Saturday, February 24, 2007

Dead Prophets Society

I'm beginning a new venture for Christian bloggers - The Dead Prophets Society . I'll be contacting Christian bloggers I know and inviting them to be co-authors. It's not quite ready to go yet, but I've laid the foundations.

The idea is inspired by the film "Dead Poets Society". In that film, Robin Williams plays a teacher in a 1950's American public school. The pupils are all taught poetry from a text book and taught to value poetry in terms of a formula. Mr. Keating (Williams), teaches the young men to tear that formula out of the poetry book and learn the powerful value of the poetry itself, to seize the day and live life with passion.

For too long, people have treated the Bible in the same way. They have conspired to chop it up into little segments and read it parrot fashion. A lot of churches read the scriptures but do not provide opportunity for their congregations to engage with those scriptures. They have removed the passion.

It is a sad development. Jesus said that he had come that we might have life... and have it to the full. The Bible also said of God:

"He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD."

Imagine that. We have a God that does not wish to withhold life from us... but wishes to feed us with manna, nectar, ambrosia... call it what you will, it is the same thing: the food of God. When you eat a delicacy, you should savour it... when you are a hungry man and you find bread, you should eagerly devour it.

Do we do this with the Bible? Or do we just read it and set it to one side like some mediocre fact sheet?

The Dead Prophets now exist for people who wish suck the marrow from the Word of God. To recite from scripture and to explain to one another why it is so moving. When I was a kid, we never looked at anything other than the "big" stories in the Bible. We never looked at the prophets, or the psalms or the epistles. I think that a lot of people grow up and leave church because all they see in the bible is stories, they don't loom further because they've never been taught to expect anything else. I'd like to redress that balance.
Mahatma Gandhi said of the Bible:

"You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilisation to pieces, turn the world upside down, and bring peace to a battle-torn planet. But you treat it as though it is nothing more than a piece of literature."

He wasn't a Christian, but he understood the true power that lay within the bible. It's a power we have denied and that is something the Dead Prophets Society is designed to undo.

If you'd like to sign up, drop me a line in my comments or an email. I'll probably check people's own blogs out before adding them as authors.

If you have recommendations from a design point of view, I'd be interested to hear.... especially if you have the talent to carry it out. I think I'd like a banner picture with the closing shot of Dead Poets Society on it - students standing on desks in defiance.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Laying Down an Old Burden

"It is the old wound king, my king. It has never healed" - Lancelot ("Excalibur", 1981)

I have carried something inside me for a long time, and recently I've been having dreams that have taken me back into my past... back to the very heart of the matter. I feel this is a prompt to talk about the subject and get it off my chest.

In all of Creation, there is one type of man that I cannot abide:

"They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires." 2 Timothy 3:6

I have never openly admitted why this such a bugbear with me... now I shall. I've held this in for some time because despite the wrong done to me, I value honour above many things... and I won't drag someone through the dirt on account of what they have said or done to me. That is why no names will be named... and only the people who really know me will understand.

I once dated someone - they were no good for me... I know that now. I tarried longer than I should because I felt I could be a force for good... they had seemingly lost faith in God, after a while into our relationship... as it was on "my watch" I felt a degree of responsibility - fool that I was. Every so often, the wiser part of me... the part that wanted out, would get fed up and a row would ensue. I'd go away and cool off and I'd eventually come round full circle.

There was this bus driver...

He befriended her. I was a little suspicious, but I told myself that I was allowing petty jealousy to get the better of me, so I put it to the back of my mind. That was until one day when we had a really big row. I disappeared for about a week. It was during that week that it happened (several times). He saw his opportunity and took it in both hands. I think you know what I'm talking about... it doesn't need saying.

The biggest mistake I ever made, was not seeing that one moment for what it was. So bewitched was I (like the Prince Rilian in C.S. Lewis' "The Silver Chair"), that I even did my best to forgive that. I reasoned that if I could demonstrate forgiveness to that level, maybe she'd understand how much God loved her (when I talk of forgiveness in this context, I wish to make it clear that I am talking in terms of continuing a relationship... not with regard to sin itself). All she cared about was getting her crutch back though. I carried my burden for some time after that... and when I think of how heavy that could of been in terms of consequences, I shudder... and thank God for the grace he showed me in helping me to awaken from my living nightmare.

While I have been healed of the experience, the memory of that time has always coloured my perception of male/female friendships. I do believe that platonic relationships between men and women are possible... in fact, I thrive on them... a couple of my best friends are women (easier to talk to). However, when somebody I am close to who is in a relationship, is approached by another man, I will always regard that man with suspicion. This is especially the case when a man lurks on the fringes of their social circle and when he "has their ear" too readily. I don't like players and seducers.

This has a lot to do with the road I have walked and I have two things to say to men:

1) I am sorry if I have regarded you unfairly because of my pain.
2) Please do not prove me correct in this matter... ever.

Me and this issue? We're done now.

Political Ideals

I am not a politician and I have no real desire to be one... but I've been thinking a lot about politics lately because somebody close to me is considering standing for a political party at the next District Council Election.

They are probably going to stand for a Party I have no love of and certainly do not trust... and so comes the question - do I vote for the person despite the resentment I feel for the institution they represent. It's a hard choice and I don't yet know which way I will jump (I trust the person implicitly, but I in no way wish to be seen as endorsing a political party. Yes you can say nobody will know, however I will know... and that is enough.)

It brings me back to the old dilemma that I am trapped within. Being a slightly liberal leftist puts me in a position where I can't in good conscience vote for anyone in the area I live. The Conservatives, New "Labour" and the Liberal Democrats are all economically right wing. Incidentally, if you are American and reading this then I'm apparently classed as borderline strong democrat/socialist.

If I could spearhead a bloodless coup, a glorious revolution where the slate was wiped clean and we started all over again... and I had the power to create any political system I pleased, I would go for something like the following:

A series of elections take place to create a forum of independent representatives... no parties, no chief whips. The politicians would only be allowed to be governed by private conscience and the interests of their own constituency... they would not be answerable to a party line.

The forum would then meet and members would nominate, second and vote a maximum of say five, potential Prime Ministerial candidates. The five names would be put to the public (each with their own personal manifesto) and voted on in a second round.

The New Prime Minister would take office and interview potential cabinet ministers, based on their skills and experience. The cabinet team would build a framework of policies but would in know way have the authority to force an entire body to vote in accordance with their views (as is currently the case in the Party system). Any member could propose policy. Each issue would stand or fall on it's merit in the eyes of the entire assembly. The system I propose at heart would reflect a political system resembling Camelot, each member being equal. In fact I'd even go as far as to suggest meeting away from Westminster in a circular building that resembled the Round Table. It would avoid the notion that MP's have to oppose one another just because they sit facing each other in opposition.

It is a system that would probably never see the light of day. It is like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas. It's probably as close to a personal ideal as I'm going to get. I wonder how the experts would interpret my political persuasion on the basis of those ideas. If you have any comments or suggestions I'd love to hear them.

Dare I put this to a Downing Street petition? I'm seriously open to persuasion on that. What do you think?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fair Play for Fair Pay

I watched with interest, a brief news story that revealed that the All England Tennis Association (organisers of Wimbledon), have equalised the pay between male and female contenders. Everybody in the vox pops thought it was great... I'm probably in the minority but I don't completely agree.

I'm not opposed to the decision to allow women tennis players the same rate of pay as the men. However it seems utter madness to allow them the same salary, for doing less work. As it stands, Men play to a maximum of five sets, women only play three. It's just not fair to pay the same level of money for doing different levels of work.... and lets not forget that the top players of any sport, already make obscene amounts of money from sponsorship deals and merchandising these days.

I say let them play five sets and THEN let them have completely equal pay. Anything less than this is criminal to either side.

It's only fair.... don't you think?

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Return

I returned to my spiritual cradle on Sunday.

My father is coming to the end of his year of being the town mayor (for the second time). It is customary for the outgoing mayor to hold a civic service (according to whichever belief or non-belief the mayor follows), where local dignitaries from around the town, district and even county are present. In the case of my dad, the service was held at the Anglican church of St. Nicholas.

My dad is a family orientated man and being such, wanted my sister, her boyfriend and myself to play a role in the service. For Charlotte and Ron, this meant playing music... and for my part, I was asked to read the Old Testament reading.

St. Nick's is an interesting place for me; as it was the family church, it was there that I first became aware of the concept of God... it therefore marks the beginning of my spiritual journey. However, at a certain age I realised the place was not good for me and if I was to have any hope of blossoming spiritually, I needed to find my own way and so I left. I'm very wary of the place given the spiritual history of the town, the influence of Freemasons and the lack of spiritual nourishment I tend to feel on the odd occasion I do go at Christmas or Easter.

Waiting for the service to begin, I was a little nervous... because I didn't know whereabouts on the page, my reading would be. This feeling soon dissipated however as the organ resounded for the first hymn (Guide Me O, Though Great Redeemer). I really felt inspired to belt out the tune as loud I could. I feel it is a gift I have... not to lead in worship, but to sing in such a way as to enable others to lift their own praises higher.

The time came for my reading and I had NO fear, memories of past oppression did not even cross my mind. I just got up and delivered the scripture to the people. I just wanted it to read like Jesus would... more than that, I just wanted Jesus to read it through me. I kind of felt like I was making a statement of intent. A taste of things to eventually come. The town has been spiritually famished for some time... but many folk are just not aware of it. I'll tell you more about the actual passage in another post.
I continued to be moved by my dad's excellent choice of hymns (they may have been old, but they were certainly classic). Something that touched my heart was when the prayers were read. At first I thought one of them had been written by someone in the church prayer book, bu it became apparent that it was in fact a poetic prayer written empathetically in the first person, with regard to different individual groups and their various needs. I was especially touched by the prayer for/from the single person. I fall into this group and it is a group that is shamefully neglected in the prayers of many churches. I'm not saying we want to be at the top of the list, prayed for every week. I am saying that the occasional acknowledgment that sometimes the single path (whether it be by sovereign/personal choice or circumstance), can be a painful and lonely one to walk, wouldn't go amiss.

Ron played a Malawian folk song in the Chichewa language. It was a very fitting choice. It is about a town which is suffering from sickness and the people all blame an old man and make him a scapegoat, believing him to be a witch doctor. If you are interested in listening to more of Ron Nkomba's music, or finding out more about him, you can visit his Myspace profile, it is well worth a listen.

Like, the song Ron played, I believe my hometown is spiritually sick... and various groups of people blame various other groups for why that is. However, only a fool accuses the flower or the fruit as the source of wrong... but neglects the root, from which both flower and fruit draw their nourishment.

I've attached some pictures of the party after the service, I've been told I "scrub up quite well":



Friday, February 16, 2007

Secrets, Sins, Burdens and Confessions

We had a very interesting discussion at home group the other night, it was probably the most uplifting and helpful home group for myself personally, in some time.

We've been studying the epistle of James recently. Martin Luther regarded the book of James as "the straw epistle". I think that's more than a little harsh, to say the least.

It is from James where we get this little gem of a verse, that I'm sure even if you are a non Christian reading this... you wouldn't disagree with:

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

That said, I don't consider the word religion to be belief itself, I consider religion merely to be the "application of belief". That is why you can see so many people going through the motions of a belief system, without actually being passionate about it. I don't consider myself a "religious man", but rather a "man of faith". I suppose you argue that it's a similar thing to me identifying myself as British rather than English (curiously my motivation seems to share common traits).

Speaking about religion and faith actually brings me to the point of my post. One of the verses in our final study in James provoked a fair bit of discussion:

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. " James 5:16

Not being Roman Catholic, I don't believe in the sacramental necessity to confess my sins to a priest in order to obtain absolution. I believe in justification by faith, I confess my sins to Jesus and repent, he forgives me and I do my best not to sin again; reconciling myself to others if my words or actions have offended them.

Having said that, I do believe there is a time when it is good to reveal to a close friend or confidante, the things of the past that weigh heavy on your soul. A friend reminded me of this by recounting a story where I had done something wrong in the past, and had repented of it years before... but still bore the burden of it in my heart. We both remember well, the night we stopped on our bicycles... prepared to go our separate ways... and I felt motivated to confess what I had done. Ever since that day, the burden has never weighed me down... because it was shared.

Several years later, I was given the opportunity to repay the favour when, the same friend shared one of his burdens with me. This time it wasn't about sin... but about personal calling. In both cases, one of us felt motivated by God to reveal an uncomfortable or cumbersome truth to the other. In both cases the burden was shared and the load lightened. It formed the basis of personal spiritual healing.

So in a way, I do believe confession IS good for the soul... not when it is a ritual, but when it is an action motivated by the Holy Spirit... when it is an outward sign of an inward change.

All this, reminded me of another verse (this time from Paul's letter to the Galatians):

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2

I wonder if you feel motivated to share something with somebody close to you? Maybe you should. It doesn't have to be anyone in a fancy frock... just someone you trust. Heck if you are really pushed, you can even try me... and you have my word I would destroy anything you emailed me, to retain confidentiality. I don't for a moment expect that anybody shall... but the offer is genuinely there.



Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Suspicious Package - Fancy a Fling?

First things first, this has absolutely nothing to do with the recent letter bomb attacks across the UK.

I arrived at work today after taking a long weekend as annual leave. amongst the post were a couple of promotional "pouches". Judging by the wording, I guess they were supposed to arrive at offices across the country tomorrow (St. Valentine's Day). I can just picture the scene across the country as amorous and excited marketing managers desperately fumble with their fingers to see what is inside...

They are going to be deeply disappointed .

Scroll down to the next post to see what was inside (our dumb home computer keeps opening up two windows for photo uploads and blogger can't cope, so I'm having to go through flickr).

The Real Fling!

This ones for the kids... a frisbee... FANTASTIC!

The idea behind this, is that you contact the company and they will create a personalised frisbee that reflects your marketing campaign.

It's a bit of fun, but I don't think it's going to take off (GNNN!!! Sorry I just realised how corny that sounded, the pun was unintentional).

After all, surely this is by very definition a throw away marketing campaign (okay that one was intended).

The only way I could see using these frisbees as a successful marketing tool, would be if you loaded them into a Hercules transport plane and performed a flyby of major cities, randomly chucking stacks of them out as the startled public gaze up in disbelief at the invasion of flying saucers.

It would get you into the evening news... and then you'd get stung by the Environment Agency.

Monday, February 12, 2007

All for One

Yesterday morning at church, we looked at the passage where Jesus calmed the storm. You know the one... Jesus dozes off on a boat, a fierce squall kicks up forcing water to swamp the boat, the disciples in blind panic go and wake Jesus (who is sill firmly in the land of nod), and tell him they are all going to die. It's at this point in the tale that Jesus tells the winds and wave to stop behaving like naughty schoolchildren and settle down... and they do.

While the display of supernatural power is pretty jaw dropping, what interests me far more is the reason why Jesus went in the first place... because it's not long after that he is back where he came from. Well... I suppose, there is this little story in between:

They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don't torture me!" For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.

Jesus asked him, "What is your name?"

"Legion," he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.

A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into them, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus' feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.

The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, "Return home and tell how much God has done for you." So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. (Luke 8:26-39)

Yes, I know you have to feel sorry for the pigs... but did you spot something amazing there? Jesus demonstrates how much the soul of one man matters to him. The only reason he travelled over the sea in the first place, was to free that man from his demons.

What is more, if you think about what happened just before all this, you really get a strong impression of how much Jesus values the individual. He left the crowds in Galilee, got in a boat and took his disciples through what was immense physical danger in their eyes. When he touched shore, he took on a supernatural force that no one else could handle. You could argue that the storm had been caused by the same supernatural force. Perhaps the devil wasn't so keen to let that one go. The soul of every individual is important... Satan clings to that which he does not own and Jesus seeks to do everything in his power to free them. If that means travelling over great distances that are not on the itinerary, he'll do it.

This is not the only time in the gospels that Jesus does this. There is a passage where he goes to Samaria to speak to just one woman... and it was out of his way geographically.

This is the Good Shepherd at work. Jesus said that if a shepherd had 100 sheep and one of them was in trouble, he'd leave the safe ones to rescue the endangered one. In the story we just read, he demonstrates it perfectly.

I wonder if you've been feeling troubled by your own demons... and are unable to see a way out? They don't have to be supernatural ones, it could be depression, or it could be something to do with broken relationships. It doesn't matter what troubles you... if you feel trapped, I want to encourage you today by saying that Jesus is the God of the individual. It doesn't matter whether he has to face a long journey, tempests or demons... he will come. He will come because all of us - you and I, matter to him. He loves us that much.

To those of us who know him I have a further challenge. Are we prepared to show that level of commitment to the lost? Are we willing to go wherever we see the need and bind up the broken hearted? Are we? Or are we tempted to stay in the limelight and only do work for God, where it can be seen.

Every soul matters.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Harsh and Delicate Balance

"The spirit is willing but the body is weak."

Jesus said it to his apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane. It summarises neatly how we feel when we know the way, but are uncomfortable with going the way.

Paul later wrote:

"For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want."
More or less the same thing, said in a different way.

Why does it have to be this way? It always seems that temptation comes, only when your heart is getting right with God. It is a rhetoric question. I know the answer to this, but I ask anyway... because it is also a heartfelt plea.

The answer is that when you are not following God, when he is not in pole position, you are not an active threat to the enemy's schemes... so why should he waste valuable resources on you? However, knock your idols off the throne and put God back as numero uno... and the story is very different.

Recently I have been inwardly positive, I currently feel that the things that have had a hold on my heart in the past are now not so much of a priority. Yes I want to achieve/receive those things, but I feel a lot more inwardly patient towards them. Yet, shortly after this realisation came, temptation soon followed along in it's wake. It takes various forms... what it can't control on the inside it will distract on the outside. It seems to get more fervent with age as well.

Honestly, that is where I am... it hasn't helped that my bible notes went missing a week or so ago, so I have found it harder to focus on God (that's an excuse, I know... I could always spend the time praying instead, but this is one area in which i benefit from a little discipline). Thankfully they have shown up now, so I hope to be in a better position shortly.

I decided to jot this down in case there are any other people who feel the same way... so that you know that we all have our cross to bear. Jesus knows all about it:

"Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." Hebrews 2:18
If you are willing, you could pray for me... it would be appreciated.

May God bless you and if you are reading this and having struggles, post your name or if anonymous you can type help... and I shall pray for you in yours. OK?

Friday, February 09, 2007

The White Stuff!

For the past two days, it has been snowing in the land of Alcester.

It has been so long since snow has fallen in abundance in my town. Firstly, it's in the centre of a valley, so we only get a light dusting. Then of course we have climate change to contend with. If the people of Britain had any doubt the climate was changing, they only need look to the Mr Whippy vans that have been out in Stratford-upon-Avon serving ice cream from January.

So, substantial snowfall is rarer these days. I always remember with fondness, the time when there was a blizzard on Christmas Eve. I was a child at the time and we had to walk all the way to the midnight service at Arrow. That was many years ago, before the bypass was built... before the Elephant Tree was cut down. I dragged my handmade ply wood sled all the way up and back again. The snow was deep, so deep... and my sled was no use at all.

That was probably 25 years ago now... and yet people talk of snow, like it never happened over Christmas. Maybe they just haven't noticed winter gradually getting thrown out of whack.
Cold, snowy days like this always remind me of my childhood. The gentle crunch of virgin snow beneath the boot. The huddling of the family round the radio as we listened to BRMB (there was no Warwickshire radio station then), to find out if our school had been closed... and the exultant cheer that followed when we discovered it inevitably had.

The way I see it, when days like this come... you can either be extremely mature and sensible... and bemoan the delays in travel, as well as the disruption to adult life... or you can recapture your youth, get out there, have snowball fights and/or build a snowman or some other effigy.

Guess which way I jumped?

I ran out the door taking a few tender and gentle steps on the new covering of snow, and then I ran and jumped for joy in the street. Now at 7.15, this is not something that is in my nature... but the snow had energised me and I ran amok with excitement.

I walked to the High Street to await my lift for work. I got bored so I decided to build a snowman outside the Post Office. I only got halfway up the torso before I had to leave. Once at work, it quickly became apparent that not many others would make it and most people left once official word had been given. I stuck it out till 4, trusting in Rob's judgement.

Sadly when I got home, no trace of my snowman remained. He'd been kicked in. I had hoped someone would have understood what I was doing and finished it off. Unfortunately though, it seems a lot of people are more destructive in their nature than they are creative. We need less of that sort of human.

Today I have the day off from work... I haven't ventured out yet... but it is still snowing.

Truly there is beauty in all God's seasons.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Walking Tall

It appears I am growing in more ways than one... or at least if that's not true, then the world around me appears to be shrinking.

At first I dismissed it out of hand. My head brushed on the light strip in the kitchen at work. In the past I'd need to slightly raise myself to do that, now it seems I have to duck slightly.

However, tonight I went Rob and Susan's house. I did the usual 45 minute work out routine (otherwise known as being chased by the kids and returning the favour), but when it was time for Benji's bed time he asked "Who is bigger... Daddy or Uncle Nick?" He asks this every now and then, and sometimes he means age not height.... on this occasion it was height. So Rob and I stood back to back... we used to be about the same height... Rob having a slight edge... now I am about half an inch to an inch taller.

Is this even possible? Can fully grown adult men have a second bout of growth spurts? At 32 you'd think the only thing that would be growing would be hair, toenails, ears and nose (the latter two continue growing throughout life... which leads me to wonder if I'll look like Dumbo in 2050?).

Am I a mutant or is my metabolism playing up? Are we all mistaken, or is there a medical phenomenon where some adults start growing again?

I did have a thought that perhaps this is something to do with my new found confidence and rediscovered sense of self worth. Maybe I'm just standing straighter, walking taller... and this has led to my apparent vertical expansion. The flaw in this is that Rob and I have stood back to back, straight as a rod before... so the difference shopuld have been noticeable too

Your thoughts and comments on this... half baked, off the wall or even medically sound; are as of course always welcome.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Debtwatch 4

I can't believe that I have just passed a quarter of the way towards the original timescale for paying off my debts... and yet I am over halfway towards paying them off.

I only managed to hold onto £100 from my last payday, which was disappointing. I'm hoping I can keep my belt tight and breathe in this month and keep at least £200 back. I have £200 in savings and I will have made my usual target of £300 next month. As I said last month though, my intention is to put down £500-£600 down as it will seriously bring me a lot closer to home.

All the same it is encouraging to know that by the beginning of March I will be down to a three figure sum (heck if I really wanted to go crazy I could fast for a month and put all my wages in to cross the finish line... that is how close I am).

It is very exciting to think that come May I could be building for my future.

God has been very good to me indeed.

Balance left on debt: £1480.79
Cash in short term savings reserves: £200
Cash left in current account that I hope to spare for debt repayment £200.00
Estimated balance for next Debtwatch report: £700
Original Finish Date for completion of Payments - October 2007
New Estimated Completion of Payments - MAYDAY!

Blog Snobbery

I've been noting with interest the rise, fall and apparent demise of the experiment that was 2000 Bloggers.

The short story version of it was that a bloke called Tino decided to take a snapshot of the blogosphere, a sort of first come, first serve scrapbook. The fundamental idea of his project was to showcase 2,000 blogs - warts and all. The more established great and the good, alongside the humble offerings of novices... the interesting eye catching blogs, alongside the mundane everyday ones.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, this began to throw the link valuing system into a little bit of chaos, causing less established blogs to gain ground on the big guns.

I can understand how this can sometimes be a bad thing, the people who would be most likely to look for these sort of projects and exploit them, would be entrepreneurs, viral marketeers and corporate bloggers... and we all know how tedious and annoying those blogs often are (when I use traffic exchange programmes I always filter out business and marketing blogs).

However, I've noticed in the comments of some of the detractors, an air of snobbery and ego. They fear that an increase in ranking terms for the lowest common denominator will damage their readership and will dilute the purity of the blogosphere. In effect what they are saying is "You can't come up here! You aren't good enough, aren't professional enough, aren't intelligent, humorous or insightful enough to join us in the ranks of the elite!"

It's hokum. Worse than that it's a form of electronic fascism. This is not the Roman Empire, we are not divided into patricians and plebeians. We are together, an online example of global diversity.

Don't misunderstand me, there are some wonderful blogs out there... important ones too. Blogs that expose the political machinations of corrupt governments, blogs that seek to expand human understanding between different cultures... and many of these are wonderfully researched.

When it comes to my blog, I have no delusions of global takeover. My hope is that over time, people will be touched by the things that I write about. I don't care if I'm of the moment or on message with the topics of the day, that's nice... but it's just a bonus. What really matters to me is if somebody finds my blog on a search engine in a decade and is touched by something I wrote say... last year, then as far as I'm concerned I've done my job. All I seek to do is pass on what I have learned, or share joy and pain in equal measure... in the hope that future readers may know that they are not alone.

I believe that blogs should be allowed to stand and fall by the quality of their content and not by their reputation or press. If that means that a new kid on the block starts making inroads into the readership of the heavy hitters, simply because they get lucky with a few links and establish themselves, so be it. This happens all the time in nature, the dominant male of many species community groups eventually gets toppled by some upstart, it is the way of things. Similarly how can the saplings in a rain forest grow, if the big trees don't fall down every now and then, leaving a gap in the canopy?

I'm not completely against protectionism with regard to the blogosphere, I just feel it should be like the Galapagos Islands. We protect it from the outside interference of those who are intent on changing it's nature... but when it comes to the natural development of what people blog about and who sets the agenda, let the people decide. If they see something of note, then they will comment on it, link to it and spread the word.

Have faith in the fellowship of bloggers.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Subtle Changes

I'm starting to believe it... I'm changing.

Had some news in the week, that clearly indicated a door had been closed to me. I could have moped on... "woe is me", with regard to my situation, goodness knows I've done that often enough. I surprised myself by being OK with it and taking it in my stride. My attitude towards closed doors has changed. In the past I'd be frustrated, that every door I tried would be firmly locked. A phrase keeps going through my head, that seems to be keeping me afloat:

Every decrease in possibilities brings about an increase in certainties.

I don't think I've read that anywhere, but it fits how I feel like a glove. You see chess master Nick Payne would be probing each one of those possibilities until the stars failed in the night sky.... but I'm learning that the things I don't need on my journey, won't take root within me. I don't have to second guess what might be or what might have been, because only that which is certain will come about.

The good thing about this, is that I'm not missing as many "moments". You know what I'm on about, the small things in life,... the little blessings from God, the things of beauty that just slip quietly by into the night if we are to busy to notice them.

Tonight I was walking from work, to meet up with my mate, it was about 5:35pm and the sun had not long set. About halfway down Henley Street, I heard birdsong. It was so loud, proud and beautifully clear that I tracked it to it's source. there atop a chimney stack, was the silhouette of a tiny bird. A tiny bird with such a loud and expressive voice. I just had to stop and take it in.

A slightly more disturbing twist in my new positivity, is that I'm singing a lot more at work... but I'm also a lot more relaxed and motivated, so even if my colleagues disapproved of my voice (which they don't), they have plenty of reasons to remain chipper.

I look in the mirror and my face doesn't seem as heavy... and I know I'm smiling a lot more.

Now for the crazy part. This next bit probably won't make sense to most of you.

I get the strangest feeling that the scar on my chest is a bit smaller... or at the very least thinner. I feel like I'm growing less conscious of it... and some form of healing is definitely under way. whether that is purely psychological, spiritual or also physical remains to be seen.

It doesn't matter, God is good and he is taking me into calmer waters. We'll have to see how this develops.

God bless


Every decrease in possibilities brings about an increase in certainties.
The ideas and thoughts represented in this page's plain text are unless otherwise stated reserved for the author. Please feel free to copy anything that inspires you, but provide a link to the original author when doing so.
Share your links easily.