Sunday, 26 December 2010

I'd hate to be...

An Australian cricket fan... at least, in the last 12 hours... 90,000 watched as they were all out for less than 100 in 48 overs at the MCG... and then were horrified as the tourists posted 150+ without loss... listening to the highlights, it sounds like England could have bowled underarm with a tennis ball and got away with it... they could do no wrong.

Their experience reminded me of those times when things I've been involved in have been outrageously blessed by God's presence... those moments when you could use a piece of imaginary chewing gum to connect your guitar to the amp and it would still work... on days like that, it's almost like God takes particular pleasure in demonstrating just how easily he can turn the world upside down for those he loves... failure isn't even a possiblity.

I almost felt sorry for the Australian cricket fans this morning... and in that spirit of largesse... Happy Christmas...

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Who's the daddy?

The last few days in the Mome household have been something of a challenge...

Following a weekend away that was billed as 'Homegroup Christmas'... and ended up being 'Homegroup Sickfest' when 8 out of the 12 people present (including The Wife) succumbed to a vomiting bug, we limped home on Monday, only to find that Moo had brought the bug with her... There's nothing quite as guilt-inducing as ignoring her noctural chirping only to find that what she's actually been doing is yodeling her evening meal, and you have to wash pasta out of her hair before you can go to bed...

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Out of date?

I travel to work on a tiny rail branch-line whose existence is constantly under threat.

This means that ticket buying has become a communal glue and a political strategy... Every ticket bought is scrutinised and used to calculate passenger numbers, and the viability of the service. No longer are those who travel the line individual travellers buying individual tickets to individual stations... instead, somehow, we've become a body of quiet revolutionaries

Thursday, 18 November 2010

It's been... one week...

I've discovered that the best way for me to regularly read the bible is to leave one lying around where I know my bored eye will fall on it.

A few days ago, by chance, I left a bible on the dining room table...

The next morning, when I came down to breakfast it was sitting there so I thought - 'why not?'... and I opened it... and read some of it with my porridge.

The next morning I did the same...

The next morning I did the same again... and I got a book out of the bookcase to help me understand a bit more of it...

Later that day we tidied up at home and, because we needed the table for a family meal, we put the bible back in the bookcase...

It's been a week, and although I only read it for three days in a row, I realise now that I quite enjoyed it...

I'm going to get it back out of the bookcase tonight and put it back on the table again...

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Taking things far too seriously...

This morning, over breakfast, I read Jon Acuff's post on the Jesus Juke ... no less than an hour later (well, maybe a bit more... Moo was up early this morning) I tripped over this comment on a cartoon posted on cake or death.

"I am not sure that the Darwin fish means you are a Christian and believe in evolution, that would be hypocritical…?"

I wondered how much further this kind of misinformed hyper seriousness could go... so I went looking...

And it turns out that it goes a lot further than mistaking the bible for a scientific proof...

Um... :|

Friday, 12 November 2010

Between 1 and 3%

In my work, I get to spend a fair amount of time with 'management consultants'... an optimistic, hopeful (and particularly expensive) breed of humans who spend their working lives telling people what they already know 'deep down inside'...

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Rewriting the poppy

I am bemused by those who talk their way through life... like the archetypal tourist who only sees the landmarks they visit through the lens of a camera, there are some who seem to isolate themselves from the real impact of reality by constantly commentating on it... to my eyes, shying away from allowing moments of exquisite beauty or sadness, love or pain to really reach them by hiding behind a waterfall of words, words, words and more words.

I've always considered poetry to be a bit the same... the escapist waffling of those unable to really swallow what they experience, able only to experience it through a cathartic self-exposure on the page...

That is, unless it has something to do with war...

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Toilet Roll Covers

If you visit The Wife's grandparents' house... and take a moment in their loo... you'll see, sitting on the window sill, a toilet roll in a pretty, pink toilet roll cover.

When I was a child... I remember making a toilet roll cover - it was designed to look like a poodle.

I say designed because no-one, surely, actually thinks that a real poodle looks like this: 

Monday, 11 October 2010

Christian Tradishuns... the Bible Cover

The dictionary defines 'tradition' as the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, ways of thinking, practices etc., from generation to generation.

The Catholic Church defines tradition as "revealed truths apart from those contained in the Bible"... established by Church practice over time, they are the living 'magisterium' (teaching authority); truth, communicated to the church through the apostles, of whom the Pope is the direct spiritual descendent.

A simpler definition, provided by an anonymous contributor to a Christian Discussion forum, is that it's 'man-made claptrap'...

... a bit like Bible Covers.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

... by their beards, shall ye know them

Beards are funny things... I had one once... actually no, that's not true... since the hair grows more on the right side of my face than on the left, I had half a beard; I looked like I'd been caught in a particularly abrasive crosswind...

I'm not allowed a beard any more... The Wife won't let me, although occasionally I don't shave for a day or two as an act of rebellion... grrrr...

For those with less oppressed chins than mine, beards can be iconic. WG Grace's (and Mike Gatting's) Obelix belly/whiskers combination are virtually synonymous with the pre-cardiovascular days of cricket... Jerry Garcia's face-fro is the symbol of an entire generational movement who 'stuck it to the (presumably clean-shaven) man' by throwing down their razors and daaancing until the sun shone from every rainbow pore... ahem.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

They're churches Jim... but not as we know them...

Just a quick note because a longer post is in the offing... but I've been struck recently by three completely different versions of 'church'... define it as you will... the building, the 'gathering', the act of worship that is Kingdom on Earth...

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The humility of Satnav

Reading Nick's recent post on getting out of depth with God prompted me to remember something that happened when I visited Bristol for the first time.

It was the summer of 2002, and I'd been accepted on a course that started in October. I'd made some enquiries and provisionally found a room in a house tucked away in the middle of a small street called Manor Park, somewhere in a place called 'Redland', in the north of the city. I just needed to visit and check that it was OK.

I lived in Derbyshire at the time, so getting to Bristol was a simple matter of motorways... but, rather than drive straight in  - I'd decided to get a bit of a feel for the city on the way by going down the Portway, under Brunel's bridge, and then back up to the house through town... it was a bit of a round route... but I'd bought a map and I wasn't in any hurry.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Putting things on hold... is it Christmas yet?

Dear all... forgive the disappearance of this blog over the past two months... like Pop's Daewoo Matiz I'm afraid I rather fell into a rut pressed into the crawler lane of life by the heavy wheels of work and have been looking for a ladder ever since.

To be fair, there has also been a slightly existential flavour in the Môme's home outage...

Yes - I am on a diet.... but that's not what I'm talking about...

My problem is more spiritual.

I'll explain.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Living in a box

It was an early spring day in 1987... In a semi-semi (really a terrace with gaps) in rural Cambridgeshire a 14 year-old me sat at my desk doing my homework... *sigh*... my DT project was going particularly badly... Whilst others were building robots that were alive like Number 5, and could sense and turn away from the edge of a table, my unicycle was still looking suspiciously like a collection of bent tubes and a saddle shaped like an upturned Petri dish.

Of the wheel or pedals, there was - as yet - no sign...

The sun coming through the window lit up a halo of craaaayzy hair and cast a bouffant shadow on the wardrobe behind me... sunlight shone from the rims of my oversized spectacles onto my adolescent acne... outside the trees were just coming on green... and I longed to be anywhere but there... (or at least there... but not doing homework any more)

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Man Church

With apologies to ladies with no sense of humour... turn away now! This one is written from a single-mindedly male point of view... and it makes all kinds of generalisations that you probably won't like... (although if you're offended by it, you should probably read it anyway...)

Responding to a recent article in 'Sorted' in which men report being more comfortable in a ladies underwear shop than they do in church... I'm prompted to ask the question 'Does my bum look big in this?"

No... sorry... I'm prompted to ask the question "What does Man Church look like?'

Most difficult is, apparently, the hymnbook... Whilst 80% of men are happy to sing in the shower, and about half are happy to sing at a footy match, 67% resist singing in church.

But that's not the only obstacle - 66% said they were just uncomfortable 'being there'.


Monday, 14 June 2010

Who are the Church... really?

Q: What do you do if you reckon you've found out that the Church has been systematically reading a bit of the bible wrong...
A: You stand up and tell everyone on Sunday morning...

Following that... this is Ephesians 1-2:10 rewritten based on a number of sources... who all make the key suggestion that we (the Western Church) might have been reading it wrong... and point out that the Church isn't the focus of a plan hastily put together by God to save the world after his original plan to use Israel was hijacked by Satan and mankind's sin, but rather the firstfruits of His original plan... that he brought to fulfilment through Messiah... from Israel... to save the world.

Monday, 7 June 2010

You can choose your friends but...

Families are funny things... 'nuff said.

I did expand on this.... but Môme may have vetoed it!! Expand as you wish!!

And yet we love them... odd.

Anyway... as requested by my lovely sister-in-law... some yummies!

Chocolate and almond tray bake...

Oven at 180C, line a tin with foil (the smaller the tin the thicker the pieces will be :) but the less of them you get :( )
Melt 8oz of chocolate and spread over the foil... leave to set.
Whisk 2 eggs with 1/2 a teaspoon of almond essence.
Fold in 5oz caster sugar, 4oz ground almonds, 2oz semolina, 2oz glacé cherries and 2oz dried apricots.
Spread over the set chocolate and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Cut into slices whilst hot, then cool to set completely...

Serve with a cup of tea, good friends and conversation :)

Wednesday, 2 June 2010


Pop's recent comment on membership and his (rightful) insistence that the Church should be (is!) the bride of Christ has prompted this post... about experiences of joining and belonging to a membership-type church.

'On the pull'

It's a curious experience turning up a new church, particularly if you have an inkling that it might be one you want to attend regularly. It involves eyeing people up, checking out the oddballs, feeling out the vibes, pricing up the wares. If we're very shallow (I am) I'm interested in what's on the surface (the music, the P.A., the cardigans...)... if we're trying to be more spiritual we try to get a feel for what's going on underneath... It bears an uncommon resemblance to the habits of our pagan brothers who go "on the pull" to "night clubs"... We're so deep!

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Jesus can wait... right?

The wife's asked if she can add a new dimension to this blog... occasionally chipping in with observations, quotes and maybe the odd recipe... but only ones that really work, not those really complicated ones that involve things like 'sweated pak choi' or a 'fricassé of three live geese and a small pineapple'...

Of course I said 'yes'... after all, she's the cornerstone of this bit of earthly life that I call 'home'... and celebrating with her is just as (more) important as anything else that I might write about on here. So, here's the first. Perhaps not quite what you might expect... but real life... and possibly more profound than you think at first glance...

Over to her:

... and I quote M - [on death]

"it's not that I'm scared of dying... I'm not... and I'm sure heaven's nice, or wherever it's going to be once God remakes the world... it's just that if dying means going to be with Jesus... and if I die now, or I die in 50 years time it's still going to be with Jesus... then Jesus can wait... right?"

Pick n' mix, bread sandwiches... and a good bowl of stew

What's your experience of Christian teaching?

Mine seems to have been largely one consisting of pick n' mix, or bread sandwiches... 

I love pick n' mix... it's redolent of a time when you could still buy sweets in quarters... and when a quarter only cost 23p and you could, therefore, get a pound of sugary sickness for less than £1... There's no feeling quite like turning up equipped to the cinema... diving your hand into the bag, not knowing what you were about to find... munching your way through a film... trying to balance the variety still in the bag, in the dark, without looking. Perhaps that was the key with pick n'mix... buying the right amount, and of the right sweets so that your bag emptied steadily, providing the perfect confectionery accompaniment to the progressing storyline... and didn't suddenly dry up, or dump you in a sea of hundreds and thousands covered milk buttons at the film's most exciting moment.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Loose fit, long life

In a past life (I've had several), I had a number of friends who were professional building conservationists.

Sometimes, this was a lot of fun... I seem to have made it a feature of my life since childhood to try and get into places that I'd normally be barred from (my favourite was the school boilerhouse) so there's a certain frisson to being mates with people who have keys to all kinds of buildings that the public aren't normally allowed to visit.

Sometimes it was much less fun. There was a lot of tedious standing around, tutting at the use of the wrong paint (not just type, but also hue... and sub hue... and apparently sub sub hue), the wrong bricks (colour, shape, size, manufacture and patterning are all very important here), the wrong pointing (apparently the cementy bit between bricks and the order in which they're glued together also matters) and a lot of other 'wrongs'...

There was also a lot of arguing over just how far back to take a restoration... being a bit of a child of nature I always used to like to suggest "to the original oak forest" - this was received with derision until they realised that I was serious. I'd rather look at a forest than a stately home any day.

However, there was one phrase that used to come up from time to time, and that was 'Loose fit, long life'... It's a phrase that particularly puzzled me, because it always seemed to be applied to the most ramshackle old buildings; the ones that look like they'd been out on a particularly committed Friday night on the town and crawled home to slump in a heap in a corner of their neatly manicured garden at 3 in the morning... but it was a phrase that always seemed to meet with universal approval.

"Grand building Gromit... ay... look at them winders... them beams... never see that now... no siree... loose fit, long life..."

... and everyone would nod and chew on their cloth caps...

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Two spheres... alike in... Kingdom?

If you've been following what's happening at the University this week, particularly with regards to the proposal to shut down the BSc in Deaf Studies, then you'll understand why I've not been writing much... 

Doing my normal 'job'... attending the protests... writing letters... going home to my family... all makes me ask an interesting question... how am I doing reconciling my 'work life' and all my other 'lives' with my 'faith life'?

I ask the question because I'm a firm believer that there should be no difference in the way that I approach life, and work, and God, and family, and anything else... I'm constantly haunted by the idea that, really, there should equally be need to create a division between any of these... that they are simply different facets of a single life; one that should be lived as an outworking of the Kingdom.

For example... I feel constantly challenged about why I have two blogs. Not, you understand, by other people... On the one hand, they are entirely too nice (perhaps they think I'm a blogaholic)... and on the other, when they discover what the other blog is about (the other one's here, just for information...) they're rather relieved that I haven't inflicted both on them after all!  

And yet I find it impossible to get away from the fact that there should perhaps only be one... to show my wrestlings with work to those outside of it... and (perhaps here's the greater pressure) to show my faith to those in my place of work.

And yet, I can't combine the two. Partly - as I demonstrated above - because you probably don't want to read about the ins-and-outs of my academic thinking... but more because the rules of engagement in different spheres of life are... well, different, and have to be treated differently.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Numbers and habits...

My grasp of higher mathematics is appalling, I lost the plot at integration (I see it a bit like Wizardry - you just seem to conjure numbers from other numbers... rather like in chemistry... when they started to pull Moles out of test-tubes...). However, having grown up on a diet of F1, Cricket and Top Trumps, I do understand the basic principle that seems to pervade most of reality... which is that bigger numbers win... It is, after all, a fundamentally accepted base-supposition of the universe that if my card bearing SpongeBob Squarepants has a giggle factor of 6, and your Squidward Tentacles card only has a giggle factor of 2... I get the right to prance about you like an oaf, making an 'L' shape on my forehead.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Returning to my pacifist outrage... those who do it better than me!

Following my acute personal discomfort and somewhat overpowering 'Menonite moment' related below at the way that a 'help for heroes' event was promoted as a 'good cause' in our church newsletter... It's something of a relief to find that I'm not the only one who struggles with the taken-for-granted OK-ness of church, and therefore also presumably 'C'hurch, support for the military - and also not alone in not quite knowing how to enunciate the tension between that and loving those who thinks it's fine.

What's good about the article in Christianity magazine (look down the page until you get to the Help for Heroes bit) is that they manage to do what I couldn't, and that's articulate the discussion without getting frustrated and annoyed at myself and everyone else and his cat...

31 Flavours

From 1992-3 and 1996-7 I worked for YWAM in a rural corner of Canada. There, of a humid, sultry summer's evening - if you could stand to be out at the same time as the mosquitoes - a really great thing to do was to drive into the nearby Cowansville (there are no cows - misleadingly) and visit the Baskin Robbins Ice-Cream Parlour.

I love ice-cream... Oh, how I love ice-cream... So, I considered it my mission (after all, I was a missionary, was I not)... to try each of the 31 flavours on offer.

Some weren't great. Root Beer for example - an acquired taste at the best of times and in ice-cream form rather like sucking on a frozen Elastoplast... bizarre in a cone.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010


I arrived home last night to two pieces of news...

Firstly - Millie appears to have hit her 6 week growth spurt and is feeding constantly.
Secondly - We're about to be evacuated.

The implications of the second are significantly less tiring than the first... and much more exciting. Apparently, workers building a tidal defence system in Pill (just seawards up the Avon and on the other side) have discovered what they think is an unexploded WWII bomb.

They're going to start digging up said object on the 7th May... and then tow it up the river towards Bristol, past the bottom of our garden.

They've suggested that we might like to leave the house for the towing bit...

Friday, 23 April 2010

Christendom tensions and the Kingdom

I've just been sent a news bulletin from church... in which there is a notice about one couple's son who is taking part in a charity event to raise money for 'Help for Heroes'... the advice that it's 'a good cause' and information on how to donate.

It made me very uncomfortable.

On the one hand, I can see that it's a massive effort, it's taken lots of organisation... Clearly his parents are proud of him and what he's doing... and they are convinced by the rightness of the cause. It's good that people should know and be free to give, and there are a lot of people in the church who might do that... so, what better way to tell them than through the bulletin?

On the other, I think it's a terrible idea... I hate war, I think the troops in question are unnecessary, I think their involvement in Afghanistan is illegal, and I wouldn't classify them as 'heroes'...

Most of all, I find myself surprised by how strong my emotional reaction is when I see something that appears to support military action proposed as 'a good cause' in a church publication...

Now, I know I can just go and tell the leadership that I didn't like the inclusion of the article... that would be a very easy way of dealing with my own discomfort. I know some of them are sympathetic to my rather extreme anti-militarism.

That would make me feel better. But it's a bit of a cop-out and won't deal with the root issue, which for me is the discomfort that I see as some in the church 'stretch' (for want of a better word) towards a less taken-for-granted post-Christendom type understanding of the Kingdom of God... while more ingrained habits of the church aren't moving in the same direction.

Perhaps the frustration of knowing how to even enunciate this is reflected by the fact that I wrote more on this below... and then deleted it because I thought that it sounded judgmental (which is the last thing I want to be)... Every time I put something down that represented what I wanted to say, I found that it didn't... or it could be read wrongly.


Môme's Home

I've moved academic discussion to my blog so this is now a much more personal take on all things life/work/family/church/God...

Why Môme? As an academic, I'm often searched for by name. Môme is a persona from a past in MUDs and a not-at-all-anonymous tag when posting information that doesn't need to show up as 'me'. It means 'small child' in French and has a kind of defenselessness innocence about it - a kind of sparkly-eyed, sand-in-your-sandwiches, hair bleached in the sun, implicitly trusting, happiest-when-hugged simplicity to it that I'd like to see in my own life :)