Sunday Stuff 3/11/13

PumpkinIt has a been a great week around the internets. Here I share some of my top picks.

2 classic examples of the non apology apology this week.

First prize goes to The Sun for their teeny tiny ‘correction’ of a piece from a couple of weeks back which cause a massive hoo hah. The Sun claimed there were over 600,000 foreign health tourists coming to the UK for treatment, putting a massive strain on the NHS. Turns out, as if we were ever surprised, that this was a complete fabrication.

The second prize goes to the Pembroke College , Oxford’s Rugby Team’s Social Secretary who sent an email with the subject line “FREE PUSSY” to 50 club players earlier this week encouraging players to spike girls’ drinks and get them pregnant. Said social secretary may have stepped down from his job but I await news of his 9and others) expulsion. The very absence of an apology and the existence of the usual ‘we’re sorry if you felt offended’ remarks is just part of the victim blame culture that pervades society. My feelings aren’t hurt Mr Social Secretary – you were wrong.

A statement issued by the club said: “Pembroke Rugby Club accepts that the emails circulated earlier this week about our proposed Crew Date were entirely misguided and represent a serious case of poor judgement.”

In the statement, PCRFC explained that the “challenge” was intended as a “harmless drinking game joke, and was in no way intended to mean that the team member should lace their dates’ drinks with anything illegal and/or to engage in any sexual abuse.”

Best blog of the week: Co-dependency on the Church: There is hope by Crispin Fletcher Louis summarises some amazing points from the accompanying video of Carl Tuttle. Carl’s rise, fall and rise as a renowned pastor in the Vineyard Church is pretty well known. In the video (included in the blog) which inspired Crispin’s blog, we hear Carl’s story of how to find a pure meaning of leadership.

It’s a story about: the folly of a focus on event over process:

the folly of placing identity in role and position over authenticity and relationship,

the folly of a dualism that says “Church” is where all the action is,

the good news that He is always looking to break through just to get to us—as individuals—with his love for His humanity.

Best way to spend 37 seconds of your life: Look at this video of just how insane levels of photo manipulation have reached. Perhaps this is nothing new to many of us interested in photography, but for anyone with even the slightest body image issue, this could be revelatory. I had an interesting discussion around this topic. Some felt that we should all be happy with how we are made and that things like this are bad because they make us unhappy with what we look like. I understand that but I think it goes further. I think it is ok to not be perfectly happy with what we look like. Many of us tweak and colour and paint and shave and go even further to change our looks. What worries me is that those who want to try something different are given false targets to strive for. Did you see how they increased the size and changed the position of the model’s eyes? Of course we should be happy with what we’re like, that goes without saying but if you do fancy a chance of image, to get healthier or find something aesthetically pleasing, knowing what is real and what is false is important.

Halloween was upon us again without so much as a moment to realise it was even October! I’ve really come around on Halloween over the last few years having been dead against it. But I am trying throughout my life to look at things differently and really decide why I believe what I believe because I’ve discovered just how many opinions I have that have just been inherited. I struggle with an ‘us and them’ mentality that many churches propagate and Halloween is a hot button to many congregations. I really enjoyed this blog from The Verge Network: 3 ways to be Missional at Halloween or why Jesus wouldn’t attend the Harvest Party at your church.  I’m not in agreement with every point herein, but do love the challenge to get out of our churches and stop the alternative parties and muck in, on the one night of the year people on streets are actually talking to each other.

How can we then show people THAT Jesus to our communities during Halloween? Be THAT House

You know “that” house.  When you were a kid and you went to a house and said “trick or treat” and they handed you a full size candy bar, it was like winning the lottery.  It was such good news, you’d tell strangers dressed up like a clown zombie where to find the goods.  Everyone knew that house in the neighborhood and if you didn’t have one in your neighborhood, you’d travel what seemed to be miles to get to that house.

Be THAT house.  We have been blessed to be a blessing.  Think about how this shows people the Father.  Everyone is expecting to get a small fun size bar.  It’s what they’ve earned by dressing up and having the courage to knock on your door and say “trick or treat.” What they know they haven’t earned is a full size candy bar…it speaks to this idea of grace and blessing.

You don’t need to tell the kids this, but it starts to tell the story of what your house is about to the neighbors.  It tells a different story than what they expect or are used to and this is exactly the story of the gospel.

And while  I’m at itBest ‘just cos I’m a girl doesn’t mean I have to be a witch or a princess on Halloween’ photos.

Totally the utterly completely best find of the week: Addie Zimmerman recently released a book I have added to my Amazon wish list after reading this short blog: To the Current Pastors from the Formerly On Fire.  This abstract made me jump up and down and clap my hands a lot!

The “on fire” faith is not sustainable and there should not be the primary goal of ministry.

I think that deep down, everyone knows this, which is why when we haul vans full of teens to retreats and conferences, we talk about mountaintop experiences and valleys of faith. We warn them that the feelings won’t last and try to help them figure out how to hold on to what they’ve learned in spite of that.

And yet, in my experience, the unspoken ethos of church youth groups and parachurch organizations is that, when it comes to faith, bigger is always better. We try to encourage others toward passionate faith by putting students who seem to have sparked into fire on pedestals.

And I don’t think it does anyone any favors – not the kid on pedestal, not the kids looking up at him.

What it does do is create a culture of trying harder to attain some elusive feeling, scrambling to earn God’s love, and the constant need to prove devotion through bigger and better sacrifices.

Would love to hear your thoughts on any of the above!

Tweets of the week:

@JessBWatson  For the love of the last shred of my sanity, can we stop asking celebrity moms how they “juggle” it all??

‏@C_S_Norton : Satan’s pretty weak if all he can conjure up is some small children in silly hats asking for sweets. #notabigdeal

@MoAnsar : “Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever has not kindness has not faith”~ Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)


Sunday Stuff 8/9/13

heather geologySometimes I remember that I’m a scientist and a geologist at that, hence the photo! Here is a great blog called Frack Land. Their FAQ provides some facts and food for thought. I’m not coming down on either side of the fence on Fracking, straddling it quite nicely for now.

I was pleased to see Marin Alsop become the first woman ever to conduct the Last Night of the Proms in its 118-year history. At nine years old her violin teacher told her that “girls don’t do that”, but she persevered and said her success was partly down to her “incredibly supportive” parents.

I am still saddened that we tell our children they can or can’t do something because of their gender. I think this is one of those debates we complicate but should really be quite simple. We shouldn’t ignore our gender, but we should remember we are so much more than it alone. Limiting anyone limits our future.

Speaking of which, fantastic news this week that pressure from the Let Toys be Toys  campaign has resulted in Toys R Us finally moving to end gender specific marketing in their stores.

Some fun from Patheos: Ten things Christians should say more Make sure you also look at the sister blog, ten things Christians should say less!

No. 2: “How can I help?” – Sometimes we have a bad habit of diagnosing problems and coming up with the solution without actually sitting down and talking with the folks we’re supposedly helping. Though well intended, this can come off as arrogant, and can also end up being a waste of time and resources. Yes, it’s more vulnerable to ask an open-ended question like “How can I help?’ since the answer might require much more of us than we planned on. But that’s the risk of doing real servant work.

Tweets of the week:

Ferg Breen: @micahjmurray I’m pretty certain a ‘high view of scripture’ means an emphasis on the word that became paper & not the word that became flesh

Louis Barfe: Jamie Oliver’s new £26 cookbook is called Save With Jamie. Thanks, I will. Straight off, I can see one £26 saving I’ll be making.

Christian Muslim : Chris Hewer: ‘I may not agree with everything that #Islam teaches but I need to understand it to build a relationship with my neighbour.’

Richard Rohr, OFM ‏ True Kingdom people bridge worlds and do not again create separate or superior little kingdoms.

Tuesday Stuff 17/6/13

breaking-the-chains-10Looking at my choices this week, I am struck that all are, in one way or another about the impact media, social or otherwise, has on us and how we perceive ourselves and others. Domestic violence reduced to a lover’s spat. Page 3 and its ongoing hold and impact on our nation. The blurred lines between good intentions and propaganda when it comes to engaging people in our causes.

Great article discussing what we should do when we witness incidents of violence, in this case domestic violence

Should we intervene? Our response to the Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson assault is shocking tooEvents like this compel us to consider the ethics of recording a dispute

It is, obviously, too late for anybody seeing the pictures of Nigella Lawson to step in and alter the situation.  But we can collectively respond to them in an ethical way. While the follow-up in rival newspapers may be prurient, and interested only in the exciting prospect of a celebrity suffering a public trauma, the spike in interest enables us all to think about the insidiousness of domestic violence and how we deal with it, and to how we respond as citizens to inappropriate behaviour happening in our midst.

A friend of mine Isabel Hardman, writes about her boobs in the Independent: I’ve got no time for page three, but a blanket ban would be pointless:Glossy magazines jammed with size-zero models are far more worthy of our scorn

…banning the newspaper from Parliament or anywhere else is pointless, because it does nothing to change the market forces that drive demand for page three. As it happens, that demand appears already to be on the wane, with Rupert Murdoch himself tweeting earlier this year that those who said the feature was “so last century” were “maybe right”. Anti-sexism campaigners will have their day of victory not when they succeed in stopping a few right-on shops from selling the most popular newspaper in this country, but rather when editors decide their readers aren’t really keen on naked ladies in the paper, and just drop them. Page three really is last century’s problem.

Fascinating and uncomfortable reading all at the same time. I’ve long not liked the charity jingles that start in black and white, with slow, sad piano music. It is only when the white man swoops in with his money and mosquito nets that Coldplay kicks in and we go techni-colour. There is also something unsettling about using images of victims of crime, neglect, war and disasters without their consent and to deliberately provoke reactions. Poverty Porn and A New Way to Regard Social Impact

There is power in engaging westerners through a language that we know, through tropes we are used to, through allowing us to feel good about the work we do—and when done well, it’s both good business and good storytelling. But as Unite for Sight says, “in addition to violating privacy and human rights, poverty porn is damaging to those it is trying to aid because it evokes the idea that the poor are helpless and incapable of helping themselves, thereby cultivating a culture of paternalism.”

Tweets of the week:

Rachel Held Evans: When I tell people I’m a blogger, they usually respond, “Oh, so you’re a mommy blogger!” Nope. Women can blog without being moms, you know.

VeryBritishProblems: Having an uneasy feeling that the sky has been stockpiling rain for Wimbledon

James Martin: If Charles Saatchi claims that’s a ‘playful tiff’, perhaps someone should give him a ‘whimsical pat’ to the bollocks.

@ManageFlitter: “Twitter makes me like people I’ve never met and Facebook makes me dislike people I already know”

Wednesday Stuff 5/6/13

MRLFirst off, posted left is a lovely letter from Lord Toby Jug of the Monster Raving Loony party. Says it all really. Big version by clicking on the photo.

Then for anyone who didn’t hear it, at  2hr and 21min in Monday’s Radio 4 Today Programme presenters have a right giggle about the Daily Fail’s suggestion having a female Dr Who would be bad for boys. Because boys can’t cope with female role models. Indeed, having a female Dr Who would actually undo decades of good work by Dr Who. So beware, all you blokes out there are probably in danger of being emasculated by a female Time Lord. I actually thought the presenters were going to say “This is TOO stupid to even discuss, let’s move on.”

A Lovely prayer from Changing Attitude ahead (at the time) of the debate and vote in the House of Lords about the Equal Marriage Bill.

I am musing a blog about this. It occurs to me when there are Christians in the world clearly on two very different sides of a debate, how do we respond when we see an answer to the prayer in the form we didn’t want. What do all the Christians praying for this bill to fail read from the fact the House of Lord’s agreed to send it on to committee which is a step towards it becoming law. Do they take it as a sign their prayers were or were not answered? Or that what they prayed for was wrong? Or that it was right just the answer to their prayer is the ‘not yet’ answer we get told God likes to use.  As I was writing this, a friend posted the meme below on Facebook. Adding to my musings that’s for sure!confirmation bias

We ask you to pray in love. Prayer does not change the mind of God. Offered in love, prayer has the power to change the future and to change us. Prayer offered in openness and trust can channel the infinite, tender love of God which is shared with every person irrespective of their gender, sexuality, race, whether they are people of faith or not.

Great piece about how some folk should be changing their minds about how they feel about kids in Church. I am totally *that* mom.

When we teach children that their worship matters, we teach them that they are enough right here and right now as members of the church community. They don’t need to wait until they can believe, pray or worship a certain way to be welcome here, and I know adults who are still looking to be shown that. It matters that children learn that they are an integral part of this church, that their prayers, their songs, and even their badly (or perfectly timed depending on who you ask) cries and whines are a joyful noise because it means they are present.

(This goes out to all the Dad’s too!)


clareA quick plug for a great book I just finished. Clare Balding’s autobiography: My family and other animals. I had no real reason to read this other than I needed a break from theology books and an autobiography usually does me nicely. Clare seems like a sweet lady and an interesting character, but I knew from reviews this book contained a lot about horses and I have never been much of one for our equine friends but I loved it! The story of Clare’s privileged but unsettled childhood is an amusing, touching and funny read. Highly recommended.

I’m on to Jay Rayner’s A greedy man in a hungry world: why almost everything you know about food is wrong. Really looking forward to this, though I suspect my husband won’t be so impressed when I go vegetarian at last and start changing his diet beyond recognition.


greenbeltChuffed my photo of Greenbelt was chosen to be part of the Guardian’s Witness photography project. They gather different photos on different subjects. I submitted my photo of Communion at Greenbelt in 2011 because for me, the festival truly does what it says. Faith, arts and social justice collide in a melting pot of wonderful people and experiences.

Tweets of the week:

Bishop Alan Wilson: If there were a shared and common understanding of marriage in the UK now, this debate would not be happening #equalmarriage

Sarah Millican: My sports bra doesn’t work. I have not done any sport since I bought it.

Unnamed Insider : Dear @Official_EDL I hear you’re demonstrating in Cardiff tomorrow! You understand that’s not in England, right?

Rachel Danae Burgin: Do you think if we renamed foodbanks soup kitchens, people might be appropriately outraged that we have them in 21stC Britain?