flagging faith

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A missed opportunity?

When is it too late? I've been giving this a bit of thought recently, in the light of thinking through my relationship with perfectionism. It seems that I have wasted a good deal of time worrying about the things I have left either undone or unfinished - books unread on my shelves provide a constant reminder of my failings and shortcomings. Two different Greek words are used in the New Testament for 'time' - chronos and kairos. The former is the better understood, the kind of time we never have enough of. Kairos is more interesting - it is that sense of the appropriate moment for something to come to fruition or end. It is the 'right time' and can often only be understood to have happened in

Prayer for Kenya

For the peoples of Kenya as the general election is held in the midst of an ongoing political crisis: God of freedom and mercy, in the midst of crisis, we search for clarity; in times of threat, we seek for peace of mind. May our searching and seeking look beyond the easy answers of simplistic thinking and false security. As we exercise our freedom, may we also work for the liberation of others; as we debate our future, may our vision embrace all the peoples of Kenya; as we fight for equality, may we always seek a fair share for all. Bless those in political life with wisdom and discernment, mercy and a vision of a truly common good. Mungu ibariki Afrika. Amen.

Throwing a shape

Like everyone (I hope) I have some really inspirational friends. One of them often talks about 'throwing a shape' when it comes to trying new things. What he means is that we all need to expand ourselves and what we think we are capable of, so we throw a shape in front of ourselves and then do our best to fill it. I love the metaphor and often think of it - and him - when I am faced with a new challenge. I write this as I am sitting in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. Travelling has opened my mind in so many ways, and really transformed my life. It has often posed new shapes to be filled and I hope that, most of the time I have faced the challenge. Last year, for instance, I found myself s

Changing Methodism IV - Stationing

British Methodism is currently in the first stages of the annual Stationing process. Each year, ministers (presbyters and deacons) and Circuits seeking a move or replacement put in their profiles and waiting for the phone call. This year, the Connexion is experiencing a shortfall in presbyters of a third. Looking at recruitment and retirements in the short to medium-term, this gap is unlikely to shrink. Having said that, there doesn't seem to be much of an appetite at the moment for whole-scale reform of the system. This puts extraordinary stress on the shoulders of those who operate the system - Chairs and Lay Reps - and may lead to a crisis of confidence in Circuits desperate for staff. I

Wesleyan Ground Rules for Good Conversations

‘If we cannot as yet think alike in all things, at least we may love alike.’ When it comes to difficult conversations in Church or anywhere, many of us are so worried about what might happen that we shy away from even starting them. The trouble is that such genuine and honest encounter is the only way to deal with the issues that potentially divide us; avoidance is not an option. Ground rules can be a helpful way of establishing some safer space where engagement might happen. And where better to go for advice on such rules than John Wesley himself? Both in his Sermon 39 and his Letter to a Roman Catholic, John Wesley eloquently commended the Catholic Spirit to all Methodists. The characteris

Anguish

Since this week saw World Mental Health Day, I thought I'd talk a little bit about the two mental illnesses I've been diagnosed with - depression and homosexuality. Thankfully, in 1992, I was cured of one because it was removed from the list of psychiatric disorders by the World Health Organisation. Job done, though the effects of that designation still rumble on in personal and societal ways. If nothing else, it proves that mental health isn't just personal anguish; how societies choose to categorise, medicalise and stigmatize can be the different between health and illness in an individual. Anguish is a great word. It means 'tightness' or narrowness and is the word I would choose to descri

Costly Hospitality

I was struck this weekend when two separate, self-avowed, 'non-religious' people expressed admiration for the welcome offered by Coventry Cathedral. It is without doubt a very special place, made so more by its resilient commitment to reconciliation than its splendid architecture. Here is the real dilemma: it is the struggle between safety versus risk, vulnerability versus re-victimisation. I wrote a short description of 'costly hospitality' for the Dignity & Worth Website recently and it sparked some discussion about that balance. For those of us who have been victimized by the Church - either through microaggressions or outright hostility - should we not expect the Church to offer protecti

Homes sweet homes

The centre ground is shifting. It is always good news when the Tories try to steal the policies of the Left because it shows that the consensus in British politics is moving leftward. And it's about time! Whilst Margaret Thatcher wasn't responsible for everything that's gone wrong in Britain since 1979, she most definitely was responsible for politicizing housing. Instead of the post-war consensus that everyone deserved a decent place to live, regardless of income or ability to pay, the Thatcher governments turned houses into investments through council house sell-offs and a moritorium on new council house building. It has taken her Party forty years to catch on that this was a huge and dama

Mandalay

Mandalay has hit the headlines twice this week and not for the right reasons. British Foreign Secretary, visiting a Buddhist Temple in Mandalay, Myanmar, was caught on microphone quoting lines from the poem, 'Mandalay by Rudyard Kipling. What was also captured was the rebuke delivered by the British Ambassador. The UK's chief diplomat risks being overheard by his hosts reciting lines that hanker after a lost colonial past. The 'Mandalay Bay' Resort in Las Vegas will become synonymously with violent massacre as another chapter in America's gruesome history of gun violence unfolds before our eyes. The death toll and scale of the tragedy make it hard to comprehend and the idea that it is not a

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