Monthly Archives: June 2009

Nice things to say to a minister

Today I heard some of the nicest things you can say to a minister. I was visiting a family who have just started coming to Raunds Methodist Church while I was preaching elsewhere.

They were excited because the Church had been so welcoming, lots of people had spoken to them and made them feel really welcome. Also their children had enjoyed the Junior Church (and the all age parts of the worship).

What a wonderful blessing to visit a family as a Minister and hear that they have found such a warm welcome!

So make your Ministers day by being so welcoming to everyone that they want to tell the minister about it. The obvious sad corollary is that this was clearly different to other experiences they have had.

Reflections on Twitter part 1

So I, @dave42w, am now a twitter old hand as I have now had my twitter stats counted for 5 days. I thought it would be good to reflect on it a little.

Size and Impact

It is hard to grasp the size of social networking sites. Last night I got a new understanding of just how big and busy twitter is. I have seen a number of tweets (the name for the short, maximum 140 character messages on twitter) mentioning the Iraq elections. People writing on a topic like this use hashtags to mark their tweets so that they can be tracked. Last night people were using #iranelection on all their tweets relating to the election.

Anyway one of the tweets also mentioned that people in Iran were using TwitterFall to get around attempts to restrict access to twitter. So I took a look. Incredible! You can select a popular tag of the moment and then the messages just appear continuously and scroll down the screen. There is a count of how many messages are queued for display. The messages appear faster than you can read them and yet after just a few seconds there were 800 queued for display. They are still coming in at about 2 per second and this is just one topic, although the hottest of the moment.

I guess it will be a while before we can really work out the impact of Twitter on the Iranian situation. Big claims are being made for the way it has allowed people to get news out and the way it's open architecture and numerous supporting sites have helped people avoid attempts to block communication. The fact the BBC are now reporting that there will be a recount may be down at least in part to twitter.

Following, followers and friends.

On twitter you follow people. When you follow people you see all the tweets they write. All the tweets from all the people you follow (including yourself) are then displayed on your home page in chronological order (most recent at the top).

So everyone gets a list of the people they follow (the list is called following) and the people who in turn follow them (followers). If someone is on both lists (you follow each other) then they are considered a friend (and then you can send them direct messages which are private to the two of you, I would not bet your job on that privacy though).

As with all these social networks there ends up being a competition to have more followers than anyone else. That results in a lot of "spam" where you find "people" following you simply in the hope you will follow them. I put people in quotes as many of these followers are actually automated software "bots".

I very quickly discovered that I wanted to keep an eye on who is following me. You can block anyone that you don't like so that they can no longer follow you. I have simple rules for this.

  1. If the thumbnail image is of a pretty, semi naked young woman with a name like Monica1722 then you get blocked immediately.
  2. If I click on your name to see your profile (which shows me your tweets and how many followers/following you have) and my internet firewall does not let me view the content then you get blocked immediately.
  3. If when I view your profile you have no tweets, lots of following (1,000's) and only a few following then you get blocked immediately.
  4. If all your tweets are advertising something then I will not block you (unless I particularly don't like what you are selling) but I won't follow you.

This means I have blocked about 1/2 of the people who started to follow me.

Ok that will do as a first set of reflections. Next will be some of the tools and websites that I have explored to make twitter eassier/more powerful/…

Are women the enemy?

When I wrote 42: There are no ladies in our Church some people were unhappy about my standing against Mike Seaver of Role “Calling” see for example this comment by Tom.

But now I have found a much older post by Mike: Role Calling: Semigalitariansim: The Church’s Undercover Enemy it dates from September 2007.

In that post Mike says of a woman teaching men that ‘It is the same as saying that a drunken adulterer is allowed to be an
overseer in a church as long as they are “under the authority” of the
other pastors in the church.

I only found this through an excellent post by Cheryl Schatz I highly recommend reading Women In Ministry » Semigalitariansim, undercover enemy and “feminist air”.

Mike tries hard to market his views as “complementarian” where women and men are equal but with different roles. However, in this post we see what lies beneath this marketing veneer and it is not so pleasant. He rejects that a woman can every be given permission to preach to men.

Cheryl does a good job of totally demolishing his argument, nothing is left standing apart from his sexist prejudices. Of course the problem for Mike is that he cannot learn from someone who understands the texts better than he does – because she is a woman. I say tough! I am not going to help you. Go and learn how to read scripture from a woman.

It may be good management – but is it God’s ministry..?

Angie is loud and clear in her concerns:

Am I alone in being deeply troubled by this absence of God language in our Church? By the over-emphasis on management and lack of an evidence of interest in or concern for our tradition, beliefs and practices?

As a local minister with enough to do I guess that a lot of the restructuring at Church House passed me by. I was at conference in my ordination year when some of these issues were discussed but lacked the background (not to mention a preview of the 600 pages of conference papers) to make sense of it all.

However, as the newly elected Northampton District representative to the Methodist Council (starting in September) this is clearly going to have to change. Therefore I am attending conference this year as an observer to try to catch up with what is happening and be rather better informed than I am at present when that first council meeting arrives.

As for this position of a “Policy Development Officer (Ministries)” that Angie tears into (very effectively, no surprise there) some initial thoughts are:

  • If this is a position for 1 year then why not plan a bit further ahead and hook into the stationing round so that a suitable minister (deacon or presbyter) is stationed for this role on their way to or from a circuit appointment. They may not be aware but many ministers actually spend quite a lot of time developing policies and vision documents as part of Church and Circuit initiatives to become more mission focused. They could get someone with a real understanding of the work of the Church and the challenges faced by local Churches.
  • I am not a great fan of offering one year positions to people with no security for the future (we have just been through this with my wife as a Teaching Assistant) so would rather see more creative ways of making this attractive to lay people. One option that got us some fantastic people when I was running a business was to employ people on flexible part-time hours, it can help people back into employment after a career break (for example to raise kids) and gets you some wonderfully qualified and committed staff that are great value.
  • Alternatively, simply provide admin support to a team of very part-time lay and ordained people around the connexion. Seems to me that this could provide a great match to many of the requirements. I could give at least 10 names off the top of my head of people who will meet both the requirements in the job description and which might go a long way in addressing the vital concerns Angie raises.
  • I would also hope that they are flexible about where the person works, we should not be moving people to London for one year contracts.

Male headship supporters mis-interpret sex survey

Adrian has found a survey in the NY Times: When Sex Leaves the Marriage – Well Blog – He then applies male headship thinking in his post Sexless Marriages Are Less Happy to come up with a typically unhelpful comment:

In news that will be no surprise to more than half the population (ie every men, plus many women) a recent study has identified that having more sex leads to happier marriages.

The problem, for Adrian, is that the article actually points to views typical of male headship as being part of the problem leading to sexless (and therefore unhappy) marriage. For example:

Those were also the days when women were not supposed to enjoy sex and
often used it as a bargaining tool in their marriages (because they
were socialized to do so).

So Adrian’s “funny” comment that every men, plus many women knows that more sex leads to a happier marriage is actually part of the problem. Adrian believes in this socialisation that women are not supposed to enjoy sex as part of his male headship viewpoint.

The sooner that we can move away from the idea that gender determines whether we enjoy sex or not to something that recognises (as this survey does) that there are many factors influencing this and socialisation is one of them.

I invite Adrian to go to any night club and interview the women coming out to discover if they enjoy sex or not, then tell us that most women do not enjoy sex.

On the other hand if we went to a group of women who have been taught to submit to their husband in everything; who have been taught to serve their husband sexually as we have heard Mark Driscoll preach; who have been taught that it is their husbands pleasure that matters not their own – then maybe we might find a different story.

Note that from the study:

There is no ideal level of sexual activity — the ideal level is what
both partners are happy with — and when one (or both) are unhappy, then
you can have marital problems.

It is not for the preacher to determine the quantity and style of sex (as Mark Driscoll has done), it obviously varies from person to person.

If we are concerned about happy marriages then it seems to me that this study suggests that lectures at the women to give their husbands more sex and oral sex is unlikely to be helpful as are comments like Adrian’s that perpetuate male macho headship views. Instead help with communication, sharing, honesty, openness and freeing up their time would all be far more helpful.

Vote for a Change

Vote for a Change.

The expense crisis reveals a nation governed by a political elite that has stopped listening and who are accountable to no one but their party machines. Too many MPs seem more interested in changing their homes than changing the world.

Our society faces real problems – mass unemployment and growing poverty, the threat of climate chaos and an erosion of our civil liberties to name but three. These all require effective government working on behalf of the popular will.

Yet our whole political system is close to collapse. Just when the system needed to be strong it has been brought to its knees. Only the British people can put this right. We demand a new electoral system that makes everyone’s vote count.

Alongside the next general election there should be a binding referendum on whether to change to a new more proportional electoral system. This should be drawn up by a large jury of randomly selected citizens, given the time and information to deliberate on what voting system and other changes would make parliament more accountable to citizens.

Politics is now too important to be left to the politicians. We demand the right to be able to vote for a change:

Tiscali 404 sucks

I hate what Tiscali do when I type an invalid domain name. 99.99999% of the time it is a simple, silly typo. But I get a useless error page back:

Sorry, the page you were looking for cannot be found
The page you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable.
Error: (DNS), click the back back button to try another link.
Search the web for
Suggested Searches

OK it is formatted more nicely than that. But still useless.

What makes it worse is what they do to the url. I just typed

notice how my fat finger just added the j to the end. If the url stayed the same it would be nano seconds to correct. Instead the url changes to:

Isn’t that friendly! try finding and correcting that in your address bar.