Been enjoying the company of others around the country on Brian Draper‘s #Advent20 series – and the poem below got me thinking about the pressures on so many on the Christmas season.. being away or abroad for several Christmas’s can make you think differently… (hence e-card, rather than paper cards)

And if, as weeks go round, in the dark of the moon

my spirit darkens and goes out, and soft strange gloom

pervades my movements and my thoughts and words

then I shall know that I am walking still

with God, we are close together now the moon’s in shadow.

DH Lawrence, Shadows

#AdventBookClub: Day 7: Sharing Voices


King’s College – the beautiful ‘9 Lessons and Carols‘ – I never knew that it was created to help soldiers, unable to equate the brutality they had seen on the front in the First World War – with what they saw in Church – see the story at the centre of the Christian faith (rather than organisations/Christians – we so often get in the way of Jesus I think!). Last year enjoyed Online Carols 2012 so much, and hoping to see them come to fruition this year! I love the fact that we are looking at Genesis in Advent, and seeing how we pull the whole story together, how we have a longing to be fully whole again … and I am enjoying seeing what others have to say about this book (also on Twitter):

Other #adventbookclub bloggers

I have always been encouraged to hear a range of viewpoints, and uncomfortable with black/white thinking … and remember when Maggi & I spoke together at #CNMAC10 (the first one!) – Maggi encouraged us to find our ‘blogging voices’. I love how the three different resources that I’m reading appear to be weaving together – today Brian Draper encouraged us to think about the vulnerability of love – and see how the song ‘Love Came Down’ is interpreted in these two different ways (same song, completely different engagement):

And then onto Ron Glusenkamp’s material (and I am reading/posting each in turn, rather than looking for a common thread before I write – this is responsive writing, rather than academic writing) ..

We are called by the Spirit to create a place and space where love is the foundation of all that we build together. Love is born anew again and again.

Love enables ordinary people to do extraordinary things, which reminds me, if Brian doesn’t mind, I want to share a little more of his material – where he looks to Brené Brown, Daring Greatly to define love, and the risks that come with it (see her TED talk):

“Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die, or betray us tomorrow – that’s vulnerability. Love is uncertain. It’s incredibly risky. And it leaves us emotionally exposed.”

As I head off into a day with friends old and new (we’re going to decorate the Christmas tree) – plenty of thoughts to take with me, and I finish with one from Pam – questioning whether we have ever wanted to hide from God (oh yes):

That point can be the end of the beginning of our relationship with God, but the beginning of an honest one.

Happy Christmas e-Card


Hurrah, I thought I wasn’t even going to get around to my e-card this year (it’s been so hectic… and just think this time last year I’d been scuba diving in the Red Sea, and then climbing Mount Sinai to watch the sun rise on Christmas Day), but I’ve had a couple of inspirational images sent this morning (don’t you just love this one above), so I wanted to say HAPPY CHRISTMAS to everyone…

This year I’m looking forward to staying in Winchester (I’ve realised in the past 5 years this will be my 2nd in Winchester, others have been in Australia, Egypt and Switerzerland!) with the Hitchens.. will be fun! Heading over there before too long, and looking forward to Midnight Communion at CCW.

If you haven’t already joined it, there’s an online ‘crowd-sourced’ carol service run today – find out more about it here: http://bigbible.org.uk/2011/12/are-you-joining-onlinecarols/ … currently live at http://onlinecarols.posterous.com/, but will remain online if you fancy joining later… just use hashtag #onlinecarols if you tweet about it.

There’s so much great stuff online this year – check out this post commissioned from Rev Joanne Cox on The Big Bible Project!

Now, of course I need to reference ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’, and thanks to @goannatree for alerting me to this one:


Now, 2011 has been a tough year, but lots of things to be thankful for also! This is the year that you need to encourage me to get my PhD published, and #keepbexrunning for The Great South Run (10 miles) in October…

Have you been watching ‘The Nativity’?

Read the following by Andrew Graystone (full article):

“Next week BBC1 will broadcast a four-part drama retelling the story of The Nativity.  It has been written by Tony Jordan, one of the UK’s most gifted TV story-liners.  He was responsible for the narrative of Eastenders for most of its 25 years.  And he’s brought to The Nativity all the same story-telling skills.

Jordan has portrayed the central characters with intense honesty; two young people caught in an impossible situation, struggling to cope with the arrival of an unexpected baby.  Meanwhile there are parallel stories unfolding; three wise men are following what they take to be signs in the sky; farm-hands scratch a living while an uncaring government takes away what little resources they have.  All along you feel that these diverse narratives are destined to crash into each other in some extraordinary event.  What is different about this story is that at several key points the camera zooms out and we see the earth from space.  There is a groaning sound.  Tony Jordan is telling us that in this story something cosmic is happening; something of ultimate significance.

Many people in our generation are attracted to the idea that life is a continuing drama.  Walt Disney’s “circle of life” reassures that that the human narrative need never end. It means we don’t have to clean up our own mess.  If there is a divine story-liner, his job is to keep the narrative permanently open. But a story that is endless is ultimately meaningless.

Christians don’t believe that the human story is a continuing drama. History doesn’t go round in circles like the London Eye.  It is linear and purposeful like the London Marathon.  The human narrative had a beginning in God, a historical middle in which God intervened definitively in the most spectacular and dramatic way, and an end that God will surely bring about.”

See the trailer:

I look forward to seeing the rest of it on iPlayer when I get back from Egypt (looks like it’s on, but I won’t believe it til we’re in the air!)! (And for a change of pace, try ‘The Accidental Farmer‘… so funny, particularly when you come from a farming background!

Happy Christmas [#Ecard] 2010

I wanted to wish a Happy Christmas to everyone (as you may know, I only send Christmas cards to older relatives!), and as per usual, have been looking out for bits and pieces online to brighten up people’s Christmas! Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year… I will be enjoying myself in Egypt (and yes, trying not to get eaten by sharks!)… having a ‘digital break’ for 2.5 weeks!! BTW, don’t you just love this shadow pic by 12baskets!!

The Birth of Jesus: Social Media Style

This year, it’s all about the Nativity, so here’s a great video (if you’re into social media, you’ll love it… if you speak Portuguese you’ll love it even more, but I think you’ll get it anyway edit: or we’ve now found an English version!)

Have you come across Natwivity yet?

Meet Joseph, he’s an ordinary guy with a pretty ordinary life. He’s in a relationship with Mary and works as a carpenter in Galilee. This young couple are about to receive some very un-ordinary news and begin an extraordinary journey – One that will change the world forever… (Join 1000s of others on Twitter, Facebook, Website)

Through the eyes of a child…

Cute kids acting out the story more your thing? This one’s very cute!!

Happy New Year and look forward to an excellent 2011…

2011 is the 400th anniversary since the publication of the King James Version of the Bible. Biblefresh is a movement of hundreds of churches, agencies, organisations, colleges and festivals which has a vision to reignite and re-enthuse the church in its passion for the Bible. For many in our churches the Bible has  become tedious and toxic rather than treasured, trusted and true. The aim of the Biblefresh initiative is to encourage a greater confidence and passion for Scripture across the Church.

Biblefresh is asking churches to agree to raise the level of biblical understanding amongst their members by taking practical steps in four areas: Reading,  Training, Translation and Experience, providing resources through the Biblefresh website, book, leaders guide and e-letters which will provide you with ideas as to how to fulfil development in all four areas.

The Big Read 2011

Alongside other projects, I am working on The Big Bible Project, which includes “The #BigRead2011″, part of Biblefresh. The Big Read  involves meeting together in housegroups to read the Bible, making use of Tom Wright’s Lent for Everyone: Matthew (December 2010) with opportunities to go much bigger and much more creative and join in online  (inter)nationally. From quiet sitting rooms with Bibles and books, to coffee shops and Internet chatrooms across the world…. Get involved!

Christmas Cutbacks

Celebrating Christmas in a recession can be tough:

Effective immediately, the following economising measures are being implemented in the “Twelve Days of Christmas” subsidiary:

  1. The partridge will be retained, but the pear tree, which never produced the cash crop forecasted, will be replaced by a plastic hanging plant, providing considerable savings in maintenance;
  2. Two turtle doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost effective. In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned. The positions are, therefore, eliminated;
  3. The three French hens will remain intact. After all, everyone loves the French;
  4. The four calling birds will be replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a call waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the birds have been calling, how often and how long they talked;
  5. The five golden rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors. Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other precious metals, as well as a mix of T-Bills and high technology stocks, appear to be in order;
  6. The six geese-a-laying constitutes a luxury which can no longer be afforded. It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day was an example of the general decline in productivity. Three geese will be let go, and an upgrading in the selection procedure by personnel will assure management that, from now on, every goose it gets will be a good one;
  7. The seven swans-a-swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times. The function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order. The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes, thereby enhancing their outplacement;
  8. As you know, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy scrutiny by the EEOC. A male/female balance in the workforce is being sought. The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility. Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-mending, a-mentoring or a-mulching;
  9. Nine ladies dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps;
  10. Ten Lords-a-leaping is overkill. The high cost of Lords, plus the expense of international air travel, prompted the Compensation Committee to suggest replacing this group with ten out-of-work congressmen. While leaping ability may be somewhat sacrificed, the savings are significant as we expect an oversupply of unemployed congressmen this year;
  11. Eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming is a simple case of the band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music, and no uniforms, will produce savings which will drop right to the bottom line;

Overall we can expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals and related expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop ship in one day, service levels will be improved.

Regarding the lawsuit filed by the attorney’s association seeking expansion to include the legal profession (“thirteen lawyers-a-suing”), a decision is pending.
Deeper cuts may be necessary in the future to remain competitive. Should that happen, the Board will request management to scrutinise the Snow White Division to see if seven dwarfs is the right number.

Original Source Unknown

I’m so excited…. I just can’t hide it… I know I know I know…

Well, I thought it was better than heading it “Walk Like An Egyptian”!!! I’ve been missing my travelling, but last year was pretty much all I could do to earn enough to live on – this year, however, I know what work I’m doing for the next year, so I can plan in a trip… and am going to spend Christmas and New Year in Egypt!! Here’s the blurb from ‘GoBus’s’ website:

“Travel with GOBUS to the land of the Pharoahs, where an amazing action packed adventure awaits you. Nowhere does ancient better than Egypt! Walk like an Egyptian amongst one of the ancient wonders of the world – the awe inspiring Pyramids of Giza. Explore the spectacular tomb strewn Valley of the Kings in Luxor and gaze in wonder at the mighty Abu Simbel. Top off your journey back in time with some good old fun in the sun – sailing down the Nile onboard a felucca and swimming in the azure waters of the Red Sea in Dahab.

Our tours are designed for the budget conscious traveller who wants to see all the major highlights of Egypt without breaking the bank. Cross Egypt off your wish list and experience all it has to offer with GOBUS!”

I’d not heard of them before, but a friend had seen Travel Talk’s trips, but there were quite a few negative reviews of them on the internet, and it’s always good to do a bit of extra checking (without spending HOURS checking), and I came across GoBus, for which I could find nothing but good reviews (not on GoBus’s site!)… the only complaint I could see was from someone who wasn’t on a GoBus Tour – and the Tour Leader helped him get to a hotel – and his criticism was that the GoBus Tour Leader didn’t seem sure what to do…!

We’re on the Pyramids & Beaches tour – so a chance to chill out in Dahab at the end (hopefully with a bit of diving!) – can’t wait!!!

January 4th

Don’t worry, I’ll get bored of this soon, or start drowning in other work, but so far today I have written an AimHigher session, finished an exam paper, rang the tax office (one of those calls which has moved daily across Outlook), chased up an insurance claim, taken delivery of a (very powerful, especially when braking) hire car and sent my little car off to be repaired (my neighbour drove into it taking out the right wing), been to the gym &  Tesco, and started work on 3 lectures… oh and written some blogs about my trip to Switzerland:

(Slightly belated) Happy Christmas 2009… but on time for Happy New Year 2010!

After taking 15hours to move about 4 miles along the M20 in Dover, finally made it to Lauterbrunnen where I’ve been cooking for 50 people all week (along with John P, who is in charge!). Christmas Eve was my day for skiing – didn’t quite work, so just enjoyed the train ride/apple fritters in Brandegg on Christmas Day, before we came back and cooked up a storm…

Heading back into the UK 27/28 December, so here’s praying you had a great Christmas, and are looking forward to 2010 - who knows what it will hold. For those of you who have lost track of what I’m up to, and are interested, I am doing the following (I was going to do this on my blog, but the database seems to have a problem, so I can’t get in…), mostly at the University of Winchester:

  1. 1 day per week promoting e-learning (permanent, but not enough to live on)
  2. 2 day per week Modern History Lectureship (til June 2010)
  3. Hourly (but around 2 day per week) teaching Media Studies (til June 2010)
  4. Completing my own studies: PGCLTHE (trying to finish by Febraruy 2010…)
  5. Setting up the socialmedia strategy for Super Fun Days Out (love some blog entries if you have time!), alongside ownsocial media consultancy.
  6. Other bits & bobs…Getting myself in the New York Times was probably a bit of a highlight for last year!

Panto: The Three Musketeers

Tonight, for a little bit of time out from the everyday attachment to my computer, I went to NWCC‘s annual pantomime, written, directed and front-performed by David Simpkin (currently studying at the University of Winchester for an MPhil/PhD entitled “‘An analysis of the ways in which amateur pantomime in performance relates to the community for which it is performed, with particular emphasis on the ways in which the creative and rehearsal process affect the intended outcome'”, whilst also managing the University bookshop). First night tonight, always (un)officially billed as “the final rehearsal”, so the bargain price of £1! Lots of in-jokes, community jokes, running jokes, sing-songs, things going a bit wrong, and everyone generally having an AWESOME and hilarious time… much laughter in the room (not always at the right time according to Neil!)…

The Three Musketeers (naturally)

So, here we are, introduced to “The Three Musketeers: All for One and One for All”

David the Dame

Need a close-up shot of David!

Full House!

Packed house: interval

2 Pastors and an Upstanding Academic (well, bending over!)

“Bee” tries to “sneak out” with the “nefarious por-poises”…

Politically Correct Christmas

Councils are turning into politically correct Scrooges… so the celebration of Halloween, etc. is to be encouraged, as are celebrations of other religions (e.g. Diwali, Eid, etc.), but not Christmas. As a Christian I don’t mind that other religions continue their traditions, and find it offensive that they are required to stop events that are part of their tradition. Christmas is nothing without Christ, so let’s just scrap it all together (but then we’d have to find another reason to have a couple of weeks off!)

Winchester’s Christmas Lights Go Up

The Christmas lights for Winchester will be lit up tonight, and here’s a heartfelt observation (with which I largely agree) by a student at the University of Winchester: WINOL: Are we destroying Christmas?

Ben Stein, Jewish Actor, is purported to have said the following:

Herewith at this happy time of year, a few confessions from my beating heart:

I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I am buying my dog biscuits and kitty litter. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so important? I don’t know who Lindsay Lohan is, either, and I do not care at all about Tom Cruise’s wife.

Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a subversive? Maybe, but I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are. Is this what it means to be no longer young. It’s not so bad.

Next confession: I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was  Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, “Merry Christmas” to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand Him?

I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.


I, and others, have been wondering at the gradual downgrading of Christmas to “the Holidays” in order to “not offend” certain people/groups, yet this year Halloween was probably the most celebrated event I have seen so far this year, highly promoted by restaurants, etc. Why is that acceptable and Christmas isn’t?