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It’s been emotional (Olympics, part 2)

A photo of Vinny Jones from Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels

On the 20th February 1982, my dad and I travelled to White Hart Lane for the very first time. I was eight years old. We watched Tottenham Hotspur beat Manchester City 2-0. My hero Glenn Hoddle scored both goals and a young blistering Scottish talent, Alistair Dick, made his debut as a 16 year old.

I had watched Spurs famous 1981 Cup Final win the year before and been mesmerised by Read more

Twittering Vicar makes the news

A photo of the notice giving church wifi

I was interested to see the news cycle today includes the story of Rev Andrew Alden who is, apparently, Britain’s first ‘Twitter Vicar’ – according to Sky.

I find this story interesting on two levels.

The press’ fascination with quirky Vicars

It seems that, every now and again, you can pretty much guarantee that the press will fall over themselves when clergy adopt new technology. Read more

Oh Rowan, say it ain’t so

Archbishop Rowan Williams

Last Friday morning, as increasingly I tend to do, I opened the news apps on my iPad rather than buying a daily paper and groaned.

The top ‘trending’ topic was that Archbishop Rowan Williams had announced his intention to step down at the end of this year. There had been rumbles for a while within church circles but I guess I was ignoring the rumours in the hope that the rumbles were wrong.

Already, various reviews and ‘obituaries’ of his ten years as Archbishop are starting to emerge both in print and online and, inevitably, they all make enormous play of Read more

Ding, dong, the witch is dead.

Wicked Witch is dead, Image from Flickr
Image from Flickr

On Monday morning, I awoke to the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. Interesting that I found out via Facebook than through any traditional media outlet but that’s not my main concern today. I also find it interesting in myself that I’m not sure I really believe it until they produce a photograph of the corpse. Maybe I am a doubting Thomas after all. But again, that’s not my main concern today.

I find myself slightly peturbed, although not surprised, by the actions of those in the USA who decided to gather and celebrate as the news began to circulate, chanting “USA” etc as if this was some high-profile (american) football or basketball game that once again proves how wonderful it is to be an American.

While President Obama was very careful in his words as he made the announcement, some of our other political leaders have not been. Read more

Wedding reflections: what role mission in a Royal event?

Kate Middleton and Prince William are married by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Westminster Abbey, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 29 2011. Photo credit: Devlin/PA Wire
PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 29 2011. Photo credit: Devlin/PA Wire

With a six year old daughter who was just so excited about the concept of an ordinary girl being made into a real-life Princess, it was inevitable that I would be watching the Royal Wedding on Friday.

Quite apart from daddy duties, I was interested both as a British subject and as a minister of the church. As a priest and minister, I was intrigued to see what form and shape the service would take and what the 24 million, mostly non-churchgoing, Brits would make of it whilst watching on television.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience but if I have may have a moan or two, can I have a moan at the Church of England and a mission opportunity missed?

Now, with any couple that I marry, I do give them the choice of which words we are going to use. For the uninitiated, there are several options – The Book of Common Prayer from 1662, the 1928 liturgy which eventually saw the light of day in the sixties as Series One and then the contemporary Common Worship (which most of my couples choose).

Read more

When someone else says it better

I follow the latest news reports about the latest Christian fostering controversy with some incredulity. I am not going to repeat a long argument when others have said it far better but, if you’ve followed the Johns’ case with interest and confusion, then can I point you to, variously:

I guess I would like to reverse the field and see what it looks like then. For example, imagine a gay couple wanted to foster. Would they be asked whether they would be happy to promote an evangelical Christian lifestyle to a child who wished to pursue such a thing and, if they refused, would they be considered unsuitable to foster?


Copts protecting Muslims at prayer in Cairo

Christians protecting Muslims while they pray during protests in Egypt

With a h/t to Maggi for this, this photo from Reddit shows Egyptian Copts forming a human barrier around protesting Muslims so that they could pray without disturbance whilst maintaining their vigil in Tahrir Square.

When one considers how much the Copts have suffered at the hands of their Muslim-majority neighbours, especially the various extremist attacks in the last twelve months, it only raises the bar for how much of a Christ-like act this is.

Concern for Egypt… a website to watch

A photo of the unrest in Tahrir Square, Cairo

I have been very conscious about not saying anything about Egypt and the current unrest/revolution. Partly that is because I’m very concerned to make contact with Christian friends in Cairo and check that they are okay. With the removal of the Internet and SMS, it’s proving hard to track them down.

If you want to know what’s going on, then I recommend that you keep an eye on The Arabist blog. Issandr really knows his stuff and is local and is managing to get stuff updated, despite the Internet troubles that the government have apparently instigated.

Beyond the obvious concerns that everyone has for the stability of this nation, Read more

Merry Christmas Egypt, our prayers are with you

An Egyptian Coptic Christian wrapped in a sheet on which a cross has been painted in blood
(Photo: Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

At the start of last year, I blogged about my experiences in Egypt and how Coptic Christians there had been such a profound influence on me, particularly in seeing the daily suffering they endure as a minority… often a persecuted minority.

I had made a note in my diary after Christmas to highlight an article, dated 23 December, from the Guardian website that was entitled ‘Egypt’s Coptic Christians struggle against institutionalised prejudice’. Sadly, events have overtaken me with news of the bombing in Alexandria.

The slightly grisly photo on the left is of a man with a sheet outside St Marks (the bombed church). The Christian cross is marked out in the blood of one of those injured.

The Guardian article is worth a read but it talks about Read more

why hawking doesn’t get it

Photos of Rowan Williams and Stephen Hawking side-by-side

The recent headlines surrounding Stephen Hawking’s conclusion that there is no need for God to explain the origins of the universe made me chuckle. Rather I should qualify that – what made me chuckle was atheist or agnostic friends, parishioners or neighbours assuming that this must have been a serious knock to my faith. Because Stephen Hawking has said so, surely I was about to chuck in my vestments and go do a milk-round… or something.

Err, funnily enough – no. It hasn’t knocked my faith at all.

Rowan Williams was, of course, asked for a response by the media and (I thought) he hit the nail on the head when he responded that this was never about belief in a God of the Gaps in the first place. Read more