Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. 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.

Michael Toogood


For many years I was quite closely involved in the work of the London Inreach Project and the planting of the churc in Soho. I have long thought that the first planter in the team, Michael Toogood, should write up his own story as it would be an encouragement, a model and a discussion point as well as a testimony to God's goodness. Well, it has recently happened and I have already had chance to read my copy (a freebie) and I am keen to commend it to all and sundry. Anyone seriously considering urban ministry ought to at least sit and read it.
The book doesn't pull any punches and is a frank description and assesment of the eighties and nineties when Michael and his wife pam were involved in the work. Michael has very definite ideas about church planting and many other matters and even where one would beg to differ you have to admire his thoroughly thought through and tenacious, not to say tender yet firm, approach. At points an iron fist in a velvet glove came to mind.
One thing that struck me was that a lot of what Michael considers to be ministry I would tend to think of as things interrupting the real ministry. He may well be right and I am wrong.
One minor point. I'm not sure how the decision was made to publish the book as it has been but several proofing errors and spelling mistakes inevitably detract. I fear that distribution will be poor too. Do make the effort though. 

Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God


This Ligonier book is a collection of ten addresses on the general subject of the holiness of God given at a conference back in 2010 or so. The opening and closing chapters are from the late R C Sproul. Other chapters are from the hands of the usual suspects (Thabiti Anyabwile, Alistair Begg, Don Carson, Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, Steven Lawson, Derek Thomas). The chapters inevitably vary in their usefulness. I particularly appreciated Sinclair Ferguson on the holiness of the Father and Robert Godfrey on Isaiah 6. Beautifully presented in hardback once again.

The book ends with a great illustration from Sproul
My favorite illustration of how callous we have become with respect to the mercy, love, and grace of God comes from the second year of my teaching career, when I was given the assignment of teaching two hundred and fifty college freshman an introductory course on the Old Testament. On the first day of the class, I gave the students a syllabus and I said: “You have to write three short term papers, five pages each. The first one is due September 30 when you come to class, the second one October 30, and the third one November 30. Make sure that you have them done by the due date, because if you don’t, unless you are physically confined to the infirmary or in the hospital, or unless there is a death in the immediate family, you will get an F on that assignment. Does everybody understand that?” They all said, “Yes.”
On September 30, two hundred and twenty-five of my students came in with their term papers. There were twenty-five terrified freshmen who came in trembling. They said: “Oh, Professor Sproul, we didn’t budget our time properly. We haven’t made the transition from high school to college the way we should have. Please don’t flunk us. Please give us a few more days to get our papers finished.”
I said: “OK, this once I will give you a break. I will let you have three more days to get your papers in, but don’t you let that happen again.”
“Oh, no, we won’t let it happen again,” they said. “Thank you so, so, so much.”
Then came October 30. This time, two hundred students came with their term papers, but fifty students didn’t have them. I asked, “Where are your papers?”
They said: “Well, you know how it is, Prof. We’re having midterms, and we had all kinds of assignments for other classes. Plus, it’s homecoming week. We’re just running a little behind. Please give us just one more chance.”
I asked: “You don’t have your papers? Do you remember what I said the last time? I said, ‘Don’t even think about not having this one in on time.’ And now, fifty of you don’t have them done.”
“Oh, yes,” they said, “we know.”
I said: “OK. I will give you three days to turn in your papers. But this is the last time I extend the due date.”
Do you know what happened? They started singing spontaneously, “We love you, Prof Sproul, oh, yes, we do.” I was the most popular professor on that campus.
But then came November 30. This time one hundred of them came with their term papers, but a hundred and fifty of them did not. I watched them walk in as cool and as casual as they could be. So I said, “Johnson!”
“What?” he replied.
“Do you have your paper?”
“Don’t worry about it, Prof,” he responded. “I’ll have it for you in a couple of days.”
I picked up the most dreadful object in a freshman’s experience, my little black grade book. I opened it up and I asked, “Johnson, you don’t have your term paper?”
He said, “No”
I said, “F,” and I wrote that in the grade book. Then I asked, “Nicholson, do you have your term paper?” “No, I don’t have it.” “F. Jenkins, where is your term paper?”
“I don’t have it.”
“F.”
Then, out of the midst of this crowd, someone shouted, “That’s not fair.” I turned around and asked, “Fitzgerald, was that you who said that?”
He said, “Yeah, it’s not fair.”
I asked, “Weren’t you late with your paper last month?”
“Yeah,” he responded.
“OK, Fitzgerald, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. If it’s justice you want, it’s justice you will get.” So I changed his grade from October to an F. When I did that, there was a gasp in the room. I asked, “Who else wants justice?” I didn’t get any takers.
There was a song in the musical My Fair Lady titled “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.” Well, those students had grown accustomed to my grace. The first time they were late with their papers, they were amazed by grace. The second time, they were no longer surprised; they basically assumed it. By the third time, they demanded it. They had come to believe that grace was an inalienable right, an entitlement they all deserved.
I took that occasion to explain to my students: “Do you know what you did when you said, ‘That’s not fair’? You confused justice and grace.” The minute we think that anybody owes us grace, a bell should go off in our heads to alert us that we are no longer thinking about grace, because grace, by definition, is something we don’t deserve. It is something we cannot possibly deserve. We have no merit before God, only demerit. If God should ever, ever treat us justly outside of Christ, we would perish. Our feet would surely slip.

The Golden Child by Penelope Fitzgerald


I recently read another Penelope Fitzgerald novel, her first (of nine). The Golden Child came out in 1977 and it has been said that it "offers a satirical version of the King Tut exhibition at the British Museum" (of 1972). It also pokes fun at museum politics, academic scholars and Cold War spying. it has 11 main characters and without visual clues I got some of them mixed up a bit adn the denouement which is of the detective genre was not that gripping but it is otherwise good stuff with some very funny lines. I wished I'd marked the funny lines. I read that the original draft was 75, 000 word but the publishers got her to cut it too 50,000. Good thing.
Some examples I found
In order to continue living in a very small terraced house in Claphain South, [ ... ] he had to repay to the Whitstable and Protective Building Society the sum of f 118 a month. This figure loomed so large in Waring's daily thoughts, was so punctually waiting for him during any idle moment, that it sometimes seemed to him that his identity was changing and that there was no connection with the human being of five years ago who had scorned concentration on material things.
'[t1he true international solidarity was not between workers, but between queuers'.
The courtyard was entirely filled with people. A restrained noise rose from them, like the grinding of the sea at slack water. They made slight surges forward, then back, but always gaining an inch.

Midweek Meeting September 19 2018


We were nine again at the midweek meeting. Encouragingly, one person was there for the first time. I also think it is encouraging that although several of us are in our fifties, all six decades (teens, twenties, thirties up to sixties) were represented. We carried on looking at Genesis 19 and this time at verses 19-25 so touching on similar themes as in weeks gone by. Lots to pray for again. One person had news that was of such a nature that man of us were moved to make this ongoing matter something to pray about. What needs there are all around us.

Dog with bark


Day off Week 38


Really didn't feel good at the start of the day. Not sure exactly why. Rather downcast for no reaosn. As the day wore on I seemed to cheer up, however.
The arrangement this year will be that it's just me and Alffi the dog on Tuedays, which is fine but you do feel repsonsible. I should have begun with a long walk with him but I couldn't get going so I went for a short one and managed a bit more later on to get up to the 10000. Had a coffee en route and did some puzzles in the newspaper and then sat in the park. It was a funny day weatherwise, quite autumnal but warm too.
Back home I caught up on my Bible verse notes (I try to write something on at least one verse each day but often get behind) did some blogging and started a nice fat novel I spotted in a Charity shop the other day. At some point an engineer called asking me to open up the chapel so he could check the fire extinguishers, That didn't take too long and I took opportunity to carry on throwing out stuff from my chapel study which is in big need of a sorting. In the evening a church member came round for a brief chat about future plans in the church. Before bed we watched the next bit in a TV drama and the news. Not a bad day all told.

Words Farrukh Dhondy's private babel

I was in a charity shop a few weeks back and I stumbled across a book called Words by Farrukh Dondhy. I recognised the name from wayback. When I trained as a teacher (yes, I trained as an English teacher many moons ago). I remember a book of short stories for young people he had back then (Come to Mecca). Anyway this little book was right up my street. A rambling sort of book, it consists of a series of musings on words and their meanings with special reference to the Indian subcontinent where Mr Dhondy lived before coming to England to study Kipling and so on. If I tell you that he has worked for Channel 4 you will nt be surprised to hear that he lets himself down badly on the language front at a certain points, which is a shame. The core of the book, however, is full of interest. There were several areas where my understanding of the whole matter advanced (for example I was aware that bungalow is Indian but I had not connected it to the word Bengali). A good find.

Tiny Histories by Dixe Wills

I picked up Tiny Histories: Trivial events and trifling decisions that changed British history by Dixe Wills the other month and read it over the summer. I'd not realised it was part of a sort of series. It can be read in isolation. This volume is a series of anecdotes referening various events in history. he does stretch the format a litle here and there but it's okay. There are forty stories in six sections, some I knew (such as Byrhtnoth's act of chivalry and the two Liverpool teenagers who meet at a church fete) and some I didn't (such as arsenic poisoning in Bradford and Robert Clive's attempted suicide) and some I was vague on (Henry I and his lampreys and the 1964 election and a change of programme on BBC).

Lord's Day September 16 2018


I preached in the morning to a typically sized number (around 35) from Luke 15 on the lost son. It was encouraging to see most people present when we started (it's not always like that). There were people missing (including at least three young men I hoped to see - I got rather down about that later) but visitors too, including a couple who start at the seminary this week. Our Nigerian friend came again and a couple sat at the back before leaving straight after the service. They looked a little South Sea Islands to me and did turn out to be a Maori couple on holiday from Wellington.
We had a decent number in the evening too (18?) when I carried on with Matthew 21 and the cleansing of the Temple, including a mother and daughter new to the area who found us on the Internet. The daughter had come to faith hearing the preaching of Ray Bevan on TV. Hope we see them again. You never know in Childs Hill.
In the afternoon we had a visit from the son of former members from the States (he left 19 years ago when he was two!) over in London. It was  great delight to talk to him. I completely forgot it was evening communion at 6 pm, however, so we had to rush over and ai cam up wiht a truncated service - not the ideal way to do it. (We've had the communion before the main meeting for over 25 years I guess and I've forgotten about three times now).

November 21-23, 1963


21st
1. Death Robert Stroud, Springfield, Missouri, 73 (American convict "Birdman of Alcatraz")

22nd
2. Death J F Kennedy, Dallas, 46
3. Death C S Lewis, Oxford, 65
4. Death Aldous Huxley, Hollywood, 69
5. Death William R Titterton, 87 (journalist and poet, friend and first biographer of G K Chesterton)
6. Death J D Tippit, Dallas, 39 (American police officer, also murdered by Lee Harvey Oswald)
7. Death Wilhelm Beiglböck, Buxtehude, 58 (Nazi war doctor)
8.  Release of the Beatles second studio album With the Beatles

23rd
9.  Death Luis Cernuda, Mexico City, 61 (Spanish poet and exile)
10. BBC broadcasts first episode of Dr Who series

Midweek Meeting September 12 2018


There were nine of us for yesterday's meeting as we get back into the swing of things. I took us through Genesis 19:12-17 (sobering stuff) and then we prayed. There always seem to be loads of things to pray for. Everybody took a turn to pray I think.

10 Types of saw


1. Rip saw
2. Salt saw
3. Two-man saw
4. Tenon saw
5. Carcase saw
6. Bow saw, Turning saw or Buck saw
7. Coping saw
8. Felloe saw (a pit saw with a narrow tapering blade for sawing out the felloes of wooden cart wheels)
9. Surgeon's saw (surgical saw, bone cutter)
10. Jigsaw ("saber saw" (US))
(also Chainsaw, Ice saw and (continuous) band saw)

10 Four Letter Bird Names

1. Swan
2. Dove
3. Gull
4. Lark
5. Wren
6. Duck
7. Teal
8. Myna
9. Rook
10. Crow

Day off Week 37


At the start of the day I saw a pair of canvas boots I've not worn much over the summer. I then walked over 12000 steps with the dog which was good. had a coffee in Highgate adn did the puzzles.
I managed to read another good book this week, another nice hardback, beautifully produced by Ligonier. This was Sinclair Ferguson's By grace alone. He works his way through the hymn How the grace of God amazes me by E T Sibomona a verse at a time. Some familiar themes arise, like the Prodigal son and Romans 6 and so on, but also Ephesians 6 and Job. I was really refreshed by the book and was once again amazed by grace, the purpose of the book. It's not a new book. It came out in 2007. Worth checking out though.
I also read a chunk of a novel (Penelope Fitzgerald's first The golden child). Very well observed and quite funny.
Listened to music this week. Lots of Bob Dylan. Watched TV in the evening with Eleri. Dipped into her Strictly adn Bake off and then watched the first in a new drama series Strangers.