subject today, and I wanted to comment on it too.

I thought Griffin did pretty much what any of us might have expected, he dodged difficult questions, smirked, and gave a far less than impressive performance. If the problem were him alone we'd have little to worry about. A man who can make amazing statements, like the one about the leader of a Ku Klux Klan group that was “an almost totally non-violent”is a joke. Isn't that like “Almost a virgin”, or “almost sterile”?

After the show, on the “This Week” programme Kelvin Mackenzie said "I've never seen a television show in which you felt your stomach turning over. The guy was basically lying his head off to create an image that he was basically a conservative who just had very strong views about immigration."

Given the circumstances Chris Huhne and Jack Straw were particularly impressive, Baroness Warsi was on the money when she said his understanding of Islam was as much a perversion as his claim to be Christian, Bonnie Grier was a somewhat strange choice I thought, and seemed a bit at a loss.

And here for me lies the bigger problem, the way the whole thing was set up, pushed in the media as a story, and ultimately handing Griffin and the BNP what they most wanted, a chance to sit alongside serious politicians in a serious political show. I think the BBC would be right to find some way of having Griffin answer his questioners, but not this. Ultimately the show became about Griffin, rather than the questions of the day, and about the BNP. In a small way this was good, it gave at least one forum to push him to answer, which he simply refused to do, but this wasn't the right place, the right show, or the right time.

The BNP are marginal, and by publicly vilifying them in this way they become the de-facto protest vote. Griffin leaves the show, not giving a good performance, not answering questions, but with a sense that he's been included in the mainstream of political life.

Matthew Paris in today's Times has it right when he states , “that "nobody dared try what, if it could have been done, would have been the most devastating tactic of all [...]: to brush him aside as a small man, enlarged by the anger of his enemies"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Def Jam Poetry - Daniel Beaty "Knock Knock"

Well, I hope you are in a place to sit for a moment at think after watching this. He's a very powerful performance poet, and I was moved by hearing this. Grace and peace.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Black Country Gathering

With David Coffey, President of the Baptist World Alliance
Sunday 11th October 2009
6.30pm Tabernacle Baptist Church, Wolverhampton

An evening of celebration, encouragement and ministry for churches all across the Black Country.

Tabernacle Baptist Church is on the corner of Dunstall Road and Stavely Road, Wolverhampton, the postcode is WV6 0NJ.

For more information:

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Baptist World Congress 2010

Well, it looks like a wonderful location - the event in 2005 was truly awesome, and a real privilege to be involved with.

Since then our family's grown and the flights will be far too expensive, so although we can't go, I do want to encourage you to be praying, even now, for this gathering next year.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Signs & Wonders in Disneyland

I've been having probs linking to a youtube clip on this blog today - I'm not sure if there's a blogspot glitch, and it maybe that come tomorrow morning there will be the same vid posted three times.

Anyway, here's the clip I mentioned in church this morning. Set aside the cynicism, as well cultivated as it may be, and see some astounding things happen.

I long for the day when the church leaves the building, and when teenagers queue up to have believers bless them.

See the video on youtube here.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Inspired. Danny MacAskill

I think this is about to go viral - at the time of posting this it had 7,125 views.

Just how awesome is this?

And, why am I posting it here? Because I think it has something to say about following the inspiration to go off the beaten track, to attempt the seemingly impossible and to rewrite the rules.

Imagine the kind of church this guy would plant.

Imagine a community that did amazing feats just for the sheer joy of seeing barriers of expectation being broken down, and who aren't put off by the words "but you can't..."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wolverhampton Highlights 1

Wolverhampton's a great place to live, and a wonderful city to be a minister in. From time to time I'm going to include reviews of places that stand out in this city.

For Mrs S's Birthday this week we went to Cataldo's Restaurant on the corner of School Street and Fold Street. We'd tried to get in on our wedding anniversary but they were full, and when we asked for a table for Mother's Day we discovered they don't open on Sundays – and I'm not going to complain about that!

So, for this special birthday I got in early and booked us a table.

The atmosphere was relaxed, the seating comfortable and the waiting staff quiet, polite and very pleasant.

We spent a while perusing a very full menu, a great variety of pasta dishes, along with a good selection of chicken, meat and fish meals too. Cataldo's is a place that clearly believes in giving plenty of choice.

I'm not a restaurant reviewer, so I won't offer a description of what we had, other than to say that we were presented with delicious food, beautifully prepared, with a mix of great flavours that left us both with big smiles and wider waistlines.

If we had a criticism at all it was that service was too efficient! The main meal came quite quickly after we'd finished our starters, and so although we didn't quite feel rushed we did have to make a conscious effort to linger and enjoy the moment, rather than be sped along with the service. When we were offered desserts we had coffee first to give ourselves a little time to breathe between the courses.

Wolverhampton has places to shout about, this is one of them. If you're looking for a good place to eat a celebratory meal, with wonderful friendly service and excellent food – then Cataldo's might be just the place.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Why, thank YOU Coldplay!

I just downloaded Coldplay's latest album for free from thier website - you can too by clicking on this link.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Still Alive

Someone contacted me recently concerned that I hadn't blogged for a while.

I'll write a longer update soon, but have been overwhelmed with life and ministry here (which has been very encouraging) and the process of getting the new manse ready to move into (which ought to happen next week).

Thanks for the concern!

Monday, January 26, 2009

DEC Gaza Crisis Appeal

Here's ITN's Disasters Emergency Committee appeal on behalf of the people of Gaza.
The debate over the BBC's decision not to screen an appeal still rages, and indicates that people are divided over the issue. Whatever your feelings about this, I'd want to encourage you to give, all monies are channelled directly through the 13 aid agencies: ActionAid, British Red Cross, CAFOD, Care International, Christian Aid, Concern, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund, World Vision. These agencies buy what is needed and distribute it, many of them are already in operation in Gaza, have been there many years, and know the local situation intimately.


Next month sees the start of MovieChurch @ Tab.
A few people have asked about the thinking behind this, so here's some of my reasoning. It's brief, and owes something to the thoughts of Steve Taylor at emergentkiwi.

I begin with scripture, it seems a good place for a Jesus-follower to start! Reading the gospels Jesus is revealed as seeking to draw people into the Kingdom of God, identifying his role as to seek and save the lost, and giving his followers instructions to do the same. In Acts we see how the disciples carried this mission on, the growth of the faith community, and the expansion of the church beyond the realm of Jewish sect to faith for people of any people group / culture.

By the time we get to Acts 17 Paul has been on missionary travels, calling people to follow Jesus, inviting them to become part of the kingdom. The second part of Acts 17 sees Paul in Athens, where he uses elements of the Athenian culture as a springboard for talking about faith, indeed he quotes from their own poets as something that contains God-truths.

Part of what Paul was doing was revealing Christ from within their own cultural framework. I wonder what parts of our culture might be used to reveal Jesus, what might illuminate, explain, or provide a springboard to begin discussing our faith?

And so I turn to movies. I think movies are the stories that our culture tells about itself. I also think that movies involve and move the viewer in ways other artforms don't. As the USA has a kind of cultural Christianity at its heart, it's not surprising that spiritual themes appear in films so often, and even when they are not overtly spiritual there are still themes of redemption, forgiveness, grace, hope, salvation and love regularly present.

Churches and Christians have often ignored or misunderstood films, seeing them as moving wallpaper, or having little merit other than as a form of escapism. More and more recently practical theologians and pastors have been discovering the usefulness of movies, not merely as a way of illustrating a sermon point (and showing off our great technology), but as a way of exploring faith themes, and even as a way of engaging in mission activity.

So, with this in mind, we're starting MovieChurch. It'll happen on the last Sunday each month, when we'll watch a whole movie together, break for refreshments then facilitate a discussion on the film's themes and ideas.

My hopes for this include a desire that our congregation gets used to “reading” and talking about films, so that they become more equipped to respond to topical films, as well as beginning to use films as a means of faith-sharing themselves (inviting a friend to go to the cinema then talking about it afterwards) as well as using movies as a way of exploring their own faith. I also hope that by using films instead of a sermon we might find ourselves discussing themes that might otherwise be ignored. It will also create an opportunity within the life of the church that people might feel more able to invite friends. It could be accessed like a book club, only with a film.
So, watch here for updates, I'll be blogging after each one, and looking for feedback from participants to be included here too.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Church, Gaza, and all that jazz

Last weekend we celebrated the birthday of my son. It fell on Sunday, a day when Daddy is tied up, so we had a day out on Saturday before having a special lunch with friends on Sunday.

As he's interested in trains and all things that move, we took him on the tram from Wolverhampton to Birmingham, and then went to the National Sealife Centre.

When we left the aquarium, we walked back to the tram station via the International Conference Centre and were delighted by one of life's serendipitous moments. A band was playing a free Jazz concert in one of the bar areas, so we made our way to the back of the audience and caught a little glimpse of something wonderful. Here was a group of people, of mixed ages and ethnicities, playing together a blend of the most wonderful sounds. As we watched and listened I realised that the band were being led by the two elderly gentlemen in the middle of the room, both with large saxophones (I later discovered that the band were Andy Hamilton and the Blue Notes, and that the saxophones were probably tenor or baritones).

They were getting towards the end of a set, and as they played we noticed that one by one they were all playing a kind of solo, amidst the other instruments. I first noticed that the pianist was doodling away as the others played gently and smiled at him, then the older saxophonist pointed his horn to the younger man on the bongo drums, and the other instruments became quieter as he played a solo that sounded like ten people playing at once, then the other drummer came in, and played, then the guitarist took over, then the bass player then the two saxophones together. It was wonderful, young and old player, deferring to each other, giving each other space to express themselves, yet the whole thing being held together by a shared melody, rhythm and joy in what they were doing.

As a spectator, it was mesmerising, and more than that, made me want to join in. It looked like fun, it looked so positive, and joyful. But alas, I don't play an instrument, yet.

Of course, it made me think of church. I wondered whether it was possible to create a way of doing church that saw each person allowing each other to express their own sound, and also finding the courage to take a breath and summon the courage to make their own contribution, a place where people of diversity could be so united in playing a tune, where whichever spectators there were found themselves longing to be a part.

And then we walked on, and almost immediately found ourselves walking into Victoria Square, met by a rank of police officers and 150-200 angry people protesting about the situation in Gaza. Just as we arrived there was a rush as the crowd surged towards the police line. We found a quick way out of danger and headed for the tram station. As we walked I was just saying to myself “oh well, back to the real world with a bump!” when I realised that what we had experienced in the ICC was just as real, just as possible, just as true as the anger of the protest, as the feeling of fear, frustration and of powerless that those people felt and expressed as they looked at the absence of harmony, the hatred between ethnic groups, and the lack of a uniting tune.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians uses a powerful image of the cross smashing down the walls that divide people groups. I wonder how its power is made manifest in our day?