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New Year’s Risk: Adjusting my sails January 3, 2011

Posted by Phil Groom in Life, Poetry, Random Musings.
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6 comments

I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions: I see no point in committing myself to things that I know I won’t do. But this poem about risk, adapted from a piece attributed to William Arthur Ward, makes me want to shout yes! I hope it inspires you, too…

RISK

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
to weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
to expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.

To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss,
to love is to risk not being loved in return,
to live is to risk dying,
to hope is to risk despair,
to try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
Those who risk nothing, do nothing, have nothing, are nothing:
they may avoid suffering and sorrow,
but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.
Chained by their servitude, they are slaves who have forfeited all freedom:
only a person who risks is free.

Pessimists complain about the wind;
optimists expect it to change;
realists risk all and adjust the sails…

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2010: Blog Review of the Year January 2, 2011

Posted by Phil Groom in Random Musings.
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THANK YOU to the stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com for the following summary of how this blog did in 2010 — but EVEN BIGGER THANKS to you, our readers, without whom my own and Emma’s writing would be nothing but dust blown in the wind…

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy Numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2010. That’s about 31 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 58 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 133 posts. There were 37 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 6mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was July 28th with 147 views. The most popular post that day was Tough Decision Time 2.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, christianbookshopsblog.org.uk, twitter.com, thattheologystudent.blogspot.com, and the LST Intranet.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for phils boring blog, phil groom blog, phil groom, christianity sucks, and galloway and porter.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Tough Decision Time 2 July 2010
14 comments

2

Biblica and STL UK: A Strange Way to Attract Investors? December 2009
35 comments

3

Tears of Joy in Northwood as Deranged Christian Bookshop Manager’s Ten Year Reign of Terror Draws to a Close August 2010
10 comments

4

Emma’s Page August 2009
7 comments

5

About June 2008
4 comments

Food for thought? An African Tale October 30, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Random Musings.
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2 comments

Just came across this, via @uk_cmf:

In a certain country the law says you should not eat porcupines.

An individual was found hunting a porcupine
He was asked ‘Do you know what the law says?’
And he said ‘The law says “you are not to eat a porcupine”.
It does not say “don’t hunt a porcupine”.’

He was found carrying a porcupine.
He was asked ‘Do you know what the law says?’
And he said ‘The law says “you are not to eat a porcupine”.
It does not say “don’t carry a porcupine”.’

He was found skinning a porcupine.
He was asked ‘Do you know what the law says?’
And he said ‘The law says “you are not to eat a porcupine”.
It does not say “don’t skin a porcupine”.’

He was found roasting a porcupine.
And he was asked ‘Do you know what the law says?’
And he said ‘The law says “you are not to eat a porcupine”.
It does not say “don’t roast a porcupine”.’

He was found tasting a porcupine.
And he was asked ‘Do you know what the law says?’
And he said ‘The law says “you are not to eat a porcupine”.
It does not say “don’t taste a porcupine”.’

Unfortunately he tasted the whole porcupine…

A Tale of Two Photos: Inside Outside October 24, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Life, Photos, Random Musings, Theological Reflection.
Tags: , , , , , ,
3 comments

TWO PHOTOS I TOOK after church this morning as I stood in the church doorway:

Outside looking in...

Outside looking in...

Inside looking out...

Inside looking out...

In the first, I’m standing on the threshold of the church, looking in, with the bright autumn sun streaming from behind me to cast my shadow into the porch. I’d wandered out and just happened to glance back, decided to capture the moment. Then I turned around to face the light and was struck by the contrast. Again, the autumn sun streaming in, now inviting me to go sit on that bench by the war memorial, my shadow somewhere behind me.

There’s an old ATF song, “Back to the Light” (from the album Signs of Change), that’s more or less permanently etched on my brain, and it ends with these verses:

… I step up and onwards, and what do I see?
There’s a mist of darkness and it’s creeping up on me.
Many times before this road I’ve been,
But never alone, never alone, depression walks at my side again,
It’s creeping up on me,
I can feel it in my soul.

There in the distance, a tiny point of light,
It’s growing and glowing, and swallowing the night,
But I’ve still got darkness in my eyes,
I must turn around, and face to where the brightness shines…

I guess you can see why these pictures bring those lyrics back to me again. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, when depression dogs your footsteps, to be able to turn around, and face to where the brightness shines? But life’s not that straightforward. Most of the time you turn around and it’s just as dark the other way too. And yet, and yet, and yet… moments like these: they’re there to be savoured.

I look back into the church and see the people milling around. They’re in another world, somehow. Did any of them see me point my phone and capture that moment? I turn around. The autumn sunshine streams through the trees. The war memorial stands there, mute testimony to humanity’s inhumanity to humanity. The bench is empty and for all the light shining, it too speaks of death, of a once proud tree now cut down and shaped to humanity’s convenience.

But the light still shines, and no amount of darkness can ever put it out. The light you think you can see at the end of the tunnel isn’t the headlamp of an oncoming train: it’s a man with a candle. He’s walking ahead of you. The reason the light keeps flickering is because he limps as he walks and his body keeps blocking the light; but every so often he holds the candle up high, beckons us on, and the light shines brighter than ever.

This morning was one of those moments. Savour it with me.

Strictly Confidential? July 26, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Random Musings.
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NO DOUBT YOU, like me, receive gazillions of emails that include some variation of the following in the footer:

This email (including any attachments) is confidential and is for the exclusive use of the intended recipient(s) only. If you are not the intended recipient you should delete it immediately and be aware that any use, dissemination, forwarding, printing, copying or reproduction of any of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

What do you make of this kind of drivel? Have I just breached a confidentiality agreement by reproducing this part of that message here? The answer, of course, is no: whilst confidentiality can be requested, it cannot be demanded or even reasonably expected unless it has been agreed with the recipient in advance.

Wise up, beautiful people: email is not a secure medium. That’s presumably why you’ve included the footer message in first place: so why are you attempting to send supposedly confidential by email anyway?? Even worse of course, when it’s a bcc’d mass mailing: how does anyone know whether or not they’re one of your “intended recipient(s)”??

If you wish to send me confidential information, find another way — and even then, make sure you’ve secured a confidentiality agreement with me in advance, because if you haven’t, rest assured, your message — if it deserves any attention at all — will be disseminated, forwarded, copied and reproduced; but you can relax on one front: I’m unlikely to waste paper & ink printing it.

Thank you.

Following Jesus? July 21, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Random Musings, Short Story, Theological Reflection, Watching and Waiting.
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9 comments

JESUS was walking through the shopping centre in Galilee when he saw Simon and his brother Andrew at work stocking the shelves with books, for they were booksellers. Jesus said to them, “Come, follow me, and I will make you readers of people.” At once they left their bookshelves and followed him.

Going a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in another bookshop unpacking their boxes. At once he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the shop with the hired staff and followed him.

Another bookseller named Philip was watching all this. “What about me, Jesus?” he asked. “Should I leave my bookshelves to follow you too?”

Jesus looked at Philip and smiled. “What do you see, Philip?” he asked.

“I see your name written on each book, I see the light in your eyes each time someone picks one up and turns the pages,” Philip replied.

“The light shines in the darkness,” said Jesus, “and the darkness has never put it out.”

To GameHouse Staff: An Apology July 2, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Random Musings, Watching and Waiting.
Tags: , , , , , ,
4 comments
Facebook Scrabble: Advertising Overlay

Facebook Scrabble: Advertising Overlay

If you’re a facebook Scrabble player, you’ll have become familiar with this sight over the last week or so: an advertising overlay that covers the board and counts down before it lets you play.

I’ve been one of the hundreds of people complaining about it, saying that it’s too intrusive and ruins the game.

This evening, however, I found out what it’s all about: GameHouse, the company that provides Scrabble on facebook, have got their backs to the wall, with something like half the workforce being laid off. Somehow, if the company is to survive — if the remaining staff are to keep their jobs and continue providing us with games on facebook (and Scrabble is just one of the many games they provide) — they’ve got to make those games pay.

Earlier today I left GameHouse an ultimatum on their facebook page:

Sorry guys but you haven’t listened: none of us want that ad overlay. It still takes 30 seconds to play through, which is far too long. Make it 10 seconds absolute max if you really must do it this way — but even that is unnecessary. Every other app developer I know of is perfectly content with banner and sidebar ads. Know this: I absolutely will not click through on your overlay ads. I absolutely will not purchase products from any companies whose ads you feature in this way. So you and your advertisers both ultimately lose because you alienate your own community and you alienate your advertisers.

ULTIMATUM: It’s your call: do away with the overlay or once my current games are over, I’m outtahere. It was fun while it lasted and I’m grateful for that: thank you. But you’ve now killed it and I’ll be blocking GameHouse from my facebook.

I’ve now taken that message down and I’d like to apologise, unreservedly, to any GameHouse staff who may have been hurt by my insensitivity. I’m sitting too close to the edge of possible redundancy myself to be able to take something like this lightly.

And to everyone else I say: play on! And if you want to keep on playing, do the biz and click through an ad or two.

GameHouse, I salute you!

Read all about the GameHouse layoffs here:

The Seventh Day June 27, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Church, Random Musings.
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10 comments

And on the seventh day, God rested.

God rested.

And that too was good, though Genesis doesn’t spell that out for us in the same way as it does for each of the previous days. It does tell us that God blessed the seventh day and called it holy, and that sounds pretty good to me.

In church today we sang the old Horatius Bonar hymn:

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“Come unto me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one,
lay down thy head upon my breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was,
so weary, worn and sad;
I found in him a resting place,
and he has made me glad.

But it’s not something the church is generally very good at, is it? We invite people in, and instead of finding a place of peace and tranquility, they find a place of frantic frenetic frenzied activity as everyone seeks to justify their existence by doing, doing and doing. Anyone who simply sits still is frowned upon until they too sign up to join a committee or rearrange the furniture or whatever else it is that everybody else’s expectations requires.

So today, to all those feeling exhausted by other people’s expectations, I’d like to say, quite simply:

You are; and you have the right to be.

Your existence does not depend upon the endless doing foisted upon you by other people’s expectations. You can sit down and watch England v. Germany in the World Cup this afternoon if that’s what you want to do and you don’t need to justify your existence by peeling onions at the same time.

You are; and you have the right to be.

And if you’re not a football fan, you can simply sit and relax in the sunshine; or go for a walk; or read a novel. Or simply be. There’s nothing to prove:

You are; and you have the right to be.

Special thanks to a special friend who made me think of this today: you know who you are, and you, especially, have the right to be.

Anniversary Post: An awesome year thanks to my awesome friends June 12, 2010

Posted by Emma Jayne in Life, Random Musings.
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5 comments
Emma Jayne

Emma Jayne

This month marks the anniversary of my new life, of a revolution in my thinking and in my being that I’m still struggling to find words for. For years, more years than I care to think about, I was locked away in a corner of my own mind, afraid to come out.

The fear is still there in many ways, but it’s a fear I’m slowly coming to terms with as I learn to accept myself for who I am. The thing that’s made this revolution possible is my friends who have accepted me in all my inner mixed-up-ness. Everything about me is a contradiction, but as I’ve stepped out, I’ve found an amazing grace in so many people who have somehow been able to look beyond the contradictions and allow me to be me, and instead of walking away have continued to welcome my friendship.

So this post, my friends, is for you: thank you.

Exactly a year ago today I wrote these words:

And Jesus? He knows me better than I know myself. He’s known all along. He looks at me, smiles … and offers me a reassuring hug. “All shall be well,” he says, “and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”

Held in that embrace, I am found. Grace abounds. Grace beyond belief as the God in whom I cannot possibly believe looks on and believes in me…

They’re still true: grace beyond belief embraces and holds me. And you, my friends, even those of you for whom all this talk of Jesus is meaningless nonsense: you’ve made the journey so far possible. You’ve made it bearable. Thank you for sharing my journey and thank you for allowing me to share yours:

@bourach | @fragmentz | @fromthesamesky
@serial_insomnia | @unicorntreebks

There are others I can’t name on a public post:
you know who you are: thank you.

Seek ye the good… June 7, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Random Musings, Theological Reflection.
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6 comments
Café Mocha, Biggleswade

Café Mocha, Biggleswade

So there I was, doing my stint in Café Mocha, Biggleswade, and a customer was telling me his life story, as they do. If you’ve ever worked in a café you’ll be familiar with this: if you’re willing to listen, you’ll soon become privy to everyone’s innermost secrets. I think the same thing happens in barber shops and hairdressers.

This particular gentleman told me about a piece of doggerel he’d discovered on a mug many years ago: it had stuck in his mind and had a profound effect on his attitude to other people:

Seek ye the good in every man
Speak of all the best ye can
Then will all men speak well of ye
And say how kind of heart ye be

It was written, of course, in the days when men were men, and so were the women. These days, men are men, women are women and the rest of us are either transgendered or wish we were: it clearly needed rewriting for an inclusivist era. I consulted my inner woman and this is what we came up with:

Seek ye the good in everyone
Speak not ye ill of anyone
Then will all speak well of ye
And say how kind of heart ye be

It almost works, but there’s a significant difference, we think, between speaking the best you can of someone and not speaking ill of them. So, a competition is called for: can you do better? Can you come up with a version that still rhymes and scans, is inclusivist, and retains the original emphasis? Your prize will be the satisfaction of doing better than we could 🙂

But it set me thinking in other directions too: part of me wants to cheer and say it’s a great principle to live by; another part of me says actually, it’s plain daft — whilst we can do our best to speak the best of everyone, if that’s all we ever do we’re in serious danger of becoming hypocrites: isn’t it better to be honest and if someone’s being a prat, tell them so? And whilst it may feel good to have everyone speaking well of us, isn’t there a danger there too? A danger that Jesus warned us about:

Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

So maybe, just maybe, our version is an improvement on the original? And when we see bullying, hypocrisy, injustice, unethical or unfair business practices, I guess we’re just gonna have to accept that some people out there won’t like us speaking out about it. As someone else far wiser than me once said, the only thing evil needs to succeed is for those who know better to remain silent…

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