Saturday, January 31, 2009

Faith Development c/o Alan Jamieson... [2]

Intuitive-Projective (The Innocent)

Eryn looked at us on Christmas Eve while we were eating a customary meal in our house, with a knowing wink she speaks! "It's OK Mum I don't believe in Father Christmas .... I know .... I saw Dad come into my room last year!!" A significant transition!

Faith Development is something I have been interested in for quite sometime (Faith Development: Von Hügel) as I continue to explore this for myself and try to help others finding the dynamic of their faith sometimes painful and disorientating. A significant transition so often feels like a loss of faith - to discover that it is a deepening is comforting if not bewildering!

Okay, Fowler is not that user friendly - 'Intuitive-Projective' really makes you want to read on! Alan Jamieson seasons and makes Fowler a little more palatable to those without a psychological background by weaving in terms from McCollough, C. (1983). Heads of Heaven, Feet of Clay: Ideas and Stories for Adult Faith Education. Cleveland: Pilgrim Pr.

This stage articulated by Fowler has a real flavour of Innocence where people's faith is shaped by a childlike 'seamless world of fantasy, stories, experiences and imagery'. Faith has a feel of 'fairy-tale' about it and lacks 'thoughtful coherence'. Fowler would indicate that life is therefore a collage of disorganised images - the transition through which is a growing desire for clarification of reality and fantasy a desire for a framework.

Faith as a series of significant transitions seems to make sense to me, making sense of such transitions takes time!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rome 2009

I was in Rome last weekend with other Salvation Army Training staff to look at and to explore the issues facing TSA as it trains people for leadership. It is good to share ideas and frustrations; there was real value in working and laughing with old friends; good to make great new friends, that I am really looking forward to meeting again. It was good also to meet Willis and Barbara Howell principals from the US and get a feel for their context for training and mission.

The emphasis was that of discovering what could be for the training of Salvation Army Officers. It was creative to explore together a framework for training for tomorrow shaped by a strong understanding of SA essence. I'm looking forward to putting something down in a paper that aims to sum up some of our thoughts and move the debate further.

I was bowled over by the Vatican, that we managed to get a look around. At one point feeling quite weird with image overload, although that might have something to do with too much expresso. The modern art before the Sistine Chapel was stunning - Raphael and Michelangelo wasn't bad either!

The other highlight apart from seeing the Coliseum was to see the Scala Santa and to see pilgrims actually seeking absolution by ascending the stairs on their knees in prayer and remembrance of Jesus who supposedly climbed these stairs when they were the stairs of Pilate. The point of interest of course is that Luther changed the course of history when half way up he thought "this is ridiculous..! Good job it wasn't shut for Luther like when we got there!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

a crooners flourish...

Blogging is not high on my agenda at the moment but I found this lurking in my drafts from before Christmas - I don't want to forget JR.


JR looked into my eyes and started to sing Mary's boy child to me and me alone. The rest of the room looked on in mild amusement as this genuine man of the road serenaded me, even taking off his hat and covering his heart. As he got closer his nicotine stained teeth became my focus as he finished the first verse with a crooners flourish.

The problem was that I was half way through a Christmas meditation with the guys at Faith House. Taking my opportunity I try and wrestle the control back by applauding enthusiastically JR's effort.

A quick breath was all JR needed, and with a "I'm not finished..." with the upbeat off he went again. Looking deep into my eyes and with a false American accent he gave it all he had!

Seemingly my meditation hung in tatters.... or did it?!

There seemed a sweet irony as I finished my thoughts about how easy it is to be distracted and that Christmas is a time to 'hush the noise ye men of strife', 'so we can hear the song of love the angels sang'. I'm not sure who was noisier me or JR.

We waved goodbye to JR as he set off to jump a train to the north (first stop York) where he would be chucked off and put on a train back to London. Guaranteed warm sleep!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The open office...

There is a note hanging from a door handle that I walk past every day and it simply says entrez. It always seemed strange to me because that office was one that you could always go into!

It was an office that I frequented often. Sometimes to chat mundane things through; sometimes to let off steam; sometimes to test and think through ideas. An office that it was good to laugh within, an office that prodded and probed in the name of accountability. An office where thoughts could be thought, plans planned and schemes schemed. You knew you could go into that office and not be agreed with. You knew you could go into that office and and come out with your ideas, opinions and thoughts sharpened and given clarity.

The office simply saying entrez was one that made a difference. We're all going to miss Captain Christine Ord for many different reasons. We thank God for her life of influence to so many people.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Martyn Atkins @ WBC

The latest speaker at One Day conferences at William Booth College was Rev (Dr.) Martyn Atkins the General Secretary of the Methodist Church (UK).

He presented two sessions for us, the first looking at the changing face of evangelism - where he outlined the attributes of what he called 'New Evangelism'.

'Catechesis Reloaded', the second session was fascinating as he looked at Faith discovery and development in pre-christiandom as a means of comparison with techniques within modernity and to what could be in post-christiandom.

Okay I guess you needed to be there! I'm glad I was. Here are quotes that I wanted to keep.
‘beauty of life... causes strangers to join the ranks... we do not talk about great things; we live them.’ (Minucius Felix c160ad)

‘It’s a very friendly church’ said the old hand. ‘I don’t want a friendly church’ retorted the visitor, ‘I want a church where I can make friends.’ Bob Jackson

‘Tell the truth. Be real. Encourage everyone to tell their story. Stop telling us there is only one story. Yes, there is only one story about Jesus, but there are millions of stories that we have about finding him. Give up power and control. Stop editing out the mistakes, flaws and imperfections... Let others see that the church is not full of dazzling people, but rather ordinary people with dazzling stories about Jesus.’ Mike Yaconelli

Friday, January 09, 2009

Affluenza... [2]

"A major pollutant of the Virus-infected person's inner life is their self-consciousness, triggered by excessive concern about what Check Spellingothers think of them. By definition, they are preoccupied with recognition and status, conferred upon them by others. Their fragile self esteem needs constant bolstering from outside, so they tend to agree with statements such as 'I'm self-conscious about the way I look' and ' I usually worry about making a good impression'. It's hard to go with the flow if you are focusing on your faults or inadequacies, fearful of feeling foolish for something you have said or done, excessively alert to the danger of seeming incompetent to others. People with such high levels of self-consciousness are at greater risk of depression, neurosis and narcissism."
What is interesting is that Oliver James suggests that people who adhere to faith seem less prone and show a world view that is less susceptible.

I'm not too sure.

A bigger and better mentality certainly has not skipped church culture. Church is definitely not immune to preoccupation with power and influence; definitely not invulnerable to self absorption with reputation and self promotion. Certainly the selfish capitalism that James outlines is excessive - but the characteristics he outlines are there to be applied and compared within a church context albeit a different currency.

Oliver James offers several 'vaccines', I've listed a few
  • Your Best is good enough

  • It is not your fault that you are who you are

  • At the same time, you must accept that the particular situation you are in is chosen by you and that you are a free agent

  • Form as truthful and accurate an assessment as possible of yourself... rather than living in a rose-tinted bubble of positive illusions

  • Don't be scared of examining your failures as much as your successes

  • Don't take responsibility for what is not your fault or for others' achievements

  • Avoid simplification, embrace complexity and tolerate contradictions

  • Audit your motives and goals
Fascinating book.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Voyage of the Iris...

I have just found out about this remarkable story - Archie Leed was a cousin of my Grandad's. The stuff of films! C'mon Speilberg...!


This is the true tale of an incident which occurred in the last century. The story was found by the late Miss A. B. Sinclair, Sister of John Sinclair, (sometime Provost of Thurso and Lord Lieutenant of Caithness - died c.1975), 20 Miller's Lane. Thurso, among papers belonging to her late father. He had written it down as he had heard it many times from his grandfather Donald Sinclair - Miss Sinclair died in the 1960s aged over 70.

On a lovely harvest morning a small vessel of about 25-30 tons set sail from Thurso for Tongue. She was smack rigged and named the 'Iris'. She had a crew of three men from Thurso; Archie Leed, John Mill and Donald Sinclair. They had two passengers with them, a cattle dealer named Meiklejohn who had chartered the boat to go west for potatoes and another man who was a travelling watchmender. It was calm when they left the harbour and went out past Holborm Head, Brims Ness and Sandside Head, but gradually the wind rose and, as they were off the Rabbit Islands near Tongue the skipper (Donald Sinclair) gave orders to run out the anchor until the tide turned when the ship would be able to sail up the Kyle. But the wind rose, and the wind rose. The little ship was bobbing about dangerously when suddenly the cable snapped and the helpless boat rushed out before the gale into the open sea. The crew tried to put up the sail but the relentless wind tore it to shreds; and still the gale drove the boat further and further out to sea. Donald Sinclair, a very devout man, decided that they would just have to trust in the Lord, find as dry a bit to shelter in as they could and leave the boat to take her own way. Providence would surely keep them from harm.

All too soon the boat was midway between Hoy and Suleskerry, still being tossed about like a cork, and then the Old Man of Hoy was before them, staring down impassively at their helplessness. Suddenly the boat lurched and old John Mill was thrown into the sea. Almost immediately a rope was thrown and the others managed to drag him back into the boat. The 'Iris' continued to drive one, past the coast of Birsay on the Orkney main island and on through the dreaded Sumburgh Roost, always tossing like an eggshell. Darkness fell, but because everything was so wet, they could not light a flare. By this time the poor passengers, who were not used to the sea, were in a really bad way between fear and sea-sickness. The crew did their best to comfort them, but truth to tell they were not very happy themselves. There just seemed to be no hope at all and they waited for the end. However when dawn broke they were still alive, still being tossed about, and as the storm became even worse, it seemed impossible that the boat would not break up. They tried to hoist a distress signal but with no luck. They were so cold and wet through and through.

The small amount of food was not enough to keep then warm and drinking water had been contaminated by the sea, and still they lived. And now the sturdy boat sprang a leak and everyone, weak as they were, had to take a turn to man the pump. But amazingly the little boat held her own and although she tossed about in the most alarming fashion, the timbers held. Day after day, day after day, the storm continued, and never a sight of land, only the tossing grey waters all around. There was very little bere meal left and they tried to lick rain water from their clothes but with little success. On board were two cases of whisky but the skipper decided they did not dare to broach these as without water to take with it they might go mad. By this time the wind had moderated but out in the ocean they had no idea where they were. They only knew that there was no land in sight. After a shower one day they managed to hoard some water in a piece of torn sail but soon this was all gone. By now they were too weak to move from one position. Their tongues were swollen, their throats dry and their lips almost glued together and still miraculously they lived.

One morning the man in the stern thought he sighted something. At first he was afraid that he had imagined it but right enough, there on the water not too far from them was a sail. They had no strength to hoist a signal but they tried to move around as much as possible and luckily the other boat spotted them. Soon the half dead men were lifted into a Norwegian herring boat and taken care of by the captain's wife. The men had sighted land right enough. It was no mirage. It was the coast of Norway. Their rescuer was bound for the Baltic with herring and had been driven off course by the storm. Very soon the herring boat docked in Bergen and the poor men were very well looked after, particularly by the British Consul and by the Shipwrecked Mariners Society (one of the Thurso men was a member). As soon as they were sufficiently recovered, the Consul put them aboard a boat bound for Newcastle. From there they went to Berwick, then to Leith and finally caught a steamer bound for Wick.

Meantime in Thurso, after days of waiting and hoping, the crew were given up for lost, but seamen's wives never completely give up hope. One of the older captains suggested that they might have been driven ashore on Suleskerry and when the storm abated, a boat was launched to look for them. Although they searched every inch of the small island, no trace was found and the boat sorrowfully returned. As they were coming near all the townsfolk crowded down to the harbour hoping for some news, only to be told the sad tale. Someone suggested that an old woman in the town who had second sight might be able to help, and sure enough on being consulted, she told the anxious wives not to mourn as their men would return one day. Many folk did not believe her, but some had a lingering hope and used to visit the Post Office regularly praying for some word. The old woman was eventually proved right.

A letter came one morning from Norway telling about the rescue of the men and later still news of their arrival in Wick. When the men reached Wick, they had of course no money for railway fares so they set out to walk for Thurso. The wives and friends went wild with excitement and crowds walked out along the Mount Vernon road carrying banners and welcomed royally the men who had been given up for dead during the previous six weeks. Had it not been for the kindness of the folk they met, the crew would have fared badly on the way home as they thought they had lost everything on board the 'Iris'. Imagine their surprise when on the road from Wick they met a dealer leading a cow and their fellow passenger, the cattle dealer, said he would buy it! He extracted a roll of notes from his pocket and promptly paid the money. The others were outraged that this man had allowed them to suffer so much on the way home while Meiklejohn had all this money. The joy of reunion soon made them forget everything except the fact that they were all safe and at home again. Until they died they never ceased to tell of their wonderful journey, and of their preservation at the hand of God.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy Birthday Beth!!

Where'd those 13 years go?

Happy Birthday Beth who'd believe it - a teenager!!

A fighter from birth, no words describe the sense of a Father's pride that she now knows who and what to fight for!

Keep looking out for them Beth...!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Books 2008...

Books I have read this year...
Top reads
Best Novel
I need to read more novels in 2009 - any suggestions?