Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Rumours of my demise...

...were pretty much bang on true, but I've got a thing or two more to say.

Those heading over here from Christian New Media, or @LSTheology, thank you! Feel free to read through my old stuff. It passes the time really well, but then, I really like what I write, so, I would find that. I hope you enjoy your perusal.

But eventually, head on over to This Is Not Important for my new stuff, and my 4 step plan for world domination. You'll just have to search REALLY hard for that last bit.

Thanks, and I look forward to seeing you at my new place.

Monday, 10 October 2011

This Is No Longer Important


Well, the death knell sounds for That Theology Student. Thank you for all your support, love, kindness, and comments.

However, I promised I wouldn't leave you without a helper - or, another blog in which to read the things I think about stuff. Clicking here will take you there, and here's a pretty little screen shot of it:

Thank you once again. It's been fun.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Wrong Buttons

This was genuinely thought up somewhere between sleeping and waking this morning. How my mind thought that giant foam hands were a good punchline at that hour of the morning I've no idea.

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In some more serious news, I didn't get into the finals of the Christian New Media Awards. I wasn't expecting to, considering the majority of my output has been drawings of stick people of late.

But this, I think, is the catalyst for change. Change that will probably mean the end of That Theology Student. However, do not despair! I shan't leave you without my words of wisdom or inane crappery. There are some exciting new blog plans afoot, so keep your eyes peeled.

Or, just, y'know, watch out for when I next post something. No need for peeling eyes, I guess.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Irritated Jesus

Yesterday, my friend James and I were discussing the various possibilities of Jesus' irritation at his disciples/religious leaders/fools, etc. Obviously, Jesus got LOADS of stones in his sandals...

Shortcuts

Yeah, take that, arbitrary 58 minute journey cut down to 40. I win.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

There Is No Spoon

This perhaps sounds a little dramatic, but you know those times when you're not bursting with spiritual fervour, and every Bible reading or prayer seems like a massive act of faith?

That.

However, I think I like it here. It means that when God shows up in a lyric, or a kind word or an old friendship, he's much more real. Church and Christianity are merely conduits to God's relationship with us, not the relationship itself.

Friday, 30 September 2011

I still don't do Taxes

Inevitability has this way of making us remember it. Monday morning has an inevitability about it, and makes us grow strangely cold at various points on Sunday evening. Growing old/growing slower/not becoming a professional footballer are all inevitable, and every so often we're reminded - by younger, hipper (yes, exactly) and fitter friends, or by our bodies as they creak and moan at every movement. Manchester United winning is inevitable, and just something that we fans who actually live vaguely near the team we support will have to put up with.

Death, however, despite it being the most inevitable thing there is, has a tendency to be forgotten about.

Recently I seem to have been affected by death, but in a way that is slightly removed from myself. My neighbour died - I knew him to say hello to, but we weren't close. My sister-in-law's best friend's husband died. I don't think I had ever met him, but I know how sad this is for everyone involved. Even the normally chipper Matthew Paul Turner of Jesus Needs New PR is currently writing a series of pieces about a friend who died this weekend of a terminal illness.

I'm not a massive fan of death. It tends to ruin things, like families, and relationships and happiness. It's all pervading: there's an overwhelming sense of sadness, and when you escape the sadness for a moment, when you remember again, it hits you twice as hard between the eyes.

I remember my first real taste of death. I was about 13, and a friend's father had died. I didn't know him, and I hardly knew her. But the complete unfairness of it all was apparent to me. I sat on my chair in my room and cried. A lot. How could something so horrific and complete happen?

Somehow, we forget that death is inevitable. It may be that the progression of modern medicine has put the actuality of death so far into the future that we've forgotten the potency it possesses. It may be that the fear of death has taken hold and we try and push death as far away as possible. It may be the fact that life is usually quite long - whoever said life was short, they were wrong: it's the longest thing you'll ever do - that means that death is not often thought of when it can be avoided.

But death is inevitable.

It has been documented that I've been enjoying Harry Potter lately. The final book comes to an end when Harry - and if you haven't read/seen it yet, sucks to be you - approaches death willingly; not without fear, but with courage; and in willingly sacrificing himself, lives. The crucial difference between the character of Harry and Lord Voldemort is that Voldemort is looking to live forever - his life's work is to make himself immortal.

Yet, death is not something to fear. I struggle writing that sentence because it IS. It's horrible, painful, undignified and messy. It leaves gaping holes in hearts and rips lives apart.

But there is this hope that something greater than death is at work, and I cling to that hope like a drowning man, because otherwise, life is meaningless.

We were sons of insurrection, doomed to face the dark alone, 
'Till vicarious perfection, dearly won, was made our own. 
So where's your landslide, where's your victory? 
Tell me now, where's your sting? 
Unassailable you waited, the great enemy of man, 
'till your awful jaws were sated, and we were ransomed from your hand. 
Now that you have been disarmed, we will cross over unharmed.
Thrice, Major/Minor, 'Disarmed'

Not funny, but true


Thursday, 29 September 2011

Grammar Went To Plot

This is a brief excerpt from a genuine conversation I had, where the suggestion that wasps sleep at night was quickly denounced with the claim that they don't sleep, but in fact plot our downfall.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Cereal Monster

The worst bit was that it happened both times that I ate cereal today. And no, I'm not going to justify eating cereal twice, because I don't have to.

Going all graph on yo' ass...

This, of course, is a joke. I take no responsibility for you all going out, getting drunk, and singing loudly. I'm merely reporting the facts from my scientifically accurate survey made up in my head.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Two Hail Marys and a Picture Of The Day

Confession is an idea that fascinates me. It's so alien to me, as a confused Protestant/closet charismatic/trying follower of Jesus, that it has a certain aura about it.

In a recent conversation at a wedding, my rather outspoken and controversial friend Barney suggested that asking God for forgiveness every time we do something wrong is unbiblical. There's no precedent for it in the New Testament, but there is an understanding that the sacrifice of Jesus covers all sins - we are already forgiven, end of.

1 John claims that if we confess our sins, God will forgive us. It makes no mention of asking for forgiveness in order to be forgiven. And does 'God will forgive us' appertain to what will happen in that moment? What will happen at the end of time? What is happening outside of time now?

I don't rightly know the answers, and feel free to argue it out down below. However, I do know two things: I am a sinner, and I am forgiven. Somehow, those things work out, and God must take the credit.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Dreaming

I think, considering I've only been doing this a week, that dreaming about the marginally funny things I could draw is a little optimistic. And a little odd too.

I really should get a hobby. Like, I dunno, blogging.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Change?!

The weird thing is, I'm completely against the changes. I suspect, if I had my way, I'd probably take Facebook back to about 2009 and simpler times. Is it possible to have an opinion regarding the changes on Facebook, AND be a Luddite at the same time? If so, I am.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Well, I guess this is growing up...

Growing up is slightly odd, particularly when you have a memory like mine. I walk down certain roads, and recognise houses of acquaintances I once knew in primary school, or places that I spent many childhood hours doing nothing in particular.

I'm now 23, and I still don't quite feel like I fit the bill of a 23 year old. There's something a little unsettling about coming back to the house you grew up in. Everything has changed, and nothing has changed, just like the woods. It's still the same woods as 15 years ago, and I recognise trees and hideouts like it was yesterday. But it's not the same. Everything has moved on.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Some friends and stuff...

You may have spotted that I'm doing daily pictures. This is down to a lovely friend of mine, called Miriam who actually draws pretty things daily; and my own stubbornness. I definitely doubted if I could do it. Admittedly I've done less than a week. But that's about as regular as you can get around here. I'll write some stuff soon, too.

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I would also strongly recommend you go over to The General Dance for thoughts much cleverer than mine. Also, Tim has just finished his MA, to much general applause and admiration, so it's entirely fitting to ask him when he's going to write his PhD. He REALLY likes that.* 

*He doesn't.

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A minor piece of admin: I've changed the comments to moderated. It's not because I think I'm about to get a stream of vitriol, but because I'm getting a bit of spam. So, keep on commenting! However, I will only let the nice ones through. I am entirely bribable. 

Frustration

This doesn't really need an explanation... 

Strawberry Jam

You may think this disproportionate. However, you don't know how much I like strawberry jam.




Sunday, 18 September 2011

Some cider inside her insides...

Sorry for the wonky. I'm really tired...







Saturday, 17 September 2011

Harry Potter and the Pinnacle of Evil

These last two months, I have read every Harry Potter book, listened to Stephen Fry reading most of the books, and seen the first four films. Rather boringly, I've not backslidden once.


Thursday, 15 September 2011

Picture of the Day

This is a picture about my day. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

It's like magic...



I painted one of my walls with blackboard paint the other day. The lovely Miriam (she of incredibly good art and sultry ginger hair) suggested a draw a picture a day.

This is my first offering.

Review: 31 Days to Find Your Blogging Mojo

Bryan Allain is, according to his own estimation, a 'Humor Writer, Blogging Coach, [and] Mammal'. I asked very sweetly if I could review his new book, 31 Days to Find Your Blogging Mojo, which, wins plus points for using the word 'mojo' in the title, and almost loses them again by being quite long-winded to say.

The basic essence of the book is that Bryan reckons 31 days of consistent effort on a blog - thinking creatively, editing, changing, and focussing your writing, will 'create lasting change'. The book is split into 31 chapters of a couple of pages each, every chapter taking a subject and expounding upon its importance to your blog. Not only that, Bryan then suggests an action (Today's Mojo Action) which helps focus the subject into practical suggestions to help you find your 'Blogging Mojo.'

There are pros and cons to the book. The most obvious thing to say is a positive: it's really very helpful. Having read the book quite quickly over two days, there's a lot that I'm sure I'll go back and read, digesting and responding to the action points. One could argue that what he has said is nothing new - you could pick up his suggestions from elsewhere, by being astute and reading blogs - but the crucial things here are the facts that a) it all comes together in one book, and b) the presentation. Bryan writes in a very colloquial style: easy to read and understand. I don't particularly find his brand of humour hilarious - part of me wonders if the humour in the book doesn't translate particularly well to the British psyche - but that doesn't stop how he writes being enjoyable to read, and simple to comprehend. Unfortunately, between chapters/days, Bryan inserts some of his humour material from his blog; unrelated and often odd. This jars a bit, and feels a little like filler. However, that aside, the actual material for the book sits well together, and genuinely feels like you're making a progression.

I guess the crucial question is this: would I change my blog after reading this book? Yes, I would. And I would recommend that you read it, and change your blog too. Or start a blog. This book is ideal for all levels of bloggers, beginners or old hands.

If you really want to blog to the best of your ability, but aren't quite sure how, this book is a great buy.

Find it at 31daystomojo.com, or as an e-book for Kindle from Amazon.

Monday, 29 August 2011

How I Was Mugged

I was mugged by a nice man in a green top the other day. His name was Tom. He carried an umbrella (for it was raining) and had tousled hair. He spoke eloquently and quite quickly, and in the brief meeting we had, he managed to exact £8.50 from me.

I left feeling demoralised and guilty, such a fool for giving away my money, hating myself for not doing more to put up a fight, to protect my hard earned cash. I've recently become unemployed, and yet, I gave up £8.50 with a whimper and a desperate urge to get away from the scene of the crime as soon as possible.

Of course, I refer to a charity mugging, and the fact that I'm now giving £8.50 to the NSPCC so they can continue to run Childline, which is understaffed - a third of calls from lonely or abused children don't get through. Undoubtedly, this is a good and worthwhile cause. In some of my forays into youthwork, I've seen the impact of abuse upon children: neglected, vacant, over-sexualised, raucous and uncontrollable. It is obvious that Childline has been, and is, a valuable asset in this country for children wanting to break those cycles of abuse. So why on earth was I so reticent to give my money away? I think there are a few options:

1) I'm a fundamentally bad person. This is a possibility. I sometimes want drivers in souped up cars to crash, or people who give bad customer service to eat something unpleasant. However, I'm not so evil as to want children to keep on being abused.

2) I'm a very poor person. This is nearer the truth. I'm unemployed, and have no income. But poor? So poor as to not afford £8.50 a month (what's that, lunch and a pint of cider?) to help stop the neglect, physical or sexual abuse of defenceless children? That's entirely untrue.

3) I don't like giving. Linking to no. 3, I don't have an income, so giving money away is rather hazardous. One has to be particularly careful that the money you have doesn't become the money you DID have, too quickly. But I'm fine with giving disproportionately. I'm very fortunate to come from a safe and plentiful home, but I know that others aren't. What I have can easily aid those who do not have. Giving is not the problem.

4) I dislike being made to feel guilty for who I do or do not give to. This, I think, is the main reason why I did not want to give money to the entirely just cause of the NSPCC. (Possibly along with being a fundamentally bad person. But mainly the guilt thing.) I only stopped on Friday because Tom smiled nicely, and I usually feel sorry for those guys. But stopping was my mistake. I was never going to walk away from him, for fear of being deemed impolite. He then pulled out all the stops: "I give to 8 charities." "A mother with three kids gave without hesitating earlier, and yet people who earn 10 times as much don't give us the time of day." "These children are the future, and yet we're reticent to give the equivalent of a round at the pub." All these things may be true, they may be lies - in some ways, that's not the point. The point is the effect they create: guilt on the part of the listener. Now, does guilt imply that I'm guilty? Certainly, I've never given to the NSPCC or Childline before. However, does my other giving of my money, time and talents, particularly in relation to the children's and youth work that I've done, assuage my guilt? Not in the mind of the collector.

It's sad, that in this day and age of plenty (which, let's not kid ourselves, it is) we have to be guilt-tripped into giving money. It seems to be the only viable way of charities collecting money - I know it well, I've worked for a church. People generally only respond to appeals for money when they feel a little bit guilty about not doing so. So we walk away from the situation guilty for not originally giving money, guilty for apparently lying ("I'm unemployed and can't really afford it"), guilty for giving up your money when you didn't mean to, and £8.50 poorer.

Yet until we all become a) truly generous, or b) Marxist, I guess we'll have to put up with the guilt, the garish t-shirts, and the misery that is giving to charity.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Last night, I joined a church for the first time ever...

I've been a part of three churches in my life previously. Two were tagging along with my parents, and one I was paid to be at. But last night, of my own volition, I walked into a church (sunny), partook of the service (enjoyable), talked with people (pleasant) and drank orange squash (strong).

It was odd being at a church where I didn't know everyone. Where I didn't have to do anything, but sit and stand and worship and wonder. Where there was no pressure to do anything in particular, just be me, and allow God to influence the person that I am.

We were a rag tag bunch of followers last night. There were a couple of folks in wheelchairs. There were people who talked during some of the songs. There were a few music-based mishaps. There was me and my short attention span. But at the crux of it, we were church, all trying to follow Jesus in the best way we know how.

I'm glad I can be church with these people.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Elephants

Yesterday, I saw some elephants. I say 'saw,' I mean, took a trunk in my hand, walked about 200 metres with them and fed them. They're incredible beasts. As I lead the elephant down the path, I remember thinking: 'This trunk could kill me,' which, it must be said, is not the most reassuring thought ever.


We took them to a small forest clearing, and there they were asked to show us certain 'natural' behaviours, like kneeling (for drinking, and digging up roots), blowing (for... good question. Someone did tell us, and I'm sure it's very useful...), and a violent shaking of the head (for cooling down, or getting rid of flies. Apparently.)


The elephants were rewarded with food, and then we were given a chance of a close up. The elephants responded to every order their trainers gave - to open their mouth, lift up their foot, wave their trunk, etc., and it was all rewarded with food.

But I felt uncomfortable.

It all felt a bit like a performing circus. Seeing animals with such majesty and power, yet as tame as your household dog made me feel dirty inside. Of course, the elephants are well treated and fed, and given as much space as possible. But it all felt a bit tawdry and shallow, witnessing elephants given wood pellets as a rewarding for flapping their ears.

They were meant for more than this.

In the same way, we're meant for more than living life and performing tricks when it seems expedient to do so. We were created with such potential, and yet, we sink into obscurity because we don't get shot down so easy then.

There's a band called [dweeb] who are breaking up. They've been around the (Christian) music scene for about 10 years now, but I've never really got into them. In a conversation about them last night, I was pretty scathing about their music and their impact. But, for 10 years, they've endeavoured to stick their head above the parapet and do something good. How can I, as a mediocre, as yet unknown, wannabe musician/comedian/theologian, shoot down an artist because they tried?

Of course, it helps if that effort is coupled with skill - but when we live a life trying to keep our nose (or trunk) clean and not getting in anyone's way, we fail to live up to our potential.

So maybe, as I've documented before, going home will be the best possible thing. Maybe our music will start to get out there, when we actually come together to write stuff and gig. Maybe I'll do some open mic nights and try out some jokes on people. Maybe I'll write a book, preach sermons, help people understand God's love in practical ways.

But I won't know, unless I try.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

I Have A Dream...

I have reached a point in my life that I think most, but not all, men in this country go through. It's a difficult period. It can happen at any time, but usually is most at the fore in the average male around the age of 30. I'm obviously an early developer, but it's a serious issue that the less fair sex face. In fact, I would probably go as far as saying that this state of mind can be the catalyst for a great deal of mid-life crises. It's rarely talked about, and there is something of a taboo about the subject. Ladies, your gentlemen friends may be suffering in silence, and I won't stand for it any longer. It needs to be brought to the light, and I am willing to be the one to bear this burden. Here goes:

I will never be a professional footballer.

Never will I prowl the wing at packed stadia up and down the country, nor will I be sworn at with increasing vehemence as I don't kick the ball right.

I won't ever be able to use my celebration (well rehearsed and practiced since childhood) for THAT winning goal, or any goal for that matter.

I won't be able to talk about how "at the end of day, we got the three points, and that's what matters. We-gave-110%, couldn't-ask-for-more, dodgy-offside-call-but-ref-does-a-hard-job, I-just-love-my-football."

I shall never be lampooned in the national press for not running fast enough or running too fast or being in the wrong place or being in the right place and failing to do anything about it.

At the grand old age of 23, I shall hang up my hypothetical signature series boots and call it a day on pretending to still have a chance at being a professional footballer. I will never be talent spotted, mainly because I have no talent. I have matured significantly enough to see it is just a pipe dream, a whimsical thought and a pointless charade. It is merely a chasing after the wind.

Now, where did I put my guitar? You don't need talent to be a rock star, right?

A Perfect Specimen



Any thoughts?

Monday, 11 July 2011

As Funny As Cancer

Early today, if you had spied me walking along my road towards Waitrose, you would have seen me pause for a moment, make a fist with my right hand, and punch the palm of my left before pressing on with my journey and wondering whether to blog about that moment.

Y'see, in that moment, I had a regret.

The best part of 8 years ago, I said something stupid. And it's one of the things that whenever I remember the moment, I go all cold inside, and wish the earth would swallow me up. Even now, 8 years on. I doubt anyone else remembers it. I've apologised for it, and I have kicked myself - literally and metaphorically - for it many times since.

I suppose I wish the humorous pay-off to all of this was something merely inane and pointless. It's not. It was a joke about cancer on the day of a friend's relative's funeral. Who had died of cancer. To my friend's face. Which, as you can probably imagine, is about as funny as... cancer.

I can't even remember particularly why I did it. I could claim I was trying to lighten the mood (with jokes about cancer?! Yes, that's HOT stuff, right there) but I probably wasn't. I'm fairly sure I was in the eternal pursuit of a laugh, which is something that has trailed me through me life. Presentations? Sermons? This blog? All done for laughs.

Yesterday, at a birthday party with old friends who have seen me go from cute little nerdy kid to the person I am today (make your own jokes...), I was asked several times what the future held in store for me. I struggled, on every occasion, not to make light of their concern. They genuinely wanted to know how to help, how to pray, what they could do. All I could do was respond with sardonic grunts and jokes about becoming homeless.

Which, when I think about it, is kinda funny. Well, funnier than cancer, anyway.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Grand Designs

In the last two months I’ve had three interviews. I’ve travelled up and down the country, lugging bags and suits onto a variety of trains. I’ve got into cars with people I do not know. I’ve stayed in strangers’ houses, eaten strangers’ food, shaken strangers’ hands and said with a knowing smile and a nervous laugh; “I hope we meet again.” I’ve explored churches and parishes and cities. I’ve spoken to any number of church leaders, be they ordained, or skilled in making cakes. I’ve thanked churchwardens and youth groups. I’ve met open charismatics, closet charismatics, male vicars and female vicars. I’ve made videos and nailed presentations. I’ve had hard questions and easy questions. I’ve answered questions about sexuality, sexual relationships, and gender issues. I’ve been able to smile and laugh and make mistakes and worry about them endlessly at night. I’ve said goodbye to interview panels and administrators. I’ve spent time in pubs and cafes, I’ve caught buses and I’ve waited for trains.

And I’ve had three ‘phone calls saying that I didn’t get the job.

And somewhere, in amongst all that, is a grand plan of God’s own design, that will end me up in the right place.

As long as that right place is at home, scrounging off my mother.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Influenced by the ever-linking and -delightful Phil Groom, I read a poem today on another blog. I don't know where he finds these things, but I shan't complain. It's a particularly unique take on being a vicar, and I enjoyed it a lot. Find it here.

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The Christian New Media Awards have rolled around again. If you've a blog, enter. Why not, it might be fun?

I promise I won't whinge this time.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Yay! Christians being racist!

Head over here to hear a quite frankly disgusting and ignorant view of interracial marriages and the Bible. I'm surprised people like this still exist. It makes me so angry, it's taken all the enjoyment out of using the word 'bigotry', which, lest you forget - is one of my favourite words.

Oh, Jesus. Why do people use your name to be douchebags?

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

A Journey

video

I have an awesome friend called Kat. She and I had many creative adventures while at university. This is one of her videos. It's simple, but awesome. You can see more of her amazing photographs and so forth over at her blog.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

I'm Not A Racist, My Best Friend Is A Stereotype

In conversation with an American friend of mine, she said that I use stereotypes on this blog a lot, particularly when it comes to Americans. In the same conversation, she also said that she only rarely reads this blog, and even then, it’s out of pity. I was surprised that a casual reader would give such a critique, as I didn’t know Americans could grasp irony…

Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. Unjust, perhaps. Unrepresentative, maybe. But British people will always moan about the weather, Americans will always be fat/stupid/cultural Philistines, and the French will always be cheese-eating surrender monkeys.

Of course, I jest.* Yet a lot of humour is based around the idea of stereotypes. When Omid Djalili comes out on stage and starts his comedy routine with an Iranian accent, he plays to the stereotype. The humour is found in what we recognise, or think we recognise as an Iranian. When he then breaks into his natural Home Counties accent, the joke accentuates itself, as we have to laugh to rid ourselves of discomfort at the slightly racist joke we’ve been part of.

Of course, I never set out to offend, and I often think carefully before I post something. But, as I hope you have realised over the time you’ve been reading this blog, I’m just as willing to laugh at myself, before I laugh at anyone else. However, other people’s mistakes are far funnier than mine.

I recently heard a quote from Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sachs (for all my lefty Jewish readers, I still think he’s a dude), which went something like this: “Righteousness always has a sense of humour. Self-righteousness never does.”

Amen to that.


*Aside from the bit about the French. That’s true. And the British. And I wouldn’t like to say about the Americans – I know some, and they own guns.**

**I am, of course, joking. Apart from the guns. That is entirely true.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Church (Behind The) Times?

Perusing the Church Times this week – yes, I know, it is hard being this cool – and I saw one of the comment sections was from a blogging Bishop, Alan Wilson. Bishop Alan blogs about all manner of things, but his comment section in the CT was about new media in general.

I thought it was a great article. It laid out clearly the different varieties of social media: social networking, content-based, and blogs. He then described the challenges that these forms bring about, particularly for the Church. Your average CT reader would have found it helpful, informative, and probably quite baffling. But the essence of the piece was to tell the Church to get in on the act – there is a wealth of possibility within Web 2.0.

I commend the article, and I think Bishop Alan pitched it just right. However, I find it sad that we’re in 2011, and the CT gets round to publishing an explanatory article about new media. Sure, it needed to be done. But it’s a little discomforting that only when the ball is well and truly rolling, and very much in danger of rolling away, does the Church think its time to get involved.

Of course, there are your fringe types, who have always been involved. Krish Kandiah, Johnny Baker, Bishop Alan, and others. There are others who have seen the bandwagon, and successfully jumped upon it because they saw the need and importance of engaging with the internet. And then, unfortunately, there are still a whole host of people who decry the internet as a passing fad. This third group make up the majority of the Church.

Perhaps I’m being unfair to both the CT and the Church, and my opinion is coloured by experience with a variety of Luddites I have known over the years. Not necessarily people who are stubbornly refusing to get involved, but people who just don’t know how. I suspect their main fear is that any attempt to engage will be seen as half-hearted, uncool or neglecting ‘what they should be doing’. I suppose in that sense, that’s where things like Digimission, and Premier Christian Media’s involvement comes in, with their attempt to provide the church with a training ground for using new media.

I just worry that the Church has a habit of arriving to the party late, investing a lot of time and energy getting involved (or completely hammered, if you’ll follow the metaphor) then waking up in the early hours with no money and the mother-of-all-headaches, to find that everyone has already left. I hope for our sake – that is, the Church – we don’t do that. We’ve got a gospel to tell, and an internet ready to be told.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

What I Would Grab If The House Caught Fire

I was lying in bed last night, trying to think of something to think about to send me to sleep, when a conversation I had had with my landlady popped into my head. It was about fire alarms, and how the house now has nice shiny new ones that you can’t remove the battery from, irrespective of how unburnt the toast is. Obviously, this lead me to the thought, “what would I do, if I woke up to find the house on fire?” – clearly a train of thought to settle the heart and mind before turning to sleep. My answer came in a variety of steps:
  1. Have I died from smoke inhalation?
  2. No.
  3. Good.
  4. Could I climb out of the window?
  5. Yes.
  6. Could I take anything with me?
  7. Laptop… personal letters… camera. (The thoughts arrived in my head in that order. Like a cartoon car pile-up, except with fewer cars, and more thought-y.)
  8. Guitars?
  9. No, they’re rubbish anyway, and I could claim on insurance, and get better ones.
  10. Would God frown upon fraudulent insurance claims?
  11. Yes, probably.
  12. Does thinking of that as a possibility make me a bad person?
  13. Yes, probably.
  14. Is thinking about the possibility of losing the majority of my worldly possessions in a fire, and the bureaucratic nightmare of an insurance claim that will inevitably follow, going to help me sleep?
  15. No, probably not.
  16. Should I blog about this in the morning?
  17. Oh, go on then.
The laptop and letters were chosen for sentimental reasons. The camera was because it’s light, and would fit nicely in my rucksack, although a new one via the means of an insurance claim (fraudulent or otherwise) is making me rethink that decision.

If you could save anything from a fire, what would it be and why?

Thursday, 12 May 2011

The Apprentice

I started watching The Apprentice. I've never watched it before, as ego-driven, self-obsessed, jargon-riddled prats are not my thing. However, it is entertaining. The petty in-fighting, the ridiculous attempts at one-upmanship, the dismissive way with Alan Sugar and his lackeys deal with the contestants is hilarious.

I watched the first episode yesterday, and the guy who got fired was the Project Manager for that task. He was an accountant, and was desperately trying to prove to anyone who would listen that he was not in the mould of your average accountant. However, the task at hand required basic accountancy skills, and the failure of the task possibly would have been saved by a pause to work out the mathematics.

However, Edward was determined to prove he wasn't an accountant. He even called himself a wheeler-dealer. Lord Sugar, Harry Redknapp, and Del Boy are the only people allowed to describe themselves as wheeler-dealers, and one of them is fictional. In trying to avoid what he was good at, what he knew, Edward missed a real opportunity. Using just an ounce of those skills would have saved him the trouble of being fired.

Sometimes we Christians can be like that. We're so determined to prove that we're good Christians that we forget to use the skills God has given us. My spiritual director has a real problem with Christians who get so caught up in what we think we should be doing, that we forget who we are. Edward got carried away trying to be a leader, and not being an accountant, and he got fired. We are people, designed and created by God with certain characteristics. We are called to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. We are not called to love God with the best bits and the bits we hope to be and the bits we think we should be.

God loves us now. We should return him the favour.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Death and Videos

I think this blog is either dead or dying. I've been incredibly busy with job applications and Easter and other inane things. I think I might create a new blog, one that isn't this one. Probably with a different focus (there's a focus, you say?) and different name. Any suggestions will be gratefully appreciated.

--

Apparently, Osama Bin Laden is dead. As to be expected, we Christians have responded with a variety of responses, from cheering in the street through to getting on our high horses and quoting the Bible at people. I fell, unfortunately, into the latter. More because I look stupid on big horses, not because I think the Bible doesn't have anything to say in this situation.

I don't think killing people is ideal. No matter how horrific the crimes, no-one should die for them. My 10,000 words on forgiveness in my final year helped me to understand that retribution is not a) helpful, or b) Jesus' way. I'm glad that a man renowned for plotting evil can no longer plot evil, but that self same object could also be reached by putting him in prison.

--

I don't have anything else to say, so here's a link to a video that I created for my best friend's wedding. I had fun. I hope you enjoy it, too.

Friday, 22 April 2011

A video I made that didn't get me the job...

video

Honestly... I don't why they didn't give me the job, either. I was wearing a suit, and everything.

Follow











Forgiveness And Random Acts of Kindness

I'm not sure whether it's because it's Good Friday, but the BBC decided to run with a great article about forgiveness today. It comes after the brother of a murdered schoolgirl in London has said he is willing to forgive: click.

I contemplated apologising for writing about forgiveness again, but as we can't seem to get enough of the stuff to go around the world, I think another mention or two doesn't go amiss.

---

A friend posted a status yesterday about a random act of kindness, where a complete stranger paid the bus fare that she didn't have. The story cheered me, but I got to thinking - isn't it odd that we celebrate these events? In a normal/better/perfect world [delete as your worldview allows] wouldn't being human be defined by these acts? It wouldn't be out of the ordinary, but normal.

Jesus, teach us how to be human.

Friday, 8 April 2011



I would like to make videos like this.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Monday, 14 March 2011

We Like Sheep


Today, via Jesus Needs New PR, I happened across We Like Sheep Comics. It's a weekly comic with a penchant for whimsy and pointing out the ridiculousness of the Bible. Thus, I love it.

Also, I've just discovered that the author/animator/genius behind We Like Sheep has also worked on Happy Tree Friends. He gets bonus Christian- and Man-points for doing so.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The Good Shirt Shop PART II

1. This is a new shirt, especially made for Christian Groping Week. The design on this t-shirt is right in the middle of the chest, so I suppose it suggests that there is an acceptable type of groping that avoids either breast. Also potential for suggesting that covering your hand in paint, holding a small cross in your palm and touching someone inappropriately is fine, in t-shirt form.


2. Chris Tomlin has now branched out into t-shirts, clearly. I'm not sure why he'd use The Matrix font either.

I'm not even sure why you'd want this in a t-shirt. This is a creed I believe in. However, parading it on your chest, looking like a Stryper album cover, is not something that appeals.


3. This is a cool t-shirt. It's got funky Lights Alive writing, and references MC Hammer's U Can't Touch This. I would buy this t-shirt from a normal shop, if I ever bought anything from normal shops.

My problem: why is this a Christian shirt?! I mean, I know, you can read spiritual warfare and angels and protection and being safe with God. Yet I wonder how you go from Athanasian Creed for the above t-shirt, to subtle hints at a Cosmic Protection Racket?!

4. Now, I see what you've done here. You've taken the name of a section of the Bible, and the logo that The Beatles used, and the amalgamated the two. However, I would like to point that you can't wear this item of clothing (ostensibly a hoodie, but those two lines could be dribble) without having the word 'tit' printed on it. Apt, really.



5. This is actually quite well thought-out. And considering the second formula is actually pure ethanol, it's no wonder that the wedding guests thought he'd saved the best till last. Nothing like 100% proof to end a Jewish wedding.

(Again, the lines of dribble must be noted. Although, I suppose if you were drinking pure ethanol, all manner of bodily functions may happen without your say so.)

Alright, I'm done. I found all these at The Good Shirt Shop, a place where perusal brings about many giggles.

If you could make one bad Christian t-shirt, what would it be?

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Three Cheers For Porn!

Found via the ever-thought-provoking Sam Isaacson. This is horrible.

If you think this is worth doing something about, go to xxxchurch.com. These are Christians who see the problems of pornography, and are doing something about it.

Monday, 7 March 2011

The Good Shirt Shop PART 1

I came across The Good Shirt Shop via an advert on Facebook, claiming to be the number one choice for Christian t-shirts in the UK. So, ever a sucker for popular culture, I decided to take a look. Here are some of my picks of the bunch, and not all for good reasons.

1. I liked this. It made me smile. And I could think of plenty of Christians who would wear it. Also, it uses Cooper Black, which is a good font. I approve.







2. What does this even mean?! That you and the Almighty are Skyping? Or maybe - as he's an old-fashioned chap - you're rocking it up on MSN. Perhaps you're even watching the same TV programme at the same time, and sharing all the latest celebrity goss? I suppose you could be MMORPGing together. God's character is pretty much definitely a troll. Fact.


3. Again, what?! LIFE for him? This makes no sense. 'Live' I could perhaps deal with, if it wasn't on a t-shirt, and thus making demands of everyone who reads it. Any ideas?






4. This almost feels like evidence in a murder trial: "Can you point out a person in this court room who would wear this abomination?" Cross: great. Colours: nice. Together? On a t-shirt? I'm alright, ta.






5. I liked this idea, and, at the risk of laughter from certain quarters of my friends, the font. I'm not, however, entirely sure about the slightly condescending tone of the extra tagline.

"Hey you, look at me. I'm reborn, recycled, all new. Look, look! Look at me. And you're... oh. Well, that's a shame. Tell you what, be like me, wear slightly tacky t-shirts, and your future looks peachy."

I think I'll pause there, because there is so much comedy gold within the website, and come back to it another time. If you know of any cringe-worthy Christian t-shirts (yes, my dear Americans, I'm particularly looking at you!) send them my way and I'll stick them up in the next post.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

You would not believe the hassle I've gone through to get vaguely humorous caption underneath a photo in Blogger. I'm thinking Wordpress beckons...

Outcasts

Did you hear the one about the rapper and the spy on the new planet?

I have recently become slightly enamoured with new BBC (attempt at) sci-fi, Outcasts. Basic premise is that Earth has gone kaboom!, and the most vital of people have been sent in transporters to a new habitable planet. The series then looks at how this new community survives.

There are plot holes and acting discrepancies throughout. That's annoying. They ramp up a mystery in one episode only to take up an entirely new thread in the next. There are presumably thousands of people in the settlement, yet we only ever consistently meet 6 of them. The writers are clearly hopeful that anyone watching won't mind, and will just be dragged along by the (usually) brilliant musical score and dramatic action. Which, I must admit, I have been sucked into.

But I bring it up not because I particularly think you should watch it - although you should - but because of some of the ideas it explores.

Settling on a new planet is presumably a stressful experience. I wouldn't know, myself, but I'm guessing. However, we are given hints at the characters past lives and mistakes they made on Earth, and how life on Carpathia (the planet is named after the ship that picked up survivors from the Titanic) is a second chance for them. As with every society, they attempt to set up a utopia - and, as with every society, they fail. But what is so key is that the leader of this fledgling society begins to understand that despite the new opportunity, humans are fundamentally selfish people, and there is no getting away from that, however many light years away you are.

I doubt the BBC will continue with Outcasts - apparently they shifted from Monday night to Sunday night because the ratings dropped below 3 million - but I would genuinely appreciate a second series. One where the writers learn not to treat the viewers as idiots, some of the detail of the settlement is revealed, and we have less 'grit', and more humour.

Oh, and while you're at it, bring back Firefly?

Monday, 28 February 2011

It was going so well...

An interesting insight into the mind of... someone who completely misunderstands the nature of God. This has bumbled its way through the internet via Stuff Fundies Like. I agree with the first sentence. I concur completely with the second sentence. And it should have stopped there, because the third sentence makes a mockery of God.

--

My application for a job I really rather fancied was rejected last week. That was frustrating. I spoke to a few friends after the rejection letter, and one, with all the best intentions in the world said, 'It's obvious that God didn't want you to do that.' My immediate thought was, 'Is it?!'

I'm not saying that God wasn't in that rejection, nor am I saying that everything I want, I should get. But it does seem odd that we Christians tend to offload that which we don't understand onto the God Has Ordained It pile - into which I supposed we often put clergy, as well. Bwahaha.

I don't understand why I didn't get the job, and it's gutting that I didn't. I'm sure at some point I will understand. However, I think it's lazy Christianity that, out of our misapprehension, attributes human action to God.

--

I suppose both that Facebook idiocy and my thoughts about the job application boil down to these questions: how much can/do we influence God, or how much of our lives are directly influenced by him?

Thoughts?

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Sent to me by the ever-delightful Sam. Click to embiggen.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Fred Karger

You probably haven't heard of that name before, unless you live in America, or take a erstwhile interest in American politics. I only heard of his name today. He's a Republican, running to be the Republican presidential candidate. What makes him interesting and blog-worthy?

He's gay.

When I read about him, the immediate question struck me: how will Fundamentalist Christian Republicans react? If he's the Republican candidate - and there's still a long way to go - then there will be a lot of Christians who don't know what to do. They are brought up to vote Republican - because God votes that way, doncha know? - but he symbolises, for Christians, all that is wrong with American culture today.

We watch and wait.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Why I'd like to be famous...

Or at least notable. So, then, I could go on Desert Island Discs and confuse them with a selection of Christian music from the last 20 years. It would be a thing of beauty to hear Kirsty Young ask me why Jesus Freak (probably the cover by Chasing Victory) is a song I chose.

I have some strange aspirations.

Friday, 11 February 2011

ChristianCutie83, keepin' it reals.

To go from the 'somewhere near sublime' (yesterday) to, quite frankly, the ridiculous. However, kudos for her trying, and actually putting online - it's not a bad rap. It's just... awkward.



Via the ever wonderful Jesus Needs New PR.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Forgiveness

A long time ago, in a very different place, this blog was born. It was mostly created out of necessity, but it was also to share with you my insights about forgiveness, and what God thinks about it. It's sort of morphed into a smorgasbord of less important things since then, but I came across this wonderful story in the Guardian, via The Week, and thought it was worth sharing.

In essence, Joanna Nodding was a rape victim who chose to forgive her attacker. There doesn't seem to be any religious or spiritual inclination, just the understanding that forgiveness sets us free. She met her attacker through the restorative justice programme - an excellent initiative that says that prison and condemnation is not the only or the best way to bring justice. She says
"As the meeting was finishing I was asked if there was anything else I wanted to say, and I gave him what I’ve later come to think of as ‘a gift’. I said to him “What I am about to say to you a lot of people would find hard to understand, but I forgive you for what you did to me. Hatred just eats you up and I want you to go on and have a successful life. If you haven’t already forgiven yourself, then I hope in the future you will.” I didn’t say it to excuse what he did, or to minimize it, but because I wanted myself to be free of that burden of grievance, and as importantly for me, I hoped Darren could learn, move on, and forgive himself."
Read more here and here.
That second link is to a wonderful website called theforgivenessproject.com. It has no political or religious affiliation, it is 'merely' a collection of people who see forgiveness as important. Important enough to share with the world.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Top Three Catholic Apps

The Catholic Church, bless their cotton vestments, has given the OK to an app on the iPhone which guides you through your confession, according to the BBC.

I knew this was something significant to blog about, but wondered quite seriously about what angle to take upon such an event. I then abandoned all trains of thought and went for flippancy, as my default setting.

So, what other apps could the Catholic Church approve of? My top 3 suggestions for potential developers out there.

1. Angry Birds - set in the modern era, you are a frustrated Catholic woman who has had her rights stolen by some (green) prigs. You have to use charm, logic and a working knowledge of physics (but just remember what they did to Galileo!) to try and break down out-dated values. Unending gameplay - you never successfully complete the mission!

2. The Sins - design, build and control people and places. You decide what is right and wrong, and can duly punish those who go against your will. You are limited to what the Creator of the app has designed, but other than that, it seems you're pretty much in charge of your little world!

3. Need For Speed: Popemobile™ - you are the driver of the Popemobile™, and you have to make your way slowly through crowds of adoring worshippers. Don't turn too quickly, or you might topple the potentate! Various slow-driving scenarios available, in over 25 world cities!

Any further additions to the broadening Catholic iPhone app stable? Get involved.

--

I must note that the above is pure flippancy, and not meant to be taken seriously.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Revolution Fatigue

I have been only vaguely following the story in Egypt. I think this is because I have 'revolution fatigue'. This is a term that I have literally just coined, but it is essentially a dislike of 24-hour rolling news. While news of protests and revolution are fascinating, intriguing, and can reveal a lot about a country or region, 24 hour news has basically made them bland and boring. The media then has to revert to hyperbole and sensationalism in order to spice up their dull and repetitious 30 seconds of stock footage:

"Egypt descends into chaos as protesters roam streets"

"Looters win the day in scenes of anarchy"

"Mubarak hangs by a thread as rioters decimate economy"

I just made all those up. But imagining Alastair Stewart uttering those words isn't so tough.

What should be interesting is made into a spectacle. News no longer has an impact upon us because we are subjected to it so often.

Which is partly why this picture is quite so amazing. It shows a couple of Egyptian Christians holding hands, forming part of a large circle to protect vulnerable Egyptian Muslims while they prayed. There have also been reports of Muslims guarding Coptic churches while Christians worship.

I didn't hear much of this on the news, but apparently it has been shown. I'm glad there is some good news coming out of Egypt. Let's hope and pray the unrest ends soon, that Muslims and Christians don't need to protect each other from crowds and police, and the Middle East finds some modicum of peace soon.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011


At the weekend, we bought a kite. We headed to the beach, tied all the necessary bits (I think) and threw the kite up in the air.

It fluttered and spiralled and crashed to the ground. We tried again. It spluttered and span and crashed to the ground. We threw it more gently, waited for more wind, ran along with it.

Nothing.

The kite wanted to fly. We wanted the kite to fly. The express purpose of the kite was to fly, and it was not doing so. It wasn't fulfilling all its potential.

Which, in truly unsubtle style, made me wonder about us. What do you reckon our purpose is, and do you think we're fulfilling it? I suppose the kite made me think of me: designed and desiring to do something, but unable to do so.

Get involved.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Sodium chloride and visible electromagnetic radiation

...said the actress to the bishop.

I don't remember much of Michael Nazir-Ali's Laing Lecture in 2009. But in staff prayers this morning, I was reminded of what he said about salt and light. Here is my paraphrase:
Light is all pervading. Where there is light, there can be no darkness. When Jesus talks about people being light, he is talking of light removing the darkness. However, much more effective in our culture is to be salt. Salt mixes in with food and flavours it. It doesn't get rid of the food, but changes the flavour of the meal.
Let's be salt.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

My friend Phil is a good man

I like Phil. He's funny. He has a wonderful family and cooks a mean braai. He also gave me a lot of laughs (and probably some undercurrents of wisdom) throughout my teenage years.

He also has a penchant for Stuff Christians Like - easily ranking as one of my personal 'most intimidating blogs of all time'. His enjoyment of SCL, and the way it regularly finds its way onto my News Feed, made me take a gander at it again today. It's one of those blogs that remind me what I am not. Jon Acuff, the esteemed writer of said blog, is able to list his 'top 10 blogs of 2010' by hits. He's able to post a blog every day. He's able to have adverts, proper paid-for adverts, not just some random link to 'Plumbers in Hampstead' on Google. He's able to advertise his book. On top of this, he comes across as, well, a very nice, humorous, and gracious man.

I am none of the above.

I am someone completely different, without the job description of 'writer' to justify not doing anything all day. And one day, it'd be lovely to have the kind of recognition Jon Acuff gets. But for now, I'm happy being me.

So thank you Jon, and Phil, for reminding me of that.

The Praying Parrot

Just... brilliant.

I happened across this article on the BBC, which contained one of the greatest names in science or any other field ever. It filled me with much joy, and many giggles.