Sabbatical, Day 31: Links, Lent, Movies And Books

Before today’s news, here are some links. Let’s kick off with a survey. What kind of technology user are you? The Pew Internet and American Life Project has a quiz. I am an ‘ominvore‘. (Via the Comodo Monthly Insider email.)

The Evangelical Alliance has a resource launching on 5th March entitled ‘Square Mile‘. To quote their email:

Mercy: demonstrating God’s compassion to the poor
Influence: being salt and light in the public life of the community
Life Discipleship: equipping Christians for missional living as workers & neighbours
Evangelism: faithful and relevant communication of the gospel
Square Mile is an exciting initiative, designed to catalyse and equip the UK Church to take a truly integrated approach to mission in partnership with the Alliance and Community Mission.
Square Mile resources include a new DVD-based course designed for small groups, which explores these four areas of mission. Featuring insights from: Shane Claiborne, Mark Greene, J John, Tim Keller, Elaine Storkey, Jim Wallis and N.T. Wright, as well as examples of grassroots projects around the UK. A journal is also availabe containing daily readings, reflections and activities covering four weeks – ideally used alongside the DVD course.

Ruth Haley Barton has an article for the first week of Lent: Practising Repentance.


If it isn’t one, then it’s the other. Mark went back to school today, and Rebekah was off sick. She had diarrhoea in the night and this morning. I’ll spare you further grisly details. 

Thus today I have been a teacher and an entertainer. Not that far removed from ministry, is it? I helped her with her reading, her spelling homework and her Maths game.

As a reward, we allowed her to paint a mug. Not one of our existing mugs, one that came in a box with paints and brushes. She has decorated a couple before, but I put the last one in the dishwasher and the paint began to peel. If everything King Midas touched turned to gold, most things I touch shatter into several pieces.

Either side of lunchtime, Debbie, Rebekah and I watched ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang‘ on DVD. It came out in 1968, and I saw it at the cinema first time around. If I didn’t feel old enough already, what with the fact that tomorrow I enter the final year of my forties, I felt even more decrepit remembering that fact.

As I watched it, I mused on this thought. Today, we are used to discussing serious themes in films. Organisations like Damaris Trust and others produce first class material to help in that matter. Usually, the movies chosen are not children’s titles. Yet Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has some simple ideas that would bear some exploration. Here are just a few. 

Career-wise, do you follow your dreams, imagination and creative talent, even into penury that affects you and your family, in the hope it will work out in the end, or do you just take a routine mundane job? (Caractacus Potts)

How do you deal with the fact that evil is sometimes blatant and other times disguised? (The Child Catcher)

How do you hang on in the face of evil while injustice reigns? (The villagers keep their children underground, not seeing the sun, while the Baron and his forces seek to eliminate children.)

Can you have successful marriages and relationships across wide socio-economic barriers? (Caractacus Potts doesn’t propose marriage to Truly Scrumptious until he realises his invention of Toot Sweets is going to make him wealthy, just as she is.)


And finally, just a little tiny bit of sabbatical work today. Some of that was reading the terms and conditions for signing up to Survey Monkey. I’m glad I read these. I have to be very careful how I word emails in which I invite people to complete my survey, and include various items to avoid Survey Monkey deleting my account. Clearly they are protecting themselves against use by spammers. I have to include an ‘unsubscribe’ link and my snail-mail address. The problem with ‘ubsubscribe’ will be that I may not be using a mailing list full of individuals, so I’ll need to think of a way around that.

The other thing that has happened is this. You may recall my recent series of posts on The Starfish And The Spider. There was another similar book I also wanted to read. Well, at last, after several weeks on order and being number one in the queue to read it next, ‘Here Comes Everybody‘ by Clay Shirky found its way to North Melbourne Library today, and it is sitting on my desk at last. I had taken to reading something that is not sabbatical related, but which is thought-provoking on a general theme: ‘The God I Don’t Understand‘ by Chris Wright. I may need to return to that later now.


  1. Hei ! I am on my last year of my forties too – it ain’t bad 🙂
    and I remember seeing ChittyChittyBangBang at the cinema too (Odeon in N.London – we had ice cream at the interval 🙂 how’s that for an old memory!


  2. I’m an omnivore, too. And I can just about remember the last day of my 40s. I think.

    Did you hear that the makers of the Stanner Stairlift have develped a turbo-charged version? To get you upstairs before you’ve forgotten why you went up there…


  3. If you still want an interval and an ice cream at the pictures done as you remember try the cinema in Aberystwyth they still have a little room next to the screen where they sell refreshments from and ladies with the traditional trays.
    I like the one about the stairlift and if I was being picky I would point out that it is Stannah!
    Incidentally I am already in the Saga group but I am not sure about their discounts – my insurance quote from them was £200 higher than my insurer of the last five years.


    1. We’ll be thinking about introducing our children to the cinema before long and a programme with an interval would be ideal. However, Aberystwyth is a little far from Chelmsford! 🙂

      Yes, I’d noticed the typo about Stannah in Tony’s comment too but I’m known for my pedantry and resisted! Perversely, I’m glad to hear what you say about Saga! When it was my 40th, Debbie signed me up to their mailing list as a practical joke. It took considerable effort to extricate myself then from their clutches.


  4. Good grief you are two years older than me and yet my youngest children are 20 in a weeks time.

    Thanks for the thoughts on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, interesting how such a simple story can yield food for thought.


    1. I know, I didn’t get married until I was 41. We were both in our 40s when the children came along. More life experience, less strength! I had a broken engagement (or, as my sister called it, ‘a narrow escape’) when I was 35. But I’m just a late starter, me! I might just get the hang of ministry a couple of months before retirement. 🙂


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