Monthly Archives: March 2007

Good responses to reponses to evil

Two very different but very well thought out responses (best I have seen) to the Kathy Sierra story:

Note they do not come to the same conclusions at all. Notice one difference seems to be about knowing the people named in Kathy’s post. Problem is of course that when you write something there will be different reactions based on peoples knowledge of you. Your friends, those who have known you to be a mild, gentle and kind person will interpret differently to someone reading a piece of your writing when that is their first experience of you.

It seems to me that one problem is that on the internet anything can be read by anyone, in any context and at any time. Not only that but you can cross context boundaries so fast that they essentially cease to exist except in the mind of the author. When we write it is in the context of what we have written before, but it is not read in that context.

As I look through many of the comments and posts I am surprised to see the number of demands people make of third parties. What does it mean for A to angrily demand in a comment on B’s weblog that C should do X?

Sadly a lot of the requests for justice, calm and even for apologies on every side of this issue are anything but just, calm and apologetic themselves. What is it about this medium that so obviously prevents us from reading, from understanding, from thinking, from reflecting while at the same time enabling the keyboard?

Adrian starts to get a wider view

A time for celebration. I have just read Adrian’s Blog: How Stories Change Our Worldview and rejoice in the opening of Adrian’s vision of what a sermon can be. For the first time I think I have seen him start to appreciate that something other than his normally narrow definition of an exegetical sermon may in fact be life changing.

My own view is that story is vital to our life and growth as Christian community. Our own story of God at work in our lives is something we need to share and explore.

Tagged for wierdness

Oh dear I have been tagged by Sally: Eternal Echoes: Re- tagged…. H’mm finding only six weird things about myself should be difficult.

RULES: People who get tagged need to write a blog post of 6
weird things about them as well as state this rule clearly. In the end,
you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names:

1: My internal clock. For example I am writing this at 2:46am, maybe I’ll go to bed after this, but I want to do a little more preparation for an assembly at 10:30am. This is not an unusual time for me to be up. I guess 2 or 3 times a week would be normal.

2: I have changed from being a shy introverted computer programmer to an extrovert Methodist minister. Instead of dealing with computers all day I work with people. It should be horrible, but I love it.

3: I seem to be moving fairly consistently towards pacifism, but when in my late teens I applied to join the Royal Navy and went for a 3 day interview (they noticed that I knew nothing about and had no interest in engineering – if my eyesight had been better I would have applied to be a deck officer and maybe everything would have been different).

4: I am a totally messy person who loves the look of minimalist homes and offices while hating the knowledge that I could never achieve it. Even if someone else was there to keep it tidy and clean and empty I would totally destroy that persons effectiveness within minutes (accidentally of course).

5: I hate filling in forms, they give me the creeps. I will do almost anything to avoid filling in a form. It is a pity that there are a lot of forms for Methodist Ministers.

6: I enjoy singing but have possibly the worst voice, ear and rhythm in the world. My sons wince why I sing along in the car. If I ever leave the microphone on during a hymn in a church service the building empties in an instant with severely traumatised people running out screaming.

I could go on and on – look I didn’t even mention weird bikes and so many other things.

Now who to tag (H’mm Sally has beaten me to a few): Richard Hall , Excited Rainbow GirlDave Faulkner, Turbulent Cleric, Suzanne McCarthy, Jim Johnson.

How we respond to evil?

I have been following the story of Kathy Sierra that I linked to in 42: Evil around us. In particular I have been looking at responses on blogs and in the comments to the more popular bloggers.

Two categories of comments interest me.

Firstly, there are a number of comments that suggest the solution is for Kathy to get a gun, and preferably live where she can legally carry it as a concealed weapon. My mind boggles. Is this the most helpful and constructive thing people can think to write to someone in Kathy’s situation? Is there anyway at all that a gun could possibly help in this situation? Can a gun resolve anything? Can it help track the sick & evil people behind this? Is there any possibility that  carrying a gun could actually prevent an attack on Kathy? I don’t think so. Will that thought help Kathy as she deals with these threats and abuse? I don’t think so. If the story from The Economist I quoted in 42: War does not work tells us anything it tells us that guns are not a solution. If America wants to help the world then starting with the log of it’s addiction to guns and violence in it’s own eye would be a good place to start. Not that the UK is much better, especially with the current debate on Trident nuclear weapons.

Secondly, there are the ignorant men whose comments say this is to be expected and Kathy has over-reacted and is giving these evil people what they want. To this group I say "grow up". Switch on your brains for a moment, do a little reflection on what you have said, how you have reacted to this abuse. It really worries me when people seem to think that people should expect abuse like this. I hear similar reactions to other forms of abuse and it has lead to terrible situations in the past. It may be widespread, it may happen a lot BUT THAT DOES NOT MAKE IT OK. Lots of people get cancer THAT DOES NOT MAKE CANCER OK. We don’t expect doctors to say "Well sorry you have got cancer, but lots of people get it, if you wanted to avoid cancer then you should not have been born". 

Coming out into the open about abuse is difficult, dealing with threats and abuse is very difficult (and very long term). Having idiots who have never experienced abuse and have no empathy or understanding claiming that it should be expected or means nothing must be incredibly frustrating and difficult.

What can we do. Well personally I think the following would help:

  • If you are a Christian then go back to the Gospels. Read the teaching of Jesus. Reflect on what it means for your own behaviour and your response to issues such as this.
  • Watch your own behaviour, in particular what who you hang out with, who you encourage, who you laugh with and at what.
  • Support, affirm and encourage all those who have experience any kind of abuse in their lives. Respect their vulnerability and listen to their experience and wisdom. Do not tell them what they should do from your own zero experience.
  • Work for peace and the reduction of violence in our society. be on the side that steps back first, that disarms first, that reaches out in friendship.
  • Use your spending power to support those who work for peace and violence reduction.

War does not work

In Iraq | Mugged by reality "The Economist" magazine starts groping towards the truth:

“NEMESIS” was the word The Economist printed on its front cover four years ago, when jubilant Iraqis, aided by American soldiers, hauled down the big statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad’s Firdos Square. For a moment it looked as though all the fears that had accompanied the build-up to the American-led invasion had been groundless. The defeat of Iraq’s army in three weeks turned out to be exactly the “cakewalk” that some of the war’s boosters predicted. And in many places Iraqis did indeed greet the American soldiers as liberators, just as Ahmed Chalabi, Iraq’s best-known politician-in-exile, had promised they would.

How different it looks four years on. The invasion has been George Bush’s nemesis as well as Saddam’s. The lightning conquest was followed by a guerrilla and then a civil war. Talk of victory has given way to talk about how to limit a disaster. The debacle has cut short the careers of Donald Rumsfeld and Tony Blair, poisoned the Bush presidency and greatly damaged the Republican Party (see article). More important, it has inflicted fear, misery and death on its intended beneficiaries. “It is hard to imagine any post-war dispensation that could leave Iraqis less free or more miserable than they were under Mr Hussein,” we said four years ago. Our imagination failed. One of the men who took a hammer to Saddam’s statue told the world’s media this week that although Saddam was like Stalin, the occupation is worse.

What is still needed is the next step. Admit in big headlines that you were wrong and that War is not a solution. It does not work! It makes things worse!

If only we would accept the clear evidence of the failure of war and move on.

If only the Church really took the gospel seriously then we would (again) be at the forefront of the peace movement. Not only in worldly terms does war not work it also (and more importantly) cannot be justified by people who serve a Lord who tells us clearly to love our enemies.

Evil around us

Tonight I feel horrified, disgusted and rather depressed about the public presence of evil around us.

I am not a prude, hiding away from the world. I know that evil people are all around (and sadly far too often I attempt to minister to those who have been hurt by others).

However, there is a story I have found tonight which seems to be different. Evil has come out in the open to attack a lady called Kathy Sierra through weblog posts,  comments and emails.

You can read about what has happened at Death threats against bloggers are NOT "protected speech" (why I cancelled my ETech presentations). In my opinion the people who have "created" and "promoted" this material are evil, sick and criminal.

Nobody should have to experience threats and hatred like this. It is a million miles away from being funny or clever.

I have seen first hand some of the damage men do to women and my heart goes out to Kathy at this time. I pray that she will receive the support, comfort and peace that she needs to grow again.

Some relevant links:

It seems to me that yes there is some value in calling on the "community" to reform itself, to reject hatred.

I would take slight issue with something Robert Scoble wrote:

We’re putting ourselves out there in ways very few people do. We should
be safe from death threats and other sexual attacks and stuff,
especially from other bloggers.

Yes, you should be safe from death threats and other sexual attacks and stuff. Absolutely agree 100%. But not because you are "putting ourselves out there in ways very few people do" but instead because as human beings you have infinite value and worth, just as Kathy does, just as every human being does. The cult of celebrity is wrong, we are not valuable and of worth because other people know us. Instead as a Christian I believe we are of infinite value and worth because we are created in God’s image and because his son, Jesus the Christ, died for us. That infinite value and worth applies to every human being, in every country. It even applies to the evil & sick people who have attacked Kathy. The real solution is not for the blogging community to police itself but for us all to give all people the value that God does. That has radical implications for every aspect of the world, and that is the hope that we can have through the message of Easter – may God’s kingdom come!

Raunds Cycling Methodists

Well it seems that a blog with lots on cycling gets new people to Church. A warm welcome to J & S, newly moved to Raunds and worshipping with us today. J and I had a good chat after the service about local cycling facilities – seems that he had found 42 all over the place when looking for cycling clubs near their new home. If you see them at Stanwick lakes this afternoon then give them a friendly wave.

Looks like we can get started with a church cycling club here in Raunds. I won’t be mean and point out which Church members ought to join :-)

Why Windows Vista

Yesterday, I bought a computer magazine to occupy myself while eating on my way home from Cambridge. Full of articles and editorial about Windows Vista.

I have to say it left a huge sense of deja-vu and not for the first time. In fact the same stories came out with the release of Windows 3, Windows 95, Windows NT, Windows 98 and Windows XP. What do I mean?

  1. This new version of Windows does not include all the features that were promised.
  2. This new version of Windows is very late
  3. This new version of Windows needs more memory and more disk space
  4. Not all your old programs will work with it
  5. It is buggy and unfinished but there will be a service pack that fixes all the problems real soon now
  6. It includes new programs that will replace the 3rd party software you already have. They are not as good and once we have put the 3rd parties out of business we are not going to improve these programs at all
  7. The next version of windows is going to be so much better, it will have all the features we promised for this version, it won’t be buggy, it will have fantastic compatibility and it will be released on time.

And today the beta release of the next Ubuntu version is available for free download. By comparison we get a Ubuntu release every 6 months. They are all free, we don’t get ridiculous promises and not only do we get a great set of applications bundled we get a simple way to install 1,000′s of others. Oh and it works.

So why is anyone interested in Windows Vista?

About time too

We have switched our electricity supplier to a green company that invests in renewable energy. Not only that but they have donated £15 to Christian Aid on our behalf.

This link to sign up with Ecotricity will mean they donate £15 on your behalf too. It is very easy and they match the price of your regional electricity supplier. We were with a national supplier before and the price is a very close match to that too.

I realise that we are late doing this, if you have not yet switched then this might be a good time as they do all the work for you (telling your previous supplier etc).

Some amazing stats to support switching to Ecotricity are given by WhichGreen:
Electricity suppliers rated by their renewable energy commitments over three years
where over 3 years Ecotricity have invested £431.28 per customer building new renewable energy sources. That was the highest investment and the company that came second invested £10.98 per customer!!!!

In 2006 the figures show Ecotricity again spent the most per customer (£275) while the next in the table (a different company to the 3 year table) spent £27.86

Note that WhichGreen is an initiative of Ecotricity, however, Powergen have quoted figures from the WhichGreen table in their own marketing (from 2004 when Powergen came second with £9.58 per customer compared to Ecotricity’s £901.64).

Of course when you start from a low generating capacity and few customers good figures per customer are easier to achieve. Still they had 27 megawatts of capacity in September 2006 with 74 megawatts going through planning applications.

Also from 28th September 2006

Manchester City Council unanimously voted to approve our plans to build a groundbreaking new wind turbine to power the City of Manchester stadium. Not only will Manchester be one of the first cities in the UK to have a wind turbine, but the City of Manchester Stadium will also be the first sports stadium in the world to have its own turbine and Manchester City Football Club will become the ‘greenest’ football club in the Premier League.

I can’t see there could be any easier way to reduce your impact on Global Warming.