It’s almost eleven months since the accident and I am aware that we have not posted anything regarding Anthea’s progress for some time.

The good news is that there is continued progress.  She has just returned from cooking for 130 young people at a summer camp. which she greatly enjoyed.  She is still having continued physio and though the rate of progress is obviously decreasing, she still continues to improve and is re-assured that the physios think there is more to come.

 Tomorrow we are off to meet the air ambulance team who assisted her transit to hospital on the day of the accident.  I think she feels it is important that she fills in the gaps of what she cannot recall.  We are then off for some holiday and she is talking about doing some cycling and some walking.

Yesterday we got in late to discover that, lesley Farrall, the Diocesan Secretary, who is also a good friend, learnt that her son Mark who is of student age was badly injured in an accident after being hit by a bus in Bristol town centre.  This was obviously a terrible shock for Lesley and her husband Andy and my trip to the ITU at the Bristol Royal Infirmary brought some poignant memories flooding back. 

The news of Mark today is encouraging, but there is still a way to go in discovering whether he has a significant brain injury. 

Please do continue to pray for us, but also remember Mark, Lesley and Andy in your prayers.  We are still overwhelmed by the support we received and can testify to the fact that it has made such a difference.  May it be so for the Farrall family at this testing time

It appears April was a false dawn for getting back on the blog bandwagon. I fell back off and have struggled to get back into the habit. But I will try again and post at least each week.

I was inspired by spending some time with my friend Alan Wilson, currently my successor as Bishop of Buckingham. We were at the Leadership Summit in Chicago last week and he has started blogging this month. His blog’s great and bound to be for the long haul – he’s technically able and a fine photographer, as well as having lots to say.  Do check out his reflections on the Leadership Summit on his blog.

It was a great week.  Highlights for me were, firstly, the experience of being away with sixteen people from our Diocese and seeing the way they related to one another and were open to the learning output of the Summit.  Secondly, I was impressed by all the sessions, apart from one, and came back re-envisioned for the potential of the Church to make a difference in the world. 

There’s a lot of other stuff I could say, but I’ll save that for another time. My final reflection relates to one of Willow Creek’s core values – “Excellence honours God and inspires people.”  To be as good as you can be is a great challenge and not just for leaders.

During my time with the Willow Creek Association, I learnt this.  That if you can get funding to see this thing in the USA it’s worth it.  A very close second is to visit the Global Leadership Summits that are held in September and October around the UK.  These are by videocast and pound for pound you won’t get a better leadership learning experience anywhere in the world.  The feedback from last year’s videocast conferences was exceptional.  Here’s my advice – BE THERE!

Reading the press release from the recent Fresh Expressions Conference in Durham was refreshing. 

I am aware that there is a certain cynicism out there about about Fresh Expressions in terms of people calling just about anything (eg. a new church notice board) a ‘fresh expression’.  However, the report on James Dunn’s input sounds interesting, though it’s a pity that the press release didn’t give us more of the content on Graham Tomlin’s input addressing the question, “Can Fresh Expressions change culture.”

Professor Dunn noted that Jesus was a Jew, his disciples were all Jewish and that “Christianity began as a movement within Judaism.”  He then suggested that the Jesus movement  within Judaism could be interpreted as a fresh expression of Israel’s traditional religion.  His emphasis was that “The character of Christianity as a fresh expression is enshrined in our sacred texts.  These are the texts which define Christianity more clearly and definitively than any other writings.”

Anyone else think that this might be a frutful way of thinking about fresh expressions?

I haven’t posted for a while but I’m back.

I’ve had some interesting conversations and learning experiences over the last month or so. I want to reflect on some here.

My friend and business colleague, Patrick Mayfield, presented some very interesting findings about change from the world of science, particularly medicine. “The central issue is never strategy, culture, or systems,” says John Kotter. “The core of the matter is always about changing the behaviour of people.”

Most behavioural change programmes fail for patients with preventable disease fail. But Dr Dean Ornish’s programme for turning round people with clogged arteries has bucked the trend.
Without going into details, it was holistic and the marks of its success were:
framing the change with the incentive of the joy of living rather than the fear of death – and telling a different story about life than the one that has become ingrained.
introducing radical changes rather than incremental ones. They are often easier for people!
supporting the change with the help of peers, trainers and motivators.

How might that apply in your life and setting? I’m working it through in mine.

I was really disappointed by the process by which the SORS legislation was propelled through Parliament. Whatever you think of the legislation itself, the process, both here and in Nortern Ireland, certainly seemed lightweight on consultation.

This is legislation that starts to erode the rights of people to exercise their conscience in matters of belief and moralilty. The inclusion agenda, now driven apparently by a secular worldview, has become what it originally sort to undermine: the exercise of raw power of one group over another.

Inclusion is, to some extent, a concept that is in the “eye of the beholder”. It is now obvious what was previously implicit: that the most inclusive agendas can become plainly exclusive. It can feel like a tool of the kind of fundamentalism that we are all working to undermine.

Of course, I am aware that there have been seasons of history when the Church exercised raw power over the powerless – and I certainly would not want a return to those days! However, there is abundant evidence that the faith groups’ concern for the poor and powerless in our world is without question. You might think therefore that our right to stand against issues that are not in line with our conscience and teaching might be carefully considered, before being ridden over roughshod in such a non-consultative way.

I hope we are a long way from “thought police” government. Suddenly it seems a little closer.

Today is the trident debate in Parliament.  I have been one of those people, together with a number of Church leaders nationally and locally who has been lobbying against the replacement of the Trident Missile system.  There are various reasons for my thoughts on this.

Firstly, as a Christian, I find the use of weapons of mass destruction to be inconsistent with the life and witness of Jesus Christ.  The kind of destruction that today’s nuclear weapons would wreak is surely unnacceptable to anyone who has an ethical bone in their body.  The deterrent argument assumes a level of rational and responsible thinking, which in the current global political climate, can no longer be assumed, not least in the Middle East.  What right do we have to be telling Iran what to do when we are about to re-arm ourselves?

Secondly, the costs involved, although they would constitute only 1% of our GDP are still colossal.  Such resources could be better used to build a safer world by doing more to aid the world’s poor and marginalised.  From what I read, some of that money could be better used in making sure that the our current armed forces have the right equipment for the job and housing of a good standard.

Thirdly, you can’t help but feel that somehow, ‘being a nuclear power’ is exactly that.  It is about raw power and carries with it the pathetic inference if you want to be a ‘big boy’ in the arena of global politics you have to have a nuclear arsenal.  This is surely adolescent.  How much more mature to take a stand on what is right and to do all we can to rid the world of these appalling weapons.

Who said Bishops never speak up?

I was struck by the story of the eleven year old Mexican boy who is going to university. Clearly this lad is a paleontology prodigy but how does this decision honour his childhood? I was relieved to learn that his mother had decided that he continue at school with children of his own age to help with his social development. However, this story does seem to accord with a broader trend you can observe in British culture of children growing up too fast.

On the illicit and clearly shocking side of this trend is the prevalence of guns and knives amongst teenage gangs and the use by schoolkids of mobile phones for amateur teenage porn. On the more subtle side is the way advertising and marketing is increasingly targeting children to groom the next generation of consumers.

At the centre of this is the sexualisation of childhood, particularly girls. A report by Compass entitled The Commercialisation of Childhood outlines this phenomenon with alarming clarity: lacy lingerie, for example, is marketed to under 10 year olds. I can think of an advert promoting a doll for girls which was highly sexualised. This is just one of the impacts of this trend. Others are equally worrying. What’s more, I fear we are yet to reap the full consequences of the commercialisation of kids.

One final thing I’d like to highlight is the huge pressure that is put on parents to spend by their children as a result. Given that so many parents are in debt anyway, encouraged by consumerism themselves, this can only lead to more stress. It’s a vicious and downward spiral.

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