Disaster strikes as massive quantities of oil reach their intended destination. - The Onion

Millions of Barrels of Oil Safely Reach Port in Major Environmental Catastrophe

The best, most biting satire I have read in years. A wonderfully concise indictment of our current energy infrastructure and a fantastic environmental call to arms. The Onion does it again…

Hungarian Poetry

[This is another non-serious post, I’m afraid. I’m writing a lot of serious stuff offline at the moment, and I can’t bring myself to be serious on the blog without feeling like a broken record]

My friend Ruben writes poetry. He blogs some of his work. By all accounts, he’s quite good. The only problem is he writes in Hungarian…

Now, I don’t speak Hungarian. Not even a word. I have a few friends that do, but I have no talent for languages what so ever (I’m still learning English). Translating Ruben’s poems is just not going to happen.

So, I have a new hobby – something that keeps me wryly amused on dull days. I translate Ruben’s poetry via Google. The results can be hilarious…

Today’s offering:

takarítok mintha én mindig is
takarítok takarítok
mintha egy foltot bujtatok


cleaners as I have always been
cleaners cleaners
like a patch of loop


“drótok a levegőben
néma szegek
huszonnégy órák

Which becomes the rather wonderful:

wires in the air
without pins
twenty-four hours

My best guess is that telefonfák is a mobile phone provider…

Have a go yourselves. Ruben’s blog is here, and the translation tool is here. If any Hungarian friends would like to provide true translations, I’d be interested to read the results…

Facebook is scary, and other things we’ve learnt this month

I spend far too long reading tech blogs. Too much dross. And you know, as you’re reading about the latest buzz around this, or the controversy around that, sometimes you learn some things you’d rather not…

Like, just how much of my information Facebook has access to. And how they use it. This interview is just plain scary. For those who haven’t left Facebook yet, it might just push you over the edge…

But, while you’re pondering that, I just wanted to throw a thought into the mix. If Facebook knows all this about you, what does Google know? Google who handle my emails, my web searches, my video watching, my work blog and analytics… and probably a lot more. Just how much of our lives are we handing over to multinational corporations. Is Facebook-founder Mark Zuckerberg right when he says that our whole concept of privacy is evolving? And if so, are we happy about it?

Other, slightly less scary, things we’ve learnt this month.

Just in case I’ve depressed you completely, I’ll leave you with a couple of videos that cheered me up. The first shows the wonderful levels of innovation that still exist in music. As long as people come up with things like this, long may they continue.

The second just made me smile. Fast forward to 1:50 and enjoy.


In Praise of… Dave Walker

Dave Walker is the official cartoonist and blogger for the Church Times. He drew the cartoon I have in the column on the left. He is also Cartoonist and Liturgical Dancer in Residence at the Lambeth Conference.

Dave’s writing and cartoons bring information and delight in equal measure to myself and my colleague Liz, keeping us up to date with all things Anglican in a very Anglican way.

He is a very funny man. This post, part of his updates on the progress of the Lambeth Conference, is pitch perfect English humour. I don’t think it would be possible to make this any funnier, without somehow involving the Monty Python team…

[Dave’s amusing cartoon-related commentary is here, and his more official posts here.]

Christian Aerobics, and other things to do before reaching Hell

One of the delights of the modern age is the act of surfing randomly round the internet, seeing what surprises there are in store. Things you’ve never thought of, but strike you as comedy genius on discovery.
Y’know, like Christian Aerobics LP covers

Christian Aerobics

and the people who collect them.

It even happens with Christian writers sometimes, too. Every now and then I peruse Brant Hansen’s site. (The man with the greatest post-categories I’ve ever seen). Some of his stuff is great, but a lot of it bugs me, so it’s not been a regular read to date. I discovered one post yesterday however that I thought needed sharing.

In the spirit of the plagiarism that the UK’s most celebrated psychologist has engaged in, I’m going to reproduce it (almost) in full – but if you don’t like that, here’s the link to the original.

A list of things you can do, and still go to hell.

“Be a scripture memorizer
Go to church camp
Teach Sunday School
Be a brilliant theologian
Lead the Cookies-for-Newcomers ministry
Think you’re pre-destined for Heaven
Listen to Christian radio
Work in Christian radio
Lead “powerful worship”
Preach the Word
Be a missionary in Africa
Be involved in a small group
Stand for Justice and Peace
Vote pro-life
Go to seminary
Pray for the President
Have a brilliant, theologically-astute understanding of Grace
Talk to people about Christ
Say the sinner’s prayer
Speak in tongues

Wear a WWJD? bracelet
Be an elder in your church
Argue with your teacher about evolution
Lead family devotions
Argue theology on your blog
Argue theology on this blog
Take a Stand for prayer in school
Start a hip, organic church
Substitute the word “poop” for the word “shit”
“Take” or “receive” “communion” every week, month, quarter, or year, without fail
Come forward at church camp
Take a Stand for Truth in the face of the alarmingly-relativist “emergent” church
Place sticker of fish, preferably eating Darwin fish, on car
Confidently trace your church’s lineage back to Peter
Read Max Lucado
Actually want to read Max Lucado
Be sure you’re Elect
Suspect you’re cool because you sure no one’s Elect
Read the Bible a lot
Argue that drinking alcohol would ruin your “witness”
Sing the right words to “Shout to the Lord”, unapologetically, unlike those rassemfrassems on American Idol.  Sheesh.
Rue those new choruses that lack deep theology
Be transparent about your shortcomings on your kampy blog
Be baptized
Know the guitar chords for all the Chris Tomlin songs
Personally baptize Chris Tomlin
Sponsor a child through Compassion International
Steer clear of R-rated movies
Homeschool your children
Mail only Christmas cards with baby Jesus in it, and a scripture
Look like Jesus with a beard and stuff
Be a member of Promise Keepers
Be a member of Sojourners
Be a Prophetic Voice
Be a counsellor at a Billy Graham Crusade
Wear “Lord’s Gym” t-shirts
Organize VBS
Work at Focus on the Family
Share openly at Small Group
Tsk tsk Harry Potter
Know who Priscilla and Aquilla are
Know who DeGarmo and Key are
Watch, repeatedly, “The Passion of the Christ”
Force your kids to watch, repeatedly, “The Passion of the Christ”
Go to confession
Eschew the banalities of commercial Christian culture and refuse to listen to Michael W. Smith, instead opting for Sufjan Stevens and U2 and — maybe — Mat Kearney
Bemoan the secularization of Christmas
Be a key member of a church that offers solid, Biblical teaching — none of that namby-pamby stuff
Be the pastor who offers solid, Biblical teaching — none of that namby-pamby stuff
Cheer for Hannity
Boo Colmes
Give the neighbourhood kids “Cross-Pops” (TM) candy for Halloween
Talk about how spiritually lame you are all the time
Lead your neighbours to Christ
“Study to show yourself approved”
Be correct about every.  single.  thing.
“Know”, theologically, that this post is correct, too, but live as if it weren’t!”

How many did you tick off?

How to get more people in Church: Star Wars!

The Methodist Church is dying off. According to some (v. disputed) figures from Religious Trends 7, there will be only 3,600 Methodists by 2050, down from around 267,461 in 2007.

Star Wars LogoThis precipitous predicted decline is because Methodists are old, with the bell-curve of attendees-by-age right-shifted by some 20 years (compared to church-going averages). Basically, unless they attract some yoof, The Methodist Church in Great Britain will go from being a collection of OAPs to a collection of the dead and dying (I’m exaggerating for emphasis, before you complain).

The churches solution to this is a very un-Methodist word: Evangelism. Specifically, attract the missing young people (catchily termed the Lost Generation – they’re not actually lost, they’re skating in the car park!). Burton Road Methodist Church in Lincoln have taken a novel approach to this, by asking their few young people how to attract more of their mates. The result: Star Wars!

Burton Road Methodist Church held a Star Wars weekend over the bank holiday, showing all six Star Wars films using a full Dolby Digital Surround Sound system and a large screen to give the full cinematic experience! The aim was to give the youth of the church something to offer to their friends (using their own ideas) and it worked fantastically well, with both young people and families attending the event.

Yes, even in the service:

We also had a tuck shop, a cooked tea, a faith lunch and a Star Wars-themed all age worship. A clip of the Death Star being blown up (shown in the service) had the whole church shaking!

Exploding Death Star

Mmm… and dressing the minister up as Darth Vader probably didn’t help either!

Darth Vader