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Questions Synod should be asking

Church House Publishing

If you are a member of General Synod or you know someone who is on General Synod, can I encourage you to point them to this website and these key questions relating to the outsourcing of much of the publishing services that CHP provide to the Archbishops’ Council.

I’m not going to blog ad-infinitum about this issue but I think it’s important to note that, as things stand, I’m not sure if General Synod will get a say on the outsourcing of CHP. However, I think they ought to be given the chance to comment and debate this move.

The recent Archbishop’s Council Financial Review (PDF) didn’t cover it. It just said in paragraph 43: Read more

Where did the Common Worship profits go?

Church House Publishing

This is just a brief addendum to my two much longer posts about the future of CHP’s book and new media work respectively.

With the publication of the Common Worship library between 2000 and 2007, there was tremendous potential of course for CHP to turn a nice tidy profit. Indeed, one of the reasons that the Archbishops’ Council stated back in the mid-nineties for awarding the publishing contract to its own in-house publisher was to ensure that those funds didn’t go elsewhere to a commercial publisher but instead were used to benefit the Church of England.

Now that I’m standing on the outside, I can’t tell you exactly how much money CHP made for the Archbishops’ Council from the publication and sale of the various books in the Common Worship library. I don’t have access to the records anymore. I tried to dig back Read more

Pausing and wrestling

Coldplay album cover

Well, that was a hectic week last week of blogging! For those that have been counting and watching, yes I know that I still haven’t said anything about my ongoing wrestling match with membership of New Wine. I guess it’s testament to the wrestling and struggling that I’ve yet to get any thoughts down on (e-)paper. So you’ll have to watch this space on that one.

Clearly I can’t sustain the daily habit long-term with the demands of parish ministry but this is one of the shorter posts that I intend to do in between the mini-essays!

The Future of CHP posts have generated a lot of interest and the ‘ol blog stats took a bit of a ballistic hit upwards on Saturday which was a slightly nervy surprise. I must admit that initially I didn’t think anyone was watching since my blog platform only looks for trackbacks and so hadn’t picked up on Dave Walker’s Twitter post until someone mentioned it here. Thus far I’ve avoided Twitter although that’s another story and another blog post altogether!

Anyway, the debate continues so please do comment on those posts if you have something to say or just lend your support. There’s more to say on that whole subject of CHP and one or two other things have occurred to me since writing those two posts so watch this space for more on that too. I am kinda wondering what, if anything, can be done about it though. Anyone got any thoughts?

In the meantime, if you need something of a soundtrack to which you can do your own pausing and wrestling, then Coldplay have just released a live album of nine songs totally free online for people to download as ‘a thank you to our fans’. I know my youth group don’t think I’m very cool for liking Coldplay but I like them, so shoot me. Heartily recommended.

The Future of Church House Publishing (2)

Church House Publishing

Further to my post yesterday about the future of Church House Publishing, I said that there would be a ‘part two’ in order to cover my questions regarding the new media side of CHP’s work. So here it is!

I think the New Media side of CHP’s work is slightly different and I do want to continue the examination of recent developments by taking a good look at this side of things, however before I do that – a quick bit of history for those that don’t know.

CHP entered the world of new media in the late nineties. To say it happened ‘by accident’ wouldn’t be correct but one might say that CHP and the AC were not prepared for the success of all that was to follow at that point. Read more

The future of Church House Publishing (1)

Church House Publishing

This time last week was not a good day to be working in Christian publishing. In the United States, the Episcopal Church announced a number of job losses at Church Publishing Inc, a company and work colleagues that I very much enjoyed dealing with in my own work at Church House Publishing.

Closer to home, my former employers Church House Publishing were also announcing news. Framed as ‘an outsourcing’ rather than job cuts (although that may be part of what happens), the CofE announced that the Archbishops’ Council were going to be ‘buying in’ services from Hymns Ancient & Modern in order to continue the work that Church House Publishing does.

It’s taken me a while to blog about it because I’ve been trying to work out what was happening, what I thought about all this and, at the same time, my first and foremost concern was with Read more

Simple solutions to the MP scuzz-fest

Hazel Blears

I am not sure what angers me more in this whole MP expenses scandal that is going on at the moment. I can’t work out if I’m more angry that so many of our MPs from all parties have been playing the system to their advantage and making their own private fortunes through the expenses system, or if I’m more angry in the aftermath with all the apparent contrition.

I mean, honestly, does Hazel Blears and all the rest think that waving a cheque around on national TV and agreeing to pay back any profit they made on their houses is going to be acceptable? The only reason MP’s are now saying they’ll pay it back is a. because they’ve all been caught and b. in a desperate attempt to keep their job at the next election.

Read more

Why football will eat itself…

Bored by the Big 4 t-shirt

Amongst the various news stories that interested me last week was the one in which Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham MP, called upon the English Premier League and, in particular, the ‘big four’ of Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal to spread their wealth a little more evenly in order to create a more competitive environment.

As always when things like this get raised in this country, most football fans complained and cried foul (as did the Premier league teams and particularly the big four). Many commentators drew attention to the fact that Andy Burnham is an Everton fan. Everton have had a good year and currently lie in sixth place (with two games to go). They will be in Europe next year but not in the top four spots and not in the Champions League. So, of course, say the naysayers, Burnham is only saying all this because he’s jealous and his team isn’t good enough.

Trash.

Burnham has put his finger on an important issue that is rumbling like a troublesome appendix under the skin of all the gloss and the glitter of the Premiership. Read more

The day Giles Fraser got it wrong and exploding pumice

Burning pumice rock

Giles Fraser, Church Times columnist and parish priest, is kind of like my journalistic equivalent of Marmite. You either love what he writes or you hate it. Frequently I find myself from week to week doing both… one week he gives you hope that there is indeed a God, seven days later and I’m wondering about cancelling my subscription to the Church Times again.

I read a column from Giles a week or two back that seemed to contain both love and hate in the same article – ‘Why blogs can be bad for the soul‘. Giles laid into the all-too-common blogs where the comments are so nasty, extreme and hateful that they positively ought to carry a health warning. I have some sympathy. I’ve read a good few blogs and comment threads myself which have been enough to put me off for life. As much as I keep an eye on Thinking Anglicans, Anglican Mainstream, Fulcrum and more for a wide variety of news and views, I very rarely if ever read the comments because I know what I’m going to find and frequently find the same people (often disguised safely behind a pseudonym which seems to give them licence to be extremely rude) letting rip with their usual guff. So I don’t bother. I read the blogs and ignore the comments.

Maggi Dawn has already responded as to why blogs can be good for the soul. I couldn’t agree more. I have a number of people that I’d consider colleagues and friends now because of meeting first on the Internet. There are one or two that I have yet to meet but who I am really looking forward to meeting in person when opportunity allows. It’ll be weird meeting an ‘old friend’ for the first time!

But I’ve also had an object lesson this week in why it’s good to read the comments. Read more

I hate to say I told you so…

Cartoon courtesy of cartoonchurch.com

The Church Times blog by his holiness, Dave Walker, carried a story last week that the Charities Commission has now invoked their powers to appoint an interim manager for St Stephen the Great (SSG), the charity that runs the former SPCK bookshops.

It’s been a long time since I blogged about the SPCK situation. In fact, this blog was mostly in the hiatus of a year or more, whilst the shops and SSG were falling into various states of disarray, Dave Walker was being threatened with legal action by the Brewers, bankruptcy (or not) in the USA for SSG and then the intervention of the Charities Commission in this country. It’s all been very sad to see the demise of this chain of shops.

You can find out more about the whole situation as it has unfolded and is unfolding on a special blog set up for that very task. Bishop Alan has also added his two-penneth yesterday.

Well, I hate to say that I told you so, but I did ask some very big questions back in October 2006 when all this first kicked off and SSG first acquired the chain that have proved to be oh so appropriate.

Catching up and moving forward

Illustrative image for moving forward and back

I can’t quite understand where the time goes. To not blog at all throughout April demands an apology should there be anyone out there who happens to be passing or, indeed, if anyone has me in their RSS feed of whatever kind and has wondered why the silence. I certainly know some of you have wondered because you’ve emailed me to say so.

Of course, April saw me pass through my first Easter as a clergyman and I was surprised after my first Christmas as to how busy I was. Christmas seemed, to me anyway, quite manageable. I was all set for a similar cushy number while the world assumes you’re madly busy. I was surprised. Easter was hectic.

I’ve had some time off in that mix as well, but there are no excuses and I’ve actually come to a resolution. One of the things I seem to struggle with in the whole blogging process is that when I sit down to write a post, it ends up being a mini-essay and I don’t have time regularly to write them. Therefore, each week, and most probably on Sundays, I’m going to aim to blog one of my usual ‘lengthy’ posts and then sporadically in between times, shorter, one-line even, or a few lines in the manner of an extended Facebook to cover all sorts of things that I want to mention but don’t get a chance to say more about.

As it so happens, the last few days have brought a variety of events in my own life and news stories in the wider world that have really caught my attention and I promise that in the coming days, they are going to get covered here but I’ve got to break it down into manageable chunks. In no particular order and covering a wide variety of interests, they are:

So there you go, a preview of forthcoming attractions. Watch this space and as I actually write these posts, I’ll link them back to here to prove I did do them after all!