Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Monday, July 14

Mama Mia - film review

SPOILER WARNING – I give plot details below.

Normally I hate, loathe and detest musicals. I hate the cheese, and I hate people randomly bursting into song in the way real people don’t. But I’ll make an exception for Mama Mia.

This is mainly because I have always been an Abba fan. So I went to the cinema with the expectation that I was basically seeing a music DVD, a load of songs with a good video. In this case, the video linked the various songs in a common story and a common context. Approaching it in that way, it did not seem like a musical, and I was able to sit back and enjoy.

And the songs were indeed good. They sat well in the story, and with a few exceptions did not seem contrived. Julie Walters was particularly good at making the lyrics come to life in the context of the story.

The men can’t sing to save their lives. But starting from that assumption, they did a lot better than I had been led to expect. Abba always had a gay following, so I should not have been surprised that one of the ‘Dads’ was gay, or that at the end there were lots of men dancing in the fountain with no shirts on.

The plot is full of holes, mysterious characters that appear and disappear without explanation etc. It mystified me that the film starts with two girls arriving at the island to be bridesmaids, with only a couple of small bags. What woman travels that light in normal times, let alone such an important role in a wedding? On a deeper level, I wanted more explanation of how the men reacted to being asked to give her away, only to find someone else was doing it. I was also disappointed that it ends with a wedding and a postponement, rather than two weddings. (Or 4).

But despite all the plotholes, I really enjoyed the movie. The overall story was good, the locations excellent, and the photography superb. It was very cheesy, but it was supposed to be. Abba is cheesy, and so the film had to be cheesy to be true to the music and the songs and the band, and setting out to be cheesy it was 100% successful.

I loved it.

So was the bit at the end, dancing in the fountain of a pagan goddes, constitute advocating her sexuality - have fun regardless of marriage comittment? Or did the church wedding of the main protagonists overide that message?

Tuesday, July 8

How the synod should end debates

Women Bishops – a strategic dead end?

This post has nothing to do with the rights and wrongs of women bishops per se. It asks if this strategy is a dead end for the church.

I think that the ordination of women makes the church more attractive to women. But a quick look around our predominantly female congregations tells us that attracting women is not and never has been the problem. We will not see a sudden influx of feminists saying ‘now that you ordain women bishops we’ll join’

The problem for the church is the lack of men.

And without men, the church will die. “In the Lord, man is not independent of woman and woman is not independent of man”. Do we want the Church of England to be Women’s Institute MkII?

I think it is fairly well established that the main reason men don’t attend church is that they see it as soft and sissy. It is too feminine. The men that are in church are dressed in frocks. In order to attract men, the church needs more testosterone. It needs to be more manly. Will women bishops make it more manly? Our survey said XX.

Women Bishops a reality

So the Synod of the Church of England has voted.

I am broadly, but cautiously, in favour of women bishops. But I really don’t like the way it has been done.

Regarding the basic theology:

In favour:

  • It is illogical to have women vicars but not women bishops.
  • In history women have always been domestic, and it is only in the modern western world that this question has been asked, and hence it is only now that we have reviewed scripture on the topic. So just becasue it has not been done traditionally does not mean it should not be done.
  • Christ opposes discrimination and broke the social taboos of his day to elevate women.
  • Peter (and the church) was given authority to 'bind and loose'


  • “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man” – this verse has never been satisfactorily answered.
  • The doctrine of ‘one flesh’ and many other verses in the Bible indicate that while the genders have equal status, they have different roles. Especially where these are roles that symbolise the relationship between Christ and the Church.
  • (I reject the idea that a woman cannot represent Christ as president at the eucharist. We are both made in the image of God.)

Regarding the politics:

  • It has been done politically, rather than spiritually.
  • The baying angry women campaigners are NOT the women I would choose to be bishops (there are many women I know who would do the job well, but not these ones). They have not shown Christian love towards the traditionalists, they have shown only a worldly thirst for power. They have not sought a genuine compromise in the inclusive spirit of the Catholic and Protestant Church of England. They have sought to exclude the traditionalists. And in driving them out, they impoverish the church. How is this an example of peacemaking to the world?
  • If the liberals had been willing to accept a system of separate structure of male bishops for those that want them, they would have had women bishops years ago. So they can’t even manage their own strategy, yet they want to run the church?

So, it is something approaching the right outcome, but it was definitely done in a shameful manner and the women should have had the basic Christian grace to make more generous concessions to people with different convictions to themselves.

Monday, July 7

baby due soon

Waiting (im)patiently now for our baby to be born. (click the 'pregnancy' label/tag to get the full history behind our MIRACLE baby - and as a PS to reinforce that today's BBC website has an article about the reduced chances of MEN of my age being fertile)

It’s due at the end of the month, but the midwives say it is a big baby, and given other health history issues they don’t want to let it go past the due date. So Mrs is seeing the specialist on Wednesday. Hopefully they will decide to induce it early rather than let it grow bigger.

But… for my birthday celebration I have organised a paintballing expedition this weekend. I have said that ideally, the baby would come afterwards, since I have already paid for it and invited guests etc.

Mrs thinks this is very selfish. But I did deliberately arrange the trip two weeks before the due date – surely that is enough! But many of my guests have been unable to come, and the substitutes have also had other previous engagements, so I still have 25% vacancies. She thinks this is divine guidance that my paintballing ‘aint gonna happen, because the baby will come first.

We will see who is right!