Thursday, August 31, 2006


Helsinki 1

(backposting) Two good meetings which I can't talk about. Supper with the sales guys. Got a bit wearing after a while.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Off to Helsinki (Sennon!)

(backposting) Jo was pleased today, because she was going to see her friend Sennon again. Victoria had kindly offered to look after Jo for a few hours due to a difficult set of circumstances: A little overkill, but given the stories we've been hearing about airports (more Heathrow, to be honest), I thought I'd try to give myself 4 hours or so to get through Stansted, which was bound to be heaving.

I had Jo from 1230 or so, which was tricky, as a number of calls came in, but I managed it all. Over lunchtime, I took her for a walk, and we popped in to see Claudia and Stella. They're both well, and harvest proceeding to plan, if a little slowly (given the weird weather we've been having).

So I dropped Jo off at Victoria's, and was off by around 1537 (what a relief, given how hard it was to get Jo sorted and in the car). Got to Stansted at 1605 for a 1955 flight. And it was pretty quiet. I spent half and hour taking calls, managed to check in early at a deserted checkin, and took almost exactly 8 minutes to go through security. Yes, 8 minutes. 4 hours really _was_ overkill. Still, did some duty-free shopping - finally bought myself an mp3/ogg player (Samsung YP-U2, 1GB), got a shirt from Austin Reid (non-iron: they're brilliant for business trips), some aftershave and a bottle of Caol Ila 12 year old (bliss!) - had some food, and basically took things nice and easy.

Got to Helsinki around 0050 local. Bed by 0130/0200 or so.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Reflections on summer school

Hard. Revelatory.

Pastoral. Musical.

My God. My friends.

Laughter. Crying.

Homesickness. Touching.

The centre cannot hold. The centre cannot but hold.

You just need to play it right.


Back at work

Busy? Kind of. Not at the beginning, but toward the end of the day, it all set off. Jo's a lovely bubba, I have to say. Lots of loveliness today. Just stuff. She's talking better, enunciating better, and showing a freaky interest in alphabet books. Hmm.

Helsinki tomorrow.

Monday, August 28, 2006


Friends for lunch

Jo was very excited from very early today that we were off to see her friend Sennon (and our friends Victoria and Grenville, and Sennon's (half-)brother Charles). Unluckily we weren't due to see them until 1200, so we had some time to kill. We went off to the garden centre and bought some stuff (note - I don't do gardens particularly), had a tea/coffee and a muffin ("dake!") each, and then headed off to see them via Peterfield Antique Village outside Gosfield. Some odd stuff, some nasty stuff, but some rather better stuff, too.

We had a lovely time with Victoria and Grenville (et al.). Charles is a great lad - about to turn 12 - and Jo and Sennon get on brilliantly, playing very sweetly indeed. He even fed her the end of his blackberry and apple crumble while she sat on my knee next to his high chair, which, to be honest, I'm not sure I would have done even as her father (the crumble, like the lamb casserole, was excellent).

Sunday, August 27, 2006



Jo didn't sleep desparately well, and in the end, Moo had to take her into the spare room. Up around 0715 in the end, and I took Jo downstairs to let Moo sleep a bit more. Around 0945, I took Jo off to Holy Trinity, Long Melford for communion (with baptism). Jo really likes church, and it was a good service: good hymns ("dinging" = "singing"), organ music (to which Jo danced), and a very well-pitched sermon with whose sermon I agreed strongly. I took her up for a blessing when I took communion, and she stood at the brass rail. When it was time to leave, she said "more!", and had to be pulled away. We went cross-spotting before (which we've done before, and she likes), and afterwards I spoke to the Rector to find out whether he'd consider having me do a placement in the parish as part of my ordination training this year. I even managed to get Jo saying "Amen", which should be useful in the longer term...

Off to the Crazy Boar for lunch, back home, slept for an hour, then play with Jo. Compared to yesterday, she went down amazingly quickly - under 4 minutes, even given the fact that someone phoned us about a minute in.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Home at last

(backposting) I've been away too long - I really don't like it, so it was great knowing that I'd be home by the end of the day. Morning prayer with the group - a reflective session led by Clive - and then breakfast. Fixed some dates for seminars and tried to get my heads round the courses I'll be taking this year, not entirely successfully. Some feedback on worship, and then the last service of the summer school. A URC communion held by Deborah: it was excellent, and to receive communion, we each took some of the consecrated bread and ate it at the same time. It was a good act of fellowship. After that, lunch, and then home.

It was so good to see Jo. She was really pleased, and I got home around 1500, which meant that I got to spend a good amount of time with her. It was lovely to see Moo, of course, and after I _finally_ got Jo down (it took around an hour and a half), I got to spend some time with Moo. We had some fairly fraught discussions about attitudes to women's ordination. Not so much about my attitudes, but about compromise, and when (definitely if, in the case of Moo ("I wouldn't have described the conversation like that at all")) it can be appropriate and/or acceptable. Not easy, but we have a strong, frank relationship, and we both think it's really important to have these things out.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Reading, and revue

(backposting) I was reading at morning prayer this morning: one of those great opportunities: John 1:1-14. It's just one of the greatest passages in the Bible. I was pleased with how it went, and thought that the service - led by Peter, of whom more below - went very well. I was particularly impressed as it's well outside his tradition.

The rest of the day was around preaching practice. The course is trying to set up groups of 2nd and final year students to go and listen to each other preach. The plan was to start by preparing a short sermon each and criticising it, and then, over the year, to visit each others' churches to hear sermons in situ. I've got Richard, Peter (as above) and Iain: all good men and true. We went off to have tea/coffee in Bungay (_not_ the most salubrious place in the world), and had some good chats. We then still had a good session where we could prepare the sermons. I knew exactly what I'd be preaching on, and didn't expect it to take long. God had different views. I prepared the initial sermon notes (on justification by faith alone in the Epistle of James), and then decided I ought to read a bit of context around the pericope. Of course, there was a verse a little on which directly contradicted the point that I'd decided to make. So, went to the library, had a chat with Richard (a course tutor), read some concordances and a couple of commentaries, scoured through some Greek, and changed my views, my theology and my sermon significantly. Yes, my theology.

The last evening worship of the course was when my vocal group were down to sing the Henry Ley piece. We had a little rehearsal beforehand, which was OK, but far from brilliant, but when the time came, they did a fantastic job. I was so proud - even had a little cry afterwards. I love the English choral tradition - it's really where I get my kicks.

Stayed up till 0100 or so, should have gone in a little earlier, but I was far from being the last.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Outcome from last night

(backposting) Last night had an outcome, which was that I sat next to someone this morning and didn't receive communion when pretty much everyone else did. I cried. I didn't realise how difficult it would be.

Good sessions on sermons, including watching Rowan Williams preach very well (and carefully) at NEAC (National Evangelical Anglican something beginning with a C). Also a good session on personal safety in ministry by and ex-Met officer, who I wouldn't have let into my home, but...

Nothing like yesterday, but how could it be?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


God be thanked

(backposting) Today started off, if not inauspiciously, then in a fairly normal fashion for ERMC. Service, an interesting session on models of inculturation, a session (well, I should have attended 3...) on essay titles for the mission module, and then lunch.

During the afternoon, I read more of "Indecent Theology" by Marcella Althaus-Reid, and listened to some music. This was partly due to a discussion I had a with Helen last night about music. It started with a conversation about placements. I'm planning one in mental health - probably a mental health chaplaincy - and one in a more busy parish than I'm used to: Long Melford looks possible. We then moved onto other issues: the possibility of meeting Mother Joanna for a session to discuss Orthodox spirituality; how surprised she'd been that the Vaughan-Williams last night had not been a "performance", but a giving; "Indecent Theology" - would I consider reviewing Althaus-Reid's lastest book? (yes); and music. It's no secret that I don't always do very well in conversation in groups: I tend to talk over people, maybe be too quick to come up with my thoughts, rather than listening to others: things like that. Helen wondered whether thinking about music - and listening to more music - might help that.

So, moving back to what I was doing that afternoon. I sat down in the library and listened to some music from the album "Cloudburst and other choral works" by Stephen Layton. And read Indecent Theology. I'd just moved to "X grass" from the album "Bluegrass 2001", and was reading a section of the book about modelling Jesus' resurrection of Lazarus as the return of a gay lover after a break-up (really), when it all came together.

I was touched by God. The phrase "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me" was what it felt like. It felt like the time, a three Easters ago now, when I was in a service and the call to the priesthood came. I realised that it was all there, and that the spark is in all of us. The music was it - the different strands are us, and all we need to do is play it right: that's all that God needs, and all that we need. The phrase "the centre cannot hold" (where's this from?) kept running round my head with the phrase "the centre cannot but hold". And I realised that the Trinity is/are there, right in front of us, all the time - and all you need to do is reach out and touch it/her/them. And play the music right. Bernard of Clairvaux was right, and so was Julian of Norwich. God's just there. All the time.

I smiled like a mad thing through most of the rest of the afternoon. The session on leading public worship felt so obvious - and too simple - and our group's worship was also obvious. We were praying for a change to the unjust structures of society, and you wouldn't have thought I'd smile through it, but I just wanted to start shouting "the Kingdom of God's here - it's in each of us now, and all we need to do is play the music right".

I hope that I can feel this again, but I know it'll always be there. I just need to remember how obvious it is, and to listen to the music.

And that evening, after a few beers, I had one of the most difficult evenings I've ever had. God gave me the strength, and I wasn't expecting the pastoral side to fall to me, but it did. God help us all.

(just play the music right...)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


New students

(backposting) A good service this morning of Morning Prayer and Holy Communion following BCP, led by Malcolm. I do love the BCP. More group work on mission, and then lunch.

I'd volunteered (being a good boy) to welcome the new students. I was put on one of the gates - one clearly marked "no entry" - and saw very little of any of the new students. Ran up to one of the other gates to see if my first aid (sorry "Emergency First Responder") skills were needed after a minor car accident, but they weren't (the new student following was a GP), and had a good chat with Peter (another student), and read some more "Indecent Theology", a book about which I'll be speaking more after I've finished it.

Got to meet the new students in our group this evening - a very pleasant time, and then we headed off to the bar for a few drinks. (Note - this happens most evenings during summer school, though I _tend_ to get to bed before, say, 0130.


New students

(backposting) A good service this morning of Morning Prayer and Holy Communion following BCP, led by Malcolm. I do love the BCP. More group work on mission, and then lunch.

I'd volunteered (being a good boy) to welcome the new students. I was put on one of the gates - one clearly marked "no entry" - and saw very little of any of the new students. Ran up to one of the other gates to see if my first aid (sorry "Emergency First Responder") skills were needed after a minor car accident, but they weren't (the new student following was a GP), and had a good chat with Peter (another student), and read some more "Indecent Theology", a book about which I'll be speaking more after I've finished it.

Got to meet the new students in our group this evening - a very pleasant time, and then we headed off to the bar for a few drinks. (Note - this happens most evenings during summer school, though I _tend_ to get to bed before, say, 0130.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Love bade me welcome - and Orthodoxy

(backposting) Went to bed early last night so as to have a chance of being able to sing this morning. The service was at 0915, and I was up around 0800, attempting to warm up in the lanes around Ditchingham. The warm-up really didn't go well at all, and at 0910 I was gargling and drinking amontillado sherry in the bar gym. This is a last ditch measure, and only gives you half a chance. I went into the service really uncertain as to whether the voice would work. Low notes were fine, but anything about an A or so wasn't looking good.

I trusted to God, and he pulled me through. Although I've sung better, there was only one slightly iffy phrase, and I really felt that I'd given my all to God. Many people said how much they'd enjoyed it, and I know that Lizzie, who played the piano, really got a lot out of it. She did a much better job of it than me, too!

Mother Joanna Burton is an orthodox religious based at the Orthodox training college which is part of the Cambridge Theological Federation. I know very little about Orthodox theology - let alone how it relates to mission - and her hour and a half session was fantastic, and really opened up some new avenues for me to explore. Of which more in a later post.

The last session of the day was very difficult for me. We watched The Mission, a fascinating and thought-provoking film which ends in an orgy of violence against the native South American Indians who are central to the film. I found it too much - much too much - and I stormed out in tears and made sure that I drank enough that I couldn't drive home that night. What finished me off was when children started dying in the film. I'd been missing Jo (and, in a different way, Moo) so, so much, and was in real danger of just driving home. My initial reaction was anger that they'd made us watch such a film, but on reflection and a few beers, I decided that the problem was more about me than the film.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Rehearsals, more study

(backposting) Today (or yesterday - who knows?) I had the first rehearsal with a group of singers who'd shown an interest in singing some more difficult music. 4 sopranos, 2 altos, 1 tenor and 4 basses - I'm hoping for some more singers in the first year. Charles, one of the basses, has asked whether we could sing it on the Friday evening, as part of the service he's involved in putting together. I'm pretty confident that it should go well, as they first rehearsal went excellently.

Helen's session on Ecology and Mission was particularly interesting, but so was the session on the history of mission: she did a talk on Bartolom&ecute; de las Casas (a fascinating priest who stood up for the rights of native South Americans early in the colonial period), and Richard talked about missions to China, an area about which I knew very little.

Saturday, August 19, 2006



A good day of study today. Also my end-of-year review meeting with my mentor. No surprises, and we came up with some useful things to look at for next year, so I was pleased.

Edward, one of the staff, is taking a service on Monday morning, to lead into the morning of silence. We'd been talking about George Herbert poems, and he'd been on the brink of asking me whether I'd read "Love Bade Me Welcome" when I offered to sing the Vaughan-Williams version. He took me up on it, so I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, August 18, 2006


Off to ERMC

(backposting) Spent quite a lot of time sorting bits and pieces for work, despite the fact that I was supposed to be on holiday. Blackberries are terrible for this, but I made a conscious decision to leave it at home for the week away, which should help me keep away from work. There's going to be lots to sort out when I get home.

Got to Ditchingham on time, and was really quite stressed to discover that I had a big room with 3 beds. Unlike other years, the course had said that we weren't allowed to bring families to stay, and although Moo wouldn't have come with Jo for the entire 8 days, she would almost certainly have come for a day or two, and I was very aware that it's going to be the longest I've ever been away from Jo. Started the day with sherry, then supper, Bible study with the rest of Group D, then night prayer with them.

I was in charge of night prayer, and did a cut down BCP choral evensong. I chose the Nunc Dimittis from Gibbons' Short Service, and Bainton "And I saw a New Heaven" (which we had at our wedding, and is therefore very special to me. It went very well, and I was touched that a number of people asked more about it, and how it fits into my tradition.

After that, to the bar for the first of many late nights. In bed by 0130 or so, I think...

Thursday, August 17, 2006



Moo took me to Freeport today at lunch because she got so bored of my asking her what the time is all the time. So I bought a cheap watch: she promised me a nice watch for my birthday, but we'll going to wait for a little liquidity (i.e. when I get my expenses paid). Later in the month, then. We had a nice lunch as well - I'm off to summer school tomorrow, so it was a last chance for us to have a meal together. We're also trying to have lunch together more often, and go out without Jo from time to time during the day.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


5 and a quarter hours in the car

Which is too much. Good meeting, though, and phoned Sally for a random chat. Just because. Spent quite a lot of time listening to Jonathan Coulton's songs, which are hilarious, touching and very good. I suspect that Nik would appreciate his music. I particularly like "Re: Your Brains" and "Code Monkey". For some reason, both of them make me think of David J., a manager who Nik may well remember from our shared past.

Caught choral evensong on Radio 3: I used to enjoy singing Kelly in C as a treble, but I'm not sure it's high art... On Friday, I have to lead evening worship for our group of 12 or so, and intend to do a cut-down choral evensong with some really good music on CD. I've yet to decide what.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006



I went to the installation of the new incumbent of Helions Bumpstead and Steeple Bumpstead this evening, which I enjoyed. I'd not been to one before, and I knew the church (Steeple) and some of the people, as I've taken services and preached there. Keith was there, too, and I had a good chat with some people - clergy and lay - afterwards. Almost like having a local set of peers. Almost. :-)

Finished a coding project today, and I'm well chuffed with myself. It's an implementation of a protocol I designed for work, and although I'm not sure if they'll be interested in it, it was good practice and really got me working with the Java crypto classes at a fairly deep level.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Defending the Transcendental Model

Sally challenged me to defend a model which I felt was closer to me than the countercultural, which I distrust. None of the models presented resonates perfectly for me: However, I've chosen to defend the transcendental model, which might surprise some people who know me. It was a toss-up between this and the anthropological, both of which have their attractions. But the recognition of revelation's relevance to others, as it is situated in a cultural and community context, works for me. I'd situate it in the context of tradition as well, and that's where it can be powerful.

I have a suspicious relationship with revelation, as I have suspicions about "personal relationships with Jesus", but have to admit to revelatory experiences of my own: I'm very much able to relate that to my understanding of tradition and scripture, though, so that's why I'm happy to defend this model. It's also why I think that Gary's defense of the Translational model actually betrays a possible transcendental bent. Sorry for having painted him as a possible counterculturalist before!

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Problems with the countercultural model

In a comment to one of my posts yesterday, Sally said...
"Interesting Mike so come on explain a little more your thinking regarding the countercultural model- do you have a specific problem with this model of does it simply go against the grain?"
So, I thought I'd better reply. I've a bit of a think about it, and although I won't pretend that I've gone through it all, here are some initial thoughts about the problems I have.

  1. I think there's a huge danger that the countercultural model requires you to choose one theology and say "all the others are wrong: this is how we have to live". If you think about the Nigerian Anglican church's reaction to the liberal side of the US and UK (and other) Anglican churches, you see an extreme example. I'm not happy with being dictated to by a model which can be used as a condemnatory, rather than redemptive, force.
  2. following on from that, I think there's a very big danger that the conservative voices will be the strongest, and will win the day. Who's to say this is right?
  3. I worry that voices will be shouted down, and that really concerns me.
  4. I believe, very, very strongly, that the Holy Spirit talks to us through the lives and culture of those around us. I believe that She is at work in non-Christians, and in the culture around us. There are things we can learn, and if we decide that we can draw a line in the sand, and say "we know everything there is to know about the world, and you're all wrong", then we'll keep slavery and child labour and burning witches and the ptolemaic solar system and the belief that the ruling monarch can cure a variety of nasty skin complaints. You'll note that some of those were from the "hard" sciences, and some weren't. That was deliberate.
  5. my view of the coming of the Kingdom of God is that we should work to shape our culture(s), and not set ourselves apart. I know Christians like that, and they worry me. They worried me at school, they worried me at university, and although there's a place for lots of different ways of being a Christian in the world, when God spoke to me a few years ago and I finally got the message that he wanted me to pursue an ordained ministry, the two big things he left me with were:
    • a statement: "if you really believe in this Church, now's the time to step up and do something about it";
    • a question: "would you be happy being part of the church if you were you, now, and not in it?"
    Both of these are ongoing issues, and I suspect that the countercultural model won't help me much with the second.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Poetry for today

Breakfast - Wilfred Gibson

We ate our breakfast lying on our backs,
Because the shells were screeching overhead.
I bet a rasher to a loaf of bread
That Hull United would beat Halifax
When Jimmy Strainthorpe played full-back instead
Of Billy Bradford. Ginger raised his head
And cursed, and took the bet; and dropt back dead.
We ate our breakfast lying on our backs,
Because the shells were screeching overhead.

The Dawning - George Herbert

AWAKE, sad heart, whom sorrow ever drowns ;
Take up thine eyes, which feed on earth ;
Unfold thy forehead, gathered into frowns ;
    Thy Saviour comes, and with Him mirth :
                                            Awake, awake,
And with a thankful heart His comforts take.
    But thou dost still lament, and pine, and cry,
    And feel His death, but not His victory.

Arise, sad heart ; if thou dost not withstand,
    Christ's resurrection thine may be ;
Do not by hanging down break from the hand
    Which, as it riseth, raiseth thee :
                                            Arise, Arise;
    And with His burial linen drie thine eyes.
Christ left His grave-clothes, that we might, when grief
Draws tears or blood, not want a handkerchief.


Contextual Theology

Well, I know that Gary hated the book, but I thought it was very good. I don't fully endorse exclusively any of the different models that Bevans outlines, but I think that's all to the good. I'd say that I regard the anthropological, praxis and countercultural models with particular suspicion - I suspect that Gary might espouse the last of these as his main model, and I'd be interested to see if he can be convinced to read at least that chapter in order to tell me whether I'm misrepresenting him.

Friday, August 11, 2006


A post for Sally

Psalm of anger - Nicola Slee

St Mary's Abbey, West Malling
Rage ricochets off the empty cloister walls,
anger erupts at the altar.
The silence palls.
My serene piety falters and crumbles.
My lips mouth the prayers
but my heart lurches and stumbles
on the edge of this gaping pit
into which my cries have fallen.

I will storm this silence
not with praise but with venom.
I will blast this emptiness
not with patience but with anger.
My mantra is not "mercy"
but a cacophany of curses
hurled headlong at your distance,
spat in the face of your absence.

Show yourself!
Answer me!

I am sick of your silence,
I have had my fill of you hiddenness,
I am faint with the worry of waiting
on your word which never comes.
Have you not seen my pain?
Have you not heard
the anguish of my heart?
How can you stand far off
and watch me writhing and straining for you
with my bleary, tear-filled eyes,
crying for you with my dry and weary throat?

Why do you gloat from afar?
Will you not come?
Will you not show yourself?
Answer me!

(Note - reproduced without permission from Praying Like a Woman, Nicola Slee (SPCK, 2004))

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Loving our children

I've only got 17 month's experience of being a parent: Sally's got a lot more experience of that, even counting in years, rather than months. I have fears about parenthood, and one of the things that's been a revelation to me about the past year of training and being a parent is something of an understanding of God the Father, and a greater regard for Mary, mother of Jesus.

One of the things that I've had to come to terms with about being a father is not only that I can't control what Josephine will do with her life, but that I should not - I _must_ not. It's possible that some of the choices that Jo will make will hurt me, and that some of those choices will hurt her, as well. But I will have to let her make her own choices, in the end, even if that hurts me to the bone. That's something that Mary had to face at the foot of the cross, and in the end, that's what God the Father had to accept, too. I don't believe that God the Son was "sent" by God the Father to die for our sins. I believe that God the Son, as a separate man/person/entity/part of the Trinity, made that decision for himself, and even given his plea that the cup should pass him by if it was God the Father's will, he accepted and chose the decision to die painfully and slowly on a humiliating instrument of torture, taking the sins of the entire world on his shoulders. If she decides to sacrifice herself, for herself, for others, or even for nothing, there's only so much I can do. In some ways, the best thing I may be able to do for her is to accept and support her decision. I don't know if I'll be able to empty myself up that much for her. Kenosis is difficult - and I don't know if I can serve Josephine - and God's will - that much. I pray that I never have to make those sorts of decisions. But loving Josephine means that I may have to. God give me strength. God the Father, who suffered watching his Son, God the Son, who suffered on our cross for us - on my cross for me - and God the Spirit, who feels our suffering and touches us whenever we hurt, whenever we cry, and whenever we smile, and whenever we laugh. God be thanked.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Bluetooth on Windows

What a nightmare. On Linux, it just works. But because I'd moved the hard-drive from a laptop without without Bluetooth to one which had it, Windows XP just got so confused. It took hours - literally - several reboots, lots of trial and error and just messing around. Not good.

On another techie note, I was having problems getting some of the crypto stuff done that I wanted, then realised that although I was using a Java 1.4 JVM, I only had a book on the 1.3. Lots of crypto changes in 1.4, so I've ordered up the latest version of the marvellous "Java in a Nutshell" (we love O'Reilly).

We interviewed a possible nanny today - we liked her, and hopefully she liked us. We're seeing someone else tomorrow, so we've got an option even if she doesn't work out. Jo said "Willum" today, so she can now name both cats. Useful, I guess, though she mainly says "no!" to them. Particularly Willum.

Still enjoying the Bevans book - looks like I might be lending it to Gary soon.

Oh, and it's my birthday!

I cannot believe that I failed to blog this before. Shocking. I'm 0x24 today. We're waiting on a nice present from Moo, because we've bought a new sofa (due tomorrow), and when we looked around Cambridge, I couldn't make up my mind. My family gave me a Silverstone driving event: Jim (my brother) has the same, and we're going to try to do it on the same day.

Moo and I went to Dick's Caf&ecute; in Halstead and had a lovely lunch: just the two of us. It was fantastic to spend some time together on our own.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Old tomorrow

Not a big deal, really, but tomorrow feels like a big day, because I turn 36. Why, you ask, is this such a big birthday? I think it's because, for me, my childhood finished and I became an adult with the completion of my A levels. I'd been at boarding school from age 8, and leaving school was when I started my adulthood. And I took my A levels when I was 18. Twice 18 is 36. Not actually bovvered, but here it comes.

We've just booked a holiday for next year, which is astonishingly early for us. Sophie and Steve are getting married in Padstow in July next year, so we've booked a cottage from Rural Retreats, a perennial favourite company for us since we stayed in one of their cottages over our honeymoon.

I'm sorry that Sally's feeling overwhelmed by paperwork. Books and theology and discussion should be about giving us ways to think anew, and discuss and cross-fertilise with other Christians and non-Christians. Having said that, it's very easy to become bogged down, and I'm sorry that's happened. I hope that the summer school helps - I think it's her (your) first one, so we'll see how it goes. God is the logos - the word read, the word thought, the word held, the word acted, the word unspoken and the word spoken.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Muppetry and book tagging

Muppetry is the act perpetrated when you're a muppet.

The muppet's 25th anniversary album arrived today. Quite appropriate, because I was a bit of a muppet today. New laptop arrived, and after lots of setting up, I couldn't get it to connect to Wifi. I reinstalled ubuntu, in the end, and it still didn't work. Took me a while to work out it was because of MAC filtering. D'oh.

Jo loves the muppet album. Lots of good dancing music ("mee-mic!"). She also loves her car.

Book tagged

I've been tagged by Sally:

Tony Blair

I voted to for Tony's Blair's Labour government at the last general election. In fact, I've voted Labour at every election since I met Moo. But, if he's still in power, or if his successor doesn't condemn the policies that have brought us to where we are in the Middle East, and within our own country, then I won't be voting for them next time. Look at the news, the papers, the web, and look what's happening to Lebanon. Look at Iraq and Iran.

It taken me a long time, and I'd hoped at some point that there would be changes, but the lack of condemnation of what Israel is doing it too much.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Meeting friends

Mark (hi!) made the point yesterday that we'd not got together and talked rubbish for a long time over a drink or two, and it's well-made. Now that Jo's finally settling into a better sleeping pattern, maybe we can have friends over from time to time. Given that Jo still usually ends up in the spare room with Moo, there's the question of where we put them, but there's still the bedroom next to my office.

Didn't go to church today - thought we'd have a family day of it, and we did. Just bits and pieces, bought some second-hand toys for Jo, including a car she can sit in: and which she has. A lot. Also a bed guard, so we can metamorphose her cot into a bed. We've tried it tonight, and we'll see how it goes. Also, a loo insert so that Jo can go to use grown-up loos, which she's decided she like to do. Working well so far.

Still enjoying the Bevans and Schreiter book: very good in my view.

Saturday, August 05, 2006



Get the non-theological stuff out the way first, shall we? Went into Cambridge, bought a new sofa (65% off, and not even from DFS, though it was an advert for them that started us thinking), didn't buy me a birthday present. (9th of August, hint, hint). Bought Jo some new shoes.

Also took Jo for a walk this afternoon before taking her to bed, and we saw ducks ("ducks, quack, quack!"), a rat in the same stream ("rabbit", "no, rat", "rap! NO! NO!"), and, as we came back, a grass snake ("'nake, ssssssss!") on the road. He was alive, just basking, so I moved him off, just in case he was in danger from a car. It was beautiful - I loved snakes, and felt so privileged to have seen him (or her!) and shown him to Jo. As I mentioned yesterday, I don't think she sees the wondrous as special yet: for her, everything is wondrous.

Read Richard's paper. Didn't do much for me, either. Not helped, bizarrely, by the fact that it was in Arial (rather than a serif-ed font) and left (rather than fully) justified. But it didn't really hold together, at least till the later parts. Maybe there's a danger when you try to do systematic theology that you can't say antyhing until you've said something of everything.

Started reading Models of Contextual Theology by Bevans and Schreiter. This is, so far, very good indeed, and on the basis of what it talks about, I talked to Moo a little more about her and faith. She wouldn't call herself a Christian at the moment, partly because she's unhappy about the God that she finds in the Bible, partly because she doesn't feel she needs the kind of certainty she had when she did have a faith, partly because that certainty's not available to her any more, and partly because the Church she sees around her - the Anglican church, at least - is too full of contradictions for her to be able to relate to it, certainly in the local context in which we find ourselves at the moment.

Oh, and Sally, we need to talk. I think it's worth understanding that ordination isn't just about your relationship to other people, but also about their relationship to you, and the role you'd be undertaking. People have needs as to how they relate to their pastors and ministers. Let's talk.

Friday, August 04, 2006


No laptop

Well, that's made Sally, at least, a happy person. I, on the other hand, was _less_ happy. I'd paid for next day delivery before 1200, and, by jumping jalopies, that's what I wanted. Frankly, the fact that the warehouse had a power failure yesterday afternoon is in _no_ sense my problem. So, it's coming on Monday (before 1200), and I basically had to threaten to set the police on them before they'd give me a part refund on the delivery. Grrr.

On a better note, the cooling fan arrived for my graphics card. I was right: it _was_ overheating. Now, however, I can run it at 1600x1200 and it works like a dream. No problems at all. Quake3 Arena and Civilisation:Call to Power both play very nicely, thank you.

I also spent some time today playing with Eclipse. The last time I used an IDE (not counting the marvellous emacs, of course), it was Visual Studio, about 6 years ago, and I hated it. And it was by Micro$oft. So, when I heard about Eclipse, which is a graphical IDE aimed at Java development, and also open source, I thought I'd give it a go. I've been rather impressed so far, but the best feature (which was hardly a surprise, given the people using and developing it) is that you can use emacs keybindings for the editor. I may have to do the odd bit of Java coding here and there for PoCs, example integrations and the like, so I thought it was worth a shot. New tools usually slow productivity down for a while, but this has already increased mine, so I'm pleased.

A few weeks ago, I got my parents set up with Skype video, and today, we tried it for the first time. Jo thought it was excellent - the most interesting thing is how little she's fazed by it. I think that if you're presented with things when you're young enough, they don't seem wondrous: just part of everyday life. We hope to use it quite often from now on, to keep in touch with them.

Ordered some books for ERMC last night, which should arrive in the next few days, so it's going to be back to the grindstone pretty soon. I've started to miss it, actually, so it's no bad thing. On a relevant note, I've volunteered to do our group worship on the Friday of the summer school, so I need to put some things together. I'm planning on a cut-down BCP evensong, with some good music to go with it.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


What happened today?

Not much. Wrote up and sent off some thoughts for a possible protocol patent. Provided sanity and support for Sally over email, phone and SMS. And Jo took forever to go down. And when I went to get the sausages out from the fridge, there was something growing on them, so we're having curry tonight.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Not feeling very well

At first I just thought I was hungover, but it got worse, rather than better, and my glands are up. *Yeuch*. Moo's off at the Octavia Hill Birthplace trust (really) on work, but I got Jo down OK in around 25 minutes. Just ordered a new laptop - on my personal credit card. Must do some expenses tomorrow...


Out for a posh dinner!

(backposting) As far as we can remember, we've only been out twice together since Jo was born. This, we realise, is pathetic, and so when Si and D suggested we go out for dinner, we resolved to make it happen. Carolyn started at 1000, as she was going to be baby-sitting into the evening, and by the evening, we were really looking forward to it: I'd even booked a taxi.

Around 1800, Moo and I head upstairs to get changed, and by 1825 we're done, so Carolyn takes Jo upstairs for a bath and bed. She didn't seem to want a long bath, so after a quick one, Carolyn put her down. And it took about 30 seconds. We don't know how she does it, but on being given a kiss night-night and being put down in her cot, Jo just settles. So, after 50+ minutes last night, it took (it felt, at least) less than 1 tonight. Grrr. Not that we're bitter, oh no.

Taxi didn't arrive on time, and when I phoned 5 minutes later, it appeared that they'd not made the booking after all, so we arrived a little late, but only about 10 seconds after the Plants, so no problem. We had a fantastic meal at Chimneys in Long Melford. It was very quiet (well, it was a Tuesday), with only 5 other diners, and we had a great time. Talked about all the usual, and had a blast. They're excellent friends, and it's really good to see them.

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