The Proclaimers are in town…

We are just back from the Proclaimers gig in Dunoon Queens hall. Ears still ringing.

A night with the Proclaimers is a peculiarly Scottish affair. They stand and deliver, lyrics half sung, half shouted- all in broad Scots. But there is a tenderness and thoughtfulness despite the style of delivery…

I wonder my blood
Will you ever return
To help us kick the life back
To a dying mutual friend
Do we not love her?
Do we not say we love her?
Do we have to roam the world
To prove how much it hurts?
When you go will you send back
A letter from America?
Take a look up the railtrack
From Miami to Canada
Bathgate no more
Linwood no more
Methil no more
Irvine no more.

From ‘Letter from America’

So in the old story I’ll bet that I came
From Gael and Pict and Angle and Dane
And a poor migrant girl who could not write her name
It’s a common old story but it’s mine just the same

All through the story the immigrants came
The Gael and the Pict, the Angle and Dane
From Pakistan, England and from the Ukraine
We’re all Scotland’s story and we’re all worth the same
Your Scotland’s story is worth just the same

From ‘Scotland’s story’

The whole night was a kind of tease- leading up to the orgasmic rendering of ‘I would walk 500 miles’- which has become a kind of Scottish unofficial anthem.

I kind of like this one though…

A new kind of Christianity…

I finally got round to ordering a copy of this book today.

I have found McLaren’s remarkable writing transformative to my own understanding of faith for a number of years. I very much appreciate his willingness to be radical and controversial in his theological thinking, whilst remaining humble and graceful in his response to the tirade of abuse he has been subjected to.

However, I have found myself avoiding this book. Perhaps because I wonder if he is really saying anything new- all the reviews seem to suggest that it is a gathering together of ideas he has been developing in his previous writing. As I read the ’10 questions that are transforming the faith’ I suspect I know what his answers will be, more or less.

To be honest, the hype around the release of the book repelled me a little too…

But then again- perhaps this shows just how much the theological landscape has shifted over the past 10 years. Questions that would once have been as welcome as a trump in a spacesuit are now increasingly part of a the popularist mainstream.

Does this mean that we are seeing the development of a new kind of Christianity?

I am not sure. I hope so though.

In the meantime- I am going to read the book…

By the way- you can watch 10 videos and download study material for group discussions around the themes raised in the book from The Ooze.

Here is a taster- on that difficult questions of relationships with other faiths…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “A New Kind Of Christian- Brian McLare…“, posted with vodpod


The grass is too long

Mossed by a hundred wet summers

Rolling in from the western sea

Deadening the bounce

And flattering my feeble attempts

At shape and spin

Cutting out all shots

Apart from sweep and drive


But to me and my boy

This too is sacred turf

Our ‘Lords’


Where memories are made

By crafty curl of leather

And the joyous crack of willow

As the bat hallelujahs its connection


And the trees around the field

Clap their hands

Making visual prayers…

We spent some time sticking pictures at housegroup last night.

We had gathered loads of clippings from newspapers and magazines, and used them to construct a great big prayer of thankfulness.

And there was much laughter, and much friendship.

Which was a kind of prayer too…

Michaela read this poem by Robert Siegel

A Song of Praises

for the gray nudge of dawn at the window

for the chill that hangs around the bed and slips its cold tongue under the covers

for the cat who walks over my face purring murderously

for the warmth of the hip next to mine and sweet lethargy

for the cranking up the hill of the will until it turns me out of bed

for the robe’s warm caress along arm and shank

for the welcome of hot water, the dissolving of the nights stiff mask in the soft washcloth

for the light along the white porcelain sink

for the toothbrush’s savoury invasion of the tomb of the mouth and the resurrection of the breath

for the warm lather and the scrape of the razor and the skin smooth and pink that emerges

for the steam of the shower, the apprehensive shiver and then

its warm enfolding of the shoulders

its falling on the head like grace

its anointing of the whole body

and the soap’s smooth absolution

for the rough nap of the towel and its message to each skin cell

for the hairbrush’s pulling and pulling, waking the root of each hair

for the reassuring snap of elastic

for the hug of the belt that pulls all together

for the smell of coffee rising up the stairs announcing paradise

for the glass of golden juice in which light is condensed and the grapefruit’s sweet flesh

for the incense of butter on toast

for the eggs, like twin peaks over which the sun rises

and the jam for which the strawberries of summer have saved themselves

for the light whose long shaft lifts the kitchen into the realms of day

for Mozart elegantly measuring out the gazebos of heaven on the radio

and her face, for whom the kettle sings, and the coffee percs

and all the yellow birds in the wallpaper spread their wings


I think I like this bloke’s poems.

(Although to be honest, I am not usually that grateful in the morning.)

Loneliness and the agents of the Kingdom…

There has been a lot in the news recently about loneliness.

One in 10 Britons often feel lonely, and those aged 18-34 are more likely to worry about being isolated than older adults, according to a Mental Health Foundation report.

Four in 10 have been depressed because of loneliness, and 48% believe people are becoming lonelier.

While 17% of over-55s worry about being alone, 36% of under-35s do.

The elderly, jobless and those who are disabled are most likely to be affected.

Persistent loneliness is bad for people’s mental and physical health and can be linked to stress, heavy drinking and poor diet, says the charity.

Peter Byrne, associate registrar of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “Our stereotype of the older person, home alone … is challenged by information [showing] the number of children calling a helpline who are lonely has increased by 60% in five years.”

The Guardian- here.

I find myself interested for several different reasons-

I work in a mental health setting, and the role of community and social support is being ever more recognised as both cause and potential recovery of mental ill health.

I am interested in the role of social networking (and other on line health and social care platforms) in supporting us- and have a strong feeling that our reliance on the web is contributing to the isolation of many people. The stats above for example suggest that loneliness is especially concerning in the ‘facebook generation’- who might have three hundred on line friends, but no-one to go to the pictures with at the weekend.

This is a recurrent theme on this blog- here for example.

It is also a key theme for our Greenbelt worship event this year.

Here is the question- if the statistics suggesting that loneliness, isolation and disconnectedness are increasingly defining characteristics of our society- then what should be the role of we, the agents of the Kingdom of the living (relational) God?

Who made us in a way to be at our best when we love and serve one another?

As we seek to serve those around us, how might we need to structure our activities to better shine light and sprinkle salt to bring out the good flavours of the societies we serve?

It used to be the strength of our institutions of faith- the way we brought together and unified our communities (sometimes for ill as well as good.) We birthed a thousand community groups- womens groups, mens groups, kids groups. And we served our communities at points of crisis and celebration in a way that marked and deepened our understandings of transitions.

We still do many of those things- but perhaps we need to think outside of the boxes in which we currently work within. There is great need out there…

Networking weekend- emerging/missional/alt.worship etc…

We are heading down to Telford to the Tautoko gathering in a few weeks. This is a chance to spend a weekend sharing ideas and hopes and prayers with other people who have found themselves doing similar things in and around the edges of established church.

There are some places left on the weekend- Check out Jonny’s description– (He has a thing against capital letters I reckon?!)

for a few years there has been a network of leaders/communities that initially got together off the back of al hirsch and michael frost’s visit back in 2005 and following on from various blah… events round the country. it grew out of alt worship and emerging church friendships. every so often there is a gathering of the network and there is one coming up in june. it’s a pretty low key affair – mainly hanging out and conversation with some space for talking around issues and some prayer and worship. we usually stay in a youth hostel to keep it cheap.

the next gathering is in june – info is here. if you think you fit with the description around the network below you’d be welcome to join us – just book in or e-mail me if you want to know more. there are spaces left on the weekend that we’d love to see filled…

The tautoko network was originally formed out of friends connected with alternative worship, emerging church, or missional communities. Why? Well mainly because we love hanging out together. The network was made a bit more intentional/formal recognising that there were plenty of others involved in the same kind of stuff who didn’t necessarily have the history of friendships but could gain a ton from being part of it. These were the words we put together to describe why it exists and they still seem a pretty fair reflection…

  • To share the journey with others who face similar mission challenges.
  • For mutual friendship, encouragement, solidarity, support, gift giving, discernment, resource sharing, ideas and learning
  • To see what emerges as creative people connect.

And the ethos/values we try and shape the friendships around are…

Open set | Spin free | Generous | Vulnerable | Questioning

Aoradh pentecost beach bonfire…

We are just back from Ardentinny beach, where we met to celebrate Pentecost, using a barbecue and a bonfire. The sun shone, the kids swam in the sea, and there were NO MIDGES!

After all the eating, we sat around the bonfire and celebrated the birthday of the church, and presence of the Holy Spirit. We used this prayer to give shape to our activities-

The bonfire was surrounded with concentric rings scratched in the sand.

Come Holy Spirit

Come Spirit like rain, refresh, renew, revitalise.

Come Spirit like fire, embolden, enlighten, enable.

Come Spirit like a mighty wind, move, challenge, enkindle.

Come Spirit like wave, move, tear down, lift up.

Come Spirit, come Breath, draw us close, make song, bring intimacy.

Come Spirit, come Love, make one, make justice, make peace.

Come Spirit, come Kingdom, come Love.

Martin Brown/CAFOD

We took each sentence, and used it as a prompt for an activity- after each activity we added symbols onto the circle.

RAIN- we made rain shakers, and mister sprays squirted over each persons head. We then added cocktail umbrellas to the circle.

FIRE- we threw handfuls of sugar onto the fire, which flared up, and then lit candles and placed them on a circle.

WIND- we made paper windmills and placed them in the circle.

WAVE- we did a mexican wave, and imaged the moving of stones up a beach- adding a stone to the circle.

BREATH- we spoke of the closeness of breath, then took streamers on sticks, and added them to the circle.

LOVE- we added painted stones in the shape of love hearts to the circle (and collected them later to carry away with us.)

KINGDOM- we took a roll of gold foil, and wrapped it around the whole group as a crown- and a sign of being the agents of the Kingdom of God. We then stepped outside the foil as a sign of going outwards.

Then we closed by reading the prayer out loud.

And it was simple, and lovely, and soul-good.