Thursday, February 26, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part LVII: The Church Mouse

(Church Mouse)

The Church Mouse is a 30 something Anglican: I live in London and am churchwarden of a large South London church. I studied politics and have worked for 10 years as a management consultant in the city.

I am married and am father to a beautiful 11 month old girl.

What made you decide to start blogging?

I was inspired by the political bloggers. I saw how they mobilised the grass roots and influenced the party leaderships. I thought I’d like to do that in the religious sphere. Christian bloggers tend to either represent narrow factional groupings within the church or offer up theological reflections. I wanted something broader, and thought I could make a difference. We’ll see how that works out.

What is your best blogging experience?

The blog had been going about a month before Mrs Mouse read it. She spent about half an hour going through it in detail before I asked what she thought. She said, “I might visit it again”. I felt affirmed and validated.

And your worst?

I had a bit of a go at the Bishop of London for his comments at the General Synod on the recession. He implied people would be relieved to get the sack and get off the treadmill of work. I was not the only one to pick this up, but the Bishop didn’t react well to the media coverage. He called it “callous and complacent” (the media coverage in general, not my blog in particular). I stand by what I said, but I felt pretty bad about it, because Richard is a great guy.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

I enjoyed the one about globalisation being a threat to the British egg throwing tradition, now that shoe throwing is gaining ground. I don’t think it was great journalism, but it made me laugh.

Favourite blogs?

Nick Robinson’s blog got be interested in blogging ages ago. I like Cranmer and Guido for decent opinionated rants. Bishop Nick Baines does a great blog. I like Ruth Gledhill’s blog in the Times and Dave Walker’s blog in the Church Times is great too. My RSS aggregator is busy – too many to mention.

What are the major advantages to being a church mouse?

I think it creates a sense of intrigue. Its too easy to dismiss comment on the internet if it is not from a sufficiently weighty source. Being the Mouse means people give the blog a chance, even though they don’t know where its coming from.

Where do you see the direction of the church (in the general ecumenical sense), in this part of the twenty-first century?

Wow, what a question. In the global sense, the focus is all in the developing world. The church in the developed world needs to support the enormous growth in the developing world, and learn from it. In the
UK the church is still trying to find its place in an increasingly multicultural environment. Some churches are doing really well, other are in steady decline.

Where can the Church do better with regard to pastoral care?

Its hard to generalise. Some churches are great, others are poor. ‘The Church’ in the sense of the Church of England is not organised to do anything on a consistent basis – its all up to individual churches. My only general observation is that most churches are set up to support and care for their own members. I’d rather see them set up to support and care for non-members in the first instance.

Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?

I’d also love to go to
Iraq. I’m amazed by the history of the country and Christian population (still). The Christians in Mosul trace their religious history to Jonah (of ‘and the whale’ fame) when Mosul was Ninevah, capital of the Assyrian empire and a mighty city. I met Canon Andrew White (Vicar of Baghdad) last year. He was an inspiration and spoke passionately about ‘his people’ in Iraq.

Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?

I’d love to spend more time in
Africa. I’ve travelled there a little and it really takes over a part of your heart. I’d love to go back some time. I also travelled in China a little, and I’d love to explore more of that country. I went to an Easter day service in a church in Guangzou (old Canton). There were armed soldiers outside the church, but it was still full to bursting with worshippers, spilling out onto the porch outside, and even people in the road listening.

Do you have a favourite political figure in history?

It might sound clichéd, but William Wilberforce is a great inspiration. He lived and worshipped in Clapham, near to where I live. History hasn’t yet appreciated all that he was and achieved. We’re focused on his campaign against slavery, which in itself changed the world. But he did so much more.

Which Christian figure has been your greatest inspiration?

Wilberforce again, but he is hard to relate to on a personal level in some respects. I relate more to John Newton (a friend of and inspiration to Wilberforce). He was a slave trader and a pretty unpleasant individual until his conversion to Christianity. At the end of his life he was able to say “I know one thing. That I am a great sinner. But Christ is a great saviour!”. He wrote the hymn Amazing Grace, which sums it all up really.

Favourite Bond movie?

I like the early ones with a sense of humour, maybe Man with the Golden Gun.

Favourite Doctor Who?

Not my bag, I’m afraid. I guess Tom Baker – he’s inherently funny.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Yes please, with some custard on top.

Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?

I’d desperately loved to have seen the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford, Cambridge, or Barsby, Leics..?


Favourite national newspaper?

The Independent

What would you say your hobbies were?

Golf, music and going to church meetings.

And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?

I’d struggle without something by U2 so probably Pride (In the Name of Love). I secretly listen to Robbie Williams, so I’ll pick ‘Feel’ from his seminal album, “Escapology”. To give some balance “Ride on and Turn the People On” by Finlay Quaye from his 1997 album “Maverick A Strike”.

I’m quite a pretentious reader. I’d go for East of Eden by John Steinbeck, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and Crime and Punishment by Theodore Dostoyevsky. Plenty to get your teeth into.

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