Paul Burgin was born in Bolton, Lancs, in 1975. Educated at Knights Templar School in Baldock, Herts, he got a degree in Media Practices at Luton University (now the University of Bedfordshire). He is currently training for the lay ministry in the Methodist Church and works as a Supervisor at a bookshop in rural Cambridgeshire. Paul blogs at Mars Hill.
Why do you blog? > A good question. Initally to help in any future election campaign I might get involved with, but I think it's become more than that. Basically I like to share my opinions to a wider audience and if I have a good and viable opinion and it has helped influence someone, then that is no bad thing.
What has been your best blogging experience? > There have been a number of them, but when I get feedback where it's made people think, then those are my favourite moments in blogging.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Dealing with persistent trolls. In the past now (hopefully).
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Keep it up, be persistent, and talk on things that interest people in general. Oh, and try and be varied where possible.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > C.S. Lewis and Gandhi among others.
What are you reading at the moment? > Soul Survivor by Philip Yancey. It was how he came away from the Christian faith, or rather hung on by his fingernails, and he writes about the Christian and non-Christian figures in past and contemporary history who helped lead him back through their writings.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
What is your favourite poem? > That's tough, especially as I have a soft spot for Sir John Betejeman's work, but 'No Man Is An Island' by John Donne is good.
What is your favourite movie? > Another tough one, but it's a toss-up between Gandhi, Forrest Gump and A Bridge Too Far.
What is your favourite song? > 'Isn't She Lovely' by Stevie Wonder.
Who is your favourite composer? > John Barry.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > I was once against an elected House of Lords, based on the 'If it ain't broke' view, but now I think an elected chamber is important to our democratic process. I was also, when I became a Christian, against women priests. I argued against it, citing St Paul's letters, but thankfully can argue for it, not just from the fantastic work women priests do, or indeed the moral rightness of the cause, but also from reading the Gospels.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Charles Colson's Kingdoms in Conflict has given me strong views about faith and politics. I strongly disagree with ordained ministers seeking elected office, and I can just about pin my reasons on reading that book.
Who are your political heroes? > William Wilberforce, William Gladstone, Sir Winston Churchill, Hugh Gaitskell, Denis Healey, Tony Crosland, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, David Miliband, and Barack Obama.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > Keynesian orthodoxy, although not perfect and with a couple of obvious flaws, has always appealed to me. Also John F. Kennedy's 'Ask not...' piece in his Inaugural speech describes my political beliefs in a nutshell.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > I think it's more attitudes than policies that need changing, but if anything I'd put a stop to the deregulation of the media.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > Was it ever perfect? I think each era has its best and worst. We have so much wisdom compared to other eras, but what have we lost in the process?
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > I once went out with a Lib Dem, but if you mean hard-line US Republican or Communist, then no. As it is, my girlfriend is a fellow Labour activist.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Being able to love.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Arrogance and anger when channelled towards being obnoxious.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > If it would save someone's life.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > I don't like obnoxious people, in that I find it difficult to be polite about them and to them. But, hey, that's changing and I'm a lot better about it than I was.
What would you call your autobiography? > Something like Memories of My Past, I suppose.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Oxfordshire. If abroad, Ireland or Canada.
What would your ideal holiday be? > South of France.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Blogging, tweeting, and writing my novel. When not meeting my lovely girlfriend or seeing friends.
What is your most treasured possession? > A portrait of Charles I going to his execution. It was left to me by my grandparents.
[A list of all the normblog profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]