Thursday, 28 July 2011

Resolution #1 in the bag

In January I blogged my New Year's Resolutions. It was about time, I said, that I learned how to drive an automobile. I've been having lessons since February, and last week I passed my test! Apparently I'm a really annoying person because I passed first time, albeit with 12 faults.

My examiner (who, to be fair, tried to put me at ease) said my main problem was over-cautiousness. He went so far as to call me a Nervous Nelly. I would have preferred Nervous Nigel myself, but either way I must have been fairly trepidatious. I've never seen my leg shake so much. Thank goodness it was my left leg, otherwise things would have been even trickier.

Anyway, the result is the main thing. The world is now literally my oyster.

My other resolutions are more work-in-progresses. I think I'm being more sincere, but I've temporarily given up on getting up at 7am, just while I recover from the Summer Term. It's all good.

Thursday, 21 July 2011


A lot of people seem to have issues with the increasing amount of Americanisms creeping into our English usage. All those seasons of Friends and CSI that get broadcast 24/7 are affecting the way we talk. I mean, out of the 30 hours of TV we watch every week, oftentimes the majority will be US-produced. You do the math. Like, go figure.

This list of 50 notable Americanisms caught my attention. The responses are more interesting than the phrases themselves. These are some reactions of the British respondents to American vernacular:
- "It infuriates me"
- "It makes no sense ... my pulse rises"
- "The one I can't stand is..."
- "It makes me cringe no end"
- "The word I hate to hear is..."
- "I was thoroughly disgusted"
- "It makes me shudder"
- "My teeth are on edge every time I hear it" (The phrase being referred to here is, in fact, "train station")
- "I don't know how anything could be as annoying or lazy"
- "Really irritates me"
- "Just makes me shiver with annoyance"
- "What a ridiculous phrase!"
- "Hideous"
- "Sets my teeth on edge with a vengeance" (What?)

Gosh. American English must be really vulgar to evoke such strong feelings of hatred, annoyance and (seriously?) vengeance. Let's find an example...

Ok, so Marcus Edwards says: "I hate the fact I now have to order a "regular Americano". What ever happened to a medium sized coffee?"

Oh yes, Marcus, how horrendous. How will you cope Marcus? Is your life a misery now Marcus? Do you have an inconquerable fear of coffee shops? Does you blood boil every time you set foot in Starbucks? The world is such an insufferable place to exist, isn't it? When people start to use vomit-inducing words like "regular". Bleurgh... Retch.

You might have noticed that I don't quite agree. Some people seem to have the ridiculous idea that English, in its current form, is "proper", and any deviation is terribly upsetting. The arrival of words like "regular" cause private uproar because they are different, and therefore they are wrong. This is ludicrous. JP Spore says it better than I could:

"English itself is a rather complicated, interesting blend of Germanic, French and Latin (among other things). It has arrived at this point through the long and torturous process of assimilation and modification. The story of the English language is the story of an unstoppable train of consecutive changes - and for someone to put their hand up and say "wait - the train stops here and should go no further" is not only futile, but ludicrously arbitrary." 

The idea that changes from outside (particularly from another country) are bad and should be resisted is the same attitude that spawns racism. In fact, I think that if you hate the phrase "touch base" because it's American, then you are a kind of linguistic racist.

So if you object to any particular words or phrases I use on this blog, then I have two words for you...

My bad.

Monday, 18 July 2011

The Newfrontiers Story

I was at the Brighton Conference - TOAM - for a couple of days last week. What a fantastic two days it was! My highlight was the final evening meeting that Adrian Warnock blogs about here. As well as praying loudly for the nations (including Sweden, where Phil and family landed safely the following day) we celebrated God's love by giving, singing and dancing exuberantly. I was shattered by the end of it. Evan Rogers is a brilliant worship leader/fitness instructor. This video is from last year's TOAM but it gives you a good idea:

I went along to a seminar track on leading worship: really useful and inspiring training from Stuart Townend, Kate Simmonds and Simon Brading (I missed Dave Fellingham's).

It was also good to catch up with the Newfrontiers vision. Being in a Newfrontiers church is great, but I often forget about all the amazing stuff God is doing through the movement elsewhere. Reading about the history of Newfrontiers is exciting... from 1 to 850 churches in 43 years is quite an achievement when Christianity is supposed to be in decline.

The important bit is that it's not our achievement (or Terry Virgo's), but Christ's. Jesus deserves all the credit for what has happened so far, and I can only imagine what He might have in store for the future.

Did I mention that this was the last TOAM ever? No, but you knew that already, didn't you? Anyway, the point is this is a time of transition; a key moment in the story of Newfrontiers. It's also a key moment in the Hope Church story, as Nick takes on what Phil started a decade ago.

This is an adventure: to live for God's kingdom on earth now.