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Showing posts from September, 2009

These are a few of my favourite Kings

With apologies to Julie Andrews & Sound of Music fans. I've been remiss in waiting so long to provide with a few of my favourite Kings.

In date order -

Alfred the Great (871)
More a Monk than a warrior, he led at a time when the Anglo Saxon Kingdom of Wessex was reduced to a small rabble trapped in a marsh in Somerset. From this low point, he managed to fight & negotiate his way to becoming the first true King of a united England. Alfred alone is responsible (in my view) for preserving the Anglo Saxon culture & language which was about to be lost forever at the hands of the Danes.

William the Conqueror (1066)
William gets on the list because the mention of his name is the only legitimate reason in our house for the children to say the word 'bastard!' William the Bastard (to give him his full French title) spent his whole life being reminded of his dubious origins, until Harold gave him the swift opportunity for a change of surname.

Henry VIII (1509)
An arrogant mons…

What makes a man? Part 2

Since putting up my 'useful things I can do' list, many of you have commented to me how useful I would be in your life - thanks for the encouragement. But you'd still call the Action Man with the eagle eye function (not the Sailor with the beard & no grip) rather than me in a crisis!

In the big story of mans beginnings we are given a glimpse of real man made in God's image. Here we catch something of our purpose which has become buried under the twin opposing forces of manbags & moisturising or chest thumping muscle headed neanderthalism. (You can tick your own box here!)

The first man, Adam, is given the incredible assignment to rule & subdue, to fill & multiply. He's given land, he has to tame animals, make his own tools - no wonder boys young & old get bored sitting at desks all day. We were made for adventure! Here is the whole earth; Explore it, cultivate it, care for it - go find the equator, build some cities, invent some stuff!

At this poin…

What makes a man?

This week I cleared out my garage & discovered a workbench & a vice. This equipment is what every man should have & I am now the proud, masculine owner of a workshop.

However, I have no idea what to do with it. I have realised that all the things which make us feel like real men have become hidden away in this manner. As we pull the wraps from them we feel a deep stirring to manliness within us, but can't quite work out what we're supposed to do next.

There are so many voices in this generation which have rightly released women, whilst we men have sat back & forgotten how to live ourselves. We've either become over feminised & distant from our roots as men, or we observe the other macho extreme.

'What makes a man?' is the question in my mind as I try to turn my rusty vice. I think the answer may lie somewhere buried in the idea of man made in the image of God. I'll return to that in the next post. In the meantime, I've selected a list of us…

There's no 'I' in team

Today we had a staff team day. Somewhere deep inside I still flinch when they approach in the diary, a buried reflexive response to some horror shows in the distant past.

Geoff was a director in the Manchester office of our multi-national insurance corporation who made Ricky Gervais look like a balanced & considerate boss. His leadership style seemed to shift at rapid tangents, dependent on the courses he'd been on, the articles he'd never quite finish reading, or his own instinctive nous for a 'winner' of an idea.

On reflection, & with the benefit of much hindsight, I can thank God for Geoff & all that he has taught me about leadership, mostly through the medium of negative experience.

His team high point came in surreal fashion. Having been informed of our failure to reach targets & thus secure a performance related pay rise, Geoff knew all we really needed was to have a little sing song. Stay with me - it gets better. So Geoff disappears in the lift, o…

What is Britishness?

The Year 9 homework that I got roped in to help with last night was asking this question. It's a bit of a conundrum really, in spite of the best endeavours of the politically correct class who talk of cohesion but can't produce it in reality.

The reflex response is to talk about good old British values, fair play, trust, tolerance, decency. You only have to scratch the surface though to see through this veneer.

Fair play - Does that explain our ability to be plucky losers in most major sporting competitions? Happy just to be taking part & getting stuffed by the Germans/Australians (delete as appropriate). Our society is about as unfair & class divided today as it's ever been with the rich getting richer & the poor, well...poorer. More than poverty, it's the lack of opportunity, the closed doors to developing your destiny, that which became the American dream is a British nightmare.

Trust - I'm not sure how we have ever been able to claim this as some uniqu…

The kids of today!

It came to my attention with horror this weekend, that the kids who are off to university later this month weren't born until 1991! For me, 1991 seems like last week. In fact, come to think of it, I can remember more about 1991 that I can about last week!

It got me thinking that we have a generation here who are going to shape our nation & society, & yet they never watched Bagpuss, or public service announcements like the Green Cross Code. They never lived under Mrs Thatcher, & if you said 'Jolly green Giant' to them, they would picture Shrek rather than a plate full of vegetables.

So (with a nod to James Emery White, USA culture guru), here is my stab at how our class of '91 see the world around them -

They think TV's have always been flat.
They believe that Chelsea always were a top 4 team.
They have never written a letter, posted it, & enjoyed the anticipation of waiting for the reply to drop back onto the doormat.
They have never watched the evening …

Scandalous stories

It's outrageous that a man who only works for the last hour of the day should get paid the same money as a guy who slogs himself all day in the heat.

Remarkably, it's a scandalous story that Jesus told & I shared it today at Aubrey's funeral. This is the story that changed his life on 6th August when, with 2 weeks to live, he gave his life to Jesus, right at the finish line.

What a cheek! It's like hopping off the tube at Green Park in your running gear & racing up the Mall to cross the marathon line & pick up a medal!

Actually, those of us who have toiled away for years at trying to work out what it means to follow Jesus have one of two responses. We can either dance for joy at this scandal that is grace, or we recognise the gangrenous stink of legalism & the spirit of the elder brother stirring up in our hearts........'...but we've worked for you all these years & never been rewarded like this!'

As for me today? I've already told you -…

Gather around the wireless

We gathered around the wireless (internet) this morning to listen to a replay of Neville Chamberlains famous declaration that Britain is now at war with Germany. As Chamberlain outlines the German failure to comply with their deadline to withdraw from Poland, the fear in his voice is as clear today as it was 70 years ago.

Today we fight on a number of fronts & the slogan 'Not in my name' has become a banner of protest with which I hold some sympathy. To this day, I still can't fathom why we are in Afghanistan.

However, listening to a 70 year old radio broadcast this morning, I felt the swell of pride at a just & noble venture to fight alongside France & liberate the Poles from Nazi occupation. Perhaps Chamberlain was viewed with the same disdain & suspicion as our politicians today, maybe it is just the passing of years which ennobles his words with such gravitas? Churchill is rightly idolised for his later role, & Chamberlain was certainly on the way dow…