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.

CYSK 03 George Müller

George Müller (born in Germany Johann Georg Ferdinand Müller) (1805 – 1898), Christian evangelist and Director of the Ashley Down orphanage, Bristol. Well known as one who "lived by faith" (he had no salary but relied on gifts and mad eno direct appeals for funds) he cared for 10,024 orphans in his lifetime, providing them with an education that led to accusations of raising the poor above their natural station in life. He also established 117 schools which offered Christian education to over 120,000 children, many of them being orphans. More here.

CYSK 02 John Bunyan

John Bunyan (1628 – 1688) was an English Puritan preacher, best known for his book The Pilgim's Progress, written in prison for nonconformity. He wrote many iother excellent books. A member of an Independent church in Bedford, he has been described both as a Baptist and as a Congregationalist, though he himself preferred to be described simply as a Christian. More here.

That make the landscape lonelier

"Beyond the orchard lay a field or two, their boundaries lost under drifts; and above the fields, huddled against the white immensities of land and sky, one of those lonely New England farm-houses that make the landscape lonelier." (Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome)
(Painting by George Henry Durrie)

The Christian Warrior

The Christian Warrior is a short work by the Puritan Isaac Ambrose that was first published in 1660. In 1997 an 1837 edition (abridged, methodised and improved by Thomas Jones of Northampton) was reprinted in hardback by SDG and is still available. It is an excellent little book in the usual Puritan style and is reminiscent of The Christian in complete armour, Precious Remedies against Satan's devices and other books from that period. It begins by reminding us that the Christian life is a battle and goes on to deal with various situations where Satan attacks, giving remedies all the way from infancy to the end of life. It could probably do with some slight editing for repetition but on the whole it is useful book full of helpful pastoral advice and biblical instruction.
Some quotations
Any feeble David may wrestle with Goliath, so long as the battle is the Lord's; and the warrior comes to the field in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel. p 10
Sin, like a black river of poison, flows from Adam, through one generation after another, to the end of the world. p 21
Holy thoughts are precious things; they are God's messengers; they come from God, and lead to God again. Wherever they are entertained, they bestow exceeding great rewards. Therefore cherish these motions of the Spirit, and know that they come from heaven to benefit thy soul. p 31
The flesh is a worse enemy than the devil himself. p 35

CYSK 01 John Eliot

We will continue with our novelists but I thought we might usefully also have one on Christians you should know (a title stolen from a little book for children by Ruth Johnson Jay that came out in the seventies).
01 John Eliot (c 1604 – 1690) was a Puritan missionary to the American Indians. His efforts earned him the designation “the apostle to the Indians.” He was responsible for the first Bible to be printed in America (in Algonquin). More here.

The man who said he would

The man who said he would is the title of a book by W E Biederwolf from 1935. The book is about four Bible characters

Saul - the man who said he would but wouldn't
Samson - the man who said he would but couldn't
Peter - the man who said he would but didn't
Paul - the man who said he would and did

W E Biederwolf

I came across the name of W Edward Biederwolf recently. I knew him only as the author of a helpful book on the Holy Spirit. Seeing a brief biography by Ray E Garrett online I sent for it. Garrett wrote in 1948 less than 10 years after Biederwolf's death in 1939 and so there is no analysis but the salient  facts are there - Biederwolf's Princeton education, years as an evangelist, two pastorates and involvement in the Winona Lake Conference and School of Theology. Biederwolf was a Presbyterian, a Calvinist, a cessationist, a dispensationalist, very much a temperance man and a fundamentalist. He was clearly a good preacher, a man with a heart for souls and a good organiser. He appears to have travelled to the far east but it is not clear whether he came to England at all. He lived in different times to our own but seems to have been greatly used of God to converts sinners, help the saints, make a stand for righteousness and help the needy, including lepers in Korea. Perhaps he deserves to be better known. He wrote several books, most of which appear no longer to be in print. 

Man Behind the Messiah

When I was at the Handel House Museum recently I picked up a little biography of Balliol educated Charles Jennens by Ruth Smith, published by the museum. Illustrated throughout and on glossy paper it draws attention to the man who is most famous as the librettist for Handel's Messiah [1741-2, also Saul (1735-9), L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato (1740-1), Belshazzar (1744-5) and, possibly, Israel in Egypt (1738-9)] He was also something of a Shakespeare buff and worked hard on his ancestral pile, Gopsal Hall in Leicestershire.  He was a Non-juror and a high Anglican. Smith's thesis appears to be that he saw Handel as  good vehicle  for getting biblical material out to an unlikely crowd. Interesting intro. It would be nice to see a full theological analysis.

Luther on Temptation and Scripture

"I have suffered many great passions and , and the same also very vehement. But so soon as I laid hold of any place in Scripture, and stayed myself upon it as upon my chief anchor-hold, straightways my temptations did vanish away - which without the Word it had been impossible for me to endure, much less to overcome them."
Luther on Galatians

Good advice on your clothes

I often see this on my clothes and think what a good warning for every Christian

Arrowsmith Mottos

In his Armilla Catechetica: a Chain of Principles John Arrowsmith (1602-1659) wrote

Wherefore bethink thyself at length, O deluded world, and write

  • over all thy school doors, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom;
  • over all thy court gates, Let not the mighty man glory in his might;
  • over all thy exchanges and banks, Let not the rich man glory in his riches.
  • Write upon thy looking-glasses that of Bathsheba, favour is deceitful and beauty is vain;
  • upon thy mews and artillery-yards that of the Psalmist, God delighteth not in the strength of a horse, he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man;
  • upon thy taverns, inns, and ale-houses, that of Solomon, wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not Wise;
  • upon thy magazines and wardrobes, that of our Saviour, lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.
  • Write upon thy counting houses that of Habakkuk, wo to him that increaseth that which is not his, how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay.
  • Thy play-houses that of Paul, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God
  • Thy banqueting houses, that of the same holy apostle, Meats for the belly and the belly for meat, but God will destroy them both and it
  • Yea upon all thine Accommodations that of the Preacher, All is Vanity and Vexation of spirit.

C S Lewis Chronicle

The C S Lewis Chronicles by Lewis expert Colin Duriez is a slightly strange volume in that it is not a straight biography but a chronicle covering the years 1862 (when Lewis's mother was born) to 1998 (when centenary conferneces were held in Lewis's honour). This era is split into eight eras headed 1898-1908, 1909-1916, 1917-1918, 1919-1925, 1926-1938, 1939-1945, 1946-1953, 1954-1963. Each chapter has an introductary summary and the various date headings with information beneath. There are also a series of extra sections covering important people in Lewis's childhood, Narnia and the north of Ireland, important childhood places, Top Ten Books, The Four Loves, etc, etc, etc. Some will find the annual reference to the passing of Lewis's birthday on November 29 tefious but I found it a help. This is not the place to begin to read about Lewis but if you have some ideas about him this is a good way of learning about him and his circle. I borrowed my copy from the Evangelical Library.

Lord's Day March 24 2013

It was unseasonably cold yesterday (I'm dreaming of a white Easter!) and that probably affected attendance. There were a few visitors, however, from Holland and Romania and less far a field. We carried on with 1 Corinthians and preaching the gospel, reaching 2:5 at last, in the morning and in Numbers (28) in the evening. My main points in the evening were about being thankful that we don't need to knlow the details of that chapter well today and how it teaches us about Christ's sacrifice and our own since that time. 

Unusual words 17 Pullulating

In Theodore Dalrymple's The wilder shores of Marx on page 39 we find this reference:
"Indian or African airports ... with their pullulating chaos of officaldom, passengers, relatives, touts, ..."
Pullulating, from a Latin word that also gives us pullet means
1. Putting forth sprouts or buds; germinating. 2. Breeding rapidly or abundantly. 3. Teeming or swarming
In his novel Metroland Julian Barnes refers to
"the pullulating mass of the working class, who any moment might swarm like termites up the viaduct"
It's also in London Fields by Martin Amis
"This meant sitting about in a bijou flatlet in Cheapside, trying to keep tabs on the proliferating, the pullulating hydra of Clinch money".

Hyenseo Lee Video

I have been reading about North Korea recently. This video is of a former resident of that evil place - not a Christian as far as I am aware. This 12 minute video was produced in the USA recently.

Gary Dexter

I recently completed Gary Dexter's book Title Deeds which goes through some 50 literary titles (from Dante's Divine Comedy to Coupland's Generation X via Erewhon and The Great American novel) and discusses the works. It is a companion volume to Why not Catch-21 which looks at another 50 (Plato's Republic to Mamet's Oleanna via Moby Dick and 1984, etc). Both books provide an overview of lterature as well as some interesting sidelights on title choosing. Dexter has a mothballed blog here that discusses 181 titles altogether.

Valley Commandos

This professionally made video is worth watching. However, I should add that this is not because there's anything particularly new here as such or because the organisations involved are particularly dear to my heart but because this is the area where I grew up and an area that does have needs. In the interests of balance you ought also to know that on the AECW website here are listed more than 30 good churches, most of them with pastors getting along with the work but with no video to promote them (as far as I know - not enough Korean or American money getting to them I guess). I know some of these latter men (I was in school with one of them). So do add a little salt as I have here.

Unusual Words 16 Skerrick

Somewhere in the three hundred and odd pages of the new book on Focus by Australian Peet Johnson, he uses the delightful skerrick (as in not making a skerrick of a difference).
It is apparently a word used in USA, Australia and New Zealand to refer to a small fragment or amount (esp in the phrase not a skerrick). It is suggested that it is a northern English word though I saw it mentioned in a book on Essex dialect. The sk beginning suggests Viking influence.
Somewhere in Peter Carey's History of the Kelly Gang we find the sentence
Hard days followed the butter money were all taken and not a skerrick of income generated by the alleged 60 bolts of cloth
Also in Helen Garner's Cosmo Cosmolino we read the line
Oh, perhaps a skerrick, the merest shred of curled rind, to check that it was cooked: otherwise, no.

10 famous people with asthma

1. Christiaan Barnard (1922–2001) - pioneer heart surgeon 
2. Ludwig von Beethoven (1770-1827) – composer
3. Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) – composer and conductor
4. Charles Dickens (1812-1870) – novelist and short story author
5. Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) - British statesman, author
6. Che Guevara (1928-1967) – socialist revolutionary
7. John F. Kennedy (1928-1963) – 35th U.S. President
8. Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) – poet and short story author
9. Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) – composer and conductor
10. Orson Welles (1915-1985) - actor, director

Peter Banks

Some may know that Peter Banks, one of the founders of Yes, has died recently. He recorded an album with Jan Akkerman and others at one point. This is the closing track.

10 Successful People They say had Dyslexia

1. Hans Christian Anderson
2. Marc Bolan
3. Winston Churchill
4. Leonardo Da Vinci
5. Walt Disney
6. Albert Einstein
7. Michael Faraday
8. Francis Schaeffer
9. Auguste Rodin
10. W B Yeats

The First New Testament

Some friends from America visited the other month and he mentioned the manuscript finds at Qumran that some claim are fragments of the New Testament. It rang no clear bells with me and so he has kindly sent me a 1978 book by two Westminster graduates (David Estrada and William White Jr) called The First New Testament. The foreword is by Jose O'Callaghan who first suggested in 1972 that papyrus fragments in Cave 7 at Qumran near the Dead Sea might be NT ones. O'Callaghan died in 2001 and the cause was taken up in the eighties by Peter Carsten Thiede who died prematurely in 2004 but I don't think there have been any major changes to the situation since 1978, which is that liberals do not like this idea of such an early NT and conservative evangelicals do. The illustrated book is 140 pages in length and simply walks through the argument giving a little of the necessary background. The most interesting aspect of it is that it blows the pre-suppositons of liberalism and neo-orthodoxy pretty much out of the water. The suggested finds are as follows

7Q4 I Timothy 3.16, 4.1-3
7Q5 Mark 6. 52, 53,
7Q6 Acts 27.38
7Q7 Mark 12.17
7Q8 James 1.23, 24
7Q9 Romans 5.11-12
7Q10 II Peter 1.15
7Q15 Mark 6.48
7Q5 Mark 6. 52, 53
Fascinating stuff.

New Testament Answers to Job

These New Testament answers to Job are suggested in John Benton's book PC World
Job 14:14 If someone dies, will they live again? ...
John 11:25 Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;
Job 23:3 If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling!
John 14:9 Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”?
Job 9:33 If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together,
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,

Lloyd-Jones on being a pastor

I found this quotation here
Dr Lloyd-Jones
A pastor is a man who is given charge of souls. He is not merely a nice, pleasant man who visits people and has an afternoon cup of tea with them, or passes the time of day with them. He is the guardian, the custodian, the protector, the organizer, the director, the ruler of the flock
See his commentary on Ephesians 4:1-16 Christian Unity, p 193

Roger Williams

It was good to be at the Evangelical Library today for the latest lunch time lecture. We had a good turn out and a good lecture from Mostyn Roberts on Roger Williams (1603-1683).
Mostyn helpfully guided us through his life her adn in America, where he spent a good deal of time seeking to reach Native Americans. Being turned out od Salem, Masachusetts, he went on to found Rhode Island, which became a haven for the persecuted of all sorts. We were given a summary of his famous 1644 work  The Bloudy Tenant Persecution, for Cause of Conscience, his reply to John Cotton (who, incidentally, wanted the death penalty for thiose who rejected infant baptism). Mostyn stressed to us that it was Williams's desire for peace that chiefly drove him. Clearly in many ways he was ahead of hsi time and a man whose ideas are well worth considering. His understanding of conscience seems to have been very clear indeed.

Christians in a PC World

Christians in a PC World by John Benton is not the story of a bunch of deacons going to a computer outlet but an appraisal of and warning about the politically correct world that western believers find themselves in today. An EP book it is 185 pages long and has 11 chapters.
The first chapter looks at atheism, the grandmother, and the second chapter, at post-modernism, the mother of political correctness. Chapter 3 looks at pc itself and helpfully talks about equality (existential, legal and political) and (I liked these distinctions)equality of outset, opportunity and outcome. As elsewhere in the book, this is correlated with biblical material.
Chapter 4 looks at the baleful effects of pc on justice, debate, tolerance and attitudes to the west and to the church and then says some helpful things by way of response to political correctness. Chapter 5 looks at Therapy culture, the engine of political correctness.
Chapters 6-9 look at specific areas where pc has had the biggest impact - the gay agenda, multi-culturalism, pluralism and feminism.  Chapter 10 reviews the books The Shack and Love Wins which Benton shows to be inadequate and heretical responses to the issues raised. The final chapter looks at tolerance as understood by secularists and Christians today.
This is a well researched, relevant and helpful book that is well thought out and biblical in approach. My one minor complaint is that the blocks of Scripture quoted, sometime at length, might have been better to be more integrated into the text. Several books secular and Christian are helpfully highlighted throughout for further reading. More here.

New Book on Focus

This post originally referred to the first edition of a book on Focus by P Johnson, which he has begged me to remove.

Lord's Day March 17 2013

Preached yesterday morning from 1 Corinthians 1 and that seminal passage on the centrality of preaching Christ crucified. It was good to go through such fundamental material. In the evening we had communion adn then I preached on Numbers 27. It seemed to me that there were only two things to learn from that chapter so we ended up with an unusually short sermon (20:36 see here). Mind you, I notice that the week before I only preached for 25:32. The norm is over 30, sometimes over 40 minutes. I never really think much about length in preparation. There were a few missing yesterday for various reasons but one or two visitors too, incuding a very nice young man on the staff of one of our local large Pentecostal churches. The church is quite gregarioous but as it belongs to the ecumenical Churches Together (quite apart from other issues) we cannot be in formal fellowship with them.


We had one of my heroes with us last night - Brian Ellis of Manila. It was great just to have an update on the work of Cubao Reformed Baptist church and the wider work. I was gratified to see such a  good turn out. Men like Brian and Keith Underhill in Kenya who have just gone and given their lives to establishing Reformed Bapatist churches are the giants of our day - real ordinary men but men used by God in wonderful ways. Check out CRBC here on Facebook.

Roger Williams Lecture

This is a brief reminder that there is an opportunity to hear Mostyn Roberts on Roger Williams at the Evangelical Library on Monday. We start at 1 pm and it will all be over before 2 pm. Come just for the lecture or make a few hours of it and use the Library too. Look forward to seeing you.

12 London Museums about people

1. Alexander Fleming Laboratory, Paddington
2. Benjamin Franklin House, Westminster
3. Carlyle's House, Chelsea
4. Charles Dickens Museum, Holborn*
5. Dr Johnson's House, City*
6. Florence Nightingale Musem, Lambeth
7. Freud Museum. Hampstead*
8. Handel House, Mayfair*
9. Hogarth's House, Chiswick*
10. Keats House, Hamsptead*
11. Michael Faraday Museum, Mayfair
12. Wesley's Chapel, City Road*
We could also have Baden-Powell House, South Ken and further out Down House, Downe (Darwin) and Red House, Bexley Heath (Wm Morris). Sherlock Holmes (Baker Street) is a fictional character.
*Those I've been to.

What's missing?

Heaven't had a quiz for a while.
What's missing from the door to the Handel Museum?
(As with all the best ones the answer's in the question)
Ans (scrambled): alndhe

Hendrix Handel Style

That last blog sent me looking for Handel in Hendris style.
Not there.
So how about Hendrix in Handel style?

Jimi Hendrix

It so turns out that innovative guitarist Jimi Hendrix lived briefly with his girl friend in a flat next to Handel's old house and so besides this blue plaque there is also a small section of the Handel House Museum given over to him. There is nothing like that anywhere. hendrix and Handel, there's a thought.

Handel House Museum

As I was in Central London on Tuesday I did something I have been meaning to do for some time. I went to have a look around Handels' house in Brook Street. It is done very nicely. We began with a nice audio visual and then looked around the relatively small house. As with most of these houses, it is down to your imagination really. I have been to hear Messiah but am not a big Handel fan. I enjoyed it though and was interested to learn about his librettist Charles Jennens, who I want to find out more about. You have to pay to get in but I'm glad I finally got round to it after so many years (it opened 2001 I think). Read more here. London is full of  brilliant things.

10 Texts in John that mention Scripture

1. Joh_2:22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
2. Joh_7:38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them."
3. Joh_7:42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David's descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?"
4. Joh_10:35 If he called them 'gods,' to whom the word of God came--and Scripture cannot be set aside--
5. Joh_13:18 "I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: 'He who shared my bread has turned against me.'
6. Joh_17:12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
7. Joh_19:24 "Let's not tear it," they said to one another. "Let's decide by lot who will get it." This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said, "They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment." So this is what the soldiers did.
8. Joh_19:28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty."
9. Joh_19:36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken,"
10. Joh_19:37 and, as another scripture says, "They will look on the one they have pierced."

10 Texts in John re Pre- and Post-resurrection

Don Carson says on John 2:12
John is often accused of anachronism, of reading back into the time of Jesus events and beliefs that developed only later. This is singularly unlikely. No evangelist is more persistent than John (at least sixteen times) in carefully distinguishing what the disciples understood back then (during Jesus’ ministry) and what they understood only later.

Here are 10 such texts:

1. Joh 2:22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
2. Joh 12:16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.
3. Joh 13:7, 19  Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." ...  "I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am.
5. Joh 13:24, 25 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, "Ask him which one he means." Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, "Lord, who is it?"
5. Joh 13:36 Simon Peter asked him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus replied, "Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later."
6. Joh 14:5 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
7. Joh 14:29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.
8. Joh 16:4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you
9. Joh 16:17, 18 At this, some of his disciples said to one another, "What does he mean by saying, 'In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,' and 'Because I am going to the Father'?" They kept asking, "What does he mean by 'a little while'? We don't understand what he is saying."
10. Joh 20:9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

E Nesbit

Nice piece on E Nesbit from Abebooks here.

New Antichrist in Rome

Apparently the new man in the Vatican is the first Jesuit, the first Latin American (he is from Argentina) . He has taken the name Francis (I).
His real name is Mr Jorge Mario Bergoglio. He was born December 17, 1936. He has been Archbishop of Buenos Aires since 1998. He was made a cardinal in 2001.

His views (according to Wikipedia)are conservative.

Liberation theology
Bergoglio is an accomplished theologian who distanced himself from LT early in his career. He is thought to be close to Comunione e Liberazone, a conservative lay movement.
Abortion and euthanasia
Cardinal Bergoglio has invited his clergy and laity to oppose both abortion and euthanasia.
He has affirmed church teaching on this, though he teaches the importance of respecting individuals who are gay. He strongly opposed legislation introduced in 2010 by the Argentine Government to allow same-sex marriage. In a letter to the monasteries of Buenos Aires, he wrote: "Let's not be naive, we're not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God." He has also insisted that adoption by gays and lesbians is a form of discrimination against children. This position received a rebuke from Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who said the church's tone was reminiscent of "medieval times and the Inquisition".
Church and AIDS
Social justice
He consistently preaches a message of compassion towards the poor, but some observers would like him to place a greater emphasis on issues of social justice. Rather than articulating positions on matters of political economy, Bergoglio prefers to emphasise spirituality and holiness, believing that this will naturally lead to greater concern for the suffering of the poor. He has, however, voiced support for social programs, and publicly challenged free-market policies.
Relations with the Argentine government

Flat earth

I was preaching at a church a while ago and I got chatting to a man who told me he was a creationist and interested in the  subject. I was pleased to hear that as I am a creationist too. He then went on to talk about how he was increasingly attracted to the geocentric view. I clarified with him what he meant by that - rather nervous by now - and he was suggesting that in fact the sun goes round the earth!
Flat earth The History of an infamous idea by Christiane Garwood came out a few years back and is a fascinating read. Before she comes to the modern movement of the last 200 years or so she works hard to scotch the idea that before Columbus everyone thought the earth was flat. Her caution about that idea and the whole idea of the Dark Ages makes for encouraging reading. When we come to the modern flat earthers her thesis is more disturbing as practically all of them at least claimed to be in line with Bible teaching. Her willingness to then lump flat earthers in with creationists was annoying but understandable. What she could not see was that the new atheists make just as obvious targets.
The book also explained why some are so keen to accept conspiracy theories about why the moon landings never really happened.
As for my geocentric friend (geocentrism being an allied issue here - she says that 55% of Americans have no grasp of the solar sytem idea) I can see more clearly now why he might wrongly be draw in that direction.
Apparently kids under 10 are often not sure if the world is flat or not. The book was a reminder of how much we rely on  others and how there are man things we believe but that we cannot actually prove.
I would urge all creationists to read this book. It was so stimulating I wrote out some 15 conclusions that I will perhaps post another time. At over 400 pages it is a little longer than one would have liked but it is a pretty thorough job. See more here.

12 words that are clippings

These twelve words are all really clipped forms

1. exam(ination)
2. (in)flu(enza)
3.(re)fridge(rator) [ie refrigerator]
4. stereo(phonic) cf hi(gh)fi(delity)
5. taxi(meter) cab(riolet)
6. (omni)bus
7. mob(ile vulgus)
8. demo(nstration)
9. gents (gentlemen's room for ablutions)
10. gym(nasium)
11. pub(lic house)
12. hanky (handkerchief)

Bob Dylan Art

Walking past a small gallery off Oxford Street I noticed in the window two works (prints) by Bob Dylan, There were a few more inside (plus some nice Stan Lee comic artwork). The Bob Dylan prints ar part of a series called Drawn Blank (See here). This one would be good on the slow train coming album.

The Wallace Collection

I went today to see the Wallace Collection in Central London. It's staggering to think that I've been here 30 years and never ventured in. Hertford House, Manchester Square is a magnificent 18th century home stacked full of beautiful items, mostly from pre-revolutionary France, collected by five generations of Hertford Marquis and eventually gifted to the nation. It's free to go in. I was on an organised trip and so we had a guided tour, which is always nice. We began with two huge oil paintings of Apollo by Boucher, actually studies for tapestries no longer extant, that once hung in the Bedroom that Louis XV and is first mistress Madame de Pompadour shared. They overlook the staircase, itself a work of art that took three years to install. We went on to look at a Boucher portrait of Madame de Pompadour, his last, and the most famous painting in the collection, Frans Hals' so-called Laughing Cavalier. We also looked at Sevres porcelain, two marble busts and the armoury room, before enjoying a cup of tea downstairs. Excellent stuff. The place is clearly worth another visit. We had to skip over the Landseer, Canaletto, Frgonard and Watteau. As its free then that's a real possibility. There is an excellent restaurant within the complex. One to remember for next December perhaps Website here.

10 novels with one word titles

1. Dracula
2. Frankenstein
3. Persuasion
4. Kidnapped
5. Cranford
6. Pendennis
7. Beloved (Toni Morrison)
8. Siddhartha (Herman Hesse)
9. Exodus (Leon Uris)
10. Herzog (Saul Bellow)

The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick

I like do head down unbeaten paths sometimes. The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick by Peter Lamont is a thorughly researched but popularly written book first published in 2004. It interestingly charts the history of what is often thought of as the best known magic trick of all. Fact being stranger than fiction the story is not quite what one might think. It does give some sort of explanation as to what the trick is but that is not where the intertest really lies. The Wikipedia article here is good but the links I tried were out of date.
Lamont's personal website is here.

Lord's Day March 10 2013

We had good congregations morning and evening yesterday and it was nice to have tea together in the afternoon. Preaching was a little difficult, however, in that we were on church unity from 1 Corinthians in the morning (a slighty difficult subject and not I hope a pressing one) and then tackled Numbers 26 in the evening, which is long and difficult. I suppose there is a downside to systematic preaching. I felt pretty tired by the end of the day. It was nice to have several visitors along. Some of our own missing for various reasons.

Wales beat Scotland

Not a great game but Wales won 28-18
(apparently there were more penalties than in any other game)

10 novels named for women 02

1. Emma (Austen)
2. Rebecca (Du Maurier)
3. Pamela (Richardson)
4. Ruth (Gaskell)
5. Shirley (Bronte)
7. Sybil (Disraeli)
8. Vanessa (Wapole)
9. Romola (Eliot)
10. Marcella (Ward)

10 novels named for women 01

1. Lorna Doone (Blackmore)
2. Jane Eyre (Bronte)
3. Agnes Grey (Bronte)
4. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
5. Moll Flanders (Defoe)
6. Daisy Miller (James)
7. Tess of the D'Urbervilles (Hardy)
8. Elizabeth Costello (Coetzee)
9. Myra Breckinbridge (Vidal)
10. Zuleika Dobson (Beerbohm)

Hommage a la femme

I thought we could mark international women's day with this video collage of over 60 famous women. I composed it with a Dutch and even a Van Leer bias and bearing in mind the early 1990s compostion of the piece. How many women can you name? I forget who some of them are myself. The featured runner is the late Fanny Blanker-Koen, who won four gold medals at the 1948 Olympics.

10 popular children's writers & their illustrators

1. A.A. Milne & Ernest Shepherd
2. Lewis Carroll & John Tenniel
3. Roald Dahl & Quentin Blake
4. Kay Thompson & Hilary Knight (Eloise)
5. E B White & Garth Williams
6. C S Lewis & Pauline Baynes
7. Washington Irving & Arthur Rackham
8. Christian Brand & Edward Ardizzone (Nurse Matilda)
9. Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler
10. Allan and Janet Ahlberg

Christ the Heretic

In a letter of the Essex martyr William Timms he writes
And they then may as well call Christ a heretic, for he never allowed their dirty ceremonies. He never went a procession with a cope, cross, or candlestick; He never censed an image, nor sang Latin service; He never sat in confession; He never preached of purgatory, nor of the pope's pardons; He never honoured saints or prayed for the dead; He never said mass, matins, nor evensong; He never commanded to fast on Friday or vigil, Lent nor Advent; He never hallowed church nor chalice, ashes nor palms, candles nor bells; He never made holy water nor holy bread, with such like.

10 self-illustrating children's writers

1. Beatrix Potter
2. Antoine de Saint Exupery (The Little Prince)
3. Theodor Seuss Geisel (ie Dr Seuss)
4. Maurice Sendak
5. Shirley Hughes (Alfie stories)
6. Anthony Browne
7. Lydia Monks (I wish I were a dog, etc)
8. Mick Inkpen
9. Eric Carle (Hungry Caterpillar)
10. Jill Murphy (Large family books)

10 Types of coal

1. Lignite or brown coal - lowest rank of coal. Used almost exclusively as fuel for electric power generation.
2. Jet - compact form of lignite. Sometimes polished and used as an ornamental stone.
3. Sub-bituminous coal - properties range from those of lignite to those of bituminous coal. Used primarily as fuel for steam-electric power generation. Important source of light aromatic hydrocarbons for the chemical synthesis industry.
4. Smithing coal - type of high quality bituminous coal.* Ideally suited to use in a coal forge. It is as free from ash, sulphur and other impurities as possible.
5. Cannel coal - also bituminous*. Ignites easily producing a bright flame. The name derives from "candle coal". Contains a high volatile content and is non-coking. Use has greatly diminished over the past century but still valued by artists for its ability to be carved and polished into sculptures and jewellery.
6. Coking coal - when used for many industrial processes, bituminous coal must first be "coked" to remove volatile components. Coking coal is heated to produce coke, a hard, grey, porous material which is used to blast in furnaces for the extraction of iron from the iron ore. Coking is achieved by heating the coal in the absence of oxygen. This drives off volatile hydrocarbons (propane, benzene, etc) and some sulphur gases, also drives a considerable amount of the contained water in it. Coking coal is used in the manufacture of steel, where carbon must be as volatile-free and ash-free as possible.
(* ie - a dense sedimentary rock, usually black, sometimes dark brown, often with well-defined bands of bright and dull material).
7. "Steam coal"- midway between bituminous coal and anthracite, once widely used as a fuel for steam locomotives. In this specialised use, it is sometimes known as "sea-coal" (US). Small steam coal (dry small steam nuts or DSSN) was used as a fuel for domestic water heating.
8. Anthracite - highest rank of coal. A harder, glossy black coal used primarily for residential and commercial space heating. Can be divided further into metamorphically altered bituminous coal and "petrified oil". Other terms for it - black, hard or stone coal (not to be confused with German Steinkohle, Dutch steenkool, broader terms meaning all varieties of coal of a stonelike hardness and appearance), blind coal (Scotland), Kilkenny coal (Ireland), crow or craw coal (from its shiny black appearance) and black diamond.
9. Culm - imperfect anthracite of north Devon and Cornwall (around Bude) which is used as a pigment.
10. Graphite - technically the highest rank, is difficult to ignite and is not commonly used as fuel -  it is mostly used in pencils and, when powdered, as a lubricant.

Rosaria Butterfield

I've been reading Rosaria Butterfield's book The secret thoughts of an unlikely convert. I don't often read books by pastor's wives, certainly not from the Reformed Presbyterian fold but this one has been well touted in certain circles and so I downloaded it from Amazon and had a read. Most of the book is pretty tame as she gives the thumbs up to unaccompanied psalm singing, home schooling, adopting and fostering and other things and thubs down to Rick Warren, etc. I think it brave of the RPs to out out a book that is fairly warts and all.
The most interesting chapter is undoubtedly the first, however - what she calls her train wreck conversion. This is because she starts out being as far from an RP pastor's wife as one can imagine. She was a tenured professor of Critical Theory (specifically in Queer Theory ie Gay and Lesbian studies) at Syracuse University. She was a feminist, a practising lesbian and a gay rights activist. Although I am quite sure God can convert anyone it was nice to see how this happened in order to strengthen faith and increase wisdom on how to approach someone you fundamentlly disagree with.
The fact that is it now some years since all this happened is a great bonus. Mrs Butterfield's personality has clearly not changed but God has undoubtedly done  apowerful work in her heart and her story is worth listening to.

Unusual words 15 Glozing

In George Orwell's Road to Wigan Pier he writes these words, quoting someone and then commenting
'Have another cream cracker, Mr Reilly. You'll like a cream cracker with your cheese' - thus glozing over the fact that there was only cheese for supper.
It is, of course, just an archaic form of "glossing" in the sense of underplaying or minimising. It is in Milton's Paradise Lost
"For man will heark'n to his glozing lyes".

The sausage roll game

I thought of this game the other day. It will only appeal to you if you have a good knowledge of rock music and a childish sense of humour, which many of you don't. Anyway, what you do is you think of a song with the phrase rock 'n' roll in it and replace it with sausage roll (adding other appropriate changes where necessary). So for example

"I love sausage roll, put another dime in the jukebox (vendor?), baby" (Joan Jett)

"So you want to be a sausage roll bar? Then listen now to what I say" (Byrds)

"I said I know it's only sausage roll but I like it
I know it's only sausage roll but I like it, like it, yes, I do" (Rolling Stones) 

"Just let me hear some of that sausage roll music
Any old way you chews it
It's got a pork taste,
you can't lose it
Any old time you chews it
Gotta be sausage roll music
If you wanna dance with me, If you wanna dance with me" (Chuck Berry)

"It's the next taste, new food, pork craze, anyways
It's still sausage roll to me

Everybody's talkin' 'bout the new taste
Funny, but it's sausage roll to me" (Billy Joel)

My favourite so far  -
"We built this city, we built this city on sausage roll
Built this city, we built this city on sausage roll" (Starship)

Apparent success or the truth?

The other main obituary in The Times today was on a man called Barrie Irving who was instrumental in the setting up of the CPS in 1985. At one point it says of studies he did into police interviewing techniques.

Irving's main finding was that police interrogations at that time were concerned more with obtaining a confession than with obtaining the truth.

One can see the problem and the distinction. Could it be said of preachers that they are concerned more with obtaining a profession of faith than with convincing people of the truth?

C Everett Koop

I notice that C Everett Koop died a week ago yesterday. The Times has an obituary today. You can freely access this Washington Post obituary here. I was aware of him because of the pro-life films he did with Francis Schaeffer. He was a longstanding member of Tenth Presbyterian and came to prominence as President Reagan's Surgeon General.


People often think of predestination as something John Calvin (1509-1564) invented but in 1545 a primer or manual of prayers known as King Henry's Primer was published in English. It was apparently partly translated from the Latin of 1498. It contained this prayer (my italics).
O Jesu, King most worthy to be loved, and friend most to be desired, have mind of the sorrow that thou hadst when thou beheldest in thy mirror of thy most clear majesty the predestination of all thy chosen souls, that should be saved by the merits of thy passion; for mind of the deepness of thy great mercy which thou hadst upon us, lost and desperate sinners, and namely for the great mercy that thou shewedst to the thief that hung on the cross, saying this, This day thou shalt be with me in paradise, I pray thee, benign Jesu, to shew thy mercy on me in the hour of my death. So be it.
(See R Bainton, Women of the Reformation in France and England, p 168)

Lord's Day March 3 2013

Good day yesterday beginning with communion and the start of a new series on 1 Corinthians. We just looked at the first nine verses. Dr Andy McIntosh was in the congregation en route to America so I had him up to say something about creationism, which was appreciated. This is a big issue for all of us, the younger you are the more so. My 14 year old spent all lunch time talking it over with creationist (Muslim) and evolutionist friends in school.
We were a bit thin in the evening but not too bad. We looked at Numbers 25, the Baal of Pero and Phinehas's bold execution of the Israelite and the Maobite woman.

Novelists 24 George Eliot

Mary Ann(e) (or Marian) Evans (1819–1880), better known by her pen name George Eliot, was a novelist, journalist and translator (she translated Strauss's The Life of Jesus Critically Examined Volume 2, 1846,  and Feuerbach's The Essence of Christianity, 1854 - no help to her at all). She was one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. She is the author of seven novels, including Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Middlemarch (1871–72), and Daniel Deronda (1876), most of them set in provincial England and known for their realism and psychological insight.
Female authors were published under their own names during Eliot's life, but she wanted to escape the stereotype of women only writing light hearted romances. An additional factor may have been a desire to shield her private life from public scrutiny and to prevent scandals attending her relationship with the married George Henry Lewes, with whom she lived for over 20 years.
Middlemarch has been described as the greatest novel in the English language (Martin Amis and Julian Barnes). She certainly is a great writer.

Unusual words 14 Flocculent

I came across this early on in George Orwell's Down and out in Paris and London. He says

"Complete inertia is my chief memory of hunger; that, and being obliged to spit very frequently, and the spittle being curiously white and flocculent, like cuckoo-spit."

It simply means having a fluffy or woolly appearance. Perhaps it has the same root as flock or what about floss?

Darwin uses it in his Voyage of the Beagle

"The weather had been fine and clear, and in the morning the air was full of patches of the flocculent web, as on an autumnal day in England."

Cool Wales

I don't know if it's to do with St David's Day but there are plenty of news items around at the moment and it is a reminder that there is plenty to celebrate.
The rugby seems to be back on track for a start. As for soccer,
there is not only Swansea's historic 5-0 win in the League Cup Final and Gareth Bale at Spurs going from strength to strength but Ryan Giggs will probably play his thousandth game at senior level today.
Meanwhile, in Hollywood Shirley Bassey was performing at the Oscars and Michael Sheen has been unveiling a Hollywood star on the walk of fame for Richard Burton and the Stereophonics have a new album.

How to tell a person's age 2

Another method that I have thought of for telling a person's age is to buy them a digital photo frame. Explain it to them, if necessary, and set it up. Pay a visit in a week's time and see if they are using it. If not, then you can be fairly sure they are over 60 and don't like the thought of wasting electricity in that way.

How to tell a person's age 1

Some of the kids helped me do the squash for the drinks at club last night and it crossed my mind that squash strength would be a good guide if you were trying to guess their age. The exact system would have to be worked out, of course, but the basic guide would be that the sweeter the taste the younger the maker. One problem might be that some old ladies seem to revert to childhood on this front. A good general guide though, I'm sure.

LTS online journal

I see that the online journal of London Theological Seminary is up and running. See here. A surefooted and modest start, it features articles by David Green and Basil Howlett and reviews by the Principal, Robert Strivens. Onr for your favourites box I'd say.