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.

Response to Dawkins

Review of a good response to Dawkins here - Creideamh

Bradford on Avon

Owing to a little bit of disorganisation on my part I was preaching away from home again yesterday, this time in the Old Baptist Chapel in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire. Owing chiefly to family connections I have preached there two or three times before and so we know some in the congregation a little. Two of my boys stayed, while we were there, with a family in the church whose son they have got to know. The pastor is Paul Oliver, who was away preaching in Bedford. Retired pastors Robert Oliver and John Alsop are also still in the church as are others who regularly preach. Mark Hope works as an evangelist.
Predominantly white and middle class (reflecting the area) the people are very serious and prayerful and keen to reach out to the surrounding area. About a hundred gathered in the morning and something like 60-70 in the evening. The day began with Sunday School, including an adult Bible Class (a fine study on the opening verses of Colossians by one of the members), followed by a prayer meeting. Two members prayed with me further before I preached from Mark 12:1-12.
After a pleasant afternoon with my sister-in-law Catrin and her husband Ian Alsop at their home just outside Bradford (in Trowbridge) we headed off for the evening prayer meeting and preaching service. I preached this time on Ezekiel 18.

Short Poem 09

This rather unseasonal poem is by the American poet Robert Frost (1874-1963). Wikipedia (see here) says his work 'frequently drew inspiration from rural life in New England, using the setting to explore complex social and philosophical themes. A popular and often-quoted poet, Frost was highly honoured during his lifetime, receiving four Pulitzer prizes.

Stopping by woods on a snowy evening

Whose woods these are I think I know,
His house is in the village though.
He will not see me stopping here,
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer,
To stop without a farmhouse near,
Between the woods and frozen lake,
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake,
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep,
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Hymn of the week 5

I chose 'Awake my soul' to begin yesterday's worship. It is the work of Bishop Thomas Ken (1637-1711). Trained at Win­ches­ter and New Coll­ege, Ox­ford, he was or­dained (1662) and became Rec­tor of Lit­tle East­on, then of Wood­hay [and Pre­ben­da­ry of Win­ches­ter] (1669). He pub­lished a Man­ual of Pray­ers for the use of Win­ches­ter Coll­ege scholars (1674). He was briefly chap­lain to Prin­cess Ma­ry and lat­er to the British fleet. He be­came Bi­shop of Bath and Wells (1685). He was one of several bi­shops im­pris­oned in the Tow­er of Lon­don for re­fus­ing to sign James II’s “De­clar­a­tion of In­dul­gence” (hop­ing to re­store Catholicism). He was tried and ac­quit­ted. He wrote much po­e­try, published posthumously (1721).
This one was written for the boys at Win­chest­er College for use in their rooms, for pri­vate de­vo­tions. At Ken’s request, the hymn was sung at his fun­er­al, fit­tingly held at sun­rise. We sang

Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise,
To pay thy morning sacrifice.

Thy precious time misspent, redeem,
Each present day thy last esteem,
Improve thy talent with due care;
For the great day thyself prepare.

In conversation be sincere;
Keep conscience as the noontide clear;
Think how all seeing God thy ways
And all thy secret thoughts surveys.

All praise to Thee, Who safe has kept
And hast refreshed me while I slept
Grant, Lord, when I from death shall wake
I may of endless light partake.

Lord, I my vows to Thee renew;
Disperse my sins as morning dew.
Guard my first springs of thought and will,
And with Thyself my spirit fill.

Direct, control, suggest, this day,
All I design, or do, or say,
That all my powers, with all their might,
In Thy sole glory may unite.

You can add these verses at various points (as found in Cyberhymnal)

By influence of the Light divine
Let thy own light to others shine.
Reflect all Heaven’s propitious ways
In ardent love, and cheerful praise.

Wake, and lift up thyself, my heart,
And with the angels bear thy part,
Who all night long unwearied sing
High praise to the eternal King.

Heav’n is, dear Lord, where’er Thou art,
O never then from me depart;
For to my soul ’tis hell to be
But for one moment void of Thee.

I would not wake nor rise again
And Heaven itself I would disdain,
Wert Thou not there to be enjoyed,
And I in hymns to be employed.

There is also the famous stand alone concluding verse:

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Bloggy Special 09

Mediaeval Helpdesk

Ansgar the monk gets to grips with the new technology 2':38". I've been there. They are speaking in Norwegian. The skit is six years old but has more recently become a Youtube hit.

Nice spoof here

Tominthebox News Network
Here's a nice spoof for Reformed preachers from the consistently funny Tom in the Box.

Favourite Puns 06

Do they sell fridges in Selfridges? (They do)

Short Poem 08

[George] Marriott Edgar (1880-1951) was born Kirkcudbright, Scotland and was a poet, screenwriter (25 films) actor and comedian best known for writing 16 monologues for Stanley Holloway, particularly the 'Albert' series (Holloway himself wrote 5). A backstage indiscretion meant that his father also produced the famous journalist, novelist, playwright and screenplay writer Edgar Wallace (NB the use of the name Wallace in the famous The Lion & Albert). Five years his junior Marriott outlived Edgar Wallace by 19 years. The poems should be read in a north of England accent. For more see here.

The Battle Of Hastings

I'll tell of the Battle of Hastings,
As happened in days long gone by,
When Duke William became King of England,
And 'Arold got shot in the eye.

It were this way - one day in October
The Duke, who were always a toff
Having no battles on at the moment,
Had given his lads a day off.

They'd all taken boats to go fishing,
When some chap in t' Conqueror's ear
Said 'Let's go and put breeze up the Saxons;'
Said Bill - 'By gum, that's an idea.'

Then turning around to his soldiers,
He lifted his big Norman voice,
Shouting - 'Hands up who's coming to England.'
That was swank 'cos they hadn't no choice.

They started away about tea-time -
The sea was so calm and so still,
And at quarter to ten the next morning
They arrived at a place called Bexhill.

King 'Arold came up as they landed -
His face full of venom and 'ate -
He said 'lf you've come for Regatta
You've got here just six weeks too late.'

At this William rose, cool but 'aughty,
And said 'Give us none of your cheek;
You'd best have your throne re-upholstered,
I'll be wanting to use it next week.'

When 'Arold heard this 'ere defiance,
With rage he turned purple and blue,
And shouted some rude words in Saxon,
To which William answered - 'And you.'

'Twere a beautiful day for a battle;
The Normans set off with a will,
And when both sides was duly assembled,
They tossed for the top of the hill.

King 'Arold he won the advantage,
On the hill-top he took up his stand,
With his knaves and his cads all around him,
On his 'orse with his 'awk in his 'and.

The Normans had nowt in their favour,
Their chance of a victory seemed small,
For the slope of the field were against them,
And the wind in their faces an' all.

The kick-off were sharp at two-thirty,
And soon as the whistle had went
Both sides started banging each other
'Til the swineherds could hear them in Kent.

The Saxons had best line of forwards,
Well armed both with buckler and sword -
But the Normans had best combination,
And when half-time came neither had scored.

So the Duke called his cohorts together
And said - 'Let's pretend that we're beat,
Once we get Saxons down on the level
We'll cut off their means of retreat.'

So they ran - and the Saxons ran after,
Just exactly as William had planned,
Leaving 'Arold alone on the hill-top
On his 'orse with his 'awk in his 'and.

When the Conqueror saw what had happened,
A bow and an arrow he drew;
He went right up to 'Arold and shot him.
He were off-side, but what could they do?

The Normans turned round in a fury,
And gave back both parry and thrust,
Till the fight were all over bar shouting,
And you couldn't see Saxons for dust.

And after the battle were over
They found 'Arold so stately and grand,
Sitting there with an eye-full of arrow
On his 'orse with his 'awk in his 'and.

Alan Ball

When I was in school I was a real soccer fan. We had an influential boy in the class whose favourite team was Everton and whose favourite player was the World Cup final star Alan Ball. He even got us to form an Alan Ball Fan Club. I used to have a football programme with Alan Ball and his father (also Alan Ball and a minor player himself) playing chess against each other on the cover. A footnote said there was a big argument over who was to be winning at the time in the shot. I've never been competitive myself but there is something attractive about it and the late Alan Ball had it in heaps. It is surprising reading the obituaries to see how little success he knew after the glory of 1966 when he was 21. The race is not to the swift.
The clip shows Bobby Charlton (another hero of the time for me) speaking about Ball.

Banner of Truth UK 2007

So, I'm back from the Banner Conference. Attendance seemed as high as ever though I was told numbers were down and people seemed to be missing (it was quite late in April - next year's it is at the beginning).
As intimated, I arrived late and missed the opening sessions with Gerard Hemmings (John 3:16) then Sinclair Ferguson (Christus Victor, Gen 3:15), which many raved over. I always think the conference is slightly too long so missing out like that was not so bad.
The main speaker was John MacArthur who in 3 morning sessions spoke helpfully on the shame of the cross. We also had an interesting question and answer session with him and Iain Murray and on a panel with Murray, Stuart Olyott and others chaired by Ian Hamilton. It was good to hear Dr MacArthur assert his Calvinism, share some wonderful anecdotes from his 38 years of ministry and take us back to the offensive gospel message we seek to preach.
Alun McNabb gave 2 morning messages on Christ and the Apostles as our example. Mr M, like JM no spring chicken, is an abrasive but witty man (eg my version, your perversion). The addresses lacked theological meatiness (and perhaps exegetical rigour) but were well constructed, interesting, challenging exhortations. See here for more sermons.
In the evenings Ian Hamilton preached helpfully on what the church needs (Eph 1) and Iain Murray gave a fine paper on man of the moment John Newton. We all sang a verse of Amazing Grace at the vote of thanks to the staff on the last night. We also had two excellent 10 minute blasts - Chad Van Dixhorn on Puritan preaching; Martin Holdt on prayer. These short slots introduced a few years ago work well. There were very few reports from overseas, though reference was made to the martyrs in Turkey and some spoke (Holdt from RSA now in Germany, Jyoti Chakrabati from W Bengal, etc). Little was lost by the omission.
Prayer meetings were well attended. I never find it easy in such a large gathering to contribute or benefit. Meeting old friends is always good. Not too much bad news this year. Chatting late into the night is fun too. About 12 of us crammed into Paul Levy's room one night to listen to Iain Murray and Geoff Thomas then talk into the night.
I benefited most from the final message from Steven Curry (Ballymoney). Taking Heb 12:1-3 as his text he looked at Psalm 22 and spoke very helpfully on the suffering and triumph of the cross urging us to prayer, learning from the lives of the saints, experimental Calvinism, real faith and great hope. A fresh look at the cross is always a great tonic.

For Iain Murray check here. For John MacArthur here.

Al Mohler

An interesting conversation has been developing here. It started off quite superfically but then took a serious turn when one contributor expressed real doubts about the credibility of Al Mohler as a card carrying Calvinist. I've met Al Mohler. I'm not sure what to make of it all.

Banner Conferences

My son and his friend got back from a well attended and enjoyable Banner Youth Conference late last night. He particularly enjoyed John MacArthur on Luke 15 and 2 Timothy 2 as well as Sinclair Ferguson and others. Buying books is not that much fun when your father has a big library and when you've been to Banner a few times the question time has a familiar ring (... now this doctrine of predestination ...) but he enjoyed meeting old friends and new. The decision to take a nap during the recreation period was probably a wise one.
I'm off to Leicester myself today but I can't head off until late tonight so I hope getting in won't be too difficult. I'm sorry to be missing Gerard Hemmings and Sinclair Ferguson. I'm looking forward to hearing John MacArthur, who I've only heard once before in the flesh.

Busy weekend

I have had a very busy weekend.
Friday night it was our children and young people's meetings. Having had such a good Holiday Bible Club week we were wondering what numbers would be like at our first club after that. We are thankful to God that nearly 30 came. One of our deacons spoke on Jairus's daughter and then they worked on finishing the mural we started at the Holiday Club. Around 20 came to the older group too. I spoke to them on 'What is a real Christian?' using something I'd prepared for a meeting for ladies here the night before, then we played some hockey in our hall. My eldest son, another boy and our LTS man were away at the Banner Youth Conference.
Then on the Saturday I went up to Welwyn for meetings of the European Missionary Fellowship. This year we had a morning and afternoon meeting instead of the usual afternoon and evening, which seemed to work well with about 60 present. Assistant Director Martin Leech chaired the sessions on 'London- emerging mission field'. Director Daniel Webber began by outlining the current challenge. Interesting statistics included 1M Poles now in the UK; 250K Russian speakers in London; 30% of London residents are born outside the UK (2001); 300 languages are spoken in London; there are some 50 non-indigenous groups of 10K or more; 565K immigrants came to the UK for a year or more (2006). Mr Webber emphasised the need to be aware of this massive mission field, to wisely deal with the practical problems this raises, to make good use of literature and to set people apart to reach these people.
Ken Brownell of East London Tabernacle then spoke on his own congregation's attempts to deal with this (they have some 35 different nations represented on a Sunday). In particular they have set up a Russian speaking congregation and Yuriy Vyshnevs'kyy spoke about that. After lunch, Istvan Salanki spoke about the rather different Hungarian work that he now heads in West London. Both clearly have many opportunities and have seen some conversions but are struggling to keep up with the fast changing situation. We had a short time for questions. Along with the opportunity for fellowship over lunch this was a stimulating time. Ken also preached a fine semron on the lepers discovering the departure of the Assyrian army.
Then that evening I spoke on David Brainerd over at Newtown Evangelical Baptist Church, Chesham. This was the beginning of their anniversary meetings. Chesham, just over the Buckinghamshire border from Herts, I discovered is actually only 40 minutes from my door but a world away in other respects, being something of a country town with many commuters to London as well as many working locally.
I preached on the Sunday from 1 John 1 and Ecclesiastes 6/7. The morning congregation was around a hundred and with a fairly good age spread. I had not preached there before but I know the pastor Mark Richards through Grace Baptist Assembly and really appreciated the opportunity. I know some members of the congregation a little and it was good to meet others adn hear their stories. We had lunch in the church together and that added to the fellowship of the day. It is always difficult to know how to minster to people you do not know so well but when they are receptive to the Word it makes all the difference and I returned home to my wife at the end of the day thankful to God for the opportunity and warmed in my heart.

The Bloggy Man 29

Christians die in Turkey

I was recently informed of deaths in Turkey last Wednesday. it behoves us to pray earnestly for Christians in Turkey. According to a Reuters news agency report from Istanbul

Turkish police have detained 10 people in connection with the killing of three people, including a German, at a Bible publishing house in the mainly Muslim country, authorities said yesterday.
The three were found on Wednesday with their throats slit at the Zirve publishing house in Malatya, a city in the southeast of the country.
Voicing shock across the country at the latest attack on Turkey's small Christian minority, a headline in the Milliyet daily said: "The nightmare continues."
It linked the new attack with the murders of Turkish-Armenian editor Hrant Dink in January and an Italian priest last year.
[In February 2006, a Turkish teenager shot a Roman Catholic priest to death as he prayed in his church, and two other priests were attacked later that year.]

Malatya Governor Halil Ebrahim Dasoz told reporters the number of people in custody had risen to 10 and that all were from the same age group. He gave no further details.
The first five suspects, detained at the crime scene on Wednesday, were 19- and 20-year-old students who lived in the same hostel run by an Islamic foundation, newspapers said.
They said the youths carried notes in their pockets saying: "We are brothers. We are going to our death." They reportedly told police they carried out the killing for the "homeland".
Turkish Christians voiced distress over the killings, saying distrust of Christianity was being stirred up in Turkey where there are just 100,000 Christians in a population of 74 million.
"It was a disgusting, savage incident. I link it to comments made by party leaders, feeding people with comments like 'there are missionaries everywhere'," Pastor Behnan Konutgan said by telephone from Malatya where he was visiting relatives of the victims.

Another report says
The Zirve publishing house, whose name means "Summit," had previously been the target of ultranationalist protests and threats. Turkish television showed footage of one such demonstration in Malatya in 2005, in which the mostly youthful marchers chanted slogans denouncing Christian evangelism. "There has been a mood against Christian missionaries for a long time, despite the tradition of tolerance in the old Ottoman Empire," said Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish columnist and analyst who writes often on interfaith issues. "Turkey is becoming an insecure place for minorities in general."

Other reports say that the three victims - a German and two Turkish citizens - were found with their hands and legs bound and their throats slit at the publishing house. Police went to the scene after receiving calls about a fight.
The German and one of the Turkish victims were found dead, and the third victim died in a hospital, Malatya Governor Halil İbrahim Daşöz said.
One of the victims, Ugur Yuksel, was buried according to Muslim rites on Thursday in a village near Elazig in eastern Turkey. Newspapers described the other victim, Necati Aydin, as the head of the tiny Christian community in Malatya. (His widow is shown above). He was arrested for selling Bibles and accused of insulting Islam seven years ago in İzmir, but acquitted due to the testimonies of witnesses saying that he only gave the Bible to them and did not mention anything about Islam. he will be buried in Izmir tomorrow.
The German man is called Tilmann Geske. He was 46 and had been living in Malatya since 2003. His widow, Susanne Geske, has said that she wanted her husband to be buried in Malatya. She also noted that she loved Malatya and wanted to stay there. A felow worker described Tilmann as 'a slender German man who never wasted a sentence when a word would suffice'.
A wave of nationalism has swept the secular but predominantly Sunni Muslim country over the past year. For many nationalists, missionaries are enemies of Turkey working to undermine its political and religious institutions. Hardline Islamists have also targeted Christian missionaries in Turkey, which is seeking European Union membership.
Joost Lagendijk of the European Parliament's Turkey delegation, visiting the nearby southeastern city of Diyarbakir, said the killings would send a negative message to Europe and that there was paranoia about missionaries in Turkey.
In Diyarbakir, there was growing concern in the 50-strong Protestant community, whose church was damaged in an arson attack three years ago. `We have not been threatened as yet but as Christians in Turkey we are subject to pressure psychologically and from the media and after this incident we are more uneasy,' said Ali Is, who works in the Diyarbakir church.

5.3 Solomon Worship

How to establish the worship of God on earth 2
It must have been a very grand state occasion when David spoke these words to Solomon. In 28:1 it becomes clear that this is so. There is some repetition in these chapters but there are at least four new things to note about the establishment of the worship of God.
1. It will be established by one chosen by God
In 29:1 we read ‘the one whom God has chosen’. David begins by again explaining how he had wanted to build the Temple but had been forbidden by God. He then refers firstly to God choosing him and then to Solomon as his successor and the one who would build the temple. See verses 5-7.
'Of all my sons - and the LORD has given me many - he has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel. He said to me, Solomon your son is the one who will build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. I will establish his kingdom for ever if he is unswerving in carrying out my commands and laws, as is being done at this time.'
The worship of God is to be established by one chosen by God. The temple was established by Solomon but the worship of God on earth, worship everywhere in Spirit and in truth, is established by the Lord Jesus Christ – he is the one God has chosen to do it. It cannot be established without him.
2. It will be established through sincere obedience
In light of this David speaks to the leaders and says (8, 9a) 'So now I charge you in the sight of all Israel and of the assembly of the LORD, and in the hearing of our God: Be careful to follow all the commands of the LORD your God, that you may possess this good land and pass it on as an inheritance to your descendants for ever.'
To Solomon, as leader of the people, he says 'acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.'
We must never forget that. David goes on 'If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you for ever. Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a temple as a sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.'
That is the message for us who believe today - the LORD has chosen you to build a temple … Be strong and do the work. Let us be about this grand work of building the church through worship and praise.

3. It will be established according to God-given plans and instructions
Next (11-18) David gives Solomon the plans for the various parts of the temple. These plans ‘the Spirit had put in his mind.’ He also gave instructions regarding the conduct of worship in the temple and what was to be used, including the mercy seat or atonement cover, here called ‘the chariot’. This was the very throne of God. Verse 19 'All this, David said, I have in writing from the hand of the LORD upon me, and he gave me understanding in all the details of the plan.'
When we talk about plans we think immediately of the Word of God. It is the plan, the road map, the God given chart, for conducting the worship of God. We must follow it to the letter.

4. It will be established as its progress is encouraged by God’s continued presence and help
In verse 20 David again says to Solomon ‘Be strong and courageous, and do the work’. He goes on 'Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.'
That promise is for us too who believe. He is with us and will never fail us or forsake us. Further, just as for Solomon (21) 'The divisions of the priests and Levites were ready for all the work on the temple of God, and every willing man skilled in any craft was willing to help him in all the work by obeying.'
In a similar way we can be sure of God’s help today.

How the worship of God is to be sustained here on earth
Finally, in Chapter 29, David speaks of additional giving to the work that he has made and the leaders give too. David also praises God and the people follow suit. Here are lessons for us about sustaining the worship of God. It is sustained by several things.

1. What Christ has already given
There is some repetition at the beginning but then David says that in addition to what he has already given, he wants to give gold and silver from his personal treasures. This gives us an insight into the way that the Lord Jesus has given to us. Such giving sustains the work.

2. The giving of God’s people
However, David challenges the others there and says (5) ‘Now, who is willing to consecrate himself today to the LORD?’ And there is an excellent response. The various leaders also give tons and tons of gold, silver, bronze and iron and also precious stones. 9 'The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD. David the king also rejoiced greatly.' They are like the Philippian believers in Paul’s day who first gave themselves to the work and then gave gifts to the work. What a joy it is when God’s people freely give.

3. Worship that is lead by Christ
We then read (10-13) that 'David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendour, for everything in heaven and earth is yours, etc.' He goes on to humbly express the fact that it is God who enables his people to be generous and that they are only giving God what he has already given them. This is how the Lord leads us to worship God – humbling ourselves and honouring him.

4. The prayers of its head
Then in verses 18 and 19 David prays 'O LORD, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of your people for ever, and keep their hearts loyal to you.'
That is how Christ prays for all who believe. 'And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, requirements and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.' The Lord’s desire is for his worship to flourish through Christ.

5. Worship from the people of God
David then urges the others (20) to ‘Praise the LORD your God. So they all praised the LORD, the God of their fathers; they bowed low and fell prostrate before the LORD and the king.’ They all worshipped. They also made many sacrifices and (22) ‘They ate and drank with great joy in the presence of the LORD that day’ and acknowledged Solomon as king a second time, with Zadok as priest. What a glorious picture. This is how it should be with every believer today.

Short Poem 07

Thinking of poets from my home area I thought of W H Davies from Newport, where I was born, who is remembered chiefly for two lines he wrote that begin the poem Leisure. He was also the author of The Autobiography of a Supertramp relating his exoperiences tramping around the American continent. See Wikipedia article here.


What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Cruise 08

Okay, so we finally came full circle and arrived back in Palma, Mallorca. There we disembarked and flew back to Bristol. Well, what a holiday and all thanks to the kindness of my old dad. He'll be 78 next month and has kept in reasonably good health since the heart by-pass. His facility with words is not what it once was but one of the highlights of the trip for me was having a good chinwag with him. I especially liked it when we had a son or two sat with us too. There's something fascinating about the generation thing. It made me remember my dad's father too, a Roman Catholic steelworker born in the black country but who moved to Newport, South Wales as a youngster.
[Pics: My dad and sister in the lift; Mallorca dawn; typical food display on board; last shot in the Captain's Club/Library]

Another chance to see 02

Originally posted November 30, 2006 as The Bloggy Man Again, this was the second in the Bloggy Man series.

Short Poem 06

The Bells of Rhymney by the Socialist Idris Davies (1905-1953) has a special place in my affections as it is written by a poet from my own home county and mentions places that are familiar to me. He originally wrote in Welsh but then exclusively in English. Like me, he became an exile in England, returning only a few years before his death. This ballad about a mining disaster is based on the nursery rhyme and is his best known work thanks to the folk singer Pete Seeger. It was covered by The Byrds and later many others, including Jimmy Page, Judy Collins, Cher and The Alarm. Bob Dylan has sung it on occasion. Singers tend to say 'Rimney' which the rhyme 'give me' would suggest but the place is called 'Rumney'.
Wikipedia article here.

Oh what will you give me
Say the sad bells of Rhymney
Is there hope for the future
Say the brown bells of Merthyr
Who made the mine owner
Say the black bells of Rhondda
And who robbed the miner
Say the grim bells of Blaina.

They will plunder willy-nilly
Say the bells of Caerphilly
They have fangs, they have teeth
Shout the loud bells of Neath
Even God is uneasy
Say the moist bells of Swansea
And what will you give me
Say the sad bells of Rhymney.

Throw the vandals in court
Say the bells of Newport
All would be well if if if if if if
Say the green bells of Cardiff
Why so worried, sisters, why
Sang the silver bells of Wye
And what will you give me
Say the sad bells of Rhymney.

Bloggy Special 08

The Bloggerbloggy

Favourite Puns 05

Alexander John Christopher Andrew MacKellachie Macgillicuddie was not averse to a hymn.
'That thus we may be, forever with Thee; O Jesus, say Amen, yea, Amen' is a verse to a hymn.

Atkins Again

Providentially, I was listening to BBC Radio 4 today when Anne Atkins was on again. Once more she was on the ball. At the close she drew the analogy between abortion and the slave trade that I made myself reviewing Amazing Grace. You can hear it here.

Abortion is like divorce: it is never a good thing. It may arguably be the lesser of two evils, but it is never a reason for rejoicing. So when the Department of Health puts out a statement reassuring us that "the statistics show that the number of abortions performed remains stable year on year" it hardly seems cause for congratulation. Especially when that statistic is over 500 abortions a day, at a cost of over 70 million a year to the NHS.
This subject divides us passionately. And yet surely almost all of us are both pro-choice and pro-life? No civilised person wants either to force a woman to give birth to a baby she dreads, or to end the life of a healthy unborn child. We may disagree about which is worse, but we surely concur that both are pretty undesirable. Can we not agree on other things, then, which might help to reduce the statistics?
Open access to all information, for instance: Some years ago, the Pro-Life Alliance put up 50 candidates for the General Election, specifically to earn the right to make a party political broadcast. I saw that broadcast, and it was the most powerful few minutes of film I've ever seen. Apart from back-ground music, it only consisted of facts, figures and photographs, yet it was banned by every single television channel. Why? Because the images could cause offence. Indeed: but if the truth is unpalat-able, isn't it even more important to see it? It's not hard to think of upsetting television footage we tol-erate without even the need to know.
Also genuine freedom of speech: I was asked to write an article on the negative effects on the mental and physical health of some women who have abortions, and soon discovered an extreme reluctance even to discuss such matters. Of course this was selective information, and as such needed a balance: we also ought to know the negative effects of withholding abortion. Truthful education means all the evidence, all the arguments, all facts and all interpretations. If we don't like a particular bias, the an-swer is more, not less information.
And real choice: The Cardinal Winning Pro-Life Initiative gives help to women with "crisis pregnancies", enabling them to keep the baby if they wish to by giving equipment, support and money. Offered entirely without pressure, it's hard to see what objection could be raised to it - though there have been those, sadly and predictably, who have accused it of "bribing" women. But in recent years there has also been more consensus, and glowing accolades from unexpected pro-choice quarters.
I was at a conference, over the weekend of the anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade, where many wondered what Wilberforce's cause might be today. Some of the world's worst atrocities have been committed against people denied human status - because they are black, because they are Jewish ... and now, perhaps, because they are not yet born.
copyright 2007 BBC

Weekly Proverb 10

Your folly has ruined your life, forget your heart’s rage at the Lord 19:3 A man's own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the LORD
I've known a few Bill Smith's over the years. Whenever I read this proverb, I think of the first I knew. This Bill came regularly to the church where I grew up. I remember him once saying to me that he was very disappointed with the Lord because the Lord had not provided him with a wife. I can picture him now holding his Bible in his hand, black dirt visible under every nail, wearing his scruffy suit and unpolished shoes. His hair was greasy and unkempt, his glasses needed a polish and his shirt partly adrift revealed a dirty vest underneath. I was only a teenager but it did strike me that a lack of effort in the hygiene and neatness departments on his part may have had something to do with his problem. Not all our problems are caused by our own folly but in many cases most of our problems can be traced back to just that. As Job Orton once pointed out, men too often blame God for bad health when they have been intemperate; for difficult circumstances when they have made a bad choice; for rocky family relations when they have been neglectful and a lack of spiritual peace or progress when they have not made use of the means of grace. If we are believers, we can be sure that God is working everything together for our good. Sometimes we do not understand why we have to suffer certain things but for anyone’s heart to rage against God is foolish and sinful.

Der Jammerwoch, etc

By Robert Scott
Okay no more after this. See here for a list with links.

Es brillig war. Die schlichte Toven
Wirrten und wimmelten in Waben;
Und aller-mümsige Burggoven
Die mohmen Räth' ausgraben.

»Bewahre doch vor Jammerwoch!
Die Zähne knirschen, Krallen kratzen!
Bewahr' vor Jubjub-Vogel, vor
Frumiösen Banderschnatzchen!«

Er griff sein vorpals Schwertchen zu,
Er suchte lang das manchsan' Ding;
Dann, stehend unterm Tumtum Baum,
Er an-zu-denken-fing.

Als stand er tief in Andacht auf,
Des Jammerwochen's Augen-feuer
Durch tulgen Wald mit Wiffek kam
Ein burbelnd Ungeheuer!

Eins, Zwei! Eins, Zwei! Und durch und durch
Sein vorpals Schwert zerschnifer-schnück,
Da blieb es todt! Er, Kopf in Hand,
Geläumfig zog zurück.

»Und schlugst Du ja den Jammerwoch?
Umarme mich, mien Böhm'sches Kind!
O Freuden-Tag! O Halloo-Schlag!«
Er schortelt froh-gesinnt.

Es brillig war. Die schlichte Toven
Wirrten und wimmelten in Waben;
Und aller-mümsige Burggoven
Die mohmen Räth' ausgraben.


By Selyf Roberts

Mae'n brydgell ac mae'r brochgim stwd
Yn gimblo a gyrian yn y mhello:
Pob cólomrws yn féddabwd,
A'r hoch oma'n chwibruo.

'Gwylia'r hen Siaberwoc, fy mab!
Y brathiad llym a'r crafanc tynn!
A rhed pan weli'r Gwbigab
A'r ofnynllyd Barllyn!'

Cym'rodd ei gleddyf yn ei law
I geisio ei fanawaidd brae -
A gorffwys ger y goeden Taw,
I feddwl - fel pe tae.

A thra pendronai ymhlith y coed
Y Siaberwoc a'i lygaid fflam
A ddaeth, mor wallgof ag erioed
Gan ffrwtian gam a cham!

Un, dau! Un, dau! drwy'r awyr oer
Aeth min y cledd ysgiw, ysgôl!
Fe'i lladdodd, a chan gludo'i ben
Hwblamodd yn ei ôl.

'A lleddaist ti y Siaberwoc?
Tyrd yma, hapllon fachgen!
O jiwblus ddydd! Hwrê! Hwroc!'
Gan wenu arno'n llawen.

Mae'n brydgell ac mae'r brochgim stwd
Yn gimblo a gyrian yn y mhello:
Pob cólomrws yn féddabwd,
A'r hoch oma'n chwibruo.

Written in 1984.

Le Jaseroque

And all that time I'd thought Jaseroque was a sort of music

Il brilgue: les tôves lubricilleux
Se gyrent en vrillant dans le guave,
Enmîmés sont les gougebosqueux,
Et le mômerade horsgrave.

Garde-toi du Jaseroque, mon fils!
La gueule qui mord; la griffe qui prend!
Garde-toi de l'oiseau Jube, évite
Le frumieux Band-à-prend.

Son glaive vorpal en mail il va-
T-à la recherche du fauve manscant;
Puis arriveé à l'arbre Té-Té,
Il y reste, réfléchissant.

Pendant qu'il pense, tout uffusé
Le Jaseroque, à l'oeil flambant,
Vient siblant par le bois tullegeais,
Et burbule en venant.

Un deux, un deux, par le milieu,
Le glaive vorpal fait pat-à-pan!
La bête défaite, avec sa tête,
Il rentre gallomphant.

As-tu tué le Jaseroque?
Viens à mon coeur, fils rayonnais!
O jour frabbejeais! Calleau! Callai!
Il cortule dans sa joie.

Il brilgue: les tôves lubricilleux
Se gyrent en vrillant dans le guave,
Enmîmés sont les gougebosqueux,
Et le mômerade horsgrave.

Short Poem 05

Charles Dodgson or Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky is undoubtedly the greatest nonsense poem of all time. Deservedly it has a wikipedia entry here. What Carroll has done seems simple but you try it and see how very difficult it is in fact. It features in his Alice book Through the looking glass of 1871. the first verse appeared in a magazine where it was claimed to be in Anglo-Saxon. Chorltled, galumphing and frabjous have since been accepted as real words. I think brillig should be too.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

'Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!'

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought--
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

'And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Favourite Puns 04

This was a favourite of mine in my courting days. Isle of Ewe. I must tell you my St Valentine's Day one another time.


An anti-powerpoint article of interest to preachers can be found in The Times (2) today. See here.
These are the most interesting paragraphs.
...The research, from the University of New South Wales, suggests that we process information best in verbal or written form, but not in both simultaneously. As so often, it has taken the best efforts of brainy academics to prove what most of us instinctively knew. Trying to follow what someone is saying while watching the same words on a screen is the equivalent of riding a bicycle along a crowded train. It offers the appearance of making extra progress but is actually rather impractical. ...

... If you do want to win an audience to your point of view, whatever it is you’re selling, then there is no effective alternative to the traditional art of speechmaking. Rhetoric, as it used to be known, has acquired a dodgy reputation over the years. Platform speeches have become equated, thanks to the efforts of hack politicians like me, with pompous and stilted cliché-mongering. You know the sort of stuff — references to things being “beyond peradventure” and initiatives being “rolled out through multi-agency working”. But it is still the case that a single speech can move, excite, motivate and change minds in a way that no other form of communication can accomplish. ...

... Why is it that old-fashioned rhetoric is so much more effective than 21st-century slide-shows? It’s partly because pictures created by words are so much more memorable and moving than words appearing on a screen designed for pictures. And it’s also because classical rhetoric has developed, over generations, to fit arguments to the contours of the human mind. Classical orators have learnt how to shape their thoughts to rest pleasingly in our ears. The use of lists of three, the deployment of humour, image and metaphor, the way in which the tone of voice is varied, are all techniques every bit as sophisticated as any Microsoft program, and much more user-friendly.
A single speech, in isolation, whether it’s the Gettysburg Address or a party conference oration, is one of the most persuasive tools devised by man. But there is one that is even more finely honed. And that’s the debating speech — the reply to a conversation in which the claims of your competitors are examined, and shredded, with logic and humour. ...

Outbreak of morality

Alan Davey put me on to this
Unexpected outbreak of morality Dt Opinion Opinion Telegraph

Cruise 07

Our Good Friday, the penultimate day of our cruise was spent, as mentioned in Menorca, in Mao or Mahon. I am quite unfamilar with a Catholic Good Friday and it wa sinteresting to see nearly everything closed and some flags at half mast plus the 'hoodies' I mentioned in a previous post. Since my earlier post I found a website mentioning an evangelical church in Mahon (jarsofclay) but it doesn't seem very sound and the site looks way out of date. PS Mr Bean was everywhere we went.

The Film about Wilberforce

So I finally got to see 'Amazing Grace' last night. Many thoughts went through my head as I watched what is a good film - interesting, well made, true to the spirit of its chosen subject.
I thought of Chariots of Fire and how excited we were, but I was young then. It's still good to see a positive film about an evangelical Christian, however, even if they don't get it quite right (with him or with Newton - powerful but ultimately inaccurate portrayal). A lot of dramatic licence is used as in CoF (where the attractive hurdling nobleman is a pure figment of the imagination) - Amazing Grace to the familiar tune, the black gentleman he never met, etc. I think I understand why that is necessary better than I did in the past. Then there is the counterpart (a la Harold Abrahams) with Pitt and Thomas Clarkson, so we don't forget what good sorts humanists (moderate and extreme) are too. Scenes like the one where it is made clear how pro-American Wilberforce was and the gratuitous use of Scots guards playing the AG tune outside Westminster Abbey at the very end grated slightly but we need to live in the real world and at least when we talk about Wilberforce and the Clapham Sect people will have some idea of what we are talking about.
All the way through I couldn't help thinking about the abortion trade, the scandal of our own age. The parallels between the two have long been apparent to me. Seeing the valiant efforts they made and the constant defeats they knew and the sort of bedfellows one has to make to get anything done in Parliament was rather dispiriting in some ways but if God gave them victory in the end, surely we have hope too.

Short Poem 04

This very brief, humourous and self-effacing poem appeals to me. It is by Christopher Logue (born 1926). Wikipedia here says his poems tend to be 'short, pithy and frequently political'.

London Airport

Last night in London Airport
I saw a wooden bin
So I wrote a poem
and popped it in.

Favourite Puns 03

My boys enjoy the Cruise

Cruise 06

By the Wednesday we were beyond Italy and reached Nice, France. Nice is big and wealthy. We came on a good day weatherwise and enjoyed our time on the promenade, on the beach and in the market. Very nice. Above we have a rare shot of the whole party then one of my wife and our nephew. (Nephew in Nice - I can't see any pun there).

Amazing Drum Solo

This clip is a little long (6' 36") not great quality and in B&W but it is of the amazing Stevie Wonder playing the drums. Possibly you are unaware that Stevie Wonder is blind. This adds to it for me. I've no reason to believe this is a spoof. Enjoy!

10 Short Instrumentals

Ten great instrumentals between 2:01 and 2:16 long

1. Nutrocker by B Bumble and the Stingers 2:01
2. Woo hoo by The Rockateens 2:02
3. Walk don't run by The Ventures 2:05
4. Bongo Rock by Preston Epps 2:06
5. Mr Moto by The Belairs 2:09
6. Tequila by The Champs 2:11
7. Perfidia by The Shadows 2:13
8. Guitar Boogie by Chuck Berry 2:15
9. Wipe Out by The Surfaris 2:16
10. Let there be drums by Ricky Nelson 2:16

10 Short Songs

Ten great songs between 1:50 and 2:06 long (Above two short men who feature on some of these records).

1. Rave on by Buddy Holly 1:50
2. From me to you by The Beatles 1:56
3. Lucky Devil by Frank Ifield 1:58
4. Somebody help me by Spencer Davis Group 1:58
5. Summertime Blues Eddie Cochrane 2:01
6. All shook up Elvis Presley 2:02
7. La Bamba Ritchie Valens 2:05
8. Dove Tyrannosaurus Rex 2:06
9. After the goldrush Prelude 2:06
10. Born to boogie T Rex 2:06

Relative size of planets

Our Holiday Bible Club on creation set me thinking about the size of planets adn their relative distances.

Clyde W. Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto, had a famous model. For scale, the Earth's polar diameter of 7,900 miles is represented by one inch. So

The Sun is 9 feet in diameter.
Mercury is a pea 385 feet away.
Venus is a one-inch ball 700 feet away.
Earth is a one-inch ball 970 feet away.
Mars is a half inch marble 1,470 feet away (1/4 of a mile).
Jupiter is a ten-inch ball 5,030 feet away (approx. a mile).
Saturn is a nine-inch ball 1.67 miles away.
Uranus is a four-inch ball 3.5 miles away.
Neptune is a four-inch ball 5.5 miles away.
Pluto is a pea 7 miles away.
The total solar system fits within a circle 14 miles across.

See here for more.

See also here and here.

Hymn of the week 4

J E Bode (1816-1874) [not to be confused with the 18th Century German scientist] at­tend­ed Eton, Charter House and Christ Church, Ox­ford graduating BA, 1837. He be­came rector of West­well, Ox­ford­shire, 1847 then Castle Camps, Cam­bridge­shire, 1860. He delivered the Bampton Lectures in 1855 and was for a time tu­tor and Classical Ex­am­in­er at his college. He wrote several poetical works. This, his best known hymn, was written for his children's confirm­ation serv­ice when he was at Castle Camps. It was published in the append­ix of Psalms and Hymns of the SPCK, 1869.

O Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end;
Be Thou forever near me, my Master and my Friend;
I shall not fear the battle if Thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway if Thou wilt be my Guide.

O let me feel Thee near me! The world is ever near;
I see the sights that dazzle, the tempting sounds I hear;
My foes are ever near me, around me and within;
But Jesus, draw Thou nearer, and shield my soul from sin.

O let me hear Thee speaking in accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion, the murmurs of self will.
O speak to reassure me, to hasten or control;
O speak, and make me listen, Thou Guardian of my soul.

O Jesus, Thou hast promised to all who follow Thee
That where Thou art in glory there shall Thy servant be.
And Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end;
O give me grace to follow, my Master and my Friend.

O let me see Thy footprints, and in them plant mine own;
My hope to follow duly is in Thy strength alone.
O guide me, call me, draw me, uphold me to the end;
And then in Heaven receive me, my Saviour and my Friend.

Cruise 05

On the Wednesday we came to picturesque Santa Margherita on the North Italian coast. The ship could not come too close to shore and so we were ferried by tender to the jetty. We took a short bus ride along the rising coastal path to even more picturesque Portafino (not shown). The weather was against us for once, however, and we soon returned. The older boys and my nephew were keen to eat a pizza in Italy and so back in Santa Margherita we found a very nice (but not inexpensive restaurant) where we all had cokes, pizza (yes, a margherita) and nice puddings. The statue is of Chritopher Columbus. I wasn't surprised to see it there as I knew the man was Italian not Spanish or Portuguese. Apparently although it is generally thoght he was born in nearby Genoa, Santa Margherita itself has a claim on him too.

Favourite Puns 02

Having a nice time with my nieces in Nice

Calvinist Beverage

The hot topic of beverages for Calvinists has been under discussion in the comments pages here. We are thankful to a Mr Alan Davey from Bordeaux for settling the matter with this link to a Terry Gilliam style display here.

Short Poem 03

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) was the author of many acclaimed poems (including In Memoriam which includes the famous lines "I hold it true, whate'er befall; I feel it, when I sorrow most; 'Tis better to have loved and lost Than never to have loved at all).
Crossing the Bar, an 1889 poem, often appears in anthologies and is thought to be Tennyson's own elegy. The Wikipedia entry says that he uses an extended metaphor to compare death to crossing the 'sandbar' between the harbour of life and the ocean of death. It has four simple stanzas that alternate between long and short lines. It uses a traditional ABAB rhyme scheme. Scholars have noted that the form follows the content ie long-short lines have a wavelike quality that parallels the poem's narrative. The poem was set to music by Hubert Parry in 1903. It is believed that the poem was inspired by a visit to Salcombe on the Devon coast.
Son of a clergyman, Tennyson had his struggles as far as the Christian faith is concerned though this poem suggests some sort of vague personal faith in Christ. Perhaps the word 'crossed' has a double meaning?
He was more of a pantheist than anything. His wife quotes him saying, "About a future life we know hardly anything". In 1867 he spoke of being "uncertain regarding the condition and destiny of man." A few months before his death he was cajoled into taking communion but beforehand he warned the clergyman involved that he did not accept that Christian doctrine. Shortly before his death he said of the freethinker Giordano Bruno, "His idea of God is in some ways mine." Biblical scholar and translator Benjamin Jowett (c.1817-1893) said Tennyson "was one of those who, though not an upholder of miracles, thought that the wonders of Heaven and Earth were never far absent from us."

I like it for its sound rather than its theology.

Crossing the Bar

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

Things Seen 03

It was a Thursday night. It was dark. I had been for a run in the park. As I headed home along the London street where I live, I saw light in several windows. One upstairs window has these smart metal venetian blinds. The electric light was on and the blinds were open.
At the moment I glanced up I saw a man looking at a computer screen. A woman was leaning her chin on his right shoulder so that she could see whatever it was that was of interest. The woman was clearly his wife or girl friend. I have no idea what they were observing. Were they planning a holiday together or looking at an e-mail from a friend? Perhaps they have a common interest in a certain website or he had found something funny or interesting to show her. Maybe she was just curious to know what he was looking at or was subtly suggesting that there are more interesting things than a computer screen.
This is a modern image of love and it has its own power. Many things change but some, like companionship and love, remain constant, if only we are willing to see it.

Bloggy Special 07