Saturday, 28 February 2009

Greed and Poverty

I have been absolutely disgusted and very pleasantly thrilled this week and though I would like to share my reasons with my reader!
The cause of my disgust is the news of the pension for the guy from RBS of £630,000 per annum. I worked it out that he will be getting over £12,000 per week, as much as many people earn in a year. I believe this is obscene and no one will convince me that any one deserves anything like that sort of money either in salary or as a pension.

The cause of my pleasure is tied to something that has taken off at my home church and further afield into the circuit – let me give you the background. We have a number of Zimbabweans in our congregation and some weeks back we heard from a relative of one of the ladies still living in Zimbabwe about an orphanage where the children had no socks or underwear and that these items were now quite expensive as the Zimbabwean government had devalued their money and a trillion dollars was now worth one.

Essentially an appeal was made at our church and it was mentioned at the circuit meeting and just two weeks ago over 1500 items were sent out to Zimbabwe and the cost of the shipping had been paid from donations that have been made. Work is now ongoing to send the next lot of items and when I called into church this morning I was amazed at the amount of stuff already there towards the next shipment. I think too given that we are in this credit crunch period it is even more amazing that people have been so generous.

We have also heard a report that the action of one fairly small church in Walsall has encouraged the church in Zimbabwe and they are now praying fervently about the situation in Zimbabwe in general. Perhaps we could encourage the man from RBS to buy a few pairs of socks out of the massive wealth he has!!!

Are we really going mad??

As is usual for me I have been watching the news with some interest and always find something that makes me ask if we have gone totally mad in this country.
The first one was the story of the presenter on cbeebies with a disability which was ‘frightening’ children watching. I really did think that this sort of silliness went out about 20 years ago and we had ‘grown up’ as a nation and become far more relaxed with people less able than we may be. I have just read over on Will’s blog at Ramblings from Red Rose that one parent complained because they had to have a conversation with their child about disability – I would have thought this was a useful conversation to have to be having.
The other one was the young lady who was sacked for complaining about her job on face book. I haven’t read all the details but it appears she was pretty bored by the type of work she was being given to do and made comments about this and then gave her work colleagues access to her face book page where they read it. There are a number of things that strike me about this story and the first one is what sort of people was she working with? Why did they feel the need to run off and tell the boss that the girl had made some comments? Why did the boss sack her? Surely the company should have looked at why she was bored – was she in the sort of role that the old tea boy was when I began work almost 40 years ago – we knew full well that the junior would get all the jobs that no one else wanted including the making of tea for other workers. We had some young business apprentices working with us recently and I stressed that tea making was not part of their duties, although if they wished to make their colleagues a drink that was not a problem.
I sometimes wonder how far we have come when I read these types of story – perhaps we have not really come very far at all and all the equality and diversity stuff that employers come out with is just really a box ticking exercise!!

Thursday, 26 February 2009

What next?

It's an interesting question I pose as much for myself as anyone else. I suddenly realised that it has been two weeks since I posted anything here and while I could argue there are good reasons for that I am pondering the future of this blog and what direction in might or might not take.
I often see a topic I think I will blog about but then I am usually beaten to it by other bloggers and often they address the topic far more eloquently than I do. I will often add comments to another blog rather than write something here and appear to be jumping on someone else's bandwagon.
Unlike some of my fellow bloggers I don't really seem to do anything exciting like go off on sabbaticals and visit interesting colleges and libraries - anything I do is usually related to housing and I am not sure those folk who drop by here would really want to read about that topic - although I am going to a seminar on Monday called 'Mapping the Maze' which has been organised by the Chartered Institute of Housing and will be looking at how we should deal with complaints - you never know it might be exciting and I will feel led to share that with readers.
Must go now as I have to get ready to go to work, who knows something exciting may happen there and I will post sooner than two weeks time.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Itinerant or not?

I have just read this weeks Methodist Recorder and was drawn to read a letter from Mike Bossingham on the topic of the itinerant ministry of ministers within Methodism.
I have to say I found the letter quite interesting and have a great deal of sympathy with the points made in the letter.
Like many of our members I suppose I do have some reservations about a change from itinerant to a more permanent style of ministry, as I realise that there have been and possibly always will be situations where there are square pegs in round holes, but conversely I recognise that the five year timespan can be rather limiting and that ministers may not have really got into the full swing of their ministry.
I was involved in the re-invitation process this year and felt it was a rather unpleasant process, and although it was done in accordance with the guidelines it seemed to be a very rushed and almost impersonal system.
I would have thought there was a better way of doing this and surely there must be a better way of dealing with the stationing than the system we have, but then I suspect some of the best minds in Methodism have looked at this in some depth and not it seems been able to come up with a better way.
I think I would have to say that there are a couple of things that I have always thought about the ministry and the itinerant nature of it. The first one is that I had always believed that the ministry was a calling and as such the response was to go where God sends. The other thing and I believe this is true for those in any type of employment is that we go into any job aware of the terms and conditions of that job, and when one is called to the Methodist ministry it is to a ministry that is quite clearly an itinerant ministry. I know when I applied for my current job a few years ago the terms and conditions were quite clearly laid down in the advertisement and in the pack that accompanied the application form. I applied knowing full well what I was going into. I would have thought given the process someone called to ministry has to go through they would be quite clear what was involved in employment terms especially if they feel called as an ordinary member - after all it might be a fairly long time period before they become a minister given that hey have to be a local preacher first and then go through the candidating process etc.
I am not sure what the answer is to this and I dare say that there will be some response in the Recorder on both sides of the coin. It is to be hoped that whatever the response it leads to a realistic assessment of the situation and perhaps even some serious thought on how we might develop the way we do ministry in this 21st Century.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Grumpy Old man

Well perhaps not so much of the old but certainly grumpy. I think I have been in Victor Meldrew mode quite a bit this week and I have to say that most of it is related to the weather and associated things.
On Monday I was up and out at 6-15a.m. when the snow was what I call pizza snow (See Good King Wenceslas for explanation), and it was great because there were very few drivers on the roads and I was able to take my wife to work without any difficulty.
At 7-45a.m. I left home to go to work (30 mins earlier than usual to allow for the poor conditions) and this is when the grumpiness kicked in. First gripe was idiotic drivers who do not put their lights on when it is still fairly dark and snowing fairly hard. Second gripe is idiotic drivers who turn their lights on but haven't moved the snow off them which of course makes them fairly useless. Third gripe idiotic drivers who clear a six inch square on their windscreen and nothing else. Fourth gripe the person I travelled behind for two miles at 5 miles per hour on roads that had been well gritted and could have been driven on safely at 20 mph. Fifth Gripe school closures ( I know it's all about fear of litigation whatever the educationalists say) our schools never closed when I was a kid - if it snowed we went to school no matter how deep it was, if the heating was broke we kept our coats on. And my sixth gripe was this evening when I went to my local supermarket because we really did need a loaf of bread to find that the shelves were virtually empty and all because it MIGHT snow tonight. I Don't believe it!!!!!! (we did get a loaf but only just)
Ooh I feel much better now I have got all that lot out.