Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Decisions, decisions.

Our holiday plans are still flapping freely.

Earlier in the year we'd decided to go back to India, and that really appeals still, but I just don't feel up to the hassle of sorting out out own tour, and we don't really fancy any of the pre-arranged ones that we can afford/aren't willing to spend that much on a personalised tour. However, as I write this, Chris is watching 'Marigold Hotel', so the debate may be over regardless.

So where else?

TBH I'm tired right now. Tired of facing work challenges that make me want to curl in a ball at times - not because they're unreasonable, but because I'm trying to cope with the odd emotional things that fairly severe exercise does to me.

In many ways Greece, especially going to Lesvos again, appeals. It's a known quantity, we've not seen Daphne and Iannis since 2009, the location is great and it's guaranteed relaxing. At the same time I know we'll start to get a little bored after a week, and we've mined out many of the island's attractions already. We could fly to athens for a few days first, see the acropolis etc, then get a boat across, but that's hassle again.

And then there's Turkey, where Ben's having a great time. I'm very very tempted to pick one of the really good deals on a flight/hotel/car through expedia and just go for a couple of weeks near Selcuk/Efes (Ephesus). There's LOADS to see - we could even drive over to Cappadocia for a couple of days - and see Ben too. But I dunno. Hassle again, and trying to cope with an alien culture where I don't speak ANY of the language.

Don't tell Chris, but I've even wondered about going to Scotland, while they'll still let people from the south across the border. Scrub that - last time I had a holiday where it rained all the time I hated it. :p

Guess we'l just have to wait & see.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Joggers nipple

Is not a joke.

7.5 miles in the rain, wearing a belt that held my singlet still against a moving nipple, is not kind. My right nipple was actually weeping slightly this morning. Should I have more sympathy for breast feeding mothers now?

Update Saturday - nipple no longer painful and scabbed over OK. :-)

Am I an innie or outie?

And we're not talking belly buttons now.

As it turned out, I didn't get a vote in this election, being a European. It's curious however, that although my inclination was that leaving was probably going to be a good thing, the reasons for leaving the EU as presented - and indeed everything I've seen of the leave campaign - seem utterly horrid, full of lies and misdirection, preying on emotion and gullibility. Doing the right thing for very wrong reasons is never good where people are likely to follow those reasons, and I suspect this has a strong potential to go bad. It might have also been better to wait another year & let a less foundational country fire the first shot across the EU bows, in the hope that reform could have happened.

I have already heard of the phrase "phased deportation" being used by a politician - breath taking. There is also a Youtube clip of Nigel Farage - one of the key leavers - declaring that a claim at the cornerstone of the leave campaign was a mistake and obviously not true.

It will be important to understand why the vote swung this way for future generations, especially as British society is so very mix these days. Immigration and a lack of integration is certainly a key part. It's also almost certainly a part of the rejection of 'the system' that America is also experiencing with Trump being a presidential candidate and over here with Jeremy Corbyn heading up the Labour party.

For now we wait for the dust to settle and see whether it is battle plans or negotiation terms that are being drawn up.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

You know it will make you uptight and grumpy.

I read the Backyard Missionary blog (see occasional blogroll) for the first time in a while yesterday. Hamo wrote one post describing a film he went to see with his wife, about refugees trying to enter Australia being effectively held prisoner on an island by the Australian government. He knew the film would leave him feeling out of sorts & helpless, and no surprise, that's exactly what it did.

So when I started reading that book on leading missional communities by Mike Breen and the guys at 3DM, the outcome was predictable.

After ordering a paper copy via Amazon I was also able to preview the first 1.5 chapters on the kindle app. The first chapter looked good in many ways, and talked about building extended family that more-or-less worked in a way that I'd seen previously. Great. The 'new church' buzzwords are springing up - like Oikos instead of family - to differentiate this from the old church, but that's how 3DM works.

So I started chapter 2 on the 4 foundational principles of missional community, the first of which is discipleship. OK, I can buy that, makes sense. So we then cut to an example of this, where a MC that had been serving food to homeless people, switched to meeting their needs of friendship because the city social services were already meeting those practical needs very well. The section then concludes reinforcing to us how vital discipleship is.

This was an example of discipleship?

What did I miss - is there a special revelation for the anointed? Is there some subtlety that I'm too stupid to get. This sounds like a missional community discovered that it wasn't being effective doing the obvious thing, so changed approach. Am I supposed to overlook the inappropriate example because I'm overawed that an MC (to use the book's abbreviation) is out befriending homeless people? Isn't there a practical example of discipleship that couldn't have been found & used instead?


Chris and I talked about this - we saw this pattern clearly in Building A Discipling Culture, where examples are given that have absolutely nothing to do with the topic. I feel like the little kid shouting about the kings new clothes when I see this stuff, knowing all the adults watching are going to ignore me anyway. Are these guys charlatans, and if so, why do so many follow their movement? If they're not then why doesn't their teaching hang together? Do they just simply need an editor for their books?

Monday, 20 June 2016

Missional communities?

The buzz-phrase that hasn't gone away yet.


For my sins I've started reading another Mike Breen book, this time about leading missional communities, working on the principle of the devil you know is better than the one you don't, because they seem to be the future for our church movement. I want to know if they really are the next wave of God moving through the church (as the book authors suggest) or if they're just the latest fad in consumer church, making it possible to look like something vital is going on, when all we've done is drop a need to teach people and let people socialise every week without guilt.

So I bought Leading Missional Communities.

Wandered through the first chapter over dinner. As with all these things, there's a mixture. So I recognised descriptions of extended family that I've seen working in churches that I've been part of - typically when they were new, young churches, everyone giving themselves to each other. However that was always set against a backdrop of teaching and discipleship in a housegroup format, rather than a larger group of people whose stated aim was primarily mission.

There's another, more personal, thing that bothers me. My grandfather was a wonderful Godly man who got very grumpy with the church in later years, was extremely unhappy about moves of the Holy Spirit and resisted so many things. I have some of his character, and DO NOT wish to follow him in those ways. It makes me very cautious about what I follow and particularly, what I stand against.

I also remembered that I need to review What's wrong with outreach? that I mentioned in this thread.

In a nutshell, it's good, sensible and unspectacular. If, like me, you aren't a natural evangelist driven by a desire to be continuously sharing the gospel, then it may be freeing. There's nothing in there that should be controversial, but some will probably feel it undermines the drive for evangelism.

I grew up in a time when society was becoming increasingly inoculated against Jesus and faith generally, through nominally Christian stuff in school, through media presenting salvation through science and faith as being mentally defective. The churches response - up the ante - push a gospel harder and harder, through Evangelism Explosion, door knocking, various missions, initiatives to guilt-trip Christians into pushing the gospel at people.

This book explains why that wasn't really going to work (as indeed it didn't really). There's an irony mentioning it at the same time as LMC, because the kind of outreach it talks about is where the church stops withdrawing from the world, and instead lives with the world in order to show the world what Jesus was really like. I have a feeling that this is the real missional community that the church needs, but instead we are going to get to copy someone else's program.

Buy Keith Schooley's book - it's good, and a lot cheaper than LMC, though less hip.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Is youth wasted on the young*?

Do you ever have the feeling, assuming you are 50+ like me, that life has flown by, and what remains is a gradual slide into decrepitude as one's body and brain gradually fail?

We were talking about this a couple of weeks back, and I said that if possible I'd live the same life over again, experience the same things for the first time, even without the experience and wisdom I've collected on the way.

After Sarah's death it needed a deliberate decision for us to stay together, not because we'd fallen out about anything, but because the natural desire is to escape, move on, start again. The aging process causes something similar I suspect, a greiving for lost youth and strength. It's no surprise that middle-aged men leave their wives and families of many years to attempt to recover what they've lost, and all the sharp-tongued comments about the manopause and old men in sports cars only makes me feel more sympathy - though not agreement - toward them.

My grandfather had grown up in a world where older men of his background were respected for their experience and survival (to acheive 70+ in a working class environment was good going) yet was disappointed that, when it was his turn, no-one cared. The present world cares even less for 'old people', though rubs along with them them if they can still afford to live normally. While I'm maudlin like this, the future isn't orange.

*Terry Pratchett, who knew something about getting old & falling to bits, though who had no hope of anything better afterward..

Monday, 13 June 2016

Trying to sort out a trip to India

I'm reminded just how big a country it is, and how different the culture too. Not sure I'm brave enough to DIY instead of using a travel company - we'll see.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Good morning sunrise

Or it would be if it were not cloudy. Don't you love 5am airport runs, :p

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Looking at re-activating the photoxon blog

Trying out dynamic templates.

The one I'd selected a while back (Timeslide - that was 2 years ago!) shows titles of posts, requiring a click to view the content. This makes me run a mile when I view other blogs, and I have to REALLY want to read the conent to bother. Guess that's a miss then.

There's a bunch of other variations from the dynamic set, but most of them are dull/ineffective/not set up properly (my fault - ignorance can break nearly anything). However the classic version looks fairly good right now, so I'll give that a try.

Fonts are another question. Calibri is a clean modern font, not the easiest to read, but it's crisp and neat so I've gone with that. Colours are default, not because I can't change them, but they are neutral and ideal for viewing images. It was tempting to use an orange theme to tie into this blog, and also to put a big picture up as background. Neither are really desireable (do you view images in a gallery against a technicolour background?) even though both are tempting.

The plan will be to upload at least one set of images/article/review per week. Images to be primarily local and recent, though may occasionally pop up travel stuff too.

You're welcome to wander over to view the building site while I'm tweaking it, but there's a strong chance a lot of test posts will get removed before 'launch' (what a grand term for use).


Well, that didn't last long. The dynamic pages simply couldn't be configured the way I wanted some I'm trying Blogger's 'awesome' template. Not completely keen on the pale blue border that I can't seem to change. :-(

*edit 2*
And it's done. www.photoxon.blogspot.com is now (just) live, though with minimal content so far (working on that too).

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Finally finished processing the images from Bosnia Herzegovina.

There's a lot of stories in there, and not especially ours. Bullet and shell holes, mosques and muslim graveyards in a Mostar that's also absolutely crammed with tourists. Grafiti that tells the reader that we still bleed, never forget & never forgive, the war isn't over. Empty, ruined buildings, a mix of new and shiny alongside old and patched cars. Ordinary people still working their small holdings, plant vineyards and build houses.

Then there's the youth work. Pics of happy teenagers, Bosniak, Croat and Serb, playing tabletennis and table-football together, beatboxing and drumming, sending messages on their phones. It's a contrast.

I may try to get some images up, if I can make sense and get a coherent thread.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

According to Endomondo

I have run 252 miles in the first 5 months of 2016 - on target for 620 miles (i.e. 1000km) for the year then.

I'm undecided whether to continue at the level I've been running or back off a bit, since it's been a big sink for time, cash and energy, plus my poor old brain has been a bit scrambled and I'm aware of mood swings etc. In some ways I'd really like to carry on, but it concerns me that the body is often achey and sore and I struggle to speak clearly and enunciate thoughts, almost certainly because of the running.