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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. A couple of years ago, I was inspired by this story from New Zealand of a Pentecost service with a difference (see the picture) and I have been determined to try it myself ever since. Well, with Pentecost rolling around and my own church’s Café Church Pentecost service last Sunday evening (yes I know it’s early but we only meet once a month), I got prepared to give the folks a treat and (hopefully) avoid burning the church down.

Well, what do you know. Firstly, big blocks of pumice are impossible to get hold of. Secondly, Maggi’s cautionary tale put me off using small pumice stones of the bath implement variety. So I went in search of an alternative and plumped with some advice on a large Sandstone ball. I got hold of one and excitedly started drenching it in methylated spirits to create the desired effect for our Café Church service. Only problem is that it doesn’t work. Sandstone isn’t porous enough and now I just have a slightly soggy, smelly ball of rock.

So where’s the object lesson for Mr Fraser? Well, if I had bothered to read the comments on Maggi’s website to the end I’d have discovered that small pumice stones can be used provided you give them enough time to get rid of all the air bubbles. Oh well. Maybe I can convince the Vicar to let me have a crack at it in our main morning service on Pentecost Sunday in a few weeks time.

So there you go. Maybe you should read the comments on blogs after all.



Thanks David
I have been wanting to try the flaming pumice for a while so maybe I’ll try a sneaky visit when you give it a go.

Hope the service goes well!

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