Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Partick Thistle Nil Supports Water Aid

Partick Thistle players and staff today signed up to the Water Aid “Spotlight on Sanitation” Campaign.

Join Water Aid in calling on the UK Prime Minister to ensure the spotlight is put on sanitation at the UN Millennium Development Goal summit in September 2010.

Access to sanitation, alongside safe water, is vital for poverty reduction and forms the foundation of a healthy, productive society.

Ian Maxwell today said “This is a great cause. We are incredibly lucky to live in a modern society and have clean fresh water. This is not the case for so many people around the world. I personally gift aid to Water Aid as I believe this is an important charity in helping developing countries”

The writer of this blog commends the social conscience sweeping Firhill these days, but would appreciate if the players helped put those closer at home out of their misery by turning around some recent dreadful results on the park!

To show your support simply log onto

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Super Weekend

Poor Alma, our guest  HOST student from Bosnia got caught up in a Rectory Palm Sunday weekend, but saw St Auggie's at its best on Sunday morning. We seem to have acquired lots of little ones recently and to see them either waving their palms or asleep in their prams made for a really good wee procession this time around! At the end, Neve, (aged 3),  started picking up palm crosses from everyone and tidying them all away. Probably thought we could use them again, or do we have a future rampant ecologist in our number?

As for Alma, she was overwhelmed by the beauty of Loch Lomondside and the Glaswegian architecture. She's promised to return with her husband. It seems that he must see this too!

In the midst of this I've been fighting off aches and pains and generally being "no' well". Tonight I'm feelin' better and it's just as well. We can't have a sick priest in Holy Week! How would the church cope????

Probably very well, thank you!

Daily Prayer

It's been an idea that's been floating around for a while now, but we took the plunge today and started a Daily Prayer Service in St Auggie's. It is our intention to have a wee 10-15 minute service at 12.30pm each day, Mon-Fri from now onwards. Maybe folk on their lunch hour will pop in, maybe not. Maybe just lost souls, but someone from the congregation will be there for them at 12.30. Three of us turned up today, so that was good enough for me!

Tonight it was off to the URC Church to preach to an ecumenical congregation of about 30. We share services during Holy Week, and as the years go on, the liturgies of the Episcopal Church have become very much part of the package. Holy Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we are firmly based in the other churches with a Word-based service. I get quite emotional in Holy Week when I preach. Not that you would have known it tonight!

Monday, 29 March 2010

Heresies for Holy Week

May be worth keeping an eye out HERE during Holy Week. Sounds like stuff that needs a-hearin'!!


Thursday, 25 March 2010


Yes, it's that time of year when I suddenly think, "S***! Sunday is Palm Sunday..... next week is Holy Week... it's magazine time....",  and this year I need to organise folk, brother clergy, and that's never been the case in the past!

I usually just "get into" Holy Week, and write stuff as I go along, because the basics are all in place, and if it works don't fix it. It's not lazy, it's what Liturgy is for, but this year is different with five or six clergy participating in our Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services. Poor men still don't know what they are doing, but they will by the end of today! I promise!

The rest will just "happen", although I've still to get the palm crosses! See me? See skin of teeth!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Miracles Happen

Great Rejoicing last night as Partick Thistle Nil recorded a 2-1 win away to Dunfermline, the first time we've beaten them on their own soil for over 20 years. How time flies! I remember that win well! Of course, Dumbartonians were also celebrating a 2-1 victory last night, so there were happy faces in the church today.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Back to Reality

The RW and I had a really good "relax" in Welsh Wales! She chattered constantly to her sister for 35 hours and slept little. I slept for 28 hours over the two and a half days! I'm a bit embarrassed by that, but, hey, I was really tired and needed the sleep. Ate like a horse too! (by my standards anyway)

So, we're back into panic mode today, with Holy Week next week, a funeral on Wednesday, and lots of pastoral issues around that need attention! We have a HOST student coming to stay at the weekend to sample the beauties of Scotland, so next weekend will be a bit of a blur too! All this before a return visit from the Welsh at Easter! Can't say I didn't get a day off this week though!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Shocking Article

Dumbarton's Guru, Big Rab, who owns the Pet Shop, writes a spine-chilling post in today's Blog.

And I thought Deal or no Deal had its darker moments!

Save Dumbarton High St

Couldn't keep My Hands off This!

From MadPriest:

One Fly in the Ointment

Today is dad's "Assessment Day", and there is a big meeting in the Care Home to decide on his future. Whether he is allowed to stay on or not is up for grabs, and I don't know where he will go if today doesn't work out.

So, I'm hoping he's in good form today, and a wee bit of Divine Providence too!

Welsh Wales for the Weekend

One of these wee windows opened recently, and I've been given the opportunity to have a weekend off! The RW leaps on the chance to get down to Wales to visit the son and other family, so it's off we go early tomorrow morning. The pets are all packed and ready to go, and to celebrate the fact that I'll be gone this weekend, the Vestry, (PCC), are having a big buffet party in the Rectory this evening. Bring on the chilli, and the Chicken a la RW!

I actually love these wee trips because my sister-in-law, Mary, cooks wonderfully, and Dave, her man, is as football daft as I am. The women gossip, and we watch the footie/rugby/whatever on Sky Sports!

Oh! And it's not England.

Need to take the opportunity to visit the local parish this time!

New Machine

Well, folks, hopefully today will see the arrival of the shiny new computer. One that will stop grinding and whirring and clicking in all sorts of warnings of imminent death. The old guy in the study has just refused to die, despite being 6 or seven years old, but it has been sustained by a lot of prayer and bits of Blu-Tack for some time now. The fan isn't great so I had to blow in it from time to time to cool it down. Yet, it's been a great wee machine, and I just hope the new boy, with Windows 7, no less, does the job.

Of course it will take quite some time to load it up with essentials, and obtain compatibility with bits of hardware/software, and I can see myself spending a large chunk of time in the study.... but it'll have to wait until after Holy Week!

Yes, today, we will have a new God, because as someone said recently, "Yer computer and yer IT is only another form of idolatry!"

Partick Thistle Build!

Plan to bring century

of security to Firhill!

As they say in The Church, "Aye, well that'll see me oot!"

See today's Herald!


Thursday, 18 March 2010

Decline of Dumbarton High Street

Link to a news report!

From Ekklesia Today

Gordon Brown has set out his ‘Christian’ vision of politics and said that religion should not just be tolerated, but encouraged in public life.

The Prime Minister’s comments come in a new book in which the three main party leaders write open letters to the churches.

“I have always believed that the public square is more than a marketplace. Our common realm is not and cannot be stripped of values – can never be merely a place for calculation, contract and exchange” Brown writes.

“So I do not subscribe to the view that religion should somehow be tolerated but not encouraged in public life – that you can ask people to leave their faith at the door when they enter a Town Hall or the Commons’ chamber.”

Referring to the Christian contribution to British politics in general and the Labour Party in particular, he says that both congregations and Christian charities “have been Britain’s conscience on issues from debt cancellation to child poverty, to the good stewardship of the Earth.”

“Each of these great campaigns mounted by the churches is rooted in the idea that we are each our brother’s or sister’s keeper. It is that ideal which inspired the Labour Government as we trebled aid and cancelled debt, lifted half a million children out of poverty and signed the world’s first ever Climate Change Act.”
“The lessons of the gospels need not be kept separate from political life. If Christians engage with politics, we can together build a society where wealth helps more than the wealthy, good fortune serves more than the fortunate and riches enrich not just [the rich] That is why I entered politics, and [it is] the vision which inspires me still.”

In their respective contributions, David Cameron talks about the contribution of the churches to society and Nick Clegg about the contribution of children.

The book, entitled: “No Spin, Sleaze or Scandal…. Just politics” has been written jointly by Labour MP Andy Reed, Conservative MP Gary Streeter, Liberal Democrat MP Steve Clegg and Krish Kandiah, the Evangelical Alliance's Executive Director of Churches in Mission.

The book, published by Authentic Media, is aimed at "political novices" and is being promoted as offering “spiritual inspiration for political involvement, practical advice for getting started, creative suggestions for connecting with digital democracy as well as stories, twitter feeds, interviews and case studies.”

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Unseen

I'm struck, sometimes, and humbled, by the amazing stuff done in parishes where things happen but nobody sees it or recognises it. The quiet visit, the wee phone call, the unseen ministry of care and affection among my people, and I'm sure among yours too, whether you are in a church community or not. 

T scraped all of the moss on my Office roof off yesterday. Nobody can see it from the street. Nobody will know it! T also painted and decorated all the inside of the new rectory, and cleared out the gutters. T doesn't often come to church but what he does, unseen, is often known only to Our Lord. Mother Teresa often spoke of little acts of love, and this is it!

Whether you go to church or not, our society and our world is made a better place by your little acts of love.

I don't care if you are atheist, agnostic or otherwise, your little acts of love are about the bringing in of the Kingdom of God. Seen or unseen.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Lunchtime Prayer

From Monday 29th March, there will be a wee prayer service at 12.30pm Monday - Friday, in St Aug's.  It will be only 15 minutes or so, and I, with some lay help, will sustain this time as a town-centre ministry for a year-long trial. If you can come sometimes, or help with a cuppa afterwards, you will be welcomed with open arms.


My Soul Friend, who I met today, was sharing his story of the last days of his brother's life. His brother was a Roman Catholic priest, who died very recently. They sat together for days, with my SF having a few Maltesers in the palm of his hand. His brother's favourite sweet, he would occasionally pop one in his mouth. There had been no communication for weeks, as his brother mumbled incoherently and seemed to be in another plain completely.

On the day of his death, a shaky hand came out and took a Malteser from SF's hand. Two minutes later the shaky hand came out again for another. SF said, "Hey don't start getting greedy", but his brother took the sweet and popped it into SF's mouth. He died shortly afterwards.

A moment of true Holy Communion.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Birthday Blues

The RW celebrates her 60th Birthday on May 5th, and I've spent all day looking for that "special thing" which she will treasure forever! And, no, the big surprise party will not happen. It's impossible to keep secrets in this house. The cat is a clype, and the dogs' confidentiality is always in question.

A wee bunch of flowers from ASDA and me cooking might just do it, unless you have other suggestions?

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Mothering Sunday

I had bought far too many wee cards for today! We had about a hundred left over after we had given one out to all  our women with their daffodils, and so we did something different today. The cards said, "With love on Mothering Sunday", and we printed wee labels on the back that said, "From St Augustine's Church, High St, Dumbarton.

After the service, the troops were sent out with the extra cards to give to mothers in the pubs and those in the High Street just minding their own business. Gratefully received by all, I have to say, and the troops were back within 10 minutes for their coffee!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Saved From Suffering

The Partick Thistle Nil match has been postponed because their opponents are playing in the Scottish Cup today. Just my luck! A Saturday afternoon off, and this happens!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Just Browsing

As I was looking at Google Maps, I came upon this nice little pic... I'm sure it belongs to us...

Sun Shine Jesus Shine!

The RW sends this link on to me this morning, with the comment: Pretty pathetic 'news' even for the Sun

Aye! The Lord is making far too many appearances these days!

Project Natal

Be scared! Be very scared. Can you imagine the social damage etc etc etc that will ensue??? Take a look at this and weep for a future generation.


Wonderful post at Rev Ruth's Blog today!!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Lent Group

Some things just warm the cockles of your wee heart in ministry. We had a Parish Day in December which worked on a vision of ministry in the Town Centre using our new hall and we dreamed wonderful dreams.

Now the time has come to turn some of these dreams into reality, and there seems to be a really determined effort to do this. Some congregations can "talk the talk", and others are prepared to "walk the walk". Thankfully, St Auggie's falls into the latter group.

There is a real desire to explore ministry together, and do the stuff that needs to get done. The wee Lent Group this year has been astounding as we talk through our goals and how they are to be achieved. Nobody is hiding, and there's a real feeling about us all being in this together. Our Talents/Time/Resources brainstorming last night produced a formidable list of stuff which we can really begin to work with.

The Bishop Elect has promised a Bishop's visitation in early June. They are meeting tonight to plan an evening he is unlikely to forget! Me? I'm just watching telly and I'll let them get on with it! Now, that's shared ministry!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Positive Day

After the SA offering me wild bird for breakfast, I guess the day could only get better,and glad to say that the Annual Appraisal was a positive one! It was a bit strange going into the revamped Diocesan Offices. There's a bit of colour and life about the place which felt good, and for once I wasn't there because I was in trouble over something I'd said or done! I guess I'd always associated the place with a "telling off", or a dire warning! I even had one session where someone threw a book at me! I just knew that wasn't going to happen today!

There is a real positive feeling about the Diocese these days, one that's been growing over the past year or so, and one that is being cemented by a very positive and happy Bishop-Elect.

There's a real positive feeling around the parish too, these days, and tonight's Lent Group was positive and stimulating as we look together at future ministry and how we share it!

Even Archie has a smile on his face. The tide was in when he eventually got for his walk, so he got a swim as a wee bonus today! Some days the tide is out, sometimes its in. Life's like that.

Early Call

Wakened this morning to the cat, the Silent assassin, yamming at the bedroom window to get in. It's a very thin and precarious ledge with a fair drop to the next level, ie the the living room window! As I sleepily opened the window for her, it became apparent that she'd brought me a bird for breakfast.

I freed the bird and caught the cat as she began to fall from this amazing height! Proper little St Francis, me!

She's obviously now settled in her new home, but the early morning calls are something I hope she doesn't make a habit of!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

I'm Stealin' Again!

Wonderful post from Mad Priest

Ministry Development Review

Heading for a MDR tomorrow, and wondering. This is the first time I've opted in to an annual appraisal of what I'm doing and I'm wondering, about myself, and how I'll feel after tomorrow. Affirmed? Yes. I know this because there is not a negative bone in my appraiser's body. Quieted within my soul? Maybe, because the real "work" is done before the appraisal. It is based on promises you made at ordination.

Talk about how your Rule of Life has developed.

That's just the first question, and the rest are scarier!

It's all about priesthood, and how you have coped, are coping, and how you can cope better. As I say, scary! The Questions are encouraging to look deeply into your heart and soul, and I trivialise them when I simplify them...

Am I a good priest? I try to be.
Could I be better? Yes
What do I need to work on to make things better? I know, but I can be awfully hard on myself!
How do I live with my shortcomings? Ask the RW!
Do you love your people? Yes!
Do they love you? I think so.
Is your parish lively, enquiring, growing, full of fun and laughter, welcoming and totally dead brilliant? Aye!

So, why am I so scared?


Toastie isn't quite up for this, these days, but I know the Special One would take the biscuit!

Asylum Seekers in Glasgow

I was in charge of a parish in the South-Side of Glasgow when the current wave of asylum seekers came to nearby Castlemilk, and was involved with John Millar, then a future Moderator of the C of S, together with the Baptists in Castlemilk in founding the first drop-in/support/clothing/advice centre in Scotland. The stories were horrendous. I couldn't sleep at night after hearing about the situations these human beings had escaped from. To this day I keep in touch with some, and one family are still committed members of my parish in Dumbarton.

Ekklesia, today, published this. But it is only the tip of the tragic story. Gadgetvicar has a more in-depth story to tell with a call to action. It is printed below.

Residents of Red Road have asked for help with a demonstration outside the UK Borders Agency, (Home Office) at Festival Court , 200 Brand Street , Govan, Glasgow (next to Cessnock underground and off Paisley Road West , Glasgow ) on Tuesday 9th March in memory of the family who committed suicide on Sunday morning from one of the tower blocks in Red Road .

The bodies of the family, a couple and their son, were found at the bottom of a 31-storey block at 63 Petershill Drive , Springburn, Glasgow, on Sunday morning. We understand they were asylum-seekers who had received a negative decision from the UK Borders Agency (UKBA).

According to the Unity Centre in Govan, Strathclyde police visited the family's flat on the 15th floor last Friday to tell them their asylum case had been refused and they would have to leave the flat. It is common for the police only to come to the door of a refused asylum seeker at the request of the landlord after the family have refused to leave their accommodation.

So far, the YMCA who were landlords for the three are refusing to comment to the media. (The YMCA has a highly profitable contract with the UK Borders Agency to house asylum seekers in the Red Road flats, which are some of Glasgow 's worst housing stock).

It is difficult to understand why it has taken the police more than 24 hours to identify the three people as all asylum seekers are repeatedly asked to give their finger-prints by the Home Office and their landlords, the YMCA, should be able to tell the police who was living in the flat at the time.

At the moment, the Home Office are saying they are not prepared to comment, however it has been known for asylum seekers to be so desperate that they jump from their windows if they think they are about be detained in a dawn raid by the Home Office's Enforcement Team. Neighbours have said that they thought the Home Office had been banging on the door on Sunday morning when the family jumped.

Every-day, Positive Action in Housing's staff are confronted with the reality of asylum seekers coming into the office crying or upset because they have just been told they must leave the country. Then their money and housing is stopped a week later. We run a hardship fund and give out small amounts of cash for food and arrange free shelter in the homes of our volunteers. There is a great deal of mental strain and it is normal currency for people to talk about ending their lives as a viable alternative to destitution or removal.

After years of waiting on a decision, and putting your life and the lives of your family on hold, it's a big shock to be systematically stripped of each and every one of your basic human rights of food, shelter and work by the asylum system, and then face the daily terror of destitution or possible removal in the early hours. Then it's easy to see why someone would consider suicide preferable to returning to an unsafe country.

We believe there should be a public inquiry into these deaths, and the impact of the UK Borders Agency and their terror campaign - disguised as asylum policy - on the lives of asylum seekers who have lived here for years but live in permanent fear of destitution, detention and removal. Many asylum seekers flee persecution or death, only to be terrorised by the prospect of removal back to an unsafe country, and in the process face destitution or long term detention. The current asylum system is based on the false premise that all asylum seekers are bogus. We need a complete rethink.


This case, and many others, raise serious questions about the way the UK asylum system operates in this country. Members of the public have a right to know if we have a fair asylum system, or one which terrorises vulnerable people to the point they would take their own lives. Please demand the following questions are answered and write to your MSP, MP, the First Minister, the Scottish Secretary and the home Secretary:

Please copy your correspondence to Email addresses are at the end of this email.

1. Who were the family and what was their background in the UK ?

2. Demand a public enquiry into the suicides and in particular the details of all communications the UK Borders Agency had with the family.

3. What communications did the YMCA and Strathclyde Police have with the family?

4. We want to know the Home Office arrangements for the deceased. Have the relatives of the deceased been informed? What plans does the UKBA have to remove their bodies to their countries of origin? (We know of cases where the bodies of dead asylum seekers have been left unclaimed in mortuaries for years, this charity has had to step in to raise funds for the return of the dead to their families for a proper burial).

5. Neighbours have stated that on Saturday evening, a few hours before the suicide, the family were seen taking bags out of the flat. We believe they were planning to escape removal, not commit suicide, and that happened on the Sunday morning which drove them to make the decision to build a pyre of furniture on the veranda and throw themselves from their fifteenth floor. We want to know if the Home Office Removal vans were in the vicinity. We want to know if UK Borders Agency removal officials were in the vicinity of 63 Petershill Drive . Were they, as has been suggested, knocking at the door of the suicide victims at 63 Petershill Drive, Springburn on Sunday morning with a view to removing the family?

6. Why are innocent children still being locked up like criminals in Scotland ? Many asylum seekers who report weekly to Brand Street reporting centre don't know if this or the next week they will simply not be allowed to leave. Only on Friday, Stephanie Ovrawah went to pick up her twin six year old sons, Joshua and Joel, from Cranhill Primary School in Glasgow before going to "sign" at Brand Street Reporting Centre. The family have been Glasgow residents since the children were babies. They were immediately detained with the children still in their school uniforms, no goodbyes to their neighbours or school friends, no chance to pick up their belongings from home; they were just taken to Dungavel Removal Centre and then to Yarls Wood Removal centre, where they currently await their fate. Joshua (6) said today, "I miss my friend Taylor. I miss Mrs O'Brien and Mr Downs. They are our teachers. They said they are sending us back. I don't know this Africa ... My mum says we didn't do anything wrong. They shout at us and a guard hit my brother. We want to leave, this is a prison and a dump… I want to go back to school tomorrow and see my friends Taylor, Rhys and Keegan. "

7. We want questions raised in the Scottish parliament asto why the barbarism of the UK asylum system is allowed to operate on Scottish soil. What is the Scottish Government going to do to put a stop to this once and for all?

Please write to the following people to demand answers about this case and the way the asylum system operates. Please copy your correspondence to

Write to your MSP, MP and MEP. To find out who your local representative is, just enter your postcode in and email them from the website.

Write to:

Alex Salmond, First Minister at
Jim Murphy , Scotland Secretary at
Alan Johnson, Home Secretary at

I know there are people who would seek to abuse the system, but more and more, when I hear the stories of these people, I wonder whether or not I'm living in Nazi Germany or a 21st Century Scotland.

Please make yourself aware of the facts. They might be coming for you next.

40s Night

We're soon to have a "40s Night"  in the hall, fondly remembering the war years, and, yes, ration books and gas masks will be provided

Thought we could invite this guy to the party as we sing "The White Cliffs of Dover"

Day Off

I think I just had one... well nearly! A long-lie, lunch with some fellow clergy which was as animated as ever, filling a skip from the old Rectory garage and  loft, and a night in front of the telly watching the last three episodes of "Survivors". It's taken us a while to catch up!

Unless talking animatedly to fellow clergy doesn't count as a "day off" thing to do!

Naw! It was fun!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

From Frank Skinner on being a Catholic Christian today! Brownie Points!

I’m a Roman Catholic and I go to church every Sunday. Towards the end of Mass, there’s a thing called the Sign of Peace. We all shake hands with everyone in shaking distance and say “peace be with you”. Last Sunday the priest told us to drop the handshaking element to show our solidarity with Wayne Bridge.

That’s one of the things I love about being Catholic. You can tell the highly suspicious non-Catholics — their imaginations fired by talk of kissed statues and venerated fibulas — about almost any odd behaviour in a Roman Catholic church and they’ll believe you.

To many British people, Christianity seems like a weird but unexciting theme park. Personally, I like our ever-dwindling status. I even like our ever-dwindling numbers. There was a time when social pressure made people go to church. If anything the reverse is now true. Most adults you see in church nowadays are there because they want to be there. That’s not decline, it’s progress. The wheat has been separated from the chaff. We get quality, not quantity, in the churches and the chaff can enjoy a nice lie-in. That’s just as well, because there’ll be little opportunity for slumber when they’ve got a demon’s pitchfork up their arse.

Christians have always worked best as an unpopular minority. We were surely at our most dynamic when we knelt, eyes to Heaven, hands clasped in prayer, with a Colosseum lion bounding towards us.

That’s why I think Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, is wrong to get his cassock in a twist about changing attitudes to Christianity in this country. He speaks of a “strident and bullying campaign” to marginalise Christianity. But that’s great news. “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”

We’re going to have Brownie points coming out of our ears. The evidence of such bullying, many Christians would argue, was evident in two recent incidents when a teacher was sacked and a nurse suspended — both because they offered to pray for sick people. I agree that those punishments seem wrong-headed but both women will receive huge blessings for enduring such injustice. Surely their mistake was up-fronting their intentions.

I’ve prayed for loads of friends, most of them atheists. I tend not to tell them. If I do tell them I fear my motivation for doing so is largely ego-based. I’m just trying to show how nice and caring I am. It’s much healthier to do it on the sly. “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
Lord Carey feels that Christians have been too soft. He said that if you behave like a doormat, you get treated like one. I’m a little wary of muscular Christianity. It’s been used to justify everything from the Crusades to the shooting of abortion doctors. It seems to be in direct contradiction to “Resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also”.

This is the doormat as positive role model — a doormat who’s more concerned about the “welcome” than the muddy feet. Surely the central image of Christianity is someone who can shoot fireballs out of his fingertips allowing himself to be nailed to a wooden cross — submission as the ultimate show of strength — love as impenetrable armour. Most British Christians are badly dressed, unattractive people. We’re not pushy and aggressive members of society. We’re a bit like Goths — no one can remember us being fashionable and we talk about death a lot. I love the glorious un-coolness of that.

The oppression of Christians in some other countries is completely unacceptable. I obviously wouldn’t want to see such genuine persecution of Christians in the UK, though that blessing for the reviled and that championing of the turned cheek would, strictly speaking, still apply.

As Lord Carey admits, here it’s more about some local council not wanting to call Christmas “Christmas” in case it offends someone. I’m hoping that, with the rise of secularisation, Christians will be able to claim Christmas as exclusively their own again. I’m sure the new atheists, many of whom point out that Christianity cynically appropriated pagan festivals, would not want to be guilty of similar hypocrisy. Don’t come begging for church weddings or christenings either. Maybe a bit of strictly observed us-and-them will lead to a new Christian unity.

I went to a debate this week. The motion was “England should be a Catholic country again”. I ended up voting against. The marriage of Church, any church, and State seems alien to the teachings of Christ. Power corrupts and British Christians should be happy to continue relinquishing it. The Catholic Church lost more than it gained when it got into bed with the Emperor Constantine.

Christians tend to save their best work for the “voice in the wilderness” genre. We are most impressive when operating as a secret sect, kneeling in small, candle-lit rooms and scrawling fishes on walls. I’m enjoying this current dose of persecution. It’s definitely good for the soul.

New Hall Update

It's been suggested that we need to have some anchorage system on the roof for all the workers needing to fix the leaks which they are responsible for. We can't afford it! A script from Fr Ted, taking on Dougal's suggestion might be a good idea:

Father Ted: God Almighty, that's going to cost a fortune to fix. Where are we going to get the money? Think, Dougal, how can we raise some money?
Father Dougal: Hmmm....
Ted: Yes, I know. Aha! (give knowing glance)
Dougal: Aha!
Ted: Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
Dougal: I think so, Ted. But now wait, I'm not sure....
Ted: What?
Dougal: I mean, it is a big step, and err, where are we going to get the guns?
Ted: (mystified) What are you talking about?
Dougal: Oh, wait a minute now - actually I might have been thinking about something different...
Ted: You thought we were going to rob a bank, didn't you?
Dougal: I did, yeah!
Ted: Well, Dougal, this isn't a Bruce Willis film. I was thinking more along the lines of a raffle.
On you go, Dougal. These guys have been robbing us for years! However, raffle tickets are available from Barbara!

The Edrington Ball

Off I went, last night, with the RW, to the Edrington Ball in The Hilton in Glasgow, an annual "hoolie" for the staff of her place of employment! It's a big event, and being a company that bottles such delights as The Macallan, Famous Grouse, Highland Park and Cutty Sark, amongst other things, you can be sure that the drink flows freely, in more ways than one!

It is always a wonderful evening, but it is an education to watch the female species on the run up to the Ball itself. All of a sudden, staff acquire the sort of tan that a fortnight in Greece might boast, nails are manicured and painted and dresses are bought from places other than the Littlewoods catalogue in case someone else has bought the same dress. This would mean that one of them would have to go home early. Very early.

My interest, last year honed in on JG. Now, JG had indulged in an eyebrow treatment which made her eyebrows seem to disappear, by mistake. This blog, with a little help from Photoshop, came to the rescue and provided her with the necessary...

 Last night, JG had solved the eyebrow problem, but had difficulty in another way. The eyebrows were visible, but the sensational party frock threatened to reveal more than was necessary. The poor lass had to wear glasses all evening to cover up, as we show! Can't wait for next year..

Friday, 5 March 2010

Godless Ads

"Don't believe in God? You are not alone."

These words are part of a coordinated multi-organizational advertising campaign designed to raise awareness about people who don't believe in a god. The King and Queen size ads proclaiming this message will appear tomorrow on the outsides of a dozen buses traveling throughout the Detroit area as far north as Pontiac and Auburn Hills, as far west as Walled Lake, as far east as Troy and as far south as downtown Detroit. Their presence will continue for a month.

Big Rab, in Dumbarton is thinking of a similar campaign on McColl's buses on the High Street in Dumbarton, however he's planning on tempering it with the subheading, "But Ryan's Believe in Christmas"!

The people who have got obviously too much money to waste Campaigners say, "We want people to understand that humanists, freethinkers, agnostics and atheists are essentially like everyone else."

Rock on man! I never thought of it like that!

Robin Hood Tax Campaign Gets a Boost

Sneaky Play

The company responsible for the roof leaks in the new hall had agreed to meet us all at 2pm yesterday. Cue, a whole group of powerful folk lining up to give them pelters. Instead, they got up in the middle of the night, drove up from England, were on site at 9am, and were back on the M74 before lunchtime. However, they now know what needs to be done to sort the defect.

Yesterday is was dry and cold. Too cold to do the necessary work. The weather forecast says it will be warmer next week. That will mean rain. You get dry & cold, or warmer & wet in Dumbarton.

I'm despairing! - But aren't these guys cute?

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Time of Affirmation

As I entered the doctor's surgery this morning, only my monthly visit, her first words were, "Hey! You are looking great. Your face is shining today!" That was nice, because it's how I feel, and I'm glad she noticed!

It may just be a few days sunshine, but it's mostly about things that have happened and have been said to me over the past fortnight which have been incredibly affirming and positive, and have made me feel good about myself, and reawakened the conviction that I DO have talents and abilities after all!

It's so important, this stuff. How often are we negative about people when we hear them being mentioned? How quickly we can respond in a negative way. It's so easy to criticise someone, even to their face, especially to their face! I remember, however, being told that if I didn't have anything good to say about a person I should keep my mouth shut! Wise words indeed.

Instead we should be building each other up, and affirming the gifts, talents and abilities that we all have.

I was told, on another occasion never to start a sentence with "You", because it was almost certainly going to be accusatory. It's not always the case, but often it is! I needed to try to think before I opened my mouth... especially in an argument!

There are people who are responsible for my shiny face! Some of you know who you are! Thank you!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Diary Issues

Yesterday was frantic. My diary had been lost since Saturday, I think, and although I have the sort of memory that can retain all I've promised to do over the forthcoming week, it was becoming crucial that I found it! New dates were being made and I was making notes on the back of cigarette packets. I hunted high and low, yesterday. No place was left untouched and even the RW was anxious about where it had gone. After all, some crucial bank details were tucked away in a small pocket. The RW was so anxious that she telephoned the hotel where I was at Synod on Saturday to see if I had left it there.

What I'm now reporting is the incredible tale of our modern postal system. The RW "found out" that indeed the hotel had found the diary and had posted it out to me. It seems, after further investigation, that while I was out visiting the postman delivered the diary, gaining entry by whatever means. I'm not sure how yet. He was obviously concerned that our dogs would eat the diary, so he put it in a kitchen drawer in our new home out of harms way and let himself out.

It was in that drawer that the RW found my diary last night. Wonderful postal system, as she says. However, you would have thought that the guy might have left a note to let us know where "he" put it!

And Life Belts Will Be Provided

Oh! The woes! Back to the spanking new Community Hall we had built last year. It's a beautiful hall, no doubt about it! Lots of space, well fit for purpose, and being extensively used by community groups as well as the congregation. It's warm, inviting, and even the loo lights go on automatically as you enter to answer calls of nature!

The only problem is that it leaks. No, that is an understatement. The water comes pouring in at several points whenever it rains. We are talking of buckets needing emptied after about three hours, internal ceilings buckling and bits falling off and cracking, and doors being warped by water ingress.

Our local MP had a private party there last week and guests had to either step over buckets or empty them as the party progressed. How embarrassing!

Of course it's the Rector's fault! Whoever, in their right mind would have sanctioned a flat roof in the West of Scotland, not known for its copious amount of sunshine? However, we were assured by everyone, including Richmond Architects, that there would be no problem. Leaking flat roofs were things of the past, and the modern material used would keep us watertight for a lifetime.

DCF Builders subcontracted the roofing work to Polyroof, and another firm Briggs Amasco, I believe, were also involved. There have been leaks since Day One, but now the situation is untenable. In fact, it's taking over the form of a pantomime! The roofers are blaming the builders for not getting the capping right, but as time goes on, it's becoming obvious that this is not the major issue, and it's poor, shoddy workmanship on somebody's part.

This cost us a third of a million pounds for goodness sake!

The joiners were up on the roof yesterday, trying to stop some of the water ingress. Enter Health and Safety who ordered them down because there was no safety rail and they weren't wearing any harnesses. Now, how do we get around this one?

The monstrous regiment of wimmin in St Augustine's, well three of them, have taken up the cudgel! They fought and won a recent little dispute with HBOS, thank you HBOS for the generous cheque, and now plan on taking on the roofing issue. Words like "Trading Standards" are being whispered in corners, and these whirling dervishes are not to be messed with.

I believe we may have a solution soon, even though it may be against the laws of physics, Scottie!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


My friend Ali gives a wonderful commentary on the post below, and it's worth a read!


No wonder people reject the Church. Guys like this should have a full-time nurse on hand.....


Sometimes I come across things that need to be shared. My pal, the mother of the "confused" chocolate lab, went all oriental on me today!







Very Freudian!

I'm the worst person in the world for losing my diary! It is a great big fat black thing, and one would think I could and should keep tabs on it. It's very Freudian, say some, that when there is something I don't want to do, my diary goes AWOL.

So much of my week is implanted in my head, that I can survive a day or two, but this is getting serious today. Two places more to trawl, then it's emergency time! Of course the house-move didn't help my organisation any, but that may just be an excuse!

This diary loss could have severe consequences, as I was reminded this morning by the wee cartoon I was sent!

Monday, 1 March 2010


I've been thinking a lot about vocation these past few days, and how we discern it. I remember as a young lad being told by people I respected and trusted that they thought I had a calling to the Priesthood. Living in a vast council estate at the time, a place Billy Connolly called a "desert with windows", it was not the done thing to offer yourself for ordination. There were more attractive "gangs" to follow. Did I want to be a priest? Not really. Did I feel called? Well there was a growing conviction in my teenage heart that this was maybe something God might want me to do, and I was encouraged to test that vocation. The rest is history!

However, even days and hours before ordination, there was the nagging doubt in my soul that this was ego-centred, and that I was delusional and the Church misguided. During my many years of ministry, that feeling, that nagging away in my soul has returned from time to time and I wonder whether I should return to the real world and work for a living. And then something happens, or something is said, and my soul receives the affirmation that it needs that this IS what God wants me to do, and where he wants me to be!

How God calls us, either to the sacred ministry or to particular posts within that ministry, is not always very clear-cut. There may be conviction in your heart that this is what God wants and needs you to do, but that always has to be tested against other things. It is good to chat things over with the wise, and others who know you well. This can bring two sorts of responses. From people who don't want to see you leave a current post, there will tend to be a negative reaction sometimes. "You belong to us, we own you, and don't be silly"! (My italics). From others there will be massive affirmation and encouragement, and the pushj you need to test things further.

At the end of the day, it's your prayer, and your quiet time with God that is most likely to discern what your vocation, your calling, is. It is at that point, in the stillness that the voices are replayed, the various arguments for and against are evaluated, and the inner-strength to go on or continue discerning comes about.

It is far from what I may want, but it is what God wants of me that needs discerning at every point in ministry, and that can be forgotten in the excitement, the possibilities, the slow drip into the delusional ego.

AA teaches me to keep it in today. Today I have a difficult thing to do. I need to bury a young man, dead long before his time, and comfort his widow and son to the best of my ability. This is where God wants me and what he wants me to do today.

Tomorrow, who knows? However, it's an exciting journey this vocation thing!