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 hats named for fictional characters

1. Fedora (from the title of an 1882 play by Victorien Sardou, written for Sarah Bernhardt)
2. Trilby (from the 1894 novel by George du Maurier)
3. Pamela hat (from a 1793 play based on the novel by Richardson)
4. Tam o' shanter (from the eponymous hero of the 1790 poem by Burns)
5. Mickey Mouse hat
6. Gatsby cap (from The Great Gatsby F Scott Fitzgerald 1925)
7. Dolly Varden (from a character in Dickens Barnaby Rudge of 1840, 1841 based on earlier events)
8. Santa hat
9. Mad hatter hat (from the character in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures 1865)
10. Cat in the hat top hat (from the Dr Zeuss character)

Lord's Day December 22 2019

We were pretty full Sunday morning which was our main effort and not too bad in the evening, either., even though many are away by now. In the morning visitors included a new East European lady, several Iranians (one or two new), a Christian who lives elsewhere in London but who knows one or two of us and congregation family members. One of the deacons did the children's talk again. People were happy to stay behind for mince pies and a cuppa. In the evening a man who came a few weeks back returned with a friend. I preached Christmas through the eyes of the shepherds in the morning and through the eyes of Simeon and Anna in the evening. These choices worked okay again.
The other thing on Sunday was a trip to Acton in the afternoon where I preached for a little Ethiopian congregation I have come into contact with, Interesting time.

Midweek Meeting December 18 2019

Eight of us gathered on Wednesday, even though many are away. We considered Luke 2:7 and the fact there was no room for Jesus in Bethlehem and so he was put in a manger. I was quite interactive, which I think was appreciated.Most of us then prayed in the prayer time.

A Christmas quiz

Around this time of year I like to prepare a god Christmas quiz. Hope you enjoy this. (Also available on my Christmas blog here).
1. Charlie Chaplin was famous for acting in and directing comedies. He died on December 25 in which year?
A. 1937 B. 1957 C. 1967 D. 1997

2. On December 25 1989 the Romanian Communist dictator was killed by firing squad. What was his name?
A. Enver Hoxha B. Erich Honecker C. Nicolae Ceaucescu D.Georghe Zamfir

3. On December 25 William the Conqueror was crowned but where did it take place?
A. Arundel Cathedral B. Westminster Abbey C. Winchester Cathedral D. Buckingham Palace

4. Which famous mathematician was born on December 25 1642?
A. Sir Isaac Newton B. Sir Edmund Halley C. Gottfried Leibniz D. Pierre de Fermat

5. In 1946 an actor and comedian died on December 25. Give his name.
A. Groucho Marx B. W C Fields C. Buster Keaton D. George Burns

6. Name the actor or actress famous for their role in the film Casablanca who was born December 25, 1899.
A. Humphrey Bogart B. Ingrid Bergmann C. Dirk Bogarde D. Greta Garbo

7. The Scottish singer Annie Lennox who sang with Eurythmics was born December 25 but in which year?
A. 1954 B. 1964 C. 1974 D. 1984

8. On December 25 2016 Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou died at home. What was he famous for?
A. Cooking B. Singing C. In politics D. As a driving instructor

9. On December 25 800 AD Charlemagne was crowned Holy Roman Emperor but by whom?
A. By himself B. By the Pope C. By the Bishop of Paris D. By a court jester

10. On December 25 1926 Crown Prince Hirohito assumed the throne on the death of his father Emperor Yoshihito. But which throne?
A. Chinese B. Japanese C. Korean D. Belgian

11. On December 25 1995 the man who sang Let it snow Let it snow Let it snow died. By what name was he known?
A. Dean Martin B. Frank Sinatra C. Perry Como D. Nat King Cole

12. On December 25 1991 the Russian President formally resigned on TV. What was his name?
A. Yuri Andropov B. Mikhail Gorbachev C. Boris Yeltsin D. Joseph Stalin

Answers: 1b 2c 3b 4a 5b 6a 7a 8b 9b 10b 11a 12b

10 Pieces of Advice for Theological Students from Samuel Pearce

These are from a letter sent by Pearce November 13, 1798 to a student Matthew Griffith. 

At present, the following rules appear of so much moment, that were I to resume a place in any literary establishment, I would religiously adopt them as the standard of my conduct.
1. I would cultivate a spirit of habitual devotion. Warm piety connected with my studies, and especially at my entrance upon them, would not only assist me in forming a judgment on their respective importance, and secure the blessing of God upon them; but would so cement the religious feeling with the literary pursuit, as might abide with me for life. The habit of uniting these, being once formed, would, l hope, be never lost; and I am sure that, without this, I shall both pursue trivial and unworthy objects, and those that are worthy I shall pursue for a wrong end.
2 I would determine on a uniform submission to the instructions of my preceptor, and study those things which would give him pleasure. If he be not wiser than I am, for what purpose do I come under his care? I accepted the pecuniary help of the Society on condition of conforming to its will; and it is the society's will that my tutor should govern me. - My example will have influence: let me not, by a single act of disobedience, or by a word that implicates dissatisfaction, sow the seeds of discord in the bosom of my companions.
3. I would pray and strive for the power of self-government to form no plan, to utter not a word, to take no step under the mere influence of passion. Let my judgment be often asked, and let me always give it time to answer. Let me always guard against a light or trifling spirit; and particularly as I shall be amongst a number of youths, whose years will incline them to the same frailty.
4. I would in all my weekly and daily pursuits observe the strictest order. Always let me act by a plan. Let every hour have its proper pursuit; from which let nothing, but a settled conviction that I can employ it to better advantage, ever cause me to deviate. Let me have fixed time for prayer, meditation, reading, languages, correspondence, recreation, sleep, etc.
5. I would not only assign to every hour its proper pursuit; but what I did, I would try to do it with all my might. The hours at such a place are precious beyond conception, till the student enters on life's busy scenes. Let me set the best of my class ever before me, and strive to be better than they. In humility and diligence, let me aim to be the first.
6. I would particularly avoid a versatile habit. In all things I would persevere. Without this I may be a gaudy butterfly, but never, like the bee, will my hive bear examining. Whatever I take in hand, let me first be sure l understand it, then duly consider it, and if it be good, let me adopt and use it.
To these, my dear brother, let me add three or four things more minute, but which I am persuaded will help you much.
7. Guard against a large acquaintance while you are a student. Bristol friendship, while you sustain that character, will prove a vile thief, and rob you of many an invaluable hour.
8. Get two or three of the students, whose piety you most approve, to meet for one hour in a week for experimental conversation and mutual prayer. I found this highly beneficial, though, strange to tell, by some we were persecuted for our practice.
9. Keep a diary.
10. Once a week, at farthest, call yourself to an account: What advances you have made in your different studies; in divinity, history, languages, natural philosophy, style, arrangement; and amidst all, do not forget to inquire, Am I more fit to serve and to enjoy God than I was last week?

10 Redheads with beards

  1. Ed Sheeran
  2. Prince Harry
  3. Damian Lewis
  4. Tom Goodman-Hill
  5. Ruopert Grint
  6. Ben Stokes
  7. Sheamus
  8. Michael Fassbender
  9. Boris Becker
  10. Ewan MacGregor

Day off Week 51 2019

Yesterday started early as I needed to take Eleri to school. She wasn't coming home directly but going on to a pantomime in Richmond. (Oh yes she was). I was also taxi driver for my son later as he had to have a tooth extracted. It was good to have another son back from Wales yesterday. He spent the day on the bus. During the day I was mostly reading Christmas stories on my kindle and listening to my vast collection of Christmas music. I must admit I did put some time in on Sunday's sermon as I had not got started on Monday. In the evening I wrote up some researches I had done on Monday at the Evangelical Library. See here for example.

Lord's Day December 15 2019

A day of many joys and some disappointments. One joy was that a former Muslim member was around for the first time in a while and some people who rarely join us were there, the disappointments mostly entered on missing people. Two people were absent in the morning because a rogue mouse had chosen the moment before church to make himself known and then hide. Another disappeared part way through when his mother realised she had left the cooker on. Such is church life. A lot of people seemed to arrive late in the morning.
I preached on Christmas through Joseph's eyes in the morning and through Mary's in the evening The evening service was preceded by communion. About nine of us there for that. Nice to have a former member with us for that.
So a day's march further forward. Loved the two Charles Wesley hymns we sang, as always at this time of the year.

Glory be to God on high,
And peace on earth descend;
God comes down: He bows the sky,
And shows Himself our Friend!
God the' invisible appears,
God, the blest, the great I AM,
Sojourns in this vale of tears,
And Jesus is His name.

10 Christmas Carols From Around the World

1. Silent night (Austria)
2. Infant holy (Poland)
3. Child in the manger (Scotland)
4. All poor men and humble (Wales)
5. While shepherds watched (England)
6. All my heart this night rejoices (Germany)
7. O little town of Bethlehem (USA)
8. O holy night (France)
9. The virgin Mary had a baby boy (Trinidad)
10. O come all ye faithful (Portugal?)

10 Christmas Consumables From Around the World

1. Eggnog (USA/Canada)
2. Pavlova (Australia/New Zealand)
3. Stollen (Germany)
4. Panettone (Italy)
5. Dundee Cake (Scotland0
6. Glogg (mulled wine drunk in Scandinavia)
7. Oysters, champagne (France)
8. Sorrel (Jamaica)
9. Brussels Sprouts (England)
10. KFC (Japan)

Midweek Meeting December 11 2019

We were altogether again on Wednesday night. We are a little smaller than we can be with friends in Brazil and The Philippines at the moment. I decided to go with a Christmas theme and we looked at the wisemen in Matthew 2. I tried to do it interactively. We had a good prayer time with one or two things dominating our thoughts including the election.

Christmas with Kate Rusby on the Southbank

As noted we were at the Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday evening for another of these annual Kate Rusby Christmas concerts. The format appeared to be similar to previous years - about 16 carols and other songs, lots of talking, a short period when Kate is off stage and Damien and the boys do some instrumentals, an audience video for Facebook and a two song encore. About half the twelve songs on the new album were done along with pieces from the other albums. One quibble our Barnsley nightingale suggested that many of the carols sung in pubs were kept out of the church by the Victorians. That would suggest that Kate has never heard of Sankey's Sacred Songs and Solos or Sankey's Sacred solos and sea shanties as some humorously call it. There aren't many carols in Sankey it is true but Rolling downward, Once in royal David's, While shepherds watched, Hark the herald, etc are all there. Great evening.

Day Off Week 50 2019

Yesterday's day off had a real Christmas theme. I did some blogging but mostly I was either reading about Christmas or listening to Christmas music. The snow goose is not really a Christmas book but it has a winter vibe. I enjoyed reading it again, especially in the edition I own illustrated by Angela Barrett. I also have a Wordsworth children's book 'Twas the night before Christmas which is a Christmas anthology. I read Clement Moore's poem, Louisa May Alcott's Christmas dream, a shortened version of A Christmas Carol done by Dickens himself and Hans Christian Anderson's The Fir tree. All full of god morals. In the evening Eleri and I went down to the Royal Festival Hall to see Kate Rusby and her band singing Christmas music. Very nice - more on that anon.

Lord's Day December 8 2019

Way behind still but we had a good day on Sunday with relatively good numbers in the morning but much smaller in the evening. In the morning my sermon title was Politicians - what are they good for? A Christmas study. Given that we vote tomorrow and Christmas is also just round the corner I thought that we could think about Luke 2:1-3 and say things. Politicians good for marking the time, for keeping order and for bringing about God's will. Hopefully, it got people thinking. In the evening we dropped the Christmas theme and looked at the very last verses of Matthew and the Great Commission. I was keen to finish Matthew before the year's end. I have now preached through Matthew (and Mark) twice (and Luke and John once each). Another good day with God's people.

A man is twice as old as his son. When his son is the same age as his father was when ...

One thing that has put me behind is a trip to Aber for my oldest son's thirtieth birthday
at the end of last week. Lovely time!

Midweek Meeting November 20, 27 December 4 2019

Not quite sure why I keep forgetting to write these up. Certainly last week (December 4) was difficult as always as I have to rush home from the conference, grab tea and then go. Fitting in time to prepare is also not easy. Anyway, there were 10 there and similar numbers the weeks before I am sure. On December 4 our old friend, my former assistant Andrew Lolley was with us and that was good. Of course, I can't remember much about November 20 and 27 but I know what we studied (1 Timothy 1:12 to 2:7) and I know that we prayed and that is always good. Part of the focus this time was the coming election, partly in light of the passage we looked at.

Westminster Conference Day 2

Last Wednesday seems ages ago. I have been busy, however, and need to catch up. This post is simply to say that the Westminster Conference 2019 went off very well all told. On day 2 I chaired the opening session (as is clear from the photo). American Matthew Bingham of Oak Hill spoke very helpfully on the difficult topic of the origins of independency and we had a good, well natured discussion to follow. In the afternoon Douglas MacCallum spoke on Thomas Manton. This was a good introduction and it was interesting to learn that Banner will be publishing all 22 volumes of his works next May. Douglas chose to focus on the sermons on Isaiah 53 but then raised but did not resolve the subject of Manton's understanding of Christ's righteousness. This rather sidetracked us. The final paper is always without discussion and this time it was Paul Smith from Broadstairs on The Pilgrim Fathers, a good theological treatment. We meet again next year, God willing, December 1, 2. I will be giving the closing paper. Lots of other good things too.

Westminster Conference 2019 Day 1

Pipa, Walker, Strivens

It was very good to be at the conference this week down in Oxford Street. We had a decent turn out and the papers and even the discussions went well. We kicked off by looking at William Perkins. Our American speaker Joseph Pipa is a Perkins expert but was able to bring a lightness of touch to his delivery that made the subject come alive. It was a great start and we had a good if slightly diffuse discussion under a good chairman (Andy Young).
The other two parts of the day followed on from each other with committee members Jeremy Walker and Robert Strivens looking consecutively at the theory (A holy God worshipped in spirit of holy fear according to a holy book) and practice of Puritan worship. The latter focused on the 1662 men adn their rejection of the prayer book. They spoke and chaired each other with time only for questions of clarification immediately after the paper. We then discussed both papers together. On reflection it might have been better to introduce a third person to chair that. We also got slightly sidetracked onto the question of Christmas trees in the worship area but it was a good day all round.

Another Christmas album from Kate Rusby

Once again Kate Rusby has released a December Christmas album. This is the fifth one and it is called Holly Head (hard not to say that in a North Walian accent for some of us). It follows a similar format to previous albums and so seemed a little tame at first but I am getting into it.
We kick off with Salute The Morn an eighteenth century hymn with some nice guitar work from husband Damien O'Kane. Christmas Is Merry is the first of three originals but with a traditional tune.  The Holly King is very much on the pagan side of things. Hippo For Christmas revives a forgotten novelty hit from the fifties, complete with tuba accompaniment.
There are four traditional carols on the album next. Yorkshire Three Ships, Lu Lay (or the Wexford or Coventry carol) and a laudable sixth version of While Shepherds Watched follow each other in swift succession and are done well. We have to wait one track until the great Victorian hymn Bleak Midwinter done to a Yorkshire tune.
The Mistletoe Bough turns to an 1844 song apparently published in Songs, Ballads and Other Poems. By Thomas Haynes Bayly (of Home Sweet Home fame) and Sir Henry Bishop it is based on the sad story of The Mistletoe Bride which, first related in 1823, tells of how a young bride suffocated on her wedding day unable to get out of a large chest where she had hidden in an ill-fated game of hide and seek. The legend has been ascribed to several different counties, this one is about Lovell Hall, Oxfordshire. It is a jolly song despite the tragic content.
Celestial Hearts is a Yorkshire variant of ‘New Celestial’, arranged by Rusby and O’Kane and I Am Christmas is a simple treatment of a 2010 song written by Bill Meek and John Conolly,
The album closes with another episode in the story of Barnsley's own Big Brave Bill B.B.B.B is Bill, Beryl, Belinda and Bob this time. This time he gets rescued.
Sorry not to hear any banjo this time. The brass and guitars, etc, are here still. Great arrangementss but it is the voice that wins it. The Barnsley lass seems to have pulled it off again. We are looking forward to seeing her soon.

10 Christmas Novelty Songs

A novelty song is a comical or nonsensical song, performed principally for its comical effect. Humorous songs, or those containing humorous elements, are not necessarily novelty songs. The term arose in Tin Pan Alley to describe one of the major divisions of popular music.
  1. Christmas in Blobbyland by Mr Blobby
  2. Frosty the Snowman by Gene Autry and later Jimmy Durante
  3. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer by Elmo & Patsy
  4. Hokey Cokey by the Snowmen
  5. I'm Walking Backwards For Christmas by The Goodies (or Make a daft noise for Xmas)
  6. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by Jimmy Boyd and later The Jackson 5, etc.
  7. Lonely Pup (In a Christmas Shop) by Adam Faith
  8. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Gene Autry and later by Spike Jones, etc
  9. Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt and later Kylie Minogue
  10. You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch by Jim Carrey

Lecture on Thomas Treanor at the Library

We had an excellent lecture on Monday at the Evangelical Library. Norman Hopkins introduced us to Thomas Treanor a forgotten missionary to seamen in the 19th century. It was quite a striking story of commitment to bravely bring the gospel to sinners. We also had a very good number. Well worth seeing on the video taken. Enquire at the Library.

Lord's Day December 1 2019

This week is so busy I have got rather behind so this is rather like ancient history but we had a good day on Sunday with relatively good numbers morning and (to a lesser extent) in the evening. We began with communion and I then preached from Deuteronomy 6:6, 7, a one off text. We enjoyed having our seminary students and their families to lunch and then in the evening I preached the resurrection from the first 15 verses of Matthew 28. It was a good day. No fresh people in and some missing, of course, as ever, but a good opportunity once again.


This slightly doctored clip from last Monday's University Challenge illustrates how the mind craves symmetry (mine at least). One writer puts it down to craving order and adds "The search for symmetry, and the emotional pleasure we derive when we find it, must help us make sense of the world around us, just as we find satisfaction in the repetition of the seasons and the reliability of friendships. Symmetry is also economy. Symmetry is simplicity. Symmetry is elegance."