4 weeks to Greenbelt…!

Yes, in a mere 4 weeks time, my family and I will be playing the game: ‘How much camping gear can you cram into 1 car, and still have room for the kids?’ as we head off to Cheltenham Racecourse… not to bet on the horses, but to enjoy August Bank Holiday weekend at the largest Christian Arts Festival in Europe… Greenbelt!

And I’m speaking there again this year… this will be the 8th consecutive year that they’ve been crazy enough to ask me back!

Here are a few pics from past talks (click them to enlarge)… some were as part of the ‘literary’ stream, some in connection with Generous:

2003 – first met the fab-tastic Penny Culliford, both involved with the ‘writer’s surgery’ in the inflatable church!

2004 – Penny and I doing: Bridget Jones Gets God!

2006 – a lot of talks/workshops/interviews in the Generous ‘zone’, a highlight being interviewing Janey Lee Grace, see pic here.

2008 – Me kindly allowing someone else to have their say during a Generous talk (perhaps I wasn’t feeling well)

2009 – Jac and I continue to urge people to Go Generous:

Doing this post is planting an idea in my head about having an entire page on this website, dedicated to Greenbelt-related this n that. This page has some GB stuff on already, but perhaps GB ought to have the honour of a page all of its own.
It’s the Summer hols and I’m off work for 5 and a half weeks… so no excuse not to attempt this, darn it.
I could dazzle you with my award-winning Greenbelt poetry. (Blogged a poem about the pies at GB… pie company found it, and awarded me with a large box of pies through the post, worth over £50… yum yum!).

Last year’s Generous talk (me and Jac) is available to buy here as an MP3… only listen to if you can cope with my very poor jokes relating to fair trade bananas and compost toilets. Seriously – very very poor.

Anyway, if you’re Greenbelting this Summer, call in to The Kitchen on Saturday, 2-3:30pm. The details of the talk/workshop/session/whatever are yet to be finalised. OK, granted… we haven’t actually started with the planning yet, but with 4 weeks to go, it’s quite likely we will, one day soon (myself and 2 very biblical-sounding guys: Peter and Paul).

And watch out for those pies… see if they inspire your creative juices to flow… then watch out for the postman struggling to your door with a large box of freebies…!

Revised and updated!

No. Not me.
I’m only 35.
Suspect one needs to be at least 40 before feeling the need to be fully revised and updated.
Ought to find out how long this will take and how much it will cost, so I can be fully prepared when the time comes…

… but in the mean time, my ‘Study Guides’ for Dear Bob have recently had a revamp.
I first wrote them in 2003 (the year Dear Bob was published). It was when I spotted a reference to Gareth Gates that my concerns were first alerted.
Would any teenager/student know who he is nowadays? Answers on a Gareth-Gates-shaped postcard, please.

So, they’ve now been decorated with contemporary references and suchlike, and are available for your use should you wish, for a tenner.
No, only kidding… for zero pennies!

Suitable for any school/uni CU or Church youth group, age 14+

There are 3 studies, focusing on issues raised by Dear Bob:

Independence Day (Leaving Home)
Singleton City (Being Single)
God Who? (Doubting God)

It’s not essential that your group have read Dear Bob before embarking on one of these studies.

New review (Dear Bob)

It makes me smile to still be reading reviews of Dear Bob, seeing as it was published back in year of…
(…. just googled ‘2003’ to see what events of mind-boggling importance occurred in that year… turns out: not a lot, apart from Dear Bob being published, naturally).

Here’s a recent one from Woman Alive (national monthly printed magazine aimed at Christian women, read by more than 30,000 women each month… and perhaps by men in tune with their feminine side!)


(you may need to summon the powers of ‘zoom in’ to read the review in question!)

Westminster Declaration of Christian Conscience..??

I’m hoping those subtly placed question marks at the end of the above title have piqued your interest, and implied that this post is NOT yet another ‘nag’ to put your name to this declaration. As a Facebook-er, I’ve had many such nags recently, so have endeavored to undertake an investigation, albeit brief.

In case you’re not one to wile the hours away on Facebook and/or not a Church-goer… this declaration is based on a similar one in the States. Christians are being urged to sign it, with the intent of informing the political candidates in question of our beliefs… and urging them to respect/protect them.

The first few paragraphs are entitled: Our beliefs and Values… Human Life… Marriage.
At face value, these are fairly straightforward. ‘Liberal’ (not Lib Dem) Christians could spend many an hour dissecting them, extracting the ‘conservative’ ness out and proposing alternative suggestions… and although I’m tempted, I feel my time could be used more wisely. Here’s one example of such views (Ekklesia) and while I can’t say I’m unwaveringly behind all he says, I do concur with the gist of the piece.

But it’s more the last two paragraphs of the declaration that disturb me:

We count it a special privilege to live in a democratic society where all citizens have the right to participate in the political process. We pledge to do what we can to ensure our laws are just and fair, particularly in protecting vulnerable people. We will seek to ensure that religious liberty and freedom of conscience are unequivocally protected against interference by the state and other threats, not only to individuals but also to institutions including families, charities, schools and religious communities. We will not be intimidated by any cultural or political power into silence or acquiescence and we will reject measures that seek to overrule our Christian consciences or to restrict our freedoms to express Christian beliefs, or to worship and obey God.

We call upon all those in UK positions of leadership, responsibility and influence to pledge to respect, uphold and protect the right of Christians to hold these beliefs and to act according to Christian conscience.

(words in bold is my doing)

We live in a Post-Christendom era. While it’s fantastic for us to get together with other Christians from a plethora of denominations and state our beliefs… the minute we attempt to enforce those beliefs on others, or demand that we have any sort of ‘rights’, we’re stepping outside of what our faith actually holds dear. Stuart Murray, in his superb book on this topic, suggests we ought to advocate equality for other faith communities… and advocate abolition, not extension, of Christendom vestiges. He states this is more feasible and ‘Christian’ than the restoration of a Christian State.

Granted, the declaration isn’t demanding Constantine to make a come-back… but its rhetoric is leaning in that direction, and for that reason I will not be signing it, and I’d invite you to consider doing likewise. We’re called to ‘be Church’ – to live in such a way as to be a witness for Christ. To be an example. To love and care for the oppressed. To share the Good News with those around us. But to demand/claim/expect any special treatment in the UK or anywhere else in the world?

These are my very initial thoughts on this topic though, so please come back at me with your thoughts on this one.

A poet, and I didn't know-it!

PLEASE don’t think that I think that I can write poetry, as I’ve barely ever written any and it’s really not my thing.

But, was dead chuffed that someone has been able to use my ‘Burn’s Night’ poem (reply from the Lassies)…!

I had this comment on this blog just the other day:

Just a line to thank you for putting your ‘Reply from the Lassies’ on-line. I was asked to do it for our Burns Night and was so relieved to find it! I changed it to make it relevant to us—
Once again thanks—you saved me hours of effort
Elsie Smith

and then this one:
thank GOD you posted this… it is the only useful reply from the lassies i could find anywhere. will happily plagerise parts if you don’t mind 🙂
from someone else.

Which now means that of the 2 poems I’ve ever written (well, since primary school)… one was rewarded with a box of pies (hurrah!) and the other was ‘used’ by at least 2 ‘lassies’ at a Burns Night. It’s nice to feel useful!

Don’t worry – have no plans to inflict any more ‘poetry’ on the world… at least, not until I’ve run out of pies…!