Another Great Escape

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Finding Osama

George W. Bush and Professor Liebstrom

Happy 80th Queeny

Check this out - for all you George W. Bush Fans

Mark Berry - missionary to the "Goldless" in Telford

"Mark Berry - special missionary to 'go[l]dless' Telford" as quoted in the Guardian Newspaper.

I came across this blokes blog the other day. Reading the article in the Guardian, he sounds like the Jamie Oliver of Mission. I don't mean that as an insult - there are just some similarities - Vespa Scooter, hair, etc.

The article was pretty objective, for a national newspaper. Non of the usual anti-christian stuff or "quirky" christian slant. It sounds like he has a difficult job - with a home church that doesn't quite understand his remit, "It's a wonderful little church, full of wonderfully spirited, kind, elderly people who, bless them, would not know how to connect with some of the people I'm trying to connect with...the church warden asked me, 'As you're the local missionary, will we be seeing some young people coming?' and I said, 'The short answer is no." His approach is ace, I'm glad his focus isnt' getting bums on seats, it just doesn't work. He's just living his life with God and finding normal places to share his faith - not the Saturday Morning ravers in the highstreet, reminding people of their guilt and need to repent.

It'd good to find similar minded people.

Mark Berry's Blog

Saturday, April 22, 2006

"Thistle Boo" for a girl or "Boysenberry" for a boy

"Thistle Boo" for a girl or "Boysenberry" for a boy - I dunno, both these names have a certain ring to them.

You can have a go at creating your own baby names here.

Do parents screw you up?

"Do parents screw you up?" - Something that, accordingly to this quiz, my parents haven't done (They didn't do that bad a job).

My results:

You've hit the parent jackpot. They're kind, supportive - perfect, in fact. But could they be too perfect? What are they trying to hide? Are they even your real parents, or fugitive killers who have assumed the identities of their victims. Until you know for sure, treat them with suspicion...

You can have a go here

Friday, April 21, 2006

Not that I'm ungrateful but...

Another birthday, another selection of interesting birthday presents. Fortunately, I married a wonderfully thoughtful, husband-appreciating/nurturing person. Without her thoughtful gifts I would be thoroughly depressed. Since growing up and leaving home birthdays have always been anticlimactic when it comes to some of the presents I receive. The "quality"presents I have received usually fall into the stationary, personal hygiene or, now, plant catergories. I know someone somewhere would appreciate a set of personalised stationary (4 years running - you know how much I use a pen and paper), a bottle of shower gel (maybe they're trying to tell me something) or even a hanging basket of pansies (hmm...) - but I'm a modern man, someone who downloads podcasts, someone who has a selection of Converse trainers, someone who kills animals in the garden (see previous posts), someone who enjoys a pint, someone who travels, someone who lives in the 21st Century :-)

I think having grown up and left the confines of small town life - having it seemed, emigrated the universe-like length of 9 miles to the neighbouring town, people that once were so adept at buying presents have lapsed into "I can't be arsed to find out what he likes" mode. Instead, resorting to buying something definately middle aged. The difference a few years makes is amazing. I left my hometown 9 years ago to go to college, from there I got married, moved and got a job and have not looked back since. People obviously think I've aged considerably since then - maybe I'm ready to retire and take up allotment gardening.

Not to put too much of a downer on things - I did get some cool presents too. As you may or may not know we're expecting our first kid. This wasn't for my birthday - as they are too small
for me! (Thanks Mum and Dad for the baby gear!) I decided that I needed to get all of my big purchases out of the way. I tied them into my birthday as an excuse really as this is the last time we might have any money for a while. So, I'm now the proud owner of an iPod (I may have mentioned this before), we've also purchased another car - not a brand new one and not strictly for my birthday. We get it Wednesday - hopefully. The insurance company has been a bit slow sorting stuff out. I also had a lawnmower - again not strictly for my birthday but its loud, and has blades, and gears and goes by itself - another addition to my powertool arsenal.

Some very thoughtful soul/s bought me an iTunes gift certificate (they, obviously don't think I smell, need pens and paper or want to grow pansies!). I had a very well thoughtout present from my granma - although it reminds me of those times when old people forget what things cost nowadays. As for the rest of my family, Grandad seemed to have forgotten, but the rest of them remembered and their gifts are much appreciated

I always used to remember when birthdays were great fun, I couldn't wait to get up and open my presents. I know the magic of birthdays diminishes when you get older - but I'm only 28, if people really knew me I'd hope they wouldn't get me flipping flowers. Anyway, I was having a good day until I got the pansies - thanks to those people who put some thought into my presents. My wife has always got me great things - she's very thoughtful, her whole family is. I married well.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

What type of Christian are you?

I found this quiz on a blog whilst surfin for stuff.

Here are my results:

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. "You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this."

What's your theological worldview?
created with



Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox


Reformed Evangelical


Classical Liberal




Modern Liberal




Roman Catholic


What's your theological worldview?
created with

The "Bizarre" Manchester Passion

NME recently reviewed the Manchester Passion - I thought it was quite interesting, they viewed it as a bit of a bizarre Easter celebration. I still think it was an ace piece of marketing - getting non-christians to retell the easter message. A good bit of postmodern evangelism!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

If Microsoft marketed the iPod...

Wow - what a product!

Da Vinci Discussion

There's loads of debate around Dan Brown's book. If you want an honest, balanced non-judgemental approach look at this discussion forum. There's some interesting threads.

I like this blokes comment:

Haven't read it.

Life is too short to voluntarily read bollocks. There is too much important stuff that I need to read that I'm unable to, that I don't want to spend what little time I have available reading fiction.

And this one:

The really amazing thing is that anybody gives a damn. Slagging the church, in particular the RCC, still can bring huge monetary rewards. That makes me wonder how "secular" our societies really are. If people are just post-Christian religious apathetics, why do they even care about any of this?

This one sound a bit of a weirdo:

I have two four-foot long shelves in my bedroom stacked with quality fiction and non-fiction (mostly theology) that I plan to read soon. Why would I want to waste my time reading this load of half-baked crapola?

You may say I should read it to find out if it's really crapola. Fortunately, I have critics and you good people here to tell me that. After all, I don't read porn or racist literature to find out if it's really pornographic or racist!

ETA: PS, as an impoverished writer myself, I would not be able to bring myself to put even more money into the fraudulent pocket of Dan Brown.

I could go on.

Just make up your own mind.

The Da Vinci Code

Well, I've read it, the book that apparently is going to rewrite the history of the church. You better not tell my mum, she wouldn't be impressed. She still hasn't read or seen Harry Potter because of what some of the Christian media said about the books when they first came out (they have since gone very quiet about Harry Potter), rather than read it for herself and make up her own mind. But I'm not talking about Harry Potter -

Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code is a fairly good read. It's not as good as his Angels and Demons, although it follows a very similar plot line. The Character gets a message, he goes to investigate, he gets drawn into solving a mystery, get chases, attacked, looks like he's not going to save the world, eventually overcomes against all odds and gets the girl.

As for the "controversy" I'd be a bit put off if the book was in the non-fiction catergory, but it's not. As a piece of fiction, which is what Dan Brown intended, it's a fairly good read. The apparent revelation that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and they had kids which are still alive today wasn't as shocking as all of the hype lead us to believe. The basic premise of the book was that the Catholic church has sought to suppress this information and have actively tracked down and eliminated it's opponents. The later bit is probably true, the Catholic church was the first international conglomerate. Like any large company, to keep it's power it must protect it's assets. (This isn't going to be a catholic bash-a-thon). According to Tom Clancey, the CIA use the Jesuit Order to assist them, as the Jesuits have places around the globe. That's kind of cool.

Anyway, I think the more hype and created controversy over it, the more people, who haven't read the book, heap scorn on it. If you've read the Gospels you'll know that there's a bit of a major gap in Jesus' life, they stop recording his life pretty soon after he legs it away from his parents and goes to the temple and then all of a sudden he's 30 and it's the wedding at Canaan (if only my theology prof's could read by wonderful synopsis!). There's a gap of about 18 years. Now, some people think that he spent those years twiddling his thumbs waiting for his call to kick off his ministry. I don't necessarily believe that what's in the book is true, it is after all fiction but it does raise some interesting points.

In the book Dan Brown gives quite a convincing argument as to why he might be correct. The bible as we know it has only been that way for about 1700 years. About 300 AD Constantine got together a group of people to sort out what was okay to go in the bible. Constantine was the Roman Emperor, he converted and created the Catholic Church, he brought Christianity to the Roman Empire. They edited out all the bits that they didn't like and what they produced we still use today. According to Brown, this meant that Jesus' relationship with Mary M was deleted, apart from what is there now. Whose to say that Jesus didn't marry - there is nothing in the bible that says he shouldn't or didn't. There's that gap of 18 or so years. He's a bloke, he'd want to settle down. It was weird for men of that time not to marry. I don't think it makes a difference, to who Jesus was and is and to what happened.

Brown goes onto say about how the C.Church sought to separate Jesus' humanity and divinity. Placing more emphasis on his divine nature, they put him on a pedestal, looking at what they saw as pure and chaste, ignoring his human nature. Mary got the same treatment, someone I knew at college, was convinced that once Mary had had Jesus that was it, separate beds, no more kids. I'm sure Joseph wasn't pleased about that. They forgot/ignored that Jesus was 100% human - which is what makes the message more applicable than anything.

In the book, the Catholic Church wasn't happy about their secrets coming out in the open. They sensed that their grip on the "truth" was slipping. What was slipping was their construction of religion. The Christian Religion and Christianity are two very different things. The religion being the human construct, the human imperfect construct. I have a lot of respect for the catholic church, but they get things wrong - like any human organisation. With all of this faff around the Da Vinci Code, people are drawn into defending something that is flawed and forgetting they important things. There was a reporter on radio 2 that was commenting on the Archbishop of Canterbury's Easter message. He said that people are more interested in the mysteries and conspiracies than religion. The reporter basically said get a grip. The church is tough enough to survive. Very true.

All of these Christian Crack pots who seem to protest about everything are just fuelling peoples misconceptions and prejudices. If it's not Harry Potter it's Jerry Springer the Opera. If not that, then its The Da Vinci code. What will be next?? Why not protest against Lord of the Rings - that is full of wizards, etc, what about the Passion of the Christ - how violent and bloody was that? Where are all of the Harry Potter protesters now? I remember when the Simpsons first came out, the "Christian" press saw them as the ultimate abnormal family - now you have the book The Gospels according to the Simpsons. There are commentaries on how there are spiritual themes throughout the Simpsons. Some people just choose to shout about things without first looking at them properly.

I'm not sure what to think about the implication of the Da Vinci code - or if it has any implication at all. As a work of fiction it's quite good. Dan Brown has worked in sufficient amounts of believable stuff and fiction to make people wonder if what he has written is true. I've a soft spot for conspiracy stories - maybe it's true - but what difference would it make? I don't think it would. Dan Brown doesn't refute the resurrection, the divinity of Jesus, that Jesus existed, or Jesus' redemptive message. The only controversial thing was that he married and the catholic church didn't like it. You make up your mind. We only have the bible to go by, god inspired but human written, it hasn't got everything in. Maybe we'll be able to ask the big guy one day! There's one thing I am sure of: All this hype only leads to one thing - More money for Dan Brown.

My advice to any Christians who are concerned about the book is to read it and make up your own mind. Don't jump on the evangelical bandwagon laying scorn to everything that is different or seemingly anti-Christian. See it, read it, listen to it before you condemn it.

Just don't buy it full price - ebay it or get in on Amazon Market place - mine cost 5p. Not a penny goes to D Brown!! Ha ha.

Thus endeth the lesson.


Don't you just hate not being able to sleep. It's now 5.45am, I got up about an hour ago, I don't know what woke me up. Anyway,the TV is crap at this time of the morning. I wasn't in the mood for a DVD. So I started flicking through the sky channels - we don't have the full package, just the basic one. I started channel surfin - the Joy of Painting (some american guy with big hair), Return of the killer tomatoes (really bad film), Movies for men (not some dodgy channel), The bad movie channel, then there's all of the shopping channels.

Now the flamming birds are tweeting.

I'm glad I'm not in work for the rest of the week.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Songs of Hasselhoff

No wonder his wife got a restraining order on him!! I found this on the Nanolog mentioned in my previous post - thanks!

Headphonaught's Nanolog

Afraid to say another Apple Lovin Christian - what is it with Mac's?? Anyway, check out this guy's blog. Very cool.

Headphonaught's Nanolog

Manchester Passion

About two weeks ago the BBC started broadcasting adverts for it's "Manchester Passion". I don't know whether you saw the ad's - a few classic cars, some cool music and the wonderful scenery of Manchester. Rather than spend my Friday, boozing and clubbing (ha, ha), I thought I'd tune in.

I'm usually a bit skeptical about "religious" programmes on the TV, they're usually a bit cheesy, too traditional, or way too wishy washy (Heaven and Earth Show - urgh!). I'd read some of the reviews (I don't know how they were able to review a live show), some were saying that it was going to ruffle a few feathers, others were saying that it was bad to modernise a traditional story. It was a bit radical for some people - to have a passion play without any "religious" music, to have it live in the Manchester (nothing against Manchester - my sis in law lives there), etc.

The music was great, The Smiths, Oasis, Stone Roses - I'm not sure about Robbie Williams though!! The songs could have been written especially for it, they all seemed to fit so well. The casting of some of the disciples was great - who better to pick than Bez (happy Mondays, celeb big bro winner) and I'm sure Paul Weller. Even the bloke who got to play Jesus, wanted to play Judas, they seemed to pick the most unusual people for this - but it all worked. God must have been there somewhere.

The thing that got me were the interviews. For the most they grabbed young Christians, the only bum note was the person that was "there for all of non-spiritual people" to share in the feeling of the moment. Each to their own. It was good to see an explicit christian message broadcast in a "non-Christian" way. Some people I know would freak at how the message was broadcast, but it was fresh and to the point. It said so much more than someone retelling the story at the front of a church, even if they had a powerpoint presentation! In the past I've found it so cringeworthy watching Christian programmes, this one made me think that it was worth paying my licence fee.

If you missed it, you really did miss out.

Read about it here

or here

or here

Check out Vintage21 for some really funny videos - not for the traditionalist Christian. Very contemporary

Monday, April 10, 2006


The passing of a friend

One of our squirrels is dead. It was not intentional - although they have been a pain for the last 10 months. Our garden is like a killing field, first the hedgehog with the lawnmower (the mower went down into the channel between the border and the lawn and went over a h.hog) and now the dead squirrel with the lethal water butt. It must have misjudged it's jump and landed in the water butt and was unable to get out. I found it, starting to smell, today. Joy! Anyway, it won't be tapdancing on our roof at 5am anymore. Don't mess with water butts they can be deadly!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

New Toys

I received 2 new toys today - a Tunedok and an iTrip. My ipod is now mobile! I tested it after work - it is so cool. It is very clear, I'd heard how dodgy some of the iTrips were - this one is ace. Another piece added to my "i" collection.

More tea Bishop!

Well it is nearly here - Easter break. Two whole weeks of bliss, no kids, no hassling parents, no getting up early! We won't have another Easter with just the two of us again - which is weird.

The local Bishop came to school today - it also coincided with my class assembly. I'm not sure that it was a coincidence, my boss knew ages ago that the Bishop was coming but she neglected to tell me until last week. I find it really hard to relate to a guy that looks like the stereotypical English Christian Cleric - buck teeth, straggly beard, dodgy dress sense (purple shirt - part of his garb anyway, sandels with a suit!!!!!!!!!!!!! - and not the trendy ones). He arrived in his outfit/regalia, mitre and all, and monotone voice. I think the kids were stunned, some of them really didn't understand what this funny bloke was up to. If all the Anglican church has to offer is a funny looking bloke who dresses weird and talks in a language the kids don't understand, it's no wonder that church numbers are declining. On the positive side... he blogs. I really struggle with the "established" church. I understand that the position and the trappings associated with it are all symbolic - but who understands these anymore? He did make us laugh though.

He was asking the kids some questions about what he was wearing. He said "what special colour do I wear?" The kids shouted out "Purple!" He then proceded to lift up his robes and said "I'll check what's under my cassock...mines purple. What colour's yours Rector?" At that point, some of the members of staff with more purile senses of humour started to snigger - I refrained (just about) - Either the Rector is very good at keeping a straight face or didn't have a clue what people were sniggering at. If you're not sure google "actress and bishop" jokes. It made me laugh anyway.

Meanwhile my assembly was going on - which went really well. The kids were great. We had loads of positive comments from parents - which make a change.