Tuesday, 30 September 2008

ten commandments for blogging

These guidelines have been drawn up at a conference in London by the Evangelical Alliance in response to concern at how religious blogs can quickly descend into vitriol, which I found really fascinating.

The commandments, based on those delivered to Moses by God at the top of Mount Sinai, order bloggers not to "make an idol" of their web space, not to misuse their screen name by using anonymity to sin and to remember the Sabbath by taking one day off a week from blogging. They also order: "You shall not use the web to commit or permit adultery in your mind."

Bloggers are commanded to honour their fellow bloggers and not to get too upset by their mistakes. They shall not murder the reputation of another blogger, shall not give false testimony against a fellow blogger and shall not steal the blog content of another.

Bloggers are also told to be content with their own creation and not to covet their neighbour's blog ranking. Many thousands of blogs have sprung up in the past few years, offering easy access to online opinion forums to any user of the internet.

The "instant access" nature of most blogs means people posting comments often do so in the heat of passion and rarely stop to reflect, as they would if giving a lecture or writing a letter.

The result can be intemperate and sometimes foul language aimed at either the author of the blog or other contributors.

Krish Kandiah, executive director of Churches in Mission, said: "These commandments are virtual rather than set in stone, but are offered to the blogging community as a way to link the Ten Commandments with the art of blogging.

"In the ever-changing information age, what we need is wisdom for life, and God communicates wisdom to our culture through the Bible on every issue from social justice to social networking."

Mark Meynell, senior associate minister for All Souls Church, Langham Place, London, said: "The internet is merely the latest step in the evolution of human communication – and so like any other new medium, it presents us with huge opportunities as well as challenges.

"It is essential that Christians make the most of it because we believe we have good news that is as relevant to those in cyberspace as it is for those in real space."

Ten commandments for bloggers:

1 You shall not put your blog before your integrity

2 You shall not make an idol of your blog

3 You shall not misuse your screen name by using your anonymity to sin

4 Remember the Sabbath day by taking one day off a week from your blog

5 Honour your fellow-bloggers above yourselves and do not give undue significance to their mistakes

6 You shall not murder someone else's honour, reputation or feelings

7 You shall not use the web to commit or permit adultery in your mind

8 You shall not steal another person's content

9 You shall not give false testimony against your fellow-blogger

10 You shall not covet your neighbour's blog ranking. Be content with your own content

Monday, 29 September 2008


My macbook is back! The verdict was ‘there’s nothing wrong with it!’ – great news except for the last three weeks my e-based side of life and work has gone out the window. The answer, apparently, to my problems is some interference from the wireless network at home, which prevents the machine coming on. So if it happens again (and it has) I switch off the router etc. and then when I re-boot – hey presto! It’s beyond me and I’m not rushing to get the manuals out and try and sort out the problem, but at least I can use it.

I’ve discovered what king of blogger I am – as a result of this episode, when I’ve had access to a PC in my study, I’ve hardly blogged. I blog on the fly, I blog in front of the TV, I blog when I have half an hour in the car spare. I don’t sit down in front of the computer and say, what shall I blog today? Never really wondered how other people do it, but one or two have asked how I find the time – and the answer is ‘all of the above’. Now it’s back, I must get going on the blogging again.

Well, we have a new member of the family! Yes, we did stop at three children, but now Hattie has joined us – at least for a year. Hattie, aka Henricka, however is a horse. Ben has taken her on loan and dad, having a tow-bar, was enlisted to fetch her (from Gravesend) and deliver her (to the Wirral) via Bristol – even without doing the maths, that’s a fair way. Two days of towing a horse-box – Maggie thinks I’m weird, but I actually enjoyed it. Ben, now in his second year at Vet School, has added to his already fairly full agenda for the next 12 months. He’s hoping to get Hattie geared up for next seasons eventing and make some more progress towards one of his ambitions – competing at Badminton. As he said, one childhood ambition was realised as we drove away from Matt Prior (who’s lent the horse) with Hattie in tow.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Baptists at Fashion week .... whatever next?

Well, my introduction to London Fashion week was an immensely enjoyable and interesting eye-opener. It was pretty much as I imagined in many ways and we enjoyed the announcement ‘and new brand…. RAJE’. Emily’s dresses seemed to go down well and it was really weird after the show to see our youngest with a line of journalists and cameramen waiting to ask questions. They didn’t get the overall no.1 prize, but came away with plenty of interest and are potentially looking at having their range produced and sold via an ethical fashion seller. Their show was followed by a party put on by the Ethical Fashion Forum which is a fascinating network of people really committed to the cause. Where are the Christians? It may be a presumption to assume there aren’t a load, but I suspect, most up-standing Christians would turn their noses up at engagement with the fashion industry. However, a glance around your average Church on a Sunday morning will soon reveal the influence of fashion, labels, brands, image – we’re not quite as un-involved as we think. Jesus had something to say about the extent we mis-place concern in things like clothes – and he also had something to say about justice (which surely  includes those who sew and manufacture for next to nothing). It’s a complicated and confused world, but we wont change much by dis-engagement. Meanwhile the not working properly mac saga continues - I'm using it at present, but the original presenting problem hasn't been solved yet, so the frustration mounts, the address book was lost and my awareness of how much I'm dependent on everything 'e' goes into another gear.... 

Monday, 15 September 2008

Bristol Half

Life is pretty hectic at present - not that I was working yesterday, but I am still recovering from the Bristol Half. Liverpool won - even without Gerrard and Torres - not spoken to many Man Utd fans yet, but a couple have had the misfortune of phoning today - great! Saturday morning I pulled something in my back - getting some milk out of the fridge - so not a great start. However, I managed 1.40 which wasn't bad, but not the PB I wanted - there's always another time: (gosh how do Olympic athletes feel when it's another 4 years?). Tom did brilliantly - round in 1.27 which puts him at 307th. out of 16,000 - unlike me he had something left at the end as well. My main problem today (apart from a stiff back AND legs) is what do I wear tomorrow? Maggie and I are off to London for Emily's show with RAJE. We also get an invite to the party for Ethical Fashion whatever's, which should be interesting. Emily says we must look smart and I have to wear a suit - which limits how trendy you can really be, but tie, or no tie, that is the question! Oh - had a phone chat with an Olympic Medalist this afternoon too. Unfortunately, she (Mary King) didn't want to speak to me, but Ben. I tend to re-act to people getting all parental and proud, (whilst being incredibly insensitive to everyone else etc.) - but whilst I'm reflecting on how long ago it was when I could race them all and win, I'm also realising all three have overtaken me in many, many, ways - which actually feels rather great - more like taking on the baton round the next leg, than being left behind. Bit gushy, but don't have much time....

Friday, 12 September 2008

good news, bad news

It's the good news that both Torres and Gerrard are fit to face United (censored reference, you never know who might read this) tomorrow that's brought me back to blogging this week! I wont be watchign or listening due to another induction - this time for Kath who's coming to be the Minister with specialist responsibility for youth at our own Church, Counterslip. The two things keeping me away from here have been time (it's been one of those don't do as I do, do as I say weeks) and the annoying clumsiness of having to oeprate from a PC rather than my macbook. On the broken mac front - incidentally, thank you for the e-mails expressing sympathy - there's good news and bad news. The bad news is I don't yet have it back. The bad news could have been worse (a large bill), but Apple have translated it into good news in deciding to replace my SuperDrive for nothing - even though it's out of warranty. Great service from them and Western computers in Bristol! I also have to say Keira, of Apple Customer Services in Cork, had the most delicious Irish accent, which made the whole customer service phone wait worth all 15 minutes. It's dome wonders for my faith in mac, just when some of my friends were trying to raise doubts in my mind. What about Church 'customer service'? Obviously, the whole concept is a no-no in many minds However, one of my friends (remaining nameless for the time being) has recently been a 'mystery shopper' - he mentioned how he had the job of checking just how various shop assistants, sales people, etc. offered service to their customers - did they deliver their training was often the issue, being employed by the companies themselves, as a quality control measure. Church welcome teams? As stated, it's been a busy week, but worthwhile. It's interesting to see my diary is fuller with meeting Churches and Leadership Teams about 'developmental' stuff these days - three evenings this week. This is what we planned when we had a regional staffing review a couple of years ago and it's good to see it working out in practice. My colleague, Gordon, has become the main regional with the strictly 'pastoral' hat on and this has taken so much of the troubleshooting load off my shoulders - which, in practice, meant the developmental was often on hold. Amongst this we held our annula day for our retired Ministers and their spouses in Bath this week. Manvers Street BC Open House Centre did a great job for lunch and, I think, the retireds enjoyed the day. It's always interesting to listen to folk with a raft of experience. I look forward tos eeing one of our retireds - Alan Ashworth - we wont be at the same Church, but both running in the Bristol Half Marathon - it'll be Alan's first one which I thought was pretty impressive at 65. Hopefully, we'll both finish - last year I ended up flat on my back with half a mile to go! I didn't realise it at the time, but after swaying to a grinding halt, I discovered later I'd dyhydrated - hence my camel back drinking thingy for Christmas from Maggie! I now have to carry this plus my mobile on Sunday in case I cause another emergency panic! My last run before Sunday was in the pouring rain yesterday, so we'll soon see now. Of course, I'll be in Church on Sunday evening before anyone starts writing to my boss!

Monday, 8 September 2008

technology, technology, technology

Just how dependent are we on technology? I've been reflecting on the fact that when I first began in 'regional ministry' I had to give in and buy a mobile phone - I'd struggle to be without it now! I used a computer, but e-mail was only just mushrooming - now my letter-box is a fraction of what it what, but my inbox....! I didn;t have a PDA - if it crashes, I'm done for. The prompt for all this is rather depressing (o dear, that bad?) - my beloved macbook has gone into be sorted. Apparently some devious bit of software downloaded - no doubt from a microsoft source - has caused havoc. I'm just hoping I've backed up everything I need, but suspect a few things will be lost - not to mention having to re-start an address book (please Lord no!). En route to dropping the macbook into the shop, Emily (who i wa sropping off elsewhere) discovered she's left her mobile phone behind - so now I've dropped her the other side of Bristol and have no idea whether she'll be back home today, or not. Spare a thought and pray for me! (yopu can choose how). Now, back to the question - how dependent are we? (or do i just mean me?) I'm off to talk with a group of leaders tonight and have had to scrape something together because all the material I wanted was on my laptop and the PC wont read my files on the external hard drive. How did the Apostle Paul cope without it all?

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

christology shapes missiology shapes ecclesiology

Ivan Illich was once asked what is the most revolutionary way to change society. “Is it violent revolution, or is it gradual reform?” He gave a careful answer. “Neither. If you want to change society, you need to provide an alternative story”, he concluded.

Before we set out to change society, however, it’s always a strand in the debate concerning how much we need to change ourselves. From my perspective we need to see a load more change in the vast majority of our Churches & denominational structures, before we’re very equipped to change our communities. Surely, we of all people, don’t need an alternative story – or do we? I just wonder whether this is actually saying something to us in the Church after all. Frequently, it seems to me, our problem seems to be our assumptions. We assume we’re living out of the Christ-story, but a closer examination of the life of our Church reveals we’re more likely living out of routine and past glories. For example, as a Baptist, I passionately believe that Jesus should be at the heart of all we’re about. ‘Jesus is Lord’ is that great affirmation of faith from the New Testament, but also something at the heart of our Baptist origins: that is, Jesus is our King, not any other. Unfortunately, we have the theory, but not always the practice. As an association, we’re now looking at what we say to groups we’re working with who might be wiling to plant something new – I wont pretend we’ve developed very far, but the fact that Jesus needs to be at the heart of all we do has to be of our essence. It’s easily said, what we need to see more of is a radical willingness to live out the implications. Do we need more of the same? Hardly. That’s not to say all of our Churches are off the mark – actually far from it in many places. The increasing problem is that the slice of the population these appeal to is getting smaller and smaller.

Monday, 1 September 2008


red kites make for a good day

Today I'm back at our National Settlement Team & Team Leaders - 3 days we share together most months. The best thing is, as ever, meeting up with a group of colleagues and friends. It's a great group to be a part of - I recognise it's a rich privilege to be part of a meaningful team of colleagues and I'm often conscious it's one of those privileges most people in paid Ministry don't enjoy. For me that's rather tragic - I owe so much to the benefits it provides and confess it's something I've always had, in different forms, since working within the Church. Why, therefore, do too many ministry colleagues seem to isolate themselves and leave themselves vulnerable? Having waded through a lengthy piece of research examining the casualties of Christian Ministry, I'm well aware this involves a complex response. However, wrapped up with this is something about who we are, or who we think we are maybe? It does strike me (and this settlement team is providing additional ammunition for this hunch) far too much of how we're set up as Churches, and wired up as Ministers, revolves around 'our performance' and similar. Correspondingly, this seems to be strongly aligned to the attractional model of Church increasingly being referred to. The day started by dropping Emily at the train station for yet another day in London - I can't get used to my entrepreneurial daughter. I just hope today works out better than last week - she went on the coach, but due to the M4 being closed, ended up 3.5 hours late!
On a lighter note, and call me weird if you wish, I tend to rank journeys in buzzard sightings. Driving around the wonderful countryside of Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Somerset, Buzzards are a regular feature of my life and add value to most days (for me at least). A 3 or 4 buzzard journey is good one. However, since the re-introduction of Red Kites in the Chilterns a few years ago I increasingly spot one or two on my visits to Didcot. These, for the uninitiated. are absolutely fabulous birds to watch and, for someone like me, really make a two hour drive worth-while. Just one today means I'm glad to be at Baptist House!