A month ago I was on holiday - and that seems like a long way back! Next week, I'm taking a couple of days off and away as that seems to be the only way to have a proper rest. I love being a minister but sometimes it empties you out. Next month will be busier.
What's been happening?
Aside from Sundays and the usual admin - a wedding, school and pastoral visits, Messy Church, coffee mornings, church lunches, session, presbytery, village hall, local development ad community council meetings, Remembrance and a special Time for Reflection.
Now it's planning for next month. There is absolutely no guarantee that there will be time for ay reflection but I'll try to put up a rough diary of what's been happening.
Meantime, I'll off to Kilchoan later today, in the camper van and with the manse mutt. I'll be taking the Posada (thanks to those who made the sheep!) and some Advent calendars into the Primary School so those items are ready for December.
Messy Church planning meeting this morning - getting ideas for Advent! Then a meeting about the future of the church building at Kilchoan. Promises to be an interesting day!
The pace is cranking up again! And school restarts in under a week!!!!
Both my car and the mobile manse have been serviced this week at the local garage - I haven't had the final bill yet but, as the garage is excellent, I'm sure it'll be ok.
This week, so far, there has been one pre-wedding chat, pastoral visiting, a meeting about a joint project with the neighbouring presbytery (over 100 miles round trip) and a visit to the local Men's Shed.
Men's Shed - how excellent is that! Great to see how it is set up, meet some of those involved and learn more about their purpose and their projects. Thank you, lovely people, for agreeing to build a Christmas tree stand for the village hall.
I'm off to Kilchoan tomorrow, in the mobile manse (once I get it back from the garage), for another pre-wedding chat and for a meeting.
If I can be of any help with faith matters, I'll be staying at Kilchoan and parking up opposite the church building. That sounds a bit serious but perhaps I should ask, 'How's your soul? Want to talk?' That's what your friendly local minister is for.
Yesterday, along with many others, I was invited to go to the Ardnamurchan Distillery to celebrate their 5th birthday. We heard about the whisky being made there, the expansion of the development and how most of the workforce are local folk. There was a delicious barbecue cooked by Jill at Ardshealach Lodge, and music from the Maclean brothers.
We also heard about a challenge. Those there were encouraged to support Broar; three brothers who are going to take part in a rowing race across the Atlantic. (Yes, really!). They will be supporting two charities in particular, Feedback Madagascar and Children First, Scotland’s national Children’s Charity.
Some photos and links. Please do follow the progress of Broar, the race doesn’t take place for a couple of months yet, and pray for the safety of all the competitors.
As reported previously, the topics for Sundays over the summer are the choice of the congregation. Today we thought about Artificial Intelligence and Super-intelligence. The person who suggested it was invited to introduce the topic, there was a little discussion and then the topic was linked into faith.
I’d mind-mapped out, roughly, a who, what, were, why / purpose and when and added in headings of ‘Playing God’ and ‘Biblical responses’.
Starting with why / purpose we thought about some of the good and of the bad applications of AI - eg was use of technology and AI in diagnosing someone in need of rehydration and getting the correct balance of chemicals and medication into them, and another example of good was how a phone app allows people to record locally where flooding is happening and the information being fed to a flood management centre. Both those could easily be used for bad - eg the medical example could be dependant on affordability and create social division.
The Bible application was varied - Genesis tells the story of how ancient peoples understood the advent of the knowledge of good and bad - however that understanding came about, it is God given and humanity does understand good and bad - we have responsibility that goes with the knowledge and can choose to use AI for our own benefit or for individual benefit of the wider community. In the New Testament the emphasis is firmly on attitudes and values; how do these inform the AI generated decision making process (define decision!).
Elon Musk was mentioned and his new project to use tiny electrodes placed in (at the moment monkey’s) brains to generate text messages! Mind control!
The most interesting point to come out of the talk was the vital importance of discussion around the ethicals of Artificial Intelligence and how that will develop. It’s not binary ie black and white!
There was so much we didn’t talk about - bio-hacking; stewardship of resources; self-driving cars; social impact of AI; how we are made in God’s image and, as such, created to be creative; the Matrix, War Games, 2001 and Hal, Terminator, Futurama and the talking heads ….
How do we follow that! Well, one of the children would like to talk about ‘Bread and Wine’. The child is already working on their introduction.
Do come along to Acharacle Parish Church at 11am on Sunday 4th.
A little time at the desk and admin this morning then, this afternoon, I'll be off to Kilchoan in the mobile manse. Once there, I'll walk the dog and have some dinner before going to visit the screen machine! There are three films being shown today and the one I'll watch is Rocketman, the film about Elton John.
Tomorrow, there is a Produce Market at the Community Centre in Kilchoan and Scone Teas at Diorlinn House.
Do stop me if you'd like a chat!
On Friday this week is the Kilchoan Show and Sports Day but I won't be able to go along - it's the first time I've missed it! I hope the weather is reasonable and that everyone has a fun day!
The Western Grouping of Lochaber Church of Scotland Parishes went to the island of Eigg for a Day Pilgrimage. What an amazing day - wonderful worship, cool company, fab food and wow weather!
Presbytery has an Education Working Group that has recently been active in voicing concerns about changes by Highland Council to class room assistants. Teachers are hard enough pressed without reducing their support. Here are copies of the letters sent and received. Presbytery is not convinced cutting back in early years is such a good idea but that it causes problems further down the line. This thinking has been backed up by recent research carried out in England around the Sure Start programme.
There's a story about people watching other people being swept down a river and a huge rescue attempt going on. Eventually, someone thought to look upstream for the cause of the problem. That's what early years support and Sure Start does - it looks upstream to the source of the problem and addresses those issues to stop a disaster later on. Such a shame the various authorities have not taken heed of the research! It's not rocket science!!!
What can be done by people of faith? Voice concern to whichever authority backs the programmes. Be pro-active in helping local schools, even if it means filling in paperwork of PVG or similar (it may be a hassle but it's not complicated), so that you are able to help. Get to know your community and volunteer with programmes that seek to help others, get to know the families around you and offer to help them.