Thursday, January 31, 2008


Essay on Psalm 137

So, I decided that I _could_ use David Gray's "Babylon" as a reading of Psalm 137, and I frankly don't care if I get marked down for it. I think I made a good case for it, so we'll see how it goes. I've sent a copy to Sally, contrary to my usual practice not to send anything out until I've seen a marked copy. This decision is mainly because I can't face bothering enough not to, and because I suspect that Sally will have some interesting things to say about it.

Very excitingly, I got a letter from Crockford's today, asking for my details so that they can put me in their publication. This means that I really will be a _proper_ priest at some point. One of the things they asked for was an email address, so I've given them a new one, which I now feel happy about releasing: mike [dot] bursell {at} anglicanpriest *(dot)* org. You can take out the relevant bits and pieces to make that a real address, and see why I've not felt happy about using it until things looked pretty certain.

Miri can now say "cat" pretty distinctively - to the cat, or about it, when she wants to go and see him - and has a sound that she associates with dog (but doesn't sound much like it). She also has a hysterically funny face she does that has been labelled "hippo", where she puts her hands out, opens her mouth very widely, and vibrates her head from side to side. You have to see it. What's particularly amusing about it is that she looks very much like Jo when she does it.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Seminar yesterday

I forgot - I had a seminar yesterday. Richard, the staff member, was leading it: on the atonement. We had quite a discussion on the nature of sin. I take the view that sin and evil are pretty much synonymous, and without conscious humanity, there would be no evil. His theodicy is rather different to mine: he sees a broken creation, whereas I see a broken and fallen humanity. Christ dies on the cross, for me, to atone for humanity's sin, but for Richard, he atones not just for moral evil, but for the "evil" he sees in nature: the pain of a dying animal, and the death of an innocent neonate human baby.

I don't see evil in this way. For me, the phrase "the lion will lie down with the lamb" is allegorical, not literal, but if you take a view of creation that it is broken, then the Atonement must, I suppose, include this. My concern with this view is that I believe that God's grace is strongly shown through the natural world, and that any intervention that breaks the rules of that world - of what we call scientific laws - would be a denial, by God, of his grace and love.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Queer temporalities

(backposting) I went to a talk at the Computer Lab today, and popped into the UL. An old college mate, Jason, had said that he'd been looking into queer temporalities: I said it sounded interesting, and he suggested looking at No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive. Without going too technical, and given that I've only just started reading it, it seems to be about refactoring society without the false bias towards "the Child" (an imagined and impossible future politic, based on the heterosexual assumptions and drives - death drives) of a false past. And that's the non-technical. It takes a negative view of reproductive futurities, and seems to be taking a very deconstructive approach, talking about using queerness to challenge this oppressive futurity. Anyway, it's very interesting so far, and I'm already thinking about theological - Christian - readings which challenge the assumptions about the futurity "required" by the society we live in.

It's early days, but I'm not convinced we need to have this static construction of the "Child": one of the great benefits (and I use the term in a semi-technical sense) of Christ's incarnation is that he is both Child and Crucified Lord. I'll see if this works as I read more of the book.


Monday, January 28, 2008


Writing and writing

(backposting) So, I did lots and lots of work on an article that I'm writing for a trade mag. for work. In fact, it looks like it's going to be three articles, across three issues, which I'm very pleased about. They'd said that would be fine, but I didn't think there was going to be material enough for 2, let alone three. But the more work I did on it... So, the first draft looks good. This may sound dull, but I rather enjoyed it.


Sunday, January 27, 2008


Title post time

Today I took Miri and Jo to Halstead for the 1000 communion service. It was the day that they were due to announce to the congregation that I'm going to be serving my title there - God willing, obviously - and I thought it would be good to be there. Added to that, Moo wanted to do some cleaning, and that's a lot easier without the girls around. A good service - great hymns - and I sat next to the kids area. Jo found a 6 year-old girl to boss around, and played with her, while Miri cuddled me for most of the service and crawled around for a bit. John, my training incumbent-to-be invited me to the front, and I did a little introduction. I enjoyed the service, and although it would be good to see a few more young people there, it appears that the team is doing lots of work with younger people, most of which takes place outside standard Sunday worship, which is probably the way things work best. So, I'm looking forward to being involved in some of that, too.

Walk with Buster, Moo, Jo and Miri. Then swimming with Jo.

Finished watching If.... Great film. I'd not seen it in ages - 20 years plus, I guess - and had forgotten most of it.

Did the ironing in front of the TV.

Jo continues to be lovely.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008



(backposting) Jo seems suddenly to have "got" empathy. It's a big developmental step, it seems: she's suddently being thoughtful: anticipating what people might like, giving them things, doing to stuff for them, that sort of thing. We've been making a big deal of it, and saying how thoughtful she's being. And it's made a great deal of difference to the weekend. For a start, it made Moo's Friday with the girls a lot better, but we went into Cambridge today, and Jo's listening better and life is a lot easier. Yes, she loses it from time to time, but that's fair enough - she's not even 3 yet - and I think the fact that she can (more often) see why we're asking her to do things, because she can see things from someone else's point of view, makes her life easier, too.

I took Buster for a lovely long walk today: finishing just as a beautiful sunset revealed itself. I really love walking: just using my body as it's supposed to be, and enjoying the countryside.

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Friday, January 25, 2008



Miri learnt how to do steps today: upwards, that is. So that means we need to be yet more vigilant.

Oh, and I've decided that David Gray's "Babylon" _can_ be a reading of Psalm 137 for an essay I'm writing. I ate enough Krispy Kremes, obviously.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008


Difficult decision

If I eat enough Krispy Kreme glazed donuts (sic) (sick), can I pretend that David Gray's "Babylon" is a reading of Psalm 137 for an essay I'm writing?

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Title post

I've not been able to talk about this until it's all be approved and agreed, but at 1940 this evening, I handed over my letter of acceptance to Rev. John Blore, who will be my training incumbent in the Halstead Team Ministry, which will be my title post when I'm ordained on June 29th, God willing.

I'm immensely relieved - it's been a long slog - and very happy, as I really like the team, what they're doing, lots of the worship (I've attended a number of services across the team parishes over the past few months), and the members of the team have lots to teach me.

I have three essays left to write: around 9,000 words. And three more weekends. And that's all. Things are feeling close now.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008


A private viewing

This afternoon, I had a very good meeting in London with a prospective customer, and followed it up with a private viewing of sculpture by our friend Grenville at 1 Canada Square, which I really enjoyed. It was lovely to spend an evening with Moo - it's the first time we've gone out and done anything without either of the girls for a long time.

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Monday, January 21, 2008


Man flu, day 2

Well enough to work. Only just, obviously. Lots of work done, though, so maybe I'm not _that_ ill. Strike that sentence. Glands up. Sore throat, streaming nose and eyes.

Of _course_ I'm ill.

New CEO today. Sounds decent enough.


Sunday, January 20, 2008


Man flu, day 1

Temperature, feeling horrid. Church or bed? Moo sent me to bed.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008


The fallback

Yup, Krazy Kids in Braintree. A good play there to tire Jo out. And Miri likes it now, too. Lunch at a Chinese all you can eat at Freeport. Back after lunch. Then took Miri (backpacked) and Buster (so _not_ backpacked) for a 3-4 hour walk in the pouring rain. Fantastic.

Oh, the other night, Miri slept through the night. Jo didn't of course.

Looks like my title post is sorted: we need to go through some formal letter-writing and posting, and after that I'll be able to talk about it.

I used to love Bagpuss.

The previous paragraph makes more sense when you realise that I'm watching the second episode of the second series of Spaced.

Friday, January 18, 2008



(backposting) Miri's latest word. Said in response to "Hello, Miri". And whenever the opportunity arises. Lots of crawling forwards and backwards, now at appropriate junctures. She can pull herself up and cruise around as well.

A mate who's one of our good friends, The Rev Gals (Sally, obviously) tells me that I need to do this:

  1. What book have you read in the last six months that has really stayed with you? Why? Ooh, I've read (and re-read) lots of books over the past six months. The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland is the one I'll choose. Just because it's multi-layered, and very thought-provoking. It's one of those really well-constructed books that I know I'm going to reread lots of times.
  2. What is one of your favorite childhood books? Well, Alan Garner's The Owl Service scared me witless, which I enjoyed. Adult fiction for kids, I'd say.
  3. Do you have a favorite book of the Bible? Do tell! Used to be John, but I've recently come to love Ecclesiastes.
  4. What is one book you could read again and again? Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. Because I'm a sad geek.
  5. Is there a book you would suggest for Lenten reading? What is it and why? I'm not big on Lenten reading. Maybe I should be. Nothing really springs to mind. Bad me.

Oh, and for the record, I think it's important to say that, contrary to common opinion, it's entirely possible to have real pastoral encounters using email and IM. The person I'm talking about knows what I mean.


Thursday, January 17, 2008


Title post

Had a very good meeting with the ministry team today, and things look good. I also planned a trip to Canada, canceled it, and did lots of other work.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right...

So, I'm stuck in the middle with God. I'm the fool. God loves the foolish, of course. There's a kenotic element - a self-emptying - to foolishness, to allowing the crowd to judge you, throwing yourself to the lions, acting the (sacrificial) goat, getting yourself nailed to a cross with a mocking inscription on the top. Not as if you couldn't do something about it if you really wanted to. You're the Christ, after all. Go on. Why don't you do it? That's the easiest, isn't it? If you're _really_ the King of the Jews. Oh, and of the Gentiles, too? Who died and made you king? Ah, you did.

That's a bit different, then.

So, being a fool can be good.


Today is a "synchroblog" on the subject of "God using the Foolish". If you've liked what you read here, or, more particularly, if you didn't, and you'd like to read some other opinions, please visit one of the other participating blogs:

Quiet Now, God's Calling by Jenelle D'Alessandro
Phil at Square No More
The Power of Paradox by Julie Clawson
That Darn Ego by Jonathan Brink
Won't Get Fooled Again by Alan Knox
Foolish Heart by Erin Word
A Fool's Choice by Cindy Harvey
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right... by Mike Bursell
Ship of Fools by David Fisher
Hut Burning for God by Father Gregory
God Used This Fool by Cobus van Wyngaard
Blessed are the foolish -- foolish are the blessed by Steve Hayes
Fool if you think its over Paul Walker
Strength on the Margins by Adam Gonnerman
What a Fool I've Been by Reba
Sonja at Ravine of Light
And Sally at Sally's Journey

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Psalm 78

(backposting) Not sure why I mention it particularly, but it's my very favourite psalm, despite being the longest one set for a single morning or evening in the old BCP. We used to sing some great chants to it at both Christ Church and King's, and it's lots of fun. It's set for the evening of the 15th, so I had it for evening prayer tonight. I also did quite a lot of reading about sin - particularly the original type - for the "Christian Belief" module that I'm doing for ERMC at the moment. That and the nature of grace.

Today I also met the churchwardens for the church at which I may spend my title post. A good meeting: we got on well, and I think it's important to have the sanity-check of a non-clergy view in these cases.

Girls to bed even quicker tonight, and Moo was back by 2130, so not too bad. Had a really nice long chat as we went to bed about her day away - she's doing a course - and what's going on with the girls. We don't often get the chance, as Miri's requiring attention, but she managed to stay in her own bed until 0400, which is almost a record at the moment.

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Monday, January 14, 2008


Moo's away

Put the girls to bed pretty easily, though Miri's suddenly really, really mobile. Turn your back, and ... she's gone. I followed her to the step down from the bathroom, and it was very interesting to see her turning back from it.

Lots of work done today, was hoping to do some ERMC work, too, but it was not to be. Need to do some tomorrow, as I have a tutorial on Wednesday.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008


3/4 birthday, and the Bible. And fundamentalism

Miri turned 50:50 today: 9 months old. I'm not going into that. Anyway, she's doing very well at the moment, and is in a very social phase at the moment.

I led another "coffee and worship" this morning, and we used the new area in the back of Great Yeldham church. We didn't sit in pews: we sat in a circle. And had coffee and tea while we discussed things. No, really! This is the Church of England. Rural church of England. And 22 people came. TWENTY-TWO! We had to put new chairs out. And there were 2 children I didn't count.

So, we had a greeting, I read Acts 10:34-43, then John 11:25-27. Then we had coffee and tea (and biscuits) and I talked about "What does it mean to believe in the Bible"? I talked about Eusebius saying in the early 4th century that everyone knew that Genesis wasn't a literal description of the creation, but allegorical, and how fundamentalism, in Christianity, is generally a 19th century phenomenon, about translation (how many people read both Hebrew and New Testament Greek - oh, and Jesus spoke in Aramaic, anyway). And lots of related stuff. Only had 10 minutes or so, and then we had some discussion. I moved between the groups.

In the second group, I discovered two people who are, frankly, creationists. They're cool about it, and just feel it's the easiest reading.

I spent quite a lot of my summing up and intercessions in the following worship talking about respecting people with viewpoints different to our own.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008


Miri's crawling (forward)

Consistently. She's being doing this from time to time for the odd step, but she seems to be able to remember how to do it properly now. She can also cruise around, and we weren't sure that she'd bother to learn to crawl. She also spent quite a lot of the time she was with Buster saying "fff", or even "oof", sometimes.

Jo had a party with some of her friends from pre-school today: Georgia's birthday. We went to Coco nuts, and Jo had a good time. However, it's easy to remember how young she is: she's not very good a playing in a large group, though 2s and 3s are fine. Most of the other children were a year or more older than her (it was Georgia's 4th birthday), and it showed. In terms of language, etc. she's up there with most of them, but she _is_ younger. It was interesting.

We went for a walk with the girls (on our backs) and Buster (not) this afternoon, and Miri shouted at Buster a lot. It was a lovely walk in the sun, not too cold, in the beautiful English countryside.

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Friday, January 11, 2008


To Heathrow in the rain

(backposting) As the heading said. Not for a flight, but for a meeting, which was very useful. Things are getting interesting work-wise, which I'm pleased about. Oh, and Certicom has appointed a new CEO. This means a new guy at the top for me: my boss' boss. Not sure what this means yet, but we'll get there.

I'm trying to arrange a meeting with the rest of the team for the possible title post, but finding a time when everyone can get together may be difficult. I spent a fair time in the evening trying to install AVG free on a friend/neighbour's computer. It's riddled with malware and full of randomly installed apps that mean it was difficult even to get AVG on it, but it's running now.

Watched more of The IT Crowd. I'm more Moss than Roy, I'm afraid.


Thursday, January 10, 2008


Title post

I had my first exploratory meeting with the person who may be my training incumbent. We both need to agree that we want to proceed, and before we do that, I need to meet with the rest of the team - it's a team ministry. Actually, I think I've met them all briefly before, so that's a good start. That said, it was a great meeting and we got on very well. We had a lot more in common than I think either of us had expected, liturgically and theologically. I'm very hopeful that it'll work out, for which thanks be to God.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Facebook, "boo!" and the IT crowd

After a bit of a trawl, I found lots of friends from King's (where I went to college) on Facebook, including Kate, Jason, Amy and Michael. Yay!

Miri gets "boo!" - and will hide herself behind a blanket pretty much to order. Lots of "Daddy" today, which makes me very happy indeed.

I never really got into The IT Crowd. which is great, because it means that now we've rented it from Amazon. Unluckily, it's all about me. I can laugh at myself, really. Good thing, too.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Spiritual advisor

I met a new spiritual advisor today, as my old one can't see me for a while, and I need to find one in the meantime. She's called Rosemary, and our exploratory session went very well. Her best advice? "Never give in to anti-elitism."

I've never heard Jo make a negative value judgement about something she's done before. She was making marble runs with Moo, and knocked hers over to play with Moo's, instead. She said that hers was "rubbish", and was quite insistent. We said nice things about it, but it was interesting to hear her say it. Mel was back in work today, and loved seeing both of them, particularly how much Miri had come one.

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Monday, January 07, 2008


Patent disclosure

One of the great things about working in a tech company who take innovation seriously is that they encourage you to write up ideas. Today I wrote up a patent disclosure that I'd come up with at the ECC conference last year. I'm quite pleased with it, to be honest. Obviously can't say anything more than that.

In the evening we went to a private viewing of some work by a friend of ours who really isn't very well. Prayers, please: can't really say more than that.

Oh, and a friend of mine, David, has been appointed Rector of St Anne's, Soho. I believe it's OK to say so, now. Well done him! It's a great position, from what I can tell, and I think it'll suit him well.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008


Renewal of covenant service

(backposting) There's a great Methodist service which they tend to run once a year to renew the covenant with God, and we also have it once a year on the course. I really like it: there are some good readings, and it makes you think, too. An interesting sermon from Richard, too. Before that, we had a short "what you need to know about Canon law and taking services in 45 minutes", also by Richard, which he did quite well, I thought.

Back home: Moo not very well, poor thing.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008


Rural ministry

(backposting) Today's topic at the ERMC weekend was "rural ministry", and very interesting it was, too. Gave me a bunch of things to try, and to think about. It was led by Jill from The Arthur Rank Centre, who had an astonishing amount of statistics, experience, stories and ideas. Some of the people on the course found it less relevant, but then again, I'm based in the country, and given how I feel about towns and cities, likely to remain that way, so it was good for me.

Last night I stayed up till 0100, but didn't feel too bad. I got around 6 and a half hours' sleep, which really isn't too short of normal, but thought I'd go to bed a little earlier tonight. Say 11. We started learning some British Sign Language from Andrew, a guy on the course who's a chaplain to the deaf. Learnt the Lord's Prayer (which I can still mainly remember), and other useful words and phrases like "beer" and "Doctor Who". Ah, past 12. Well, still chatting, and doing some real theology and pastoral (ask the others who were there). Hmm 0100.

Went to bed at 0200. Lots of water - and I'd finished drinking a while before, but not the best plan.

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Friday, January 04, 2008


I know this is wrong, but...





Off later today to an ERMC weekend at London Colney: not my favourite venue, but there you go. There will be some work on Rural Ministry which should be relevant to what I do, and will be doing, and a chance to catch up with friends, etc..


Thursday, January 03, 2008


Canons B1-B43

(backposting) I read all the Church of England's "B" canons today, in preparation for a weekend at London Colney with ERMC. They are all about what services should - and must - be celebrated within the Church of England, what's allowed, and what's not. My Dad's Liturgy, Order and the Law is pretty much the definitive guide, it seems, and I've inherited something of an interest. There is certainly relevance to what we can and can't do within the Anglican Cathedral in SecondLife, although part of the question we're looking at is exactly which of the canons are relevant, and which aren't: these are the Canons of the Church of England, remember, and SecondLife is international, as is the group that comprises the Anglicans on it. Insisting, for instance, that all services are conducted in English might be inappropriate: but what languages _should_ be allowed? The doctrine behind this insistence is that all attending should be able to understand (hence Welsh is allowed in Wales in certain circumstances). Most of the members of the Anglican group in SL have English as their first language, but not all: and would we want to restrict ourselves? So, these are the sorts of questions we need to tackle.

Did all the ironing, watched Samuel L. Jackson's fantastic performance in The Negotiator, went to bed around midnight.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Back to work

Not that anyone else in the UK seemed to be bothering. Got a couple of emails. Did quite a lot of reading about netfilter and iptables.

Oh, and I finished the 2nd of the two essays that are due on Monday, which is a big relief.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008



Up at 0645. Hang-over, 5 hours' sleep. Moo let me get another sleep in, which was very kind, and after a while, we went to Dick's café in Clare for brunch: a full English breakfast. Which really helped.

Then to the great Colchester zoo, where I fed an elephant (with lots of other people): Jo got scared, so I did it for her. Moo and I spent lots of time trying out the new camera lens, Miri spent lots of time sitting in her pushchair looking at animals, and Jo just ran around a lot.

We discovered today that Jo thinks that the words to Scouting for Girls' song "James Bond" are "I wish I was Jake's Mum", rather than "I wish I was James Bond."

Miri's saying "Daddy" now, and is cruising. Time to start watching her near steps, methinks.

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