Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Fathered to be warriors?

Never mind the title, but I'm going through a book by John Eldredge (Fathered by God) in order to lead the bible study Sat morning. It's interesting how things get drawn together, but I think I see another reason why women should not be in church government as a general principle.

It's all to do with the heart, and as both young and older men, we tend to give our hearts to our leaders. Men generally draw the hearts of other men out and up, if they're good. Women do not handle men's hearts like that, and will generally (often unintentionally) crush them instead.

This isn't intended as a poke at anyone, but I've known male and female leadership within and without the church. And if we respond to the call of God then He won't reject us. At the same time, I have to see women in positions of government as being against basic scriptural principles and human nature, and it's nothing to do with equality or otherwise. However for our part, we men have not treated women as we ought - it's FAR from one sided in it's harmfulness.

Just thoughts.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Love wins - and so does Rob Bell's publisher.

However regardless of that, here is a careful and balanced review of the book, from the Evangelical Alliance. If any of you have bought it then I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Monday, 28 March 2011

I had an interesting 'discussion' about faith yesterday.

It started in all innocence, and I'm not sure we disagreed in what we really meant.

It came from a song that was sung at what we believed was going to be a time of revival. But the revival didn't happen, and we've heard so many messages of a similar nature at various times that Chris and I now reject them unless there is a good reason to believe they are true. How does one know if a prophet is telling what God has given or is speaking out of his own will? You get the picture.

My point is that faith needs to have a Hebrews 11 result. You don't get the result *before* the faith, but the faith should be accompanied sooner or later by the result.

One doesn't always see the result in one's own lifetime, but if I hear someone say 'today is the day' then today had, in fact, better be THE day.

I take issue with the idea that faith is hoping for something that we won't see in this life. It's almost funny:

Heb 11 v29: By faith the people passed through the Red Sea in the spiritual realms; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

Heb 11 v30: By faith the walls of Jericho fell in the spiritual realms, after the army had marched around them for seven days.

I could change quite a lot to make them funny, but the point is obvious. If faith doesn't result in a real change to a real outcome then what use is it? In one sense, salvation is easy to believe for, because the colossal up-front change doesn't have to happen now, and the gradual change as we slowly become a little less nasty and a little more like Jesus is progressive. But receiving your dead back isn't progressive - it's very immediate and right here, right now. Not being eaten by lions isn't something that gradually develops in your life or takes place in the heavenlies.

I know this is a slightly perverse way of looking at things, but I'm sick of hearing about the spirit-man this and the heavenlies that without seeing that faith re-shaping the real world. Either faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see, or it's just safe, wishful thinking about stuff that's safely 'out there, somewhere' that doesn't have to become real.

Sat here feeling miserable.

Had a friend come over, and they've been telling me all sorts of bad things they've experienced at the hands of other good friends. Life was so much easier when everything was black & white and one either completely supported one side or another.

But life isn't like that. People do things from what seems to them, the best of motives, yet from another standpoint they seem to be crapping all over someone else. And sometimes people are insecure, threatened, detached or apparently aloof.

I know that when we moved from the last church to this we very definitely felt we knew 'the right way' to do things, and at times were not at all nice or subtle about it. And the irony is that we probably did, to a degree, and didn't know how to reign that all back in. But the problem is a little bit like working with an ugly person. You can look at them and say "my goodness, did you realise that you're so ugly" or you can get in there and work with them and learn to appreciate the good bits, maybe later suggesting they start washing their hair and stop wearing lime green and orange at the same time. We're still learning, but I need to see things humorously sometimes or I'll start to feel down about it.

But I wonder if this is what they (the first friend) has been affected by, a little. That and the way that we have a natural mis-trust of what falls outside our experience or our control. We're all so darn difficult, self-reliant, insecure and trying to live up to the standard that we know we should, yet failing and carrying the guilt that goes with that too. The more I look at most church leaders too, the more I realise than many of them simply aren't fit for the job, and certainly aren't the ones we'd have chosen. It seems to me that God is always looking for those workers who will come when He calls, and when they stand up to come He doesn't reject them, even though they're flawed.

And I'm still trying to work out what this means for me.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Another boring computer post

I've moved to Firefox 4.

It's fast, better looking than Safari, more customisable than Chrome.

Seems OK then.

Monday, 21 March 2011

This really makes me sad.

Another article from Aunty Beeb.

But the craziest, saddest thing is the chap at the end who says:

""I disagree with it, but at the end of the day it's just what happens, like. You can't do anything about it. You're just here to have fun, and do things you won't get away with back home." "

He doesn't seem to be able to see that he (and others like him) are the specific cause of the problem. A bit like using drugs recreationally and being shocked that the money spent supports crime and violence.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

A Christian manifesto IV: the finish.

Well, I've read through it all, *think* I understand it, and am trying to digest it.

Schaeffer is undoubtedly correct about some things. As an example, the arbitrary creation of law based on society rather than a higher authority is something that I've known instinctively was wrong.

But underlying this manifesto are a number of issues that I'm not at all sure are either right or good. One of these is a justification of civil disobedience up to the point of the use of force of arms against an 'illegitimate' government (i.e. one that does not base itself on the 10 commandments) although it treads carefully around this issue. Another is the assumption that a society that does base it's legal structure around the 10 Cs will provide freedom, when in fact I'd be much more concerned about it providing a modern form of Judeo-Christian sharia law.

He uses a historical perspective in part to justify this stance: protestants in europe who raised arms survived and those that did not were wiped out. However the picture is much less clear in my opinion than it is painted, because those protestants were often fighting the armed forces of a 'mother church' who saw them as the rebels, breaking 'God's order'. While to a degree the church was also controlling the government (therefore by his American standards out of place) it was still very much one line of theology against another, and not the godly against the godless. The founding of the United States is portrayed as being righteous, but I have very serious doubts about either the righteousness of it's founding, or the 'freedom' that the constitution produced. Quite the opposite in fact - the US seems to have been a centre of hardship, greed and oppression toward minority groups until the humanists were thoroughly entrenched in the system, undermining it's 'Christian' values. Racial segregation was given a 'theological' justification!

As I said, I'm trying to digest it.

The problem is STILL the one I mentioned much earlier on - that having these rules or those rules doesn't fix man's natural inhumanity to man. We don't segregate blacks or imprison gays any more, but instead we'll quietly kill millions of babies every year in abortion. We don't lock away and hide single mums now (as the Swiss were doing until the start of the 1980s!) but sex outside marriage and even homo-sex is now entirely socially acceptable and normal - even expected. We've just exchanged one set of screwed up values for another set.

There's one more observation that is interesting, and I think Schaeffer is right about.

When a set of absolute rules are replaced with arbitrary ones and the basis of thought behind government is that we are here by chance and evolution then government will change from righteous authority to oppressive autocracy. With the surge in terrorism of the last decade we have seen an erosion of freedoms in both the UK and US. Some of this loss is reasonable and some is not, yet it has all been brought in under the guise of protecting the public in the face of the present threat. I applaud the reduction in the time period a 'terror suspect' may be held without charge, recently brought about by the present coalition government, but there have been many such laws enacted by the outgoing labour government (a government with humanism at it's heart, even if it had Christian roots). I wonder if there will be a reluctance to rescind many more such laws, and if we are witnessing an 'authority creep' of government power.

Guess in 20 years time we'll see.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Secret cinema

I've just found out about Secret Cinema.

Basically you don't know what you're going to see, but are required to turn up dressed in a manner appropriate costume (guidelines given by email) and are primed to watch by actors and surroundings being created to match the film. See the Ribbed Magazine review.

Maybe this is the antedote to the DVD age.

Y'know the 'footsteps' poem?

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Just tried Gnome 3 desktop

It's in beta, but the demo I downloaded *looked8 really nice.

Since it's in beta it can be forgiven for not actually working properly, but if this represents what they'll launch then it'll be a very serious competitor for KDE.

In other news, openSUSE 11.4 has just been released to very favourable reviews and user comments. I've downloaded the full install already, but since Sabayon is running so nicely right now, I've no incentive to change yet (apart from still not being able to print grrrr). Because Sabayon is continuously updated, even though 11.4 comes with all the latest stuff, there's nothing I need that is more recent there.

Sometime though, I just wonder whether life would be so much simpler (and less exciting) with XP.

Thinking about.....

.....going to India.

We'll have to wait & see, but through Expedia it's incredibly cheap.

LED kitchen lights

Are now possible - but not very good, although MUCH better than budget compact fluorescent spots. I guess the best of the new Cree and Seoul LED units haven't made it through to mass manufacture yet, and these things are obviously not very efficient from the sheer amount of heat they generate compared to the high efficiency units.

The other issues - poor lenses and colour temperature - could do with some more work as well. An incandescent spot light has a bright single point of light, and is focussed by collecting the light in a reflector, which helps provide a softer, more diffuse beam because the light is directed from a wide area. An LED produces light from a flat surface with a spread of around 120 degrees, and is usually focussed with a lens. This produces a hot spot instead of a smoothly distributed beam, and also results in hard shadows. In addition, LEDs still tend toward a blue-white light with a colour temperature around 5000K or higher, rather than the warmer light from an incandescent unit at around 2500K to 3000K. These 2 characteristics combine to make the lighting harsh.

Warmer colour temperature light units are available - we have a 3W Philips unit that starts off with a pinkish colour until the unit has warmed up and the colour caste diminishes. But that's not *quite* bright enough, and was horribly expensive.

A week ago I bought some of these, and although they're bright enough, they have all the faults I listed above. The hot-spot issue can be dealt with by removing the plastic lens, but the light then spreads a little too far. Next up is to create some better diffusers using photographic warm-up filters (I should have some laying around, somewhere) and maybe extend the reflector outward to reduce the spread and improve focussing.

It was tempting to return them as simply not very good, but I'd rather make them work (and save a lot of electricity - 6W instead of 50W per bulb) and also reduce the number of bulbs we have to replace. Because the supply here is unstable, continual voltage surges cause the halogen bulbs to fail quickly. We have probably replaced about 15 bulbs over the last 12 months, which is enough to pay for the 4 LED units we just bought. That gives us quite an incentive to make these things work.

Incidentally there are a LOT of different bulb replacements available - some for as little as £5 on ebay, some as much as £28, and all of variable effectiveness. The Jobs made up of lots of tiny LEDs really aren't worth a wet slap, other than for 'decor' lighting.

Next month I'm off to Germany

It's a one-day business trip - the gate closes at 5.40am on the way out!

But it's got me wanting to travel in Europe again, and looking up the location in google maps made me start checking out how long it would take to drive from Calais to Stockholm (that's a LONG way) Calais to Amsterdam (about 4 hours) and various other possibilities.

Watch out Europe - there's a chance we may come calling again soon.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Survived preaching today.

Well, no-one visibly fell asleep anyway.

I was talking about the nature of God, how He's one God and yet Jesus, Holy Spirit and the Father at the same time.

Ian B has large pink & hairy hands (and will probably read this some time).


Sunday, 6 March 2011

A Christian manifesto III : the peace.

OK - made it through to the end of chapter 1!

If this blog were an essay for submission, investigating the book then I'd have blown my marks by now. However as it's just a place to record my thoughts and feelings as I work through things then it's all right!

Schaeffer's description of the source of the basis for law goes back beyond Christ to the original mosaic law. On the one hand this is good, because (as he explains later) it provides a basis for law that is greater than a government or a king (lex rex for you latin students) while providing inalienable rights for humanity. However the downside is, as I noted below, that while the law is good, it brings death to sinners, and on that basis it will always fail to create a peaceful and just society - a point that he has not looked at so far.

This sounds pretty poor (and it is) but he then contrasts this with the humanist system, where man is the centre and plumb line against which everything is to be judged, and one sees anarchy and oppression as the natural ultimate end. He also exposed liberal theology for humanism given a theological explanation, and how, when it is all boiled away it comes down to basic humanism instead of a God-centred theology. This is where I've found my peace so far - it reflects what I always 'knew' but never really found the words for.

That's enough for now. I'm hoping I'll find a way that will help bring life, rather than a justification for a law that, while stabilising society, still only brings condemnation & death in the end.

Friday, 4 March 2011

A Christian manifesto II : the conflict.

I have a feeling this is going to be hard work.

The problem I'm having is that my perception of history and law in Northern Europe (he includes north America) differs from Schaeffer's. It's VERY early days in the book yet, but I look back at the manner in which laws have been applied and people have actually *behaved* while living under those laws, and have made the judgement that while the people may have had a memory of Christianity (his expression) and the laws been based in church thinking, the times were evil and the manner in which society function under those laws was as fallen and evil as anything today. His view appears to be that society was a better place because it had laws based on Christianity, and that because people had at least a remembrance of Christian things, society was less bad.

There's a side of me that wishes it were so simple. Christian laws = good, humanistic laws = bad.

It's almost true, except that some of those laws, and particularly the manner in which they were applied was frequently callous, brutal, cruel and destructive.

The thing is, ordinary citizens were not typically kind, generous, well balanced individuals, but instead were typical of people today. Possibly the biggest difference is that people these days are more open & less repressive, more aware of their own value and less inclined toward conformity, and particularly more open and comfortable with sexuality instead of being inclined to discretion and secrecy.

It's got me working back into my own thinking "have I become liberal?", but the answer is a definite NO! However I am a product of post-WWII freedoms and social patterns, and have been shaped by them whether I have embraced or rejected them. I have to keep going back to the bible to attempt to find a baseline, but scripture needs careful interpretation, to ensure I don't spin it to my own world view. Schaeffer was a product of an earlier, very different age, and inevitably it will have shaped his thinking. That doesn't mean that either of us are wrong, but we may be coming at things from very different perspectives.

It's a little Rumsfeldian: there are things I know I don't know and things I don't know I don't know etc.

There is a cop out clause, but it's one I'm reluctant to use: life by the Spirit or death through the law. Looking back at those earlier times with a more 'christian' society I can see that the law, while of itself good, brought death to the society that could not live by the spirit. In this respect I can see that the humanism that is trying to colour every shade of modern life is an attempt to cheat death and pretend that everything is good. To borrow a quote found by a friend (Phil Loseth) on facebook:

Post-modern theology:
"A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross”
H. Richard Niebuhr

So society tries to deny the sin by hiding the law. Of course it won't help but having a good law won't save them either. The only way society will live is if they do it by the Holy Spirit, and how will they do that etc etc.

This post was NEVER meant to be this long!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

OK learned peoples - a question.

As we see Jesus - He is the Son of God to humanity, but to God, God.

Any thoughts/comments?