#AdventBookClub: Day 10: Carrying the Vision

Durham Lumiere 2013, CC Bex Lewis

Durham Lumiere 2013, CC Bex Lewis

Interesting thoughts from Ron Glusenkamp – that Advent can be a season for spiritual U-turns, as we stop running away and head towards God… as we crash and burn without God… after some of the conversations that were inevitable whilst in Winchester (are you coming back? being the most frequent one) I still feel that I’m where God wants me to be, though it’s not always easy!

Maggi Dawn’s Beginnings and Endings also deals with a journey – a nomadic journey without any clear ending. For Isaac and his people “Their job was to pick up the vision, carry it on and then hand it over to the next generation.” Something which we may have to accept in a culture which threatens to subsume us.

Isaac might be able to teach us something here. He didn’t pick a fight with the surrounding culture, but neither did he allow it to subsume him. He continued to dig in all the places his father had taught him until he found a place that he could peacefully occupy, a place that his hostile neighbours did not steal from him.

Following on from yesterday, we get the sense of building upon the strong lessons from the past, rather than a feeling that we need to start from scratch (and I definitely feel that with the digital spaces) as we hold onto God’s promises. I also really like the idea that there is room in the world for those who have different points of view – and that we can disagree without becoming combative (oh, if only we could see more of this online!)

There’s a great challenge from @briandraper today – to stop trying to capture everything that is around us (through a camera) lens and just BE a part of something! That was certainly something that several of the exhibits at Lumber encouraged recently – especially within the Cathedral with “fireflies” – one just had to sit in a pew and be there!

Supporting British Farmers

The supermarkets are now stocking more and more Organic, Fair Trade and Local items. Fair trade items include coffee, tea, chocolate, bananas, geobars. Keep your eyes peeled for other items! Also look at buying items locally at Farmers Markets (Hampshire) or through Organic Doorstop Delivery Schemes, including:

Check Big Barn for local producers.

The Real Jam & Chutney Co.

“Do you like real food that tastes of what it says on the label? So do we. In fact, that’s why The Real Jam and Chutney Co was formed in 2004.

Hazel Southam, one of the company’s founders, had never tasted Raspberry Jam that lived up to that made by her grandmother, Constance Hall. Realising that if she couldn’t find jam of the quality that she’d known as a child, then probably other people couldn’t either, Hazel helped set up the business.

We wanted to bring Constance Hall’s delicious recipes to a wider public who we knew would love them as much as we did.”

Read more here. I especially love the RASPBERRY JAM!

2nd January

It’s been an odd day so far, woken by the postman, read for an hour – then next thing I know it’s 1pm! Not in favour of the gym today, so decided to go out for a walk before it got too late!

Just in time to catch the sun falling at the bottom of St Catherine’s Hill!

Beautiful colours…

Halfway up the hill, the sun is going down quickly over Winchester…

Just in time to catch the last drops of sunlight…

I finally worked out how to use the Macro function on my camera – it had moved from the previous model and I’d given up looking!

New Year’s Day 2010

After a surprisingly delightful New Year’s Eve on my own (I’m an Extrovert, don’t you know, get my energy from being round people!), I chilled out with a DVD, and was still awake when a very luminescent “blue moon” (apparently meaning 2 full moons in a month), made me look outside – this shot doesn’t in any way do it justice (what do you expect), but it was pretty magical!

A Blue Moon

After a morning of cleaning out the fridge, whipping up a smoothie and a doze, decided to hit the outside – and MY was it cold! Walked into town, seeing the old buses trundling past (all full!), before taking some time to locate the 93 out to Twyford Waterworks. Beautiful crisp day, but took about 2 hours to rewarm once I got in!

Beautiful weather as I head into Winchester…

One of many old buses hanging around the bus station

I risked the top deck for a bit of a view on a LOVELY day!

Couple more old buses outside the Guildhall – if you’re into buses you’ll know more – I’ve known this goes on for years, just never witnesses it! Buses were jam-packed… run by the Friends of King Alfred Buses.

Bus took me out to Twyford Waterworks (after a 20 minute delay) – where Matthew Feldwick gave me what was probably the quickest tour of his life, but enough info for me – it was just me so we were able to talk “small amounts of steam, getting bigger”, rather than “tech speak” – hurrah!

Theoretically functional (and beautifully decorated), and will be again, once National Lottery funding has been awarded (bidding in process)… on the boiler room (3/4 remaining boilers in the country in this building)

How beautiful was the light on a crisp, frosty afternoon! This was the view from up by the lime kilns/trains! Check out their open days, and support this historic building (gives me lots to think about for Creating and Consuming History module!)

Bangkok Brasserie, Winchester

bangkok-brasserie-thai-foodNom, nom – go here! Been for the first time tonight (it’s where an Italian restaurant used to be) with a friend. We had a mixed platter for starters (which was all lovely – I’m not usually a fan of spring rolls, but mine was delicious, although we were both saying the Prawn Toasts were the winner!). I had coconut rice and cashew chicken for my main, which was lovely, especially the rice – and was then too full for dessert. Karen had Sticky Rice and sweet and sour white fish. The sticky rice was not good, but they apologised and immediately took it off the bill (can’t ask for more than that!), but the other, and the Jasmine tea afterwards was apparently exquisite!

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?

Brian Draper: Spiritual Intelligence: Book Launch Speech

Feels like a conspiracy here tonight.

“A small crowd gathering in an old bookshop, gathering around an idea, spilling onto the streets, albeit in genteel, Winchester fashion, quietly determined, perhaps, to connect, and to make a difference.

Quietly determined to whisper conspiratorially that there must be more to life than slavishly serving money or massaging ego;

Quietly determined to stop sleep-walking through life, and start waking up to the moments of clarity, to the gifts of epiphany, to the glimpses of magic we are all presented with every day, if we did but realise them.

Quietly resolved, perhaps, to try living as if less really is more.

As if you’ve got to lose yourself to find yourself.

As if you’ve got to die, somehow, in order to truly live.”

Read more

Winchester Festival 2009

Yesterday, I took a little wander into town to check out the Contemporary Art, Craft and Design Fair (finishes today 6pm), which runs as a part of the Winchester Festival. I find it difficult to find belts that I like, that fit, and that I’m not allergic to (and that I can afford), and I was happy to find the one above from Beaubags. Some great stuff on display in the tent, but you know, not much of a budget at the moment for such things!

Winchester Web Scene

Proof positive I was there tonight (and I know, I have a bit of a backlog of other blog material on this blog). My other blog has gone crazy today after that New York Times article yesterday, and yes, I am behind on my tasks for today (and yes it’s nearly tomorrow)! See more about the Winchester Web Scene, formed in November 2008, growing monthly I do believe – not a networking business-card exchange kind of evening, but a chat with people who have shared interests – some coders, some developers, some content writers, some social media types…

Week 9: Know God

Do Christians Think?

“I can’t believe in anything I can’t understand” says one student to J John. On discovering that he studied agriculture, J John asked: “So, explain to me, how a black cow eats green grass and produces white milk”…
Many people think that Christians don’t think because we don’t think the way they expect us to think… [but we truly question what we believe, what’s the point in believing in something if it won’t stand up to scrutiny? Not that I have all the answers.. daily questions, and just being open to the possibilities]
Video
Who’s your hero?
Why do we need heroes?
What would God look like to you?
Personal image (heavily marketed) makes or breaks “idols”

Yes, this week is a focus on Exodus 20: 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

Interview with Sam Blakey
Sam has been looking after the Press & Publicity for Just10, and often has letters published in The Times and local newspapers.
Sam had an understanding of God as a child, but once she got to university, she created a new life where she actively ignored God. Attending the funeral of a close friend at Christ Church she could feel God’s hope and present, and over the next 24 hours decided to just “trust God and go with it”.
Sam used the word ‘amazing’ quite a lot, which as she said, is what you tend to do when God is in your life. A year after she became a Christian, her husband, having watched The Passion of the Christ attended an Alpha course, and mid-way through, became a Christian.
Earlier this year, Sam’s son was assualted in an unprovoked attack. Sam was so angry about this that she set out on a “journey of vengeance”, and then realised (especially with the example of her son who was demonstrating forgiveness) that this was not how she, with God in her life, wanted to behave, and decided to forgive, at which she felt a burden lift.
Launches
The song “The Faltering Child” (re making choices), beautifully sung, written by Chris, head pianist! Brian Draper’s book Spiritual Intelligence was launched, officially released this Friday… J John said the manuscript arrived on a day when he didn’t really have time, started with a quick look, then read the whole thing in one sitting! [There was certainly a long queue for signed copies of the book at the end of the evening, I suspect Brian may have run out of copies!] The idea was created by Danah Zohar in Re-Wiring the Corporate Brain, and Brian wanted to build upon that with ideas from Ecclesiastes.
Back to J John
“If I had a photo of another woman in my wallet, should my wife just say, oh, that’s OK, or should she be angry and demand to know who it is… if I was turning to that woman for advice, would my wife believe me when I said “I love you”. “No, I would expect her to be hurt/angry – she has every right to demand that I keep myself for her. I want to, I love her, I made vows to her.”
How does this relate to “no idols”
Idolatry = adultery to God, it’s unfaithfulness, we have prostituted ourselves by bowing to idols.
We have a jealous God, he doesn’t share his affection!
Capture God?
A child asked whether God was in the house (yes), in the kitchen (yes), in the marmalade jar (yes), and then clapped the lid on and said “Got Him”. If we think we’ve “Got Him” in our hands, then we’ve lost touch with him… God can’t easily be captured.
We can’t chisel, paint or any other sensory form… all will depict Him as less than He truly is.
Some argue that such things are aids to worship, but such aids tend to become the objects of worship themselves.
So what is idolatry?
Any value, activity or idea that you place above God. In the modern world we are focused upon such things as physical beauty, sex, power, etc.
We should be reminded, as the Greeks were “Do not make of yourself an idol”, when it was all about perfection of the human form… we now have Barbie and Ken (and Barbie’s proportions are impossible for a woman to achieve!).
Every morning, some people “bow down” to peer at the weight on their scales… which determines what we will feel like today! (If so, he recommends Deborah Lovell: Lives in the Balance), and quoted a poem she’d written (see something similar).
YES, it is right to care for our God-given bodies through cleanliness, good nutrition and exercise, but don’t idolise one of those (which tends to lead to anorexia or plastic surgery).
Superstitions
Superstitions are a form of idolatry, usually coming from habits (e.g. not walking under a ladder [although I always think that’s more about a paint pot not landing on my head!]) or a belief in protection. Phrases such as “Touch Wood” (and removing 13th floor from hotels and 13th row from airplanes) acknowledge that there are other powers at work.
In the morning, many people check their “Horror-scopes”, explicitly spoken out against by God in Deuteronomy 18:9-12.
Freemasonry
J John appears to know a lot about the Freemasons… the Church of England Synod did a study into whether Freemasonry was compatible with Christianity – with an answer of a resounding NO!
  • Freemasonry is characterised by deception, and lower level members don’t really know what is going until they reach at least Level 4.
  • It is often seen as a charitable organisation, good for networking, job opportunities, social status, etc., therefore often seen as harmless.
  • Freemasons meet in Lodges which contain temples, where they kneel at at altar, swear oaths to sacred laws, and at the 4th level, start to worship specific Gods.
  • Curses are prol
    ific, and level 4 and above pledge lifelong silence BEFORE hearing material… and curse themselves to death if they reveal secrets.
  • At the 30th level, Freemasons declare that Lucifer is God (i.e. the Devil, the complete antithesis of God!)
Cultural Climate
Our current culture emphasises “whatever works for you”. However, if you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll fall for anything!
Best Description of God?
Jesus himself, who came to make God visible, made in God’s image (as are we).
If we’re listening to the radio, there are different frequencies assigned, and we need to tune into God’s frequency. Images of the world are bankrupt, and if you focus on them you’ll end up deceived and disappointed!
God Offers Us Forgiveness
Before Jesus, John the Baptist was a great preacher (and if you think that J John is aggressive, you should have heard him… calling people snakes and vipers!).
J John gave a great illustration of where John the Baptist could have taken a management approach to baptising people…. lining people up, asking them “Name, worst sin”, writing that on a sticker, slapping it on their chest, and then John would know what to free/baptise them from/for! As each person lines up, we got through the ten commandments, and there’s Jesus “none”, but then takes everyone else’s stickers, and then is ready to be baptised in freedom from all those sins [which I assume will wash away in the water, if the stickers I have are anything to go by, and seems to complete the analogy!]. Jesus wants to liberate us from all that weighs us down!
Know me –> Know the Truth –> the Truth shall set you free.
We know Jesus embodies the truth, so we will not be disappointed!
What shape is your God?
The only image on your heart/mind shoudl be Jesus, replacing the focus on all those other things.
All those things that God says have nothing to do with we go and see in museums, or use as art decorations. J John asks that last week if we have statues of Buddhas, ouija boards, etc. that we place them in the Amnesty Bins [I don’t believe that I do!]
Note, whenever you visit a castle and see the throne room, thrones are always for ONE, there’s no throne pews! So, have Jesus on the throne of your life, as, as J John only has space for one woman in his wallet, he only has room for one God in his life.
Just 10
Just 1!! Just one more week of Just10 left, which will be on “Living by Priorities”, and then check partner churches for follow-up courses. All these commandments have serious messages, but these last few are the REALLY SERIOUS ones!

Starting Monday off with a little Salsa

The Weekend

Combination of a career support event at CCW (I have so much work to do on my CV!),  and a great meal in the evening at The Forge, Otterbourne for Karen’s birthday (good company, good food, good service, good value-for-money) on the Saturday, and a shared event at Wesley Church for Wesley, St Barnabas and NWCC in the morning (including a free lunch, always good), and Christ Church in the evening on the Sunday.
Monday: Salsa y Sol
Monday evening, after working for around 8.5 hours on my web accessibility literature review, I decided I would give Salsa a try. After working out how to get into The Discovery Centre at night, had a really enjoyable evening provided by Max and Silvia of Salsa y Sol. The beginner session was well-paced, with probably around 60+ people there, the photo above is from the inter-mission (lots of free water provided!), and then I decided to give the intermediate session a go (why not!), and managed most of it… must be all that MoJive experience! By 9.30pm, the freestyle hour, I managed the first 2 dances, then headed home to be asleep for 10.30pm! Good day though!!!

Woo hoo!

I used those precise words when I sent an email to my Mum the other day. My plan on coming back to Winchester was to get enough work to see me through to June… job done, but although I’d had lots of conversations, I didn’t have anything concrete for my next stage – enough work to see me through until October. I was then offered 2 pieces of work which, if I’m careful, will at least keep me that long, and there’s other conversations in the pipeline!

I think that deserves a big WOO-HOO of celebration!

A Week Filled with Events

Palatine Conference
I made it to the afternoon of this conference. With the event sponsored by Palatine, who focus on dance and drama, I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going with this conference, but was interested to see that Mike Seignior, with whom I teach on the Design for Digital Media course was heading up a workshop… so I thought, yes, a great chance to see how practice and academia intersect. Interestingly many of the people there came from a practice background and have moved into academia, whereas I come from an academic background, and have started to build up creative practices alongside my academic studies, which then start to inform them! Also an interesting TAPP workshop (which fits with life-coaching interests… see photo), and the overview of what was coming with REF (formerly RAE, so many acronyms!).
Media Studies Mini Conference
It’s week 10, the week the First Years for Media Studies have been waiting for – a chance to present their work at a mini-conference. We’d set this up as a real conference, with poster boards, a schedule of presentations, and a coffee-break with proper refreshments! Thought it worked surprisingly well, as many of the students had seemed rather disengaged up til that point! Unlike many conferences, not too much danger of the students running over time…

The Big Sleep Out
(see other blog entry)

Team Training Oak Hall
Made it in time for the 11.30am session: a great chance to catch up with a few familiar faces, meet some new people, find out which trip I’m on (I’ll be cooking in the Loire Valley at the end of July), and a reminder of why we truly do this – not for the “free holidays” (that’s for sure, we work too hard for that!), but to serve others and give them a chance for rest, refreshment and re-engagement with God.
Andy Melrose Lecture: Jesus, Judas, Jim and John: storykeeping and the world’s shortest story.
Andy Melrose is one half of the partnership behind the Storykeepers, a 1970s series, which continues to be shown, and whose popularity continues to grow around the world. A great lecture, using a mix of modern technologies, and linking Jesus, Judas, Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon in interesting ways (makes me not feel so unusual for being able to make such random connections!). Afterwards was a great chance to meet up with some old faces, talk to a few friendly faces to see if there is potential for more interesting work in any area, and random talks to people who may yet become future connections – noticeably a number of people from Cultural Studies, Creative Writing and Religious Studies in attendance.
Out There Networking Event
This is the pitch which teased us in:
In this talk, Dr Stephen Thomas will explore how recent developments in digital biology are set to have even more profound social impacts on everything from longevity to identity itself. These developments are different in kind to what has gone before, for they are about us, not just our surrounding technologies.

Did you know, for example, that you don’t own your own DNA? 

How come I have less DNA than an amoeba? What will it mean to be 500 years old? What is ‘personalized medicine’? Where will my digital identity begin and end? Is my brain me? Is morality pre-determined? Will there be room left for religion? Is science boring?
Certainly thought provoking, and clearly a number of different interests engaging with his discussions (which come from a pharmacology/genome research perspective), and was pleased to note another scientist who thinks that the world looks so complex that there must be something behind it, and rejects Dawkins arguments!
Conference to Come
Abstract selected for a conference in Wales.

Terry Waite: “Survival in Extreme Situations”

A great talk at the University of Winchester last night by Terry Waite. Terry was in Winchester for a dual purpose for the day, opening a new housing project with Emmaus during the day, and giving an interesting lecture in the evening to a packed-out audience.

Highlights
I wasn’t taking notes, so this is simply a brief summary of the 4 things that really struck a chord which have remained in mind overnight:

  • In hostage negotiation, Terry Waite would be looking to meet up with the captors, THEN forge a relationship.
  • Waite is very much AGAINST paying money to captors, as he feels this simply encourages further hostage taking, as evidenced since the advent of ‘hostage insurance’.
  • Waite maintained a mantra for his days in captivity “No regrets, no reminiscences, no self-pity”, something which we can all learn from!
  • When asked if his relationship with God had changed over his time in captivity, the answer was “No, God is not an insurance policy”, and at all times Waite had gone into the hostage negotiations aware that he could be captured. (The Christian in me says “yes”, the academic in me says “Discuss” – the two are not incompatible!)

Terry Waite as a speaker.