Friday 31 July 2009

This may surprise a few people

I am considering re-activating my facebook account, but only for those who live further than 20 miles away and that I see less than twice a year.

Sunday 26 July 2009

The half-blood prince

was a little disappointing. We saw it last night.

I could remember the story reasonably well, and it doesn't deviate too hugely, but it also mostly felt tame. There's one place here you know you're going to jump before it happens, but that's it. Even when Dumbledore dies the tension present in the book is missing, mostly because they deviated from the story. There are some funny parts, and laughing helps lift what could have otherwise been quite dull, unless you're a fan of teenage snogging.

It's not a *bad* film, and will sit well with the others, but lacked heavily in the 'spectacular' department. This is one to watch on DVD methinks.

Saturday 25 July 2009

Calling Steve Lowe

Good to see you've blogged again (I don't do feeds, so I just found out).

Did you mean to turn comments off? From your last post I'd say that most like you've just got 'mature' - the age where bending over makes things go 'click' or 'crunch' and a day spent painting leaves you aching and tired.

It's coming.... next year.

But you can have a peek now.

45Mb movie download BTW.

Friday 24 July 2009

From the inbox

This arrived about 10 min ago in my business email account from the building management.

Good Morning Everyone
We had to call the plumbers to deal with a flood in the men's toilets ground floor which i am pleased to say has now been rectified,while checking out the plumbing he noticed the flow of water to one of the cisterns was slow upon checking he found jammed inside a small bottle of vodka can i bring to everyone's attention that *** provide fridges on both floors if you are wanting to keep refreshments cool.

This did actually make me laugh out loud. Now I wonder who's on the sauce and trying to hide the fact?

Postmodernism - what the ... ?

My good friend Andrew was asking in a comment a few posts down:

You use the term 'postmodern' to describe what seems to me to be a descent by society into something resembling humanism, and that a 'postmodern' church is one that's quite liberal, allowing 'equal rights' (eg, allowing women and homosexuals to take positions of leadership, etc) to become the orthodoxy. ...can you confirm if that's what you mean?

Yes, kind of.

There's a good article on Wikipedia which covers postmodernism in a bit of depth, and which has given me a bit more understanding. It wasn't even really a philosophy to begin with, and has been around for a long time too.

The issues I take with PoMo thinking is that it is treated sloppily, just as modern thinking has been, and is used by the masses to justify people doing whatever the hell they want really. It is usually presented as a blend of 2 or 3 of the 4 PoMo world views: postmodern-ironist, which sees truth as socially constructed, and the neo-romantic in which truth is found either through attaining harmony with nature and/or spiritual exploration of the inner self with a bit of the social-traditional in which truth is found in the heritage of American and Western civilisation.

So my perception of the way it's treated is that it says: "there are no absolutes, and everything is relative to where I stand, how I feel and what I think. There is no absolute good or evil, rules are made by society to suit societies and as society changes so does what is right and wrong. It is good to do traditional things because they have a long and satisfying history, and I can enjoy being part of that story while I do them even though they belong to a drastically different culture. It is important to be at peace with the Earth, and if we could consume a bit less that would be nice as long as I can keep doing what I want."

Cynical? Possibly, but this is the conclusions I've drawn from talking with people (both Christians and non-christians) with a PoMo viewpoint. I'm not meaning to throw stones at anyone BTW. But you can see from that why it is just another form of thinking that sets itself up against truth and righteousness.

I understand why people would find it attractive and even quite reasonable. And it is a reasonable reaction to a crude understanding of modern thinking, which suggests that everything is knowable and all things may be explained in time through science and logical thinking. Naturally a lot of people have been disappointed because there's a lot of stuff that no-one understands (or possibly can't understand) in the way our created, fallen world works, so this viewpoint rather comes off the rails and lets us down. And to bring it closer to home, banks and stock markets fail, people still die of cancer and no-one knows whether breast or bottle feeding a baby is best.

Comments welcome - I'll ignore any I can't understand/answer. ;-)

Wednesday 22 July 2009

Another day, another operating system.

Today it's Sabayon 4.2 in Gnome desktop flavour.

I've become a bit of a fan of Sabayon over the last couple of years, but with this latest version I think they've done something a bit special for a linux distro. Even Ben commented on how it looked good and not like a skinned windows install.

Last night I compared live CDs of Ubuntu 9.04 Priapic Pigeon and Sabayon 4.2 KDE desktop version back to back. Ubuntu booted quite quickly for a live CD, and seemed reasonably functional - pretty typical Ubuntu interface, smudgy fonts, muddy brown theme, reasonable functionality, all the usual bits built in with a typical Linux distro. For styling it looks like it's trying to compete with windows 95.

Directly afterward I popped in the Sabayon KDE DVD. This is the crisped, sharpest version of Linux I've ever seen! Screen fonts barely smudge, and are close to windows - certainly better than apples blurry offerings. The whole thing just looked sharp and stylish, and because it's running KDE, just a bit different - as different as and Apple from a Microsoft install. Today I downloaded the Gnome desktop version, and although it's a little less stylish than KDE it is still VERY attractive and easier to navigate - and that's what I'm posting from now. It also seems more stable than many live installs - I bunged this in at 6.30pm and went out to circuit training - here it is still working fine.

Another things that's different from other Linux installs is that everything (so far) seems to work, and it's even playing a DVD movie in drive 2 with the live DVD in drive 1. No extra software to install, no codecs, no DeCSS. It just works. Ah, not quite perfect - tried to skip ahead, but it just stopped. Now on re-starting the DVD is playing in German, and I can't access the menu to change language.

This is a Linux install that I *feel* I could live with. Having come through all the pain of coping with Apple's offering, this one feels like it would be quite worthwhile to learn.

Wonder what the web development tools are like?

So if you use Linux or wanted an alternative to Vista/OSX I'd recommend giving it a try.

They've reworked Open Office 3.1 so that it's themed to the look of the distro, and it's a really cool look.

Monday 20 July 2009

Occasionally one finds

an image on the web too good not to link:

Sunday 19 July 2009

We're away

but we just popped back for migraine medicine for Chris this morning. She's currently curled up on the settee with her hand over her eyes. I had one yesterday (last one 3 1/2 years ago) and she gave me her emergency medication.

We were camping with the church at Youlbury near Abingdon.

Yes, it's been raining.

Friday 17 July 2009

I'm swimming through a sea of thoughts.

It would be nice to find an island onto which I could clamber.

Actually I usually do have an island, but sometimes I worry that I'm just fooling myself and I really have a wrong and faulty view of reality.

Just a few posts down I apparently have a comment from Tom (NT) Wright, wishing me to re-read and be less judgmental (regarding the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans). It's worth mentioning I was not trying to be judgmental, so much as genuinely expressing my fears and expectations - I don't wish the AC to split, but cannot see how it can go forward and continue as an authentic representation of the body of Jesus.

Based on the feeling this comment might be authentic I actually went as far as tracking down his contact details, but faced with a picture of him in full regalia, somehow I can't bring myself to send the email. At the moment I cannot reconcile religious outfits and Jesus, and while I concede the problem may be at least partially mine, there is something that seems deeply wrong about it. Maybe it's because I know a little bit of church history - not enough to utterly reject it on the basis of knowledge, but enough to feel strongly suspoicious.

In a way I'd love to throw over all my inhibitions and be able to embrace the religious church, but that way madness and dissolution lies.

Which brings me to my next point - it seems the Roman Catholic church are about to embrace Oscar Wilde, and this is really where I felt the island in front of me becoming increasingly hazy. Guess post-modern thinking has now entered the Roman Catholic church too? There was a quote by him that was apparently published by the RC church a couple of years back (according to the Times) along the lines of the best way to deal with temptation was to get on and do the thing. Why are we unable to leave the wicked dead in peace and just accept them for who they were?

Which brings us full circle again, to Bishop Wright's article. It seems that the American branch of the Anglican church have mostly decided to press forward in the area of validating homosexual practice. It also seems fitting that the Episcopal Church is lead by a Woman.

There are times I wonder what God is doing, allowing all of us to apparently go our own sweet ways and even blessing us while we do it.

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Not one, but 2 articles from todays Times.

By Tom Wright:

We must insist, too, on the distinction between inclination and desire on the one hand and activity on the other — a distinction regularly obscured by references to “homosexual clergy” and so on. We all have all kinds of deep-rooted inclinations and desires. The question is, what shall we do with them?

Full article here.

And by Daniel Finkelstein:

The maths of politics aren’t very complicated. If you want to win and you don’t have enough votes from people who agree with you, you have to win support from people who don’t by accommodating their views. You cannot win elections by getting the same people to vote for you by pulling the lever harder. This, however, is the strategy the Republicans seem to be embarking upon.

Full article here.

With a quick nod to Marc. The quotes have been chosen to encourage you to read the articles. They are out of context, and inappropriate to discuss in isolation.

I keep hearing stuff about Tom Wright, and it is good to hear him lay a sound defence of conservative theology on sexual practice and preference from so public a platform.

The second article is interesting primarily because of the observations it seemed to make, rather than the conclusions it draws. I remember when the elections were going on there were a number of American Christians looking to Sarah Palin as potential the first truly charismatic, Spirit-filled bible believing president, yet something did not 'feel' right at all. It still does not, and if anything, that feeling has increased. I also find it sad that (it seems like) so many republicans have fallen into obvious, often downright stupid, sinful situations where they should have known better.

Friday 10 July 2009

What makes you nervous?

I've launched my first product today. Not the best time of year to do it (March and April would have been best, but September and October are usually good sales months in this business) but it's out there, and not a moment too soon.

Now to spam all the people I 'Know' and mail-shot all the ones I don't.

Today's exciting job? Typing names and addresses into a database to I can create address labels and contact information.

Gotta be done, gotta be done.

Looking from a historical perspective.

I wrote this in July 2009, but because at that time I thought it might be too sensitive it was only saved, rather than published. Here it is, un-expurgated.

In the light of a conversation I had last night, do you ever stop and wonder why the traditional church was arranged in the way it has been?

Recognising that the church is God's own, to do with as He pleases, yet also recognising that men have exercised their own 'free will', frequently without apparent restrain in it. I wonder whether the system of priests and bishops instituted in the 2nd century was God's way of preserving *some* good through the darker ages of the world while allowing new life to break out and be carried away like sycamore seeds, growing a healthy distance away. I also wonder if, at the same, those exact same structures were built by men who wanted to control and establish their own authority and rule, using the church as a tool to obtain power and wealth.

My expectation is that both were true.

The more I dig into church history the more I come to the conclusion that the leadership of the Church was well and truly headed off the rails, just as Paul told the Ephesian elders it would be, in the second century, and became increasingly so until it had established the structures we see remaining. Certainly there were still many good people at this time, as there have been throughout the Church's history, but they do not seem to have been the ones at the top of the slippery pole.

I have reached the point where I want to understand the theology behind these structures so that I can make valid judgements about them instead of just assessing by the outward appearance. For instance I already know why I reject infant baptism and confirmation from a biblical point of view, but I want to know what the justification of these practices is from the inside view so that I know whether they might have some validity after all, instead of being entirely erroneous. At the end of the day I find it far too easy to 'live and let live' and to see both points of view in everything. But it is also important to know the truth, so that one can speak with authority rather than assumption made from appearances.

And thank God (literally - I do) for wives who can discuss intelligently with their husbands, who have opinions and will work through things, who also inspire and provoke lovingly.

I'm sorry if this post offends anyone - sorry for you being upset, and not the content of the post that is.

Wednesday 8 July 2009

What could put you off?

Ben was watching a 'curious' film the other night - Eagle vs Shark - and I saw a little bit too. Before that he'd (seriously) wanted to see New Zealand, but afterward he really didn't fancy the idea. If the bits I saw were in any way representative then I rather agree with him.

In the papers recently

I have been reading about the formation of the Fellowship of confessing Anglicans. Normally I wouldn't worry too much, other than to think "at least someone is standing up in the middle of their mess" and to pray for righteousness for them.

But now it's all a bit more sharply pointed - a bit closer to home, now we seem to have become involved in an Anglican church ourselves. The overall slant in the editorial from The Times is not favourable because of the movements unwillingness to compromise with modern ethics, and therefore it sounds promising to me. There was a good letter by John Samways about the article, which was published, and which seems to sum things up well.

My concern with this is that if one dug below the surface one would find mostly crusty old 1662 prayerbook men, rather than radical Christians that want to stand up for righteousness and life by the Spirit. The Anglican church is such a mixture, and being either liberal or conservative is no indication of whether the individual is actually fundamentally Christian in outlook or not.

In an earlier age I'd have been pleased to see the Anglican church split in order that the 'true Christians' could move forward and the dead bits could just shrink and disappear as they should. There is still a part of me that wishes that would happen, but there is also a side that sees it as SUCH a mess, such a mixture, that I can't imagine such a clean split taking place. This really is a full on wheat-and-tares situation, and one can only hope that as people press further into God that the tares will stand out more and more. I just hope there are more people like Nazir-Ali who will stand up for what is right than people who embrace sinful, shameful behaviour and call it right.

Does anyone else have this when they're experiencing struggles?

Just occasionally there will be a little window that opens where if feels like the pressures have lifted and it is possible see God's plan. Then the curtain descends again and you're back in the middle of it all, with all the issues and thoughts that they provoke running through your head like they were before.

It can be so hard to seize and hold on to the reality when the storms are running around you.

There's a song we've been singing recently that talks about soaring like an eagle above the storms. It's mostly Christian triumphalism with an overdose of poetic license: the only people I've seen soaring above storms are those watching from the outside. Chris re-did the words for herself to something along the lines of clinging to the rock while the storm tries to pull me off, trusting that I'll come through in the end. From both our and others experience, God doesn't lift us from the storm, but enables us to endure it, even though it means suffering.

Or maybe something is going to change for me? That's not where my faith is, but hey ho, odder things can happen.

Tuesday 7 July 2009

Because I can, II.

Because I can.

Lunchtime pic.

Well the good news is

my mum is home.

She wasn't happy in the 'hospital' care home in Oxford (uncomfy, poor food, multiple mistakes with medication) but really came to life in her own flat. We're grateful that she seems to be making such a good recovery now that she is comfortable and surrounded with familiar things and people she knows.

Thank you everyone for your prayers and wishes.

Sunday 5 July 2009

The challenge to care.

Is a book written by Charles Simpson in the mid 80s. It's available used on if you want a gander. I've had a copy for quite a long time, and while I can't say it's been hugely directly influential on me, I am sure it has helped shape my understanding of how leadership should happen to people, and how leaders are called.

It has been good for me particularly now, however. One of the key areas that all Christians have to fight in is the mind, and over the last 6 months I have been continually bombarded in this area. Reading this has help reaffirm that I do have a calling and a purpose, and that it's not all just my imagination or self aggrandisement. I am not one to be blown around by every wind or pattern of thought that comes along, but this has been one seriously bumpy ride.

Now I need to see what I can do about restoring some relationships.

Thursday 2 July 2009

Looks like we're getting a holiday this year

Anyone ever been to Hadonville-lès-Lachaussée, Meuse?

Wednesday 1 July 2009

Finished the rebuild pretty much

by about 4.00am.

All the data is back, cookies etc working, orifice installed, user IDs set up with their own data. There's an odd fault for individual users (opens a text page when they first log in) and despite downloading and installing drivers, I can't get the OS to recognise the LAN port on the MoBo, so the net connection is through USB right now.

It was the Samsung drive (wonder how it was corrupting stuff that was on the other drive?) and the fresh install on the smaller Seagate runs twice as fast at least. Hopefully I can get it replaced/repaired by Rexo, the Samsung warranty provider, then I'll probably flog it: twice bitten / no longer willing to put my fingers in the cage.

Paradigm is an interesting word

but not one I would have chosen to use until hearing a Canadian theologian in the last few months.

There been some thoughts going off in my head about models of leading and dealing with people from a caring and oversight perspective. A number of things have brought this into focus for me, including, not surprisingly, the pastoral training course. But there was also an occasion a while back when someone was talking to me, telling me what God's will and plan was for me, interpreting things He'd spoken to me from their own point of view. The words used were not too bad (not too great either) but there was a reaction in my own spirit I could not line up or agree with what was being said. They did not have my trust and here they were, trying to speak into my life in a very direct manner.

What this is working round to is that I can see there are at least 2 main models of leadership style - the priest and the shepherd.

The priest tells the people what God's will is, what they should do, how they should live, where they should go etc. The root of this model is that people cannot know God for themselves.

The shepherd leads the people by going out in front, taking them to places where they can find food for themselves, caring for them when they are hurt. The root of this model is that people know God for themselves and will find and enjoy His goodness when they are lead into the right places.

Now some may actually find the priestly style of leadership comforting, because it absolves them of responsibility to do more than just be obedient: just follow the rules and it will be fine. It has certainly not been restricted to the traditional churches, and the 'heavy shepherding' practice of the 70s and early 80s was based around this. But what kind of personal growth does this produce? An ability to know the rules? This reminds me of a phrase used by Paul (paraphrasing probably) "But you did not come to know God that way" (by following the rules). Instead we know Him through life in the Spirit (sorry if I'm getting preachy) and where the Spirit is, there is freedom.

Actually I've a feeling this is a bunch of stuff from the letter to the Galations, all about the RULES bringing death and the Spirit bringing life.

As someone committed to the shepherding model, I want to see people living in the life-giving Spirit, and not following the rules laid down for them. I would be careful to distinguish between giving rules and bringing teaching: it is the interpretation of teaching and who does it that often makes the difference between the 2 conditions. In the end I want to see people grow up to be strong in Jesus, going forward above and beyond my abilities, knowing God for themselves and helping others to come to know Him. I don't want to have to be the one who is one step ahead, holding on to their position because I find the idea of being surpassed threatening.

Sorry for the sermon. Please pray for grace & mercy for both Chris and me.

Is there a way Israel can hope for peace?

Here is a clip on the BBC site about Gaza 6 months on. In no way do I support any kind of terrorist action, but how can they not understand that this will push many otherwise ambivalent men and women to do desperate things? Knowing attitudes of a number of mainstream American Christians, if they and their families were in a similar situation to the Palestinians I am sure they would have taken up arms as 'freedom fighters'.

There is so much wickedness on both sides in this it is hard to know where the unpicking can start.