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.

10 Things people want for Christmas

1. My two front teeth (Spike Jones and the City slickers)
2. You (Mariah Carey)
3. A Beatle (Dora Bryan)
4. A real good tan (Kenny Chesney)
5. My girl (New Edition)
6. My daddy (Buck Owens)
A hippopotamus  (Gayla Peevey)
8. A banjo (David Myles, Santa never brings me ...)
9. Peace tonight, peace for all (Brian Wilson, What I really want ...)
10. A sable, a '54 convertible (light blue), a yacht, the deed to a platinum mine, a duplex and checks, decorations bought at Tiffany and a ring. (Eartha Kitt, Santa baby)

Jonathan Miller Clive James

Jonathan Miller and Clive James both died this week. Both men straddled the intellectual and popular divide and had a wry sense of humour. Further both were
1. Described as polymaths
2. Cambridge graduates who were involved in the Floodlights
3. And the Edinburgh festival
4. Wrote about Freud (James just an essay and Miller a whole book)
5. Presenters of TV programmes
6. Smokers
7. Professed atheists
8. Both took first degrees outside the arts (Miller medicine, James engineering)
9. Both had CBEs
10. Stephen Fry says they were heroes of his growing up.
Both were slight outsiders in that Miller was Jewish and James Australian.

James once interviewed Miller. See here. (Taste warning).

They seem to have dabbled in a any number of occupations

James (b 1939)
1. Literary essayist
2. Folk music lyricist
3. Novelist
4. TV critic
5. Translator
6. Poet
7. Memoirist
8. Journalist
9. TV presenter
10. Actor

Miller (b 1934)
1. Medical doctor
2. Satirist
3. Drama director
4. Opera producer
5. Artistic director
6. Musical director
7. Collage artist
8. TV Presenter
9. Actor
10. Writer

PS I notice there is a longer serious interview between James and Miller here.

Another chance to hear ...

The radio broadcast I did with Janet Mefferd some time ago on the book about conscience Candle in the wind is available once again. See here. It is the first item on the programme here. Enjoy.

Death of Jonathan Miller

We hear that polymath Jonathan Miller has died. I found myself sitting next to him at the British Library once and resisted the urge to graffitti his notebook when he left his space for a while. His views on atheism can be found in a 2007 article here.

How modern life works Part 94

Adam Boulton took a moment before introducing a Sky News segment to apologise for the all-male panel, noting that all the parties put forward male representatives. This included the Green Party, which then boycotted the panel because it was all male.
(From today's Times)

Day off Week 48 2019

Pretty typical week off this week - reading, walking, Private Eye, TV, etc. I read most of Mission at Nuremberg which I started reading a while back then put down but took up again recently having read the HHhH book. The whole Nazi era is endlessly fascinating and there were things here I did not know or had forgotten. I read a much shorter book on similar lines by F T Grossmith many years ago. This is a larger book that gives you the whole of the life of Major Gerecke the Protestant chaplain as well as plenty of other material on the history of chaplaincy, Lutheranism, etc, etc. The writer is lucid and fair minded but liberal in his theology. It is clear that several Nazis made credible professions of faith and some refused to believe but it is hard to be sure what to make of it all. In many ways Gerecke's pastoral work was similar to that of any other pastor.

Lord's Day November 24 2019

Good congregations again, especially in the morning. We had some visitors and lots of regulars. I was glad that someone staying with us who speaks Parsee was able to converse with our Iranians, who were out in force. A Filipina lady came for the first time but she had to leave promptly. We were singing happy birthday to our oldest member (83) during the cuppa after. Two ladies leave this week for India and Jamaica. We won't see them for several months. I was particularly encouraged in the evening to have someone there who has not been with us for a while. I didn't think the sermon (from the end of Matthew 27) was quite there. I did better in the morning finishing Acts. I have now preached all the New Testament. There was time when I might ave considered that an achievement. Now I'm thinking how much better it could have been done.

Preview Meeting November 24 2019

10 writers with appropriate adjectives

1. Aesop - fabulous
2. Homer - epic
3. Thomas Malory - legendary
4. J R R Tolkien - fantastic
5. Edgar Allan Poe - terrific
6. Lewis Carroll - wonderful
7. John Grisham - definitive
8. Khaled Hosseini - splendid
9. F X Toole - knock out
10. Ralph Ellison and H G Wells - both out of sight

Day Off Week 47 2019

Unusual day in some ways. At the start of the day I discovered that the grinder on my coffee machine was not working. Being unfamiliar with the machine I ended up spending an inordinate amount of time on it. I got it working in the end, however. Time was also taken up with a little bit of blogging and such like. I read E T A Hoffman's famous The Nutcracker which I had never read before. I saw a little collection of three fairy tale type hard backs in a slip case produced by Harrods in a charity shop the other week and bought them. Later in the day my wife called me to say Wales were on TV (in Welsh if you understand me). So I watched the latter part of the game. We beat Hungary 2-0 to qualify for the Euro finals next summer. That is only the third time that Wales have qualified for the main rounds of a competition. All credit to Ryan Giggs the manager. The return of Aaron Ramsey was decisive it seems.

Latest In Writing Now Out

In Writing 134 is now out

10 Invitations from the Bible

1. An invitation to cleansing Isaiah 1:18-20
"Come now, let us settle the matter," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. 
2. An invitation to satisfaction Isaiah 55:1, 2
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. 
3. An invitation to seek the LORD and call on him Isaiah 55:6-9
Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
4. An invitation to be healed of backsliding Jeremiah 3:22
"Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding." "Yes, we will come to you, for you are the LORD our God."
5. An invitation to return to the LORD Hosea 6:1
"Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds."
6. An invitation to rest Matthew 11:28-30
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." 
7. An invitation to discipleship Mark 1:17
"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will send you out to fish for people." 
8. An invitation to refreshment and refreshing John 7:37, 38
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them." 
9. An invitation to fruitfulness John 15:4
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
10. An invitation to fellowship Revelation 3:20
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Lord's Day November 17 2019

Good congregations once again morning and evening, helped by visitors. (The presence of just two families in the evening meant an extra 12 people, more or less doubling the congregation). I preached from the last chapter of Acts in the morning and the end of Matthew 27 in the evening. The subjects of common grace and the burial of Christ are unusual subjects but worthy of being dealt with on the Lord's Day. E had communion in the evening and that went off quite well, although I could have made  a better hymn choice. I felt particularly full of the Spirit in the morning but less so in the evening.

Midweek Meeting November 6 and 13 2019


I see I've let another two of these pass without comment. With another due tomorrow that's as far as behind as I ever get. There is no loss of enthusiasm on my part or that of the few that attend. We have carried on looking at the first chapter of 1 Timothy and calling out to the Lord in prayer. A baby has been born to members and that was something to give glad thanks for. Nothing remarkable to report but then so often it is like that in the Christian life. We plod on. Numbers vary, of course, but not radically.

John Ceiriog Hughes

I just watched a programme about trains in North Wales. One place they ended up was at the grave of John Ceiriog Hughes (1832-1887) in Caersws, He wrote his own englyn as an epitaph

Carodd eiriau cerddorol, carodd feirdd,
Carodd fyw'n naturiol;
Carodd gerdd yn angerddol;
Dyma ei lwch, a dim lo

He loved musical words, he loved poets,

He loved to live naturally;
He loved a poem passionately;
Here is his dust, and no messing.

Day Off Week 46 2019

A fairly typical day off this week. I read the new Private Eye and the newspaper over coffee. There was some transferring of files from one computer to another and some blog work. I also finished two books I might have mentioned, Michael Messenger on Elgar and Laurence Binet's novel come reportage - very interesting style (a bit of a pain in places) - on Reinhard Heinrich and his assassins. Also some TV later.

Death of Frank Dobson

The Labour MP and former minister Frank Dobson has died and there have been many obituaries. Some mention the lecture he gave in 1997 on William Tyndale. The lecture can be found here.

Some interesting anniversaries coming up in 2020

1520 Birth of Sir Walter Mildmay

1570 Thomas Cartwright's lectures on the Acts of the Apostles

1620 The Mayflower sails for New England

1670 Death of Puritan Vavasor Powell and Educationist Jan Comenius

1770 Death of Whitefield and Welsh Methodist Howell Davies

1820 Birth of Florence Nightingale, Anna Sewell, Anne Bronte and Fanny Crosby (and Richard Redhead)

1970 Publication The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey

I'm sure there are others. Do let me know. I did have Constantine in this list for some reason but have removed him.

10 Nuclear Powers

1. United States
2. Russia (formerly part of the Soviet Union)
3. United Kingdom
4. France
5. China
6. India
7. Pakistan
8. North Korea
9. Israel (so they say)
10. We don't know who else - Iran?

Lord's Day November 10 2019

A good day yesterday I would say. We had a good attendance in the morning and not too bad an attendance in the evening (thanks to a family of five). In the morning we had some visitors - old friends, a newish lady and three Iranians not seen last week (though one works and could only stay  a while). The morning sermon on Acts 27 went better than I had expected and I am not going to allow the fact that it would have been better to sing Will your anchor hold? before the sermon and Jesu lover of my soul after rather than the other way round bother me at all. We can overthink. We had a meal together after the morning meeting. We were about 35 or so for that with a nice table of Filipinos and Nigerians in the middle. In the evening we looked at the soldiers and the women at the cross. I'm sure there is more to be got out of that passage than I managed in quite a short sermon.

10 Things that do not change

1. God (Malachi 3:6)
2. Christ (Hebrews 13:8)
3. The Holy Spirit (Hebrews 9:14)
4. The command to love God (Deuteronomy 6:5)
5. The command to love my neighbour (Mark 12:31)
6. The cultural mandate (Genesis 1:28)
7. The great commission (Matthew 28:18-20)
8. God's Word (Matthew 24:35) and the gospel (Revelation 14:6)
9. Human nature (Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19)
10. The fact of death (Hebrews 9:27)

10 Things that change

1. Language - changes from place to place and year to year. I like to say at night these days "I'm going bed"
2. Laws - often for the better but not always
3. Dress - I never saw my dad in trainers or a baseball cap
4. Food and drink - I didn't grow up on fajitas, quinoa and kombucha
5. Sports rules - only three points for a try when I was young and the donkey kick was legal in soccer
6. Technology - Remember the 4 track cartridge and Betamax videos? Landlines and phone boxes are fast disappearing
7. What is popular in music - Ragtime sounds great but you'll rarely hear it
8. Ways to be entertained - Channel hopping and bungee jumping weren't options when I was a kid
9. Things to celebrate - Halloween is a big deal these days in the way it never was and so is the school prom (both from America but the point stands)
10. How to celebrate - Mexican waves and fireworks for new year are not part of my childhood

Good EMF day at Welwyn

Andrew Birch

It was good to be at the meetings today organised in Welwyn, marking the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of EMF, the European Mission Fellowship. Steven Bowers chaired to kick us off with a little history from Omri Jenkins' book Five minutes to midnight. Andrew Birch from Malaga then spoke helpfully and stimulatingly on the changing European scene. This was followed by a session featuring Jan Habl from the Czech Republic on video, Leonidas Kollaros from Greece and Vitalii Mariash from Ukraine on skype and there in Welwyn, Xavi Patino and Matt Hill from Spain and Sandor Kelemen from Transylvania.
We were then provided with a simple lunch and in the afternoon we had three seminars - one from Hungarian speakers Isztvan and Tunde Salanki, based in London, with Sandor from Romania; one from the three Spain based brothers and a final one from a couple working in the north of England among Muslims.
The final session was introduced with a piece from Daniel Webber's address on Europe for the Evangelical Library in 1991 Robert Strivens preaching from Hebrews 13 on the things that do not change. A great day. Lovely to meet old friends and one or two new ones. The EMF is a mission well worth supporting.

10 Things in German History that happened on November 9

1. 1522. Birth of German theologian and Refomrer Martin Chemnits (I would have put Martin Luther here but he was born on November 10, 1473).
2. 1518. Pope condemns Luther's writings.
3. 1848. After being arrested in the Vienna revolts, left liberal leader Robert Blum was executed. Many see the execution as symbolic of the ultimate crushing of the German March Revolution in April, May 1849.
4. 1918: Emperor Wilhelm II was dethroned in the November Revolution by Chancellor Max von Baden, who published the news of an abdication before the Emperor had abdicated. Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed the German republic from a window of the Reichstag. Two hours later, Karl Liebknecht proclaimed a "Free Socialist Republic" from a balcony of the Berliner Stadtschloss.
5. 1921. Publication of Der 9. November (The 9th of November) a novel by Bernhard Kellermann telling the story of the German insurrection of 1918.
6. 1922: German born Albert Einstein named winner of the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect".
7. 1923: The failed Beer Hall Putsch, 8 to 9, marking the early emergence and provisional downfall of the Nazis.  During Nazi rule 9 November was a national holiday in Germany in memory of Nazis who died in the Beer Hall Putsch.
8. 1923: Wilhelm, German Crown Prince, chose 9 November for his return to Germany from exile in the Netherlands. It infuriated his father, the former emperor, who felt the anniversary of his abdication ill-chosen.
9. 1938: Kristallnacht. Known today in Germany as the Reichspogromnacht, on 9 to 10, synagogues and Jewish property were burned and destroyed on a large scale, and more than 400 Jews were killed or driven to suicide. The event demonstrated that the antisemitic stance of the Nazi regime was not as 'moderate' as it had appeared in earlier years.
10. 1989: The fall of the Berlin Wall ended German separation and started a series of events that ultimately led to German reunification and the Fall of Communism in eastern Europe.

Day off Week 45 2019

This week's day off was a little different in that it started off with a trip to the doctor's for an appointment with the nurse. I also bought the paper and had a coffee in Cricklewood after that then came back here and spent the day in editing. First there was the latest edition of In Writing which needed to be put to bed. Then there was the finishing touches to a local church history which I have now finished and that you can view here on Amazon. Eleri was out at the women's meeting in the evening so I caught up on University Challenge and the latest episode of Name of the Rose in the new BBC series. (I have never watched it or read it though I am very much aware of Umberto Eco's novel). I also read a little of HHhH my latest novel, picke up in a charity shop recentkly.

Interesting books

We had a session at the Westminster Fellowship on Monday where Keith Berry recommended some books worth reading. He mentioned The Noble Liar: How and Why the BBC Distorts the News to Promote a Liberal Agenda by Robin Aitken exposing BBC bias, The Reshaping of Britain: Church and State since the 1960s, A Personal Reflection by the veteran evangelical Clifford Hill, charting his own story and describing changes in the UK in recent decades, and a large book by the Jewish journalist Melanie Phillips called The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth, and Power.
What we are talking about, I suppose, is right wing writing that in one way or another exposes evils in our society and analyses them in a way that is of great interest to evangelical Christian. One could add Douglas Murray's recent The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity and slightly more tangential Tom Holland's Dominion, the making of the western mind both recommended to me recently from more than one source. I guess the writings of Jordan Peterson might also be mentioned. Do check them out.

Preview Meeting November 10 2019

We haven't done one of these for a while

Lord's Day November 3 2019

We began on Sunday with communion and that was good. We welcomed a new member which is also good. This is someone who has been a member of the congregation for a long time. Typically Childs Hill she will be away for three months from the end of November visiting relatives. In fact at least three members or adherents are off soon (to India, Jamaica and the Philippines). In the morning I  preached Acts 26. Perhaps I should have broken things up but the end of the book is in sight now and it will be good for it to be complete. In the evening we looked at the three miracles of the cross that came after Jesus's death. We had good congregations morning and evening. It was especially encouraging to see over twenty present in the evening. Visitors included a lady from Trinidad come to London to do an exam (good to be reminded that is part of our ministry too), some old friends passing through and two people, one from Poland and one from the Turks and Caicos Islands originally, more likely to be at Hillsong but happy with the sermon. As ever, there were many people not there (I can think of three members and four others at least). It is so distressing when people are away for whatever reason.

Grove Chapel Bicentenary

It was good to be at the bicentenary celebration in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, this afternoon, part of a weekend of meetings. We have no particular connection with the chapel but it is a bastion of Reformed preaching and there were many people present who we know (as well as many we don't). There have been ten ministers over the 200 years. I know the five still living to speak to and know the names of others like Joseph Irons, the founder pastor and Henry Atherton. Those still living with the dates when they served are Iain Murray (1961-69), Hywel Jones (1970-80), David N Jones (1981-93), Mark Johnston (1994-2010) and Paul Yeulett (from 2014). (Do note the celtic flavour that persists over the years). This afternoon Paul preached on God the Father (although it was really on all three persons). Reuel Abrahams, one of the elders chaired. Nice tea to follow and plenty of chats. We skipped the Q&A.

10 3 letter girls names

1. Ada
2. Amy
3. Ann
4. Ava
5. Eve
6. Fay
7. Ivy
8. Joy
9. Mae
10. Zoe

10 3 letter boys names

1. Asa
2. Che
3. Ian
4. Ira
5. Kai
6. Huw
7. Lee
8. Ole
9. Udo
10. Wyn

The coming fourth of Wales

So the world cup is finally over for Wales. A very good campaign on the whole.
Well outplayed by New Zealand today, 40-17.

10 Zoos in the UK

1. London Zoo, Regents Park
2. Whipsnade Zoo
3. Bristol Zoo
4. Chester Zoo
5. Dudley Zoo
6. Borth Wild Animal Kingdom
7. Penscynor Wildlife Park
8. Chessington World of Adventures and Zoo
9. Twycross Zoo
10. Edinburgh Zoo

Midweek Meeting October 30 2019

Autumn is definitely with us now but ten of us met in the chapel parlour last Wednesday, as we began a new series on 1 Timothy. We only looked at the first two verses but there was plenty to chew on. I had thought of doing seven verses but decided against it and I am glad I did. By trying to be interactve it ended up quite long. There was enough time for a good session of prayer, however, when most people prayed.

Day off week 44 2019

One of the tasks of most days off is to put away the clothes that magically appear washed and ironed every few days. My wife is a hard woman who expects me to actually put them away. Alo this week I spent a little while putting the hundred and more books that seem to have accumulated around and under my bed over the months into a rickety booksheld brought in from elsewhere. Otherwise I had a ood long chat with a friiend in North Wales by phone and read Private Eye and most of a little biography of Elgar that I picked up in acharity shop recently. There was alos time for blossing and trawling through my computer archives sorting things. I added several pieces to my pulished articles blog. See here.