Tag Archives: General Nonsense

Social Attitudes

BBC has an interesting, but in places slightly depressing, report on the latest social attitudes survey. It shows people are less inclined to feel it is there duty to vote, (depressing) but also less inclined to believe homosexual acts are wrong (positive).

The divisions that do exist are interesting though because they do illustrate that some of the discussions causing angst in the church do reflect the views, opinions and wider debates that still exist in society. This doesn’t just apply to “the gay issue” it also applys to discussions about things like the redistribution of wealth and attitudes towards the poor.

Therefore, having a space where these debates can occur is useful – aslong as they don’t detract from wider issues. In fact this survey is evidence of exactly what Ben Edson was saying in relation to the gay debate in this post just before Christmas.

A New Adventure; A New Set of Questions

Yesterday I began some training for a new bit of adventuring, which I’m not ready to go totally public with yet. It was an interesting experience which raised a couple of questions for me; why don’t need to ask and don’t need to say is more problematic an approach than it may first appear and is Gen X actually a real and observable thing?

So why is it sometimes more complicated than don’t ask, don’t tell when it comes to part of who I am? Well, this seemed to be the approach I was taking in the group, a group where I really didn’t think my sexual orientation was relevant until……we looked at a case study. The question was, “what would you say to a homosexual couple who thought what you were doing was really good, but thought as Christians you must hate them and God must hate them?” Now, there were a number of ways I could have handled this one…but I felt the only answer I could give with integrity was the real one. I said, “I’d give them my testimony and tell them why I knew God loved me and my partner”. It made me reflect a little, the fact I am gay may be “a problem” within the church but for some outside the church it could be something really useful which God could potentially use. For me to use it in that way I will have to be comfortable being honest, as appropriate.

The other thing that emerged for me yesterday was whether Gen X might be more than a marketing tool and might, in some cases, actually be something observable. I think it may be. I walked into the room, and as you do when it contains nobody you really know and you’re a couple of minutes late, looked for somebody vaguely like me. I spotted some a Download t-shirt on somebody who looked around my age and so took my seat. Then in rushed somebody else, who sat down with us who again looked like he might have a liking for heavy rock/ metal. If you had walked into the room and put people into distinct groups the three of us would have been a group, based on both dress and age. We were obviously what was once called Gen X. The other thing that struck me, though, is how that group of Gen X is not defined in the way that other groups can be. There was an age discussion through the day, we talked about “the under 30’s” and “over 40’s”….although I think it might have been more appropriate for the over “45’s”. There were a group of us who are not clearly defineable. We are no longer young people, but also not yet older people.

This question of how to define the 30 and early 40 somethings is important though. In terms of churches engaging we are the age group who have the children, although our household situations might be much more complex than traditionally seen. If churches want to engage with children they also need to engage with parents. Our generation, which is problematic because it is a hinge generation, needs to be engaged with where we are now. I think it is really important that youth and old people are engaged with but it is also important that 30-45 year olds don’t just become seen as a problematic generation which are ignored or seen just as parents.

Anyway, that turned into a bit of a rant it wasn’t intended to, honestly just intended to make a couple of interesting observations.

Spare a thought for the undergrads

Second term of your first year at uni; time of your life. Yes you have to work, but you have no exams and the ones next term don’t normally count towards your final grade, you just need enough to get you through to the second year. You’ve started to make friends and gotten used to being away from home. Um….apparently not. Facinating article by Louise Tickle in todays Guardian about the way the return to uni for the Spring term can be hardest. Leicester Uni has been doing some interesting research which I think anybody who is either a parent with kids going to uni, or involved in working with or supporting HE students needs to get a handle on.

Interesting paragraph aswell was, “While universities may assume that anyone who has successfully negotiated their first year will manage fine in their second and third, Cashmore says that as the video diary study has gone on, it’s become apparent that students have to constantly adjust and readjust to changing social and academic demands throughout their university career. Recurring themes in the diaries included worries over settling into new accommodation, coping with new personal relationships and adapting to new styles of teaching and learning.”

My own comments in light of this type of research would be it just highlights why student chaplaincy’s and welfare are an important resource and should be supported and not cut back on. Similarly I feel the same about hospital and prison chaplaincy which help people through times of stressful change. Universities, as with other publically and privately funded institutions (including one suspects churches) are going to have to increasingly make cuts and decide where to best deploy resources. I think research like this shows that welfare is not an area to cut back on. The work that goes on in these areas supports the achievement of the statistics our public institutions are measured by; in this case retention and achievement.

Two Dykes, A Hymn Book, A Pub Crawl and A Gathering

Well the heading basically sums up my Christmas, sort of.

After seeing Third Party onto the train on Christmas Eve morning part two of my Christmas began. TOH gave me part 1 of my Christmas present by taking me off to Newcastle to treat me to lunch and seeing Avatar, (thankfully in 2D). The film was amazing and I only got scared and had to bury my head in TOH a few times. It is a wonderfully gripping exploration of (post)modern colonialism and the treatment of indigenous people, aswell of the complex relationship between scientists, the military and corporations. It showed what the rest of us have known for ages, whilst American colonialism in the name of capitalism is bad not all Americans are. They have people engaging in great acts of conscience too. Final note on the film is Cameron has stolen Lucas’ crown for cinematography in this genre.

Anyway when we got back to Durham it was a case of hopping into the taxi to be wisked up to the hospital to do a spot of carol singing, or in my case carol miming. I can reveal on the basis of the tour of Durham hospital Silent Night is the nations favourite carol, with Away in the Manger a close second.

That brings us onto Christmas Day. With Santa being off in Lapland, (we got a call mid afternoon), the prezzies under the tree were what we were giving to each other and what I had recieved from various internet exchanges/ interactions. Thus I opened my main present, a melody copy of Hymns and Psalms – (regular readers will understand why I wanted a hymn book for Christmas). From my WISE person I got a lovely Lush bath thing and a chocolate santa, (she knows my tastes well). From my Ship person I got a Wayne Toups and Zydecajun CD which actually rocks in a rather bizarre way and a few other bits. From my Orthodox friend I got some CD’s of the Psalter and stuff. So in all not your average but a rather cool present opening in a surreal way. TOH enjoyed her various prezzies including a copy of Busty, Slag and Nob End by Russell Ash

Then it was on to church. A very pleasant service, which included a beautiful solo from one of the teenagers and a surreal bit of prezzie showing. After the service we decided to wind our way back via both of the local pubs we passed. This all meant my timings got messed up slightly and so we had to i-player the queen whilst we ate. TOH is a true republican and so refused to join me in starting the meal standing with a glass to her majesty. Then it was over to Carols at Kings whilst we finished the meal.

In the evening we hosted our gathering for those in the flats who were about and wanted to come. It was a small group of about six families and we had a lovely time. After the meal we got the kids singing a few songs they’d learnt at school to the adults, (Away in A Manger, We Wish You A Merry Christmas and some donkey song which involved a lot of eey-oreing which TOH and I didn’t know). Then whilst the adults chatted TOH told the kids a story about the elf who stole the Christmas tree. As most of the kids were quite ickle, 4-7 year olds, the gathering dispersed after about an hour and a half and we went back to spend the evening chilling in our respective flats.

All in all a very happy Christmas. Hope yours was equally as good, if not a little less surreal.

What Have I Done Now?

It seemed like a “nice” idea at the time. “It seemed like the right thing to do”. “Well somebody had to do it, and I thought I could”. “Well, I just felt it had to be done”. “I prayed about it and I felt it really was my calling”. Next time I say any of the above can somebody give me a good slap and say “but then you’ll work out what you’ve got yourself in for and panic”.

I have worked out that a small event I’ve sort of organised on Christmas Day evening has the potential to be an illustration of much of my life. It seemed a good idea at the time to organise an evening do for people in our flats who are staying in Durham over Christmas and have nobody to celebrate it with. I thought I was organising a chill out evening. I’m not sure whether the expectations are different or how it will all pan out. I was guided by somebody with an ickle more experience into doing a pot luck and stuff. I am now panicing though, I have taken responsibility and if it does all go wrong it’s my fault. I know what is being bought and there are several rice dishes together with the deserts and salad. Drink and plates will be bring your own – well it will be if I get an e-mail sent soon and a v. lovely lady at church has given me a big box of chocolates for us to share. My current feeling about it all is, “shouldn’t a proper grown up being doing this?” and “what have I done now?”

As I say it sums up alot of how I’m feeling at the moment. 2010 is going to be a big year in my life and one which has the potential to get a little more interesting than usual, even in my world. Third Party will take her GCSE’s, (continued prayers re. her and the whole school thing please), I will have a thesis to get written up and submitted, we will be looking for a new home, I will be looking for a new job (and finding out whether that path leads me back into teaching or something else), I will be trying to work out how on earth to fund the end of the adventure and get everything else planned done – (possible short fall), I may be progressing with my local preacher training (first preach – as opposed to the “talks” I’ve done elsewhere in my life – on Sunday – more prayer appreciated that God gets through and me and my nerves aren’t a distraction) and there are a couple of other things that I hopefully will be getting involved in during the year which are of a similar, “what am I doing here?” nature. Oh and the continued getting used to being in a relationship and trying to make time for TOH, aswell as Third Party in everything. Basically, at the moment I am looking at my life and wondering whether somebody else with a bit more courage and sense shouldn’t be living it.

Basically what I think I am asking for during 2010 is a bit of prayer as I panic and head off on whatever the next bit of the adventure turns out to be.

Excuse my little panic. I will leave you with an interesting You Tube clip a friend directed me to, which is almost enough to get me reaching for a traditional King James. May also make you giggle a bit. If I don’t get to say so again this week. Happy Christmas

Joy, Joy, Joy

The other night Third Party and I were having a fun night of messing about on You Tube looking up kids choruses and stuff she remembered from being ickle. All a good exercise in understanding why Christians don’t need drugs. Best one we found was this rendition of Joy, Joy, Joy.


A winter wonderland

It’s interesting living in an “international community” when it snows. Each year the first snow brings people out of their flats, who’ve never seen the white stuff before. Yesterday there was something really heart warming watching a couple of blokes outside with a gaggle of kids showing them how to play in the snow.
Here is a picture Third Party took from our flat, note the cathedral rising in the distance. As you can tell the view I get from here is truly inspiring, even without the snow. Bit of a post-script, as I write this I am looking out at the biggest snowflakes I have ever seen fall. They look more like feathers falling from the sky.
Winter wonderland

For the benefit of strangers

The last 24 hours has been even stranger than usual in terms of who has found this blog, and so I thought I would do a “useful post”. The stats tell me that people came here using the following range of search terms:

picture of Jesus caught in the storm December 16, 2009, 4:55 am
sex worship December 16, 2009, 12:03 am
Bridgette Jones porn December 15, 2009, 7:00 pm
can you have sex to worship music December 15, 2009, 6:20 pm
janet and john book about oranges and lemons December 15, 2009, 5:06 pm
Life in Herne Bay December 15, 2009, 3:30 pm
bullying + spiritual journey December 15, 2009, 12:57 pm

As you can see the combined terms of “sex” and “worship” appear to be ones which bring people here….not sure what that says, but hey. It is an area I do not have expertise on, but if anybody stumbles across this post when looking into this area I can direct you to a really useful book, Memories of Bliss: God, Sex and Us by Jo Ind. Memories of BlissIt’s not a how to manual, if you’re looking for one of those the only thing I can direct you to is the “Prayer Book for Spouses” which the Catholics have produced and was reviewed in the Mail and other places. Interesting that this one talks of praying before sex, I think a joint prayer of thanksgiving for your love when snuggling after a good love making session may also be an interesting idea for them to add in any updated version.

For the anybody looking for pictures the Tate has a wonderful collection on line, under Art on Demand on their site. You need to find the artist and then use the A-Z search, the short cut to “religion and beliefs” takes you to relatively few images.

If people are wanting to know about Bullying and Spiritual Journey they could probably do worse than search around Ship of Fools which I am sure must have a discusssion thread on that type of thing somewhere.

Janet and John people should be ok. They know Google is their friend.

If anybody is looking for life in Herne Bay I could make a very cruel joke, similar to the one I first heard when I moved there which said, “people move to Herne Bay to die, and then forget why they’ve come”. Alternatively I would say pop into the Friday morning coffee shop at Herne Bay Baptist Church and have a chat with some of the lovely peeps in there and they can give you some pointers, which may go beyond just get on the bus to Canterbury.

As for the people who come looking for porn all I can give is a message to think about what you’re looking for and why. The Jo Ind book I referred to before may make an interesting read for you because it talks about what the purposes of sex and DIY are within it, (and not in your “typical” guilt filled Christian way).

Finally, as this is a public service type blog post, I’ll end by directing people in churches to an article about the threat to existing wireless micraphone frequencies on the front of this weeks Baptist Times. It appears that the digital switchover could end up costing churches loads of money because of the planned changes to radio frequencies.

The Demise of Cider

There was a time when it was “Cider and Carols” and “Beer and Hymns”. I remember this sort of well, (it was the evening of the infamous pint of wine incident when I encountered it at Greenbelt). Appears times change though and these days it’s “Beer and Carols“. A search amongst the GB archieves indicates this has been the case for atleast a year, (you can find an advert for such an event last Christmas on there). Anyway apparently there is a Beer and Carols tomorrow evening in my favourite Durham pub, “The Bridge” from about 7 to 9pm. Alas I am going to be off being a folkie, but if you fancy a good night and are about in the city it might be worth wandering down.

For those who are mourning the demise of cider, as apparently not as appealing as beer, from the title I leave with you a class bit of retro cheese from the Wurzels. Note, seeing the ickle people singing along one wonders if the Wurzels were to blame for the great British institution of kids getting wrecked on cider on street corners.

17 years on ….. I am thankful

I closed the door and walked out, disillusioned and hurt. I was a “victim” of some kind of abuse who had had enough and finally left. As I left I didn’t know where I was going or what to do I just knew I had to get out. I was 20 years old at the time and had been married less than a year. I spent one night in a friends spare room, the next on anothers sofa bed, one night at my parents house…realising that going home was not an option for a variety of space related reasons….and then back to the spare room of the first set of friends for a few nights. In between I looked for somewhere to live which I could afford. I was doing my A Levels at evening class at the time and so went to see the student welfare officer at the college; she sorted me out a few days later with a room at the YWCA. I stayed there for about 5 months until I went off to uni. It was a safe place for this young woman to be staying, just as it had been for a friend who had stayed there a couple of years earlier when he had had to get out of home, escaping an alcoholic father. We were both, like many of our friends, “ordinary” young people in most ways, but we were facing “real life” very young.

My own story has a sort of happy ending; my husband (at the time), got himself sorted out and when I moved to go to uni he came too, starting anew our life together, and in many ways my life improved alot. I got sane again; went to uni, had Third Party, got my degree and I guess we had a good few years before he decided enough was enough and fell in love with somebody else. On my own again, within a few months I was facing the possibility of repossession and homelessness with a three year old, (something that thankfully didn’t come to pass).

I was in many ways very lucky and last night as I heard about the work of Aquila Way I became very thankful….as I realised what might have come to pass by the time I was 26. This is a charity which is supporting young people like the one I was. It’s supporting young people like the girl I once taught who had been plonked in a flat of her own after coming out of care with no tangible support who didn’t understand until I told her that you couldn’t buy your frozen food on the way to college and expect it to be ok when you got home. It’s supporting young people like Third Partys 16 year old friend who is expecting a baby in December. The faces might be different, but the stories are all too similar. This is a charity to be applauded and if possible supported.

You Tube clip explaining a little is here: