Monthly Archives: August 2009

Greenbelt update

Having a great weekend. Far too busy to blog. Some great talks, great meetings with friends, great coffee and food.

Currently learning about intersex conditions. Eye opening.

More talks planned, more friends to meet plus a big book shop visit.

Greenbelt 2009 – Arrival

Today (Friday) we arrived at Cheltenham Racecourse for Greenbelt. This year we were organised better. We came away on Monday for a few days holiday in the Cotswolds first, so today we only had a 30 minute drive. Hence, we got on the campsite much earlier.

We are part of a 30+ group of old friends, family and a large group from our circuit – more than 10 tents, 1 caravan (yes that is us living in luxury again) and a motorcaravan. So it was handy to be here early to keep enough space for everyone.

Lots of improvements again at Greenbelt. Here are some we have noticed so far:

  • drainage for the taps on the camping field. Should reduce the mud a lot.
  • better layout of festival, more venues and more space between
  • more camping space
  • wider paths between the different festival areas
  • better traffic management
  • less intrusive but still effective fire wardens (with good sense of humour)

Just one negative. If you have 11 or 12 year old children then while they are welcome at the youth events and free to come and go  they have the same colour armbands as the 4 to 10 year olds. We have experienced over this some confusion with stewards, they are rightly watching out for younger children who are lost or who have been inappropriately left to wander alone. Anyway we have talked with a youth event manager and the head of Greenbelt Child Protection about the confusion experienced. They were helpful, kind, friendly and very professional in their response.

Managed a couple of talks this evening. A excellent speaker Dilwar Hussein on "Can you be British and a Muslim", pity there were not more people there. Also Dave Tomlinson on "Church without borders" good stuff if not very new or challenging (at least in terms of where I would want to be – getting there is a different matter).

Bumped into lots of friends. So hi to John & Mary, my cousin Mark & Rosemary, Pete & Catherine (only texted meeting so far), Kevin (hoping to see Mimo, Peter & Mpalo later) also to Anna who is not on the Methodist stand but on the stand. Lots of others who I know are here and will see later.

If you are at Greenbelt leave a message and I will happily pass you my mobile number to arrange to meetings.

Bible Study responding to a Shane Claiborne Challenge

Tonight we took two quotes from Shane Claiborne as a challenge for out Bible Study. The idea came from a blog post by Bishop Willian Willimon: A Peculiar Prophet: Claiborne’s Call to Young Christians.

In it he had a collection of quotes from Shane Claiborne. Two stood out for me at the moment:

“Most good things have been said far too many times and just need to be lived.”

“I need to be born again,…. But if you
tell me I have to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God, I can tell
you that you have to sell everything you have and give it to the poor,
because Jesus said that to one guy, too. But I guess that’s why God
invented highlighters, so we can highlight the parts we like and ignore
the rest.”

So we used the Bible Study to evaluate our Church and selves by these criteria.

As a starting point we took the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5, 6 & 7). That seemed a straighforward way to get a wide collection of the teaching of Jesus in an amount we could handle(ish) in an evening.

We went through point by point (taking the TNIV headings as points – that made 19 excluding the beatitudes) for each we had a short discussion before awarding out Church a score (0-5) for how visibly taught this passage was in our Church and then another score (again 0-5) for how much action took place in our discipleship based on this passage.

I left the beatitudes til last as I suspected we would run out of time if we started with them and sure enough we ran out of time so did not get back to them.

We found it a challenging way to explore the quotes from Shane ie the extent to which we highlight some of the teaching of Jesus while ignoring other bits  and how much we actually live out the teaching.

We are going to come back to this to look at how we can respond to the lower scores.

Advice to Complementarians

As any regular readers will be only too aware I am generally not considered a complementarians (that is male headship supporter to the rest of us) best friend.

So I thought I would change this with some excellent advice. Two bits of advice in fact.

Advice 1. Protection

This is simple. Do not engage in a debate on complementarianis, (male headship) with a woman. You think it will be easy because in your universe women are not allowed to teach men. You are wrong. You stand a great chance of being totally decimatated.

Sadly for him Mike Seaver of Role Calling did not get this advice in time. Sadly for him he did not do his research before entering in a debate with Cheryl Schatz of Women in Ministry. If he had then he might have realised how knowledgable and skilled Cheryl is despite being a woman. He might then have realised that he was out of his depth. But he didn't.

So the first four parts of their debate are now available. Each part can be read on either blog, but Cheryl has collected many more comments which are worth reading.

The series so far is worth reading to see how gently but consistantly Cheryl demolishes Mike's arguments using Scripture leaving him floundering in a sea of vagueness.

Advice 2. Closed blogs don't protect.

Mike has a policy of strict moderation on his blog. He describes it as:

1. Please comment! But know that all comments will be approved and
possibly edited by me. 2. I won't be able to respond to many comments,
but look forward to conversations developing and good resources being
recommended. 3. I may not post your comment and simply answer it in a
later post. 4. I may delete it altogether if an attitude,
recommendation, or resource isn't something I think will be helpful to
readers. This is a public forum, but one that seeks to promote the
worship and glory of Jesus Christ both in content and attitude. Thanks!

He means it. Disagree with him and it is unlikely your comment will ever appear. This attempts to protect the sensitive men who read "Role Calling" from arguments that might demolish their bubble of superiority. But by the very nature of the internet such protection is useless. The open comments on Chreyl's posts are a good example.

So the advice is. You can't protect yourself from the truth. Don't try to close your blog to comments or feel that you can control things through moderation. The truth will get published elsewhere. Those who disagree won't disappear simply because you edit their comments or don't have comments. Instead the word will spread.


Don't take the advice very seriously. But read the posts to be reminded that complementarianism & male headship is built on sand and that sand cannot hold against knowledgeable debate. To paraphrase Dad's Army – "you are all doomed!"

I love Muslims in the NHS

The video from Fox I have watched at clayboy » All go mad on health care made me really, really angry.

Two people who ought to be in jail for racism made horrible accusations about Muslim Doctors in the UK. They equated being a Muslim to being a terrorist and descibed the NHS as a breeding ground for terrorism.

In my post 42: We love the NHS I wrote about the double bypass surgery my Mother-in-Law had at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester.

Now consider this Leicester: Ethnicity profile.

Leicester is widely predicted, within the next five years, to become the first city in Europe with a majority non-white population. Nowhere else in Britain has proportionally fewer White British residents. According to the 2001 census, only 60.5% of the city’s residents described themselves in this way.

In numerical terms, Leicester has just over 100,000 ethnic minority residents out of a total population of 280,000.
The Indian population in Leicester, numbering over 72,000, is by far the largest outside London. Indians form the bulk of the total Asian population (84,000), and make up one in four of all Leicester residents. Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, however, are represented only slightly above the national average, in proportional terms. The city also has over 5,500 residents who ticked the Asian Other box in the 2001 Census; many of these are likely to be Kenyan and Ugandan Asians who fled from east Africa during the 1960s and 1970s.

In some parts of inner-city Leicester, white people are ethnic minorities. The Latimer ward has the smallest white population outside London; 83% of the population are from other ethnic groups (74% are Indian). Indian people form an overasll majority in three other wards: Belgrave (63% Indian), Spinney Hills (60%) and Rushey Mead (53%).

Although ten times less numerous than the Asian population, black people are also represented in Leicester at a level above the national average (3.1% of the city’s residents, compared to 2.3% for the whole of England). Slightly more than half (4,600 people out of 8,600) are Black Caribbean. There are 3,400 Black Africans, or just over 1% of the population.

Leicester’s mixed-race population is also proportionally higher than average, totalling 6,500 people. It is one of very few places outside London where the White and Asian Mixed group begins to approach 1% of the total population; nearly 2,000 people ticked this box in the 2001 census.

While in Leicester my Mother-in-law was treated and cared for by doctors, nursing staff and many others who come from all over the world. There were many Muslims among them and thanks to their love, skill and care my kids still have a grandma.

This horrible way of referring people who are often British citizens from birth or who have come here to care for people makes my blood boil (and let us not make the mistake the Americans are making of descibing anyone who is not white as Muslim – Arrgghhhh!!).

Everyone who has been cared for by the NHS will have been treated by people who these Americans are describing as terrorists. In all my many experiences of seeing NHS care I have many many memories of Muslims caring for people I know and love. In every case they have been good examples.

I resent these ignorant and racist Americans describing my friends, my community, my health care professionals in this way. I vote to cancel the health insurance of everyone of these Americans on the grounds that they are so ignorant they probably won’t even notice.

Oh and I thoroughly recommend Leceister as a friendly and nice city for a shopping visit, particularly when your Mum is being cared for in hospital there.

We love the NHS

Lots on this everywhere. At the bottom I have links to some of the posts I have read recently.

I am motivated to write because of the rubbish that some in the USA are saying about the NHS. It is striking to note that apparently as a proportion of GDP we pay approximately half what Americans do for health care, that we have better hospital infection statistics and are ranked a lot better by the WHO. See this comment:

I looked up this info a few days ago for someone so I have it to
hand Lisa. The UK HAI (hospital acquired infection) rates seem to be
lower than the UK ones nowadays

UK HAI rate 7.6%
US HAI rate 10%

The link to the US rates is to a wikipedia article but there is a
ref in that to the original source for you to check out the figures.

and from this comment:

We spend 8.5% of our GDP on healthcare, compared to 16% in the US. This
seems like incredible value to me. The end result is that we have a
longer life expectancy than US citizens, and fewer of our babies die in
infancy (actually fewer babies die in infancy in Cuba than in the US,
which is a fair indictment of your system). The WHO rated us 18th and
the US 37th in terms of the healthcare we provide to ALL our citizens.

As a Methodist Minister I see a lot of the NHS. We have a lot of elderly people in the Methodist Church and so, more than most outside the NHS, minister see a lot of the results: visiting people in hospital, when they are ill, when they are getting better, when they are talking about it after or when we are doing their funerals.

I will not talk about people I minister to, I don’t think is is right or fair. But I will say that many of them need the NHS a lot and that most of the time they get excellent care from the local doctors surgeries and from the NHS. In a huge majority of cases they are very happy with the care they get.

For those who are hearing about how bad our system is a few anecdotal family stories:

One example would be my mother-in-law. Just over two years ago just after moving to Raunds she had a heart attack (83 at the time). I went round just after midnight and called the ambulance. They were there within 15 minutes and the operator stayed on the line the whole time til they arrived and confirmed with them that they were on the scene. During that time the operator was regularly checking with mum via me how things were and giving helpful advice how making her more comfortable.

A few days later she was transferred to Glenfield in Leicester a heart specialist hospital. After examining her arteries with one of those clever devices they decided on a double heart bypass which was done within 2 weeks of the heart attack. After a few weeks in hospital she came home and when it was clear she could not quite cope she got several weeks of rehabiliation care nearby in a lovely place in Rushden. Oh and home visits by Occupational Therapists to see what equipment she needed (and free loan for as long as she needed them).

Over the next year she slowly improved with a few short hospital visits to drain her lungs (including one where she got MRSA, or more likely had it and they discovered it) and she is still with us, still living on her own and coping (with a care package). Now struggling with double curvature of the spine she is on a long list of drugs (3 pages of the standard prescription forms) but still has a good quality of life.

A couple of months ago she had a heart attack scare, again the
ambulance came they were pretty sure it was ok but took her to hospital
for thorough tests to confirm she was ok.

In the last 6 months she has had two cateract operations both were done at a local private hospital by the NHS and for both they gave her a general anaesthetic and kept her in overnight for checking (she can’t lie flat for the operation so this was the only way it could be done). Now she does not need glasses except for reading – the hospital sold us a pair for £2.99 :-).

Through all that treatment neither she nor we have ever had to pay anything, or sign any papers relating to payment. That is despite after 60 odd years in this country she is still an Austalian citizen. There were questions about having the double bypass, but they were clinical – would she survive the operation, would it make enough improvement to her life to be worthwhile for her to go through (clearly the answers to both are yes).

I could look back to the years of treatement my father-in-law had for cancer that greatly extended his life and gave it a high level of quality. Care that supported the family so that exactly as he wanted he could stay at home to the end.

No this system is not perfect, our local hospital is very overloaded. But many things are improving. Over the last 4 years I have seen huge improvements in cleanliness at the local hospital and we will be getting a new local clinic.

Meanwhile we will continue to take Mum to the doctors several times a month for checkups, the podiatrist and everything else that seems to go wrong. She will continue to make friends with the doctors (although her hearing makes that a bit more difficult – I did not mention that the NHS have provided her with hearing aids for years, now very fancy digital ones).

So yes I love the NHS, it means my boys still have a grandma!

Onto the posts around the net.

First an excellent post and hundreds of comments many by people with experience of both US and UK health care: This American’s Experience of Britain’s Healthcare System (ht Pam in a comment on a cpost on theConnexion)

Watch the video at clayboy » All go mad on health care to see the absolute rubbish that is being said in the USA about the NHS (HT: a comment on NHS / US healthcare compared | connexions).

Good post by Dave Faulkner We Love The NHS

Ask John Piper – Do some complementarians deny women opportunities?

Ask John Piper – Do some complementarians deny women opportunities?.

John Piper admits that there are “ambiguities” and that he is “sure” people make “unwise decisions” in their restriction of women. After all what is a woman to do when men start gravitating towards her room when she is teaching the bible? Does she kick them out of her class, stop her godly teaching, or continue to teach? What is sin and what isn’t sin?

If women are “equals” with a man spiritually, then what biblical spiritual restrictions are there on men? When does a man who is a godly Christian man go from servant of God to sinner just because of who walks into his bible class? The fallacy of “equal but different” is never so blatantly false as when complementarians like John Piper try to talk about the “ambiguities”. The fact is that they teach “unequal and different” while the Bible teaches “fellow heirs”.

I confess I love it when Cheryl Schatz ties complementarians up in knots. Sorry about that. Make sure you read the whole post as Cheryl is very nice about it and does not gloat as she demolishes John Piper.

United Methodist Church Developers Urged to Learn from their History

Great article: United Methodist Church Developers Urged to Learn from their History.

“Early Methodism was evangelistic,” the Rev. Dr. Laceye Warner
explained to the 2009 United Methodist School of Congregational
Development. “When the Wesleys talked about spreading ‘Scriptural
holiness,’ they meant evangelism.” She defined evangelism as preaching
the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ and “living it out.”

She also identified 4 key strengths of Methodism in the early days (see the articvle for more details).

  • Growth in grace is as important as growth in numbers, and preoccupation with membership figures can become an obstacle to gospel proclamation.
  • Theological reflection is essential.
  • Sustained Christian practices maintain the community of faith.
  • Wealth and material goods are meant to be shared.

Sounds good to me.

A pause for breath

We are home, but for less than 24 hours.

Jane and I have had a wonderful week alone, we took our 2 seater sports car (created by removing 5 seats from our 7 seater Citroen C8). The small car is waiting a replacement windscreen and anyway we needed the big car to tow our 6 berth twin axle caravan (ideal home from home for two people) to Reedam Ferry, Norfolk.

We had some very nice rides on our tandem recumbent trike, one less rather nice ride on our upright bikes (the bridlepath disappeared leaving us making our way almost at random through fields on a marsh). I also did a bit of unicycling (until I managed to bend a crank with a particularly spectactular crash).

On the campsite we had the luxury of plumbed in water and waste water – no filling water containers for us. Plus no phone signal.

The wonderful thing about being on our own was just how much time we had to do things. None of the jobs (cooking, clearing up, getting ready to go out) take very long when there are only two of you so we suddenly found all these extra hours in the day. No only more hours but someone lovely to share them with – fantastic.

We did have one slight problem. On a trip out on the Monday we realised that the rear brakes seemed to have suddenly worn out. Fortunately we saw a Citroen garage a few minutes later. Unfortunately when they reversed it in to look at the brakes they hit a recovery truck which sliced right through a rear quarter panel. Fortunately they gave us a nice C5 courtesy car for the rest of the week while they fixed it. Unfortunately it meant using Friday to go and collect the car. Fortunately they had valeted the whole car and it looks imaculate plus the brakes work.

Today we got home first and started our washing. Oldest son got back from the Keswick Convention mid afternoon and the other 2 from Scout camp late afternoon. Washing machine going non stop. About to go out for a meal all together (and start grandma's washing machine at the same time). Oldest son is away separately for the next week with his girl friends family while the rest of us head for more rain in Derbyshire, camping at Edale for a few days.

No blogging til I get back.