Monday, 28 June 2010

Congratulations Jonathan!

Jonathan has just received the final result of his degree in Economics - and he got a first! We are proud parents and he's pretty chuffed!!

Jon's got a real passion for the subject and works with focus and determination, so it's well deserved. He's staying in Exeter and in September begins a MSc with a view to going into International Development.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Wondrous wild flowers on Chaffron Way

Congratulations to Milton Keynes Council and the Parks Trust for another stunning demonstration of its commitment to the natural beauty of our city. On the Furzton section of Chaffron Way are two huge swathes of wild flowers that drench the iris with colour. It is absolutely stunning. As we went closer to take some photographs another couple was there already and shortly after another man arrived.

The woman was overawed by such a profusion of 'my favourite flowers' and wanted to lie down in them. She half expected to see fairies, which says something about the magical quality of the experience.

For the foreseeable future all roads to and from MK will be via Chaffron Way!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

'Cross Purposes'

I've just read about a fascinating exhibition just opened in London, 'Cross purposes - Shock and Contemplation in Images of the Crucifixion'. What's staggering is that it is at the Ben Uri Gallery, the London Jewish Museum of Art. Norman Lebrecht writes, that it's 'drawn torrents of abuse from Jewish supporters of the museum, who argue (rightly) that the crucifixion image has been the incitement for 2,000 years of Christian persecution of Jews. The gallery counters that the man on the cross was Jewish; it's time to reclaim that heritage and discuss the terrible act from the victim's viewpoint'. It certainly sounds like it's worth a visit.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Alpha & Omega - The Event

Had a great evening on Saturday at Melton Mowbray Baptist Church's weekend celebration of the work of the artist Brian Maunders. During the day the church had many visitors coming to see the main attraction which was Brian's tryptich, Alpha and Omega, as well as many of the sketches for this, together with other pieces including a display of paintings, drawings and etchings.

The central panel is inspired by the Revelation of St John the Divine and represents God's desire to call humankind into a relationship with him. The panel on its left depicts stories from the Old Testament with figures that include Job and Jonah. The panel on the right is inspired by passages from the New Testament. I don't think there are many Baptist churches with such a visual display, and I felt proud to be associated with the church!

In the first half of the evening I spoke about music and the arts from a Christian perspective. I explored the power of music, and that strong sense when music becomes a means of encounter with God. I went on to set out a structure for thinking Christianly about the arts. It went well and I certainly enjoyed myself, but wonder whether I tried to cram in too much so that it was a bit dense to listen to. I think that I tried to do two talks in the space of one.

After wine and cheese - though not for Mary Cotes, my superb accompanist, and me! - we gave a forty-five minute recital. The piano was a lovely baby grand, the acoustic was great, and we played well. And overall I think it was probably the best that I've played since music was my main occupation in life.

The audience were treated to a Tarantella by the totally unknown composer, Milde;  two movements of the Mozart Concerto; a lyrical piece by Faure; a serenely beautiful slow movement from a Vivaldi Concerto; Sarah Watt's fantastic, Everything is Somewhere Else; and for the first time, A Simple Song, from Leonard Bernstein's Mass. Both Mary and I can't get this out of our heads and we love it! So if you have Spotify, go listen! What went down very well, although it wasn't the musical highlight, was me singing 'The Bassoon Song', with interjections played on the Bassoon. It's Victorian Music Hall stuff - not great music but a lot of fun.

The half an hour a day practice - there was a time when I'd spend that warming up! - will now reduce to ten minutes a day until the beginning of July when the next concert comes into view.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Walking humbly with our God

I was with my colleague, Bishop Peter, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Northampton, yesterday. He spoke of a Groundplan within the Diocese, which has the title, 'Walking humbly with our God', taken from Micah.

This appeals to me because it doesn't have the Star Trek stridency of some of our mission statements and strategy straplines. Not that it's any easier to do! I was reminded of the mission statement of Portrack Baptist Church, which I love, 'plodding hopefully in the right direction'.

[On reading this through, 'Star Trek stridency of some of our mission statements and strategy straplines' makes for a challenging tongue twister!!]

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Alpha & Omega - A Celebration in Art

On Saturday I'm taking part in an Art Weekend at Melton Mowbray Baptist Church, where I was the minister. The weekend celebrates the work of gifted artist, Brian Maunders, a member of the church. And as part of the weekend there will be an inauguration of a huge three-part mural Brian has painted in the main church building.

When I was minister at the church we explored Brian's vision and, sadly for me, it wasn't the right time. However, the time has come and when I saw the mural in progress I was very excited.

Throughout the weekend there will be an exhibition of Brian's works and techniques. The event is launched on Friday evening with a talk by Dr Angie Smith, an art historian and member of the church.  On the Saturday evening, I'm speaking about my perspective on art, music and Christianity, which is followed by a bassoon recital with Mary Cotes on piano. During the Sunday morning service Brian's work will be inaugurated.

So, if you're near Melton Mowbray over the weekend, do visit. And it would be great to see you at the evening event on the Saturday, which starts at 8.00 p.m.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Maggi Dawn, The Writing on the Wall

I've just received Maggi's new book, ahead of the publishing date! It's called The Writing on the Wall. It 'provides a fascinating introduction to the Bible's best-known stories ... then shows how it has become enmeshed in Western culture ... and how the Bible has influenced everyone that matters - from Shakespeare to Ian McEwan, and the Beatles to Monty Python.

Maggi is a creative thinker and stimulating communicator and this promises to be a great read. If you haven't visited her blog, go here.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Stuck in the box?

On Saturday we held our annual Central Baptist Association Assembly. It was the normal mix of worship, news, interviews, welcome and in memorium, AGM, address and, after lunch, workshops. A good number turned up, and I've only heard good things, so far! From my perspective, it was an excellent day, with a number of high points.

The workshops were well attended, even after lunch, and the one that I hosted, 'Love Your Local School', was led by a new minister to the association, David Skinner from Houghton Regis. In Reading he was deeply involved in a number of creative projects, one among asylum seekers, and another, in schools. REinspired was the result. Picking up on the Baptist Union mission emphasis upon Crossing Places, he stressed that the school is a unique crossing place as a centre and focus of the community. Many of the people attending showed that they were already in engaged, but he explored a number of very creative ways of furthering this engagement.

The other high point was the address by David Kerrigan from BMS World Mission. The theme for the day was, 'Stuck in the box?' and he brought an imaginative and challenging reflection on the subject. David is a class act and he was on great form. He showed this TED video clip, 'How to start a movement'. It's three minutes long - go see!

Over lunch I talked with David about blogging. His blog, thinking mission, can be found here, it's well worth a look. My last blog was 3 April, so it's been a significant gap. We had a great conversation about the blogging community, and how surprisingly meaningful it can be, and about levels of energy and what causes them to rise and fall. I've thought about a post on a number of occasions, but it's felt hard to get back into it. I'll be interested to see what happens in the coming weeks. There have been loads of things that I could have blogged on, and it may be that I revisit some of these.