Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Today is the second anniversary of my dad's death. On the first anniversary I wrote a blog entry that you can read here. The conversation recorded in that post has carried me through a lot.

I was reflecting on my drive in to work this morning that it was walking through Dad's death with the knowledge of that affirmation, that gave me the strength to walk through Mum's diagnosis, illness and death. That affirmation has given me the strength to speak up at work where previously I would have remained silent. That affirmation has given me the strength to begin to walk forward into a new fullness of life unlike which I have never encountered before.

Never underestimate the power of one conversation.

Thanks dad.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The 'Joy' of Goal Setting

In our big staff meetings they are goal setting for the church. So in a spirit of camaraderie I and my fellow compadre in silliness Lori sat down and wrote some goals for our Contemplative Service (names have been changed to protect the guilty!!!)

1. We’d like to add 2.5 verses to “Take O Take Me as I Am.”

2. We’d like to see ____________(insert name here) mentioned 17% more in services.

3. We’d like to sing “Here in Your Presence” an extra 22 times per month (excluding staff worship).

4. Increase the size of the candle banks by 145%.

5. Increase consumption of communion by 65 wafers on the piano side and 23 liters of juice on the organ side.

6. Decrease number of “Alleluias” per capita per annum. Volume of “Alleluia” dependant on income.

7. Decrease door squeaking by 22% and late arrivals of _____________(name deleted) by 98%.

8. Decrease disruption by (name deleted) children by 35%.

9. Increase number of Muppet show references by adding one show from one season each month. (Rainbow Connection not eligible)*

10. Make the service quadra-lingual by the end of 2008: English (American), Latin, Spanish and Estonian (angelic tongues ineligible)

*There was actually a Contemplative Service where in a fit of insanity I started playing the song 'You, I and George' from the Muppet show. A friend's wife was suppressing her laughter so much that the person next to her put their arm round her to comfort her in her tears :)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Boys Choir Fun

My choir sang in church yesterday morning and did an excellent job. So instead of rehearsing last night we raided the girls choir with Marshmallow Guns and then challenged them to a game of Kick Ball!!! Fun Times!

I also discovered how much girls like to scream!
(Just click 'Play')

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Feel the Bumps!

It seems strange to me, but they actually publish editions of Playboy in Braille!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ikea Furniture, Legos and Christianity.

I'm speaking in the Contemplative Service this Sunday and I'm struggling to get my thoughts together. The central theme is an illustration that I read in the book 'Post Evangelical' by Dave Tomlinson that resonated with me and I will attempt to put into my own words here.

The Christianity I embraced in my teenage years was one that is very similar to 'Flat Pack Furniture' that you can purchase at Ikea and many other stores. You receive a set of parts (hopefully complete) and a list of instructions. There is a distinct right and wrong way to put the pieces together. It doesn't matter who is building the furniture, or where it is going, everyone builds the same and you can easily judge how successful the person has been by the appearance and sturdiness of the construction and whether they have any extraneous pieces left over.

But what if Christianity is more like a bag of Legos? Everyone receives the same blocks, but each person is free to build them into a model that is their own unique creative expression of their relationship with Jesus.

I wonder what are the blocks that would have to be included for a person to be called 'Christian'?

In my 20s I often used phrases like '....ask Jesus to be your own personal savior...' a phrase that interestingly enough exists nowhere in the bible! For much of my life I judged a person's faith by whether they agreed with a set of Propositional Truths that I carried around in my head. I cared more about right doctrine than right living, more about what you said you believed than how you lived.

It was all about how well you built the flat pack furniture.

I'm at a turning point in my life. I am planning on tearing down the flat pack and rebuilding my Legos in a way that to some people would seem as if I have become 'Luke Warm' or 'Back Slidden', or even 'Straying from the Fold'.

This isn't a spur of the moment decision however. I've changed considerably over the past 6 years and every change has been agonizingly prayed over. So please don't judge in 2 minutes what has taken me years - I'm worth more than that.

Wow, I seem to have strayed from what I was going to originally type!

I will share the illustration of the Furniture and the Legos in the service, but I will not share how it intersects with my life. My silence is not out of fear, but out of a desire for everyone to find themselves in the illustration without me imposing my interpretation on them.

I am under construction - watch this space for more building information :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Everything you didn't want to know about Handbell history.....

I'm teaching a United Methodist Women's Group tonight. They wanted to know a little about the history of Hand bell Ringing and get some hands on experience. I'm gonna type out my notes in my blog so I can get them fresh in my mind :)

The most familiar image of bells in churches are in Old Church towers. All across The British Isles and Europe you can find churches with bell towers containing many bells. The art of ringing Bells in towers is called Change Ringing and involves the playing of complex sequences of bells. With a 6 bell tower there are 720 different combinations of ring patterns (6!=6x5x4x3x2x1).

In the Middle Ages ringers became obsessed with finding algorithms to ring all the possible combinations of 7 bells (5040 patterns). In Change Ringing a full peal is reached when 5040 changes have been rung. This normally takes approximately 3 hours to do and is a feat involving intense concentration on the part of the ringers. Many bell towers have a Peal Board documenting whenever a Full Peal is rung on bells. The first documented Peal was rung on 2nd May 1715 at St. Peter Mancroft Church that just happens to be in my home town of Norwich, England.

If you have 8 bells in a tower the number of different combinations increases to 8!=40,320. As far as I can tell this complete set of changes has only been rung once. It was achieved in Loughborough in 1963 and it took 18 hours of continuous playing.

Needless to say the people who live next too church towers with bells were very glad when they found another way to practice!

Bell towers are notoriously cold and drafty places with difficult access and so to make rehearsal easier the ringers would use hand bells and ring them in the back room of the local pub. To ring a tower bell takes 2 hands, but to ring a hand bell only takes one, leaving the other one free for holding a pint!

Soon people began to realize another advantage with hand bells. One person can ring 2 bells at the same time meaning less people are required. People began to experiment ringing other melodies with the bells - mainly only a single pitch at a time because of the poor quality of the sound of the bells. Needless to say the Purists were shocked that folk melodies would be rung instead of the mathematical algorithms! Tower Bells became to be considered Holy and Hand bells Secular.

There is not a lot of music that you can ring with only 8 bells, so slowly sharps and flats were added and the range of the bells extended. Chapelwood has 2 complete 5 octave sets of bells which is 61 bells in each set.

Soon every village in the U.K. had a group of ringers who would gather together and ring for fun - often in the local pub and it was through an American encountering one of these groups that hand bells came to the U.S.

P.T. Barnum(!) was in Lancashire with his circus and heard a group of 5 hand bell ringers playing music and in 1845 brought them to the U.S. To add an air of mystery he dressed them in Swiss costume and sent them out on the Vaudeville circuit where they were very popular.

The first American hand bell choir was the Beacon Hill ringers. The tower bells in Boston's old North Church needed repair and 2 church members travelled to London to the Whitechapel foundry in 1923 to oversee the repairs. One of them, Margaret Shurcliff became the first American to help ring a Peal of bells (5040 changes) in an English Church tower. To mark the occasion the Foundry presented her with a set of hand bells to take back to the U.S.

The Beacon Hill ringers were founded in 1937 and slowly Hand bells spread across New England and then into other parts of the U.S. and back into the Church.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I've added a New Widget

If you scroll down on the r.h.s. I've added a widget that shows what books I'm currently reading (assuming I remember to update it of course!)

So what with what books I'm reading, what games I have and what movies I'm watching it would be almost possible for someone else to live my life :)

Friday, January 11, 2008

A New Phone that outdoes the iphone!

Swimming in Poop!

No this is not a reference to my latest illness or some bizarre medical practice, but one of my latest boardgames!!!

I finally got to play my copy of Primordial Soup last night. This is a classic board game that I finally own :) Everyone plays a number of Amoebas that are drifting in the currents of the Primordial Soup trying to evolve. Every round you have to drift, eat and poop. You always have to eat three cubes of any color except your own, and you always poop out 2 cubes of your own color. This means after a while if you are not careful you end up drifting in a sea of your own poop starving to death :)

You can evolve with new genes that change how you move, eat, fight and even allow you to eat other people!

It's a lot of fun and I'm glad I got to give it a play - thanks Bill and Greg for indulging me!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Quotes, Questions and a Phone Call.

First, some quotes that are resonating with me at the moment:

'The glory of God is a human being fully alive" - Irenaeus

"A person is most fully alive when they are truthful" - Unknown

"Those who speak know nothing:
Those who know are silent."
Those words, I am told,
Were spoken by Lao-tzu.
If we are to believe that Lao-tzu,
Was himself one who knew,
How comes it that he wrote a book
Of five thousand words?" - Po Chu-I

1) Where am I fully alive?
2) Where am I not being truthful?
3) Where am I speaking where I should be silent?

The following movie clip is supposedly a genuine phone call - I cannot vouch for it's authenticity, but I know that I once received a very similar communication about a person in a worship team I was leading!

My Friend's Daughter being Adorable!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

U.S. Politics made simple!

I shamelessly stole this of my friend's blog.

Not sure about which candidate to support? Not sure about which party to vote for?

Just click on this link to the electoral compass and answer 30 questions and you'll find out which candidate is closest to your own views.

It's quick, it's fun and I was pleasantly surprised. Apparantly my gut and my intellect actually agree for once :)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Home Made Nativity Set

This is my Nephew's home made lego Nativity Set.

I love Joseph's power tools, and baby Jesus' shades and goattee!

Christmas 2007 - Pics

Here are some Christmas Pics.

I followed Cooks Illustrated advice and roasted the turkey upside down for the first hour - it was incredible, probably the most moist bird I've ever tasted!

We served the Christmas Pudding Flambe! Just click to watch it flame!!!