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.

Ar Gopa'r Wyddfa

Climbed Snowdon today with four of the boys. Not easy (for me) but we made it. I'd been once before by another route. We used the Llanberis Pass. Quite busy. Cloudy on top but sunny before that.

10 Interesting facts about Dylan Thomas

1. Dylan Thomas Welsh. He was born in Swansea in 1914.
2. His middle name was Marlais, which means 'voice of the Sea'. Dyaln also menas something like son of the wave and so both names are apt as the sea was to be a recurring theme throughout much of his work, especially in 'Under Milk Wood'.
3. His father was Senior English Master at Swansea Grammar School.
4. His wife's name was Caitlin Macnamara. Born in Hammersmith, London, in 1913, she was of Irish descent. They married in 1937 and had three children (Llewelyn, Aeronwy and Colum). It was a very stormy relationship. They lived in Laugharne 1938-1940 and New Quay in 1944 and 1945.
5. They were introduced by Welshman Augustus John, who painted Thomas's portrait in  1937 and 1938 (Alfred Janes and Rupert Shephard also produced portraits).
6. He is one of the Beatles' heroes (John's?) on the cover for the Sgt Pepper album, gave Bob Dylan part of his name and has had his poems set to music by Welshman John Cale.
7. His 1940 work 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog' humorously parodies the title of James Joyce's 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' published 24 years earlier.
8. His most celebrated work was 'Under Milk Wood', subtitled a play for voices. It was in fact commissioned as a radio play. It was broadcast in January 1954 (having been previously performed on stage in New York in May 1953).
9. Under Milk Wood was narrated famously by Richard Burton. Sir Anthony Hopkins later did it too. Burton and Hopkins, born 1925 and 1937 respectively, were both from the Port Talbot area of South Wales.
10. Dylan Thomas died in New York in 1953. He was only 39. He was undertaking a lecture tour of the USA at the time. Caitlin arrived at the hospital shortly before his death. She was institutionalised for a while after. His excessive drinking led to pneumonia. (Nick Cave's 2012 song "There She Goes, My Beautiful World" includes the line "Dylan Thomas/he died drunk/in St. Vincent's Hospital".) 

Dylan Thomas

As hinted at I went today to the Dylan Thomas exhibition in the National Library of Wales with my three oldest sons. I did study Anglo-Welsh literature as part of my degree here in Aber many years ago but I don't recall looking at Dylan Thomas at all hardly. The exhibition was fairly random and quite populist but a nice gentle reminder of one of Wales's most famous sons. My son Dylan featured with other Dylans in a photo montage of Thomas.
I found elsewhere a list of notable works by him
1934: Eighteen Poems (poems, inc: The force that through the green fuse)
1936: Twenty-five Poems (poems inc: And death shall have no dominion)
1939: The Map of Love (poems and stories)
1940: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog (stories)
1946: Deaths and Entrances (poems, inc: Fern Hill)
1951: In Country Sleep (poems inc: Do not go gentle into that good night)
1952: Collected Poems
1953: The Doctor and the Devils (screenplay)
1954: Under Milk Wood (radio play, published posthumously)
1955: Adventures in the Skin Trade (stories, published posthumously)
1957: Letters to Vernon Watkins

'A Child's Christmas in Wales' also deserves a mention.

Swansea again

I thought I might more or less repeat this blog from last year noting my Swansea stories, with this picture from the current Dylan Thomas exhibition in the National Library.

1. My wife was born in Swansea
2. When I was about 11 my father seriously considered taking a promotion to work in Swansea but didn't in the end
3. The only city I have seriously considered ministering in apart from London is Swansea
4. My parents-in-law lived in Swansea the first year they were married
5. On the first Sunday we were married we went to church in Swansea
6. We were in Swansea when we celebrated my parents in law's 25th anniversary using a tier from our wedding cake
7. My son is president in the CU at Swansea University


My wife and daughter-in-law with the new grandson, Gwilym

Strict Baptists

I've been thinking of the phrase Strict Baptist and I think one can fairly say there is more than one way of using the phrase. I guess the four categories I'm thinking of more or less get stricter and stricter. Anyway, I think we can say that Strict Baptists are those who
1. Insist on a baptised membersip and will give communion only to church members or members of churches of the same faith and order. (Gospel Standard Strict Baptists)
2. Insist on a baptised membership and will give communion only to church members or members of other churches who have been baptised by immersion. (Regular Strict or Grace Baptists)
3. Insist on a baptised membership and will give communion to church members or members of other churches regardless of baptism.
4. Welcome into membership all believers regardless of baptism and will give communion to church members or members of other churches regardless of baptism but insist that leaders are baptised by immersion and teach that view.
I think we are really 4 though we may present as a 3.

Lord's Day July 27 2014

Yesterday I was in a familiar church setting but one quite different in some ways to what I have experienced over the last few weeks. The wooden pews, the pipe organ, the long sermons (45 and 55 minutes I think), Grace hymn book, Thee and Thou praying, a man in a proper pulpit wearing a tie, etc. Actually all those are incidentals and not quite the big deal sometimes made of them and the great thing was being given every encouragement to worship God together. My father-in-law, Geoff Thomas, preached a very convincing sermon on the goodness of God in the morning (from the story of the rich young ruler a la Walter Chantry) and was fine in the evening with a four point sermon from Romans 4:1-5. Both sermons had real bite. I was also helped by the prayers. In the afternoon we had a lovely tea downstairs to mark the golden wedding anniversary of my parents-in-law.

Dog in the water with a ball

This one of Owain's latest creations

Shakespeare's Julius Caesar at the Globe

Got down to the Globe for the second time this season and stood watching Julius Caesar with the other groundlings (always less of them by the second half I notice). This was the first of Shakespeare's plays put on at the old Globe (I think that is why we had a bit of jiggery pokery with the scenery at the beginning and during the play). As it says in the programme somewhere the piece does lack a comic character (or were the actors just not good enough with the comic material available) to lighten the mood but brimful of famous lines and phrases (The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,  But in ourselves, that we are underlings; Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; Et tu, Brute?; The live-long day, Beware the ides of March, let slip the dogs of war, etc). George Irving of TV fame took the part of Caesar well, though it isn't that much of a part - Brutus, Cassius and Mark Anthony getting the best bits. Perhaps one problem with the play is that it is hard to identify with any of these three, though they are well drawn and relatively complex. Anyway, good stuff from the Bard as ever.

Dr D M Lloyd-Jones

I've been doing these rehabilitation classes at the Royal Free, which are helpful. One funny thing has been the presence of a Lloyd-Jones lookalike. He's not a dead ringer and certainly no soundalike but reminiscent of and he dresses the part regardless of the fact the first hour is exercise.
My Sabbatical is drawing to a close and I spent a good deal of yesterday doing one of the things I had promised myself to do - sitting in the Lloyd-Jones Library at LTS and perusing the contents. No major surprises but worth doing I hope. I need to write it up now.

It's all happening at ...


Had a great day at London Zoo yesterday with my youngest who is wild about animals as they say. Not too crowded not over hot. Good day.

Lord's Day July 20 2014

Rather late with this but I did enjoy the last of my Sundays out and about during this sabbatical period. This time I was with bona fide Presbyterians down in Ealing. IPC Ealing has its roots in Schaefferism but like many good churches is made up of various strands and is seeking to bear witness where it finds itself. Their building (looks like an old office block from the outside and a temple on the inside) is currently too small for their morning congregation so they meet in Drayton Manor High School, where there must have been 160 or 170 when I visited. They would like to extend their building which comfortably sat the fifty or so along in the evening.
First impressions are of a well heeled white congregation but closer inspection reveals it is a more diverse group. I know some of the people and met others including my son's new next door neighbour at LTS next term. Paul Levy, who I also know, is the pastor. He is currently working through Luke 22 morning and evening (not his usual practice - like most of us he usually looks at different things am and pm). He has a gift with illustrations and was great talking to the children (in the evening service, unusually). They used a projector in the mornings and Praise! in the evening with a guide to the order of service printed out for both. In the morning a flute, a violin and a silver trumpet accompanied the grand piano; just keyboard and flute in the evening. Being Presbyterians there was a bit of audience participation with a corporate confession and at the communion they used real wine in communal cups. They took up a collection am and pm. I also noticed that in the evening some of the chairs were arranged as a choir sideways on to the preacher. It is good to know that the gospel is going out in that part of London.

Last week

Last week seems a long time ago now but it was quite a busy week. We started off at the school for our regular chat about our youngest, with whom they are very pleased. He was off to Go Ape on Wednesday. We were back the next day in the evening for what was billed as An evening with the stars, showcasing the music, dance and drama the school has been putting on this term. Another of our sons was hosting it with a friend of his and a very good job they made of it. Then Wednesday was the graduation in Cardiff (see above). Around 200 were graduating, mostly females. The ceremony was in the St David's Hall, which I don't think I've ever been in (I do know that Focus played there once and the magnificent pipe organ was used for a rendition of La Cathedrale). I slowed down after that but Eleri just carried on with another trip to Wales to drop off two sons (one an officer, one  a camper) and others at camps. She also got to see our new grandson for the first time. Back here I was saying goodbye to Dylan off on holiday and hello to my niece staying with us en route to Norwich. Busy days.

We have become a grandfather

At 14.13 today in Aberystwyth my first grandson Gwilym Arthur safely arrived. Apparently he's a whopping 9lb 5ozs and he has timed it to be two days overdue (stylishly late) and on the day before his mother's own birthday. The names were agreed on for various reasons but it is the Welsh form of William (the name of my grandfather, dad and nephew, etc) is popular in my family. One of my sons also has it as a second name and it was the name of the first boy I met in infants school. Llongyfarchiadau to the proud parents.

Lord's Day July 13 2014

I was in Tollington Park Baptist Church on Sunday. Again, this is a church slightly outside our area but I know some of the folk there and have had connections with them for years - yet another church where they have been praying for me over recent months. I was kindly invited to take part in the communion service at the end of the morning meeting. They use Praise! hymn book but have recently installed a projector too. I notice they have also retained the hymn board from the old building (I have mixed feelings about them but in combination with a book you can make some preparation for the singing part - with a projector and no printed order you have no idea of the shape of the service if you are a newcomer). A unique feature on the music front was the use of piped music to accompany us and that worked pretty well except that for some reason there was a power outage on it by the time of the last song of the day and we had to sing unaccompanied - thanks to a fine deacon we sang a capella and that was clearly the best. The church are currently without a pastor but praying fervently for one. Church officer Kevin Green preached morning and evening from Hebrews 3 taking 1-6 and 7ff in reverse order. Another officer gave a lively talk from Pilgrim's Progress as a sort of embryonic children's talk. We were around 25 in the morning and less than half that come the evening. There were a good range of people of all sorts though a little on the grey side I guess. Good to be there both times.


Germany 5 Brazil 0 Half-time

The world cup had been getting a little predictable. Not tonight it isn't. Score 10 Germany!

Trip to Oxford

I've spent the last couple of days in Oxford looking out the Beddome archive at the Angus Library in Regents park College. It is easy enough to get a coach to Oxford from Baker Street and be in Oxford in about 90 minutes. I've done it before. This time I popped into Lincoln College where I once spent a night many years ago exploring being a student there. I hope to get there again soon.

Childs Hill Sunrise

We sometimes feature a Childs Hill sunset here but I don't remember a sunrise for some reason. Here's one!

New noticeboard

They put up a new noticeboard at the church on Saturday. Looks good.

Lord's Day July 6 2014

I popped over to Highbury last Sunday. It is six miles away so it's slightly outside our area but I have long been aware of the church and the present minister, Andrew King, has always been very friendly. Like most of the churches I've been to recently they have modern building (like Highgate Rd they meet upstairs). Again there was a pretty diverse and friendly group present. Andrew led the whole thing and they used hymn books (Praise! and a supplement - nearly all modern hymns). There was piano accompaniment and again an African drum. A young woman sang with the instrumentalists but without a microphone. There was no formal collection. The order of service was straightforward, the only unusual feature being an interactive section with a whiteboard in preparation for the sermon, which was a six pointer (the points were written on a sheet for us) in the third in a new series on Ephesians 1. Andrew also tried to sell us some good books (I bought one!) which was refreshing. We had a cuppa to follow and they then had lunch and communion as it was the first Sunday of the month. I had some nice chats. How encouraging.
Highbury normally have a Bible study in the evening, which I might have gone to had it been on. Instead I went to Childs Hill where Robert was preaching again on Abraham from Genesis. We were only about 16 but it was good to be there. I enjoyed the hymns this morning but tonight (God of the covenant, a Horatius Bonar hymn on justification and Wesley's 'Tis finished! The messiah dies - superlative!).

John Owen Centre Doctrine of Man

I went along last week to the John Owen Centre last week (my privilege as a graduate). The lecturer was Lane Tipton and around 8 or 9 of us were there for the lectures Monday to Friday (I had to miss Wednesday afternoon). Most are taking the course and are a good bunch. Dr Tipton's way is to lecture and allow questions and discussion with a session at the pub at the end of the day for those who wish. I got along twice to The Dignity in Church End, Finchley, and enjoyed the banter and the theology with a number of useful things coming out. I'm still getting the reading done so I was not best placed to benefit from the course. We hung quite loosely to the subject with lectures on systematics, Karl Barth and a lot of time on historical Adam and creation approaches but that was fine. It was a privilege to be there. The JOC has new drinks machines and that added to the ambience.

School prizegiving

Here's Owain getting a handshake from the headmaster in the red tie last week after winning a silver medal for best improvement in art for his year.

Midsummer Night's Dream

It was good to be at the school yesterday night for a production of Midsummer Night's Dream, in which my son was Oberon. He did very well, as they all did on the whole, especially a very funny Bottom. The setting was the eighties for some reason. My son looked like a cross between David Bowie and Michael Jackson. Bottom wore Freddie Mercury gear. I thought the best joke was the girl taking the part of wall in the play wearing a Pink Floyd The Wall T-shirt. They're at it again tonight.

Lord's Day June 29 2014

I went on Sunday to West Kilburn Baptist Church. This would be one of the churches that like Childs Hill was once in the LBA and the BU but has now left. It subsequently became quite Arminian but has gone in a Reformed direction more recently. I was especially friendly with the previous minister, Paul Pease and know the present minister well, Peter Law. Like Childs Hill they have a 19th century building but with chairs where there were once pews. They have a gallery where some sat.
Peter preached very helpfully morning and evening from Acts 15 and the first part of Luke 14. He was giving us systematic exposition but to the people before him. There were more of these in the morning (about a hundred or more) and less in the evening (twenty or so). The congregation is predominantly "African" but quite mixed ethnically. Like other churches I have attended recently they project their hymns on to the main wall (quite old fashioned ones this time around, although including the calypso carol!). There was a drum to go with two of the morning hymns and a little guitar band in the evening. Things were a little more laid back in the evening with an open time of prayer and I noticed that Peter preached from the pulpit in the morning. There was no collection. I liked the way Peter sought to tie together the different parts of the service with some comment.