Paxtonvic’s Blog

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So, a cheese sandwich goes into a bar and orders a beer.

The bartender says, “I’m sorry……..but we don’t serve food here.”

June 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Water drops

A thought tonight for all those folk who are struggling with the heat at the moment. I know we shouldnt complain, but some people do struggle with these higher temperatures as do a lot of pets. Plenty of fluid intake and definately not a dog collar day for clergy…well, at least not for me.

water drops

But maybe we forget about other heatwaves in the not so distant past…

Extreme weather will continue in the UK with sweltering heat in the south and cooler weather in the north.

Sunday saw the recording of the hottest day ever in Britain when the temperature in Gravesend, Kent soared to 38.1C (100.6F). – AUGUST 15th 2003.

Is global warming playing a part – or does it just get hot sometimes in this country?

Am stocked up with my Murray Mints for the next Andy Murray match tomorrow – he’s on second on centre court – I reckon he will beat Ferrero if he goes on pulling facres like this:

andy pulling a face

Wonder if I could hire him to chase away the BEETLE in the woodwork at Diddington Church.

Tomorrow is Quinquennial day at Diddington – sounds like a feast day of some  sort, but no, it is the time when the archhitect inspects the church. I shall be there at 10.00am to see what is what and hopefully there wont be too many nasties lurking in the ancient fabric.

Juy tomorrow – my natal month…

June 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Hot debate on a hot day about Open churches

I am very grateful to Wingy for taking the time to comment about the  recent posts about Open Churches and church  attendance figures – if you go to the June 29th post on ” More stats and Ashby St Ledgers” you will find Wingy’s comments. I have always favoured having our churches open during the day – some I know are open at night as well. It was so good last Friday when I was travelling to Coventry on that wet day to come off the A14 into Rugby and find the village church where I served as deacon – at Clifton-upon-Dunsmore open. Turning the latch and finding a door opens I think says so much to passers by… I know some people truly worry about the safety of our buildings and I do understand that – and the ideal is perhaps to have stewards present on a rota as some bigger churches do – but that wont always be practicle for village churches… so to those of you who bravely open your churches every day a big WELL DONE.

Nick G has e-mailed about an article in – ‘if religion disappeared, what would emerge in its stead’. – Im going to check it out now…

Not sure quite which article it is, but might well be this one: Here is a taster written by Caspar Melville

The question: Can religion be replaced?

One of the first things I commissioned when I became editor of New Humanist was an attempt open out the opposing positions within humanism about what should replace religion. It was a debate between Dave Belden and AC Grayling about whether humanism should be, or become, more like a religion. Belden (who is now managing editor at the non-denominational spiritual US magazine Tikkun), in a piece entitled Is it time for humanists to start holding services? wrote that while humanism had done well to meet the philosophical challenges set by religion, it did less well reproducing the kind of “vibrant social connections” that religion provides. He was rather stirring, in fact:

We are a tribal species. We need communal rituals, songs to sing together, not alone in our rooms. We need ways to care for each other, inspire each other, develop ethics and teach them to our children.

He goes on to suggest that “an overly rational approach to life can be cool, even chilly”, so what was needed, in his view, was more church fetes, bible groups, coffee mornings, singalongs and ceremonies. Only, without the God bit. After all, he is a Unitarian.

Its quite a challenging article but worth reading… Im convinced that if only church groups could be more welcoming, inclusive and flexible in their style ( and not only on Sundays)  that more people would find relevance and meaning in what they are offering. I have always found such a wide gap between the Jesus I read about in the gospels in his tunic and sandals touching those with society has rejected   and  ending  up on a  cross and the rules and regulations and neat tidiness of much of what we do in our buildings and teach in doctrine. One day maybe I will find the link, maybe I wont. Goodness me, I much find something of a link as I wouldnt have been ordained for 22 years in parish ministry and still as keen as ever. Maybe, in a funny way, having this passion for re-ordering and putting in loos is about bringing the everyday stuff of life – which can be messy – into our church life and embracing it. Just like Jesus embraced the mess he saw around him.

Thanks also to Graham Sharp from Christian Resources for his comment which i will copy here:

I’m an associate of Christian Research and find it frustrating that the media keep picking up on some fairly old projections. Dry statistics are meaningless and always need interpretation. Church leaders and commentators who are obsessed with ‘church attendance statistics’ as the arbiter of ’success or failure’ need to reflect on what the church is really about! To imply that Christianity is in decline because fewer people attend church every week is akin to saying drinking alcohol is in decline becasue fewer people go to pubs every day. We know that’s not the case – people are ‘drinking’ differently and people are doing curch differently – not just on Sundays, not just in church, not just CofE…and so on.

For Christian Research, I edit a publication called ‘Quadrant’ which regularly contains articles that illustrate exciting community and social initiatives – an immense amount of Christian discipleship being enacted and very little of it in church on Sundays!

If you want to receive Quadrant, you just have to become a member of Christian Research.

Best regards


Keep the comments coming – Paxtonvic is very busy  with  your views so to calm me down and anyone else feeling the heat, here is  some ” clarkia” growing abundantly in my garden…


June 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

wot a thriller!

What a match – I was totally absorbed   watching Andy win through to the Wimbledon   quarter finals…


Andy Murray at the end of the match – exhuasted but triumphant- total dedication by the British Number 1- can he go further?

Good night everyone, sleep tight

June 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

21.55 pm- Murray angst

gotta keep on watching……

June 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More stats on a hot day- and a visit to Ashby St Ledgers

A 2007 survey confirmed that 85% of the population visit a church building or a place of worship each year (2007 ORB survey) – from the Church Care web-site:

(  previously the  Council for the Care of Churches ) – well worth a look.

Reckon churches would be some of the coolest places at the moment.

Here is the incredible church at Ashby St Ledgers in Northamptonshire still with its box pews intact. Im not sure even I would take them all out for community use….

ashby church

To tell the truth I’ve  taken that photo off the church’s  excellent web-site as my offerings dont seem to have come out very well – the above shows the Jacobean triple decker pulpit.

Below is a rather dark picture looking up towards the east window – but it is a bit like that when you walk in:

ashby dark

interior And here is the rood screen – and this I didnt know – taken from the web-site:

Looking straight ahead you will see the beautiful Rood Screen of fine delicate carving which was created in 1500. There is no evidence that a Rood was ever in situ but the access stairs, through a door on the right, within the Jacobean manorial pew, shows much wear and tear. The Gospel was always read from the top of the screen before the Reformation.. I doubt we would get folk to climb to the top of the rood screen to read the gospel nowadays – health and safety would probably preclude that.

Most spectacular in my opinion are the two passion cycles of wall paintings from the 14th century – worth a drive of some miles to see them…

ashby wall paintings

This section of the Passion Cycle depicts our Lord being nailed upon the cross. These paintings form one of the most extensive cycles to be found in this country. Copies are lodged in the Victoria and Albert Museum.


So, that was a very pleasant visit last Saturday afternoon on my way back from Coventry – church was open – and apart from the notice board which needs a make-over I thought the church felt very welcoming and cared for. It is dedicated to St Mary The Virgin and Leodegarius who as you all know was a 7th century French Bishop- well, I need to check that out..

Next door, finally, to the church is the PLOT HOUSE where it is thought the gunpowder plot was hatched. The village is rich in history and is well worth spending quality time exploring.

Back to Little Paxton and time now to study our CHUFT plans – Church For Tomorrow Project – with our business plan now laid out and funding proposals shaping up….

June 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

More tea Vicar?

…. and according to research I stumbled across, the answer should be a resounding YES:

Tea ‘healthier’ drink than water

Drinking three or more cups of tea a day is as good for you as drinking plenty of water and may even have extra health benefits, say researchers.

The work in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition dispels the common belief that tea dehydrates.

Tea not only rehydrates as well as water does, but it can also protect against heart disease and some cancers, UK nutritionists found.

Experts believe flavonoids are the key ingredient in tea that promote health.

Healthy cuppa

These polyphenol antioxidants are found in many foods and plants, including tea leaves, and have been shown to help prevent cell damage.

Tea replaces fluids and contains antioxidants so its got two things going for it
Lead author Dr Ruxton

Public health nutritionist Dr Carrie Ruxton, and colleagues at Kings College London, looked at published studies on the health effects of tea consumption.

They found clear evidence that drinking three to four cups of tea a day can cut the chances of having a heart attack.

Some studies suggested tea consumption protected against cancer, although this effect was less clear-cut.

Other health benefits seen included protection against tooth plaque and potentially tooth decay, plus bone strengthening.

Dr Ruxton said: “Drinking tea is actually better for you than drinking water. Water is essentially replacing fluid. Tea replaces fluids and contains antioxidants so it’s got two things going for it.”


She said it was an urban myth that tea is dehydrating.

“Studies on caffeine have found very high doses dehydrate and everyone assumes that caffeine-containing beverages dehydrate. But even if you had a really, really strong cup of tea or coffee, which is quite hard to make, you would still have a net gain of fluid.

“Also, a cup of tea contains fluoride, which is good for the teeth,” she added.

There was no evidence that tea consumption was harmful to health. However, research suggests that tea can impair the body’s ability to absorb iron from food, meaning people at risk of anaemia should avoid drinking tea around mealtimes.

Tea is not dehydrating. It is a healthy drink
Claire Williamson of the British Nutrition Foundation

Dr Ruxton’s team found average tea consumption was just under three cups per day.

She said the increasing popularity of soft drinks meant many people were not drinking as much tea as before.

“Tea drinking is most common in older people, the 40 plus age range. In older people, tea sometimes made up about 70% of fluid intake so it is a really important contributor,” she said.

Claire Williamson of the British Nutrition Foundation said: “Studies in the laboratory have shown potential health benefits.

“The evidence in humans is not as strong and more studies need to be done. But there are definite potential health benefits from the polyphenols in terms of reducing the risk of diseases such as heart disease and cancers.

“In terms of fluid intake, we recommend 1.5-2 litres per day and that can include tea. Tea is not dehydrating. It is a healthy drink.”

The Tea Council provided funding for the work. Dr Ruxton stressed that the work was independent.

Just as long as there is a loo around – I might try and drink a bit more of it!


June 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sunday best

Regular visitors to Diddington Church, The Arragon Singers delighted their audience with a  concert of varied music from Vivaldi’s Gloria to some Gilbert and Sullivan. It was perfect music for a summer’s afternoon and the cream teas afterwards were delicious.

Over two years ago I remember saying at an Arragon Singers Concert at Diddington that one day we hoped for some decent facilities so that we could entertain our guess more easily – now the work has started and the space created by removing the pews in the north aisle ( strictly, relocating them) was very useful for refreshments.

Here are some colourful photos of the simple pleasures of live music in a small parish church in the middle of summer:

diddington arragon and kiola A kaola bear waiting to be raffled…

happy arragon june 28happy singers

arragon 3 Gren in the pink with his choir.

living water tap water has arrived – temporary position, but water is wonderful stuff!

time to leave after arragon Time to go home after  the sort of afternoon I reallyenjoy. A big thank you to Gren and his choir for coming once again to Diddington and hopeful we raised a few pounds towards our project.

Dear Lord, we thank you that as we prepare for our nightly rest

You take away the cares of the day and ease us into a restful sleep.

To waken us to face a new day.


June 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Britain is no longer a Christian nation- apparantly

The latest in a long line of reports that pop up from time to time about declining church attendance…this time in the Daily Telegraph June 27th  (see link above)

By the Rt Rev Paul Richardson– assistant Bishop of Newcastle
Published: 27 Jun 2009

If recent trends are any guide, many Church of England parishes will have been cheered by higher attendances at Easter services. The last published statistics for 2006/7 show rises of 7 and 5 per cent in church going at Christmas and Easter.

But these figures are just about the only signs of hope for the church and certainly not the first green shoots of a revival. Other statistics make for gloomy reading.

Annual decline in Sunday attendance is running at around 1 per cent. At this rate it is hard to see the church surviving for more than 30 years though few of its leaders are prepared to face that possibility.

In the short term we are likely to see more closures of buildings as the church battles to meet a big pension bill, pay clergy, and maintain a large bureaucracy.

To its credit, the church has been successful at getting members to give, but larger donations cannot offset the fall in numbers. At present the church is struggling to maintain 16,200 buildings, many of them old and listed with 4,200 listed Grade I.

If decline continues, Christian Research has estimated that in five years’ time church closures will accelerate from their present rate of 30 a year to 200 a year as dwindling congregations find the cost of keeping them open too great.

Perhaps the most worrying set of statistics for the Church of England is the decline in baptisms. Out of every 1,000 live births in England in 2006/7 only 128 were baptised as Anglicans.

The figure rises by a small amount if adult baptism and thanksgiving services are included but it is hard to see the Church of England being able to justify its position as the established church on the basis of these numbers.

By way of contrast, out of every 1,000 live births in England in 1900, 609 were baptised in the Church of England. Figures for church marriages show an equally catastrophic decline.

The church is being hit by a double whammy: on the one hand it confronts the challenge of institutional decline but on the other hand it has to face the rise of cultural and religious pluralism in Britain.

How it responds to the second challenge will be crucial in determining whether it will be able to survive as a viable organisation and make a contribution to national life.

At present church leaders show little signs of understanding the situation. They don’t understand the culture we now live in.

Many bishops prefer to turn their heads, to carry on as if nothing has changed, rather than face the reality that Britain is no longer a Christian nation.

Many of them think that we are still living in the 1950s – a period described by historians as representing a hey day for the established church.

The coronation brought church and nation together in a way which will never be repeated. School assemblies had a definite Christian tone and children still sang familiar hymns.

The church could function as chaplain to a nation that was nominally Christian and Anglican, even if many actually only attended for baptisms, weddings and funerals. That world has gone for good.

Gordon Brown’s unilateral decision to take no part in nominating bishops to the Queen (a matter he did not discuss with David Cameron or Nick Clegg, in breach of constitutional protocol) makes it less likely that bishops will retain their place in a reformed House of Lords.

Rather than try to cling on to their places in the House of Lords, they should take the initiative by withdrawing, which would show that they appreciate Christian Britain is dead.

The church can try to fight the forces of change or it can see the crisis as an opportunity to give itself a clearer sense of identity.

One reason for increased attendance at Christmas and Easter may be that people are looking for a way of affirming identity in a pluralist society.

So far its leaders are choosing to resist but doing so in a very Anglican way: making concessions when necessary and hoping by small, strategic retreats to buy time and preserve the status quo.

The reason offered for upholding establishment is usually that it gives the church a sense of responsibility to the whole nation. In practice it often looks as if the church is really trying to keep its special privileges on false pretences.

For a time other faith communities may welcome the special position of the established church as a bulwark against secularism.

The Chief Rabbi is a forceful defender of the valuable role the Church of England can play in bringing faith communities together and fostering understanding across creedal barriers.

But the church would be a more effective bulwark against secularism if it was stronger and the role the Chief Rabbi has mapped out is likely to disappear as different faith communities get used to dealing with each other directly.

Disestablishment will actually pose major problems for society. Every country needs shared rituals and celebrations to foster a sense of community and provide a backdrop to major national occasions.

We are going to have to invent a new civil religion. Already the process has begun with the observance of Holocaust Day and increasing focus on Human Rights as providing a shared basis for morality.

If Anglicans could acquire a stronger sense of who they are and what they believe they might slow the rate of decline and possibly even stabilise their numbers.

They would still be a minority but they could be a creative minority. The trick will be to reach this situation without falling into a fundamentalist trap or cutting off links with the wider world.

Other organisations, particularly Roman Catholics with their three-hundred year history of persecution and minority status, can be a guide, showing both the dangers to avoid and the opportunities to seize.

What do you think? What makes me a wee bit cross is  basing the health of the Church of England on attendance figures on sundays and the numbers who come for occasional offices… Our churches are about far more than those figures.

So many churches have mid-week activities and groups – toddler groups, youth groups, activities that meet in schools and halls – pastoral care and outreach work – do they count the number of funerals we are involved with, pastoral care groups that visit and village/town events we are involved with?   What about the work of our church of England Schools and the input that parishes have in them??

I think  a report such as the above  which defines the health and viability of the church by these limited criteris distorts  what is really going on.

See Bishop David Thomson’s blog or our Diocesan web-site  for all that  if happening  in the Diocese of Ely – its  wholly encouraging – so can we stop putting ourselves down and rejoice in the growth that there is.  And, yes, I do think we need to look to new ways of engaging people at key times in their lives – the formal marriage and baptism services are obviously loosing their appeal.

Im off to a concert in tiny Diddington Church this afternoon – there will be over 100 people enjoying music and each other’s company. Would that be counted in any  report on the state of our churches? Would the many congregations  who are undertaking re-ordering projects and using their churches for community use get a look in in any reports on  the state of the Church of England?  Probably not. And no mention  of  Fresh Expressions in the above analysis either….

And finally, all the clergy I know and meet with regularly are very busy people with not enough hours in the day to do all they would ideally like to do – not what you would expect from working in an institution which is in terminal decline. And when you think the Church of England is basically supported and sustained by a huge host of lay people also working very hard and giving their time, talents and money – I reckon we are a pretty impressive organisation.

June 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment


A man went into a bar after work and ordered a beer. As he started drinking his beer, he heard a female voice saying seductively, ‘You’ve got nice hair’.

The man looked all around him but couldn’t see where the voice came from. A minute later he heard the same voice saying, ‘You are a handsome man.’ The man was really puzzled by this so he asked the barman what was going on.

The barman replied, ‘It’s the nuts – they’re complimentary.

Sleep well – or, alternatively, good morning!

June 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment