Monday, July 31, 2006

We built this city

Music for different moods. I was still playing soca/cumbia in the car this afternoon in the middle of a downpour (tropical monsoon?) - but that's really lazy sunny music.

So on the way back with no sun to be seen I changed to the Born to be Wild compilation. Still the best when it's grey outside. There's a reason why Britain produces the best driving rock.

Track 2 We Built This City on Rock n Roll. Of course we did.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Ordinary or extra-ordinary

Wesley understood the need for both. But is the ordinary the enemy of the extra-ordinary?

The wonder of creation

I thought it was time for a picture.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Original Crazy Diamond

Last night BBC repeated the documentary about Syd Barrett to mark his passing.

Marvellous quote from it, "Nutters have moments of clarity, all the time. They see things sometimes more clearly then most of us do." Quite.

Goodbye Syd.


1. An element, the only common metal liquid at room temperatures, freezes easily, extremely toxic. Slightly volatile at room temperature. Also called quicksilver. Has many uses.

2. The nearest planet to the Sun.
Mercury was named by the Romans after the fleet-footed messenger of the gods because it seemed to move more quickly than any other planet.

3. The Roman god of merchandise, theft, and eloquence, messenger of the gods. The swiftest of the Gods. A precocious youth. To the Babylonians he was viewed as the bearer of riches. To the astrologers of the Renaissance he was the bringer of misfortune.

Mercurial, adj. having the qualities attributed to persons born under the planet - eloquent etc; active, sprightly, often changing; temperamental, volatile.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Helping Yourself

What's the difference between Bible classes and Bible study?

In one case you have to go to a lot of boring meetings.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Colours of day

The minister covers what remains of the elements with a white cloth.

Well, to me of course that's like a red rag to a bull, if you'll pardon the phrase (what's the opposite of a pun?) I mean the use of the descriptor, white. Why white?

Presumably it's symbolic, but of what? White represents purity and innocence. It can represent life, and also death (which is why John is wearing a white suit on the cover of Abbey Road, of course). Does white mean all these in this case, and are there others?

I understand that at Conference this year they used a tartan cloth - to celebrate being in Scotland, or to emphasis a Methodist service? Great.

So I wondered if we should have different colours at different times of year, like in the vestments etc. Blood-red in Lent? Now there would be a powerful symbol that would bring us up. Easter Day - white edged in gold? purple (for kingship?).

Other suggestions?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Less is more

If you can say it in four words why use four hundred?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Thank God for the weather

I love the hot sun. Lazy hazy days. Yes, the rain is good too, but the sun is happy. Enjoy it while it lasts. Tomorrow may be something else.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Blogger Support Network

OK so I've been a bit slow on this one, and only saw the story today on Ceefax. This is the new homepage of La Petite Anglaise who has been sacked by her employers for keeping a blog which "might" lead them to be identified. Now of course she and they are all over the media.

Competition Time - The Shortest Sermon in the World

Here is my entry, to be delivered this Sunday at Watley's End and Zion:

"What time is it?"

That is not the title - it is the sermon.

Since there should be space in the service, I shall also be delivering my second entry:

"Is that the time?"

Further entries welcome, but I'm not promising a prize, only glory.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Cinderella fella

Did you ever want to start a fire but all you were allowed to do was rake over the ashes?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Crisis Management

Well this week I was going to do a series of thoughtful posts on science and theology but again I've reached a crisis point. Fortunately I have a lot of people who help me out of them when I can't see where to go. It's going to be a little while yet though until the nails have all been cleared up. Normal service will be resumed ... sometime. Or maybe this is normal service?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Text, pretext and context

Well I was going to write something about quoting random fragments of Scripture out of context and ladling meaning into them to support whatever argument you wish to espouse, but someone's beaten me to it. So I suggest you just go to this comment to see the counter-blast well stated. Saved me a job anyway.

Late Arrivals at the University Ball

Please welcome the Dhin brothers from India:

the successful essay writer Handidi Dhin, and the less successful Chukhdi.

I thang you.

(If you don't understand this you haven't listened to enough editions of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. Get online or to BBC7 and do so.)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Let's work together

My post counter tells me this is my 100th post, so I thought I'd do something really powerful, exceptional, important. But I can't think of anything so I'll have to settle for something at least serious.

Every week almost I read about the "science-religion conflict". Well I can't speak for what some "scientists" and some "religious types" do, but I insist there is no conflict between science and theology. And since I do both in my limited way, I am passionate about this.

Are not both "science" and "theology" attempts to find the truth? Truth is truth and none of your post-modernist metanarrative rubbish, please. Any perceived conflict must therefore be due to doing bad science or bad theology, or I guess both. They may work in apparently different styles - the experiments are not quite like each other all the time - and in different areas. But both are rational. Both observe and construct theories. Which are subject to analysis. To see if they contradict observed facts (experience of God is a fact, although of a different sort and subject to careful scrutiny).

In fact I assert that by any normal meaning of the word "science" (like knowledge) then theology is a science. So are philosophy, metaphysics, history (all about causation), psychology and you can go on. Some of them we call inexact, forgetting how inexact the cutting edge of theoretical physics can be. Inexactness is not a problem - declaring something exact when it is inexact is the root of trouble, because it's bad science.

Finding the truth is bad enough without your fellow-seekers slagging you off.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

What's the time?

There is a season.

A time to be born, a time to die.
A time to plant, a time to reap.
A time to kill, a time to heal.
A time to laugh, a time to weep.

A time to build up, a time to break down.
A time to dance, a time to mourn.
A time to cast away stones.
A time to gather stones together.

A time of love, a time of hate.
A time of war, a time of peace.
A time you may embrace.
A time to refrain from embracing.
A time to gain, a time to lose.
A time to rend, a time to sow.
A time for love, a time for hate.
A time for peace.

Words as adapted by Pete Seeger in Turn, Turn, Turn! from Ecclesiastes.

Is that the time?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Odd one out

This is called having too much of a good thing. It's fun to be different. It's not so much fun when it's all the time. Sometimes you need a bit of support in it.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

It's not really about the World Cup, honest

Catching up on Telegraph articles about England's "failure" (hey they got into the last 8 in the world!) there are contained therein numerous references to "the golden generation" and at least one to "the golden child" (who I think is Rooney although that was in an article about Beckham) leading them.
It's the first time I'd seen it so explicitly stated but only I think because I don't read the football pages very often really - and I'm sure I've heard it on the telly. Before the contest - long before.

You can't do that. Mustn't.

You cannot give that sort of tag to anyone in preview. You might do it in retrospect when you can dispassionately analyse and reflect. (If that's possible in football writing.) Be sure even then.

It asks too much. Whatever potential you think you may have spotted, whatever skills you think may have been displayed in lesser situations, you cannot put that pressure on anyone. Because then they can only "fail". They cannot succeed. Nothing will satisfy. Win the Cup once and you'll be asked to do it again (or better) - until it is impossible.

Talent, where it exists, still has to be nurtured. Yes it has to be challenged, or the step to the big league cannot be made - and it is the WORLD Cup - but you have to help it develop on the way. It might develop in ways you did not expect, or want. It may be that the midfield runner can play alone up front - but it has to be trained. And if it can't go in one direction then you help it to work out its destiny in whatever way is best for the subject, not you, and not force it into prior and premature patterns. But if you expect automatic success, if you think you can force a mould, you are guaranteed disappointment all round. No-one can predict the future. To even conceive of a phrase like "golden generation" is dangerous. To mention it - to anyone - is fatal. To let the subject hear it is catastrophic.

Gold is precious. Don't drop it.

Friday, July 07, 2006

One year on

This is a difficult one but you get nowhere by not tackling the difficult ones.

Rageh Omaar has a good piece in today's New Statesman about how the media doesn't engage with Muslims except on a certain tack, and then I saw the headlines in some of the redtops (which I don't read): "Unbeaten", "No Surrender".

Well, understandable, and true I suppose but just a bit forceful/antagonistic? How do British Muslims feel when they see that? If "Let's sit down and talk" is perhaps a bit far then maybe we could have managed "We Will remember"?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

In the spotlight?

A propos of the previous post, it suddenly occurs to me: to date all those reading this blog have known me (at least as far as I'm aware) and can make allowances. Now I've opened myself up to a wider audience.

I shall have to be more careful what I say.

Methodists communication shocker

Well I finally got to look at TheConnexion.Net that Angela pointed out to me, and since they've put a link to my blog (with a very kind post on Richard's personal blog), I've started a new links section on the right called Methodists on the Net and given them pride of place. Check them out - and you can ask to join too!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Essay writing

Here are some useful phrases and their translations.

Quote: "There are many references in the literature .."
Translation: "I can't find them"

Q: "More research could be done ..."
T: "I couldn't be bothered"

Q: "There is a more modern view..."
T: "I haven't read anything published since 1965"

Q: "Some hold the view that .."
T: "My mate down the pub says ..."

Q: "This is a very complex question"
T: "I don't understand it"

Q: "A complete theory has yet to be formulated"
T: "Nor does anyone else"

Q: "This question is beyond the scope of the brief."
T: "Phew."

Q: "It follows that..."
T: "It doesn't follow, I'm busking it."

and some scentific/mathematical ones:

Q: "Exercise for the student"
T: "You're on your own"

Q: "Clearly"
T: "A few lines of algebra and you should be convinced"

Q: "It turns out that ..."
T: "Several pages of very messy algebra have been omitted. Best of luck in reconstructing them."

Sunday, July 02, 2006

World Cup Reflections - hey it's popular culture, all right?

Two contrasting thoughts.

Before them though I have to admit that I thought from watching the group games that the final was likely to be Brazil v Argentina. Shows what I know. (Not that I was alone in such a belief - come in, The Telegraph.)

Someone at church today said that after the Portugal game she saw the newsreader on TV throw his England flag in the bin. She thought that was wrong, and I agree with her. If we have allegiance to someone or some group or some concept or whatever then we do not abandon him/her/it/them just because they are not a "winner". For that is not the Gospel and it is not even pragmatic secular. It encourages the wrong attitude ("win at all costs") and it fails to give support where needed. The great thing about the English support this World Cup is that even though the team has not played well, the fans continued to turn up and sing their hearts out in support. They were loyal. Loyalty should not be blind but is also not easily disposable.

On the other hand:

England have in truth not looked like they were capable of or deserving of winning the World Cup in any of their five games. Talk about unfulfilled promise. So a 1-0 win is a win and you are allowed some - but sooner or later you have to play well. So maybe with all the (metaphorical and literal) flag-waving in the press and the substantial hype about their chances, they felt under too great a pressure to achieve that they could not perform - they looked like frozen rabbits at times - and that stopped them. Or maybe the pressure to justify their salaries (I wouldn't mind that sort of pressure for a bit) , or ... Sometimes they look like they are just waiting for an excuse to lose. Player sent off, jinx coach opposite, can't win penalty shootouts ... (and we must counter here the argument that "the law of averages says they must win one" - it says no such thing). How many excuses are sufficient?

So you ask: why did they not perform? Portugal were beatable. If England had been two up, and probably if one up, when Rooney was sent off they would still have won - but for those 62 minutes he was on the field they barely looked like scoring. An organisation with such stage-fright has to be questioned as to its belief, effort and tactics. And whether the ability is as great as stated. Do any other organisations seem to achieve less success than they might be expected to? Do they look like they are using convenient excuses for lack of success?