New to connexions: Open Mike

by Richard on March 17, 2011

I’ll confess to have found blogging a bit frustrating recently. Actually, that’s something of an understatement — call me over-sensitive, but I’ve found it hard not to take some of what has been said personally. “Sticks and stones” isn’t true. Alongside that, I believe in free and open conversation. I also believe in good manners. When you’re a guest in someone else’s house, you’re agreeing to live by their rules for at least as long as you’re there. And that’s how I think of my blog: it’s my house. It’s a house with an open front door and a kettle that’s always on, but I think of it as an essentially private space to which all are invited rather than a public space from which troublemakers might be excluded. Not sure if that makes sense to you, but I know what I mean. I have a feeling that it’s the lack of clarity between public and private that lies behind some of the recent frustrations.

Last night I felt obliged to hold back some comments in the moderation queue. I promised to sleep on them. I did, and I think I have found a way.

From now on, there will regularly be an “Open Mike” thread, and this is the first. Commenters can raise anything they like there, so there will always be a place to get something off your chest. Comments I find interesting or helpful might be promoted to a ‘guest post’, so if you’ve ever felt like writing such a thing here, consider this an invitation. Normal moderation rules apply of course, but there’ll be nothing stronger than normal. And promotion to ‘guest post’ won’t depend upon my agreeing with the views being espoused. It’s an experiment. Let’s see how it goes.

There have been points raised in another, now closed, thread which I hope to be able to respond to here later. But in the meantime, the floor is yours if you want it.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }


malc 03.17.11 at 10:02 am

Coffee… is it truely the drink of Satan?? People usually add stuff to it to cover up the taste so they obviously don’t like it as it is…


PamBG 03.17.11 at 10:09 am

Good idea, Richard. I guess that my first comment would be to support you in the fact that this is your blog and not a “semi official blog of the Methodist Church” as those of us who are envious of the traffic you get might claim.


Richard 03.17.11 at 10:16 am

A cancelled appointment opens an unexpected window of opportunity. So…

@ Joseph W Would you deny that there has been a ‘chain of violence’ and injustice in the place we call the Holy Land? Setting aside claim and counter-claim of responsibility, it looks undeniable to me.

I’m certainly not denying that there is “context for understanding critical or dissenting comments”. That would be nonsense. But most of what has been said in dissent on this and the ‘previous thread’ has been based on assumptions about what I said or meant rather than what I actually wrote. For example, Adam continues to claim that I have used the tragedy of the Fogels murders to further my own political views when I have made it made it perfectly plain that I wasn’t doing that at all. If you want to dispute that, at least do it on the strength of what I said.

@Adam The Pew survey might well be right. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest. The question is, what is the proper response to that. “They hate us so we have to hate them” isn’t working.


Richard 03.17.11 at 10:19 am

Malc — I hardly like to admit it, but I’m drinking far more tea than I used to. But black coffee from freshly ground beans is still my favourite.

Pam — thanks. The ’semi-official’ label always makes me smile.


Rodney Olsen 03.17.11 at 10:49 am

It’s very kind of you to open things up for others to express their opinions but I’m wondering if it might just be easier to write a post on ’starting your own blog’ so that those with strong opinions will have their own place to share them. :)

I totally get your point that this is your place. I have no problem with friends disagreeing with me, even in my own home, but I don’t invite people in just to get abused. It’s the same with my blog. By all means disagree with me but show some respect.

For some reason many people feel that they can hide behind the internet to display behaviour that is completely opposite to what they learned from their mums. What happened to manners?

I wrote some commenting guidelines for my own blog to explain the same kind of idea. ( I tried to do it in a relaxed way but in the end I don’t think that a little respect is too much to expect.


Kim 03.17.11 at 11:25 am

Your are one gracious dude, mate.


Richard 03.17.11 at 12:58 pm

I take your point, Rodney — but not everyone needs or wants their own blog. And as it’s always been the conversational aspect of blogging that I’ve enjoyed the most, I’m hoping that this will be an opportunity to expand that conversation. We’ll see.

Kim — you’re too kind.


John Cooper 03.17.11 at 2:36 pm

The kettle may be always on - but do we have to bring our own cups?

More seriously- I’ve been considering seriously whether the church (corperte) needs to create an operational plan. I’ve been impressed by the recent Co-opertive Group one and have now found something similar in Lancashire district. The more time, energy i give to the church the more frustrated I get with the wasted potential and energy. We need to rip out some certainties to reclaim our fundamental principles…. errr…yeah…maybe I’ll switch that Earl Gray for a Revd James…..


Richard 03.17.11 at 2:56 pm

“The kettle may be always on - but do we have to bring our own cups?”

If you insist on a cup, yes. But I have plenty of mugs. And pint glasses, of course.

What are your candidates for ditchable certainties?


fat prophet 03.17.11 at 5:17 pm

Great idea Richard just hope it has the seal of approval as semi official lol.


Joseph W 03.17.11 at 5:54 pm

Thank you for your response Richard.


Bob Gilston 03.17.11 at 6:01 pm

I can add that Richard will even heat your milk up if that’s how you like your coffee.


Richard 03.17.11 at 8:16 pm

Service with a smile!


Mendip Nomad 03.18.11 at 1:40 pm

I can’t stand tea so I’ll just stick to coffee, cheers - Flat White if you can manage it, though I am aware it’s the trickiest type out there so a basic white coffee will do ;)


malc 03.18.11 at 3:59 pm

How can you not stand tea?? It is possibly one of the warmest drinks there is?? There is no situation that can’t be made better with the little application of some boiling water, a teabag and a splash of milk.
Take the States for example… they are mainly coffee drinkers and people are panic buying iodine tablets because of a nuclear problem OVER 5000 miles away!! Japan is mostly tea drinkers and it is one of the few countries where they have suffered a natural disaster and there has been no reports of looting… The aftermath of Katrina is infamous…. even over here when the West Country got slightly damp a couple of years ago… but in Japan… tea drinkers.


Kim 03.18.11 at 4:34 pm

That’s one helluva hideous avatar at #5. What are you playing at, Richard? ;)


Jen 03.18.11 at 5:39 pm

What if I just want a glass of water? ;) The last time I declined a hot drink at your house, you ended up feeding me cake because you felt inhospitable…


Bob Gilston 03.18.11 at 5:43 pm

Jen. He’s forever offering chockies or biscuits. I don’t know how he keeps his shape!


Tony Buglass 03.18.11 at 5:49 pm

Whisky. Or beer. I don’t mind - I’m a radical Methodist: I refuse to be confined to the orthodoxy of tea and coffee.


Richard 03.19.11 at 9:09 am

OK, I’ll bite. What would be your favourite snifter?


Tony Buglass 03.19.11 at 9:15 am

Hmmm - probably Talisker. But most days I have to make do with Teachers.


Kim 03.19.11 at 9:47 am

I don’t know how he keeps his shape! The only shape Richard has is the “out-of” variety!

Life is too short, Tony, not to throw in the extra few bob to get the nectar of (your) choice. As you know, mine’s a Laphroaig.


Doug 03.25.11 at 8:05 pm


Mendip Nomad 03.25.11 at 8:26 pm

Oh, well, if whisky is on offer, mine’ll be an Ardbeg please! Or if we’re talking pints then something room temperature and hoppy - Wisbech brewery Elgood’s do a nice gold ale called Golden Newt, a glass of that would be good. Or a proper pint of the Westcountry’s finest - Butcombe Bitter or Wadworth’s 6X? (No-one mention cider though, I may be a Mendip boy but I’ve drunk my fill of that stuff - I only have to smell it to relapse into severe memories of even more severe hangovers!) :)


Doug 03.25.11 at 9:32 pm

“Be not drunk with wine wherein is excess but be filled with the Spirit.”

“Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the Kingdom of God.”


Tony Buglass 03.25.11 at 9:43 pm

Or if we’re talking pints then something room temperature and hoppy”

“I had some Crafty Old Hen this afternoon - there are certain ways of marking one’s day off, as I hope you’ll find when you move into circuit. Having said that, I much prefer the clean taste of a nice lager - Staropramen, Duvel, or something like that. When I was at Wesley College, Bristol, we knew a cider farm near Congresbury - most weeks there was a car went over with orders, generally including one from the principal. Lovely stuff -but only to be drunk in half-pints!

Doug, I have a wee dram before me as I type. I enjoy the fruits of God’s creation, including alcohol. I do not get drunk. Remember they accused Jesus of being a drunkard - well, I follow his example of enjoying the drink and getting alongside the men who are in the pub, but not doing it to excess. Don’t assume that every drinker is a drunk.


Tony Buglass 03.25.11 at 9:45 pm

“I don’t know how he keeps his shape! The only shape Richard has is the “out-of” variety!”

Unkind. I am in shape. Round is a shape…


Mendip Nomad 03.25.11 at 9:58 pm

“Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty to thirty gallons.” So, that’s 120-180 gallons of what, by all accounts, was very good quality wine (so presumably a Rioja or a Marlborough Pinot Grigio!) I think we can safely say Jesus didn’t have a problem with people drinking, at least in moderation, as Tony says. :)


Doug 03.25.11 at 10:07 pm

Tony, just because they accused Jesus of being drunk doesn’t mean that He actually partook. The same goes for Him being in the pubs. However, I think it is great though that you don’t get drunk.

Tony, thanks for the admonishment on the “not everyone who drinks gets drunk”. I guess I don’t drink at all partly on the admonishment from God’s Word but also on the “whats the point of drinking without getting drunk” let alone the possibility of drinking and getting led to being drunk. So when a person gets “overly excited about drinking” it makes me wonder when a person actually says they don’t get drunk. That isn’t an assumption but just a “things that make you go hummm moment”.

I know Paul talked about wine for the stomach and to be honest I have tasted wine but I guess I’m way overly and I think rightly cautious on these things but I’m not one to admonish a person just because they drink. My previous statement was more a “word of caution” but without an assumption of the worst. Does that make sense? I take your admonishment on the subject of drinking as correct. Thanks :)


Tony Buglass 03.26.11 at 9:46 am

“Tony, just because they accused Jesus of being drunk doesn’t mean that He actually partook.”

So, why would they accuse him? And why wouldn’t he partake? It was the norm to drink wine, and would be expected during the Passover seder - and that was rather more than one glass of wine!

There were occasional Jewish sects such as the Rechabites who took vows not to drink, but they were definitely the exception rather than the rule (which is why they are notable and noted). The only point at which Jesus makes a point of it is the night before his death (Lk.22:18 and parallels), which rather suggests that up to that point he did drink it.

I have had similar conversations to this one for years - it comes with the turf of being a Methodist minister who is not a total abstainer and comes under criticism from those in the church who think he should be. Well, I have had more than one deep conversation with men over pints, and one said “You know, if that had been a fruit juice or something in your hand, I would never have talked to you - I reckoned because it was a pint, you were really just a man like me, so I could talk to you.” My current church has had three new members who came along a few years ago because they met me over a pint in a local pub. It’s about being where people are, and being accessible.

“I guess I don’t drink at all partly on the admonishment from God’s Word but also on the “whats the point of drinking without getting drunk” let alone the possibility of drinking and getting led to being drunk.”

Self-control is important, of course - but I could ask the same question about the amount we eat and waste in our affluent society. Is eating to excess just as much a moral issue as the possibility of drinking to excess? What’s the point of drinking? - pleasure, pure and simple. I like the taste of certain drinks; others I don’t like, so I don’t buy them. And drinking in company has been a human activity since time immemorial. People get it wrong, the same as they get anything else wrong, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get it right.

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