Tuesday, 13 November 2018
As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless military man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper's cemetery in the Nova Scotia back country. As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and because the area was so isolated I couldn't ask anyone for directions.
I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late.
I went to the side of the grave and looked down: the vault lid was already in place. I didn't know what else to do, so I started to play.
The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I've never played before for this homeless man. And as I played "Amazing Grace", the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head was hung low, my heart was full.
As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, "That was beeyooteeful! I never seen anything like that before, and I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty years."
Monday, 12 November 2018
Saturday, 10 November 2018
I could go on. :-(
Misandry appears to have become entirely socially acceptable, and we are the scourge of western society.
Thursday, 8 November 2018
One day Mike says, "Joe, we both loved football all our lives, and we played football on Saturdays together for so many years. Please do me one favour, when you get to Heaven, somehow you must let me know if there's football there."
Joe looks up at Mike from his death bed," Mike, you've been my best friend for many years. If it's at all possible, I'll do this favour for you. Shortly after that, Joe sadly passes on.
At midnight a couple of nights later, Mike is awakened from a sound sleep by a blinding flash of white light and a voice calling out to him, "Mike--Mike."
"Who is it? asks Mike sitting up suddenly. "Who is it?"
"Mike--it's me, Joe."
"You're not Joe. Joe just died!"
"I'm telling you, it's me, Joe," insists the voice."
"Joe! Where are you?"
"In heaven", replies Joe. "I have some really good news and a little bad news."
"Tell me the good news first," says Mike.
"The good news," Joe says," is that there's football in heaven. Better yet, all of our old friends who died before us are here, too. Better than that, we're all young again. Better still, it's always spring time and it never rains or snows. Our wives are there too, and young and pretty as ever! And best of all, we can play football all we want, and we never get tired!!"
That's fantastic," says Mike. "It's beyond my wildest dreams! So what's the bad news?
"You're in the team for this Saturday....
If the current government loses the next elections (when ever that might happen) then this person might well become the minister responsible for cyber security among other things. Which would probably not be an entirely good idea.
And in an age when one can decide to change ones gender and ones name, why should you not be able to change your age and birth date too?
I am pretty much convinced that gender-fluidity, the current opposition to conventional male roles and stereotypes and the general post-modern relativity that society is reinforcing are going to lead to mental health issues and depression, especially among men.
Wednesday, 7 November 2018
Free shipping to Europe if you spend >99 euros, which is significantly less baked goods than one might imagine.
Saturday, 3 November 2018
Saturday morning routine. Visit mum, go shopping. In summer there's grass to be cut too, but not in November.
Clothes are silly cheap these days : for £50 I can get 2 pairs of trousers and 2 shirts. This year it seems that flower power has returned.
BTW yes, I'm slightly off my head with a cold right now.
Sunday, 28 October 2018
Thursday, 25 October 2018
A friend brought some from an Indian baker. They were very (VERY!) short, sweet, slightly fragrant, the shortness making the biscuit crumble into powder in your mouth.
I was asked what I thought about them an hour after trying one and, while gathering thoughts and memories, said "Well, it was very interesting" at which point I was slightly leapt-upon for not just saying it was nice.
The thing is, I take her seriously and value the stuff she says to me & the foods we share sometimes. I could have just been shallow, or instead could actually try to say something useful. If there's music in the background then it gets analysed, and if there are photos on the wall they get critiqued, so why not treat food like there's a value in it too?
And is this what I'm doing with faith somewhat too? Do I look at the bible and think "that bit looks a little made-up in the light of these other bits".
What's wrong with me?
Tuesday, 23 October 2018
There's nothing where I can say 'this is it', but it's there lurking in the background.
Monday, 22 October 2018
The stuff I still struggle with the most is the miracles in the story vs the miracle-less present. There was none of this 'God needs to give everyone free will, so won't visit us now'. Back in the day it was more like "God says let my people go or I'll do horrible things to you until you DO let them go (p.s. you don't have a choice because I won't let you give in until it's all done)". Sure that's not an orthodox reading of it, but it's really hard not to see it like that.
Why is it faster than google? That's a very good question, that a measure of paranoia may provide an answer to.
I've also replaced Chrome with Brave browser, which works well for an advertising blocker like me.
I thought it might be a radical church group working on a practically sensible missional program, but it was just a case of mistaken address.
Sunday, 21 October 2018
Tuesday, 16 October 2018
Thursday, 11 October 2018
I'm sat in a darkened hall, watching a chap called Nick explain how the village web site can be edited, have content uploaded etc. It's like working with blogger, only more flexible and therefore more difficult. Nick has done a good job balancing a lot of different wishes and needs.
Pictures are a bit mangled from over-compression (and I'm a fussy b*st*rd when it comes to pictures) but apart from that it's nice and clean.
Monday, 8 October 2018
Spoiler - it's tongue in cheek, but the tongue is spiky, and the cheek armour plated.
Thursday, 4 October 2018
Far be it from me to link to or approve of what the Guardian usually writes, however this was the first place I read the story, and it seems to be a straightforward piece of reporting. Perhaps this should be no surprise, as mainstream Christianity apparently becomes more concerned about an emotional response in worship than one based on understanding and the 'next big thing' is all about being contemporary and missional while forgetting the need for sound doctrine and pastoral care.
As the person who first drew my attention to this noted, the vision of demons and flames should have made them think a little harder about what they were welcoming.
Sunday, 30 September 2018
But also, I've noticed this thing of 'God helps those who help themselves'. I don't mean what it could be understood to be that God's not real and it's just clever powerful people who create opportunities for themselves, yet at the same time I DO wonder if that's how things are supposed to work, at least somewhat.
So I look at churches and church leaders. So many churches make it if they have the right leader/fail if they have merely good leaders. I look at the residue left by CH Spurgeon, that of the Wesleys. Now that guys like Barney Coombes, Terry Virgo and Arthur Wallace, will the churches of Harvestime, New Frontiers and Salt & Light descend further and further into mediocrity and decreasing meaningfulness as the movements of previous generations of Christians - all of whom were on fire for God in their time - have done?
It's not just an annointing, and it's not a case of training to do the same things, so much as specific and key individuals leading willing groups of people, who built those groups of churches. Yes, there did seem to be the Holy Spirit at work, but if that was the case for the original leader, surely it should be much more so in the people he personally trained and equipped to take the work on when he stepped down. Yet this is CLEARLY not the case for the group of churches of which we're part - they just seem like any other church doing the usual things that those kind of churches do, running out of money as everyone goes somewhere else.
But not all of them are dying this slow death.
I know of at least one Baptist church that, with the right man at the helm for just a couple of years, has gone to needing 2 meetings on a Sunday morning in order to get everyone in. I'm not aware that they're doing anything strikingly different, but I am coming to suspect that just a small number of key individuals are able to draw people - with or without God being overtly present - and if you don't have one of them then you're just pushing water up hills of varying steepness depending how slick your product is. .
This is dumb.
It doesn't in the least resemble new-testament Christianity as described in Acts & the various letters, and only vaguely looks like the Christian church of the first 2 centuries as described by Eusebius. There is a superficial similarity, in that key people like Peter and Paul could draw large crowds and speak effectively, but particulrly there's never any tangible proof of God turning up. When people experience 'great worship' it seems to have resulted from their internal responses to songs with emotionally charged and often self-absorbed lyrics hung on tunes which are designed to provoke those feelings. Singing about a 'peace so deep I can hardly think'. I'm starting to loathe the song that line comes from.
I also heard on Friday night of another really quite 'successful' church going down the crapper because they bought into missional communities & 3DM ministries, with the system basically forgetting about all the ordinary people when the focus changed. That's pretty much what I'd have expected, and I'd say that Oxfordshire Community Churches had a narrow but lucky escape by not getting sucked in.
Where is the reality?
I talked with someone I respect a couple of years ago about praying for resurrection of the dead, and got the reply that if I'd been in Africa then God would have done it because they are desperate over there and don't have modern medicine. My reply, that the situation could have not been more desperate regardless of where I was, did not produce any discernable wisdom or helpful theology, though it did get an apology for thoughtlessness. Yes, we hear amazing stories coming from Africa, but that's what they tend to remain.
Frankly I'm sick to the back teeth of excuses and running a good show. If that's all there is then please let me know and I'll just step back and let the church carry on it's own way while I stop bothering and reclaim my Sunday morning. Having said that, it's still quite nice to play guitar there sometimes, so maybe I shouldn't rock the boat.
Roll into this mix frustrations with reading bits of the bible that make one question veracity.
An example. Moses actions are described in early parts of Exodus in a particular way, yet the chronology given in exodus 7 conflicts. His rash behaviour in killing the Egyptian is not the action of a 40 year old with experience. On the way back to Egypt the now almost 80 years old Moses nearly dies and yet Zipporah is able to save him by circumcising their (young? Infant?) son and touching Moses feet with the foreskin. Sure, these bits were likely added to line up with Jewish mythology or some kind of numerology at some stage, but then if they were added, what else was?
Paul would sometimes pick out bits of the old testament and mis-use them in his letters to prove whatever his point was in a way that would hopefully get most bible teachers laughed out of church today.
10 years ago 'faith' would let me ignore stuff like this - it's not important, it doesn't affect the core truth of salvation, I still 'feel' God at work so it doesn't need answering. Now my pursuit of wanting to know the truth won't let me leave it alone any more. Chris has long found more questions than answers when reading the bible, and now it seems to be both of us. I don't want to put my fingers into nail holes - I DO want that stuff about healing and God at work to be real in something more substantial than getting a convenient parking space or even a cash donation.
Friday, 28 September 2018
When someone comes back from a tropical country feeling a bit unwell and then has a rash, we all get excited about the idea of drawing some blood and testing for disease markers using the products we're developing. It's a matter of frustration that we don't have a trained phlebotomist on site.
Tuesday, 25 September 2018
This may cause a certain amount of amusement in some quarters, but if you mosey on down to http://gospelbell.com/ and scroll down the page to the second set of songs listed on soundcloud, you can hear me play slide all over most of the set.
It's not great or imaginative playing (pretty chord-based actually) but I can fake a C&W slide solo now apparently. ;-)
Edit - this is all first take improvisation BTW (2 takes for a couple of songs) so nothing was 'finely crafted’ first, as is probably obvious to real slide players. 😉
Monday, 24 September 2018
It seems that Amazon are trying to get voice-activated kit built simply and easily using their Alexa-on-a-chip system. The geek in me thinks "wow, cool" but the paranoid privacy advocate that sits on my other shoulder sees it as an 'end of the world' scenario when we sell our civilisation finally & irrevocably to to a corporate retailer.
What's WW got to do with this? Will they ever conquer the Scottish accent - doubtful.
Friday, 21 September 2018
This article from auntie Beeb does just have such a headline "Why is IVF so popular in Denmark" and then goes on to discuss all the effects of a *need* for and changes to regulation of IVF without once mentioning the reason.
Danish men make the least viable sperm of all nation groupings in the world.
I remember going to a conference at the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen in 1998, where this was discussed by Dr Anna-Maria Andersson and Prof Niels Skakkabaek. They had a large collection of historical samples (I forget the exact details - it's >20 years ago) where various reproductive regulatory hormone levels could be demonstrated to be at reducing levels over time within given age groups of men. There was work going on to find causality, but I don't recall conclusions being available at the time, though environmental oestrogens were one suggestion. It's a slightly scary problem, and one the Danes seem to have dealt with in their own way.
This listing of papers by Prof Skakkabaek is interesting.
But regardless, social agenda much? BBC, you are increasingly disappointing.
Saturday, 15 September 2018
It's good to go home. YYV is very keen on it's gay symbology, full of shiny marble floors and loud announcements. Interesting selection of food too. One thing that IS impressive are the water stations for refilling empty bottles.
Our gate was due to open 5min ago, but hasn't. C'est la vie.
Friday, 14 September 2018
Tuesday, 4 September 2018
Multiple meanings aside, I'm transferring images from an SD card onto my (10 year old) MacBook using a USB 2 adapter. A couple of gigabytes took 8 minutes instead of around 30 seconds as it would on the Dell (4 years old).
Patience isn't just a virtue, so much as a necessity. At least I have nothing else pressing.