Wednesday, June 29, 2005

blogging drought

Howcome when I was in the middle of revision and dissertation writing I wanted to blog all the time, but now I have jack all to do I have lost the will to blog? Let's see, what have I been up to? On Sunday, I spoke again at church, on the example of Paul in Philippians. It felt a lot better than last week, I think I was a bit more chilled out, and it wasn't nearly as hot. Sunday was also our 6th wedding anniversary, which is pretty mad. Every year we say we can't believe how quickly it's gone, but at the same time it feels like we've always been together. It does keep getting better though, and we're both so thankful that we've been given such a great marriage.

Haven't seen any job opportunities yet, but it's early days I suppose. The other night Su and I were chatting about it in bed. It was around 11.30pm and I was doing my usual thing of saying 'I don't know what I'm going to do', and Su was doing her usual thing of saying 'don't worry', when the phone went. 'Who's that, phoning at 11.30?' we said. It turned out to be a girl from church, one of the many new Polish people that have been coming along recently. In broken English she explained that she didn't normally do this sort of thing, but that she felt prompted by God to phone and tell me that I was to be at peace, because God has a job in store for me and that I was to stop worrying. Stunned, I said thankyou and returned to bed, when of course Su said 'I told you not to worry'. Talk about perfect timing! I'm glad this girl was obedient to the prompt she had, and that she had the guts to phone someone late at night who she hardly knows to pass on a message from God in a foreign language.

On a completely different note, I can always rely on sven for a lazy link when I've ran out of things to say. I am in full agreement with his 1st Council of Sven on tea and various other important matters. Any American readers should especially take note (it goes without saying that 'Iced' tea is anathema)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Julian Beever's Pavement Art

Originally uploaded by Jon Taylor.

Got sent these pictures today. They show the artwork of a guy called Julian Beever who does this stuff all over the world. The pictures are anamorphose which means that when viewed from the right angle they appear in 3D. V. cool.

See the rest of them here

Ode to BA (Hons) Theology

Here's a song my friend Lewis wrote while he was in the middle of exams:
(Based on My Way!)

Now, the end is near
And so I've faced the final Gobbet...
I tried, to make things clear
But now I fear I may have lost it!
I studied long, I studied hard
But to what end, there is no telling
I'm not sure if, my paper's marred
By my unique abysmal spelling...?

Thinking back, I may have cause
To be vexed, about my grading
My answers have, eternal flaws
That second class, looks like its fading!
My essay plan, had Abraham
100 years, before King David
I think I claimed, in the exam
The fall of man, is easily dated?!

Was it 'Q'?! Or 'W'?!
I just don't know, it's so confusing
It's hard to tell, what's real and true
I cannot take this mental bruising!
I said that Luke, was written first
And maybe Mark, missed out Good Friday?!
O but more......much more than this....
I did it...
My way

The 'Was it 'Q' or 'W'?' line refers to a classic moment in one of our synoptic gospels classes when a Korean member of our class 'Mr. Cha' put up his hand and asked why 'Q' (the name for a hypothetical source of Matthew and Luke) wasn't called 'W'.
We have no idea why he asked this.

Monday, June 20, 2005


I got a first! Of course, I was hoping and praying for one, but I was convinced I'd messed up my exams, so I was expecting a 2:1, which I would have been ok with, being an improvement on my Desmond first time round. I can't explain how happy I am. I'm so thankful to Su who has supported me all the way through and never stopped believing in me.

Results Day

Well, today's the day I get the results for my degree. The end of three years work. After the exams I was quite nervous 'cos I thought they went badly, but now I'm strangely relaxed about the result for some reason. I know that whatever happens I did my best (which is more than I can say for my first degree). I expect we'll be going out for a curry tonight whatever happens.

The weekend was fun, if ridiculously hot. Saturday lunchtime we met up with Michael, Mary and Helen for a farewell lunch at Nando's in the Bullring. Michael is one of the easiest people to get on with I've ever met, and is never short of interesting conversation. He has a genuine love for life which is infectious and, like all the best Americans, is a complete Anglophile. This song is for him.

Worked again with John Hull on Saturday afternoon for the first time in ages, which is always good. It's weird how quickly 3 hours goes working with John compared to 3 hours working at the bookshop which seems to last about 3 weeks.

Spent time with the family, (hi mum), including Rachel, Karl and James, on Saturday evening for a Father's day type get together, which was great as we don't get to see each other as often as we'd like.

On Sunday morning I was speaking at church from Philippians 2:1-18 (how can you do justice to this amazing passage in 20 minutes?). It went ok, I think, but I was a bit rusty and it was altogether too hot. By half way through I had bored myself, which is probably not a good sign. Hopefully things will go a bit better next week.

Sven's theology quiz has been crazily popular (14000 takers at the last count!) and of course has attracted attention from some dumb Christians who've got nothing better to do than whinge and generally be a pain in the backside. Get a life people, it was just a bit of fun. He even got some malicious spam code in one of his comments, good comeback though.

Friday, June 17, 2005

New Archbishop of York

I think this is good news. Sentamu is a dude. I once saw him give the best djembe solo I've ever seen. Seriously, I think he is a good choice for Archbishop, although it is a sad loss for Birmingham. Maggi Dawn tells some good stories from when he was her vicar.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Problem

The first chapter of Don Miller's Blue Like Jazz was really just an intro to some of his thoughts on our 'sin nature'. The idea that there is 'something wrong with human nature', as Billy Graham (or was it Gary Clail?) used to say, is not exactly a fashionable thing to talk about so it was interesting to hear his thoughts on the concept.
On p14 he talks some more about his own feelings of guilt :

'I didn't feel like I knew God, and yet He was making me experience this conviction. I felt that the least He could have done was to come down and introduce Himself and explain these feelings of conviction in person.
If you don't love somebody, it gets annoying when they tell you what to do or what to feel. When you love them you get pleasure from their pleasure, and it makes it easier to serve. I didn't love God because I didn't know God.
Still, I knew, because of my own feelings, there was something wrong with me, and it wasn't only me. I knew it was everybody. It was like a bacteria or a cancer or a trance. It wasn't on the skin, it was in the soul. It showed itself in loneliness, lust, anger, jealousy and depression. It had people screwed up bad everywhere you went - at the store, at home, at church; it was ugly and deep. Lots of singers on the radio were singing about it and cops had jobs because of it. It was as if we were broken, I thought, as if we were never supposed to feel these sticky emotions. It was as if we were cracked, couldn't love right, couldn't feel good things for very long without screwing it all up. We were like gasoline engines running on diesel.

I like what he does here. It is difficult to talk about our 'sin nature' without sounding like some kind of fundamentalist. It has often been expressed in ways that make people sound worthless, completely overwriting the goodness of God's creation. The issue must be faced though, at some point in our lives we need to realise that we are 'part of the problem'. It is no good blaming everything on 'the system', on 'structural' or 'corporate' sin (although I do believe in such a thing). Miller expresses this on p20:

'The problem is not a certain type of legislation or even a certain politician; the problem is the same that it has always been. I am the problem.
I think every conscious person, every person who is awake to the functioning principles within his reality, has a moment where he stops blaming the problems in the world on group think, on humanity and authority, and starts to face himself. I hate this more than anything. This is the hardest principle within Christian spirituality for me to deal with. The problem is not out there; the problem is the needy beast of a thing that lives in my chest.'

The next bit is challenging for me, and for anyone who claims to be interested in social justice :
'More than my questions about the efficacy of social action were my questions about my own motives. Do I want social justice for the oppressed, or do I just want to be known as a socially active person? I spend 95 percent of my time thinking about myself anyway. I don't have to watch the evening news to see that the world is bad, I only have to look at myself. I am not browbeating myself here; I am only saying that true change, true life giving, God-honouring change would have to start with the individual. I was the very problem I had been protesting. I wanted to make a sign that read "I AM THE PROBLEM!"

This reminds me of a G.K. Chesterton story. The Times newspaper once ran a series of articles on the topic of "What is wrong with the world?". They had contributions from various politicians and other famous people. When the series had run for a while a letter was published which read
"Dear Sir,
What is wrong with the world?
I am.
Yours sincerely,
G.K. Chesterton"

There is so much good, honest stuff in this chapter, but I'm probably already in breach of 'fair use', so I'll just finish with this C.S. Lewis poem that he quotes (p21) :

'All this flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through;
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.

Peace, reassurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin;
I talk of love - a scholars parrot may talk Greek-
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin'

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Light Reading

It is such a relief to be able to read for fun again! I enjoy reading big theology textbooks, which I know is fairly weird, but after the revision and dissertation stuff it is nice to read something a bit more inspirational. I picked up Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz which I think has been out in the States for ages but seems to have only just made it to our Christian bookshop. So far, Don Miller's 'non-religious thoughts on Christian Spirituality' have been refreshingly honest, uplifting and funny and I thought I might blog a bit about them.

The opening chapter describes Don's childhood struggles to relate to God as a Father (he only saw his own father 3 times as he was growing up) and his early forays into "sinning", meaning telling lies, cussing, fighting and looking up girl's skirts. The ensuing feelings of guilt caused him to begin using religion as a means of getting back to normal, so he could have fun without feeling guilty. He describes this view of God as a 'slot-machine God'.
'The slot-machine God provided a relief for the pinging guilt and a sense of hope that my life would get organized toward a purpose. I was too dumb to test the merit of the slot machine idea. I simply began to pray for forgiveness, thinking the cherries might line up and the light atop the machine would flash, spilling shiny tokens of good fate. What I was doing was more in line with superstition than spirituality. But it worked. If something nice happened to me, I thought it was God, and if something didn't, I went back to the slot machine, knelt down in prayer, and pulled the lever a few more times. I liked this God very much because you hardly had to talk to it and it never talked back. But the fun never lasts'
The chapter ends with him buying his mum a cheap and crappy Christmas present so he can spend the rest of his money on fishing equipment. He feels so ashamed of this (perhaps describing himself as Hitler was a tad over the top) that he gets on his knees and really connects with God for the first time.

I was struck by how I blessed I have been to have the parents I have. When I came back to God 8 years ago after a period of walking away from Him I was very aware that they had been praying for me. I also had a strong sense of God as a Father who was personally interested in my life and was there for me as my own dad was . It is mindblowing when you get a glimpse of the Father's love. It is amazing how quick we go back to treating God as a non-personal religious system to deal with our sin and guilt rather than wanting to please Him because we love Him.

Saturday, June 11, 2005


Coldplay's new album is their best yet. In fact they have got better with every album I reckon. I used to think they were just bland dadrock like Travis but the second album got me hooked and now I think they're truly great. It's not a huge change of direction or anything but when the songwriting is as good as this then you don't need a change of direction. This is the sound of a band at the top of their game. But perhaps I'm just getting old.

A Kairos Moment? G8 finance ministers meet

Today the finance ministers of the G8 countries continue their discussions about aid and debt reduction in preparation for the G8 summit at Gleneagles. Will today represent a real kairos moment, with an historic agreement on debt relief? As always with such things the devil is in the details and it is difficult to ascertain what’s really going on from the various accounts of discussions. Here's what I currently understand to be the situation :

Make Poverty History have been pushing for the G8 countries to double their aid and commit to honouring their promises to raise aid to 0.7% of GDP (which were made 35 years ago). It doesn't look like the US administration are going to buy into this, claiming they have already doubled aid in the last 4 years and trebled food aid. Brown was proposing an International Finance Facility which would frontload aid by issuing bonds. His mini-IFF may have to go ahead with a 'coalition of the willing'.
Here are the 2004 'Aid as a % of GDP' figures for the G7 :

France - 0.42%
United Kingdom - 0.36%
Germany - 0.28%
Canada - 0.26%
Japan - 0.19%
US - 0.16%
Italy - 0.15%

source - OECD web site

Meanwhile global spending on arms tops $1 trillion dollars!

I am convinced the US churches have a vital role to play in this arena and it was encouraging to see mega-church pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren getting on board with the One campaign.

Debt Relief
It looks like there is about to be a significant announcement on debt relief. This is a fantastic start. Their are 18 countries whose entire debt stands to be written off, with a further 11 who may qualify in the future. Jubilee Debt Campaign believe that there are at least 62 countries who should qualify for debt relief, but this is a significant first step (if it materialises) which must be applauded.

Trade Justice
There is a long way to go on this. The EU and the US are not going to give up their agricultural subsidies any time soon and it remains to be seen how much of the promised debt relief will be conditional upon the IMF/World Bank's demands for liberalisation.

As for climate change, it would not appear to be anywhere near the table, let alone on it. Although Blair is still optimistic. Perhaps it is unrealistic to fight a war on two fronts?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Last Theological Quiz

Ok, this one is 'Which theologian are you?'

Jürgen Moltmann




Karl Barth


John Calvin




Charles Finney


Friedrich Schleiermacher


Martin Luther


Paul Tillich


Jonathan Edwards


Which theologian are you?
created with

I like this. The more I read about Moltmann the more I find I agree with him. I need to read his own books though as I've only read him second hand so far.

For anyone bewildered by all these strange names and words, Sven gives some explanations here and here

Eschatology Quiz

Next quiz of Sven's is 'What's your Eschatology?' Which means what do you believe about the end of this age.



Moltmannian Eschatology










Left Behind


What's your eschatology?
created with

Pretty good, although I would like to make a distinction between preterist and partial preterist.

Apologies to anyone reading who is not a Christian, or a theology nerd.

Quizmaster Sven

sven has decided that quizes are the new rock and roll. Far be it from me to suggest he has too much time on his hands! Anyway, here's my results from a theology quiz he's devised :

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox




Reformed Evangelical


Roman Catholic




Classical Liberal




Modern Liberal


What's your theological worldview?
created with

I did the quiz 3 times, and each time this is what I came out as, although the first two times it was joint first with neo-orthodox. I think maybe I'm just confused! I'm definitely not fundamentalist or liberal though.

I'm Free, To Do What I Want Any Old Time

Today is the first day of the rest of my life, as the cliché goes. Yesterday I finished my exams, and my BA in Theology. My exams didn't go as well as I'd hoped, but I should be on for a 2:1. Now I need to extricate myself from the anxiety ridden, introverted state that exams, essays and a dissertation put me into and get on with life. Here's a list of all the things that've been building up while my life has been on 'exam hold' -

Get a job
Do lots of blogging
Reestablish contact with other humans
Read Hitchhikers Guide
Mow the lawn
Watch DVDs
Fix kitchen cupboard
Fix wardrobe cupboard
Fix shower
Finish stairs ceiling
Creosote fence
Incinerate Christmas tree
Take Su out
Finish decorating front room
Wash bike
Go on bike rides
Tidy house
Re-read NKOC trilogy
Clear Out Understairs Cupboard
Clear Out Lean-To
Clear Out Shed
Ronseal Front Door
Paint garden gate
Paint lean-to floor

and lots of other things that I can't think of right now, but first - breakfast in the garden with a nice cuppa.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Brown Pushes Africa Debt Plan

Thank God for Gordon Brown

Pray for the meeting of the G8 finance ministers next week.

Pray for moral courage for all the G8 leaders.

In particular, pray that the US will get on board with this plan (It may take a miracle)

Send an e-mail to all the G8 finance ministers.