Saturday, June 30, 2007

Wondrous Oxford - THREE

Here are a few images from Magdalen College, Oxford where C.S. Lewis taught as a fellow for a greater share of his life. The first few images are of the church on site of the college - it was ornate and very beautiful - complete with a scene of Christ's triumphant return in the sepia window. The sticky note is just one prayer among many that was left on a bulletin board inside the door. The last three images are of the New Buildings where Lewis taught, the deer park behind it and finally Addison's Walk along the river - where the now famous discussion between C.S.Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien occurred that Lewis later credited with being significant in his journey from atheism to Christianity.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wondrous Oxford - TWO

Here are a series of images from Oxford town. The architecture was spectacular! There were so many culture-rich structures and areas. It was so enjoyable being around buildings from an era that fed the imagination through how they built - I loved it! The bottom image of 'The Grand Cafe' is the site of the very first coffee house in England (if memory serves me correctly). So, in a sense, I guess it is the English 'grandfather' site of that wonderful brew that much of the world now enjoys. It's fun to imagine the erudite Oxford college men and women sitting around that cafe maybe a century and a half ago sipping their Victorian porcelain cups of what was probably a dark, bitter brew!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Wondrous Oxford

Three weeks ago I was able to spend an astounding four days in Oxfordshire just five miles outside of Oxford itself. It was our annual Diocesan Youth Officers symposium which enables many of us in youth ministry throughout Ireland to relax, strategize and catch up with one another. We stayed in the beautiful house and grounds of Stanton House while there (a Christian retreat centre of sorts).

Our time was guided by significant inputs from one, Mr. Mark Berry (Abbott of Safe Space in Telford, England). Mark's contribution was invaluable and so inspirational. He led us through issues around the emerging church / fresh expressions / missional communites, borrowing heavily from his own experience within his own community in Telford. Here are the notes in of the sessions in PDF from his blog. The three areas we considered were Exiles, Exodus and Entrepreneurs - fantastic! Get the notes and have a read through them.

We were also able to spend an afternoon in Oxford which was unforgettable. In the next few posts I will upload photos from our trip with little explanations. All of the photos were taken with my phone camera but are fairly good. Enjoy . . . I did!

Below are a few random shots of Stanton House and the grounds around it.

Collaborative Creativity

I thought this article on collaboration inspiring creativity was refreshing. It illustrates well that humans work best in the context of community with a shared vision. It's unified diversity. More and more I have a growing desire to be a part of an intentional, creative, committed community of like-hearted (not like-minded) individuals working collaboratively on projects of eternal significance. What about you?

Read the article in US News & World Report

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

10 Years and a Million Memories

Tomorrow marks ten years that I have been married to my best friend and life-long lover. Christy is truly a gift to me. We met when we were 16 while still in high school and dated for five years before marrying. We grew up in central Ohio, studied in Indiana (married while in college), headed to Chicago to begin our 'adult' lives together and in little over a year after that we moved to Ireland. We have lived here now for 8 years in three different homes (and two countries - N.I. /R.O.I.). We have made so many friends together over the years and experienced so many things in our 31 years of life - most importantly bringing two new lives into this world - Neve (4) and Aidan (almost 2). It's amazing to think that by next year - at the age of 32 - we'll have been together for half of our lives!

My wife truly is an amazing woman, mother, friend, lover and companion. She has capable hands when it comes to making a dream reality, she is full of laughter and song, she is of a beauty set apart from others, she's encouraging, daring and a fellow dreamer . . .

I am humbled to have you, to hold and support you Christy - my wife of ten years!


Happy Anniversary Baby!

Celtic Contributions to the Emerging Church

A friend and mentor (of sorts) has written a bit on what the Celtic Christian influence can offer to the emerging church /fresh expression conversation/exploration today. He is Rev. Ray Simpson, the Guardian of the Community of Aidan & Hilda, based on Lindisfarne (Holy Island) in Northumbria, England. There is a page on his community's website that gives a very cursory look into this, listing some of those aforementioned influences as:
  • Daily corporate prayer
  • Eating places - e.g. cafes
  • Accommodation units - e.g. hostel, B and B, on site units for members
  • Learning courses - resource centre
  • Work and creative arts projects
  • Sacred space
  • Mentors and counsellors
  • Allotments, gardens or another earth-friendly link
  • Facilities for all or most ages
  • Social entertainment

You can read more on it here.

If you'd like to go even deeper, check out Ray's book The Church of the Isles (scroll down)

So, for those of you engaging in this conversation, how can you see Ray's suggestions as being/becoming formative influences in the EM conversation/practice? Are they there already? Thoughts?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Church Health linked to Pastor's Spiritual Health

"Not only do pastors need to be faithful, Blackaby says more need to devote more time to spiritual matters. Noting that 'you can’t give people what you don’t have,' he said the best way pastors can lead people into a growing, dynamic walk with God is to have their own.

'Too many pastors get into the pulpit expecting people to do things they haven’t done themselves,' he said. 'The best thing you could ever do for your people is to go to the next level yourself.' "

the rest of the article

Happy Shiny Pastors is another article regarding stats of pastors being fulfulled/ruined in their profession/calling

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Monday, June 04, 2007


I spent about five hours on the top of the Slieve Bloom mountains (centre of Ireland) about six weeks ago. I went there to read a book that I had to do a book report on - it was an amazing location. I was inspired to write a poem because it was such a beautiful day. It's called 'be'. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Dublin Zoo and Small Smiles

Two months ago the family and I traveled to Dublin Zoo. It had been something I wanted to take the kids to for over a year. The day was slightly overcast but dry, and the trip was well worth it. Neve and Aidan thoroughly enjoyed taking in all of the sights, smells (maybe not so much) enthralling to see the wide-eyed and sounds of the zoo. It was so wonder and smiles on the kids faces. The animals that were memorable for me were the tiger (they were just opposite the kids at eye level behind thick glass) and the gorillas. There was a massive male gorilla who played tag with all the younger ones. What a laugh to watch!

On a different note, the lion that you see roaring at the beginning of MGM films was from the Dublin zoo. See below.

"Although MGM calls the lion 'Leo' his actual name was Cairbre. He was born at Dublin Zoo on 20th March, 1927. A second lion from Dublin Zoo was also filmed to replace Cairbre but the zoo has no knowledge as to whether this footage was ever used."

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Dreams of Devenish

About two months ago I had the privilege of visiting an ancient Irish monastic site in Lough (Lock) Erne called Devenish Island. It's a place I had long known about but I just never had the right opportunity to visit it. When I was speaking on a youth weekend in Enniskillen I took some time out to finally make a visit. It was well worth it.

The Irish, even though living on an island, have long had a love for situating themselves on smaller islands within and around the country. Devenish is no exception. It was established as a monastic community not far from the current town of Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh in the 6th century by St. Molaise and is now a tourist attraction with the occasional pilgrim paying a visit.

This ancient site truly would have been of prime importance in its heyday being located on what would have been the highway of the day - along the route of the Shannon river running through nearly 3/4 of Ireland. I'll post a few highlights of images I shot with my mobile/cell phone camera. You'll get a feel for the place through them.

One of the most significant aspects of my trip was coming across a phrase which stood out to me immediately. As I was reading the information boards in the visitors' centre I saw the phrase 'Ceile De' mentioned in a write up about an very ancient order of monks which had a presence on Devenish at one time. The name can be translated, 'spouses of God', 'companions of God', 'partners of God' or the 'gathering of God'. There is some debate about just who these 'Ceile De' were - or the Anglicized 'Culdee' - but one thing remains . . they were passionate about God. In September my friend and rector, Stephen Neill, and I are preparing to launch an alternate community of disenfranchised spectators of the Christian way in Cloughjordan. We are tentatively considering calling it 'Ceile De' as an apt descriptor of our hopes for those who become a part of this journey.

Interestingly enough, the earliest mention of the 'Ceile De' is of a monk called St. Aengus who, as it turns out, was from not far from here near a town called Mountrath in Co. Offaly. I stopped at the site of the monastery where he trained and had returned to before dying. It was an interesting stop because I have passed the location of the ancient monastery now called Clonenagh more times than I remember.

It's a strange thing to feel as if your life's journey is being carried along on a breath of wind and a ray of sunlight. What do the days ahead hold in store . . .