06 December 2007

Bible Reading Fellowship and Clergy Mailings . . .

I really do wonder who makes decisions and "plans" clergy mailings in some organisations - for some of them are stunningly bad and poorly timed in a way which completely negates any inherent value, and leaves me wondering how such charities can afford to waste money in this way

The moral is very simple:

address it badly, organise it badly or time it badly

then it is likely to be ignored

So this morning I am working on the Crib service ( and have two other carol services, two Christmas morning Eucharists, and a midnight service to plan, together with sermons for Advent 2, 3, 4) and what arrives in the post from The Bible reading fellowship - a deeply annoying publicity shot for their resources.

Firstly it is one of those really irritating impersonal mail shots where they haven't even bothered to get their mailing list into a decent shape - there is no excuse in this day and age for addressing a letter to:

"Dear The Revd Allen"

and the topic of the mailing - yes you have guessed

their resources for Lent and Easter

Address it properly, and time to arrive in the New Year and it might have some impact - but what a waste of time and energy

- unless of course it is some subtle marketing strategy to so aggravate clergy that they take notice of the content

well if it was then it failed in this vicarage because the resources went straight in the shredder with three other items of junk mail.

08 July 2007

Ban the tie

"It has always been an utterly useless part of the male wardrobe. But now, it seems to me, the only people who wear the things daily are male politicians, male reporters who interview them, and dodgy estate agents" - Jeremy Paxman, on the tie.

Sunday Telegraph.

One of the perks of being a Anglican priest is that I have not had to wear a tie since 1989! Lets get rid of the wretched things!

02 July 2007

Dow and the flooded own goal

Not quite sure what the good Bishop of Carlisle thought he was trying to say when he pronounced upon the floods (actually I am wondering whether he knew what he was trying to say), but he has scored a spectacular own goal in the media - allowing the Telegraph and others to make links with perfectly sane comments from the Bishop of London and others.

The following from First Post sums up the general perceptions of the printed Press:

A Church of England bishop has claimed that last week's flooding in the north of England was God's judgment on our sinful ways. "We are reaping the consequences of our moral degradation, as well as the environmental damage that we have caused," said Graham Dow, Bishop of Carlisle. He singled out the Government's backing of gay rights as a key factor "of a general scene of permissiveness".

Does he seriously believe sexual practices of which he does not approve have an adverse effect on the weather? Does he think extra-marital sex contributes to global warming? This bishop sounds like he's been dreamed up by Richard Dawkins, as proof that superstitious moralising and shoddy science, are the core business of religion.

But there is more going on here. Dow (right) provides a chilling glimpse into the desperation of the Church of England as it attempts to move with the times.

Recently it has competed with David Cameron in trying to push green issues up the agenda. Here is a great opportunity for the Church, goes the thinking, to show its relevance by emphasising the need to be good stewards of God's creation, by issuing 'prophetic' warnings about the earth's precious resources.

But when Evangelical bishops join in, it all goes tits-up. They can't help blaming homosexuals for the increase in carbon emissions and the frequency of extreme weather conditions.

The bishop seems to be in a rhetorical muddle. He wants to join his with-it colleagues warning about climate change. And yet he also wants to signal his Evangelical credentials.

The Church of England is breaking up, and the Evangelical wing is preparing for independence. Bishop Dow's comments should be seen as an attempt to put clear flood water between himself and the liberals, and so impress his fellow Evangelicals with his defiantly biblical thinking.

Who would be a Bishop's press officer!

20 June 2007

Mac Evangelists - yawn yawn

I am undertaking some detailed research at the moment about music/audio computers - almost there in the decision about the new BBA music computer.

What fascinates me is the complete inability of Mac experts and salespeople to understand that there are some really good and robust music PCs around from specialist companies, and that in comparison their audio/music knowledge seems fairly elementary. If I hear another Mac salesman (and it has all been guys) say " I think so" I shall scream.

They have a blind and dare I say it "evangelical" belief in the superiority of Macs which means that they tend not to answer the questions you are asking them but the questions they think you ought to ask them (- and there is a serious moral for Christian evangelists there)

I was fascinated to read the following in a Mac comic:

Saving souls

Every Macintosh user knows someone who still uses a Windows PC. Bring them along to any of our retails stores  and we will happily dedicate an hour or more to show why Apple Macintosh systems make for a revelation. Help us to save a Soul. Convert a loved one to Mac.

Seems a little like Alpha for computers!

The crunch un-answered questions for Mac suppliers are:

1. Just how good is specialist audio support of Mac computers - and the correct answer is NOT " I have never known them go wrong, OS X is such a perfect systems - I want to know what happens when it does go wrong as I am sure that it will!

2. Can they demonstrate to me (not in a noisy show-room) just how "whisper quiet" an Imac is under heavy loading - and do they know which of the video cards is the quietest ( none of the retailers so far have been able to offer a demonstration or know the correct answer to the question even though no US supplier would think of offering the 256mb upgrade is just too noisy)

One the of the frustrations is that the States is stuffed with retail suppliers who know there stuff about professional audio use - but they are few and far between (and mainly in the wealthy South of England)

For those who are interested the Imac is up against a Carillon Audio PC - personally speced and professionally supported.

07 June 2007

London 2012 logo

Shit 2012

brilliantly summed up by the design team at Howies!

22 May 2007

Jerry Falwell succeeded by Rob Bell!!?

It never ceases to amaze me how poorly the British press cover Christianity, and its American forms in particular. Common misconceptions are confusing "evangelical" with "evangelism" - but The First Post the normally reliable and interesting internet media paper got it seriously wrong when it tried to write an article about Jerry Falwell - among other seriously daft suggestions is that Rob Bell is somehow his successor.

The author of the article somehow thinks it novel for Christians to be using internet and one flinches at what Falwell would have thought of the idea that a liberal like Bell might be his successor.

Guess it makes me appreciate more that our quality papers retain genuine religious affairs correspondents such as Ruth Gledhill at The Times who know what they are writing about from the inside.

14 January 2007

Church and swimming pools

Shallow_end Loved the quote by Maggi Dawn from WH Vanstone ( one of my Anglican heroes whose books I inflict upon all potential ordinands)

"That the Church of England is like a swimming pool - all the noise is at the shallow end"

As a priest who swims three/fours times a week ( a contribution to becoming a less bulky anglican) that may explain why I find myself as irritated by people who clog up the shallow end talking (rather than swimming), as I do with those people who chatter through the post Communion Great Silence (rather than praying).

Both irritations sometimes make me wonder why some people go swimming or go to Church?

30 October 2006

Ecclesiastical Insurance - from image changes preserve us Good Lord

EIG is the Church of England's own insurance company - it works in the market place offering first class service and products - good discounts for clergy (thanks EIG) and all its profits go back into a charity to support the ministry of the Church see here

And for years they have a good recognisable public image - now in breathless letter from the Group Chief Executive they rightly laud their successes - and proudly announce their new image or " our new visual look" as the letter puts it which is this believe it or not . . .


What does the logo mean? Is it a fire or a mouth? Was the logo really supposed to be touching the E?

Why do people see the need to do this when retro is the height of fashion.

How much has it cost in design and production costs ( perhaps not much in design costs since the kid that won the Year 6 Schools Design us a new logo competition probably didn't get much)

How much will it add to my premiums?

10 October 2006

Joanne Lees - a victim of the Humphreys

As I rushed out yesterday morning I half- listened to John Humphreys Today interview with Joanne Lees the young woman who narrowly escaped murder and rape and lost her boyfriend whose body has never been found in the Australian outback and was then made the suspect by media coverage. Subsequently a man was convicted of the offence and the medias attempts to pin blame on Joanne Lees were revealed as a vendetta because she refused to speak to them.

I have to say that at the time I was appalled at the tone of the interview - so I listened to it again today listen to it here.

I have huge respect for Humphreys as a political interrogator but this goes way beyond the bounds of all taste - the tone is accusatory - he raises every inaccurate report of the incident and the days followed - even suggesting that she is making money and publicity and cashing in on the book.

What sheer gall that he should suggest that she should only do the book for money - why should she not have her story heard - that awful moment at the end of the interview when you can hear in her voice that she is close to tears. Can the guy not realise that he is making her the suspect again by his tone and line of questioning

Appalling Today Editors - someone get a grip!

07 October 2006

Blog anniversary

Four years ago today I started blogging - at a local internet cafe - to a closed group of 6 friends - on an archaic piece of unstable software which I recall as netway2 - strictly words only and it took 24 hours to post what was written - but we thought it wonderful and had little idea that it would lead to today's reality.

What is amazing (given how widely blogging has developed) is how it remains either a closed or misunderstood world.

As one computer savvy person said to me some weeks back " you don't seem the sort of person that would keep a diary" - after some prompting he googled "Bigbulkyanglican" - commented that he thought he had to have the blog software himself to access a blog - and a whole new world was opened up.

Nigel Wright has offered a great post on what blogging has meant to him here

and just for fun have a look at this little rant about blogging/googling at the Daily Mail there is a wonderful comment about the dangers of blogging

"Thank God for one brave and fearless voice speaking out against the tide of mediocre thinking and blatant pornography. that is the so-called "world-wide-web". My grandaughter was convinced to try this "googling" of which you speak by a schoolfriend and now she is pregnant. What I want to know is, what is this Government going to do about this nonsense, especially now foppish young Cameron has revealed it to be one of his unseemly passions? In my day, such an admission would have been a resignation matter. I'm disgusted.
- Nordelius, Bristol, UK"

I think I must sum it up by saying " I thank God for blogging" and I have yet to try "googling" and am obviously missing out on the chance of getting pregnant!

26 September 2006

Half week dilemnas

This week is another "half week" for a very good and proper reason. This is the week in the month when I take a weekend off (Thursday tea to Sunday 7am) which is vain attempt to recover sense and reality of leisure weekends - this being the thing which the family most miss since ordination. This weekend off is also our wedding anniversary so Anne and I are away for a break.

The issue is of course that despite support from others (so no preaching on Sunday etc) there still remains six days (and more) work to done, but only three and half days to do it in - plus there is the additional factor that cos people know that I cannot be contacted during the time we are away they email and ring now as if there were no tomorrow and despite the fact that most of things could be sorted Sunday, Monday next week. So the lead into the "weekend off" simply becomes more frantic than ever.

So full weeks are a good and desriable thing after all . . .

19 September 2006

Starbuck shucks . . .

With the launch of Black Gold a film documentary about how coffee growers are exploited due soon there will be another dig no doubt at my favourite coffee house Starbucks.

There is some ironic that the Seattle coffee chain which

  • poineered standards in coffee making
  • contributed to urban renewal by opening in places that other majors would not touch
  •  offered new standards of staff training and democracy
  • become a model which Costa Coffee and Caffee Nero et al would follow

and I have to say provided for me a sympathetic venue to meet and sympathetic back=drop to many important gatherings and conversations in Leeds and elsewhere

has itself become the target for such vilification

I can't help thinking that some people just can't abide success . . .

09 August 2006

Typepad "improvements"

Blog I wonder sometime what it is about software companies and their inveterate "improvements" which actually reduce the usefulness of what they offer - and sadly Typepad seem to be increasingly infected with this disease - on their website and email update they proudly proclaim inprovements which include the following:

A new method of users logging on - using the ever more friendly "members signing in " which is all nice and friendly and we are assured means that it will be quicker - well of course it would if it worked but it doesn't and it now takes me two/three attempts with accompanying messages " invalid login attempt from user ". Furthermore my custom desktop way of directly accessing a post does not work anymore - so more work to sort that due to improvements.

Apparently as a result of this improvement it is not now possible to save the login on more that one computer - you have to enter all the information if you are not using your main computer - though Typepad are denying that this is a result of the home page - but can't explain why it has happened simultaneously on hundreds of second computers.

Then there is the "improvement" of being able to link catagories with Technorati tags - haven't really worked out what this means yet apart from your categories ending up loooking like a Church magazine editor has been let loose on the design - "a jumbled mixture of fonts, sizes, and an emphasis which you might not want" as Typeass sums it up quite wittly.

AND just when I was getting the hang of the menus and sub-menus in control panel etc - they set about redesigning the HOME PAGE so that things are not quite as they were before

I wouldn't mind all these improvements if they could get the basic service to work effectively - for the second time in three months I have lost several pre-programmed posts - and Typepad are not able to offer any explanation for the fault - except that they did have some "down time" while I was away on holiday.

Improvements - I think not

15 July 2006

First Direct + Update

Alleluia the Pin numbers arrived this morning - now we have just got to sort out whether the fact that FD have ordered new PIN numbers yesterday cos they thought these were lost will mean that the ones that arrived today will have been superceded. ( No all we have today is change todays numbers at an HSBC ATM!)

I wonder whether we might be in line for an award for the longest time between the cards and pins being ordered and their actual arrival 5th June - 15th July?

01 July 2006

Crappy Week

Iv'e had one of those over-busy weeks - which combined with being too tired and hot - and missing "weekends" cos we have got people staying and I have to work as usual - and I tend to make the wrong response to people when they annoy me.

One trusted colleague has emailed me to say that I was arrogant and dismissive, and some else has told me today that "they have seen another side to my character that they really don't like" ( and I reassured them that it is the part of me that I don't really like either!). Apologies allround!

Add to that that England have missed a great opportunity cos the manager never made the best of the talents of the players, and all in all its been the kind of Saturday that I hate.

Roll on five days weeks for clergy - or the summer holidays anyway!!

21 May 2006

DVC code 2

In todays Observer AN WIlson Novelist and historian seems to sum up DVC and the reaction to it brilliantly

"I think it's absolutely brilliant of Sony to have made this fifth-rate thriller into a great international controversy and make everybody feel as if they need to be having conversations about it. This was one of the most tedious films I've ever seen. It was supposed to be a thriller but it told you what the answer was to start with. There was gratuitous violence, especially involving the mad monk, but no build-up and no suspense. It simply hopped from one four- or five-minute adventure to the next.

Also, it is blatantly anti-Catholic at a time when we're all trying to learn to be more polite to one another. It's fairly easy to imagine what would happen if it were about the holy prophet. All the cinemas would be in little heaps of ash by now. I wasn't in the least offended, though. I just thought that it was silly."

and that is the end of DVC on this blog!!

19 May 2006

D* V**** free zone

The author is a Christian who says that the book is a work of fiction
the critics say that the film is dire
opus dei are slightly upset by it
but the only people who are treating is seriously is the Church - how depressing!

Like the Life of Brian and others before cannot we all relax before we attract even more attention to it:

One of our local church's has decidated two of its services to it for heavens sake - and only managed to create the headline in the local paper " church to examine facts of D* V**** code"

I am joining (at least in an honorary capacity) the grumphy old men and joining the blogging Bishop of St Andrews David Chillingworth in not reading the book or going to see the film see here

19 April 2005

Comment dumps

My attempt to suggest ways forward for blogging comments has just produced a heap more long obscure comments and abusive emails from some of the offenders who I deliberately did not name so I have removed the post and comments

I content myself with simply saying that within Christian blogging there is a valued tradition of sticking to the topic of the post, disagreeing by all means - or developing the idea - or offering support.

If certain parties continue with their rants I shall add them to the list of people unable to comment at BBA.

If you want take off in a completely different direction or pursue personal hobby horses etc then get your own blog and see if anyone else is interested enough to read what you are saying - do not abuse the hospitality of other people's blogs.

Can I also say that I totally reject the suggestion that this has increased since some UK Anglican bloggers ( and I am one) joined the US group Episcopalian Bloggers. While inevitably there are sometimes cross-cultural misunderstandings these are sorted out with appropriate Christian charity. I would activeley encourage people to view the group at here, and if you are an Anglican ( lay or ordained) to join the ring as a way of expressing solidarity with ECUSA in these difficult times within the Anglican Communion.

Let's do all we can to develop blogging as means of Christian mission - and lets not let a small minority who choose to abuse this wonderful means of communication from discouraing the creative and gracious majority.

Here endeth the sermon - with blessings to all