Why I quit blogging and why I may begin again…

Posted January 4, 2014 by transfarmer
Categories: Uncategorized

I used to post on this blog fairly regularly but for the past couple of years it has been mostly silent.  I’d love to make excuses of house moves, job changes, studies, baby arrival, marriage commitments blah, blah, blah… but the truth is I stopped blogging because I realised I’m a jerk when I blog.  Many of not most of my previous posts have been angry, sarcastic, mocking rants that do not invite approach from people who disagree with me.  In one such post my words and judgements had been crushing to another person.  And I couldn’t undo it.  I know that I’m not responsible for everyones response and it’s the internet and things can be misunderstood etc etc.  But I sort of got to a point where I didn’t want to be that critical and I didn’t know how to go on a blog rant without mocking so I just stopped.

But over the past few days Jayber has been beating the blog drum.  He’s going to think that he is responsible for my return but he’s not (ok he is a little bit) but mostly it’s because I found a blog I really love.  weefrizz. I love it.  Reading it has made me itchy to engage again, to write again, to think again, reflect.  Reading it made me miss Espero and Jaybercrow but rumour has it they may return again too.

Today Espero asked a question “how do we live lives of adventure again?” and I hate her for asking that question because it reminds me how afraid I am as a person.  And how comfortable I have become with being ‘safe’.  Maybe beginning this blog again is my move out of safety.  I have to risk the fact that sometimes I’m too much with my ranty gub and sometimes that gub hurts others and maybe I have to risk that rather than never speaking again.  (I will try to be more sensitive though!)

There is also that feeling that I have nothing to write about these days because my life is all about dreaming about how many more minutes my child might sleep before waking AGAIN and how the F* I get him to drink from something other than my boob and if I have broken him by letting him roll off the sofa TWICE under my watch and well, you get the idea.  But as a wise man said “don’t knock the trivial – life is a series of repetitive tasks” and that sentence has given me an unusual freedom to join the blogging world again.

So I’m in!

wear it out

Posted April 6, 2012 by transfarmer
Categories: Uncategorized

Wear it out‘ is a campaign directed at teenagers that I discovered a couple of days ago.  The idea is that instead of buying new clothes you put on the clothes you have and ‘wear them out’ (it says this nowhere in the literature but I assume the premis from the title).  The pledge is that you would abstain from buying any new clothes for 3 months.

It caught my eye (since i’m a youth worker and since I think I buy too much stuff too often) and so I clicked onto the link with the thought that probably I would post this link on the website for our youth group.

It’s a well laid out clear website with a lot of resources that seem helpful and challenging.

But a few things put me off a bit:

1) a website that is trying to get people to die to fashion has more pictures of fashionable, trendy hipster young people than a kays catalogue (does that still exist?).  It felt like I was being drawn into the campaign because it would be ‘fashionable’ to do so.

2) When I saw the ‘registration fee’ (£35 or £15) I thought huh? I wonder why encouraging people not to buy stuff would cost money or why it would require a registration at all?  And then I thought ‘ah well I guess printing flyers and advertising the campaign in the Presbyterian Herald costs money’ but then I kept reading and realised that actually my money is used to get me a ‘fashion fix’ at the end of the three months.

Now you can imagine my joy (aka disgust) when I discovered that the ‘fashion fix’ was either a T-shirt (£15 registration fee) OR wait for it… a pair of Tom’s (don’t get me started) shoes (£35 registration fee).

Suddenly I began to wonder if this was a holy campaign or an advertising campaign for Tom aka Blake.

The famous Tom’s shoes ‘barefoot walk’ takes place in Northern Ireland next week and they are hoping for over 3000 people to break the world record.  This is part of the ‘wear it out’ campaign.

Look, the bottom line is I think it would be a great thing for people and for the world if we didn’t buy new clothes that we don’t need.  I think it would be a great thing for those people and for the world if they gave the money that they would have spent on clothes away.  These are two great challenges from the ‘wear it out’ campaign.  But it just feels to me that in an attempt to help teenagers (and I don’t understand why not also adults) think more deeply and well about how we spend our money and what our addiction to fashion and our slavery to advertising and consumption does to us and people across the world they have sold out to exactly that.

We need to be people who radically change how we live and how we spend our money.  We need to be challenged on our felt need for a ‘fashion fix’ as if we somehow deserve it.  We do not need that desire to be fed, we need it to be obliterated.

Don’t throw a stone-y at Kony

Posted March 8, 2012 by transfarmer
Categories: Uncategorized

Last night I watched that Kony video.  Today husband man told me someone had written a great response to it and so instead of ranting here I could just link to it… turns out that response seems to have been taken off the net which I am sad about because I didn’t even get the chance to read it.

Now, here’s my problem… how does one be cynical about a film that seeks to help rescue child soldiers?  This is awkward but hear me out.

Soldiers exist. Some soldiers did not want to be soldiers.  Some soldiers are young. Some soldiers are old.  When I was a student the first time around I worked for a year with a wonderful professor whose life’s work was about conflict studies.  I distinctly remember reading psychology papers that told stories of children kidnapped into an army, and forced at gunpoint to shoot another human being.  I read other things in that paper which I don’t want to write about right now because the realities are simply horrific.  But all I am trying to say at this point is that yes horrible things are going on in this world and I do not doubt that.  I think we should care and I think we should act.  But I’m not sure the ‘kony 2012’ campaign is the answer.

I kind of hated the film.  I mean, it was a good film, well made, evocative, clear, but I haven’t seen such emotional manipulation and white (dare i say American) arrogance for a while.  20 mins into the film you read these words “…Kony now knows of the United States plan to stop the LRA and he is going to change tactics to avoid capture, NOW THAT THE GREAT POWER IS AFTER HIM.” (emphasis may be mine).  Oh America if only we’d known about you earlier you could have saved so many lives…oh wait…who owns that Army in Iraq again?…

Anyway, I didn’t much care for the ‘wire investigation room scene’ either, where cute blonde kid faces the reality of ‘the evil one’.  I’m so glad that we finally know the source of the problem.  This Kony guy in the picture. The source of all the great evils contained in this one guy.  Super, all we have to do is catch him and nothing bad will ever happen again (I used to think that when they caught Stringer Bell there’d be no more drugs in Baltimore – turns out there was more than one bad guy in the wire too.) Kony bad / Joseph good is a little too simplistic don’t you think?

I’m not trying to be flippent but is it not a serious problem when we project all the evil into just one man and make him the world’s enemy so that we can feel like the good guys and the hero’s who save the day?  I really do hope Kony stops being a man who kidnaps and tortures people.  But I also really do hope that we become a world who recognise that oppression and pain are caused by us not just Kony.  Also what ever happened to loving our enemy?

My final bone with this campaign is basically that yet again I’ve been offered the opportunity to change the world by buying stuff.

Also this whole idea of targeting the rich and the famous and the beautiful and the popular so as to get a huge following… well it sounds a bit familiar to me that is all.

A much more gracious person than me wrote “we need to find effective ways to help the poor and needy and to end moral horrors such as the use of child soldiers, people trafficking etc. but it might take a little bit more work than a RT.” go check out the full post here.

ps i’m in a bad mood tonight so forgive me for my complete negativity, i’ll work on it.  I’ll buy myself a t-shirt.

knowing and Knowing

Posted December 18, 2011 by transfarmer
Categories: Uncategorized

Growing up in a rural village in N.Ireland it was common that ministers who came to town as a guest preacher used a particular phrase (they obviously assumed we’d never heard before and they obviously thought would waow us). The phrase was this…”you may know much about someone but that’s not the same as knowing them” for example they’d say…”I could tell you many things about Ryan Gigs (evidence of cultural connection) but I don’t know him. And in the same way you may know much about God without knowing him. 

But I was thinking about this phrase the other day and it occurred to me that when you do know someone the opposite is true. In-other-words, the more I know about my husband the more I know him. My intellectual knowing of him feeds my (experiential?) knowing. In this case knowing about someone is inextricable from knowing them.

Knowing about God helps us to know him more.  We need to never stop knowing with our minds.  

Thinking about this has also now made me suspicious of the origional premise. If one kind of knowing leads to the other in one case then I’m pretty sure it must do so in all cases… 

Perhaps knowing about someone doesn’t make you any more likely to meet them but if you did meet them you’d certainly know them better than if you met them without knowing anything about them.  

…yes that’s right. 




Why didn’t Jesus pull rank?

Posted September 21, 2011 by transfarmer
Categories: Uncategorized

What with Patrick’s post about Scot McKnights new book ‘the King Jesus Gospel’ I thought it might be about time that I asked a long lasting niggling question of mine.

The whole idea that the gospel is ‘Jesus is Lord’ as opposed to the “…existential plan of salvation, detached from the OT and the story of Israel…” has completely blown my mind over the past few years.  Since the penny dropped I feel like I’ve been walking around thinking ‘it’s so obvious, why didn’t I see this before?’.  “Jesus is Lord” are the most beautiful words.

Anyway as time went on I began to really grab hold of this ‘Jesus is Lord’ message it began to shape my whole life more and more.  If Jesus is Lord then it is He who should dictate who I am and what I do.  Then I started to think that this is also true for other people.  That they should be living their lives as disciples of Jesus and when they weren’t happy with that I would say ‘well I don’t care how you feel…Jesus is LORD! so deal with it… you don’t have a choice.’ I began to use this good news that Jesus is Lord as a stick to beat people with and suddenly it stopped sounding so much like good news.

Then about a month ago, this thought occured to me ‘Jesus was Lord, knew he was Lord, said he was Lord and yet never used it to force people into following him.’ He never said ‘look, just shut up and do as I say ’cause i’m Lord’.  Jesus never seemed to use the fact that he is Lord to pull rank on people. At least as far as I can see.

So why?


Derek Webb on The Church

Posted May 13, 2011 by transfarmer
Categories: Uncategorized

Transfarmer readers (all 2 of them) have gotten me thinking a lot about the church the past couple of days and then as I was cruisin’ in the Volvo and this song by the wonderful Derek Webb came on and I thought, yip that’s about right.


The Church
(Appears on: She Must and Shall Go Free)

I have come with one purpose
To capture for Myself a bride
By My life she is lovely
And by My death she’s justified

I have always been her husband
Though many lovers she has known
So with water I will wash her
And by My word alone

So when you hear the sound of the water
You will know you’re not alone

‘Cause I haven’t come for only you
But for My people to pursue
And you cannot care for Me with no regard for her
If you love Me you will love the church

I have long pursued her
As a harlot and a whore
But she will feast upon Me
She will drink and thirst no more

So when you taste My flesh and My blood
You will know you’re not alone

There is none that can replace her
There are many who will try
And though some may be her Bridesmaids
They can never be My bride

“Derek on the song:

This is one of the last songs I wrote for the record…the reason I wrote it was because people were coming up to me (after shows) and saying, “Yeah, I’m right with you man…this whole church thing’s (not for me). I can’t stand the church…”, And I hated that. I hated the idea that people who seek to church bash would see me as their champion. Because I am not that. The reason that I have, after all these years, decided to put my energy into a solo project…is because of my love for the church. There’s none that can replace her. There’s none that can do the job of the church…so I wrote this song to hopefully communicate that.”
—Derek Webb, 10/4/02

It’s about youth work again I’m sorry

Posted May 10, 2011 by transfarmer
Categories: Uncategorized

I recently learned that in the denomination of which I am a part we now not only have a ‘children’s department’ and ‘youth department’ but we now also have a ‘young adults department’.  Now according to PCI these terms are self-explanatory but to me they weren’t so let me explain.  Category one is from age 0-11; category two is from age 12-18; and category three is from age 18-25.

When I first heard of the third category I quipped “what does that job involve?… telling 18-25 year olds that they’re adults and need to grow up?! ha ha” but no-one laughed…  and that’s not really what the job involves at all.

Apparently young adult workers are required in our denomination because 18-25’s is the ‘missing generation’.  People are appointed to help churches form 3-5 year strategies of how to target this specific age-group in order to ‘keep’ or ‘find’ people from this age group.   Now I realise that I have graduated from this age group a couple of years ago but I have a sense of suspicion and unease about this.  There are two reasons:

1) Why are we concerned with a missing ‘age-group’ in our denomination but never so concerned with a missing ‘social-class’ for example? That’s really a side-point though…

2) I suspect that the missing age-group has more to do with the fact that this generation (of which I am a part) have become consumers of church rather than active members of the body of Christ.  It is this that makes me most wary about a special focus on this particular age group.

I am constantly figuring out what it means for me to be a youth worker but lately i’ve been thinking that at least part of what it means to do my job well is to tell these 12-18 year olds (that’s the youth category you know?!;-) ) that they’re not who the world tells them they are.  That even though they’re young they have a story and are fully part of what God is doing in and through the Church.  I feel like part of what my job is is to tell them that they’re more like the adults in their congegration than they think.  My fear is that having a ‘young adults’ worker will do the opposite… not intentionally perhaps but surely by building our programes and strategies around the focus of ‘keeping’ these young people rather than loosing them to other congregations (which is true of most of this missing generation) then what we are doing is perpetuating the poisonous idea that church is something that we consume rather than commit ourselves too. We perpetuate their idea that they have a right to consume as well as perpetuate the idea to the older congregation that we have to be something that the young people want to consume or else we’re in trouble.

I do feel a little like telling this ‘missing generation’ to step up and be the church.  That church is not there to serve them or make them feel good or important but they are there to serve and commit to the church even when it’s full of people we dont particulary like, or agree with or even when the music is a bit weak, or the preacher doesn’t have a beard.  I want to tell my own generation that its not even about good stuff like great worshp or amazing teaching.  I am called to be committed to the body of christ as expressed in the local church because that’s what God chose to fulfill his mission.

Is this unfair?  is my desire to say, ‘just get on with it and grow up’ wrong?’ I dont know and i’d appreciate your thoughts.

I do know that i’m sick of people saying they’re not really part of a church because they tried it and it wasn’t really that good an experience and so they’ll just do life with God on their own.  …Well we cant.

Since writing this blog a few hours ago the good man Kevin Hargaden posted this here . It makes my post much better…!

A reflection on death

Posted April 1, 2011 by transfarmer
Categories: Uncategorized

Death occurred in our little church community this week.  It has been heartbreaking but I have also never known such a theologically truthful response to death in my life and it has brought genuine hope in the midst of sadness.  I am learning a lot as I live in a church that on weeks like this actually does a pretty good job at being the church.  One of the things I’ve reflected on in this sad situation is how important and freeing it is to be sad about the right things.  In the past when I’ve experienced situations of death one of the things that I feel sad over is thinking about the person’s future being ‘robbed’ from them.  I think about all the things they’ll never get to do… perhaps things like get married, have kids, travel, fulfil their potential as a genius… that kind of stuff.  I think aw it’s sad that he’ll never know that… but it occurred to me this week that when a Christian dies that is the stupidest thing i could ever think.  Anything I could wish for them in this life is like dry dust compared to the future they have now been ushered into.  So glorious nothing we could imagine in this life comes close to it.  He has not been ‘robbed’ of his future he has finally entered it.

So we may still weep in the moments we wish we could be near that person, we may still weep at the reality of never seeing him again, we may still weep for his family and friends in their heartache… but we will not be sad for him, for he knows a life that I am jealous of.

Scripture says it better:

“For to me, to life is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, WHICH IS BETTER BY FAR; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body…”

a little resolution on thoughts on justice

Posted February 1, 2011 by transfarmer
Categories: Uncategorized

We do justice not because by doing justice we create the kingdom of God on earth, but we do justice because God has asked us to do justice.  We need no further motivation.

the doc said it so it must be true… or something else about justice

Posted December 4, 2010 by transfarmer
Categories: Uncategorized

I’ve been thinking about justice again because of Mr Faith in Ireland.  He like most people in my life would probably say I worry too much… this is true, but I’m still bugged by the asking of big picture questions of how to do justice (eg social reform etc – check out patricks post).  However, over dinner last night I was listening to Mr Husband talk about medicine.  He said something that made me realise our frustrations are very similar.  He was bleatherin’ on about how doctors are basically ruining people’s lives (can you tell i’m paraphrasing here;-) ) because they are trying to live up to expectations and desires of the general public (and themselves of course), to be people who can fix everything (just like good old Bob the builder).  In the shift of mindset within doctors that primarily they can and should attack all disease and sickness to beat the b*******d they forget that really what they are called to is to care for their patient.  To seek their well-being.  Well you might ask, isn’t this what beating the sickness is?… in most cases yes, but not all the time.  As husband man puts it ‘caring sometimes involves curing but curing does not always involve caring’.  THIS is the heart of what bugs me about talk on justice (i think!)  As soon as a doctor thinks his primary role is to cure rather than care then he will end up putting an 89 year old woman through painful tests and ordeals to try and find something that is causing her aches when really she would be better off being home with her family because really she is just getting old.  Not always does curing mean caring/well-being.  One must think of a person more holistically than that.

For fear that I am starting to talk about medicine rather than justice, I am trying to make the point that when a Christian thinks of his role as to cure injustice rather than to love people who are suffering injustice we often miss the very people we are called to love.  Sometimes my care for the suffering people involves my fighting for social reform etc, but not always does my pursuit of social reform involve my real love of the suffering people (which is what God calls me to).  Infact I could be someone who fights for social reform and yet also be a person who has never looked a suffering person in the eye, or touched their hands.

We are called to care about the widow, the orphan, the oppressed.  We are called to care about these people as people.  We are called to love PEOPLE primarily, not to be ‘bob the builders’.

Confused babbling’s and rant over…