Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Come as you are?

Well, not long before we have another 'Back to Church Sunday' (B2CS), the theme of which this year is 'Come as You Are".

A great slogan because it refers to not dressing up for church, something that used to be all the rage when I was a choirboy- and still is for those who come on their 'official' outings and 'special' days I suppose. Having been in churches where once a year the mayor, accompanied by all the other mayors from the region, the councillors and other 'worthies' all dressed up and piled in to their specially reserved places of honour at the front. I used to bristle as I thought of the words of James chapter Two, verses two to nine:

"Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbour as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers."

I can hear people moaning that the service is a 'special' one and therefore this isn't the case and the rest of the time we're really welcoming and you can sit wherever you want and this is perhaps valid, but it demonstrates an underlying value that might require some looking at.

'Come as You Are' is good because it means that we want people to come without  pretending to be whoever or whatever they're not. An excellent invitation, for so often those who come to church will put on their 'holy' faces and their 'Sunday Best' but Sunday best behaviour and Sunday best clothing are not what God wants - He wants honest people in clothes that fit and living in lives that support who they are and from this he will make them holy people clothed in righteousness and living lives that reflect who He is.


Bias is in the eye of the beholder

During a discussion relating to Greenbelt and their choosing to invite Gene Robinson I think there is some degree of error present in the "Greenbelt is displaying 'bias' " approach. I also happen to think that the demands that 'the other side' be heard was misplaced and erroneous for it wasn't billed as a debate and therefore who point would there be in bringing in other voices.

Of course, there might be mileage in AM taking a stand (I mean one where they peddle their wares and promote their cause) and there may well be some positive statement made regarding GB if they were to invite someone who is 'orthodox' and perhaps as controversial to the other camp (whatever and whoever that is) as Gen Robinson was to them.

After all - it's always good to have a bit of controversy and passion present at these things.

The problem with bias on the part of Greenbelt is that it exists only in the minds of some and most surely has not been proved as I for one do not take 'anonymous' accounts into account . If people don't have the chutzpah to speak out honestly and openly their testimony is worthless and their points are therefore unproven - it's merely posturing and perhaps naughty negative spin!

Interestingly of course, had others attacked AM in the manner that they have attacked and spun against GB we would have people screaming and tearing their garments and toys would indeed be thrown from the pram!

All this tiresome and ongoing debate (nay, tirade may be more accurate) has done thus far, if the people I have met are typical, is to generate attitudes in support of GB and made the organisation and certain people appear extremely petty, ill-informed and not to put too fine a point on it  just plain stupid. Still - at least it's dialogue (of sorts) I guess.

There should have been much more discussion behind the scenes and a little less tub thumping  in the public arena. I am an orthodox Christian and wish to see the values and standards of the church in terms of Scripture, reason and tradition upheld. Mind you, I guess you could call the inquisition 'traditional' ;)  I look forward to a resolution to this sad affair and a positive way forward.

I quote a famous geezer quoting an expression of the day: "For whoever is not against us is for us."

A lesson to be learned?

Sunday, 27 September 2009

All over bar the counting!

Well, we did the parade outside the Birmingham City Hall. The standard came down and we marched off - 35 (South Midland) Signal Regiment (V) are in effect no more (although on paper they remain until the end of March next year!).

After the parade and a curry many of the regiment went to the Birmingham City game to support their 'Armed Forces Day', raise money for 'Help for Heroes' (HfH) and be subjected to Birmingham Vs Bolton. A game that left an awful lot to be desired if I'm honest (and I always am sadly - gets me into so much trouble).

City lost 2 - 1 but HfH won by about thirteen thousand pounds, so a good result at the end of the day.

What saddened me was that some of those who knew of our demise were scathing and extremely sarcastic about the fact that we could 'celebrate' and hold a parade on the last day of the regiment's existence. They couldn't understand how we could pile off to the football ground and just 'carry on'. But this is the hallmark of a great regiment and the very reason the TA exists.

Rather than become embittered as the government make drastic cuts to balance their books and negative, this regiment put the needs of others before themselves - this is what members of the forces do - read your papers and have a thought and prayer for those who by so doing will be returning in boxes on the aircraft leaving Afghanistan.

It's called 'selfless commitment' - putting the needs of others before your own feelings or best interests. This wasn't a combat situation and there was little danger of death but the mechanism and the hallmark is the same. When the fan is hit and the chips are down, the British Army does what it is trained to do - the right thing.

35 SIG REGT (V) did that and folds its uniform with no small degree of pride in 43 years of a job well done.

Certa Cito!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Vicar saves our nation - welcome Foreign people!

Next Saturday sees the final parade of the men and women of the 35 (South Midlands) Signal Regiment (V).

Formed in 1967, this Regiment has seen its members serve in just about every theatre of operation across the world during its forty-two year existence. Like every regiment, and especially like every Territorial Army regiment, this was more than a group of men and women wearing uniform doing Army stuff, it was (and is) a family. A family who fight together at times but is also always there for each other but despite the pressures of Afghanistan and commitments elsewhere we apparently don't need it (or the other signals regiments that have also gone!).

It seems to me that after having splashed out about 20% of Britain's GDP (Gross Domestic Product) , which is about two point three trillion pounds, the government is finding that it just can't pay the weekly bills and that contraction in military spending is just one of the ways of cutting back and making savings. It also seems to me that, as we are about to find ourselves saddled with a 'broadband tax' (a levy of fifty pence to the government each month because we have broadband coming in to our homes) that it won't be long before we return to 'window taxes'. We obviously can't revisit the 'hearth tax' and most of us have central heating rather than coal fires and chimneys these days, but perhaps there's still mileage in the 'Foreigner' tax as enacted by the Canadian government against err, foreigners (in this case they were Chinese). This tax, which began in the 1880's (if my memory serves me correctly) and ran until the mid 1920's and so it obviously worked for them!

What a great tax, we can actually benefit from having a totally incompetent Home Office and lax immigration policy and practice. Don't throw people from other nations out - tax them for being foreign! It's a sure fire winner.

We could perhaps set up a tariff according to which nations we didn't like most, although of course our natural enemy, the French, would be tax free as they're part of the EU! That Ted Heath and his federalist designs have a lot to answer for - after all, my Dad flew in Lancasters to stop us being 'European'!

So how would we tax the nations? Who'd be top of the list? How would you choose?

Americans with their innate sense of colour-clash dress sense and endearing, "Gee, everything over here is so much smaller!" comments?

The Aussies and South Africans with their modest and self-deprecating style?

You pick the behaviour and attitude traits of your own particular favourites and when you've done, why not write to the Home Secretary with your suggestions for the list?

You may turn over your paper now - get choosing :-)

Thursday, 17 September 2009

The Rupert Bear Prayer Book (RBPB)

I recently attended a service which was obviously delivered according to the latest version of the RBPB. I have to admit that I'm probably just a Philistine but I do struggle with some of the gross, doggerel-laden liturgy that is so solemnly delivered and purports to be worship. Not sure what I mean? Well, here's an example of the sort of thing I mean, it's exaggerated but not that far from what I have been forced to sit through over the years.

Follow the rubric and enjoy a trip to Rupert Bear's Prayer Book and all its wonders. (Imagine a dark winter night and a many candle-lit church as in comes your host and compere for the service)

A Service of Twilight Prayer

In the name of the God who brought the Son to be the glory of the Father by the power of the Spirit, welcome and may grace, love, mercy, joy and peace be with you all.
And also with you

We come tonight to share God's love and offer praise to God above.
We come to share His love!

We come as strangers, friends not known, this is the place where love is grown.
We come to share His love!

We come here at the close of day to read God's word, to sing and pray.
We come to share His love!

Come Lord Jesus be our guest let us find in you our rest.
We come to share His love!

A reading from the Scriptures (please sit) followed by a time of reflection and prayer (please sit or kneel or stand) after which a song may be sung.

The Reading[s]

A time of prayer, intercession, biddings and testimony follows:

God, place in my life today a sense of you along the way and as on my pilgrim path I tread provide for me my daily bread.

Lord place upon my life this hour a sense of you and all your power, and when I feel like giving up let me drink from your sweet cup.

Christ place into my wild distress your peace and calm I need no less, for I am troubled and a mess.

Spirit as I struggle in the night I know that I will be all right, for you, the dove, you fly ahead, guide me safely to my bed.

We say together the Lord's Prayer in the traditional form

We bless each other:

Thanks be to God, the father, Son and Holy Spirit. The lifegiver, the paraclete, the Almighty and eternal three in one. We bless you Lord.

Blessing and honour and glory and power and majesty and might and love eternal be yours here and everywhere, now and for ever. Amen.

O,K, It's a bit over the top, but not much and whilst I really enjoy writing fresh liturgy and exploring the many ways we can bless God and one another I am really struggling with this new generation of intense (yet sincere) worship.

I have been stunned over the years by the different ways we can pray. At the church I'm in we have a 'multi-sensory' prayer service on the second Sunday evening each month and I meet God in so many different and marvellous ways through so many amazing means.

I love great liturgy and can be found worshipping God in BCP (yes, really!), Taizé, Celtic, CW and just about any style and label you can think of, but there are limits and these have been reached and the question needs to be asked:

But why do we we do it? There's the Celtic services which range from the most stunningly Spirit-filled happenings that shoes almost need to be removed to the silliest, trite and banal stuff you can ever wish not to attend. the modern services which place God in the centre of 'today's church' - as if he wasn't there regardless of the words we use.

I know I'm being a bit 'me! actually' but please, a plea to those who have to have a go at the Rupert Bear, which for those who are too young to know of him was full of rhyming couplets, please keep it in your own bathroom or for private prayer. If you can't please don't invite me to be a part and most of all, don't subject captive congregations (and this sad vicar) to your efforts.

This page is writ and so with glee I hit the 'post' button and go off for tea. Thanks be to God!

ps. This is very much written in the style of my old, "Ha, ha, very funny homework contribution - house detention!" days.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Excess - your inflexible fiend! To my friends in the City

Just when I thought I'd have a quiet morning enjoying the early Autumnal sun and feeling all was right with the world I find a news item about Rowan and the excesses that contaminate the banking classes. Hesitantly (sorry Rowan but when I do understand what you have written I find myself perhaps wishing I hadn't)) I begin to read that RW fears that the financiers feel no "repentance" for the excesses which led to the economic collapse. Encouraged, I press on. "The government should have acted to cap bonuses. Right on, go for it Ro'.

Do, or can financier's feel 'repentance' I wonder? In fact, having met so many people who have lost homes, jobs and aspirations recently, I was beginning to doubt that those in the financial even 'feel' regarding anything. But repentance for what? For taking a shed load of money (in excess of £85bn as I understand it) so they could continue whilst the Army cuts regiments from the Royal Signals and other branches feel the budgetary constraints that this bale out has brought? For using taxpayer's money to underwritten the excesses of a bonus culture and a lifestyle that would make the court of Louis XIV look poverty-stricken?

When we have the freedom to act without having a result, or at least a result that in some way touches us, we tend to through off all caution. I recall an experiment where people were asked to (apparently) put large amount of current through patients. Regardless of what they did, they felt nothing - the patient got it all and as a result caution and common-sense were thrown off. Isn't this what Rowan is speaking of here?

Roll the dice and when you win you pocket the winnings. Roll the dice again and when you lose, the taxpayer pays. It's a can't lose game, unless of course you're the taxpayer or one of the lower echelon ants in the farm that is finance.

Of course there hasn't been repentance, for this comes when one is faced by one's own errors and shortcomings (which we Christian call 'sin'). Better still it comes when one realises just how badly one has acted or sees, or feels, the results of the actions one has taken. Then it is felt rather than imposed, for in fact, it can't be imposed anyway. The trouble is that this is part of our societal confusion between justice and revenge. Between making aware and merely condemning.

Real reform, like repentance, has indeed been very limited. To really change or repent one needs to find something (or someone) to compare oneself with and to have a standard to measure oneself by. This standard is not gold, nor silver, nor any precious metal for although (as Ps 115:4 has it) "Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands," only Jesus is an adequate standard and measure. Not the gold standard but the GOD standard!

Rowan is right when he says this crisis is a lesson that "economics is too important to be left to economists" but he stops short. He forgets to mention that this crisis also demonstrates that the running of a nation requires more than mere political rhetoric and dogma. We don't need high-sounding words running our nation (or the world), we need a mind fixed upon heavenly things and a desire for a land that sees equity for all, a place of security for the oppressed, a place of social justice for the downtrodden and a culture that rewards and honours labour, commitment and care rather than the pursuit of possessions, status and power.

It's easier for a camel to enter the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Now they can enjoy their riches but then the cries of those they have defrauded, cheated and cast out of home, employment and hope will ring in their ears.

Feel like repentance is an option now guys?

And to all my ex-colleagues and friends. There are days when I still miss lunch from Benjys - hear the words and repent while you can ;) because He (God) loves you too!


Monday, 14 September 2009

Language abuse - the unforgivable sin?

I was brought up in a home where it was taken for granted that, as Churchill was reported (by my Dad!) to have said, "Americans and British are people separated only by a common language". The result of this is the reality that I have for many years endured the word abuse and grammatical nightmares enacted upon us as continuing retribution for the ills of George (the Monarch)! As if it wasn't bad enough trying to make tea with cold water. (is it any wonder they dressed up as native Indians (they were red when I was a lad!), what an embarrassing gaffe, should have warmed the water first!)

I find myself living in a home where americanisms abound thanks to the myriad mass of naff American programmes on the television bringing the moronic shows that our children sterilise their grey matter with. To make it worse I find myself living in a society where the influence of our 'friends' can be found even on Radio Four (R4), that great bastion of all that is right with britain. Recently, R4 interviewed a member of the Tate Modern regarding an exhibition she was working on. I was appalled to hear this obviously intelligent and supposed learned young woman speak about the the exhibition as the 'funnest' she had worked on to date. In another interview, one of our own government ministers spoke about the governments policies working for the betterification of the justice system (did she mean the betterment of the judicial system I mused punching the Winnie the Pooh of the kids had kindly left for me?)

The general rule is that although some words have been and are abused by our American cousins (remember, the only culture they have is agriculture!) there is the reality that some words can, in proper English, be in possession of the 'z' rather than the 's'. To see this we really need to be consulting our GOD - the only and ultimate authority upon the English word at the end of the day! (Greater Oxford Dictionary). Get a copy of Fowler's and keep it next to your GOD.

The fact is that these days we use 'multi' or 'international' English which results in the bastardised and confused language our kids use. This, coupled of course with the myriad number of crap US shows and films that addle our kids brains and get them asking to go to the movies rather than the cinema and needing the bathroom when the only need a toilet (and that's the easy to cope with tip of the iceberg).

Then, just when you don't think it can get any worse, they stuff the grammar, adding, exchanging and removing letters from words willy nilly - they introduce silly words like (yes, you've guessed) 'Gayification' when what they are trying to refer to is the promotion of homosexual lifestyle as an acceptable and attractive option. It's called 'proselytising', marketing, persuasion, whatever word describes the act (doing words children, doing words - follow me mo, amas, amat, amamus . . . oh no, timeslip, where my homework book? ). PH sounds like 'f' so leave it alone (and the 'u' that goes with 'o' in words like 'labour' or 'colour').

How do we protect our linguistic heritage? Learn paradigms, gain a vocablary, vocabularry, err - list of words and keep English pure as GOD intended!

Long live the People's Grammatical Front.



A postscript. Don't forget the apostrophe!
It is not CD's it's CDs! The CD, regardless of how many there are, is not in possession of anything! Carry a Sharpie and add the apostrophe where it is found to be missing! Plurals do not require the addition of an apostrophe - well not in 'proper' English anyway.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Who do you say that I am? (14 After trinity)

Isaiah 50: 4 – 9a, James 3: 1 – 12, Mark 8: 27 - 38

In the book of Mark we have reached a pivotal point to be at. Asking the Disciples who he is has brought (from Peter anyway) the recognition that He is the Christ. The Messiah, the Holy and chosen One!. We know John is dead and as for being one of the Prophet, possibly but “who do you think I am, he asks the Disciples.

Of course, Jesus does what so often He does when there’s a juicy bit of news footage for he tells them not to tell anyone. ‘He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.”

Wow, I’d be happy for someone to tell me we were going to win a war but not so sure I’d be happy to hear the details of losses and means of achieving it! Give me the joyful bits! And I imaging that having got the first question right, Peter thought he was on a bit of a roll, perhaps the star Disciple and feeling that this wasn’t the best marketing stance takes Jesus to one side.

“Can you imagine the conversation? Perhaps it goes like this: “Hey Lord, you know all that stuff you’re teaching about you, the Anointed one, being be rejected, killed and then rising from the dead three days later. Don’t think it’s helpful. Stick to the ‘happy bits’. Trust me!”

Of course Jesus takes it pretty well when He says, “Get behind me, Satan!" (Literally – get out of my sight) he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

What is interesting just stopping for breath and thinking is that in our James 3: 1-3 passage, we find the words, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.” Didn’t Peter do this very thing in that revelation and worldly use combined almost seamlessly? Control of our tongue is difficult and the fact that often what wells up from us by it reflects our heart and head and therefore shows where the ship is going and who has control!

Back to the main picture we find Jesus telling the Disciples things that the Isaiah passage have already told us today. About being mocked, spat upon and handed over to be scourged. And yet He will keep ‘An instructed tongue’ not one that would perhaps bring down curses upon those who mistreat Him so! Silent as a lamb is before the slaughterer. Take some time to read the ‘Suffering Servant’ narrative of Isaiah 50.

Jesus tells those around Him, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?"

There’s nothing clever here. There’s not tension between faith and intellectual reception. It’s not a struggle between wanting to live (lack of faith) and being happy to die (great faith) and the shame of yet again being in a place where we hear people cry, ”O you of little faith!” It’s about doing. About being public.

When Jesus went to the cross it was a big thing. There were processions and crowds and it was a very public spectacle. You couldn’t go to the Cross privately and in fact this was part of the sentence – the humiliation, the crowd participation.

This is a call to realise that we need to walk a path which will definitely bring ridicule and abuse, a path that will most likely be costly. I tire greatly of people who tell me that people become Christians because they need a crutch. This is totally absurd because to be a Christian is to put our own demands for things, money, position, power and the like to one side. It requires a commitment. A commitment to God to keep His laws and live as he commands us. A commitment to others, whom we call Church, to love, care for them and serve them. A commitment to serve those very people who would sneer and label us wrongly.

Or there’s the path where one lives for self, settles scores and embraces bitterness and the accumulation of all the things just spoken of and lives for oneself today – dying for oneself tomorrow! Now that's what having a crutch to get you through life looks like people!

“What can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels.” Nope - It can’t be bought, can't be earned – just received and lived (and given).

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Oy, I said - Baptise my baby!

One of the interesting happenings just after arriving here was the appearance of a lady at the front door one morning. She'd come to sort out having her latest addition baptised and admitted to the great host of witnesses that we call 'Church'. Well, that's what I thought she wanted anyway!

Actually what she wanted was a baptism but she didn't want our building to be the venue as it wasn't a 'proper' church. No, she wanted me to do the service at another church a short distance away which was much prettier (it's a wonderful; little church nestling at the foot of a woods with wooden steeple and all that 'real church' stuff!). Intrigued I asked why she wanted me to do it at that church, was there perhaps a family link to the building and if so, I asked, "Why me?" the answer took me back a little, "We want the building but we don't like the Vicar there. He's not as nice as you!"

I responded something about her having to see the Vicar and ask him whether I might be able to help by doing the service there and she duly left. Invisibility had descended upon her, her offspring and the situation as the 'someone else's problem field' cloaked her. Until of course a couple of weeks later, she re-appeared and asked me if I would do the baptism at another pretty church a mile away in another direction as my colleague had issued a resounding, "No," to her request. I referred her to the dog collar in the newly chosen venue and left her to go and bless him with her request. Surely this would be the last time I saw the person as the incumbent up the hill was kindly and would do the baptismal requirements themselves.

Of course, this was not to be as the, "Nasty, vile and wicked incumbent - we hates them precious!" wanted the family to come to a few services before any baptism could take place. "If he thinks we're going to his church he's very mistaken," says the poor mother. After all, all she wants is a nice day so they can have a party, wear nice clothes and oh yeah, nearly forgot, the service needs to be just after lunch because if it's too late the guests will be, "Too pissed!" to get there!

"We're going to St. Wotsits," says the poor dear. We're having the baptism at such and such on so and so and so, with that - finally sorted she leaves, probably never to be seen again I assume.

But not the case. let joy be unconfined as this week I have been approached by a colleague who tells me that he's been visited by a lady who wants the baptism of her latest addition to take place at his church building. Apparently she wants it on a particular day to suit her guests (even though this means doing it as a special service) and at a time to suit the family (even though this means a special service) and although he's never seen them before (or will do after the event) she's also requested that I do the thing rather than him.

Suddenly I get the feeling that De Ja Vu rools!


Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Baptise my baby - NOW!

One of the interesting things about being a Dog Collar is the baptism service.

I like to do ours in the Sunday morning service wherever possible. Use a font of an inflatable pool add water and baptismal candidate and I think we've got something that causes the Church to celebrate and heaven to rejoice! Of course this means that I believe that infant baptism is an O.K. thing, but hey - if the early Church did it I don't have a problem (well now I've studied it a bit I don't have so much of a problem) with it. I do of course have a problem with those anabaptists who, as I understand it, by re-baptising enact something that theologically and spiritually has no meaning and even denies the baptism done in the name of the Trinity (but that's for another day).

I just love the people what knows their rights and want their baby baptised when, where and how they want and this week I've had the chance to love it twice! here's an account of the first one - I'll tell you the other later (if time permits).

It's a paperwork morning and I get a knock at the door and so, being polite, I open it to find a lady who before I can even utter a salutation opens the volley with, "Are yo the Vikar!" I reply in the affirmative. "Yo don't look like a vicar, yo look more like a bouncer!"

"It's a tough church, the services sometimes get a bit . . " but before I can finish, the initiative having being firmly and most assuredly taken away from me my visitor interrupts with,"I want our grandchild christened."

"Not a problem," I respond smiling and trying to remember page 32. of the 'How to be a nice Vicar and welcome people' manual, "We can do it any Sunday morning during the 10:30 service, all we need to do is . . . "

"Ohh, we don't want it here," cuts in my assailant, adding the vocal components of the sneer that remains before me. "We want it in the proper church in town. I've just come for their telephone number!"

"Of course, not a problem, " I respond airily trying hard to remain smiling in my new 118 118 role, "Wait here please."

I return with a card, the back of which bears the telephone number of the church office of her chosen 'proper church'. "They'll help you out I'm sure," I say brightly before adding in a slightly more serious tone, "You realise of course that you'll need to bring a young lamb with you for the sacrifice during the service." She stops in her tracks and turns back at me, eyes wide open!

"What?" says she. "No, only joking," I say smiling broadly, "You can take a young goat if you can't get a sheep!"

I shut the door and the sun shines - paperwork suddenly takes on a new light - thank you we're not proper church - Praise the Lord!


Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Guilt by Association or by cowardice?

I am one of those Christians who believe that membership of the Christian Church is an optional (but desirable) state of being! I support those organisations who uphold, support, and promote Christian values and standards and stand against those that don't.

Of course, 'stand against' is a very interesting couple of words because even though I can use them, it doesn't actually mean much! After all, I am not one to be found chaining myself up to the railing outside the 'Society for the Promotion of Extreme Naughtiness and Things' (hereinafter called SPENT!). Neither am I one to write nasty anonymous letters (although I was accused of this by a foolish person who flaunts church law and postures greatly whilst doing so - struggling to take any upper ground available :)) or write letters to newspapers denying or decrying! In fact I am merely a below average campaigner masquerading as an Anglican Dog Collar and amateur theologian.

Recently I have seen some of the groups that I might support let their slips show rather badly. There are some who naturally assume power and some who have it thrust upon them whilst another group see power as something to be grasped and used (in my humble opinion) wrongly to make a point.

But what does it profit anyone to be able to make a point and by so doing score against those against whom they stand and yet deny truth, misrepresent fact and speak what those they claim are saying neither want said or wish to hear themselves? How do we handle this situation? Do we remove our support and perhaps weaken the voice against whatever it is we want a voice raised against? Do we stay silent and by our silence condemn us to being part of something we cannot support?

I struggle greatly with this issue as I see what appears to be extreme and unbiblical response allied with sensational reportage and what might easily be construed as merely malicious portrayals to elicit a knee jerk response from 'the faithful'.

Lines need to be drawn and the courage summoned such that we can say, "Not in my name!" More importantly perhaps, "Not in God's name either!"

What does it profit our cause (select your own) and how does it honour God and reflect the image of the Christ in our lives if we behave as unbelievers?

Let's pray that today we will have the courage to make a stand for right and act against those who sin regardless of the sin and regardless of the position they claim or appear to be supporting. Many who claim to be 'for' God are, by their very actions and heart, surely denying Him and snatching the victory that is God's away from Him! Whose side are we on and how should we be living this out?



Sunday, 6 September 2009

Cavedwellers - Phoenix from the ashes!

About ten years ago, whilst sitting in a train bound for Liverpool Street station (London) I was aware that many of the blokes I travelled with were fed up with 'up - dress - train - work -train - home - bed'. As a result I booked an Indian restaurant and invited some of the blokes I knew over to a 'Not the Christmas Dinner!' meal. Out of this came a group, 'Cavedwellers'.

Why that name? Because we were living in an around Ware and the motto of that place 'Cave' (beware! What a schoolboy howler) meant we were indeed 'cavedwellers'.

This group continues still and now the old web site has been taken over for another purpose.

Today I was asked some questions about the forum I have set up on the site. I thought I place the questions and response here as they really consolidate the thinking behind the forum. I was asked three questions, which is all very Hans Christian Andersen, but here goes:

Question 1. "Why has the new forum not got a statement of faith in it's act!"
Why should it? I'm not looking to set up conditions! many of those who will (hopefully) be using this forum are engaged in Fresh Expressions, Pioneer Ministry, Evangelism and other areas of church ministry. The forum has been set up to provide a safe place to discuss issues (theological and cultural) without the bitchfights and awfulness that is found in other forums across the web.

Question 2. "You want the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth in postings Vic, novel anyway, you have got to be kidding?'
To quote one of my favourite films, "You can't handle the truth!' One of the reasons that membership is approval only rather than sign up is so that the general membership will be safe and able to discuss robustly and honestly and also privately. I'm not kidding for ad hominems and the like, defamatory comments and misrepresentation will be maintained at a minimum level. There will be a team of moderators (hopefully I won't be one once it gets running properly - it's enough keeping the engine going) who I hope will have nothing to do and a community of Christians acting as Christians should. No joke, not novel, just Christian ;-)

Question 3. "Is this new Forum amongst forums an ultra Anglican-mainstream or an hello there and where are you coming from and who owns you?"
The new forum has been set up because there is a need for those who function as Missioners to have a place they can discuss issues. I have been working with various individuals (on and off) and this need is seeking to be resolved with this forum. There is also a need for those in 'Pioneer Ministry' to have a place they can discuss and share. Couple with that the need of some of the local groups for discussion space and then added need of other Christians to be able to dialogue and share in an equally safe place and you have Cavedwellers.

Anglican Mainstream has its goals and purpose and I support and respect those. that said, there is no need for an 'ultra AM', As stated at the top - Cavedwellers is not a campaigning forum, merely a Christian one! (I was asked this because I do techie and mod stuff for AM)

Who owns the forum? I guess I do in terms of the fact I have funded it, but only as much as I have gifted it to certain missioners and other groups and will also be in submission to a gentleman who advises RW on stuff, a bishop, a diocesan official and the members too!

Cavedwellers was a project I engaged in a few years back. It started with me taking an Indian Restaurant over for an evening and filling it with men (churched and non-churched). It still runs and has been doing events like soft play, bowling, clay pigeon, karting, annual barbecue and more for ten years. Go to and search on and you'll see some of the old days!

The Site had been let go and I was asked whether I was happy to release the URLs. Thinking about it, I realised that I didn't want to let them be used for non-Christian purposes and so took the opportunity to do something with them and meet the other needs that were being raised in the shape of the forum (and more later when some of the groups will have web space too!.

I hope this answers your questions. Thanks for them as they have helped me clarify stuff too. Basically a response to the needs of Christians who need a safe place.

So there you have it - Cavedwellers the forum!


Saturday, 5 September 2009

Christian and Gay? No such thing! Part the third

Following my thinking here I was asked, "But Vic, where is the Theives' Christian Association, or the Liars' Christian Association, or the Adulterers' Christian Association, or the Fornicators' Christian Association?"

The answer is that there's a branch in every congregation - people just don't feel the need to advertise as it loses them friends and it is still considered by the general (i.e. non-churchgoing public) to be unacceptable too!

I can find hundreds of lairs and thieves who are also Christian - problem is, when one forces a person into a corner they can either deny it or embrace it! They can seek repentance and restoration or can continue, openly or covertly, in their particular flavour of sin. Sometimes they will beat themselves up as they struggle with whatever the issue is and other times they will seek excuses and caveats to permit and legitimise their actions. After all, 'everybody' steals paperclips!'

I have been dealing with a person who was pushed into thinking they were homosexual by their church family (who lovingly made a big issue off the situation and turfed them out!). Now (oddly) they find themselves attracted to the opposite sex and wonder what's wrong with them, because after all, they are homosexual!

The answer is that in fact they never were and the person who was grooming them was admirably aided and abetted by the church on this one.

As for proclaiming sins as good - our society has done it for years when we underwrote the capitalist society! Times and attitudes change and now it's probably done more tacitly down at their clubs and the like and despite the vilification of bankers and the finance sector, nothing has really changed - just the newspaper headlines and editorials.

I know of a Christian drug addicts group and an alcohol group who have Christian and alcoholic badges - they do exist, but first there needs to be an acceptance of the situation (most of those who lie also lie to themselves about it ).

So here I am at an interesting place for there are indeed people who identify themselves as gay Christians and I am sure God sees them as Christians with a sexual sin as their 'persistent sin of choice'. What's ours?

I am sure that many Christians who are also homosexual see themselves as flawed in the same way as those sex addicted christians of the heterosexual kind see themselves. Then again just as I counsel Christians who see their sexual activities as making Christianity 'difficult' they don't see it as stopping them being Christian, just more difficult!

I think there is a certain naivety in the "if they wish to be Christians they either accept the Bible or they don't" comment for many accept that they have the sin present and yet continue to believe that they are still Christian - sex (hetero or homo), theft, drink, drugs, whatever - still Christian, flawed and fallen Christians.

The comment was made of homosexuals that, "The problem is are they in the church in the first place, the church is the body of believers."

I don't know what this means but surely the joy is that they are in the Church because here they might find love, acceptance and a relationship which will address their sin (whoever and whatever sin it might be that we're speaking of here) and seek to restore them (gently)

Here's a shocker - I actually think God loves gays, and adulterers, oh yes and alcoholics and those paedo people too - He doesn't agree with what they do and He doesn't like it and He never condones it and He never sanctifies it but He always leave the door open and the ring and fatted calf are but a handgrasp away!

I'm hiding under the table and have pulled the blinds :-)

Friday, 4 September 2009

Christian and Gay? No such thing! Part the second

To deny that there are no 'Gay Christians is a trifle odd for I am certain that if I were to venture out of the safety of my study (what leave my books precious, never!) I could meet a number of Christians who also wear the badge 'Gay' this means that Gay Christians are a reality surely.

To deny that they exist because homosexuality (I prefer this to 'gay' personally) is proscribed by the Bible also means that we must deny the existence therefore of adulterous Christians, lying Christians, thieving Christians and (insert your chosen sin here) Christians. They just don't exist!

Because we choose to ignore or assume that we can separate the two does not means that this causes such people not to exist (sad as that is ). This begets (for me at least) a really important question: Do I have the right to deny their faith because of their actions (one-off or persistent)?

The answer (as I see it Biblically): Probably not!

A subsidiary question: Do I have the duty to form relationships with them and lead them away from their sin?

Easy answer: Definitely!

I think the problem is that too many people want to believe Christian and homosexual doesn't exist and by denying it and defaming people actually give it a sense of worth such that the label 'GAY CHRISTIAN' becomes a point of principle and dare I say it, pride.

Mind you, to be honest, the utterances from some who assume they speak for us all only solidifies the resolve and pride of some.

Perhaps there's a betterer way? How's about the non gayificationaryattackyness (better than gayification as a word - has some meat to it!

Christian and Gay? No such thing! Part the first

Well, that's where the person I was discussing things with started!

I like having a blog for, when I get time (i.e. not often) it provides me with a place to do some thinking. So here goes:

I have to assume that 'gay' and 'Christian' go together the same way that 'liar' and Christian, or 'thief' and Christian or 'adulterer' and Christian or 'fornicator' and Christian and just about every other sin do.

If I meet a person who believes that Jesus dies for them on the Cross, to take away their sins and to restore the relationship between them and God. I consider them to be Christian

If that same person holds that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God and is God, three in one, the triumvirate being who is God with the Father and the Holy Spirit. I consider them to be a Christian

If that same person holds to the Creeds and can say them believing every word, then (bet you can guess). I consider them to be a Christian.

Now. If it transpires that they are unmarried and sexually active I consider them to be 'flawed and fallen Christians', but there are surely still Christian?