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.

Retro album of the week 5 - Epsilon in Malaysian Pale

We are still in the seventies, 1975 this time, as I wanted to mark the death of Edgar Froese.
I would have been 15 or 16 when I bought this album in its beautiful gatefold sleeve (probably new year '76 when I got hold of it with Christmas money so approaching 17). I had heard about Froese's first album (Aqua - the first of what would be five solo albums) when a friend pointed out a review in one of the music newspapers. I bought this album on the strength of that review really, not having heard it beforehand. I remember my dad being stunned when he learned that I had bought it unheard. I began to worry myself a little when I played it. There were just two long instrumental tracks, which is what I expected. It is not insistent music and so I would play it doing homework. The more I listened the more I liked it. It begins with some ambient-like sounds and then becomes more like a classical piece.
Apparently the first track was inspired by a visit to a Malaysian jungle (and is more mellotron based) and the second (Maroubra Bay) by a place in Australia (and is a more synthesiser-based piece). This second has a more jaunty Tangerine Dream like bit that is quite jaunty (from about 40 minutes in). Maroubra Bay was subsequently released backwards (unintentionally!). It doesn't sound any stranger and in fact makes for an interesting experience. 
The Epsilon album is well worth a listen but it takes a while. 

Midweek Meeting January 28 2015

Behind again. It was my great joy to look again at the hymn in Philippians 2, this time the exaltation of Christ. There is a style of preaching that quotes hymn after hymn. It is not a model I normally follow but this time there seemed to be so many hymns worth quoting on these subjects. So we had references to
  • The head that once was crowned with thorns
  • Jesus, name above all names
  • Jesus! the Name high over all
  • Thou art the everlasting Word
  • At the name of Jesus
There was also a reference to Daniel Neal's history of the Puritans where he says
“The puritans always excepted against bowing at the name of Jesus; it appeared to them very superstitious, as if worship was to be paid to a name, or to the name of Jesus, more than to that of Christ or Immanuel. Nevertheless it was enjoined by the eighteenth canon, and in compliance with that injunction, our last translators inserted it into their text, … as it now stands; however no penalty was annexed to the neglect of this ceremony, nor did any suffer for it, till Bishop Laud was at the head of the church, who pressed it equally with the rest, and caused above twenty ministers to be fined, censured and put by their livings for not bowing at the name of Jesus, or for preaching against it.”
I closed with a reference to the film Gladiator where the Crowe character is asked his name.
A good time of prayer too, though numbers were slightly down perhaps. We also watched a DVD about Caring for Life the Leeds based charity.

Lord's Day January 25 2015

A little behind here but had a god day on Sunday as we carried on with Ezra (Era 2 - not an easy passage but full of thought provoking detail regarding mission) and Matthew 5 (the second four beatitudes - always challenging to consider). We had good varied congregations am and pm, though as ever some were missing. A local lady turned up am who said she had converted from Islam. I do hope we see her again. Visitors often come and then disappear. We have often thought of how we can keep closer tabs on people but in the end we can only hope to get to know people over a period of time. I can think of at least four visitors in recent weeks who we haven't seen now for a week or two. You often do not know quite why they have disappeared. (There was a time when my wife was paranoid that it might be her cooking - as if).

Remembering Edgar Froese

Another one bites the dust, Demis Roussos

Continental seventies rockstars seem to be falling like flies at present. German Edgar Froese was not widely covered but Greek star Demis Roussos was. I have very little Roussos in my collection but this opening title track from Aphrodite's Child (yes that's Vangelis on keyboards and before Demis got fat and wore khaftans) is a great track. It's power to induce nostalgia (a Greek word after all that really refers to homesickness) is powerful. I like particulalry the way it really does seem to be 5 pm (in winter) when I listen to it.

Death of Edgar Froese

I was sad to hear of the death of the German electronic music pioneer Edgar Froese yesterday. There is a brief obituary here.

Retro Album of the Week 4 - Tubular Bells

It's back to the seventies yet again I'm afraid, January 1973 again to be exact. I was going to try and break out but I watched  a documentary and a performance of TB on BBC 4 and felt compelled to get it out again. Each different part is okay but it is the combined effort that wins you over. I liked Mike Oldfield's description, which I had not heard before of seeing them taking away some tubular bells from the Manor Studio and he thinking perhaps he could use them and so getting them to put them back. In all our lives fairly small things can have quite an impact further down the road in God's Providence. I thought it was brilliant when it was used in the Olympics ceremony. I'm sure I was very late discovering it but I owned a vinyl copy with its brilliant cover and remember the Second House live presentation introduced by Melvyn Bragg one Saturday night.
I remember the tongue in cheek notes on the album (a practice Horslips really got into around the same time)
"In Glorious Stereophonic Sound – Can also be played on mono-equipment at a pinch"
"This stereo record cannot be played on old tin boxes no matter what they are fitted with. If you are in possession of such equipment please hand it into the nearest police station"
The album cover was apparently among the ten chosen by the Royal Mail for a set of "Classic Album Cover" postage stamps issued on 7 January 2010.
Another great fact I spotted on Wikipedia is that the only electric guitar to be used on the album was a 1966 blonde Fender Telecaster (serial no. 180728) which used to belong to Marc Bolan. Oldfield had added an extra Bill Lawrence pick-up and has since sold the guitar for £6500 and donated the money to the SANE charity. This guitar had been put up for auction a number of times by Bonhams in 2007, 2008 and 2009 with estimates of £25,000–35,000, £10,000–15,000 and £8,000–12,000 respectively.
It was always said that Mike Oldfield played all the instruments but there were others on it, quite a few. Having said that, he did play acoustic guitar, bass guitar, electric guitar, Farfisa, Hammond B3 and Lowrey organs, flageolet, fuzz guitars, glockenspiel, "honky tonk" piano, mandolin, piano, percussion, "taped motor drive amplifier organ chord", timpani, vocals and tubular bells.

George Eliot

Having read the John Ruskin biography in OUP's VIP series I thought I'd read the one on George Eliot the female novelist, another individual with an evangelical background who rejected that upbringing. It was translating liberals like Strauss and Feuerbach that undid her along with the influence of liberal minded friends. She was considered to have lived a scandalous life in her day, though compared with other examples she was at least pretty much a serial monogamist, though never formally marrying. Rosemary Ashton doesn't mention Spurgeon, who Ruskin warmed to, to some extent. George Eliot did hear Spurgeon but was unimpressed. She wrote
"My impressions fell below the lowest judgement I ever heard passed upon him. He has the gift of a fine voice, very flexible and various; he is admirably fluent and clear in his language, and every now and then his enunciation is effective. . . . And the doctrine. It was a libel on Calvinism, that it should be presented in such a form .... It was the most superficial, grocer's back-parlour view of Calvinistic Christianity; and I was shocked to find how low the mental pitch of our society must be, judged by standard of this man's celebrity. . . .  Just now, with all Europe stirred by events, that make every conscience tremble after some great principle as a consolation and guide, it was too exasperating to sit and listen to doctrine that seemed to look no farther than the retail Christian's tea and muffins."
She is also said to have said "This Essex man drove bullock wagons through ecclesiastical aisles; his pulpit gown was a smockfrock." This article here gives more of Eliot's religious background with reference to Baptists.

New Saudi King encourages Charles

Historic, Historical

I wrote this letter to ITN tonight
Dear Sir
I have just been watching the ITN News on ITV+1. I notice that in one package journalist Rohit Kachroo refers to "historic claims of sexual abuse" and "historic rape allegations". I wonder if he is aware that there is a difference between the words historic and historical. He is not the only one I have heard making this mistake.
If you google the two words you will see the difference:
historic hɪˈstɒrɪk/ adjective adjective: historic 1. 1.famous or important in history, or potentially so. "the area's numerous historic sites"
historical hɪˈstɒrɪk(ə)l/ adjective adjective: historical 1.of or concerning history or past events. "historical evidence" ◦belonging to the past. "famous historical figures"
Yours faithfully
Gary Brady

Unbroken Review

A shorter version of this review also appears in the February ET
Many readers will be aware of the book War and grace by Don Stephens, a collection of short biographies of Christians from the two world wars, that was published in 2005 and again, in a new edition, last year.
The first story in that book concerns an American of Italian extraction called Louis Zamperini. The new edition reveals that he died on July 2, 2014 and mentions the 2010 biography Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and the then forthcoming film of the same name, directed by Angelina Jolie. This film has now appeared, going on general release in British cinemas on Boxing Day, 2014.
We are always looking for ways to introduce Christ to our unbelieving neighbours and so the fact that a biopic about a Christian has appeared is good news. Sadly, the film, unlike the book that it is drawn from, chooses very much to downplay the fact that Zamperini became a Christian after the war and spent much of his life talking about Christ and the forgiveness that can be found only in him.
In his book, Don Stephens prefaces his life of Zamperini with seven summarising bullet points. The first five of these are well covered in the film.
The three middle points are covered the most extensively – An Air force bomb aimer, decorated for gallantry in action; a survivor of 47 days adrift on a life raft; an ill-treated prisoner of war of the Japanese for two and a half years. The bulk of the film looks at these periods, most of the time being devoted to his harrowing years as a POW when a man known as 'The bird' did all that he possibly could to 'break' his prisoner. Much of this, which includes a great deal of senseless violence, does not make pleasant viewing. Hence the '15' certificate. If you do see this film, be prepared for that. Zamperini had recurring nightmares after his experiences, until he came to Christ. One can imagine some people having nightmares after watching this presentation.
The first two bullet points (a juvenile delinquent in California and an Olympic runner at the Berlin Games of 1936) are covered in the film by means of flashbacks that bring out his Italian background, the racism he suffered, his delinquency and the way his older brother eventually steered him in a better direction by means of sport, leading to some success at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
As for Stephens' final two bullet points – a drunkard who almost wrecked his marriage and a Christian – these are almost entirely ignored. The main film ends when the war ends and just a few subsequent points are covered in a brief epilogue, where written material is combined with contemporary stills to fill in the rest of the story.
All this means that the only real Christian elements in the film itself are a snatch from a sermon by a Roman clergyman when Zamperini was a boy (blurring the fact that he later rejected Catholicism for the gospel), his prayer in the life raft that he would dedicate his life to God if he survived and some conversations about God with his fellow survivor Russell Phillips.
It is hard to understand why the film makers were not keener to depict the moment when Zamperini returned to Japan after the war in 1950 and, having preached to his former guards, warmly shook them by the hand and expressed his forgiveness. They chose not to do it this way, however.
That still leaves us with an opportunity to take advantage of the brief spotlight on Zamperini to draw attention to him and his Saviour by means of Don Stephens' book or other materials that do highlight his conversion and Christian life.
One other point to make, if it is not too esoteric, is that if you watch the film carefully you will notice that sometimes Zamperini is framed in an iconically Christ-like way. Further, near the end we see him symbolically crucified, symbolically dead, symbolically raised and this is followed by a symbolic pouring out of the Spirit and a mass baptism. Some have also detected his representative character, his temptation by Satan and his final ascension too. These elements may be helpful or unhelpful in the long run but are worth keeping in mind.

Exodus Gods and Kings Review

As promised this is my brief review of the Exodus film (a similar review is in the February Evangelical Times)
Hollywood's current fascination with biblical epic continues and hot on the heels of Noah comes a film based on Exodus directed by the acclaimed Ridley Scott. By no means as bad as the attempt on the Genesis narrative, this current offering takes a similar approach and falls way short of what one would have hoped for.
The broad details are followed, of course – a man called Moses grows up close to the Pharaoh and his successor in Egypt; he is sympathetic to the Israelite slaves in that place; he flees to Midian and marries and settles there; God speaks to him from a burning bush; he returns; there are ten plagues; he leads the people out; they cross the Red Sea; the Ten Commandments are received.
However, at every point there are differences, major and minor, from the biblical text. As in The Prince of Egypt which came out some years ago, Moses is assumed to be a close brother of the man who becomes Pharaoh. This time Moses is presented as being unaware of his Hebrew roots and as attempting to organise a guerilla movement before God steps in. His love affair with Zipporah is far more prominent than in the Bible. Presumably we end up with this sort of thing because film makers are eager to give us someone that most people today can relate to. This does not really work here.
As for why Moses is up to his neck in mud when he meets with God at Sinai or why part of Pharaoh's army is killed in a landslide rather than in the Red Sea, who knows? All this means that when we talk to people about Exodus they will have picked up many ideas that are extraneous to the original text. At least the crossing of the Red Sea is dealt with in a fairly accurate manner (although even here is there is plenty of room for improvement), the ten plagues scene is powerful though slightly garbled and the loss of Pharaoh's firstborn comes across well.

10 victims of murder in the Bible

1. Abel
2. Nadab
3. Uriah the Hittite
4. Amaziah
5. Amnon
6. Elah
7. Sennacherib
8. Naboth
9. Uriah the Hittite
9. Zechariah
10. John the Baptist

10 Murderers in the Bible

I can't remember why this list came to mind now (probably reading the early chapters of Genesis)

1. Cain
2. Lamech
3. Moses
4. David
5. Absalom
6. Joab
7. Jezebel
8. Zimri
9. Jehu
10. Herod

Midweek Meeting January 21 2015

Another good and varied number gathered last night and we had a good time of prayer preceded by our study of Philippians 2:6-8. These are familiar words but it was good to remind ourselves once again of the amazing condescension of Christ in coming to this earth in the way that he did. How it magnifies the grace of God and his greatness. Such knowledge should lead us not only to worship but to deny ourselves and put others first. We began with At the name of Jesus which is a fine hymn with a fine tune.

Banner 2015

The programme for the UK Banner of Truth Ministers Conference is out (and the Youth one). It's a privilege to be involved. April 14 marks the first anniversary of my heart op.

Monday, 13th, April

  • 5.15pm – Opening Sermon – Christ, Precious to Believers – Gary Brady
  • 8.15pm – Jesus, Our Hope and Example in the Midst of Injustice (Mark 15:16-32) – Kevin DeYoung

Tuesday, 14th April

  • 7.25am – United Prayer
  • 9.15am – Yes, it is hard, sometimes very hard, but . . . Paul’s testimony (2 Corinthians 11-12) – Stuart Olyott
  • 11.15am – The Puritan theology of suffering – Michael Reeves
  • 5.00pm – Reports Session
  • 8.15pm – Praying in Pain (Mark 14:32-52) – Kevin DeYoung

Wednesday, 15th April

  • 7.25am – United Prayer
  • 9.15am – Ten Minute Address
  • 9.30am – Yes, it is hard, sometimes very hard, but . . . Paul’s counsel (2 Corinthians 4) – Stuart Olyott
  • 11.15am – The Impassibility of God, the Sufferings of Christ and Good News for the Christian Hebrews (Hebrews 2:5-18) – Kevin DeYoung
  • 5.00pm – ‘To proclaim my name; to suffer for my name’ – Alan Davey
  • 8.15pm – Faith amid suffering in the life of Charles Spurgeon – Michael Reeves

Thursday, 16th April

  • 7.25am – United Prayer
  • 9.15am – The Bruised Bride – Jeff Kingswood
  • 11.00am – Closing Sermon – The Plight of Man and the Power of God – Geoff Thomas
Check here for an old fun video

Lord's Day January 19 2015

We got back to things in Childs Hill yesterday as I began two new series, morning and evening. In the morning we started on Ezra, looking at Chapter 1. I think I have preached on Ezra before, but back in the nineties so I have no record on computer of what I preached. It is good to be back in an Old Testament history book. I spoke about God's providence and our duty. In the evening we began on the Sermon on the Mount. I say new series. I actually started on Matthew the Christmas before last and covered the first four chapters. I have been through Matthew (and Mark) in the past but want to go through all four Gospels on a regular basis. My former assistant went through the beatitudes one by one a little while ago so I will not be too slow with this. I covered the first half this time and hope to cover the second half next time. Numbers were typical (around 50 in the morning and half that in the evening). One or two were missing. There was just one visitor - in the evening. In the evening we had communion. I read from Isaiah 53 and spoke about penal substitutionary atonement.

John Ruskin

The recent interest I have had in the artist Turner led me to think about John Ruskin again, who I knew little about. I decided to read a little biography I have on my shelves by Robert Hewison, which I think is just actually the current ODNB entry. It was just what I wanted. I was aware of Ruskin's evangelical background and that he had heard and met Spurgeon. What I had missed was the fact that an Irish banker, the father of one of the great and tragic loves of his life, Rose La Touche, was baptised by Spurgeon and was a member at the Tabernacle.

Retro album of the week 3 - Six wives of Henry VIII

The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Rick Wakeman is an Everest in prog rock. It has it all.
Wakeman's first solo studio album, it was released on A&M in January 1973. Wakeman decided on the concept in 1972 while touring with Yes. usicians from Yes and previous band Strawbs play on the album. It reached number 7 (UK) and number 30 (US Billboard 200). It was certified gold in 1975 by the RIA of America and has sold 15 million copies worldwide. In 2009, Wakeman performed the album live for the first time at Hampton Court Palace for the 500th anniversary of Henry's accession. Each track was re-scored with added elements that could not be there due to time restrictions on the vinyl record.
In August 1971, Wakeman replaced keyboardist Tony Kaye with Yes. In early 1972, on tour in the USA to promote Fragile (1971), he bought four books at an airport bookstall in Richmond, Virginia, one being The Private Life of Henry VIII by Nancy Brysson Morrison. As he read about Anne Boleyn on the subsequent flight to Chicago, a theme he recorded in November 1971 ran through his mind. He often scribbled down pieces of music while travelling, but could not find a theme to put them to. Said Wakeman, "I had been searching for a style to write in and suddenly I found it in writing music about these six ladies...I would concentrate on one of the wives and then music just came into my head and I would write it down. Sometimes I was flying, other times I was on stage, or just in front of the piano at home...The "Six Wives" theme gave me the thread, the link, I needed to give me a reason for putting these pieces of music together."
He explains the album's concept in its liner notes: "The album is based around my interpretations of the musical characteristics of the wives of Henry VIII. Although the style may not always be in keeping with their individual history, it is my personal conception of their characters in relation to keyboard instruments."
Recording for the album began in February 1972 with an advance of £4K from A&M. Seven other musicians perform on the record.
Catherine of Aragon - Its basis was originally a piece that Wakeman wrote for Fragile titled "Handle With Care". Recorded at Trident Studios, London, the track features Steve Howe and Chris Squire with percussionist Ray Cooper.
Anne Boleyn - recorded at Morgan Studios and featuring drummer Bill Bruford. Wakeman had a dream about attending her execution that caused him to include a version of "St. Clement", the tune to the hymn "The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended" written by John Ellerton. E. J. Hopkins is credited on the album, but the piece is generally attributed to Rev Clement Scholefield.
Catherine Howard - by the time production began on this engineer Ken Scott was replaced by Paul Tregurtha. Strawbs member Chas Cronk, who plays bass on it, recalled the "total confusion" during the recording and "couldn't make head or tail of what [we] were doing. We were going through it part by part and I couldn't see how all the parts were going to match up." He noted that Rick "knew exactly what he was going to do although he had nothing written down. It was all stored in his head."
Jane Seympur - the organ was recorded at St Giles-without-Cripplegate church, London. "I couldn't reproduce the sound I needed on an electronic organ, so we got permission to move the recording equipment into St Giles," said Wakeman. "It was quite an experience playing a lovely instrument like that.
Anne of Cleves - Wakeman calls "a rather fee-form" track, "almost having no form at all, there was a contradiction in what everyone was playing. The guys in the band thought I was completely barking, but it had to be like that."
The album was to be titled Henry VIII and His Six Wives with a track dedicated for Henry himself, but Wakeman recorded the tracks on the wives first and had used up the space available on a vinyl record. The track was then discarded and the album renamed. When recording ended in October 1972 the final cost for the record had reached around £25,000. Wakeman described working on the record as "difficult and cumbersome", but said that the album was a "finally rewarding project".
The cover photograph was taken at Madame Tussauds wax museum, London, where a figure of Richard Nixon can be seen in the background as the curtain was not fully closed.

More on The Tudors

With Wolf Hall staring next Wednesday (see here) I'm not the only one going Tudor. BBC2 were showing a documentary on The Last days of Anne Boleyn recently I see (a repeat from 2013 with Hilary Mantel, David Starkey, Philippa Gregory, etc), which I hope to get round to watching soon (see here). Philippa Gregory in The Times recommends, on the Tudor theme, the anonymous painting at Hampton Court Palace The Family of Henry VIII, c. 1543-1547 (see here), Mark Twain's novel The Prince and the pauper (see here), the 1970 TV series with Keith Michell as Henry VIII (see here), Donizetti's opera Anna Bolena (see here), the 1969 Richard Burton film Anne of the thousand days (see here) and Edmund Spenser's unfinished poem The Faerie Queene (see here). No room for Rick Wakeman's six wives I see. Leave it to me.

Anne Boleyn

Ever since I first heard as a boy that there was a King of England who had so many wives (Henry VIII and his six wives or was it Henry VI and his eight wives?) I have found the story of the Tudors fascinating. It was the Tudors and Stuarts that I chose to study for 'A' level history ( I remember being amazed that I was the only boy to make that choice over modern history when we were asked to choose). Of course, the whole period of the Reformers and Puritans begins in the days of the Tudors (Tyndale, Latimer, Cranmer, Perkins, Ames, etc) so I have constantly been drawn back to the period. Then Hilary Mantel has drawn us all in with Bring up the bodies and Wolf Hall, which I have now both read and seen acted on stage and am looking forward to the TV version. (I think I must have read Philippa Gregory's relatively racy book on the Boleyn girls and I certainly saw Howard Brenton's play about Anne at The Globe. Oh yes, there's also Rick Wakeman's hugely enjoyable Six wives. Perhaps I can make it my retro album of the week. I have David Starkey's book here but it is unread).
Perhaps one of the most interesting characters of all the Tudors is Elizabeth I's mother, Anne Boleyn. I picked up a copy of Elizabeth Norton's Anne Boleyn: Henry VIII's obsession a little while ago and have just finished reading it. Norton is an academic and has done all the research but writes quite well and keeps all the reference details to the end. So you get a book quite abreast of scholarship, judicious and fair not speculative and it made for a good read. Clearly Anne was a friend of reform but is unlikely to have had a personal faith. What makes her story so gripping is to see her rags to riches to rags story played out in history and to imagine what it must have been like to go from obscurity to Queenship only to see the whole thing unravel in a relatively short time. Her death was an undoubted travesty yet she was in a sense the cause of her own undoing. Fascinating.

Beetroot Song

I'd never heard this song by the late Lance Percival for. Some nice wordplay here.

God made me

The double Oscar winning German born actress Luise Rainer died at the end of last year, aged 104. Many reported her own description of an encounter with MGM head Louis B Meyer.
"I was one of the horses of the Louis B. Mayer stable," she said "and I thought the films I was given after my Academy Awards were not worthy. I couldn’t stand it anymore. Like a fire, it went to Louis B. Mayer, and I was called to him. He said, ‘We made you, and we are going to kill you.’
“And I said: ‘Mr. Mayer, you did not make me. God made me. I am now in my 20s. You are an old man,’ which of course was an insult. ‘By the time I am 40 you will be dead.’” (She was not quite right. She was 47 when he died. But she outlived him by more than a half-century.) I wonder of she had been reading her catechism to get that statement?

Midweek Meeting January 14 2015

We had a good number (14) out at our midweek meeting yesterday. Still some missing. We returned to Philippians, looking at the first five verses of Philippians 2, where Paul pleads for a fivefold unity (like-mindedness, mutual love, unity of spirit and purpose, humility not selfish ambition or vain conceit and looking not only to your own interests but also those of others) on the basis of the four or five matters of agreement already present (encouragement from being united with Christ ... comfort from his love ... fellowship with the Spirit ... tenderness and compassion). What a  passage! Good time of prayer too - so much to pray about.

Semper Reformanda

It was good to be at the fraternal in LTS last Tuesday, The North London Network. Garry Williams spoke on always reforming. The bulk of his excellent paper (very similar to the one given at last year's Banner conference - but we were allowed to interrupt). The bulk of the time was given over to delineating false conservatism as described by Abraham Kuyper in 1870 in his "Conservatism and Orthodoxy: False and True Preservation" .
The seven sins of false conservatism were outlined in this way
1. It denies the resurrection principle at the gospel's heart
2. It limits the historic progressive flow of the kingdom
3. It warps major doctrines such as the inspiration of Scripture and the Christian life
4. It encourages a proxy Christianity
5. It preserves transient forms but not the essential core
6. It fosters a gloomy and desperate nostalgia
7. It is marked by a fearful retreat from the present

Lord's Day January 11 2015 Warboys

Warboys Grace Baptist is one of those churches I've long been aware of but have never preached at until yesterday. I know the present minister (Nigel Graham) chiefly through LTS connections. I must be honest, I hadn't realised it is only and hour and a half away. I had a straightforward journey there and back and a very pleasant day with some lovely people.
The church has quite ancient roots and the present building (a former Methodist church) goes back to 1830. Like ourselves they've had the building gutted and put in chairs rather than pews. They have also had a false ceiling put in where the three-sided gallery was and it looks very attractive. The church has a graveyard (as did the church I grew up going to). The congregation was a little diverse and it was good to meet folk old and new, very local and from elsewhere, able and less able, young and old, committed and considering. Like ourselves they were around fifty in the morning and twenty in the evening.
I preached in the morning from 2 Chronicles 33 on Manasseh (and spoke to the children about their consciences) and in the evening our own new year text, which is 1 John 2:15 (and including verses 16 and 17). In the afternoon, after very pleasant hospitality from the Grahams (tracing mutual connections - always good fun - among other things) we had tea at the church and Nigel took the opportunity to interview me so that those present got to know me a bit. (I hope what I said made sense - we covered a fairly wide range of things and I do have a way of putting things that can easily be misconstrued). Tim Curnow was preaching here for me. I'm sure I should have got someone to interview him at our tea.

Retro Album of the week 2 - The Slider

The Slider by T Rex, 1972
"flawlessly executed, and every bit the classic that its predecessor is." (Steve Huey)
"I like my songs to be durable to the ear and exciting to the mind. My lyrics always come before the music. Repetition comes into my songs a lot because I think my lyrics are so obscure that they need to be hammered home. You need to hear them eight or nine times before they start to make sense. I don't see anything wrong with that" – Marc Bolan, interview, 1972.

HMDUK 13 When did matches cost half a crown a box?

When did matches cost half a crown a box?* This was the retail price of the first friction matches fit for practical use, which were invented in 1827 by John Walker, an English chemist. They were sold in tin boxes of fifty, each of which contained also a loose piece of glass paper for striking the matches. The price was later reduced to a shilling. Among the early imitations of Walker's matches was a brand called 'Lucifers'.*
*The context of this question is that in 1938 when this question was published half a crown (12.5p) would have sounded ridiculously high. A shilling is 5p.

Carey Ministers Conference 2015 Day 3

Our final day of conference consisted of the third and final talk from Greg Beale on Revelation. This time we looked at Chapter 18 and the fall of Babylon and this was perhaps the highlight of the conference as Dr Beale continued to work out his principle that Revelation is symbolic. The conference closed with a helpful sermon from Ed Collier who took us to Judges 7 and spoke about how God works (by means of weakness) and why he works that way - that the glory may be his. So it has been an excellent conference with around 120 present. It is planned to hold the next conference January 5-7 2016 (speaker Mike Bullimore).

Carey Ministers Conference 2015 Day 2

Another good day today with Greg Beale kicking us off with a careful exposition of the opening chapters of Revelation 11. The women then had their second session with Jane McNabb while Bill James walked us through the arguments for a confessional (ie a 1689) stance. We had some useful discussion about the practicalities of all that. In the evening there was a Q and A session, which perhaps could have been a little shorter and then a paper and discussion from Jonathan Berry of the True Freedom Trust. As ever there has been plenty of time to chat and to buy books. It has been a very enjoyable time. Meanwhile we are getting news of the African Pastors Conferences, PTI, Clayton TV, etc.

Carey Ministers Conference 2015 Day 1

It is good to be in Swanwick once again with familiar faces and some new ones. I drove up with my son and his family and a South African LTS student we know. There were three sessions on this first day and things were not quite as planned. We began with a paper on the Anabaptist leader Menno Simons by Ray Trainer. This was an excellent introduction to Simons who was a radical Baptist pioneer. Ray gently led us through the situation (explaining the difference between magisterial and radical reformers) Menno's life (in which he rejected transubstantiation, infant baptism and the violent end of Anabaptist thought and was constantly fleeing his persecutors with his wife and family) what he believed and taught (including a personal faith, the sufficiency of Scripture, orthodox Christology and the importance of the church as a community) and the relevance of all this (the importance of Christ and the local churches).
We then had a demanding session on the hermeneutics of Revelation from Greg Beale that argued for symbolism at the heart of the book in light of it OT allusions, denoting judgement and yet hope for a remnant.
After food, the women had their own track with Jane McNabb while we men listened to John Hawley stirring us up to give ourselves (especially ministers) to some form of open air work. It was all very striking, including slide of John talking to Richard Dawkins in the street in Oxford, which he told us all about.

Lord's Day January 4 2015

We had good congregations morning and evening for the first Lord's Day meeting of the year with some visitors as well as regulars, occasionals and students due to return to college soon but still with some away. We started with communion which included welcoming in my son and his wife as associate members. They were members with us but are now members in Aberystwyth but are based in London again. As it was the first Sunday of the year and I am away on the second Sunday I decided to preach one offs on Manasseh's repentance (2 Chronicles 33) and that fundamental; verse 1 Timothy 3:16. It was good to be able to tackle these fundamental subjects and to be well enough to do so after a bad cold last week.

Ackroyd on Turner

Watching the recent film stimulated me to pull down the Peter Ackroyd biography on my shelf and read it. The book is cogent and the right length, always forming and never boring but with just enough analysis from time to time. As I thought, it has helped me appreciate the film a little more. The man was clearly a genius well ahead of his time. The only sad thing is his failure to move in his mind from the light that so much fascinated him to the od who is Light and who created what we see here on earth. I do not suggest for a moment, however, that it would necessarily have made him a better painter - just a  safer soul. This has whetted my appetite for a bit more Ackroyd - Blake, More, Poe, Dickens, Collins, Chatterton, Eliot, Pound, Chaucer, etc.

Novelists 46 - John Buchan

John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir (1875-1940) was a Scottish novelist, historian and Unionist politician. After a brief legal career, Buchan simultaneously began his writing career and his political and diplomatic careers, serving as a private secretary to the colonial administrator of various colonies in southern Africa. He eventually wrote propaganda for the British war effort in WWI. In 1927 he was elected MP for the Combined Scottish Universities but spent most of his time on his writing career, notably writing The Thirty-Nine Steps and other adventure fiction. In 1935 he was appointed Governor General of Canada by King George V, on the recommendation of Prime Minister of Canada R. B. Bennett. He occupied the post until his death in 1940. He proved to be enthusiastic about literacy, as well as the evolution of Canadian culture, and he received a state funeral in Canada before his ashes were returned to the UK. I have only read his most famous novel. He was an active elder of St Columba's Church here in London for many years. It would be nice to check out some of the other titles - Prester John, Greenmantle. He wrote 30 novels as well as many other works.

HMDUK 12 How many planets are there?

How many planets are there? There are eight chief planets which revolve about the sun and comprise what is called the solar system. The names of these planets in the order of their distance from the sun are Mercury, Venus, the Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Mercury and Venus are called the inferior planets because the lie between the earth and the sun. Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are known as the superior planets. The inferior planets move about the sun, faster than the earth and the superior ones more slowly. All the planets belong to one family, but they differ in size and temperature. Some are smaller than the earth, some hundreds of times larger. Some are very hot, others very cold. Jupiter is the largest of all the planets and Saturn one of the most famous because of its beautiful luminous rings. In 1930 a new planet called Pluto was discovered. Some astronomers consider it to be a major planet, but this has not yet been proved and is possibly merely an unusual minor planet.

10 European Cities beginning with V

1. Vienna

2. Venice

3. Verona

4. Valencia

5. Valladolid

6. Valletta

7. Vatican City

8. Vaduz

9. Volgograd

10. Vaduz

Retro Album of the Week 1 - Rubber Soul

1965, one of my favourite Beatles albums.
The lyrics were disastrous and I knew it. Often you just block songs out and words just come into your mind and when they do it's hard to get rid of them. You often quote other songs too and you know you've got to get rid of them, but sometimes it's very difficult to find a more suitable phrase than the one that has insinuated itself into your consciousness. This is one of the songs where John and I came nearest to having a dry session. The lyrics I brought in were something to do with golden rings, which are always fatal. 'Rings' is fatal anyway, 'rings' always rhymes with things and I knew it was a bad idea. I came in and I said, 'These aren't good lyrics but it's a good tune.' Well, we tried, and John couldn't think of anything, and we tried, and eventually it was, 'Oh let's leave it, let's get off this one.' 'No, no. We can do it, we can do it.' So we had a break ... then we came back to it, and somehow it became 'drive-my-car' instead of 'gol-den-rings,' and then it was wonderful because this nice tongue-in-cheek idea came and suddenly there was a girl there, the heroine of the story, and the story developed and had a little sting in the tail like 'Norwegian Wood' had, which was 'I actually haven't got a car, but when I get one you'll be a terrific chauffeur.' So to me it was LA chicks, 'You can be my chauffeur', and it also meant 'you can be my lover.' 'Drive my car' was an old blues euphemism for sex, so in the end all is revealed. ... So that was my idea and John and I wrote the words, so I'd go 70-30 on that to me. Paul McCartney, Many Years From Now by Barry Miles, p 269-70, 1994
George had just got the sitar, and I said, 'Can you play this piece?' We went through many different sorts of versions of the song, but it was never right, and I was getting angry about it. It wasn't coming out like I said. They said, 'We'll just do it how you want to do it.' And I said, 'Well, I just want to do it like this.' They let me go and I did the guitar very loudly into the mike and sang it at the same time. John Lennon, The Beatles Off The Record, p 190, 2000
'The Word' could be a Salvation Army song. The word is 'love' but it could be 'Jesus' (It isn't, mind you, but it could be.) Paul McCartney, The Beatles Anthology, 2000 

Exodus Gods and Kings

Went to see the new Hollywood version of the Bible at the end of 2014. Exodus this time. It is as one might expect, which means some few good things and lots of bad things. I will try and write a review soon.