Retiring this site – January 2018

This is just a note to say that this site is now retired. I’ll leave it online for reference purposes, but it’s all over bar the singing. For more from me over the coming weeks and months, come and visit my newish site, simonjcross.com which will become home to more content as things move ahead.

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Turn! Turn! Turn!

The Byrds had it right, for everything there is a season.

They were right about the turning thing too.

Of course they nicked the idea from Ecclesiastes – fair play to them. Most days I’d rather listen to them sing about it, than read the book itself (shameful I know).

But there are certainly seasons in life, I’m in one right now, a season of work and busy-ness, as well as the seemingly perpetual angst over where we are going to live next – we’re getting turfed out of our new house by the landlords (Church of England) who want to install somebody else (clergyman). No the irony is not lost on me.

Anyway, for those who aren’t aware, I started working for a website called Christian.co.uk in January, I’m the news editor, although right now I’m doing more feature writing than anything else – here’s one you might enjoy if you like musical whimsy, and here’s another if you’re interested in trends in Christian spirituality.

So, what with mounting work commitments, I suppose naturally enough I fell in to a kind blogging sabbatical, particularly as the dreaded facebook (so long resisted, with such futile results) now seems to fulfil the need for short inane posts about life. However, I’ve really missed blogging – and I now have a plan to return to this blog, with regular posts on subjects which generally get no traction on short form places like Facebook.

Starting this week then, you can once again expect missives from my slightly cluttered, but nonetheless interesting, desk in the spacious study of a soon to be vacated Grimsby parsonage. What would encourage me is if you can comment, share interesting articles and so on. I appreciate I probably don’t do the same for you, but hey – I’m one dimensional.

I’m not dead – yet

For those who have noticed, I haven’t been blogging much recently.

The reasons for that are manifold, I had slowed my blogging down in the latter part of 2011 anyway. But then as the new year dawned, two new work contracts swung into place, (it’s never one thing at a time is it?) and my work life rhythms changed.

While the new work is welcome, and is to a great degree just what we needed, it has also seen me end up with a degree of existential angst, as it changes the whole structure of my day, and therefore my general way of viewing life.

That’s not to say change is necessarily bad, in fact I tend to welcome it. But change is also difficult to manage, and requires new neural pathways to develop, my brain is already well trodden.

One of the new contracts I have, which will be revealed eventually – honest – requires me to write every day, and this too has sapped the need to keep a blog as an outlet for writing.

But there are things I cant write about anywhere else, and for that reason, if that alone, I will be back blogging sometime soon, just so long as my neural pathways can cope with the new right to roam policy.

So yeah, in case you were wondering, I’m not dead.

Totally Devoted review in ‘a pinch of salt’

Reviews of my book ‘Totally Devoted’ have been a bit slow in coming in, so if you want to make me happy please write a review on your blog, facebook account, or on one of the many websites which sell the book – I’d prefer you to leave a good review, but an honest one will do 🙂

Anyway, I was very pleased to open my copy of the Anarchist magazine ‘a pinch of salt‘ – which I commend to all and any – to read Keith Hebden’s review of the book.

I wont republish it all here, but Keith has been very kind in his comments, saying:

…Cross has an often chatty style of writing that works for an internet genre-ation and is fond of extended quotes, often of several pages. Publishers don’t always like these so it’s great to see both used to good effect. The regular change of voice and pace makes the book very readable. This is also a great book for charismatic evangelicals disillusioned with institutional church but still wanting to journey on in their spirituality and in company.

Totally Devoted acts as an introduction, opportunity for reflection, and – most practically – a brochure of new monastic and religious movements in Britain…. If this book does what it could then we’ll need a second edition for all the ‘new’ New Monasticisms that subsequently appear.

Keith’s comments about my style of writing reflect the fact that I am in essence a tabloid hack – and when it came to being taught to write, it was drummed into me long and hard… ‘make it easy enough for a Sun reader, and not off putting to a Telegraph reader, and most importantly, get every cough and spit down boy, every cough and spit.’

Anyway, if you write reviews for a print or online publication (blogs included) and you want a review copy – let me know. And if you are somebody who likes the book – then please do tell other people, and leave a review somewhere.

Books books books

Although Totally Devoted has now hit the streets – it seems that a few people have had trouble with their Amazon orders – this seems to have been caused either by Amazon not registering the book properly on their system, or else its because they didnt order enough, and they have sold out already. I’d like to believe it is the latter, but its probably the former.

I’m now gagging to write another book, have been for ages, there’s a few ideas which I’ve put out there which I think would make great books. Trouble is I’m now waiting for the publishers to gauge reaction to this one – if the general consensus is that it’s flipping hopeless, then I’m not likely to get another contract, if on the other hand it wins a nobel prize, I probably shall write again.

Anyhow, I’ll let you know how and if things move along… in the meantime I hope those of you with unfulfilled Amazon orders don’t have to wait too long!

Typealizer

I just love this typealizer website that I read about on Ben Edson’s blog – it’s a place where you can ‘find out’ the personality type of the writer of any particular blog – try it and see what I mean.

Actually, I come out as a ‘Doer’ – which I am. ‘Active and playful’, yes, keen on starting things rather than finishing them, well yes ok – actually it’s not a hugely far from the mark basic sketch of my nature, which is tremendously entertaining for me.

ESTP – The Doers

The active and playful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.

Interesting too that I typelized a few of the people whose blogs I read regularly, and guess what, none of them are doers. They are all thinkers or creatives or some such.
Actually – hold the front page, I now realise that this is a Myers Briggs thing, sorry, I’m a bit slower than my personality typing would indicate. All very interesting. Basically the upshot of all this is – the way I write my blog suggests that I’m a doer. Well, I suspect that may be right.

Totally Devoted

The book that has been known until now as ‘New Monasticism UK’ by Simon Cross, shall henceforth be known as: Totally Devoted – the challenge of new monasticism.

To be honest this late change of titles has come as a bit of a shock to me – stuck in my ways? Moi? But I can cope, just about. Actually, as I use quite a few pop culture references here and there in the book, as chapter headings and so on, it’s kind of appropriate that the title is also a song title.

And apparently its much less off putting than the old title too, which means obviously that it will soar to the top of the best-seller list, and I shall be pursued by publishers, and never have to do an honest days work again. Ahem.

Anyway, I’m going to be releasing some sample pieces of text to whet your appetite, or pique your interest (got it right this time Keith) over the next few weeks, and when I get a firm release date – when you can get it in actual shops, I’ll let you know.

It’s all rather exciting for me again, I’d more or less forgotten about it for a while, its been so jolly long since I wrote it!

On the cover by the way is a picture of some snow drops which I took when I met up with James Stacey at Little Gidding, in Cambridgeshire. Little Gidding is one of those pivotal places in the whole idea of ‘new monasticism’ – where lots has happened, and a great deal of inspiration has been found. A number of communities which exist today were founded by people who were impressed by ‘the utter sanity’ of a way of life which we could describe as ‘new monastic’.

Here’s what some very kind people have said about the book:

‘Here is another piece of evidence that there is a movement once again hearing the ancient whisper of God to repair the Church which is in ruins.’
Shane Claiborne

‘Celebrating treasures old and new, this book is an invaluable tool for those who want to begin to explore the new monastic lifestyle.’
David Mitchell (Pastor of Woodlands Church Bristol)

‘Simon Cross introduces a beautiful landscape of small communities springing up through the cracks of our world’s broken systems. They sparkle with promise of a hope and future.’
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

‘For those seeking to be effective in mission in our current culture Totally Devoted will be an important piece of the picture.’
Dr Peter Atkins (Fresh Expressions member and church leader)

Ooooof – I didnt even pay them nor nothing.

And by the way, see if you do a search on Amazon for ‘Simon Cross’ – and you find a book called ‘Mediating Madness: Mental Distress and Cultural Representation’ – that wasnt me that wrote it. It’s way too clever to have been me. There are some very high standard Simon Crosses knocking about you know.