Monthly Archives: November 2007

Gardening riskier than cycling

From the CTC newsnet 30/11/07:

Gardening riskier than cycling

Who
would have thought it? We all know the daily risks that face road cyclists
whenever they mount their bikes – from potholes to oil slicks to erratic
drivers – but, according to one recent study published in The Sydney Morning Herald, they are better
off messing about in the saddle than the soil. Around 5% of gardeners –
compared to 4% of cyclists – were found to require medical care for an
injury related to their respective activities. Although the study did not touch
on the dangerousness arising from a combination of the two hobbies, it would be
safe to assume that attempting to prune a tall rose while standing on
one’s bicycle seat is to be avoided at all costs.

 

Extract
from the Cyclist’s
Companion
. The ultimate ‘toilet read’ available to CTC members
for just £9.99

For more gems like this you can subscribe if you are a member of the CTC: simply send your membership
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When I don’t listen, everyone agrees with me

So Adrian is able to write about how fantastic it is not to have comments on his blog: My First Week Without Comments.

In that post he is careful, as always, to only link to those who agree with him. How accurate a picture is that? Adrian links to Rick Ianniello: blog comments unscriptural who thinks he is wonderful and loves the scripture that Adrian appropriated to justify no comments. Fortunately Rick does have comments and so a more balanced picture emerges. Charity wrote

I think it’s a shame that Adrian equates disagreement with him to
quarrelsomeness. He seems to think that it’s ok for him to post
controversial material as long as he doesn’t give people the
opportunity to respond to him publicly.

If we look back we can see Charity has addressed this before on her own blog Still trying to understand: To debate or not to debate.

Adrian failed to link to IndyChristian’s post Loving Change .com: "The Audience Is Up To Something." that includes:

Question:   At what point does a ‘blog’ become just another controlled institutional voice?

That is, when does it become just another ONE-WAY mechanism?  (albeit cleverly leveraging this low-cost, hi-speed tool-of-choice of the common man)

I
suggest this may well occur when its sound becomes as finely tuned as
their microphone, such that no feedback enters the sound-system. It’s a
pure stream. The signal-to-noise ratio is superb. And the blog-er is
elated.

But is the Church?  And is the mission well served?

And he points out the obvious flaw in Adrian’s choice of supporting scripture. Namely that it does not support him.

"And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness."

Ok,
we all realize ‘comments’ can be troublesome at times. [translation:
time-consuming]. But likewise emails. And phone calls. And children.
And hospital visits. [...not to mention that thing of the past called
'home visits'.]

When this happened Peter Kirk, myself and others doubted Adrian’s view that he would hear and respond to challenges. In that we have been proved correct. I have seen no evidence that Adrian has actually engaged with any of the challenges of bad theology that have been made in a number of places over the last week. There is no accountability and all we get is that anyone raising issues is quarrelsome for daring to challenge things that are without fault.

It does seem that I have been more quarrelsome in the last week, I am not blaming it on Adrian stopping comments and I have been challenged on it (see the comments on my posts, plus some at Peter’ Kirks post: Gentle Wisdom » Driscoll’s Horrible Histories).
In my defence if anyone thinks I am negative about Mark Driscoll they ought to try this Ship of Fools thread. I guess that I feel frustrated that if only we were able to engage, if only we were all open to being challenged then what would emerge is better theology for us all. I don’t claim to be right on all things and I know I do get angry with those who do claim to be so.

One thing is for sure, it seems that every time I read something supporting complementarianism there are some obvious problems with the use of scripture (this week it was Mark Driscoll’s comments on Genesis 1 & 2, his ignoring anything on singleness in scripture, his turning of Songs of Solomon into commands, particularly for women). Now I never seem to be able to engage complementarians on these scriptural matters. I therefore simply conclude that they know they are skating in thin ice.

Complementarianism depends on lots of fast and loud shouting, on moving the targets fast enough that nobody notices that their foundations are built on sand and hence   they will not respond to honest attempts to debate the issues. I think that is why Wayne is struggling so much with his brave attempt to explore the issues with Complegalitarian. It is also worth seeing Peter Kirk’s series "The Scholarly and Fundamentalist Approaches to the Bible" from last year:

Of course this is not just happening with complementarianism. We see very much the same people shouting loudly and aggressively for Penal Substitution (I started saying arguing but of course it is not an argument as it includes no listening). Henry wrote about that recently: Threads from Henry’s Web » PSA: An Unbalanced and Ineffective View of the Atonement. Notice too Adrian’s comment on that post:

Well thanks for expressing ‘the other side’ as it were. I of course
dont agree, and sadly dont have time to explain why. I am glad, though,
that you have explained your position for me.

Adrian, thanks for expressing the problem so clearly.

Apology

I have updated 2 posts on this weblog:

and I have deleted a 3rd "Hinton Wood (MK) Ltd hiding from customers"

The changes have been to reflect that the Kitchen contract for my Mother-in-law was with Hinton Wood (MK) Ltd and not two companies I am not allowed to name.

I apologise to the companies that I am not allowed to name for confusing them with Hinton Wood (MK) Ltd with whom we had a contract to fit an Ikea Kitchen.

At this point the situation is like this:

  • Every piece of paper we have from Hinton Wood (MK) Ltd (Business Card, Quotation, Invoice) has printed on it the name of one of the companies I am not allowed to name and their website address. In fact the business card from the Surveyor does not have "Hinton Wood (MK) Ltd" on it at all.
  • Hinton Wood (MK) Ltd have still not replaced the dishwasher that their installers drilled a hole in (in July when fitting it).
  • Hinton Wood (MK) Ltd have not been to inspect the kitchen floor or refit it. The floor was incorrectly fitted by them in July.
  • Hinton Wood (MK) Ltd are refusing to speak to us on the phone.
  • When visiting to consider the help my mother-in-law needs around the home Age Concern expressed their concern that the floor is unsafe.
  • We have sought quotations to get the floor repaired or fixed ourselves. The independent contractor who visited informed us that the floor had been fitted with no expansion gaps. He was unwilling to give us a quote to fix it as he did not think it could be fixed. Because all the kitchen cabinets rest on the wooden floor the job was too large for him to quote for as the whole kitchen would need to be removed so that the floor could be taken up and replaced.
  • The only response has been for Solicitors acting for the companies I am not allowed to name to threaten their seeking an injunction and damages for not properly referring to "Hinton Wood (MK) Ltd". They have not offered to fix the problems at all.
  • We have been in contact with our own legal advice who are clear that I have not committed Libel or Defamation. However, I have complied in full with the requirements of the solicitors to remove these company names and apologise for using the wrong company name.
  • The 4 page letter from the solicitors does not accuse us of any inaccuracy regarding the quality of the kitchen installation or of the quality of the Hinton Wood (MK) Ltd service.
  • We have now been in contact with the government’s Consumer Direct helpline. They have been very helpful and are sending us details of how to respond to Hinton Wood (MK) Ltd under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, plus what to do if Hinton Wood (MK) Ltd do not rectify the problems.

We would encourage the people from Hinton Wood (MK) Ltd to consider actually fixing the problems that they have admitted on the phone that they have caused. We would be delighted to meet them at my Mother-in-law’s to have the dishwasher replaced and the floor fixed. I would be delighted to be able to write a very positive blog post about Hinton Wood (MK) Ltd putting my Mother-in-law’s kitchen right.

We spent two months chasing Hinton Wood (MK) Ltd to fix these problems before I made my first blog post relating to their poor service and another two weeks before the second and third. At any point  in the last 4 months Hinton Wood (MK) Ltd could have resolved this issue by actually acting on our complaints. Instead they have instructed all their staff to not speak to us and used a solicitor to complain about our use of company names.

More on Driscoll and Sex

Warning: probably not suitable for kids or singles.

Fan’s of Mark Driscoll don’t like what I wrote in 42: What Driscoll really said about God and hate.

That is fine. I don’t pretend that I am right on everything and I freely acknowledge that I have a bias which it is hard to fully put aside when reading/listening to Mark Driscoll.

However, two more things on the talk about sex that have bothered me as I have reflected on it.

First, Mark Driscoll takes a love poem and beautiful descriptions of what this couple in love think of each other and like to do and he turns it into commandments. The lady in Song of Solomon writes poetically about wanting oral sex with her husband. Great. No problem with shouting from the rooftops "The Bible says oral sex is ok". But Mark Driscoll is not happy with that. Instead he turns it into a command. Instead of giving freedom, such as saying "if you like oral sex then you are fine to have oral sex with your husband/wife". He gives a command. Ladies you must give your husbands oral sex. He talks of a woman whose husband started coming to church because Mark Driscoll told her she must give her husband oral sex and tell him that it was because the Bible said she should. Aaargghhh!!!

The Bible does not say wives must give their husbands oral sex! It absolutely does not. Making a huge leap from "It is ok to have oral sex if that is what you both want" to "Wives you must give your husbands oral sex, and if your husband is not a Christian consider this your duty to bring him to faith" is obscene.

Secondly, Mark talks of the things a wife should do so that her husband will not stray to stripper clubs or pornography. They include stripping for the husband and sex with the light on. Neither of these are bad things. If wives and husbands want to do these things because it pleases them then yippee. But to use Song of Solomon to say that wives should do these things in order to stop their husband straying is wrong.

Towards the beginning of the talk Mark explains that he understands the book of the Bible to be written by Solomon to his first wife. he is then building on what she does/says in the poem to encourage wives to do these things for their husbands to keep them. However he ignores the fact it did not work for Solomon’s wife! With Mark’s reading she clearly did what he describes as all the right things: oral sex, stripping etc BUT still Solomon went on to have hundreds of wives and concubines. So wives Mark has taken something that clearly did not work for the first wife of Solomon and he is telling you to do it to keep your husbands from straying. If it did not work for her why will it work for you?

Again I want to emphasise that I am not criticising Mark because I am a prude. I am all in favour of married couples enjoying sex, delighting in each others bodies. But Mark has turned freedom into commands (and I stumble for words at the total crassness and inappropriateness of a male pastor telling a woman in the Church that she must go and have oral sex with her husband) and presented those commands as if they are needed to stop your husband straying. Ugh!!!

Note that comments on this may be caught by the keywords that are in place to stop spam. But generally I will post comments if you email them to me.

Building Christians: 2

So continuing to think about Building Christians. This is the third post so see also 42: Building Christians and 42: Building Christians: 1.

I want to just list some of the themes that seem important to me. Maybe some of these will get expanded into complete posts, maybe you’ll convince me I need to add others or remove some of these. They are not yet in any particular order.

  • Local Theology: I think it is critical that we develop Christians who are interested in and able to do theology.Too often it seems to me that we pretend that all you
    need is a Bible and interpret it how you like. Now I place far to high
    a value on the Bible to accept that. Spending time reading/studying the
    Bible and using it in our devotional lives is really really vital. But
    so is actually engaging in theology to make sense of it. The Bible cannot be used as a jigsaw of individual verse sized jigsaw pieces where every piece is identical and can be assembled any way we like.
     
  • Small Groups: I don’t see anyone saying that small groups are not essential to growth as a Christian, getting good groups going and sustaining them is not quite so trivial
  • The Pastoral Cycle: Understanding and using the pastoral cycle within our individual lives, in our small groups and in our Churches seems to be one of the most useful tools to come out of Practical Theology. Maybe this should just be part of what I mean by Local Theology, but it is so useful that I quite like to see it as a headline.
  • The Whole Gospel: I get worried about bad theology, about teaching that leads people astray. I blog about these issues frequently. It seems to me that a key way to help protect people from bad teaching and theology is to make sure   that you are a whole gospel church. This is vital to ensure balance and perspective. It is far too easy to become a single issue church or preacher. Suddenly everything is about the need for male headship or penal substitution or sex. But instead we need whole gospel perspectives so that we stop missing the bigger picture or the 27 other issues that are just as important.
  • Enabling, Empowering, setting Free: Alan Hirsch talks about this in terms of multiplicative growth rather than additive. Personally I think it is far more of a gospel imperative. Consider the Jesus worked with the disciples and set them free.
  • The four legged stool: I have talked about this many times. But without a proper balance of Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience all bound together in a community with accountability you are going to be lost. I want to see this embedded in all the ways we are Church (in a sense latching onto Hirsch’s idea of mDNA) so that we can multiple authentic Christian communities.
  • Different: I believe that the gospel demands that we stand out from the world. sadly to often we stand out for the wrong reasons. We stand out because we condemn instead of love, we stand out because we are static and not dynamic, … For me the differences will be about inclusion, challenging all the idols of this world (money, sex, power, possessions, self, …), standing for justice for all, demonstrating mercy and forgiveness.
  • Leadership: I challenge the view of our leadership that we so often see. Our leaders should be servants, they should not be rich, they should not be seeking fame and fortune, they should not be honoured above anyone else, they should not be expecting or offered worldly symbols of power and authority (private jets, mansions, lack of accountability). They need to be replaceable, I do not believe in Minister/Pastor focused Churches so the leadership needs to be inclusive of the Church Membership.
  • Prayer: In once sense I don’t want to separate prayer out. I far prefer a model where everything includes prayer, is guided by prayer, was planned with prayer … But it can’t be taken for granted, we need to ensure that prayer is fully there in the heart of all we do. That means all prayer not simply intercession. Holistic prayer in all we are and do.
  • Accountability: I guess this has been at the heart of many of recent discussions. Every part of the Church needs to be accountable. A great deal of what we see of bad theology, bad mission, bad community is exaggerated by bad accountability. Note this does not have to mean an authoritarian, patriarchal system.

Just a few starters to get the juices flowing. What is important and what is not?

Building Christians: 1

Following on from the general introduction in 42: Building Christians. How do we move to being Missional as Church? How do we build deeper discipleship? What is God calling his Church to be in the 21st Century?

There are different views presented in lots of books, I have at least a dozen. There is a lot on the problems with where Churches are, there is a lot on where Churches ought to be. There is less but some on how to get from A to B. But working this out for smaller established churches seems to be less well covered. Everyone wants to write about exciting new things, much less interest on the stable old.

As a Methodist minister I am concerned that our Churches should be doing exciting new things in mission, that we are building new disciples in appropriate ways (and I can see this happening in many ways through fresh expressions etc). However, I am also concerned that we do not neglect existing members, people who have been faithful for many years. How do we move onward to where God is calling us to be without losing or hurting these faithful folk. How do we encourage them to go deeper?

Then in all of this how do we engage with our culture, an age old problem? To what extent do we enter into the culture in order to be relevant and to what extent do we stay outside to critique it? Too often it can seem that we stand in one sphere of culture and critique other spheres without ever reflecting on the culture we are in ourselves.

Then there is all the baggage we have. Too many buildings, buildings that are old, unfriendly, costly, unattractive. A burden to the Church and yet often very important to the wider community.

In the Methodist Church we can also sometimes seem to struggle with a burden of structures, committees, roles, administration etc (I guess we are not alone in this).

Lots of challenges. What is going to be important and helpful to move on?

Building Christians

It seems that (at last) building Christians towards maturity is becoming a focus across many parts of the Christian Church.

I have been reading a great deal around the subject area and plan to do more.

Meanwhile I am also not waiting for perfection in structures, church, people or anything but attempting to get on with it. After all this is an area which does not require a mega church with huge buildings or programs. In fact the research seems to be demonstrating that those things may actually be bad for growth in depth. I think we can see that across the spectrum of mega churches.

For example Willow Creek has recently had research that shows they have failed to get deep Christian discipleship. As I look at slick videos on the internet of mega churches all over the place I wonder how anything where the focus is on wonderful inspiring but totally passive worship experiences (sitting there 1 among 1,000′s) is going to give you the tools to get going yourself.

Of course it is not just mega Churches that fail, we can provide passive worship in almost any size of Church. Passive does not have to mean quiet and traditional, much contemporary evangelical worship is very passive. People listen to musical performances, they listen to preaching.

So I have been trying to discover how to go missional as Church. To build churches with members who are having their discipleship strengthened and deepened.

I want to spend time and space here considering how we do this today. What is God calling his Church to be?

More later.

What Driscoll really said about God and hate

So thanks to work done by Alastair to transcribe Mark Driscoll’s talk (see Obscene Beauty: Does Mark Driscoll believe in a God of Love or Hate?) Peter has updated his response:
Gentle Wisdom » What Driscoll really said about God and hate.

Interesting and at least some improvement over what Adrian reported in Mark Driscoll Preaches on the Atonement in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I have been listening to one of Mark’s talks:

Sex—A Study of the Good Bits from the Song of Solomon by Mark Driscoll (right click to download MP3). [via Adrian’s Blog: Driscoll on the Defeat of Shame and the Scotland MP3s]

An interesting review of Church History, more akin to the Horrible Histories genre than anything else I have heard. Also what I felt was a rather unwarranted and unpleasant attack on Catholicism.

This is definitely not something you want to listen to if you are a single man. Mark totally ignores anything (in all I have listened to) about being called to singleness, about the singleness of Jesus, about Paul’s teaching. Instead he seems to blame singleness and issues with sex entirely on people he mocks from Church History. I have said before and I repeat again, IMHO if our preaching redefines Christianity so that the Church Fathers and countless generations of saints before us are suddenly not Christian then something is wrong. That does not mean they were right about everything, it does not mean they were perfect in understanding – but it does mean that we don’t mock their faith.

Going on a bit I have just heard the reference to Genesis 1 which Mark refers to as God creating man (clearly from his use of language Mark means male human) and it was good. He then jumps into Genesis 2 as that being the creation of women, thus he totally misreads Genesis 1:27,28.

He then reads into Genesis 2 that the man and woman were married. Huh, where does it say that? He says they were married before they became one flesh. I agree they became one but there is nothing in the text to refer to marriage in any way that we understand it.

In many ways I don’t have a lot of problems with the content of the sex manual based on the Song of Solomon. Except that as we would expect it is all couched in the mindset and language that there is a hierarchy in marriage, wives are to serve husbands. He continually focuses on what women must do in marriage to be sexually attractive to their husbands. He manages to blame strip clubs, pornography and adultery on wives and lectures them on how they should treat their husbands.

Mark is a gifted speaker, he can clearly captivate an audience. If only his theology could be less of "everyone else in the last 2,000 years has got this wrong, listen to me", if only he could connect with theology that takes scripture seriously enough not to change it.

Big facebook privacy issue

The new Facebook beacon advertising system has huge privacy issues for us all.

If you use Firefox as your web browser then here are instructions to project your privacy Block Facebook Beacon (also has details of the problem). More details at Facebook Beacon: Two Weeks Later.

There is a demo showing the problem.

There is a facebook group you can join to protest: Petition: Facebook, stop invading my privacy!

hat tip: Phil Windley’s Technometria | Facebook Beacon Demo.

Methodist General Secretary endorses blogging for proclamation

I got one of my favourite mailings from the Methodist Church today. It is the one that comes once per quarter with my payslip – whoo hoo!

As normal it included a letter from Rev David Deeks, current General Secretary and Secretary of the Conference (most senior permanent position in the Methodist Church in Great Britain).

He writes about the "ministry of the Word" and reflects on a  variety of ways in which this can happen. Blogging gets a mention, oh we are so official now! No doubt any future Methodist Worship Book will include a service of recognition for Bloggers.

I guess that David has been influenced by the effective blogging of our President (and the next General Secretary), Martyn Atkins and the Vice President, Ruby Beech. See their blog here. However, it seems that David could do with spending a little more time with Ruby to learn something about facebook and the large Methodist Group there.

On the other hand I suggest nobody tells  David about twitter or he will have to add a new bottom to his range of communication that currently stretches from incessant chatter to silence .

More seriously David is recognising something that is being recognised widely within the Methodist Church. The "ministry of the Word" is central to Methodism and is being tackled in an every increasing  number of ways by the Church. More to be done but lots already in play.