Monday, 28 December 2009

The Wise Men

Step softly, under snow or rain,
To find the place where men can pray;
The way is all so very plain
That we may lose the way.

Oh, we have learnt to peer and pore
On tortured puzzles from our youth,
We know all the labyrinthine lore,
We are the three wise men of yore,
And we know all things but truth.

We have gone round and round the hill
And lost the wood among the trees,
And learnt long names for every ill,
And serve the made gods, naming still
The furies the Eumenides.

The gods of violence took the veil
Of vision and philosophy,
The Serpent that brought all men bale,
He bites his own accursed tail,
And calls himself Eternity.

Go humbly ... it has hailed and snowed...
With voices low and lanterns lit;
So very simple is the road,
That we may stray from it.

The world grows terrible and white,
And blinding white the breaking day;
We walk bewildered in the light,
For something is too large for sight,
And something much too plain to say.

The Child that was ere worlds begun
(... We need but walk a little way,
We need but see a latch undone...)
The Child that played with moon and sun
Is playing with a little hay.

The house from which the heavens are fed,
The old strange house that is our own,
Where trick of words are never said,
And Mercy is as plain as bread,
And Honour is as hard as stone.

Go humbly, humble are the skies,
And low and large and fierce the Star;
So very near the Manger lies
That we may travel far.

Hark! Laughter like a lion wakes
To roar to the resounding plain.
And the whole heaven shouts and shakes,
For God Himself is born again,
And we are little children walking
Through the snow and rain.

The Wise Men (GK Chesterton)

Sunday, 20 December 2009

nothing is impossible


Well done eXcel.
Everyone had their hand in this production and 2 weeks work has come together nicely (I think).

Love stoops

For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God entered our world. In one sense, indeed, He was not far from it before, for no part of creation had ever been without Him Who, while ever abiding in union with the Father, yet fills all things that are. But now He entered the world in a new way, stooping to our level in His love and Self-revealing to us. He saw the reasonable race, the race of men that, like Himself, expressed the Father's Mind, wasting out of existence, and death reigning over all in corruption. He saw that corruption held us all the closer, because it was the penalty for the Transgression; He saw, too, how unthinkable it would be for the law to be repealed before it was fulfilled. He saw how unseemly it was that the very things of which He Himself was the Artificer should be disappearing. He saw how the surpassing wickedness of men was mounting up against them; He saw also their universal liability to death. All this He saw and, pitying our race, moved with compassion for our limitation, unable to endure that death should have the mastery, rather than that His creatures should perish and the work of His Father for us men come to nought, He took to Himself a body, a human body even as our own. (On the Incarnation 1.8, p33-34)

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

If you think you have seen it all

We are wondering what to do for our 'end of term' House Group tomorrow night. We've got mulled wine, and thanks to Amanda, a non-alc version too. We'll have some food.
But what to do that is both fun and edifying?


Then I see this - the Rich Daddy God Table Game - and I know my search is over. All I need to do is source it now. I'm just not sure that Amazon will help me.

;)

HT: Mandy Curley via Facebook

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Ordinary faith

The truth is that faith often feels like the very ordinary process of dragging one foot in front of the other because we are conscious of God. (Depression - A Stubborn Darkness by Welch, p 31)

Seeing the problem clearly is the start

Was He (God) to demand repentance from men for their transgression? You might say that that was worthy of God, and argue that, as through the Transgression they became subjest to corruption, so through repentance they might turn to incorruption again. But repentance would not guard the Divine consistency, for, if death did not hold dominion over men, God would still remain untrue. Nor does repentance recall men from what is according to their nature; all that it does is cease them from sinning. (On the Incarnation, p33)

Friday, 11 December 2009

Makes me want to go out and buy an ukulele!


exposed


Researchers (at a uni in the US) were conducting a study comparing the views of men in their 20s who had never been exposed to pornography with regular users.
But their project stumbled at the first hurdle when they failed to find a single man who had not been seen it.

“We started our research seeking men in their 20s who had never consumed pornography,” said Professor Simon Louis Lajeunesse. “We couldn’t find any."
James Taylor links here to some free resources to consider using as we battle together for purity.

No silver bullets

Depression is a form of suffering that can't be reduced to one universal cause. This means that family and friends can't rush in with THE answer.

Like most forms of suffering, it feels private and isolated.

When your emotions feel muted or always low, when you are unable to experience highs and lows you once did, the important questions is, 'Where do you turn - or, to whom do you turn - when you are depressed?'

Suffering is not a journey we should take alone. There are too many places where we are tempted to give up and too many times we can't see clearly.

(from Ch 1 of Depression - A Stubborn Darkness by Welch)

Incarnate for us

You must understand why it is that the Word of the Father, so great and so high, has been made manifest in bodily form. He has not assumed a body as proper to His own nature, far from it, for as the Word he is without body. He has been manifested in a human body for this reason only, out of the love and goodness of His Father, for the salvation of men, (On the Incarnation, 1.1, p26)

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Delivered


Strength in weakness

A prayer of St Patrick which I only was drawn to this week.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through the confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the Judgment Day.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.
I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me

From snares of demons,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

Why?

So, on the path ahead, look for a partnership between whys and how tos. When the why questions appear, they will be religious - as all why questions are. They will be about God. Depression, of course, does that - it takes you back to the basic questions of life. Ignore them to focus on the how questions and you might find a temporary shortcut to mental relief, but your heart will still be famished. (Depression - A Stubborn Darkness, Welch, p14)

We can't pay ourselves more than we earn (Jim Hacker!)

Notes on Chapter 4 of 'Economics in One Lesson' by Hazlitt
There is no more persistent and influential faith in the world today than the faith in government spending. Everywhere government spending is presented as a panecea for all our economic ills.

Everything we get, outside of the free gifts of nature, must in some way be paid for.
So, it follows that every pound of government spending must be paid for by a pound of taxation (or more if there is interest to pay on loans) {inflation must kick in here somehow, but here at ch 4 we haven't got to that yet}

In this chapter Hazlitt is not addressing the need for public spending, which he upholds for 'essential govenerment functions' (by which he seems to mean, law and order (legislature, police, fire, army/navy/airforce) and roads). He is concerned with the idea that public works are a means of 'providing employment' or adding wealth to the community.

But:

If an (unnecessary) bridge is built in order to create 5000 jobs at a cost of £10 million then the taxpayers have lost at least £10 million.

And they would have (in a complex web of individual transactions) spent that on other things that would have resulted in an extraordinary amount of economic activity and jobs elsewhere. Just we don't get to see that (again ... he is encouraging us to see beyond the 'here and now') ... all we can see is the new bridge and the 5000 jobs.

And that lends power to the argument that government can 'create' jobs and wealth. And that the country would be poorer without them. After all, look at the bridge ( or cheap housing or dam or whatever).

And just think, if these economic dinausaurs and reactionaries and obstructionists had had their way there would be no bridge. They are mere 'theorists' ... but look at this bridge ... it is a really solid economic achievement of THIS government.

So, what is the lesson? We need to train ourselves to see the unbuilt houses, unmade cars, dresses, unsold, ungrown foods etc.
If taxes are taken from individuals and corporations, and spent in one particular section of the country, why should it cause surprise, why should it be regarded as a miracle, if that section becomes comparatively richer? Other sections of the country, we should remember,  are then comparatively poorer.
The thing so great that 'private capital could not have built it' has in fact been built by private capital - the captial that was expropriated in taxes

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Climate Horror Show

Here is the conclusion to a long and quite detailed article giving an overview of where things are at with regard to 'global warming' and 'climate change':

Climate change is a genuine phenomenon, and there is a nontrivial risk of major consequences in the future. Yet the hysteria of the global warming campaigners and their monomaniacal advocacy of absurdly expensive curbs on fossil fuel use have led to a political dead end that will become more apparent with the imminent collapse of the Kyoto-Copenhagen process. I have long expected that 20 or so years from now we will look back on the turn-of-the-millennium climate hysteria in the same way we look back now on the population bomb hysteria of the late 1960s and early 1970s--as a phenomenon whose magnitude and effects were vastly overestimated, and whose proposed solutions were wrongheaded and often genuinely evil (such as the forced sterilizations of thousands of Indian men in the 1970s, much of it funded by the Ford Foundation). Today the climate campaigners want to forcibly sterilize the world's energy supply, and until recently they looked to be within an ace of doing so. But even before Climategate, the campaign was beginning to resemble a Broadway musical that had run too long, with sagging box office and declining enthusiasm from a dwindling audience. Someone needs to break the bad news to the players that it's closing time for the climate horror show.

And this is another very helpful article breaking down the different strands of argument that there are around this issue and evaluating them.

HT: Justin Taylor

This internet thing is amazing


Isn't it incredible that you can pick up a sermon delivered the other side of the Atlantic, in video, only hours* after it is preached? What a blessing!

*correction ... more like days! I misunderstood something there. But still. How would this have transformed Whitefield or Wesley's ministry?!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The Pope from St Albans - I never knew that!


Picture this and let the monsters under your bed be scared!

Thanks to Stu for bringing to my attention this arresting sentence, which he says (and I agree) describes Jesus wonderfully:
a sheep-herding dragon-slayer,
the One who can put all the wild things under His feet.
I think he got it from here (an article well worth a read - especially if you have young boys!).
And it caught my eye especially today, as I had been reading a prayer in The Valley of Vision this morning:

O God of my Exodus,
Great was the joy of Israel's sons,
when Egypt died upon the shore,
Far greater the joy
when the Redeemer's foe lay crushed in the dust.
Great Jesus strides forth as the victor,
conqueror of death, hell, and all opposing might;
He bursts the bands of death,
tramples the powers of darkness down,
and lives forever.

Following the action in prayer


Am I allowed to do this?

Thanks to Pete for putting this before our eyes:

Soft despots love “the fact that the citizens enjoy themselves provided they dream solely of their own enjoyment. It works willingly for their happiness, but it wishes to be the only agent and sole arbiter of that happiness. It provides for their security, foresees and supplies their needs, guides them in their principal affairs, directs their industry, regulates their testaments, divides their inheritances . . . After having taken each individual in this fashion by turns into its powerful hands, and after having kneaded him in accord with its desires, the sovereign extends its arms about the society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of petty regulations — complicated, minute, and uniform — through which even the most original minds and the most vigorous souls know not how to make their way past the crowd and emerge into the light of day. It does not break wills; it softens them, bends them, and directs them; rarely does it force one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one’s acting on one’s own; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it gets in the way: it curtails, it enervates, it extinguishes, it stupifies, and finally it reduces each nation to nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd”


Spend 2 minutes on the Department for Children, Schools and Familes Website and then return to this quote.

Mmmmm.

Or if you can't be bothered doing that, just ask yourself this question: why do we have a Department for Children, Schools and Families?

Monday, 7 December 2009

Not much to wryte home about

Below are some extracts from a very interesting article in the Times today:

"Sir, does spelling matter?"

Picture the scene: It is last period on a Friday, the final showdown of another long, exhausting week at the chalk-face. I am running on fumes and all I can think about is that first coffee after a lie-in on a Saturday morning. The clock seems to be going backwards. My nemesis class is in front of me, the one more than any other on the time-table that looms over me like a dark cloud and wakes me up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. The register reads like a who's-who of school horror stories. And then it happens, the conversation that will surely haunt me all weekend:

Student: "Sir, how do you spell "education" ?

Mr Teacher: "You are twelve years old. I realise that I should help you but giving a constructive answer will force me to acknowledge the question, and my patience can't cope with that today."

Student: "Oh, ok. I know it anyway. It must be e-d-u-k-a-c-j-u-n.
I am reminded of the recent well-publicised comments made by Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy, the man at the helm of the country's largest private employer. He is rightfully concerned by the "woefully low standards in too many schools" and is frustrated that employers such as himself often need to retrain their employees in spelling and arithmetic. His views were immediately echoed by many top business leaders, including Asda's chief operating officer, Andy Clarke, who said: "“No one can deny that Britain has spawned a generation of young people who struggle to read, write or do simple maths. That’s why we’re finding packs of nappies discarded in the booze aisle, as the last few pounds are spent on alcohol rather than childcare.” Their comments were met with denials, howls of derision and claims of elitism from some quarters. When I heard what they had said, I simply nodded my head in knowing approval. This is because they are absolutely spot-on. The permitted standard of general education is at an appallingly low level. A massive percentage of the students I teach struggle on a daily basis with basic literacy and numeracy. Some are unable to communicate properly by any means.
A system that is churning out kids who cannot spell the very thing they ought to be striving for is the true face of schooling in this country. The numbers don't add up and, even if they did, too many of us would struggle to write the answer.


To follow what this teacher says regularly you can visit his blog Mr Teacher.
 
This resonates with our experience here in Tipton, through the work with young people we do at church and through edgehill. Reading a passage from the Bible can be a huge challenge for a number of our group, as can framing even simple prayers, and (though I am hardly one to talk) their handwriting is not much to write home about either. And it scares me.
The frustrating thing is that almost none of our young people lack the ability to do these things - they can memorise verses and in our recent weekend away grasped what the incarnation is, with reference to Arius and Athanasius. So what is going wrong?

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Mary: Magnificent and Marginal

In the Lord's goodness Justin Taylor put me onto this excellent piece by John Piper about Mary. It has encouraged me and extended my thinking about Mary, as I am preparing for preaching on Luke 1:39-56.
Piper is especially helpful in getting us to think about how Scriptures handle her. Minimally is the answer. And yet homed in on Luke Ch 1 as I am at the moment, she is also magnificent! (sorry for the poor pun there)
So far my direction is that she is 'a bumps and all believer' and 'a worries and all worshipper'. And my 'control' on this is the same as Piper's: Luke 8:21.

Incidently, partly inspired by Driscoll on Luke 1, I am using these images to help get us past the artist's impression of Christmas:



They seem more likely than these (!):
 

Monday, 30 November 2009

War, what is it good for?

[I continue to work at my education ... 'Economics in One Lesson' by Henry Hazlitt)
Chapter 3 - The Blessings of Destruction

From my brief brush with the warfare of the 16th & 17th Centuries (not a first hand experience admitedly) I would agree with Hazlitt that often this line is taken in assessing warfare:
They (economics professors ... or we could add, professional historians) tell us how much better off economically we all are in war than in peace. They see 'miracles of production' which it requires a war to achieve. And they see a world made prosperous by an enormous 'accumulated' or 'backed up' demand (p25)
But this is merely the Ch 2 fallacy 'in new clothing and grown fat beyond recognition'.

It also is a view that confuses need and demand. Need is not demand. Because effective economic demand requires not merely need but corresponding purchasing power. Ask the average 16 year old about that one!

And purchasing power is NOT JUST MONEY. Printing off the readies just reduces their value ... and that falling value can be measured in the rising prices of commodities.

This chapter includes a great line that summarises the chapter nicely:
No man burns down his own house on the theory that the need to rebuild it will stimulate his energies. (p27)
Why would we even begin to think this would be the right way to evaluate the great wars and the economic whirlpools & eddies surrounding them?
Many of the most frequent fallacies in economic reasoning come from the propensity, to think in terms of an abstraction - the collectivity, the 'nation' - and to forget or ignore the individuals who make it up and give it meaning. No one could think that the destruction of war was an economic advantage who began by thinking first of all of the people whose property was destroyed.
Presumably we could add lives into that too.

War destroys accumulated capital.

His conclusion:
There may be, it is true, offsetting factors. Technological discoveries and advances during a war may, for example, increase individual or national productivity at this point or that, and there may eventually be a net increase in overall productivity. ... But such complications should not divert us from recognizing the basic truth that the wanton destruction of anything of real value is always a net loss, a misfortune, or a disaster, and whatever the offsetting considerations in a particular instance, can never be, on net balance, a boon or a blessing.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Friday, 27 November 2009

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Strange that we should need to petition for something as basic as this!!

But we do:

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Home-ed-families/

'We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to
uphold that parents have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of their child,
to not undermine parents legitimately fulfilling their fundamental duties,
and to assume that the best interests of their child is the basic concern of parents unless there is specific evidence to the contrary.'

HT: Amanda Robbie

It all makes work for the working man to do?

Highlights from Chapter 2 (Economics in One Lesson by Hazlitt)

Fallacy: when things break/get used up this is good for the economy

Example: a flood takes out much of the shops in some towns in Cumbria. Far from being a disaster, this is good. The shop owners pay the repair men & resuppliers of their shops, who then in turn give business to a range of other people both in their professional and private capacities. Whether this costs £20000 or £200 million...that money is providing employment and 'stimulation' to the economy in 'ever-widening' circles.

Half truth: Yes, the damage does bring business to the repair men and others. Considering it from an economic stand point alone, they will be no more unhappy to learn of the 'disaster' as an undertaker would be news of a death.

Full truth: But the shopkeepers are out by £20000 or £200 million* that they would otherwise have spent on the expansion of their business into a new town or discounts that encourage more business and bring greater quality of life to those around them, or in charitable donations or in staff wage increases or in any number of other ways personally - that new conservatory or boat!
So instead of still having their stock and nice shops and these other things, they now just have their stock and nice shops.
The community (local, national or global) is actually poorer than it was before - though there has been a lot of activity.

In short the repairman's business is gained at the expense of the shopkeeper (or the insurance company). No 'new' employment' or 'growth' in the economy has taken place.

As we see builders and goods 'flooding' Cumbria in the months ahead it will be tempting to think that this is an increase in business. And of course it will be for the builders and suppliers of those shops. But because the other 'potentials' (the expansion of business, the discounts, the purchases made) are 'invisible' - they don't happen - it is all too easy to forget them and leave them out of the equation. The things that don't happen or are not made so often don't feature in our analysis of a situation.

*Ok, they might be insured. So this is not so straightforward. Yet, still wealth has been destroyed somewhere line. And though there is a delay, the cost will be experienced in higher insurance premiums for themselves and others over time and/or that insurance company not being able to do what it would have with the money. So the 'problem' is just moved back/up a level.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

right here, right now?

Chapter 1 Highlights: 

We can get things wrong at every turn in economics because :

#  we all see things from our perspective or our groups perspective ... or from the perspective of one interest group.
So some way of doing things might be good for one group (very directly) but at the expense of other groups (indirectly) or vice versa, might be very damaging for one group very directly but benefit all other groups indirectly. The interest group most directly affected will (often) argue persistently and plausibly that things should be seen their way.


# we tend to only see the immediate effects of a given policy or set of actions (whether in terms of the short term or the effects on one group most directly affected). The long term affects easily get ignored.

But of course...
to consider all the chief effects of a proposed course on everybody often requires a long, complicated, and dull chain of reasoning (p18)
...and lets be honest, most of us would rather open the can rather than brew the beer, or buy off the peg rather than knit the jumper. I realise there may be some beer brewing knitting enthusiasts who read this - you'll have to work with me on this one!
Half or quarter truths are easier to swallow than the whole.

Monday, 23 November 2009

'new atheism'


incarnation

We got back from our youthgroup weekend away last night.


Today has been clear up day and keeping going when exhausted day!

But it was a great, great weekend.
Christmas Eve on Friday, Christmas Day on Saturday and Boxing Day on Sunday.
Pass the parcel, musical chairs, stockings and presents, turkey, 'pigs with blankets', beef, yorkshire pud, crackers...the works!!
I can't wait now to have the Christmas tree up again now we are back!

Mystery from Dan Stevers on Vimeo.

It was thrilling to have clear talks and good bible studies on John 1 (summarised well in the above video), Luke 15 (the lost sheep) and Philippians 2 as we focused on the 'what?', 'why?' and 'so what?' of the incarnation.
I think that all the eXcellers who came would now be able to say what 'incarnation' means and why it is such a big deal.
Would that we all praised Jesus as we should (which must include turning from our sins and to him continually ...) and that we imitated him in the whole of our lives... from the inside out!

That last aspect was the big challenge that the weekend threw up for us all - serving each others needs gladly and humbly. One of the group proved an exceptional encouragement on this front. But as I dealt with the 'other 99' (!) my own selfish, proud, unloving, thankless, moaning heart came into the spotlight of God's word and providential circumstance! And for all that ongoing 'seeking me out' and bringing me back, I am very grateful to God.

Thanks too go to:
  • John Young for speaking and modelling sacrificial service as he slept on the floor in Church House and spent Saturday afternoon just watching us all bowl!
  • Denise and Jane for being truly eXcellent partners in the leadership of eXcel
  • Hilary for backing Jane up in care for Simeon and Trev & Maz in the kitchen
  • Trev & Maz who gave their all (including sleeping next to a freezer) to feed us amazingly
  • Keith & Angela for 'popping in' (1 1/2 hr drive each way to do so!) and giving us encouragement on Christmas Day
  • Jacqui for her great hospitality
  • St Botolph's for use of Church House
  • the rustbucket for getting us there and back (cracked indicator light and all ... see below)


My apologies to ASDA whose petrol station I rendered inactive for a short period on Friday night. Ooops.

grit in the snow


silent night



A Rapid Change in the Climate

Today Christopher Booker has written an article on a new book by Christopher Booker [The Real Global Warming Disaster: Is The Obsession With 'Climate Change' Turning Out To Be The Most Costly Scientific Blunder In History?]. Ok, so the guy is going to talk this up then! And the 'alarmism/conspiracy theories' cuts both ways. But even having said all that, again, here are some very salient points.

First he says this:

We all know the basic thesis: that thanks to mankind burning fossil fuels, the world's temperatures are hurtling upwards, and that unless the most drastic action is taken, we can look forward to an unprecedented global catastrophe - droughts, hurricanes, killer heatwaves, melting icecaps, sea levels rising to the point where many of the world's major cities are submerged.
All this is what has been predicted by the expensive computer models relied on by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC), which the politicians tell us we must trust as the ultimate source of authority on the future of the world's climate.

On every side we are told that 'the science is settled', that '2,500 of the world's top climate scientists' agree that these terrifying predictions will all come true unless we take the most drastic action. So carried away have they all been by this belief that scarcely a single politician dares question it.

Yet the oddest thing which has become increasingly evident in the past year or two is the fact that almost none of these things is happening, certainly not in the way those computer models have been predicting. Although carbon dioxide levels have continued to increase, temperatures have not been rising in the way the computer models all agree they should have done.
In the past decade, the overall trend of temperatures has been not upwards, but down.

The hard evidence tells us that there have actually been fewer major droughts, hurricanes and heatwaves in recent years than there were in earlier decades


And second, this is not just a intra-science debate, but has cash value to you and I. And the arguments are powerful too; they involve some people suddenly being enabled to wield a lot of power:

exactly a year ago, Parliament passed, virtually unopposed, what was far and away the most expensive new law ever put before it. On the Government's own figures, the Climate Change Act is going to cost Britain £18 billion a year - that's £720 for every household in the country - every year from now until 2050.
Read his article here.

Monday, 16 November 2009

mad as hatters

These are around 220 hats - knitted by, amongst others, Mum and Susie (they lay claim to about 20 of them):

They came out of here:


A knitted smoothie carton:




It was all in aid of this (details here):

You can find out the whole story here.

History in the Making


The warm up

The preface
Ok, so this book is not going to be a tour de force of lots of economists and their theories (phew!) but a more general look at economic realities, principles and fallacies (some of which are 'so prevalent that they have almost become a new orthodoxy' p9).

Again, I am encouraged to dive in:
'I have tried to write this book as simply and with as much freedom from technicalities as is consistent with reasonable accuracy, so that it can be fully understood by the reader with no previous acquaintance with economics.' (p12)

Euroeconomics


Thursday, 12 November 2009

The work of a few, supported by many others



The Christian Institute

The Government has today accepted Lord Waddington’s free speech clause which underlines the fact that criticising homosexual conduct is not, in itself, a crime. See here for more detail.

Covering Economics in One Lesson


The back cover states:
'I know of no other modern book from which the intelligent layman can learn so much about the basic truths of economics in so short a time' F.A. Hayek
I am not entirely sure I qualify here, but I certainly take heart that this book might be accessible to me.

The first edition appeared in 1946 and this is the 1978 edition.
Will I find it all wildly out of date?

Given the Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister episodes Jane and I have recently been re-watching, I doubt it! But we shall see.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

4 out of 10

Apart from the crass beginning ('We know more about Herod than we do about Jesus.'), which almost put me off this site (!), and  a startling absence of the light of Biblical evidence* this gives a good insight into the politics surrounding Herod the Great’s life & work. 

*in setting out helpfully that Herod was an outsider to the Jewish nation the site chooses only to speak of him being of Arab and Idumean descent. Yet, Idumean (Latin) = Edomite (Hebrew) = Udumi (Assyrian). Which opens a big can of worms biblically speaking! Even wikipedia traces this!

And unless I just missed it there is a startling omission – any mention of Herod’s rebuilding of the 2nd Temple.

Don't all religions lead to God?


Wasn't Jesus just another religious teacher?


Sunday, 8 November 2009

kingdom come



Memory Verse:



Carol of the Week:

O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O Come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, Born the King of angels;

Chorus
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

God of God,
Light of Light,
Lo! he abhors not the Virgin’s womb;
Very God, Begotten not created.
Chorus

Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation;
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, In the highest;
Chorus

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesu, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, Now in flesh appearing.
Chorus

Child, for us sinners
Poor and in the manger,
We would embrace Thee, with love and awe;
Who would not love Thee, Loving us so dearly?
Chorus


Remembrance Day



In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more. Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.  (Isaiah 2:2-5)

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Thursday, 5 November 2009

How many candles?

'I hope I am saved,' says one, 'but I do not know the date of my conversion.' That does not matter at all. It is a pleasant thing for a person to know his birthday; but when persons are not sure of the exact date of their birth, they do not, therefore, infer that they are not alive. If a person does not know when he was converted, that is no proof that he is not converted. The point is, do you trust Jesus Christ? Has that trust made a new man of you? Has your confidence in Christ made you feel that you have been forgiven? Has that made you love God for having forgiven you, and has that love become the mainspring of your being, so that out of love to God you delight to obey him? Then you are a healed man.

(sermon on 'by his stripes we are healed' in Sermons of Comfort and Cheer, Spurgeon, p12)

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Green bins and Gospel

Ben Merkle has written a nice (short) piece showing how dangerous it is for Christians to buy into the whole 'environmental' project: 
For the Christian, the seemingly evenhanded argument looks something like this: global warming is a real threat to creation, a Christian doctrine of creation gives the stron­gest motivation possible for one to be concerned about the creation, thus Christians have a good reason to work with environmentalists in preserving creation, and maybe we can use this as an opportunity to witness to them as we sit on the curb together and sort the clear glass from the colored glass. But this approach misses the point where evangelism needs to begin. In making environmentalism our common cause, we have begun sharing in idolatry rather than con­fronting it.
You can read how he continues here.

He concludes like this:
Any truly Christian response to the Global Warming alarmists must be uncompromising on two points. First, it must be clear that only the Gospel will clean the earth and nothing else will. Men who are in rebellion against the Gos­pel are in rebellion against the earth, no matter what they say to the contrary. These men need the atoning work of Jesus Christ, the only cure. All true renewing of the earth subsequently flows from this cure. Second, the Christian life is a life of gratitude. Global Warming nuts insist on guilt. They insist on guilt because guilt produces a rabid frenzy which has the illusion of progress. But as an enduring moti­vation to work, guilt is nothing to gratitude. We are thank­ful for everything that God has given us. This includes the beauty of God’s creation. And when we look at the natural world with Christian gratitude, we can’t help but want to clean it up.

Luke 1:46-56


Robust and Polite

Christopher Hitchens writes about his recent engagements with 'right wing' Christians (here).


I haven't yet run into an argument that has made me want to change my mind. After all, a believing religious person, however brilliant or however good in debate, is compelled to stick fairly closely to a "script" that is known in advance, and known to me, too. However, I have discovered that the so-called Christian right is much less monolithic, and very much more polite and hospitable, than I would once have thought, or than most liberals believe. I haven't been asked to Bob Jones University yet, but I have been invited to Jerry Falwell's old Liberty University campus in Virginia, even though we haven't yet agreed on the terms.


Wilson isn't one of those evasive Christians who mumble apologetically about how some of the Bible stories are really just "metaphors." He is willing to maintain very staunchly that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and that his sacrifice redeems our state of sin, which in turn is the outcome of our rebellion against God. He doesn't waffle when asked why God allows so much evil and suffering—of course he "allows" it since it is the inescapable state of rebellious sinners. I much prefer this sincerity to the vague and Python-esque witterings of the interfaith and ecumenical groups who barely respect their own traditions and who look upon faith as just another word for community organizing. (Incidentally, just when is President Barack Obama going to decide which church he attends?)
HT: 9 Marks

Not taking cheap shots!


Luke begins by drawing attention to many who had written before him. Many ancient writers begin by criticizing their predecessors. Not Luke. He is out to convey certainty (v4), but he does not disparage others. (p72)

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The malady of maladies

Sin is my malady, my monster, my foe, my viper,
born in my birth,
alive in my life,
strong in my character,
dominating my faculties,
following me as a shadow,
intermingling with my every thought,
my chain that holds me captive in the empire of my soul.

Sinner that I am, why should the sun give me light,
the air supply breath,
the earth bear my tread,
its fruits nourish me,
its creatures subserve my ends?


Yet thy compassions yearn over me,
thy heart hastens to my rescue,
thy love endured my curse,
thy mercy bore my deserved stripes.

(Valley of Vision p 75)

Monday, 2 November 2009

A Wee Cough

Or a week off?
Or both?
But despite some hacking and with the help of large doses of cake/icecream we had a brillant week relaxing just south of Kendal last week.

I really enjoyed reading 'Who Made God?' by Edgar Andrews. The best 'sciency' book I have read concerning science and the Christian faith. I always feel out of my depth in this kind of thing (as a non-scientist), but despite being a very bright scientist he provided a good. unpatronising, range of floatation aids ranging from great illustrations, everyday scenarios and continual reminders about 'woods and trees'! Sometimes those trees can seem so impressive, complex and their white coats gleam just so brightly that I get blinded to the more obvious 'shape' of things.

I'd like to blog some of the book .. as I am still not 100% I can't promise this will be immediate.

That was the 'meaty' book I managed. On the edge of Yorkshire and feeling ropey, what to read? Imagine my delight to find James Herriot on the shelves:

Joy!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

He tells me everything


As the son grows older, and if mother has a hard time maintaining a good relationship with her son through parental discipline, she may attempt to compensate for it through developing an emotional closeness with him. ‘I know he can be a real pill, but we have had some really good talks. I think he is really opening up to me.’ What may actually be happening is the son is learning how to manipulate his mother. In other words, if he tells her how his day at school went and talks with her just a little bit, a great deal of disobedience and disrespect will be overlooked.

Emotional closeness or intimacy which ignores sin is not a sign of better things to come; it is an unmarked package ticking ominously.

(Ch 10 - Future Men)
I think this is a challenge for Dads. We need to back up our wives, to love them and and to work at discipline so that our sons respect Mum and obey her, gladly, first time (knowing as we do first hand the way that guys sin or are tempted to sin in this way from our own sin as young men towards our mums!).

But more than that, it is a huge challenge for single mums who don't have that back up.

Do you know of anything written (book or blog) or any mp3 resouce that is helpful on this one?

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Thought for Half-Term


So do you think we live in a 'Christian' nation?
Should we?  Yes! Jesus is Lord of all.
But do we?

I hope this is a very isolated incident.
The police round us are excellent in all the dealings I have had with them.

But this 'state' who write & enact this kind of clumsy legislation also recruit and pay the teachers too.
Something to think about over half-term!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Luke 1:26-38


Below is a highlight that is wonderful.
Here is a summary: single men - do not overlook a wonderful life marrying a single mother and adopting her child / chidlren.
But only the best men need apply!


This makes me wonder about my ambitions for Simeon.
I wonder what Joseph's Dad was like.
Was he thrilled to be a Grandad THIS WAY?
But he had raised a young man who courageously took on this role the Lord called him to. That is quite something.
I long for Simeon to be a grace filled man of courage. But what 'shape' does that take in my mind?
'Lord may it be to me as you will'