I wrote this a while back…

…for my church’s website. I’d been asked to write something to promote discussion and also introduce the idea of online writing to the unblogged masses. I had thought it was launch the blog section of the relaunched website, and had anticipated comments and whatnot (hence the title). However, this was not the case, and for a variety of reasons the final paragraph ended up being cut altogether, which was a shame.

It’s basically a trawl through some of the church-related blogs which would appear on my roll, but I haven’t updated that in ages either. (I thought I’d said this, but wordpress ate half of what I wrote.)

First Post

I have been asked to write the first post on the new Church Blog and it seemed like it might be a good idea to immediately point you in the direction of other blogs by way of an introduction to the medium (not just to distract you from the amature nature of my contributions). For now, I’ll only be including Christian and church-related sites, although there is a vast amount of good, thought-provoking, controversial, entertaining, well informed, but not specifically Christian writing out there for your delectation.

First up, I take great pleasure in introducing The Ongoing Adventures of ASBO Jesus – a blog in which Jon Birch produces cartoons commenting on various aspects of church life and the Christian Faith. His most recent post, features The Daily Mail, Quentin Letts, Graham Kendrick and the top fifty worst people for Britain.
Jon is a creative artist, who along with Jonny Baker, runs proost, a company providing multi-media resources for churches,

From ASBO to Absolute Story, written by a friend of mine in Germany. He runs a drama-based ministry team in his local church, and talks about his experiences with that, his life in general, and also his cycling habit – at the time of writing, the most recent post rabbits excitedly about how much shopping he can fit on the back of his bike, (but does regularly feature posts about spiritual and church stuff).

Letters from Kamp Krusty is a blog written by a guy somewhere in Florida (I think – he’s hard to pin down). He also writes about life in general, and is American, but don’t let that put you off. Gasp as he explains how he can single handedly neutralise Al-Qaeda, be thrilled as he tackles deep ethical, moral and theological issues in a clear and easy to understand fashion, and marvel at his grasp of Biblical Scholarship.
He might not be entirely serious most of the time, but in all the time I’ve been reading the blog, he hasn’t mentioned the Simpsons once.

Mad Priest, the author of Of Course, I Could be Wrong… turns out to be somebody I used to know, nearly a decade ago. He’s a priest in a church north of the Coast Road, and his computer has just broken down. Until then (and hopefully once it gets well, things will pick up again) he wrote prolifically, on a number of subjects: faith, justice, sexuality, humour, music, community – in fact, I’d almost say that all life was there. Oh, he likes dogs too.

Dave Walker, author of The Cartoon Blog was recently Artist in Residence for that quaint gathering of our Anglican brethren, the Lambeth Conference. He draws more gentle cartoons than Jon Birch, most of which are centred around church practice. Following recent controversy pertaining to his coverage of the new management of the SPCK bookshops link Dave has been blogging and cartooning away merrily.

Please let us know what you think, and if you have any recommendations of your own, please leave a comment below.

Happy reading

Since this post went up, Jon Birch’s internet connection broke, leaving ASBO with no entries for quite some time, Dave Walker vanished, Brant – the guy who wrote from Kamp Krusty – went full time with his radio show and had no more time to write, and Mad Priest’s computer died leaving him stranded in the frightening netherworlds of the web. Dave is still missing in action.

11/11/08 23.40 edited to put in a bit which wordpress ate.

Articles I want to write at some point soon

Poker & The Power of Bad Analogies
A lot of people seem to labour under the misapprehension that a Royal Flush is a different type of hand to any other Straight Flush. It isn’t. That would be like saying that Ace High was a different kind of hand to any other High Card. The Royal Flush and the Ace High are just the supreme examples of the particular value of hand they represent.

Which is not at all anything like Jesus…

Why I can’t join the “I care more about ending poverty than about the Facebook redesign” group on Facebook
It sounds great, but I’m not sure that I could join and still maintain any sense of being an honest person. Whilst recognising that, in the grand scheme of things, poverty is a far greater problem than the mere irritation of not seeing the three most recent status updates from my friends, I must admit that Facebook intrudes upon my life to a far greater degree, and that my friends talk about it (how far society has come from the days when people would look down their noses at me when I so much as mentioned “chatting online”) much more frequently, and that it’s easier to worry about stuff like how horrible a website looks because, really, it doesn’t matter.

If I join this group, I’ll be setting myself up for getting involved in more than buying fairly traded coffee and chocolate (but not tea, because I can’t afford Marks and Spencers, and the rest is nasty, and anyway, the “we’re ethical, honest” blurb which Yorkshire Tea put on the bottom of their boxes has set my mind at ease), and trying to bring myself to buy the Big Issue (I’m quite happy to accept the Big Issue stance of “We’re a business, not a charity.” since it reduces my levels of guilt for not forking out ever increasing amounts of lolly for an decreasingly worth reading rag – which might the difference between the vendor eating food or gravel that night).

In effect, I’d be saying, “I’m part of the problem too.”  Which is no use at all unless I’m ready to whole heartedly do something about it…

Things Which Are Important in my Life and Worth Keeping Hold of
Basically a big long list of everything I own, and do, in a valiant (yet ultimately unsuccessful) effort to reduce the amount clutter in my life.

This could be followed up with a series of humorous posts reporting on how the sorting is going.

There was another piece I was thinking about, concerning the difficulties in talking to people, particularly members of the opposite sex, and especially giving them compliments without sounding like I’m cracking onto them. But since the long and the short of it is that these problems exist, and I can’t really condense the idea down into a title-sized title, then it’s just going to have to wait here as a footnote to the rest of this ridiculous post.

The Party

There is a man in the street, outside a party. The sounds of the party are spilling out into and washing over him: laughter, glasses clinking, music, conversation – the general sounds of revelry. The only light in the street comes from the party and the man is lit dimly as most of the light is blocked by people inside, enjoying themselves and casting shadows onto the street. In the dim light, the man casts a dimmer shadow as he kneels at the foot of a broken lamp post, screaming.

He has been screaming for a long time and is utterly alone – just the man and his scream. He cannot remember a time when he hasn’t been screaming. Sometimes he curls up in a ball and sleeps and, for a while, there is blessed silence, but he is unaware of this – he is screaming as he falls asleep and the sound of his screams wakes him up.

The party has been going on a long time and he would love to go inside. But he can’t stop screaming and he knows this would disturb the others and he doesn’t know how to stop.

One day, he feels something different. He feels an arm across his shoulders and the warmth of somebody kneeling next to him. He has no more idea of how long this stranger has been holding him than he has of how long he has been screaming. As the stranger holds him, the man notices that his screaming is becoming less intense and is giving way to sobs and tears and sniffles.

The stranger carries on holding him.

Eventually, the man is silent. He has no more tears, no more pain, no more screaming. “Come inside.” says the stranger. The man is reluctant – his clothes are dirty, his trousers torn at the knees from years of kneeling, he can’t face the people inside, his voice is hoarse, it’s all too much for him – too soon. “Don’t worry,” says the stranger, “come in the kitchen and we’ll have a cup of tea.”

Together, they stand up. And, holding each other, they shakily walk inside.

Beautiful Emptiness(?)

You’re everything I’m not
Everything I should have been
And I thought you would make me complete.
But now I know that you’re not THE one.
Suddenly, that false hope is dead
And with it a thousand devotions
Overfed on love songs and romance.

There’s no aching void at the heart of me,
It’s just the shape I am.

And I feel free.

Six Wishes/Five Things Which Made Me Smile Today

I wish I could tell you that things will get better.
A pretty girl smiled at me on the way to work.
I wish I could say that I’ll always be there.
I saw a boy struggling to carry on giving his sister a piggy-back, tottering all over the pavement, but not giving up.
I wish I could tell you that you won’t be given more than you can handle.
The sun shone into my office all day long.
I wish I could say the best was yet to come.
As I walked home, fireworks exploded over the rooftops of the terrace.
I wish I could tell you this would be useful someday, that there’s a point to the screaming, cold nights.
I realised how soon I would see you again.
I wish I could say that I loved you this much.

The Sign

“I was ever so proud of the new sign I had just bought. A metal plate with a hole to accommodate a screw at each corner and bearing the following in stark black capitals:”NO SALESMEN, NO BEGGARS, NO RELIGIOUS BODIES.” Yes, it might be brusque to the point of rudeness, but I considered my time at home to be my own. I screwed the plate into position, just beside the door at shoulder height – where nobody could miss it. It seemed that my days of being woken at all hours by assorted ne’er do wells and do-gooders were coming to an end.

“The very next day I was woken up by an insistent ringing of the doorbell. All my friends know I work nights at this time of year so I knew there was either some emergency (I don’t trust telephones and wouldn’t dream of having one of those evil things in my house – if there’s a problem at work or with my parents then one of my neighbours is put to the inconvenience of taking a call – they said it was alright for me to give out their number – and preferably taking a message for me or coming and waking me up) or that somebody was rudely ignoring the sign. Bleary eyed, I trundled down the stairs and opened the door. A forty year old creature stood before me. It was wearing a crumpled, brown suit and holding a worn looking brief case. It held out an ID card. It was a salesman!

“I glared and pointed at the sign. “That’s why I’m here,” it said, “It appears that somebody has unscrewed what is undoubtedly a very fine sign and replaced it face down. Kids these days!” It shrugged at me, trying to give the impression that this was something that happened regularly and I was the victim of a growing sign-turning epidemic. “I have the solution to your problem. Pete’s Patented imPregnable Paste! Guaranteed to keep any two surfaces bonded together until one crumbles away. Only five pound a tin.” It knelt down and opened the case and started rattling off some awful sales pitch which I tuned out; I’d seen the screw driver sticking out of his back pocket as he knelt down and recognised the car that he’d obviously driven as one that can be seen perpetually in the car park outside the shop where I bought the sign, and it might have been my imagination, but it looked like there was a uniform for the store hanging in the passenger window. Admiring the cleverness, if nothing else, I interrupted, retreated indoors to pickup some cash and bought a tin – there was no way that sign was going to be moved again this side of eternity.

“Having replaced the sign I returned to my bed and slept soundly. Soundly that is until I was woken again by the doorbell. I crawled out of bed and down the stairs and opened the door expecting the worst. A filthy beggar was standing there. I pointed at the sign and saw the hideous mess the “glue” had made of the wall – it was as if concentrated acid rain had eaten away at the brick leaving a ragged impression where the sign had been. The sign lay face down on the ground. Before the beggar could start what was obviously going to be a drunken and long-winded appeal I told him to hold on a minute. I rummaged through my cupboards, found several tins of food, and a can opener, and a fork. I took these downstairs, grabbing my last five pound note and gave away the lot. Anything for a quiet day’s sleep. I was desperate. The tramp went away with a huge smile on its face as I screwed the sign back into the wall above the crumbly bit. I returned to bed thinking that maybe charity wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

“No sooner had my head hit the pillow than the door bell rang again. By this time I wasn’t thinking straight and grabbed my grandfather’s old service revolver in the hope that I could use it to scare away anybody who shouldn’t be there. I opened the door and pointed straight away to the sign with the gun. Miraculously it was still attached to the wall and facing the right way. “Fuck your sign!” said one of the two conservatively dressed young men holding Bibles and Watchtower magazines. He grabbed the gun, I swear I didn’t know it was loaded, and shot his partner point blank through the head before turning the gun on himself.”

 

“No further questions, Your Honour.”

 

(from the cio.com glory days (8th October 2004)