Sabbatical, Day 41: Learning To Twitter, Learning To Read, And A Horrible Shock

Having set up a Twitter account yesterday, I have started to customise it today. I have found various friends by letting Twitter examine the addresses in my Gmail address book. A particular pleasure was to find one who resolutely refuses to join Facebook. And I have reached the dizzy heights of – wait patiently – two followers!

However, I recall vaguely various articles about useful Twitter tools. What I can’t find are the web articles and blog posts I saw. That shouldn’t surprise me: I read them when I wasn’t interested in using Twitter! So – those of you who read this and who tweet, which services do you recommend? The one I remember is Tweetdeck, but what do you use? Please tell me in the comments section below. 

Back in the ‘normal’ world of ministry, Friday is usually my day off. Last autumn, I volunteered to help our children’s school for twenty minutes every Friday morning. The head teacher had introduced a feature to give a more consistent emphasis on literacy. She called it ‘Reading Revelry’. Three mornings a week after registration, the children in every class are split into ability-based small groups and read a short book together. This required a considerable number of parent volunteers. 

Hence, this morning I had my weekly twenty minutes. Although I was allocated the group with the best ability in the class I serve, today they were too distracted by Comic Relief. One girl was more concerned with keeping her red nose in place than keeping her nose in the book. “Reading is boring,” she said. Let’s hope she changes her mind!

Finally, something completely different. And heartbreaking. Late last night I had a shock. It’s about a minister friend of mine. He’d always been Mr Angry as long as I’d known him, but he had a great wife and wonderful kids. So much so that I thought, if ever I have children, I want them to be like his.

A year or two ago, I was shocked to learn that his wife had left him. Worse, I then heard he had been suspended from the ministry. Tracking him on Facebook and other places, I knew he had taken up with another girl. There were things he said about that relationship that I couldn’t square with Christian faith, but my faith had always been rather more conservative than his.

Then he disappeared off the Internet radar. Facebook profile gone, other traces vanished, too. Last night I googled his name. I discovered he had pleaded guilty to Internet child porn offences. As someone who writes, I’m supposed to be able to find words to describe and express thoughts and feelings. I can’t. All I can say is, please pray for him, and everyone who will have felt betrayed by him: family, friends, churches, victims. May God have mercy on us all.


  1. I totally don’t understand Twitter in the slightest. I got an account because a friend is hooked on it and it will be a good way to keep in contact with him when I move to the States. Beyond that, I don’t really see the point. It seems half-way between a bulletin board and a chat-room. I think I tend to prefer the slower-moving venues.


    1. Pam,

      Now I know why you haven’t sent a tweet since last summer! 🙂 Seriously, until my friend recommended I promote my surveys through Twitter, I hadn’t seen the point of it, either. (I’m still not sure how it’s going to work on that front, actually, but I’m giving it a go.) I never saw the point of just updating the minutiae of life in short messages. It seemed no more than the “Darling, I’m on the train”-type mobile phone calls. I accept it has proved invaluable at times of disasters, when many people caught up in a crisis have twittered important information to the outside world, but I didn’t join up to anticipate being part of a crisis! However, it has given me the chance to reconnect with the friend I mentioned and also to ‘follow’ some well-known Christians whose views interest me. I don’t like sending friend requests on Facebook to people I don’t know (nor receiving the same). I could keep up to some extent through these people’s blogs, but I’m interested to see whether this reveals anything more personal about them.

      So I’ll see. If it works, great. If it’s a waste of time, I can always cancel the account.


  2. Like your friend, I too (and My daughter in Vietnam also) resolutley refuse to join Facebook or Twitter.
    I hope the litle girl in your reading group will find the joy of reading. I shall never forget a little boy whowas always set on mischief, when i was a reading helper. His teachers used to say,’If you don’t mind, can you have him for as long as you can stand him?’ Then one day, as the headmaster went past on his way to another classroom, he cried out in a loud voice, with such excitement, ‘Sir, Sir, I’m reading a book! I’m reading a book!’
    How very sad for all concerned in that Minister’s fall from grace, and, of course, much prayer is needed there.


    1. Olive,

      I’m more positive than you about Facebook, although I’m not without qualms about the terms and conditions. In the eighteen months or so I have been on it, and as the number of my friends has increased, I have changed the way I use it. Now, I rarely use it for the trivial games and the like available on it. I treat it rather more like a glorified Friends Reunited, to keep up with friends old and new. For me, it’s an easy way of doing that. But it isn’t for everybody.

      Thank you for your lovely story about the little boy and his reading. I hope many more in our children’s school will discover the pleasure and enrichment of books.

      Thank you too for the comment about my minister friend. I feel like prayer is all I am left with for him – which is probably the way it should be. My own praying for him at present feels like a howling of pain. Maybe that is like the ‘groaning’ in prayer of which Paul writes.


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