No Taboos

I was chatting with Richard and Lori P today and I suddenly said to him “what I like about this is that there are no taboos chatting with you guys”.

I thought back to my youth at church and recognised that you just weren’t allowed to question too much stuff (not that my parent’s were like that though).

This made me think about ‘not doubting’ as we are instructed to ‘not doubt’. But the essence of the ‘do not doubt’ instruction is ‘do not doubt what you know by faith’, which is entirely different to doubting loads of the other stuff that you hear at church, etc. Anyway, I found this deeply encouraging, as it is great to be encouraged not to doubt the stuff you are absolutely certain of, that God has shown to you – i.e. to get on and live how you believe.

It’s also great to know that we can (and should, perhaps) doubt everything that we don’t have a certain faith about. Let’s face it, I’m not about to have faith that ‘you must go to the church meeting every Sunday morning’! 🙂 But I am not going to doubt that ‘God is love’! Hurrah!

Brian and heaven

I was going to blog about Christ’s scars from the cross being visible in heaven and when he showed Himself on earth and the challenges this presents to much of our theology about suffering and heaven. However Brian Bunny has his own site so I wanted to give this a link and show the latest edition which is just great.

Analysis of Eye Contact During ‘The Grace’ in Large Groups

It is with deep concern for the bretheren at megachurches that I pen this analysis of eye contact during ‘the Grace’.
‘The Grace’ is that little blessing that we state to each other which reads ‘May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, evermore, amen’. It takes approx 12 seconds to complete.
Let’s look at some examples:
When a meeting of just two people say ‘The Grace’ then chances are that they will make eye contact for most of the duration of ‘The Grace’. However, we must always consider that 10% of any meeting population will have their eyes closed in the mistaken thought that they are praying to God and not speaking to each other. Therefore there is a 20% chance that in a meeting of two people eye contact will not be made – and 80% likelihood that contact will be made.
A meeting of three people: Well, it is possible that as person A looks to person B, person B is looking at person C and person C is looking at person A. Then there is always the chance that they may move their gaze into another order where there is still no eye contact! Then bear in mind the shut eyes fallacy. However, there is a very good chance that, bearing in mind that participants might switch gaze every 2 seconds or less that, on average, a participant will make eye contact,during ‘The Grace’, with one person or more (90% estimated) or exactly two people (70% estimated).
Moving on to larger numbers and we begin to find more dramatic problems. A meeting of 1000 people: In the 12 seconds it takes to say ‘The Grace’ you will on average switch gaze every second. Your gaze will dwell on people who are obviously looking in the completely opposite direction for perhaps 0.1s and you will not look at people with their backs to you, but bear in mind that perhaps 50% of the people in front will turn around to look behind them (the other 50% either having neck problems, being too enamoured with the people in front of them, or just being plain lazy). So you can look at 12 people in 12 seconds, but the chance that the person you are looking at is also looking at you is 1 in 1000? Well, you have better odds if you are taller, maybe you are well groomed? Perhaps you are their close friend? So the odds improve to 1 in 500. Let’s see, so the odds of you making eye contact with someone during the grace is 12 in 500 or 2.4%?
Hmmm, perhaps it’s time for experimental results. If you are a member at a megachurch then contact me, Mark Porthouse at
I’ll be intently awaiting your results!

The Nailed down God

I have been thinking recently about Jesus being nailed down on the cross. How it is the opposite of movement, fluidity, and much of current theology and certainly opposite to our fast moving culture. Christ was static in his response, both by keeping silent when put on trial and ultimately static when nailed down on the cross. Our current Christology draws much from the elements of incarnation, of Jesus walking and talking with people. I wonder how the nailed down Jesus affects our Christology. In a world that is busier than ever, at Easter when people are moving from place to place to visit relatives in the four day weekend or off on holiday, when the DIY stores host sales and garden centres entice us to get the garden sorted with primroses. What is our mission response? Should it be to simply say you cannot serve God and yourself and sit down? To explain, things, a decorated home, friends are fleeting and sit down? Tomorrow, Good Friday should we simply sit at the foot of the cross and focus on the Nailed Down Christ?

Insomnia movie

Childhood misdemeanors

Thinking about slipping on banana skins the other day, got me wondering about all those other things we hear about third hand or see on a cartoon/TV. We turned the banana skins idea into a youth event and I am trying to resist the urge to turn all those things we hear about into a youthwork session, you have to admit though, the young people would never forget the day x got a saucepan stuck on their head, or y got his head stuck through the railings. A word to the wise don’t try any of these. From personal experience I have tried jumping off a roof with an umbrella and it kind of worked (patio umbrellas are best) but my mate who did with a normal one broke his arm. My mate also managed to get a tic tac stuck up his nose. (I caution against this version of chubby bunnies). Talking of chubby bunnies we tried it with cream eggs once, you don’t half dribble. I also managed to accidentally pull two of my mates (tic tac guy) teeth out with a comedy trip wire I had hidden in the barn but tied up too high so when he was running past and I pulled it, instead of reaching his ankle it caught his two front teeth. All these are ancient history, but even recently I managed to go head over heels when riding a shopping trolley. What have you tried, and has anyone ever taken someone to the hospital with a saucepan stuck on their head I would love to know?

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Teaching Disent

Don’t you just love it when you find a quote to back up your thinking. Currently there is a debate in youth work circles about curriculum and the nature of teaching, Jeffs who is questioning of curriculum cites Stiener “to teach greatly is to awaken doubts in the pupil,…to train for disentâ€? (Youth and Policy Summer 2004) and argues this is a key to education particularly informal education, and curriculum by its very nature hinders this. I love the quote and tend to be in agreement with Jeffs.
I just wonder how much of this critical education goes on in churches or youth work circles. We prop up the status quo so much, when actually called to be a counter cultural movement. The rich young ruler (see eariler post Is the Church the rich young ruler?) had kept the commands but hadn’t been trained to disent and therefore process/critque his actions so was well away from inheriting the kingdom.

Dorchester Session

If you visiting Sunday papers from the Dorchester session today, Welcome. You will find the discussion on belief here on the 11th March (click here) and the notes on the left hand side under Talks as soon as I can upload them. On Youthblog there is good discussion on random thoughts. I think randomness is very helpful and my random thoughts often turn into some of my best ideas for youth work activities. Once was I wondering if Bananas are really as slippery as on cartoons. We then did a youth night covering the wooden floor of the hall with Bananas to see how far we could slide SO if anyone has any random thoughts they would like to share you never know what ideas it may spark off, so feel free to add any of yours.

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