The similar phrase 'Worldly Christianity' is one used by Bonhoeffer. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

10 Songs with a list in the lyrics

  1. California Girls The Beach Boys (Well, East coast girls are hip I really dig those styles they wear And the Southern girls with the way they talk They knock me out when I'm down there The Midwest farmer's daughters really make you feel alright And the Northern girls with the way they kiss They keep their boyfriends warm at night I wish they all could be California (Girls))
  2. Thank you very much The Scaffold (Thank you very much for the Aintree Iron, thank you very much, thank you very very very much ... for the birds and bees ... for the family circle ... for love ... for the Sunday joint ... and our...cultural heritage, national beverage, being fat, Union jack, nursery rhyme, Sunday times, napalm bomb, everyone! ...Thank you very much for playing this record, thank you very very very much ... for our gracious team)
  3. We didn't start the fire Billy Joel (Harry Truman, Doris Day Red China, Johnnie Ray South Pacific Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon Studebaker, Television North Korea, South Korea Marilyn Monroe Rosenbergs, H-Bomb Sugar Ray, Panmunjom Brando, The King And I, And The Catcher In The Rye Eisenhower, Vaccine England's got a new queen Marciano, Liberace Santayana goodbye ... Joseph Stalin, Malenkov Nasser and Prokofiev Rockefeller, Campanella Communist Bloc Roy Cohn, Juan Peron Toscanini, Dacron Dien Bien Phu Falls, "Rock Around the Clock" Einstein, James Dean Brooklyn's got a winning team Davy Crockett, Peter Pan Elvis Presley, Disneyland Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Khrushchev Princess Grace, Peyton Place Trouble in the Suez ...  Little Rock, Pasternak Mickey Mantle, Kerouac Sputnik, Zhou En-lai Bridge On The River Kwai Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle California baseball Starkweather Homicide Children of Thalidomide Buddy Holly, Ben-Hur Space Monkey, Mafia Hula Hoops, Castro Edsel is a no-go U-2, Syngman Rhee Payola and Kennedy Chubby Checker, Psycho Belgians in the Congo ... Hemingway, Eichmann Stranger in a Strange Land Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion Lawrence of Arabia, British Beatlemania Ole Miss, John Glenn Liston beats Patterson Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British Politician sex J.F.K. blown away What else do I have to say?
  4. Route 66 Nat King Cole, etc (Now you go through St. Louis Joplin, Missouri And Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty You see Amarillo Gallup, New Mexico Flagstaff, Arizona Don't forget Winona Kingman, Barstow, San Bernandino)
  5. My favourite things Julie Andrews (Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens Brown paper packages tied up with string These are a few of my favourite things Cream coloured ponies and crisp apple stroodles Doorbells and sleighbells and schnitzel with noodles Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings These are a few of my favourite things Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes Silver white winters that melt into spring These are a few of my favourite things)
  6. Under the sea from Disney's Little Mermaid (The newt play the flute, The carp play the harp, The plaice play the bass And they soundin’ sharp The bass play the brass, The chub play the tub, The fluke is the duke of soul, Yeah, The ray he can play, The lings on the strings, The trout rockin’ out, The blackfish she sings, The smelt and the sprat They know where it’s at An’ oh that blowfish blow)
  7. Sweet Little Sixteen Chuck Berry (They're really rockin' in Boston, In Pittsburgh, PA, Deep in the heart of Texas And 'round the 'Frisco Bay, All over St Louis, Way down in New Orleans, All the Cats wanna dance with Sweet Little Sixteen ... Cause they'll be rockin' on bandstand In Philadelphia PA, ....)
  8. Forever Young Bob Dylan (May God bless and keep you always, May your wishes all come true, May you always do for others And let others do for you, May you build a ladder to the stars And climb on every rung, May you stay forever young ... May you grow up to be righteous, May you grow up to be true, May you always know the truth And see the lights surrounding you. May you always be courageous, Stand upright and be strong, May you stay forever young, ... May your hands always be busy, May your feet always be swift, May you have a strong foundation When the winds of changes shift. May your heart always be joyful, May your song always be sung, ...) [Dylan has several list songs]
  9. Fifty ways to leave your lover Paul Simon (You just slip out the back, Jack Make a new plan, Stan You don't need to be coy, Roy Just get yourself free Hop on the bus, Gus You don't need to discuss much Just drop off the key, Lee And get yourself free)
  10. Give peace a change Plastic Ono Band (Ev'rybody's talking about Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism, This-ism, that-ism, is-m, is-m, is-m All we are saying is give peace a chance ... Ev'rybody's talking about Ministers Sinisters, Banisters and canisters Bishops and Fishshops and Rabbis and Pop eyes And bye bye, bye byes All we are saying is give peace a chance ... Ev'rybody's talking about Revolution, evolution, masturbation Flagellation, regulation, integrations, Meditations, United Nations, Congratulations All we are saying is give peace a chance .. Ev'rybody's talking about John and Yoko, Timmy Leary, Rosemary Tommy Smothers, Bobby Dylan, Tommy Cooper, Derek Taylor, Norman Mailer, Alan Ginsberg, Hare Krishna Hare, Hare Krishna)

Midweek Meeting January 14 2021

On zoom again on Wednesday last. We must have been getting on for 25 I guess. We looked at 1 Chronicles 17:1-15. I didn't want to get to heavily into covenants and so avoided that route but then somehow got on to the unforgiveable sin and via that to suicide. I'm not sure how that happened. I don't think my congregation is unusual in having, in some cases, a poor understanding of forgiveness but I really need to work harder at making it clearer. we had a good time of prayer also.

10 Famous Foundlings

  1. Moses (See Exodus)
  2. Sir Thomas Gresham (English founder of the Stock Exchange)
  3. Jean-Baptiste le Rond d'Alembert (French mathematician, mechanician, physicist, philosopher, music theorist)
  4. "Andy McNab" (British SAS soldier and writer)
  5. Fatima Whitbread (British athlete)
  6. James Michener (American winner, Pulitzer prize winner)
  7. Hugh Leonard (Irish dramatist)
  8. Art Linkletter (Canadian born American radio and TV presenter)
  9. Barry Evans (English actor)
  10. Darryl Matthews McDaniels ie DMC (American musician and rapper)

Fictional examples include Moll Flanders (eponymous heroine of the novel by Defoe) Tom Jones (eponymous hero of the novel by Fielding) Mowgli (See Kipling's Jungle book) Superman (DC Superhero) Jango Fett (Star Wars)

Jan Akkerman - Passagaglia Dutch Radio

Day Off Week 2 2021

I have decided to carry on with the general pattern of taking an official day off each Tuesday. The first week was a bit different but yesterday was the sort of thing I have in mind. I did some reading - Moby Dick and a book by Matthew Parris called Fracture which I managed to finish. It arises out of his Radio 4 series on Great Lives. In it he endeavours to argue that one key to greatness is some sort of early fracture - not that the setback guarantees anything but it can often begin there. Parris is aware what a sticky wicket he has chosen to bat on but he has a good stab at it. Part of the problem is his inability to define greatness or genius. His whole method is on a hiding to nothing as in the end it is God who judges people and the world's ideas of greatness seldom mesh with his. It makes for an interesting book, however, as we dip into the lives (mostly the early parts) of a diverse set of people including Edward Lear, Abraham Lincoln, Coco Chanel, Freddie Mercury, Marie Curie, Frida Kahlo, etc. I made a note to myself that I must check out Ashley Cooper Seventh Early of Shaftesbury.

I found time to read the paper and do the puzzles as well as getting a take away coffee and a sandwich for lunch. In the evening I watched a bit more of a documentary on Welsh history fronted by Huw Edwards. I enjoyed the section of Hywel Dda, Rhodri Mawr and just before about which I know next to nothing. After that I watched the final two episodes of Serpent a dramatisation of real events. Inevitably some of it is rather murky and caution is urged but it was quite a series

10 Key Features of Conspiracy Theories

On p 117 of his book The Hitler Conspiracies Richard J Evans says

Attempts to prove that the Nazis started the [Reichstag] fire display many key features of event conspiracy theories: 

  1. The assumption that because an incident or occurrence was of enormous political importance it must have been planned in advance.
  2. The claim that witnesses to the event have mysteriously disappeared or been murdered so that they are no longer able to tell the truth about it.
  3. The belief that the people who benefit from an event must have caused it.
  4. The feeling that to make the claim that a tragic or criminal event was more or less a matter of chance somehow excuses or exculpates the perpetrators (or, again, those who benefit from it).
  5. The refusal to accept that a major historical event may have been triggered by a lone, obscure individual and not an organized group.
  6. The involvement of occult forces of some kind.
  7. The forgery of documentary evidence in the conviction that it is allowable because the forger knows what really happened and is justified in creating the proof for his view in a situation where other, decisive proofs are for whatever reason not available.
  8. Also p 133 The missing correspondence, if it emerged, would most likely reveal the truth. But unfortunately no such correspondence has turned up. Speculation of this kind can be found in many other conspiracy theorists' writings.
  9. And p 134 As an alternative to claiming the truth is buried in missing documents, conspiracy theorists also frequently cite genuine sources then accord them a weight far beyond what they will actually bear. They join the dots between authentic pieces of historical evidence to create a picture that isn't in the least plausible.
  10. And p 150 The involvement of the ex-King Edward VIII is another characteristic example of the tendency of some conspiracy theorists to try to arouse interest in their work by involving famous people.

Lord's Day January 10 2021

We began with communion. There were only six  of us all spread out so we all sang but we've lost the hang of it I guess. We were then joined by four more and had a good hour together focusing on Leviticus 16. (Two families were absent as the men work in healthcare and needed to be cautious). Another 23 or so joined us on zoom. So we creep forward in these bizarre and difficult days. The scapegoat is such a wonderful subject. In the evening it was just zoom and we carried on in Luke, the rest of Chapter 3.

Midweek Meeting January 6 2021

It was back to 1 Chronicles last Wednesday and to 1 Chronicles 16. All on zoom.  It's rather a long chapter but I was able to get the material into three points on worship and a reasonable length thankfully so we had plenty to pray about plus a decent number and a good number willing to pray. We had a new person along, which is good (but based in Peterborough I believe).

10 Popular Subjects for Conspiracy Theories

1. The assassination of John F Kennedy
2. Harold Wilson was a KGB spy
3. 9/11 Attacks
4. The Sandy Hook shootings
5. The flatness of the earth
6. The moon landings
7. Adolf Hitler survived the bunker
8. Covid-19 pandemic
9. Vaccinations

Christmas Books 2020


One of the joys of Christmas is getting presents and one of the joys of presents is getting books. These eight have come to me over the last few weeks from my sons and other relatives. Inevitably, one or two I already had, which can't be helped. One or two I bought myself for my wife t give me (!). Over the holiday I have read The Hitler Conspiracies and The Chieftains and have just started on Matthew Parris's biographical work Fracture.
My oldest son often buys me books on Hitler. This one by one of the premier historians in the field is very timely in that it explores five conspiracy theories connected with Hitler (including why Hess flew to Britain and whether Hitler survived the Berlin bunker) and so inevitably discusses the whole phenomenon of such theories, increasingly a part of modern life. It also served as a reminder to me that one of the many reasons why I could never have been an academic (despite its attractions) is that you have to spend time dealing with cranks and their crazy ideas. Here Evans is very gracious as he works away what are sometimes the dumbest theories. It makes the book a little long but there is no other way of dealing with a fool apart from ignoring them. Anyway the Hitler book was great and very stimulating.. The Chieftains book is 25 years old. It only goes up to 1995. it was good to have the background, however, and to discover I am not so unusual in liking Ireland's premier musical outfit. It is an official biography so a bit pedestrian and riddled with proofing errors as all these books tend to be.
I am enjoying Moby Dick in this beautiful Chiltern edition and hope to get to the others I've not read soon. Aren't people kind.

365 Albums Notes

I have enjoyed putting together 365 albums in a list, one each for every day of 2020. This represents nearly all, but not quite all, the albums I own (one or two Jan Akkermans, one by the Van Leer Band, and two Christmas albums did not make the cut). Of course, I also own singles, EPs and Best of albums too and a fair bit of classical music, which was not included. Over a hundred album artists are included plus two by various artists from Coen Brothers films.

The albums all come from the period 1963-2020, except the 1957 album The Chirping Crickets. Most of the albums are from the seventies, unsurprisingly, with some 114 represented. There are also

30 from the sixties,

55 from the eighties,
45 from the nineties,
55 from the noughties
and another 46 in this last decade.

The most albums from any one year, again unsurprisingly (I was 16 that year) is 16 from 1975, beating 1970 by just one. The 1975 albums are by Tangerine Dream (3), Edgar Froese, Vangelis, Focus, Ekseption, Trace, Thijs van Leer (2), Philip Catherine, Camel, Mike Oldfield (2), Joni Mitchell, The Chieftains and Horslips.

In 1970 it was albums by The Beatles, T Rex (2), Creedence Clearwater Revival (2), Santana, Traffic, Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer, The Nice, Ekseption (2), Focus, Bojoura and Fairport Convention.

Childhood Anecdote

I thought this morning for some reason about an incident from my childhood. I was five or six years old and I was at the top of the stairs and for some reason decided to out my wellingtons on. As I did so I fell down the stairs. When I came to the bottom I remember both my father and mother rushing to see what had happened (it must have been a Saturday). I recall sitting at the bottom of the stairs and looking up at them. They were really concerned and were seeking to interpret the signs on my face as to whether I was injured, which I was not. Meanwhile, I was only thinking that I must be in big trouble for playing with my wellingtons on the stairs.

At the same time I remember them looking at my toes and noting that both of my big toe nails grow double (ie split - not because they are damaged but because of a genetic abnormality). It is the first time I remember being aware of this.  

Some Recent Pics at the Turn of the Year


Lord's Day January 3 2021

The first Lord's Day of the new year was rather inauspicious. There were about 16 of us in the cold chapel and four children who went out with my wife to Sunday School at sermon time. We had two hymns with the help of the EMW Aber Conference, a catechism talk on Christ the Prophet and I preached a new year message on 2 Corinthians 4:17, 18. The same number joined us on Zoom I believe. In the evening it was Zoom only and we looked at the first 20 verses of Luke 3. We had some nice chat room chats and then our ipad battery gave out, which is a bit rude but solved the question of when to leave for once. Still strange days.

Midweek Meeting December 30 2020

We often don't have a midweek meeting at the end of the year but we were able to do so this year, if only on zoom. I took a text (Hebrews 13:6) and briefly expounded it and then we spent a good time in prayer. Lots of people there and many praying. Plenty to encourage adn plenty to discourage at the moment.