Monday 26 April 2010

But that’s not what I heard!

This post is a thought experiment – not a statement of theological fact, nor an attempt to undermine how some people do things – arising from some events of yesterday. Sorry for the length.

There is a tendency that I’ve noticed among many Christians to assume that ‘having one Spirit’ and ‘being in unity’ means that God says exactly the same things to each of us. It’s not unusual, when someone in a group has a prophetic word, to look round the group seeking confirmation that others heard the same thing, and very often this turns out to be the case.

But one has to ask, if that’s the situation, why does there seem to be a need for ‘body ministry’ in understanding the will of God? As someone put it in a conversation about open worship “why should God not tell me what He wants to do so I can put it on the song list, instead of bringing it through someone else?”.

So we had a situation where someone was doing something out of obedience to the Spirit, and quite right they should be too. I mentioned what they were doing to another mature Christian last night, and they pointed out their obedience, to which I replied that the Spirit might have said something different to someone else.

So here’s the exploratory bit: Does God say the same things in the same situations to different people, regardless of their natures, or does he speak according to who they are?

All my understanding of God says that it’s the latter. He takes us with our attitudes, loves, knowledge, preferences, experiences, sins and any wisdom we can muster and talks to us through those filters. It’s why we see through a glass darkly – these things are that glass, which lets us see some things more clearly than others. Yes, he can and does cut across our expectations sometimes, and that's all part of our growing in understanding and knowledge of Him and ourselves. But He also talks to us out of relationship, and relationships are ALWAYS different with different people and personalities.

The scripture also springs to mind about the ‘Spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets’. In the context it means no-one can go ‘out of control’ and blame it on God, but I suspect a deeper meaning is that the manner in which we perceive spiritual things is shaped by us.

I’m sure there are Christians who, if acting out the original Passover, would daub the blood in crosses on the doorframes, feeling a spiritual resonance about it without realising that the cross would not have had that meaning in Egypt around 1300-1500BC.

Now here’s another thought. What if the Spirit brings certain things to mind in individuals precisely BECAUSE they resonate for that individual, stimulating faith and anticipation in a way that would not work for others. So my friend, brought up in a particular church tradition, sees the symbol of the cross as being powerful and uses it to mark certain things to bring protection. Does the symbol actually have meaning and power of itself, or does it stimulate faith in him that God will protect that home? God seemed very happy to operate symbol-free throughout history, with symbols used to *remind* people about Him and His power.

I wonder if various things are becoming bits of evangelical-charismatic mythology, when their real purpose was originally to just stimulate faith and understanding. Did we remember to seal that word in? What is your 'spirit-man' saying today etc.

'If you want to walk on water.....

.....then you've got to get out of the boat' is the title of a fairly well known book by John Ortberg. I saw it in the bookshop on Friday, and after Marc's recommendation a couple of years back, decided to try it.

Chapter 1 was odd, because he uses negative phrases with positive meaning, most particularly the expression "do something religious". It's weird, because eventually I understood the meaning he was putting in (though I had to get to the end of the chapter to do so) but it jars. Religious people don't do life by the spirit - they live by the law - that's why they follow religion.

Maybe it's just language?

The word Religion has always, for as long as I can remember and certainly well before teen years, implied people in rows - forced into straight lines. I wonder where that came from?

As for chapter 1, well, no particular surprises there, in with the funny anecdote. For those who know the book, when the other woman in the balloon shouts to him "you're a pastor, do something religious" I expected him to offer a christening, or maybe a harvest festival service. I suppose he needed this chapter to establish that 'getting out of the boat' is a valid idea.

Friday 23 April 2010

So what do the parties believe on 'key' moral issues?

There's a paper downloadable here produced by the Christian institute. It examines how the parties and their leaders have behaved in the past over certain moral issues for society. Sadly the scope is narrow, and omits certain key areas such as poverty and war, covering just the 'hot button' topics.

I would view it like licking your finger to see which way the party morality is blowing. There is every possibility that some will find a particular action immoral, while others will find those actions very moral. An example might be the the Liberal Democrats requirement that church schools teach homosexuality to be "normal and harmless" and they should not teach that homosexuality was morally wrong.

There's a lot to read, but it may be a useful resource.

Thursday 22 April 2010

I'm developing a new sport - Olympic Mac-cussing.

I use - used - a 1Tb Tosh external hard drive partitioned into Mac and FAT32 areas for transferring data between PC and Mac and as backup storage. Several times I've noticed in the last few months that the drive will become busy while apparently sat idle. Then on Monday when AFAIK it was sat idle up popped the warning message box about ejecting drives before removal.


Even odder - the cable was still attached, but the icons for both partitions were missing.

After power cycling, when I plugged the drive into the USB port I normally used it would become busy, but fail to be recognised. When I plugged it into the other USB port absolutely nothing happened and the drive remained undetected.

So I took the drive home. The XP box recognises and can view the FAT32 partition, the Linux box recognises and accesses both FAT32 and Mac partitions. I'm (slowly) transferring data between the backup region and LBHDD as I type.

I don't have a spare external HDD, but was able to borrow one, and yup, it's recognised fine by the Mac.

Where does that leave me?

I suspect it's the crappy USB port hardware and possibly drivers on the Macbook. I had a USB hub become unusable a while back, and the HDD is behaving similarly. I wonder now if simply using a different USB cable is all that's required - watch this space. If so, this is VERY unimpressive. I wonder if Apple would replace the port connections under warranty? I wonder if it would take them less than a week?

Swapped round a variety of cables, the drive just chattering away to itself a few seconds after plugging into either port (this was a change from before). After the last cable change I plugged it into the original USB and just left it there to chatter away, and suddenly, after a couple of minutes of activity the activity light pattern changed, drive icons appeared on the desktop and eventually it started backing up.

Now I'm nervous. I'd quite like to migrate to snow leopard, but won't do it without a reliable backup copy 'just in case'. But I'm also now unsure whether the issue is the drive or the Macbook, and don't want to spend 60 quid to find out.

Elections: then and now

In 1970 I was still in junior school, aged 9.

We'd had a labour government under Harold Wilson, seen the famous winter of discontent come and go, sat through electricity blackouts and witnessed the unions hold Westminster to ransom. This was in the days when British industry was still focussed on manufacturing, rather than services, and most people were relatively poor but happy. We'd had our dose of sleaze and excitiment a few years before, with Christine Keeler bringing down Harold Macmillan's conservative government: it must have caused a huge stir at the time because I had an awareness of it, even though I was so young.

In school, naturally, we had an election to engage the children in understanding the political process, and presumably create a desire to vote when they were older. Children were picked to represent each of the parties, so we had recognisable people to vote for, and they spoke up as to why they personally should be elected. I can remember sitting cross-legged in shorts on the wood block floor of the assembly hall while they were speaking, then going forward to cast my first ever vote. When it came to voting it seemed to me that the present labour government were a pretty useless bunch and the conservatives were dodgy too, so I voted Liberal.

As did literally 80% of the school.

Of course that didn't reflect the nation's voting pattern and Edward Heath became prime minister, for better or for worse (and a lot of people thought worse) allowing Wilson back in for a 3rd term in '74 and preparing the country for Margaret Thatcher in '79 who really set up the present situation, making greed and self-love national characteristics for the British people.

So I'm wondering right now, is this sudden swing toward Nick Clegg based out of the same set of attitudes we had in junior school: we don't like either of these choices but this party hasn't been given a chance in a long time. The answer I find myself seeing is YES, absolutely.

As an adult, looking at Lib Dem policies, I couldn't possibly vote for them (for one thing, the manifesto was never written with an expectation to for government). But I'm deeply unhappy about certain things, most especially a desire to increasingly secularise society, and the amoral attitudes they bring with them.

I don't have a vote, as a foreign national living in the UK, but I'm pretty sure my vote wouldn't go yellow if I could. Not that it will make much difference round here - Tony Baldry is conservative MP for North Oxon. and most people will likely return him. But whoever you are, don't just vote for a change in the 'bunch of crooks' up there like we did as school children: do look at party manifestos, party history and listen to what your local MP is saying and check it out with the things you know to be good and true and right.

Don't just vote for the sake of 'change'.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Monty Python and the holy grail

Does anyone out there have my copy, because a search for it just now has found it among those 'not present'.

Tonight we were mostly

talking about gravity, astronomy, Galileo and the effect that telling the medieval church that they were not the sole source of all understanding and insight might have (you either learned to shut up quickly or permanently).

We talked about rubber sheet theory, elliptical orbits, how Mars seems to be travelling backward sometimes and why children weren't taught astronomy at school instead of some of the really useful things they DO study, like English Lit.

Chris asked God to create a list in heaven for her, of all the questions she'd like answers to, because she knows that she can't take anything with her when she dies. It seems her husband's answers aren't convincing enough (grinning as I type that!).

Do we lead or drive?

This is something Chris and I have been talking about for several weeks over a variety of contexts. This post is NOT intended as a present criticism of anyone in particular.

When I was a brand new Christian I wanted to be driven. I wanted leaders that would tell me what to do, lay it on the line, make me accept what they were saying despite all that would fight against it within me. Sometimes that happened, though usually in the areas that I didn't want them to focus.

My earliest experiences were coloured by growing up in a baptist church. With 'adulthood' and membership came access to the 'business meeting', which was the place that various factions warred with each other to try to wrest control over the direction the church was headed. I have nothing positive to say about these meetings, and it has left me with the conviction that democracy in church is fundamentally wrong, and a source of all kinds of wickedness of which I remain convinced to this day. In more recent times I've witnessed the aftermath of Godly men suffering bruising encounters with their business meetings and diaconate.

It was this that made me want to submit myself to a godly leadership who would guide and rule righteously.

And that's all very well for a slightly wild 17 year old who is socially inept and still discovering how to live with other people, but what about when they're married, and have acquired children and pastoral responsibility for others.

Our church in London was part of New Frontiers and had previously been a Baptist church, still occasionally having 'business meetings' at which we did not vote (because we were under righteous leadership, right?). They were also a legacy required by constitution to use the buildings. We'd also seen how some of the churches in other Charismatic streams had operated with 'heavy shepherding' where you'd seek permission and guidance from the leadership for things like job and house moves, car purchases and often smaller, more trivial stuff. The original motivation for this was good and I'm sure it came out of similar reasoning about democracy being wrong, where people wanted to live the best they could. But what started out as life in the Spirit became death in the law, and churches went through splits, pain and division in those streams (not New Frontiers).

With our move to Oxfordshire in 1990 we became involved with a group of churches that had a different emphasis from what we'd known before. The leaders we met in OCC had all been humble, ordinary, hardworking despite obviously having significant ministries.

They also recognised that they could only lead if people followed.

It took a while to understand what they meant, and I can remember being offered guidance by someone to help handle people: "try to woo them: they're God's people, not yours". There were also 'business meetings' but they were called 'Body Meetings' instead, and involved getting the church together to talk through, then pray through the direction the leadership felt they should take the church in. There was a recognition that together 'we have the mind of Christ', but instead of being used to justify democracy, instead everyone was invited to pray and listen to what God was saying, then bring what they thought they'd heard and submit it to the leadership. In turn the leaders would review it prayerfully and see what guidance and insight it brought, then feed it back to the church.

A process like this could only work where there is righteous leadership, not affected by partiality, envy, strife or ambition. I can say that there was very little evidence of any of those things. As I've mentioned before, OCC leadership is almost entirely derived from within and not by external appointment.

Why do I mention this?

Because in this way the people were always being lead by their leaders. There was no (well, very seldom) sudden imposition of one person's will on another, no nasty surprises, little opportunity for the devil to get in and cause division and disunity.

It also made life for the leadership better. No more did they have to be ready at a moment's notice to defend their actions or stance on a decision they had made. They didn't have to keep watching their backs for the dagger that they knew could descend at any time from those they disagreed with. Instead they were working with the church generally - not even just with an inner circle of supporters and close friends. And it meant that BECAUSE the whole church was involved listening to God, they could hear Him saying things that they would not necessarily hear by themselves, sharing responsibility for bringing direction.

There may be better models of church leadership, but I haven't met it yet.

There's related posts here and here and here and here.

Loss of the tacit right to steal?

There's a medium length article on The Register about how the battle for the digital rights bill was lost.

I'm not hugely a fan of the bill, since I DO believe it was initiated on the back of hospitality given to Peter Mandelson, and not for any moral reason. But at the same time, the originators of creative work should have a right to be recognised as the creator, and to require payment for it if they choose.

Most telling is why the 'freetards' lost the battle. Basically it appears to be a failure to understand how people work and to want to achieve a reasonable outcome. There's a message to any of us who are unhappy with whatever status quo we find ourselves in, about how we might help change our situations and change the minds of those we could see as 'the enemy'.

Sunday 18 April 2010

I'm starting to wonder

when normal health will return.

I seem to have been ill in variable degrees since Tue 6th April. Ibuprofen has become essential each morning to deal with the head and other aches. Tonight I was running a temperature and shivering again. Limbs and joints hurt - taught Sunday school sat on the floor with the kids today - boy did that learn me! Just seem to be tired all the time too, and standing up for an hour on Friday afternoon counting bottles of product drained all the energy I had spare.

Worst of all, the head is swimmy and thoughts have to be caught, then dragged kicking and screaming to the surface before they can be expressed. Let go of one for a moment and it disappears like a crab in a rock pool.

OK, the joke's over and I've enough now. Out with you, lurgy, 'cos you ain't welcome.

Friday 16 April 2010

Here's a little paradox for you, courtesy of Basschat.

Conventional lightbulbs give off more heat than so-called Energy-Saving bulbs. Conventional bulbs supplement one's home heating requirements. 'Going green' requires that one replace the lost heat by consuming more gas. Gas is a finite resource, whereas electricity is a potentially renewable resource.

If Energy-Saving lightbulbs increase consumption of a finite resource, they do not save energy. They are therefore a paradox.


Wanna be a pastor

An interesting post and just as significant, interesting comments afterward. From my good friend, Randall.

Read it here.

Thursday 15 April 2010

And in similar vein to the ebay post

THE best musical instrument review website on the planet has just 'fouled it's britches'. Harmony Central 2.0 is a non-functioning tram-smash, at least in opera on the Mac.

I'm not sure when they changed the site, although it must be sometime in the last 10 days, but it's not working. The HC2 site has been in beta since about October last year (they orignally announced the first beta about then, but it was such a complete failure of design that it was largely re-written between then and December, when it should have gone live. A re-build was always going to be a good idea, as it had never been designed originally to cope with a membership of 200,000+, but it's gone from a strong, striking site into a slightly bilious, bland mess.

I hope it can be salvaged. Last year when the members saw what was proposed there was huge upset, and it wasn't *just* because a change was on the way. I've not been on the forum since December '09, and I guess my membership won't have transferred to the new site.

As seen on ebay




This needs no comment.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Sabayon appears to still be working

Which is good.

Still can't transfer emails (which is bad).

Pretty sure Audio isn't working (bad)

Internet seems fast enough (good).

I think the KDE interface/text is crisper than Gnome. Having said that, I prefer the gnome pop-up menu system over menus that require you to click and scroll to navigate.

Sabayon's a lot slicker than Ubuntu (and the way you can handle all file formats etc is spot on) but task bar icons still seem slightly childish compared to classic windows or OSX.

Having run with this for 3 weeks, I'd feel slightly insecure with it if this were the only OS available, but I could certainly live with this if it were all that was available. That sounds damning, but it's real praise after all the shonky, broken, fuzzy, semi-functional Linux installs I've had over the last 5 years.

Certainly Sabayon has been the stand out distro ever since I discovered it. Open SUSE 11 KDE was pretty good, though fragile. Did look nice in it's green livery. I had an install of Mandriva Power version 2008 for a bit, and although it played DVDs and actually found some repositories (another curious failing of almost every distro was NEVER finding repositories) Open Office was broken (why, for heaven sakes?). Fedora looked quite nice too (I even use Fedora wallpaper on the Macbook) but it only had minimal functionality out of the box and all peripherals required purchasing a driver (often for £30ish). I couldn't bear to type much in Ubuntu, fonts are displayed so badly, and stuff doesn't work out of the box either. Mint was like a version of Ubuntu that someone had tried to polish, but it was fragile.

So here I sit, running the Linux box I always threatened to do, and mostly happy with it. I'm slightly tempted to do a fresh reinstall, ignore/turn off update notification and just install the apps I need to make it work for me.

Is it as good/better than XP?

The jury's out. My feeling is probably not, but it's 'good enough' right now.

We're in a curious place right now.

I seem to say that a lot.

But genuinely. Chris and I were talking this evening about the future and things going on, and I do think we're at a forking point. Neither fork is necessarily wrong, though 1 direction I'd see as failure more than t'other, but it's not entirely in our control to decide which path we shall be taking.

Blue pill or red pill?

Actually one pill is more grisly toad than blue or red, I suspect. We'll have to wait and see.

Sunday 11 April 2010

One thing Linux definitely does better than XP

Is audio processing.

The PC downstairs is faster & has a quicker HDD but has only 2 Gb (DDR3) RAM. The Linux box has 4Gb (DDR2) and a slower HDD. The file being processed is no more than 100Mb, so RAM shouldn't make much difference.


I seem to be getting better

the throat is still sore, neck tender & glands swollen, but I can control body temperature and don't feel like the world is at one end of a long pipe and I'm at the other and best of all, I don't feel sick at the sight of food.

This may amuse some.

Who should you vote for? UK General Election quiz

Liberal Democrat16
UK Independence-2

You expected: CON

Your recommendation: Labour

Click here for more details about these results

It's only a 'net quiz. Don't anyone take it too seriously.

Update to the Linux install

I've had Sabayon 5.2 on the upstairs PC for a couple of weeks now. Initial experience was mostly good: everything worked, although Firefox had some odd glitches, and speedwise it was somewhere between XP and Vista - about the same as OSX. I got Thunderbird installed, though I've still not managed to transfer a single email or contact.

Then came the updates.

And there were a lot. Enough to nearly match even Apple's gigabyte size downloads.

Then stuff stopped working.

First the time couldn't be reset.

Then audio disappeared.

Next the wireless network became patchy and slow.

Finally the ability to update was lost (oh the irony!) when it could no longer connect to the update repositories.

Each update and iteration has progressively broken the system a bit more. I know of no way to undo the updates either, other than a clean install. On a forum on one of the linux websites someone commented about not updating because people try things with the code that can and do trash machines. This wasn't that extreme, but it will still be easier to just reinstall than dig around hoping for a fix. The downer is that because everything gets installed directly there are no files to save and then reinstall later from CD/memory stick, so it has to be downloaded again.

Ho hum.

Might try the gnome desktop of 5.2 this time too, just to see if it really is a less sharp interface.

Saturday 10 April 2010

I had all these thoughts earlier

And no time to publish.

Now, like the morning mist, they've just got fainter and fainter until there's nothing but a faint haze of what might have been written, hanging there unreadable in the back of my head.

Thursday 8 April 2010


I can barely type anything sensible today, but somehow I've I've sorted out a (reasonably affordable) bass amp and cab. The cab needs to be collected from Milton Keynes, the amp will ship.

Wattage required for bass is daft - the lower the frequency, the more power is required to drive the note. In Heyford Park chapel, when I played last autumn and it got a bit loud I was probably using around 4-5 watts through a 1X12 cab, and turning up the (15 watt) amp to half almost made the floor shake. Playing bass, I was having to work the 45 watt amp hard to actually hear myself over the (very quiet) lass playing drums.

The new amp is a well gigged 350 watt Hartke head, about 3 years old. It's been through the cosmetic wars a bit, having just come back from a tour, but is really good value. Certainly not top end, but probably better than an Ashdown MAG (I keep reading about how they can burst into flames) or budget Trace. I also have an old Carlsbro 1X15 cab coming. It isn't pretty, but it was VERY cheap, and is large enough that I should get some serious low end and be able to fill the hall, but gently. At some stage I may need to add a 2X10 for a bit more punch, but we'll see.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

I woke up this morning

with a lump in mah throat.

That should be the start of a great blues song. Unfortunately I seem to have caught something miserable of the infectious variety instead, and have experienced the pleasures of that sensation where the world gradually closes in on me while staying exactly where it always was. Limbs ache, I'm shivering and fuzzy headed, but at least my nose isn't running!

Always look on the bright side.

This wasn't 'ideal'. Temperature out of control, shivers and flares, can't swallow properly, sore joints. Looks like manflu has arrived in force.

Monday 5 April 2010

After all the 'let's have Delirious? for No.1' stuff.

I've 'borrowed' this comparison from a thread on HMI. It probably breaks copyleft. (shrug)

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.

Isaac Watts 1674-1748


Is it true today that when people pray
Cloudless skies will break
Kings and queens will shake
Yes it's true and I believe it
I'm living for you

Is it true today that when people pray
We'll see dead men rise
And the blind set free
Yes it's true and I believe it
I'm living for you

I'm gonna be a history maker in this land
I'm gonna be a speaker of truth to all mankind
I'm gonna stand, I'm gonna run
Into your arms, into your arms again
Into your arms, into your arms again

Well it's true today that when people stand
With the fire of God, and the truth in hand
We'll see miracles, we'll see angels sing
We'll see broken hearts making history
Yes it's true and I believe it
We're living for you

Written by Martin Smith �1996 Curious? Music UK

My feeling is that after seeing this one might consider reclaiming Christmas with Sir Cliff's Mistltoe and Wine. As for History Makers, it probably sounds great on record or sung in a stadium full of people with their arms in the air. Somehow I struggle to see it as particularly anything, really, Christian or otherwise.

Saturday 3 April 2010

Ikea sells things with funny names.

Probably most people realise that.

I've idly wondered whether they have a naming dept. along with marketing, design, purchasing etc. Maybe they just get the designers to name their products?

But however they do it, they seem to have some odd rules about it.

For certain things, the name must indicate (or at least hint) at what it's for, while for others it absolutely must not. Sometimes the name is just funny, like the floor protector we just installed to save the poor old livingroom carpet from the computer chair.

It's called KOLON.

Imagine, just for a moment, if everything was named in a way that hinted at the use, in a Swedishly international manner.

Thus alongside the ORDNING cutlery system and PLASTIS washing up gloves they sold the HAKKEM range of knives.

In bedroom textiles they already have the delightfully named ALVINE VÅG to go alongside the BIBBY SNIRR quilt cover, but how about a SNUGGA VARN throw or FEADA range of pillows.

They do a half sized mirror called GODMORGON and a shaving mirror that's FRÄCK. Maybe they need a full sized dressing mirror called CHOCOLA BOTLARJ?

The possibilities are endless.

Friday 2 April 2010

Nothing that can be reported here

Life goes on. Went to Ikea, then Brackley, then lunch, then snooze, then leveled the frets on a bass and set it up, then dinner, soon bed.

The bass plays much nicer though, and suddenly I might find I like precision types after all.

Still need a new amp.