New Wine Cellar

20140317_191055299_iOSFinally, I’ve finished decorating and fitting out my new wine ‘cellar’ (cupboard).

It looks great – a nice and cool space – and capable of holding my whole wine collection – with enough  racking to hold up to 286 wines.

I have been been interested in the collection and tasting of wine since I was at University in the 1980’s – and have always collected a varied cellar, currently holding around 200 wines from around the world, with vintages going back 10 to 15 years.  I collect wine to drink, rather than as an investment, so only keep wines until they are at their peak for drinking – hence the lack of very old vintages.

It’s great to be able to see them all in one place at last.

Tony Benn (1925-2014)

TonyBennTony Benn (1925-2014)

It’s a sad day for me – one of my true heroes has died!

Tony Benn epitomised for me what socialist politics should be about.  He was passionate; he was articulate; he cared for his fellow citizen – and he did something about it!

The UK is a weaker place with his passing!

Photo  from ‘The Third Estate’ website

Current reading list – March 2014

Mutiny_thumbnailI’ve had Kester Brewin’s ‘Mutiny!  Why We Love Pirates, and How They Can Save Us’ in my book pile for a while, well, since it was first published,but  I have finally got round to reading it.

Brilliant so far – giving the history of piracy and how it can be relevant to our spiritual lives as Christians in the twenty first century.  I will give a full review once I’ve finished the book.

I’ve also got a few more books over the last few days to add to my book pile – andI  am looking forward to reading all three of them – see cover photos below.

Mark Sayers and Neil Cole are both long standing favourite authors of mine – both inspiring and compelling writers who make me want to act rather than just think.  Their new books, ‘Facing Leviathan’ and ‘Primal Fire’ do not look like they are going to disappoint!

The third book, ‘A Letter to my Congregation’ by Ken Wilson looked interesting and I can’t wait to get my teeth into what he has to say.

Again, I will post reviews of all three once I’ve finished reading them 🙂

51znKERQODL._SY445_ Lettercongregation_thumbnail PrimalFire_thumbnail

Becoming immune to Facebook

I must admit, I am slowly but surely becoming more and more disallusioned with Facebook.  I love the community feel you can get from communicating with old friends, from being able to share things you like and are passionate about – but, for me, I always feel an underlying sense of conflict and competition, as if there is always someone in my friends list who is just waiting to pounce, ready to point out things that aren’t in line with their theological dogma, somehow wanting to prove that they know more, or are somehow more faithful to Scripture than me.

And, it really annoys me!

Not that I don’t think challenge is good – in fact, I truly believe that if we are not open to criticism or feedback then we will never grow – intellectually or spiritually.  But it does get me down to realise that some are just ‘friends’ in order to gain information so that they can point the finger and ‘tut-tut’  at, in their view, how unorthodox my theology has become.

If I’m such a stinking ‘liberal’ in their eyes – why don’t they just unfriend me and move on?

So I enjoyed seeing this cartoon by David Hayward today.

JESUS-FB1

Not that I’m comparing myself to Jesus.  No, I’m not that arrogant.

I liked it because it reminded me that popularity is not the main purpose of my life – that, actually, searching for truth, justice, love and hope in Jesus should be my goal, and, sometimes, others won’t like what I say or do, for the sole reason that they are in a different place to me.

But that shouldn’t stop me searching,.

Even if it does mean losing ‘friends’ on Facebook.

David Harwards comment with his cartoon are worth repeating:

“It does often feel like Facebook is a popularity contest. It sometimes feels like high school all over again.

The gospel accounts, as diverse as they are, still communicate the radical focus of Jesus to something more than popularity, winning a crowd or gaining a following. He wasn’t interested in fans.

We can live the same liberated life… free from the scrutiny, judgement and even admiration of others.

It is not easy experiencing loss. It’s sometimes not easy experiencing gain.

If we can find that centered place that is immune to the ups and downs of the opinions of others, then we know what it means to be at peace.”

That is so true!

The paradox of choice

I love these short videos from RSA Animate, they are so inspirational and really make me think.

This one, ‘The Paradox of Choice’ by Renata Salecl, is a really good observation about ‘choice anxiety’ and why, culturally, we are never satisfied with what we have…..and for me, this is as relevant in the church as it is within our wider society.

If we think that we are not influenced by such things in the church then we are naive – one of the big issues for me is how consumerism and choice anxiety, and the search for the ideal choice, are pulling faithful people away from a scriptural experience of life, mainly, one based on service, community and ‘body’ ministry.  We all think we are living scripturally, but in reality we are living tribally, being influenced by the same societal pressures and drivers as anyone else…….which, when you think about it, is frightening!

Back again…after a break

Back-AgainI haven’t blogged for a while.

In fact, I haven’t blogged properly for nearly two years. I was drained of enthusiasm, and didn’t feel I could write with any conviction.

It’s a long story of how and why it happened, but in a nutshell, I was feeling discouraged and sore, and it would have been too easy to turn my hurt into a rant against those who I perceived had hurt me. It’s too easy to be critical of, and spiteful towards, others during conflict – to come out fighting.

So rather than hit out, I just stopped blogging.

But I’m back!

My enthusiasm has returned. I’m ready to write again.

Amongst other things, I want to write about what has happened to me over the last few years, and tell my story, but also reflect on why things happened the way they did. Inevitably, that will spin off in many different directions – so let’s just see where it takes us.

As before, I’ll be working the interface between church, theology and culture, but there will be some fun and factual stuff as well, and inevitably, I’ll be sharing what I’m thinking and reviewing what I’m reading.

I hope you find it useful, encouraging and stimulating.