Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My First Crack at Ikea.

Last night I went with Matt L, Matt W and Christina to Ikea in Croydon to see Michelle (I want it noted that I had a lot of work to do last night and was only told that I would be spending 2 and a half hours journeying to and from Croydon after I was in the car).

It was my first time (in Ikea that is). I've heard stories and I've seen pictures but now my friends were taking me to enjoy it first hand.

It was great. The others took great delight in watching my face as I looked around the showrooms, drank lingonberry juice and tried my first Ikea meatballs. It really is as beautiful as they say. We bought draws and curtains for my bedroom and dreamed of owning Ikeaesque kitchens and lounges and offices (we even had a test-run office meeting).

All in all, despite having to wait till 12.30am to get in and finish off my PowerPoint presentation for this morning's lesson, it was great. I thank Sweden for great shopping and I thank God for great friends.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Blessed are the Absent-Minded for they will Leave their Inheritance on the Bus

Alright, alright so last week I lost my laptop. Let's talk about that. I still don't quite feel ready to joke about it mind you. However, it would seem that other people are. So here goes. Here's what happened to my laptop:

I don't know.

I woke up one morning and it was gone. I know I had it with me the previous night. I remember having it on the train. I remember taking it off the train. I remember taking it into the taxi with me. I remember taking it out of the taxi. I remember walking home with it. I remember getting back to the house and putting it down. I remember picking it up and taking it upstairs with me. And I remember going to sleep, safe in the knowledge that it was by my side. And while I stand firm in my conviction that I did all those things, the evidence would seem to suggest otherwise:

Clue #1: The laptop is not in the house. This would suggest that the laptop is not in the house.

Clue #2: Nothing else is missing and nothing in the house is broken. So I think we can rule out burglary.

Clue #3: The house currently looks like a showroom. With Andy and V trying to sell the house, they have removed many mounds of mess within which a laptop may be hidden. After upturning many tidy things, creating my own mounds of mess and then tidying up again, I think I can rule out the possibility that I put my laptop somewhere "safe".

Clue #4: To my knowledge, I have no history of sleepwalking. Some would call it clutching it at straws. I prefer to think of it as ruling out remote possibilities. But no, I'm fairly confidant that I didn't slip out the house with it whilst asleep and unconsciously leave it with an alley cat (although it was a full moon that night).

All this would seem to lead to two possible conclusions:

Conclusion #1: I left it on the train, taxi or in the street. Not likely.

Conclusion #2: The barrier between us and other worlds is weakening and everyday household items are slipping through small temporary worm-holes. This seems to be the stronger of the two possibilities.

I'm aware that it seems I'm adopting a certain reluctance to accept that I just left it but I can't believe that I would have left it anywhere with such mental vacancy so as to not realise until the following day. Or at least that's how I would be feeling were it not for a couple of other incidents this week that would seen to confirm that I am, in fact, slowly losing the plot:

On Friday I had my first ever lesson in the morning (yes - finally) and before I got to the school I spent some time scouting the area for shops, co-ops or garages where I could purchase some water (didn't want to lead a lesson parched now did I?). Finally I found some and merrily made my way to the school. When I got there, I went to the loo, left the loo, was taken to the classroom and realised that I had left my water (in more ways than one), in the toilet. I had to deliver two lessons back-to-back with a dry throat.

The second incident occurred yesterday. I was leading the cell group at Chelmsford Corps and so woke up and, suddenly aware of my newly found absent-mindedness, made sure that I had everything I needed with me. I needed my cell group notes and my bible. So I woke up, took them out of my bag and took them downstairs with me. Bible and cell notes - check. I had a shower, got out and got dressed, making sure that wherever I went, so did my stuff. Bible and cell notes - check. I walked downstairs carrying my cell notes and bible. I walked to the door with my cell notes and bible. I put my cell notes and bible on the side ever so briefly to put my coat and shoes on, making sure never to break eye contact with the cell notes and bible whilst doing so. I then picked up the cell notes and bible, making sure they were both there and I had a firm grasp of them both, opened the door and left the house with the cell notes and bible in hand. It was only when I was half way to the hall (i.e. at the point of no return) that I realised that the cell notes and bible that I had been carrying round the house with me and making sure I had on me at all times, were in fact my cell notes and diary. Yup. My diary. Completely different book. It wasn't all bad though. While I was unable to discuss Paul's teachings on community with the group, I was able to tell them what Jesus was up to on the 25th Septemeber 2006.

So I guess it's more than possible that I did, in fact, leave my laptop on the train, in the taxi or in the street. I just hope I recover from this newly acquired quirk before I lose anything else.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

An Uninspired Blogger.

Recently I've been a bit slow on the ol' blogging front. I've got some good excuses. Wanna hear them? Ok:

1) My laptop was stolen. Some nasty, horrible, smelly little band of thieves (probably professionals) snuck into my room while I was asleep and took it from under my nose. Actually this probably isn't true but it sounds exciting and provokes more sympathy for yours truly than "I left my laptop in a taxi" which is probably what happened.

2) Work's getting busier. Recently I've only been able to blog from the office but that's been made trickier since I've been required to do some actual work. Tomorrow I have my very first lesson in a school (I'm talking about "What is a Christian" and "What a Christian Does" and "Belief in Action" and "The Good Work of the Salvation Army" and I have an hour) which is slightly scary but I'm glad to finally be getting going with it.

3) I lost my fingers in a game of scrabble that got slightly out of hand (no pun intended).

4) I was planning on writing a blog talking about why I haven't really been blogging with any regularity as of late but realised that I've done that before and again before that and then again before that and figured that people were probably tired of excuses and I should just leave it until I can think of something else to blog about ........




So that's why I haven't been blogging with any regularity as of late.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Applicants Required.

Looking for a new job? Want something fun and dangerous? Enjoy working with animals? You may be interested in this.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Kunskapsskolan - Don't ask me how you say that.

I've just had a teacher training session in which we were talking about the Swedish education system (specifically looking at Kunskapsskolan schools if you want to check it out). It's completely different to ours and sounds awesome. Basically, the kids get to pick the lessons they want to go to and construct their own timetable week by week. It's personalised learning to the extreme. It's incredible although I'm not sure that it would work over here.

The thing is, the guy telling us about it kept saying things like: "if we look at the Swedish model..." and "what the Swedish model shows us..."

I laughed.

I got strange looks.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My First Crack at Atheism.

After advice both for and against, I decided to buy Richard Dawkins latest book - The God Delusion. For those who don't know, Dawkins is a Darwinian scientist with a big thing against religion and the idea of God (hence the chirpy little title).

I was kind of cautious in buying this book. The main reason being that a few years ago I tried reading Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate and it almost destroyed me. It tried to scientifically explain how the body and mind doesn't require a soul in order to operate. I'd never come across this sort of thinking before and I felt my security in God slipping away (I don't think I even got past the first couple of chapters). Although this was scary, it also strengthened my resolve to not be so naive to the arguments of atheism (to this day, I still think of Pinker's book as my Everest). Whether I like it or not I'm going to have to face atheism sooner or later and when I do I need to be prepared.

Another reason for wanting to read the book is this: one thing that irritates me about a lot of atheist philosophers is that they paint an inaccurate portrait of God which makes it really easy to brush him aside. I don't think atheists actually realise what it is they don't believe in. They have a distorted view of Christianity and what it actually means to be a Christian (just because idiots persecute homosexuals in the name of Christianity, it doesn't make it Christian). And so they pick up on half truths and conveniently brush aside anything about the Christian faith that doesn't support their atheism.

The thing that really bugs me though is that Christians do exactly the same thing. We exaggerate and twist truths to "prove" that God's with us. The teenager who nods his head and says "I see your point but..." suddenly knew, according to the Christian leader who's telling the story later on, exactly what Christianity was about and was shaken to his very core, abandoning his prior beliefs and jumping on the Christian love train. The man who stops to hear the Salvation Army playing in the streets because he likes brass band music is suddenly proof that the gospel is reaching everyone in our community. The dying church who just had a couple of teenagers come in off the streets and sit at the back is suddenly experiencing the biggest revival since the Toronto blessing.

I have nothing against hope or optimism but when we exaggerate like this and ignore truths such as "the teenager was being polite", "the man likes brass music", and "the teenagers at the back were bored out of their brains" it's little wonder that atheists fail to take us seriously.

At the end of the day, when we look at the world around us and at a lot of Christian people and the kind of things that are happening in the name of God, there is actually a pretty strong case for atheism. And as long as we brush over all of these points and arguments as blasphemy and fail to take the case for atheism seriously, we look like we're running away from the truth we claim to be championing.

So this is why I'm going to hear Mr Dawkins out, I'm going to take his arguments seriously and I'm going to wrestle with them. And then, hopefully, when it comes to proclaiming the word of Jesus, I can rest assured that I am speaking the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.