Jul 072014

As part of the “Monday blog hop”, last week I had a post hosted on the blog of one of my daughters-in-law. This week I am privileged to host a post from one of my good friends, Vic.

Like others participating in this “hop” Vic was asked to respond to four questions:

  1. What am I working on?vic image
  2. Why do I write what I write?
  3. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
  4. How does my writing process work?

and this is what he said.


I was most pleasantly surprised to find myself being asked to take part in a blog hop – something akin to BBC’s ‘Chain reaction’ – a exercise where I answer four questions and nominate next week’s guest blogger. So here goes:

What am I working on?

Much of my time is taken up with my work as an Anglican Parish Priest and Missioner. This is leading me increasingly into the areas of Fresh Expressions (church for those who otherwise would not be in the company of Christians) and the development of  ‘missional’ (that is getting out and bridge building, serving and engaging) church. One of the ways of doing this is to train people on Mission Shaped Ministry (MSM) courses and also seek to entice people into ‘being missional by means of Mission Shaped Introduction (MSI) – a shorter and nicely accessible taster for the MSM course.

Outside of this I find my time being taken up by Tamworth Street Angels – a bunch of great people who are helping to put God’s love out on the streets of Tamworth to assist vulnerable people (not a euphemism for ‘drunk’) – The National Memorial Arboretum (where I’m hon. Chaplain) and various other chaplaincies. I’ve also started to find myself getting into print and doing radio work – a new ands exciting direction!

Why do I write what I write?

The answer has to be, ‘For me!’ I started the blog in May 2007 but didn’t start writing until December and it started as a scratch pad for me to hang things on an electronic wall for later consideration and (generally internal) dialogue. I’d come in from a meeting and over a cup of tea check emails and scribble thoughts, promised follow-ups and other things that had come about from the meetings and encounters I’d had.

A ‘for instance’ is when I’ve been doing vocations work and the conversation has turned to something hitherto been ignored by either of us. I’d scribble it and hang it in the hope that during the absence my brain would put pieces together or bring examples, explanation and challenges to the fore so that I could resolve the need and post for the other person to use (and in doing so develop a bit more myself). The act of posting is an invitation to dialogue and, when the need arises, correction and/or suggestions of other places/things to consider.

The topics covered in the blog are everything from encounters in the parish through to struggles in faith or with colleagues or those with opposing views – the blog is a mirror to my personal, faith and ministry and it shows just how weird life can be. Or as they say ‘stranger than fiction’!

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I’m often told that my blog is a very different animal from other Christian blogs. Combine this with the fact that I’m often told that it’s not very ‘Vicar-like’ (whatever that might mean) -something I take as a compliment.

It differs from others in that I find many Christian blogs tend to post about the same thing because it’s in the news and then having found a topic tend to rush for their prooftexting Bible to pontificate and quote in an attempt to make us Christians look extremely dry and terribly samey. It differs because having finished one course of theological study I went on to do applied theology where my first essay was tossed back at me with the command ‘rewrite’ scrawled on it. I enquired of the lecturer why they might have done something so foolhardy with such sublime theological scribble and was told that theological jargon was great if I wanted to be an academic theologian but if I was going to communicate in the real world I would need to lose the cool words likesoteriology, theodicy, hermeneutics and especially ‘hapax legomenon’ (even if it did only appear once) and write in English.

My job is to communicate the difficult concepts simply so that they became accessible and then make the accessible commonplace (ie. the daily reality of those I pastored). That’s what my blog is about. I’d rather develop concepts and get agreement and directions that start pouring on the references and quotes from my theological heroes. Agree the direction and let them see how the Bible agrees with them later.

How does my writing process work?

It works much like me in that I run multiple strands of thinking and writing and work and diversion all at the same time. I will internally dialogue with something externally acquired and discussed/made aware of and then throw it onto the electronic paper that is the blog in one marvellous splurge and then, purged of the immediate, I enter into another encounter and then having thrown that to the wall I return to the previous splurge for another conversation and so on. At some stage it will appear on the blog (usually within hours if not minutes of the initial stimulus) and ironically, the busier I am the more will appear and so the empty spaces on the blog are actually times when I’m least busy rather than when I’m rushed off of my feet – this is the opposite to everyone I meet’s assumptions.

I dash it all off and then re-arrange the words to see if there is a solution in what others have said and in what I have responded with or thought or realised I didn’t think and then it’s there. everything (this included is) has to fit my five or ten minute rule (this is a ten minute splurge because it’s alien and challengingly introspective). This makes for some real ‘vicisms’ and so excellent typos and grammatical collisions as the editing doesn’t always catch the errors transposition of words begets.

And there you have it – a look behind the scenes of ‘Vic the Vicar’ in which I’ve had to place myself on the psychiatrist’s couch and then walk home wearing nothing but the clothes I bought of of a tailor who used to make finery for some emperor or other (or is this merely something Freudian going on and I am just naked?).

Who knows 🙂

Nominate someone

I’d love to see the Beaker folk of Husborne Crawley follow this as it’s a place I find entertaining and challenging  http://cyber-coenobites.blogspot.com/