Sunday, 31 August 2014

Hello Sunday morning.

Yesterday, thanks to the efforts of my brother and sister-in-law we met up with a bunch of people who had been (and still were in some cases) involved in the church we were part of before we married (marriage was a break-point, and we moved on straight afterward). Some had changed no more than 30+ years required, while I would never have recognised another, even if we'd been introduced in the street as having previously been friends, but had not been given names.

So here I am again, having sorted through and printed music, put the song list and liturgy together for projection, updated the powerpoint show for this weeks events, made breakfast and showered. I'm wondering what the future holds, what will happen and where we'll be 12 months from now. My *expectation* is that I shall not live another 30+ years, and I'm fine with that: dotage and the 'reeds and pipes' (not to mention the crippling infirmities) of extreme old age hold no attraction for me.

Melancholy? Yup.

Thoughtful? A little.

I miss the energy, the confidence, the assurance of youth. It feels like my eyes have slipped off the objective, and now I'm just drifting through, reacting to situations as they arise because they need to be dealt with. There's stuff to work through in the near future, some of which is fine & some I'm not looking forward to at all. God is present in all this, so...... Well, we'll have to wait & see.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The British on holiday

So we went to Weston Super Mare last weekend (as some will know from facebook) which turned out to be a nice traditional British seaside town full of traditional British holiday-type things. We may well go back sometime.

Inevitably I took the camera (my mistress, as Chris calls it) and managed a few pics in the first couple of hours. I've processed them as monochrome, which is a bit like using instagram, but less chavvy and more pretentious. ;-)

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

To comment or not comment? Mark Driscoll

I don't actually want to comment on him personally - I don't really know the man at all, and have only heard snatches of things he's said or written. Many of them have seemed good & right to me, and he seemed a man who would stand up for biblical principles, sound teaching and a man on fire to see the kingdom of God built where ever he could.

Now it seems he's had feet of clay a long time, apparently hidden in cool trainers.

I wonder if this 'fall' (though as far as I know there's no specific fall, other than a long history of character flaws that haven't been addressed that have become public) was almost inevitable. There seems an almost impossible balance every church leader has to maintain:

Adherence to an orthodox faith, yet with an inclusive theology.
Determination to continue against all hell may throw at them, yet a soft and gentle way with those in the congregation who throw things.
An unstinting giving of oneself to the work, and an ability to say NO in order to keep one's marriage and family together.

The list could be longer.

Over the years I've known a lot of guys in leadership. Some very few have not been good, many have been incredible. Some I've pedestalled for sure, and some of those have come of their pedestal later when I've seen a bit more inside their heads (warning - facebook can completely uncover you, magnify your weaknesses while masking your strengths).

What's this about?

We've made our church leaders into people who cannot, must not fail, and as leaders we've bought into the myth often enough too, to sometimes kid ourselves. I can see where this has come from, historically speaking, and it makes me wonder if the next part of restoring the church needs to be the restoration of the leader as a brother in Christ, instead of the guy on a pedestal who cannot fail in anything more than a minor way without the world crashing down.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Wasn't really happy with yesterday's pic

Went back this morning in wellies to re-shoot.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The depressive comedian.

Inevitably the death of Robin Williams has provoked all kinds of comment, from those who knew him or felt they did lamenting his death through to lots of publicity for and talk about depression. But when I read this article on the BBC website it rang a few bells for me.

As a small child I was happy, but can recall having periods at junior school which I would now recognise as depression, and this increased into my teenage years, culminating in a strong desire at 16 to kill myself. It was at this age that I became a Christian, and it took a year of gradual healing before I was reasonably recovered. Then came Chris, marriage, children and the rest, as they say, is history.

Except history is still being written.

I had long been a happy character, mostly outgoing, often inclined to make people laugh (at one stage I was told that humour was inappropriate in serious work situations). Then we moved churches and within a year I found depression had returned. Not that it has been able to suck me in and swallow me - I could fight - but what I'd thought was in the past suddenly became very present, and has ebbed and flowed for me to a degree right till now. I've changed in other ways too, going from distinctly acquiring energy from being in company to needing my own quiet space to recharge, even to the point of putting earphones in to watch a movie on the laptop. Not completely ideal - I've just realised that I'm deliberately shutting everyone out, as I write this - and will need to deal with it.

There was a bit from that article that - to a degree - made me think "that's like me":

"We found that comedians had a rather unusual personality profile, which was rather contradictory," Prof Claridge says.
"On the one hand, they were rather introverted, depressive, rather schizoid, you might say. And on the other hand, they were rather extroverted and manic. 

Maybe it was the grace of God that kept me from depression until recently?  Some areas of my life have certainly not been either easy, nor had the foundations of conventional life that provide stability for most people in the last few years. I do know depression is not an unbeatable monster, but rather an ugly set of lies that will come and deny the truth to my feelings. The best defence for me is the truth, knowing who I am, both in Jesus and in my own self, and having a loving wife does no harm either.

And I do still have a (subdued) sense of inappropriate humour.

This isn't meant to be a sob-story, but it's altogether too easy to look at people like Williams, maybe even like me, and think "they couldn't possibly understand how I feel".

Monday, 11 August 2014

Storm's a comin'.

Yesterday, down in the fields.

Monday, 4 August 2014

So I stumped up 30 bucks for hosting my images.

I've been using a free Photobucket account since Feb 2005, and it's been a good experience until the last couple of years with advertising increasingly being intrusive and sometimes even inappropriate (hot mature singles looking for meetings without committment? Really?). I had a warning message a couple of months back that I was up to 8Gb on my account limit of 10Gb (that's a total transfer of 10Gb, ever, rather than 10Gb/month/year) but not worried, only to find that posting my recent holiday pics had carried me way over.

I can't really complain.

9 years of free image serving is pretty good, but the upgrade options were disappointing. I don't want more space, but I would like more bandwidth. I like the idea of the site being advert-free for me, but I'd like it to be advert free for EVERYONE that visits my pages - this is why I have stopped linking to galleries from the blog.

My initial reaction to the images not being served was 'well stuff you then' which was more than a little churlish considering the excellent 'free' service I'd had, and some thought fairly quickly changed that. I'd quite like to get a proper photo site going from where I can sell prints* & usage rights, but that requires investment and great design skills to be effective. I've also been looking at paid accounts 500px and Flickr, but both seem clunky and Flickr is STILL painfully slow based on performance of other photographers images I've seen hosted, even though some do make sales through that site regularly. Flickr also discontinued their 'pro' account for new signups, or so I've been told, with the new equivalent not being anything like as useful.

So PB will continue for another year, but I shall be looking to move my hosting elsewhere over the next 12 months.

* It occurred to me the other day that landscape images are like other people's children - you look at them, make admiring noises and say how beautiful they are, but no-one actually wants to take them home. Or maybe that's just me. ;-)