A happier missive from the Bishop of Chelmsford

Coincidentally I received today another missive from the Bishop of Chelmsford, nothing to do with Communion, which starts as follows:

JOHN by Divine Permission LORD BISHOP OF CHELMSFORD  To our well-beloved in Christ  PETER RICHARD KIRK  a single person and  LORENZA … a single person a citizen of Italy both residing in the Parish of St Mary Great Baddow in the County of Essex

GRACE AND HEALTH  Whereas you are as it is alleged resolved to proceed to the Holy Estate of Matrimony …

Yes, this document with its greeting in pseudo-biblical language is our marriage licence. As Lorenza is not British, and we want to get married in church here in England, we have to follow this procedure, rather than having our banns read. We considered getting married in Italy, but the paperwork for that would have been much more complicated. This licence is valid for three months, and that means that it is now less then three months until our wedding, on 24th October.

I don’t suppose the Bishop of Chelmsford had a personal hand in issuing this document. If he had, in the light of my open letter to him, I wonder if he would have refused, or at least modified “well-beloved in Christ”! But then I doubt if he could have refused, given the way that the Church of England is tied up by its own laws and those of the state. Anyway, Lorenza and I are very happy that there is now no legal impediment to our marriage.

Clearing roads "entirely out of our hands" – Chelmsford Borough Council

Sorry for a post of mainly local interest. I do have local readers and may find some more with this. The same principle may well apply elsewhere in England.

I have received a letter from a local councillor forwarded from Keith Nicholson, Director of Public Places at Chelmsford Borough Council. This explains why my weekly refuse collection was cancelled yesterday, and there will not now be another collection for a whole week. The reason given is as follows:

The concern remains the ability to manoeuvre large vehicles safely on these estate roads and to avoid unreasonable risks to our workforce who are engaged in the loading activities.

This of course refers to the snow which fell here on Sunday night and Monday morning, about four inches in total as pictured here. It never got any thicker than this, and no more snow has fallen here since Monday. Today it is raining gently, washing away the remaining snow and ice, so that even the service road behind my house is nearly clear:

Unemptied bins, not much snow

Unemptied bins, not much snow

Indeed on Wednesday there were still icy patches on some of the estate roads and pavements. This was not enough to stop commercial deliveries in large vehicles, e.g. to our local supermarket, which were continuing on very icy service roads even as the snow was falling on Monday. Probably more of a concern were the still very slippery pavements, which could indeed have been a danger to refuse collectors if they did not have suitable footwear.

I found this explanation quite reasonable until I read these words at the end of the letter, addressed to councillors:

Of course it goes without saying that we apologise to our customers for this disruption, but it is entirely out of our hands as I’m sure you will be able to explain if your are approached by any of your ward constituents

No, Mr Nicholson, this is not entirely out of your hands. Your council, indeed probably the department you head up, does the work to clear snow and ice off our roads (I think now under contract to Essex County Council). Your department could send out its workforce, otherwise unable to work at the moment, to clear the roads and pavements so that they could get on with their real job. If there are not enough workers or vehicles, that is not a matter entirely out of your hands, but a matter of your decision and your council’s not to allocate sufficient resources to cope with rather modest winter conditions. It is of course a matter of legitimate debate whether these resources should be kept in reserve for somewhat unusual bad weather. But this debate cannot be settled by a bald statement that the disruption is “entirely out of our hands”.

I spent a winter in Russia. Many readers of this blog are in cold parts of North America. They must find these excuses ridiculous. If the local authorities in those places abdicated their responsibilities by saying that the results of a few inches of snow are “entirely out of our hands”, then I don’t suppose refuse there would be collected between November and April.

At least Mr Nicholson’s letter offers some kind of apology. There is nothing apologetic at all in the announcement currently on Chelmsford Borough Council’s home page. I suppose a public apology quite literally “goes without saying”.

Refuse collection is a service which I pay for through my council tax. Will I receive a refund because this service has not been provided?

Here is the full text of Mr Nicholson’s letter, as forwarded to me and a large number of others with a request to give it publicity:


Unfortunately we have had to cancel recycling and waste collections again today – Wed 4 February 2009

Despite leaving the assessment on whether to collect or not until mid morning today, ground conditions have not improved sufficiently to allow collections to take place

The problem remains with the estate roads and footpaths rather than the main roads and bus routes which are now largely clear. The concern remains the ability to manoeuvre large vehicles safely on these estate roads and to avoid unreasonable risks to our workforce who are engaged in the loading activities. The ‘on the ground’ assessment of selected routes this morning indicated that less than 20% of properties would be collectable and even this would require a judgement to be made by the collection vehicle driver for each individual road taking into account the potential risks. This is unrealistic. The other disadvantage with trying to undertake a partial collection is that this adds considerably to the uncertainty and confusion as to what collections have been made or are likely to be made and usually results in an adverse public reaction rather than a positive one.

In terms of contingency arrangements we now have to revert to ‘plan C’. In essence this means cancelling the Monday to Wednesday collections that have already been missed rather than attempting a catch-up and reverting to the normal collection days from Thursday onwards – assuming that collections will be possible tomorrow. This means that those properties that did not have a collection on Mon/Tue/Wed this week will have a ‘double’ collection at their next collection time for both refuse and recycling. This is now the most expedient way to recover the collection cycle. We are mindful also that further adverse weather is forecast for later this week – which could interrupt any ‘Saturday catch-up’ arrangements compounding the problem further.

The only variation to this will be that the brown bin garden waste collections scheduled for this week and week commencing 9th February will be cancelled. This will allow priority to be given and extra resources allocated to the ‘double collection of residual waste in the black bins and the extra volume of material from the recycling collections. Given the ground conditions experienced this week it is probably a reasonable assumption that volumes of green waste this week and next would be relatively low anyway. Normal brown bin garden waste collections will resume on Monday 16th February on week “A”.

The only other issue is that we will investigate the feasibility of adding an extra cardboard collection to those areas that may have missed the scheduled monthly collection to avoid a potential 8 week gap between these collections

The revised collection schedule can be found on the Chelmsford Borough Council website

Of course it goes without saying that we apologise to our customers for this disruption, but it is entirely out of our hands as I’m sure you will be able to explain if your are approached by any of your ward constituents

Keith Nicholson

Director of Public Places


Snowman no more!

This morning the sun came out to shine prettily on what was left of yesterday’s snow, now rather icy after a partial thaw. More snow had been forecast for overnight but didn’t appear. But the schools were closed again – I don’t know why, they wouldn’t have been in this weather when I was young. So even quite early some children were gathering in the park near my house around the remains of what I as a child would have called a snowman, the centrepiece of this general shot of the park:


But it seems I shouldn’t use that term any more. James Spinti from Minnesota, where such things can be made much more often than here, would call it a snowperson. But a little girl from my own town knew exactly what to call the one she made: a snowwoman!


This morning in southern England we have more snow than we have had for 18 years, they say – a whole 10 cm or 4 inches in London, and about the same here in Chelmsford. This is of course nothing to my friends in North America, who have been blogging and twittering about being snowed in for months, it seems. Here is what has fallen here, as seen from my back window:

Not a day to eat in my garden!

Not a day to eat in my garden!

In fact the snow seems somewhat local. Only about 60 miles north of London there is so little snow that Dave Warnock has set off on a 30 mile journey on a bicycle! And from Newcastle, 300 miles north, Madpriest offers some humorous observations on the “state of panic” in the south.

But there is a silver lining to this cloud, and not just for the local children who are having fun in the snow (and throwing snowballs at me, but then I did provoke them) because the schools are closed. In countries where snow is common, life would carry on more or less as normal after a fall of a mere 10 cm – especially as the temperature is only just around freezing. But, as reported by the BBC, the result in London is that

The entire bus network and three Underground lines – the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Waterloo & City lines – have been suspended.

And so, as Steph has pointed out in a comment from summery New Zealand, that means that London’s infamous Agnostibuses are off the road – because of what would still officially be described as an act of God!

I'm a Thinker, says Typealyzer

Mike writes:

I think it was last week, or the week before that the Typalyzer went around for the analysis of personality types in the blogosphere.

Did it? I missed it. But I have taken the test now – that is, I have submitted my URL. And on the basis of this blog it classifies my (Myers-Briggs) personality type as INTP. That’s not bad at all for such a simple test – Language Log suggests how it might work.

A more sophisticated personality type test which I took last year classified me as ISTP, the same result as I obtained in about 2000. But last year I was only weakly S (sensing) rather than N (intuitive). And in the past year I have been quite deliberately working on developing the intuitive side of my personality. So it would not surprise me that if I took the full test again I would now come out as INTP.

So perhaps the Typealyzer is spot on, at least with its overall personality type. I don’t think it is right with its details, presented graphically (and in a way I can’t easily reproduce, but you can all repeat the test with http://www.qaya.org/blog/), which suggest that my brain activity is very strongly N and hardly at all S. As for its description of what I am like, I think it does rather well:

INTP – The Thinkers

The logical and analytical type. They are especialy attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

It’s amazing what can be deduced from a rather small sample of my writing! And, while I try to be gentle, I apologise if I ever “come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive”.

But what does Typealyzer have to say about some of my fellow bloggers? Mike also comes out as an INTP Thinker; so does Eddie Arthur. David Ker, according to his LIngamish blog, is an ISFP Artist. TC Robinson is INFP, an Idealist. Roger Mugs is ISTP, a Mechanic. I submitted several other blogs which all gave one of these four types. So I was beginning to wonder if the results would all be of the IXXP type – Typealyzer might simply assume that anyone who blogs is introverted and “perceiving”. But at last I found exceptions in Dave Walker: his (now dormant) Cartoon Blog classifies him as ISTJ, a Duty Fulfiller, but his Church Times blog has him as ESTP, a Doer. Well, unless Dave has multiple personalities, this appears to show that Typealyzer is not very consistent. Perhaps it was just a lucky guess that it pigeonholed me more or less right.

The Investigator

I just took the (free) short form of a questionnaire recommended by Eddie Arthur. It is no surprise to me that he came out as “The Enthusiast”. It is also no surprise how I came out:


Type Five
The Investigator

The perceptive, cerebral type. Fives are alert, insightful, and curious. They are able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Independent, innovative, and inventive, they can also become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs. They become detached, yet high-strung and intense. They typically have problems with eccentricity, nihilism, and isolation. At their Best: visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way.

This seems to fit me well. The first three examples of my type are Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates – sounds good to me!

Click on the picture above to take the test yourself.

Here are my full results reported in a histogram, showing the areas in which I am relatively strong and relatively weak, according to the rather short and simplified free version of this test:

Type 1 – The Reformer
Type 2 – The Helper
Type 3 – The Achiever
Type 4 – The Individualist
Type 5 – The Investigator
Type 6 – The Loyalist
Type 7 – The Enthusiast
Type 8 – The Challenger
Type 9 – The Peacemaker

Lakeland revival with Todd Bentley continues

UPDATE 3rd June: I know a lot of people are finding this page from Google searches on “Todd Bentley” and similar. Welcome! Note please that this is only one of a series of posts I have made about Todd and the events in Lakeland. For the rest of the series follow this link to my Todd Bentley category.

Today I watched quite a lot more of Todd Bentley and his team from the revival in Lakeland, Florida, which friends had recorded from God TV. I am convinced that this is a real move of God’s power, although through imperfect human agents and so not entirely perfect. My previous post on the subject generated some discussion, but I will not try to engage with criticisms of what is happening.

Henry Neufeld offers an interesting perspective on these revival meetings from his friend and former pastor, rounded off with some of his own thoughts, cautious but not negative. The former pastor, who was involved in the Brownsville revival in their home town of Pensacola (also in Florida but several hundred miles from Lakeland), writes as follows:

My experience at Lakeland was awesome. It is nothing like Brownsville. Everything about this move of God will drive everyone’s religious spirits crazy. Nothing fits the normal church theology. God just shows up and melts people. …

I recommend that everyone who wants to make a commitment of more of themselves to the Lord, to go! If you go as a spectator you will come away only with disappointment and criticisms, which only hurts the critic. The healings are awesome. Are some fake? Probably. Are some real? Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! …

As long as God gets the glory, I believe this will continue to grow around the world.

Some people from my church are flying all the way to Lakeland next week to catch the revival fire and bring it back to England and this town. In some ways I wish I could go with them. I did wonder why the need to actually go there, why this revival can’t be caught from a distance, but on further reflection I believe they are right. I have already heard stories of church leaders who have returned to the UK from Lakeland and seen revival start to break out in their churches. I long to see that happen in my own church, and in all the churches in my town. In fact we have already seen some small signs of it, just enough for us to realise that we need and can hope to receive far, far more.

Weird worship in the Bible

David Ker has started a new meme on Weird Worship, and has honoured me as one of the first group of five to be tagged. Not being one to duck out of a challenge like Nick Norelli, I decided to look for my own selection of weird lines from worship songs. But I will look in a more authoritative source even than Songs of Fellowship volume 4 – my TNIV, and specifically the Book of Psalms:

There is no God (14:1)

Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls (42:7)

Moab is my washbasin,
on Edom I toss my sandal;
over Philistia I shout in triumph. (108:9)

Happy are those who seize your infants
and dash them against the rocks. (137:9)

Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals. (150:3-5)

Well, almost anything taken out of context can seem weird. That includes what is happening in Lakeland, Florida. But weird worship is biblical, because it is found in the Bible. Accept it, and get on with it, or at least let others get on with it without doubting their spirituality.

Well, this was a meme, so I’m supposed to tag some other people. I’ll give them a choice: either continue David (I mean Ker, not King)’s search for weirdness in contemporary worship songs; or follow my example by finding more weird worship in the Bible. I hereby tag:

  • the wonderful Eddie Arthur,
  • the incomparable Jim West,
  • the latest enfant terrible of my blogging circle Roger Mugs,
  • the pastor with the furthest to fall if his congregation decide to re-enact Luke 4:29, Brian Fulthorp,
  • and, to try to get him to blog more than one post, my old friend and weird worship leader Dave G.

Why am I still an Anglican?

In a comment on a post at his Chelmsford Anglican Mainstream blog, in which John Richardson quotes an article from Mark Thompson in Australia, I asked:

why do [Thompson and those who think like him] remain in the Anglican Communion? Why do you, John? Why do I?

In an apparent response John did not give a straight answer, for Thompson or for himself, but he did quote from an article by Andrew Goddard implying that when an institutional church starts to bless homosexual unions a line has been crossed such that those who remain faithful to biblical Christianity are right to leave that church. That is a clear position which I would not dispute, except to say (as I do in more detail below) that personally I would consider denial of core doctrines such as the Resurrection to be a better marker of that boundary line than anything to do with homosexuality.

But I posed the question about myself as well. And of course I am the only one who can answer this. Before I do so, I need to give some background about myself.

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