Saturday, May 12, 2007

The End?

Since the birth of little Rowan life has taken a definite turn towards the extremely busy. As a result, I have decided to finish my blog and concentrate on the more important things in life. I began blogging here on the 16/06/05 and have thoroughly enjoyed the conversation. Until later......

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Rowan James Matthews

Born at 2240 on the 17/03/07, what a beauty!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


I've recently been watching a bit of Celebrity Big Brother and closely following the fall out surrounding Jade, Danielle and Jo's alledged racist bullying of Shilpa. In case you missed it, here are a couple of the more offensive comments made by Jade,

16/01/07 – A big row. Shilpa says she only ordered Oxo cubes. Jade: “It’s not the only fucking thing you ordered, you liar… You’re not some princess in fucking Neverland…. Go back to the slums and find out what real life is about, lady…. You fucking fake”

17/01/07 – Jade refers to “Shilpa Poppadom”

What has puzzled me is the way that these statements have been construed as racist. Don't get me wrong, Jade presented as a nasty bully and I found the way she and the others treated Shilpa very uncomfortable to watch, but I'm just not convinced that her attacks were racist.

Chakrabati defines racism as the following,

'Racism is, first a set of beliefs or a way of thinking within which groups identified on the basis of real or imagined biological characteristics (skin colour, for example) are thought necessarily to possess other characteristics that are viewed in a negative light'

While Jade's statements may have contained a racial element, it is difficult to argue that they were racist if you agree with the above definition. Bullying has always gone on in the Big Brother house (remember Chabaz), and I don't see what makes this series any more sinister than the others. Do you agree, or have I missed the point completely?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Psychology and Spirituality

I've had a couple of conversations recently that have got me thinking again about the issue of how to approach life when you hold a set of beliefs that have wide lifestyle implications. In the environment I grew up in it was generally emphasised that the starting point for life should be working through your beliefs and values and then letting them naturally incarnate as concrete actions. The concept of freedom and ensuring that all actions were natural expressions of an inward desire was very important. Any suggestion of imposing a structure of practices onto life would be met with concern and suspicion as the demon of legalism was lurking round every corner.

I've recently been reading a bit of psychology that I've found helpful in attempting to understand this whole issue.

WARNING: What follows is some seriously amateur psychology.

The perspective that I grew up with seems to broadly reflect the cognitive thread of psychology. Cognitive psychologists see the investigation of the human mind as of paramount importance. In order to understand behaviour, enquiry into the human psyche and the role of cognitive processes in self-regulation and self-perception is deemed to be the starting point. The emphasis here is clearly on the interior over the exterior.

Behavioural psychologists, on the other hand, emphasise the importance of the immediate environment on behaviour as opposed to the interior workings of the mind. This perspective sees behaviour as driven by exterior controls and not internal values or beliefs.

During the mid-1970's, there began to emerge a psychological discipline that sought to combine the previously distinct threads under the banner of cognitive-behaviourism. This approach emphasised that human activity consists of three modalities; thoughts, feelings and behaviour. These modalities are believed to be inseperable, interlinked and interlocked. There is therefore an equal weighting placed on both internal and external processes in relation to human action.

In relation to my own spirituality, I find the cognitive-behavioural approach to be very useful. This allows me to reflect on the logic and implications of my beliefs and act accordingly in my everyday life. However, it also encourages me to put in place specific practices and disciplines that I do whether I feel like it or not. While I would have once seen this as shallow empty ritual, I now recognise that these practices can actually have a forming effect on my thoughts and emotions.

What do you reckon?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I've recently read a very stimulating paper called Embezzlement: The Corporate Sin of Christianity? written by Ray Mayhew. I've found the paper really challenging; it's probably the most important thing I've read in the last few years! However, it's twenty two pages long, which doesn't make it the most appealing read, especially after reading a blog post. So, here are a few of my favourite quotes from the article that will hopefully whet your apetite for the whole thing (go on, read it, it's definitely worth it).

'I am not saying that we are obligated to follow the example of the early church. But most of us do believe that they have bequeathed us an important legacy. We take this with great seriousness in the area of doctrine, and I am simply advocating that we listen to them with equal seriousness in the area of stewardship.'

'the assumption of most church leaders today is that we have the right to spend our revenue in ways that we believe would be most beneficial to the work for which we are responsible. Budgets are drawn up, employees paid, buildings built and maintained, and missionaries supported. This is the way things are done, and as long as there is an annual audit and no misappropriations of funds, all is well. But is it?'

'It is not surprising that, after immersing himself for a lifetime in the patristic writings, John Wesley wrote his now famous lines that, “any Christian who takes for himself anything more than the plain necessities of life lives in an open, habitual denial of the Lord.” As we know, he practiced what he preached by giving most of his income away, wearing inexpensive clothes and eating only simple food. “If I leave behind me ten pounds,” he wrote, “you and all mankind bear witness against me that I lived and died a thief and a robber.”10 Strong words, but a faithful echo of patristic orthodoxy and ethics.'

'In the late fourth century John Chrysostom echoed Matthew 25 in lamenting, “thou hast been bidden to give freely to the hungry.....but thou dost not count him deserving even of a loaf; but thy dog is fed to fulness while Christ wastes with hunger.” Such perspectives were normative in informing the theology of stewardship in the early church.'

This paper has led a bunch of American-based Christians to develop a faith experiment called Relational Tithe. I find the whole subject deeply challenging, let me know what you reckon.

Friday, October 27, 2006

It's gonna be a boy!!!!

We had the 20 week scan yesterday and the baby appeared to have a penis. I say appeared because they are wrong around 20 percent of the time which is pretty lame as far as I'm concerned.

I will now spend the next few weeks dreaming about Jon Junior wearing the number 11 jersey for Wales in the not too distant future.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Merton and Communism

I know that Thomas Merton quotes probably account for around 60% of my blog content, but what the hell, I found some more really good ones yesterday on the bus.

‘A man cannot be a perfect Christian – that is, a saint – unless he is also a communist.

If Christians had lived up to the Church’s teaching about property and poverty there would never have been any occasion for the spurious communism of the Marxists and all the rest – whose communism starts out by denying other men the right to own property.

There is only one true doctrine about property rights… Those rights exist and cannot be denied, but they imply an obligation, which… would mean that most Christians would be living with something like the communism of the first Apostles.

No one denied those men the right to won land, or to keep what they owned… Yet that right implied an obligation to satisfy the needs of others as well as their own.

If you have money, consider that perhaps the only reason God allowed it to fall into your hands was in order that you might find joy and perfection by giving it all away.’

A very challenging perspective.