Tag Archives: Bible

I Need Your Advice Please

I’m thinking of doing/organising some fund-raising, for our pretty little (inner city) Anglican Church. The funds would be for boring things (we don’t need a new steeple, or something sexy like that), so we are going to have to inspire generosity from a pretty cold start. Also, the congregation are mostly old and poor and the surrounding population is 70% Muslim… This may turn out to be quite a challenge.

Apparently, jumble sales and the like do not make much money anymore. It seems the availability of cheaper brands of clothing and the work of charity shops has made “jumble” redundant. I’m not sorry really, I bloody hate jumble sales.

I looked into those wristbands that various  charities sell. They’re fun but quite expensive, unless you invest a fortune. Also, ordering more of those to be made just seems like yet another way to pollute the environment. Have you ever raised funds using them? Are they worth ignoring the negatives?

I’ve thought about sponsored events but I don’t really like the idea of bothering people for money, to see me sitting in a bath full of jelly for ten hours. Ugh. Also, we’ve only just had a sponsored hymn night.

People like food, don’t they? Maybe I could make some sweets (chocolates, candy etc.) to sell. Or get someone who can actually bake to make some cakes. Please could some of you share any simple recipes (for sweets/chocolates/candy) with me?

Also, if any of you can suggest any tried and tested craft ideas (of the small fund-raising variety), I would love to hear them. I’m willing to put in the effort, if you KNOW they are worth making.

I know I could Google all this… But I want to hear from REAL PEOPLE about what ACTUALLY WORKS. I trust people who have the good taste and intelligence to read my blog. I’m not so trusting of companies whose main motivation is to sell me “St. Agnes Church” key-rings.

I did have one more idea and that was the internet. Father Stephen already runs a pretty kick ass website. I thought maybe he should set up a page about needing funds and put up a PayPal button, or something? I will suggest it to him, if people think that might work. We are in rather a difficult place to raise funds, so more fortunate Christians might help… But whether or not Father Stephen would do that, I don’t know.

Am I missing anything else? I don’t think a fashion show would work, by the way, unless it was for Zimmer frames, or embroidered hankies.

Thanks in advance!

How I Resisted Becoming A Mormon

Last night, the Mormons came to visit us. As I mentioned  in a previous entry, Dave had invited them, after talking to them at a bus stop… Which freaked me out slightly (when I found out) but nobody in this house is normal, so I just went with it.

The Mormons arrived early and looked VERY young. Clean-cut, polite, friendly boys, in ties (of course), who smiled with the serene faces of people who KNEW they had the answer. Brandon mostly hid upstairs, getting ready for Cadets but stopping intermittently, to sit with his head in his hands, going “What the hell are my parents doing NOW?”. By the time Bran left, the Mormons had settled in and he was glad to get away.

The Mormon approach to evangelism seems to be made up of three things – spreading the gospel (according to Joseph Smith), a bit of gentle hypnotism and some hard sales techniques:

The gospel part of it was… I don’t want to be too rude but frankly I thought it was funny. Please look into it for yourselves. I love the idea that after The Ascension, Jesus didn’t just go to Heaven – He flew to America and taught Americans all the same stuff he had taught before, including a reprise of the Sermon on the Mount.

The “sales” part of the visit was very off-putting. The Mormons kept trying to dictate to US what was going to happen. They asked us if we would be prepared to be baptised into their Church, if we believed their scriptures. The obvious answer to that is “yes”. But then they somehow ignored the IF and started arranging for us to be visited three times a week, to be prepared for baptism on the 24th of July. WTF? We put paid to that notion, saying they could leave their literature and a telephone number, but nothing else should be planned yet. The last time I experienced somebody trying to “close a deal” in that way was years ago, when an American neighbour was brow-beating me into buying cleaning goods, from Amway International. It didn’t work then.

The scariest part of their visit came in the middle. It was the part where they seemed to be trying some hypnosis techniques on us. We had to read part of their scriptures with them and then close our eyes and listen to the next part. We were told in advance that as we sat there, eyes closed, we would feel the Holy Spirit filling us and making us feel wonderful. I think that’s called “the power of suggestion”. Then one of them described a scene and asked us to imagine we were there and what it felt like (which seemed like another classic hypnotic technique, to me).

He told the story of Joseph Smith, being visited by God and Jesus. A pillar of light descending, two “Personages” appearing, brightness and glory all around ending with “… hear Him!” and then a loooong silence. All this time I had been sitting there, eyes closed, thinking “They’re trying to hypnotise us!” – so (and when I told David this, after the event, he said it was proof that I was utterly insane) I filled my mind with the most silly, funny, unlikely “message” the Holy Spirit could give me.

“DO YOU WANT SOME SAUSAGES?” I imagined the fake “Holy Spirit” asking. “DO YOU WANT SOME SAUSAGES? DO YOU WANT SOME SAUSAGES? DOYOUWANTSOMESAUSAGES? DOYOUWANTSOMESAUSAGES?”. By this brilliant method, I made myself immune to hypnotic suggestion, blocked out any artificially induced “revelations” and also made myself laugh a bit (inside). Dave actually did do what they asked but didn’t “feel” anything much. As he said later; the Catholic Church had been trying to brain-wash him all through school and that hadn’t worked either.

Finally they left, giving us a pile of literature and a quick prayer on the way out. They were nice enough but being Mormon isn’t for us, which I think they knew. When Brandon got home from Cadets (however) we did pretend to be newly converted Mormons, for at least five minutes. You should have seen the look on his face – it made the whole evening worth it.

Manic Mormon Monday

A couple of nights ago I was out with Brandon, when I got a text from Dave (who was also out). It seems that he had been early for his bus and had struck up a conversation, with two American guys, at the bus stop. So anyway, I suddenly got a text, completely out of the blue, that said:

“I just invited some Mormons round on Monday evening”.

WHAT? That took me by surprise. I mean, I have nothing against Mormons, I love Donny Osmond… But why on EARTH would Dave invite them to our house? Talking to strange Mormons while you are waiting for a bus is  mental enough, without letting them know where you LIVE. Admittedly, a Mormon friend of mine (American) gave me the best advice a girl could ever get (“Clothes should be tight enough to show that you’re a woman but loose enough to show that you’re a LADY”) but still, I knew her on the internet – I didn’t invite her OVER.

When I got home, I took Dave to task.

“Why did you invite Mormons to come round?”

“They seemed nice and it’ll be funny”.

You’re an Atheist and I’ve just started going to the Anglican Church… They’ll be wasting their time. WE will be wasting their time.”

“No, they will be telling us about their religion and we will be learning something. You’re getting into religion, so you should be interested!”

“I’m NOT interested in being a Mormon, they wear magic underwear!”

“Stop being a bigot.”

So it looks as though we have Mormons coming to preach to us, on Monday night. Bloody hell – I can’t even offer them a cup of tea, because they might get too stimulated by it. I read up on their beliefs (on Wikipedia) and the whole thing sounds BIZARRE  but Dave wouldn’t listen – when I tried to tell him he called it a “Spoiler Alert” and put his hands over his ears.


EDIT: Hahaha! Just as I was proof-reading this, Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on the front door, with a leaflet. Thank goodness *I* answered it.

10 Reasons I Enjoy Going To Church (On Top Of The Obvious God And Jesus Ones)

Getting up early every Sunday morning may sound like a bit of a chore but, so far, I enjoy going to Church and find it worth the effort. I’m not going to bang on about God and Jesus specifically – you will have your own beliefs and frankly I’m still not sure about how to describe mine. I can, however, list some of the reasons that I find attending Church a positive thing to do, beyond the undoubtable spiritual benefits and comfort it gives me:

1) Getting ready: I don’t have many “smart” clothes (especially since I’ve lost a lot of weight) but I still manage to look “dressed up” (for me) on most Sundays.  I used to go to Church in jeans and a T-shirt but now I quite like making an effort to look nice – I even iron my blouse!

2) Walking to Church: I really like walking to Church, because everywhere is quite and peaceful. I often see other dressed up people, and I know they are going to their Churches (or mine) too. That makes me smile. I don’t know whether to thank God or pollution, but I’ve been very lucky with the weather, on Church mornings.

3) Holy Water: The whole idea of Holy Water really appeals to me and the Anglican Church are right up there with the Catholics, when it comes to using it. It is awesome – it kills vampires, it frightens off demons and it purifies us, or something. I love the little stoup of water that we cross ourselves with, before entering the Church. Sometimes the Priest flicks Holy Water over us during the service and I struggle to decide how long it is polite to wait, before cleaning it off the lenses of my glasses.

4) Crossing myself: I like doing this but I had to learn how. I’m left-handed and I’m suspicious that the first few times I did it I was summoning the Devil by mistake. Not only does crossing myself make me feel Holy, it also makes me feel like I’m in a film, or I’m a Nun, or I’m a competitive sports legend.

5) The Church interior and stained-glass windows: Our Church is really old and traditional and beautiful. I love that.

6) The service: The Anglican Church put on a really good service. Loads of ornate things to say and reply, lots of standing up and down – and more songs than the Eurovision Song Contest. Brilliant. And I like the whole “Peace be with you” bit, where we go around shaking hands with everyone – I deliberately choose grumpy old people, and disruptive little kids.

7) The sermon:  I have, so far, never been bored by a sermon. What more can I say? I love it when the Priest (or whoever) goes, “Yesterday I was mowing my lawn and it suddenly struck me that a lawn mower is very much like Jesus…”. Hilarious. Every sermon I’ve heard has been thought-provoking and intelligent though.

8) Holy Communion: I’m still not Confirmed but I like going up for a Blessing.

9) The wine/tea/cakes: Staying after Church, sharing refreshments and chatting, is great fun. We have had a celebration of some kind almost every week though and that means glasses of wine BEFORE lunch. I must say, the only times I have been tipsy, since Christmas, can all be blamed on drinking after Church, in the Church building. Scandalous.

10) The walk home: I like walking home from Church, looking fine, full of the Holy Spirit and possibly with a nice little boozy buzz on. I like seeing how the streets have got busy and I stop off at the Asda to buy milk and cat food.

 Going to Church is well worth the effort.

Festival Time And Poor Little Fishes

I spent my Bank Holiday Monday afternoon at Longsight Neighbourhood Festival, helping to run a stall. We were inviting people to attend our Church and highlighting the new gardens that the Church want to build (and open for the wider community to use). Work should be starting soon.

I found it a little daunting to hand out Christian literature, in an area that is 70% Muslim and where quite a few women even go so far as to wear the full veil. I didn’t want to upset or offend anybody. I need not have worried, as everyone was very open to our efforts and most tolerant and polite. Many Muslims came and looked at, or picked up, our flyers. In fact, most very religious Muslims embrace the opportunity to study other religions. I think if we had been doing the same thing in an area of similar economic deprivation but where people were of no religious inclination at all, we would have faired worse and possibly had a strong negative response to our presence.

Of course, most people in Longsight do not wear the full veil ( and I presume even those that do don’t wear it at home), so many of the stalls were selling absolutely beautiful dresses and scarves. There was a stilt-walker, the Mayor came to visit (with his wife) and our local MP, Gerald Kaufman, showed up. Kids were running around everywhere with goldfishes in plastic bags, which was a bit sad but they were thrilled to have won something so precious! I don’t know what they had to do to win them but it must have been quite easy. Tiny fish-tanks were on sale at the same stall for £4 each… I think I can see where the profit on letting kids win came in – many begged £4 from their parents as the bags got annoying to care for.

There was live music (of variable quality) and the queue for Face Painting grew so long that the man doing it seemingly fled – leaving a miffed crowd of parents and children. The kids that were painted looked amazing though and kept coming over to say “hello Sir!” to Father Stephen, as he preaches at the school.

I’d have liked a CHAIR but other than that, it was great fun. What?! I’m OLD.

Praying – I Have No Idea

Recently, I have been trying to become a Christian (I have been going to Church but don’t really “get” it yet). I have enjoyed a great deal about being involved with the Church and I have met some lovely people (far less freaky than I anticipated) – but I stumble a bit when it comes to praying.

I try to pray but it is really confusing. I mean I get the bit where I am openly thankful for the good things I have in my life but what then? I’m not supposed to ASK for things, because they might not be part of God’s Plan. Well, I can ask… But I am going to get God’s Plan anyway. I’m not supposed to tell God what to do, under any circumstances, like a natural disaster or something. Firstly, he KNOWS what to do (being God helps with that) so my suggestions are wasted. Secondly, he doesn’t need my permission to do things. Thirdly, in fact, He could be getting on with whatever was the best thing to do, if I wasn’t holding him up by talking.  So all I’m really left with is, asking God to help other people (or me) put up with what He has done – which seems a bit cheeky. I suppose if I say, “Give them the strength to endure this test Oh Lord!” it puts a more positive spin on the crappy things that are happening to people daily but it also sounds kind of like asking Him to help them cheat (when He set the exam). Oh and Asking for healing seems like it is sometimes OK, (I almost forgot) but it still seems to violate the Prime Directive. Also I’d hate to ask and then not have it work for someone – That would raise all kinds of doubts and negative emotions. Ugh.

As you can see, I’m utterly perplexed. I just stick to saying “Thanks for the good stuff and Thy Will be done”. Is that right? I don’t know.

EDIT: Oh my goodness, I forgot the whole I’m supposed to praise God bit! You see? I’m hopeless! Obviously, I do that bit. But more in Church, when the Priest is saying it and I’m joining in).

(Please tell me if including a picture obscures the text in any way, I’ve seen that happen elsewhere. Thanks!)

Back Off, Church Wine Lady!

Yesterday I did something that was, for me, extraordinary… I went to Church. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will know that I recently decided to start going to Church – but of course, “deciding” to do something and actually getting around to it, don’t always go hand in hand.

 This time though, I followed up on my decision. I felt a really odd need to express my spirituality. Plus, the Dalai Lama had impressed me with his advice that everyone should embrace the religions of their own culture. Plus, a Muslim taxi driver had told me that “People should go to Church, no matter what their religion. Following a faith is what separates us from the animals – if you do not go to Church, you will become vile”. Wow.  I can’t help thinking though, that only *I* could be convinced to attend a Christian Church by a Buddhist and a Muslim.

Anyway… I chose the Church I went to by a very modern means  – I saw their website and liked it. Hahaha! It all seemed very welcoming and well thought out. The Church was Anglican and a bit “High Church” (in the “modern catholic” tradition), which means it isn’t Roman Catholic but it IS full of ritual, symbolism and formality. Which I want in a Church, I like old-fashioned services. Luckily (is that the word?) I was also baptised into the Church of England – so no conflict there then.

I turned up at Church absolutely terrified. I haven’t been to Church under my own steam before – I’ve always had an ulterior motive (like hearing my Banns called, or attending a funeral, or a wedding). I felt an absolute fraud walking in – I wasn’t really a “proper” Christian, because I hadn’t made my mind up about it at all. And I didn’t know what to do, half the time, whereas everyone else seemed to be crossing themselves and picking up books and stuff automatically. I was impressed that there were so many people there though and they did seem friendly.

I’m not going to bang on about the whole service… Suffice to say, I enjoyed it, Father Stephen was wonderful, I spent a lot of the time like a rabbit caught in the headlights – and holding a large Hymn book, an Order of Service booklet and a lit candle all at the same time, is very bloody difficult.

There was one funny moment during the service though and that was during Holy Communion (not traditionally thought of as a time for comedy, but still). The thing is, I may have been baptised into the C of E but I’ve never been Confirmed. People who haven’t been Confirmed don’t really receive Holy Communion but can go up for a Blessing . I went up for a Blessing and (as the rules dictate) I carried my Order of Service booklet (which is a secret signal that means “Sorry, no Holy Communion for me”). Father Stephen was a bit slow to notice the booklet (until I pulled a face) and almost gave me some wafer. But the lady who followed him with the wine positively IGNORED the booklet, until (in my panic) I thrust it out between us, slightly aloft. By which I mean, I literally drove her back, in the manner of someone repelling a vampire with a crucifix. Hahaha! It must have looked very bizarre.

The congregation had a cup of tea together, after the service, and I apologised to the poor wine lady (who laughed heartily). Somehow I also seem to have agreed to climb up ladders and clean the Church rafters, next Thursday morning…


Bible Bashing

In 2004 my family and I went to Florida, to do the Disney thing. Unfortunately my husband (now estranged) fell asleep at the wheel, whilst driving along a motorway. I was in the car at the time and so was my son Brandon (then 9). The car flipped, rolled a couple of times, flew along the ground (upside down) and then filled with smoke. I was trapped inside for a while, which was scary. Luckily none of us was really hurt – apart from me having a dreadful seatbelt burn and very bruised knees (it took about four years for them to stop being numb).

After the crash, Brandon and I returned to the Disney Hotel, by taxi (my ex had things to sort out back at the scene). We told the taxi driver about our crash and he asked me if we would be “going to Church tomorrow”. I said we wouldn’t, that we were British and that most Brits don’t really go to Church.  The taxi driver turned around to look at us (which freaked me out, I’d just been in one crash!).

“I think SOMEBODY needs to show a little GRATITUDE here!”, he said.

Wow. I mean, OK I was glad we were alive – but I wasn’t feeling very grateful that we had to crash IN THE FIRST PLACE. Our holiday vibe (along with Brandon’s birthday a couple of days later) suffered under the combined shadow of delayed shock and me having no skin left on my collar-bone. Our dream holiday wasn’t quite such a dream anymore.

The next day, an American lady saw my injuries and asked me what had happened. I told her.

“I think your Guardian Angel was in the car with you!” she cried delightedly, squeezing my arm and grinning like a maniac.

“Well I wish she’d woken my husband up instead of watching us crash!” I replied sarcastically, hobbling away as fast as my battered knees could carry me.

Am I just a horrible person, or is it a bit far-fetched to say I should be grateful for being in a car crash? Am I evil, when I think that a proper Guardian Angel would stop the crash, rather than just stop us dying? If I went to Church, would I be nicer and more cheerful about this kind of shit?