Tag Archives: Church

The Popularity of MySpace and Bebo

As I mentioned in my previous post, tonight we had our planning meeting for the summer term at Youth Group. As usual, the discussion at the meeting also included more general talk about areas of concern, one subject being the popularity amongst the young people of sites like Bebo and MySpace.

In terms of the Church web sites we now have pretty tight rules over the use of pictures of any young people. The rules have actually been tightened several times over the years following concerns expressed by various parents, so you’ll notice that there aren’t any pictures of the Youth Group on this site where the young people are identifiable – and we’ve also tried to make sure that the public photo sets have any pictures with children and young people removed.

However the irony is that you can fairly easily go on to both Bebo and MySpace and locate pages belonging to a large number of the young people in the Church, and of course since the sites encourage people to list their friends, you can from there track through from person to person, browse through photo albums, many of which are helpfully named so you know exactly who you are looking at. Essentially it is just young people socialising, but in an electronic form – however the big problem is how accessible it all is, and how easy it is to build up a picture of them.

Recently, the BBC has produced an article on the issue, and whilst the sites are arguing that they are posting warnings, and trying to educate users, they still have a site that is especially attractive to teenagers. As a result, it is still a matter of some concern to us as youth leaders, quite how much information can be obtained with little or no checks of the person getting the information.

‘Christianity, Christians and the Environment’

Revd Professor Ian James, ‘Christianity, Christians and the Environment’

Tonight we had the last of our Lent Lecture series (next week is a play in the Church), Revd Professor Ian James, who in his day job is a professor of Meteorology at Reading University, but is also a non-stipendary priest (who started off his talk by reminding us that on his previous visit he took our Easter dawn service – ironically because the person who introduced him tonight, Revd John Edwards, who had done it the year before, said he wouldn’t do it again…) in Bracknell, and the Diocesan Environmental Advisor, speaking about ‘Christianity, Christians and the Environment’.

He started with a review of the evidence of climate change, starting with a graph of the levels of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere, and covering the topics of rising average temperatures, melting glaciers, the rising sea temperatures that caused the worst hurricane season this last year, and who the biggest polluters per head of population are – the USA by a large margin, closely followed by Russia, Canada and Japan. Surprisingly Europe comes quite a way down compared to the US, although he did say that the reason for the reduction is that Europe is exporting a lot of it’s pollution thanks to the reduction in manufacturing industry that is now relocating to places like China and India. The BBC News site has an extensive section showing similar evidence of changes, and discussing many of the points that Ian made.

He then moved on to looking at why we as Christians should be concerned about the environment. He started this section by recalling many years ago how he had given a similar presentation to a group of local clergy, and was most surprised a few weeks later to be sat in a congregation whilst one of those clergy preached about how Christians should be doing other things rather than waste their time on trivial irrelevancies such as the environment! He gave a number of arguments as to why the Church should be focused on the environment, including the creation story in Genesis, but also by focusing on the key message of love for ones neighbour. As he highlighted, ones neighbour is anyone in the world, and as our decisions and actions in the UK affect the climate in distant parts of the world, we are showing love, or lack of it for our neighbours in the third-world by our over-consumption of energy in the west that is leading to rising greenhouse gases, and a changing climate that is certainly going to impact on the poorest parts of the world first. Following on from his story about the Bracknell clergy, he showed how things have changed a lot now. For example our Bishop now drives an environmentally friendly car, and the Diocese has taken the decision to cut emissions in line with the Kyoto agreement, even if the UK as a whole is going to fail to meet the targets.

Lastly he looked at ways that we both personally, and as a Church can help. He showed examples of the amounts of Carbon Dioxide produced by various activities, for example that the amount of carbon dioxide produced by a flight to Greece for a family holiday is equivalent to all the carbon dioxide produced by all the car journeys the average family undertakes in a year. He also showed the cost of our modern ability to get produce in our supermarkets from around the world – the amount of carbon dioxide produced to air freight 1kg of perishable fruit and veg to the UK is 6kg – whilst transporting 1kg of UK produced produce is 0.002kg. He also looked at the amount of energy that can be saved through replacing ageing Church boilers with more efficient, modern units, providing better insulation, and even the amount that is saved by switching the Church to a green energy tariff.

Following on from his talk we had a wide variety of questions. Most interesting from my point of view were his comments on the Electricity industry. Firstly he highlighted the ongoing campaigns against wind farms, often on the basis of the visual impact. Secondly he moved on to the topic of nuclear power. I have to say that having worked for SSE, my opinion on the nuclear option has changed. Lots of people will object to nuclear in principle, and suggest renewable sources such as wind, however with the ongoing opposition to such schemes, the chances of being able to generate enough through these sources is non-existent. Ian made an interesting point, that people often get small chances of a serious problem massively out of proportion. For example with nuclear energy there is a small risk of some sort of catastrophic accident, however to produce the levels of power required by the UK, the other options are gas or coal fired stations. Whilst there is less risk of a catastrophic accident, there is pretty well a hundred percent probability of continuing environmental damage, environmental damage that could lead to thousands, if no millions of deaths worldwide. His opinion is that if the world is to avoid any sort of unacceptably sudden and significant change in lifestyle, there is no way that it can be done without including nuclear power. He also briefly discussed small scale generation, highlighting the vast amounts of carbon dioxide produced by the production of solar panels, but suggesting a rooftop wind turbine as a viable option.

All in all it was a very informative talk, and certainly gave the parish a lot to think about. Hopefully as a result we can get the Church moved towards being more green sooner rather than later.

More Organ Pictures

All Gone

So tonight after choir practice I took a look at the current state of work on the removal of the organ.

Things have moved on a lot since Monday. Now in the place where the console has stood for decades is just a hole in the floor with a few wires trailing out, and the shadow on the floor where it once stood. In it’s place is our replacement organ, lent to us by the organ builders, an electronic organ a good deal younger than the Compton going off for repair.

The Other End

Today there was a lot more to see at the other end, as the door to the vestry had been removed, and the vestry itself were a number of ladders and platforms to give the two man team access to the organ itself. The instrument is almost totally enclosed by a wood panelled box, which I assume was added around the organ after it had been built. However this solid panelling poses a problem for removal as the only access is now from the back, through two small doors above the vestry door. This is what makes the whole job take so long, as with the minimal room inside the organ, each pipe has to be carefully removed.

View Down the Church

Further down the church is more evidence of work, as various planks of wood are laid out across the tops of the pews, where the pipes are placed after they have been removed. From there they get taken to the organ builders van ready to be transported back down to Kent.

Currently the hope is that we will get the Compton returned in time for Easter, but that is definitely more a hope than a definite, hence why the organ builders have provided us with a loan organ. Ultimately the big date that has to be achieved is July, as we have the bishop coming along then to re-dedicate the organ, and we can’t very well re-dedicate it if it isn’t there!

Ooops, Thats Another Fine Mess The Anglican Church Has Got Into

This article in the Times raised a smile, although I feel a good deal of sympathy for the priest involved.

Basically, the vicar of Ealing in West London has been elected Bishop of the Lake Malawi diocese in Central Africa, following an almost twenty year relationship with the diocese. During that time he has raised over £250,000 for projects in the diocese, visited frequently, and even arranging hospital treatment in the UK for the previous Bishop for the cancer that ultimately killed him.

However there is a slight problem, the diocese is very conservative in their theology, and the vicar of Ealing is not. In fact he used to lead the Modern Churchpeoples Union.

The church in Central Africa is now busily trying to unlect their new Bishop, despite him winning a significant majority in the election, using eclesiastical law to find a problem with the process of election.

All in all it’s another embarassing bit of worldwide publicity for the Anglican Church. Basically the regular electors elected the man on the basis of having met him and his actions, and yet the whole ongoing war within the Church has resulted in other parts of the church abusing it’s own powers to unelect the duly appointed bishop. Father Jake offers a pretty succinct statement of the whole situation in a recent posting, in the USA, which seems just as relevant to this.