Wednesday, January 25, 2006
I remain convinced that God is out there somewhere. Even if I fail to comprehend where and how, the search for God through all the messiness of life goes on. The trouble with therapeutic writing is - what you feel does you good to state isn't necessarily good in the eyes of others. When you fail to communicate, you have two options - you shut up and say nothing, or think hard and try again.
Either way, there's going to be a pause for while, while I make up my mind what to do.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
More restrictions declared
In my post of December 11th, I reported how a decision to impose traffic restrictions on the streets close to
Protest, but probably in vain
When I talked later to Paul, the city centre manager, he seemed to think that implementation of the order was inevitable as this would bring it into line with nearby Queen Street, which is mostly shops, with few pubs and restaurants open evenings. They cope with restrictions, why not our small side-streets? Well, our little quarter of town has more small businesses, more to lose by access restrictions for their clientele. Our little quarter gives out on to
Dependable evolution or risky revolution?
The Grand Plan for the re-ordering and development of the city centre, of which these traffic rearrangements are part, has been put into place more by determined promotion than by adequate consultation, whatever efforts politicians and local government officers think they have made. It’s not easy to ensure everyone is in the picture and shares in the debate. It’s the biggest challenge of any society, not to alienate citizens, but to succeed in hearing and responding to their concerns. Our church neighbours at Tabernacl Baptist will suffer badly when the SDII centre is up and running and they can’t get proper access to their building. I suppose those in power think of what they impose on others as ‘leadership’. They’ll be praised and thanked if such massive costly initiatives finally work, but with the changing economic climate, the risks taken in such a huge project may not be justifiable. We could end up with an under-used and under performing shopping centre, oversized for what it can achieve in the light of competition from the out of town shopping centres springing up everywhere across the region. Nobody wants that. It’s such a pity that a more evolutionary and adaptative approach to redeveloping the city centre wasn’t taken, as opposed to a vastly ambitious ‘quantum leap’ project, affecting so many people – as did the SDI development thirty years ago which emptied the city centre of its ‘urban village’ population. It’s a pity so little attention has been paid to improving the road system to handle the flows of traffic for big events, and for shopping access. No matter how wonderful the imposed future of shopping in
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Change of scene
I’ve been on holiday for ten days, and before that, spent a week using the computer sparingly. I’m sitting writing this on a Mac, which is different for a start, looking out on a snowy landscape in a suburb near
One of my adult confirmands of ten years ago in the time when I worked as a pastor in
Growth in the midst of decline
Church life thrives among Anglophone ex-patriates, not only in the ecumincal and international city of
A small church plant before my time in the countryside village protestant
At the same time, the
My friend Valdo has four agricultural villages with churches in his country pastorate, and works alone. In many town churches, regular congregations are 20 or less, except for big weddings and funerals. It’s very similar to the situation we are facing in
Monday, January 02, 2006
No public transport, and many regulars away meant that this Sunday, New Year's Day, there was no public transport, and many regulars were away, so regular congregations were half the usual numbers. The streets were quieter than usual, and unusually still unswept after last night's revels. In St John Street two alarms were sounding when I arrived for the eight o'clock Eucharist. They were still sounding, unattended, eleven hours later, after Evensong, my fourth service of the day. It's hardly an advertisement for the security companies responsible for their maintenance. I wonder if the Council's enforcement troops will take them to task for such a prolonged assault on noise abatement laws, as they did for the silly singing Santas. The selectivity with which enforcement is applied is amazing. Thankfully, such alarms serve only to protect commercial merchandise and not some product whose theft would be capable of inflicting serious social damage. The fun fair continues tonight, but is more muted than last night. I got the impression yesterday that evening numbers were down on previous years, though there was a rush of vehicles into town and people gathering around the stage between City Hall and the Police Station, around 11h45, just to see the New Year in. Apparently there was also a New Year party at the Millennium Stadium as well. It'll be interesting to see if both together did as well as in previous years.
There have been lots of large popular events on-street or in the Stadium this year, for one cause or another. Does there reach a stage at which the hassle of getting to such a happening outweighs the significance and excitement they generate? Are their audiences destined steadily to whittle down to those who like formulaic events, booze and food, precision marketed, wrapped in suitably bland sentiments. Wales can't win the Grand Slam or host a major Tom Jones birthday celebration all that often. The next acid test is the Millennium Stadium One Earth Concert to mobilise action against global warming on 28th January. A pop star studded event is promised with contributions from the Manic Street Preachers, the Darkness, the Strokes and the Super Furry Animals. Fan loyalties will ensure a substantial crowd and considerable media coverage, but how will it touch those with their hands on the levers of power or those who influence them? In what sense will it be a Green concert, given the guaranteed volume of disposable food consumption devices. And given the New Year's Eve experience, how many emission producing kilowatts of electricity will be consumed on making the sound of all these bands unbearably, ear damagingly loud? Aren't there other ways of promoting such a good life-saving cause?
Sunday, January 01, 2006
In the playing field the other side of North Road, close to the Ambulance station, a huge sound system has been set up as part of the evening's family fireworks display. When it was being tested, right after lunch, it was so loud that the windows buzzed and my entrails vibrated. It's a quarter of a mile away, and the high fidelity digital sound is so loud that it drowned traffic noise, and would have obscured the sound of a passing helicopter had one flown by at that moment. If I'd been playing my guitar or listening to the radio at that moment, I would not have been able to hear either. I couldn't believe how clear the sound was or how loud, close to being paiful on the eardrum, and utterly offensive, not least because of the public imposition of music or should I say muzak on a considerably sized residential area.
I wondered how the elderly infirm people resident in neighbouring Nazareth house, even nearer to the source, were coping. It didn't last very long. I wondered if this was because of complaints. It came on again loudly before and after the fireworks display, snatches of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, soul sounds, pop beats, some ambient sound, including wind in the trees - how irritating when you live in a place filled with trees, where that natural sound is a familiar consolation.
All this was delivered with no warning, no consultation with residents. The local papers carried the story of a man who was threatened with a large fine under noise abatement laws because his Christmassy decorated house had singing Santas activated in the front garden whenever people passed by, and the neighbours complained. I wonder where the Council's enforcement officers were working on New Year's Eve?
My last job on the last night of the year? A trip to St John's to re-set the central heating themostat for tomorrow morning's Sunday Eucharist, having turned it down last Monday, since nobody remembered, and the building was as warm as our living room, benefitting nobody and costing ....., well this was what I was on about yesterday.
On my way home I shall call in the St John's Ambulance station to wish the volunteers Happy New Year. They're on duty for the funfair, and providing a field hospital front line service for binge drinkers to ease the nightmare at the city' casualty units. They're a great bunch.
If anyone out there is reading this, Happy New Year to you too.