Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Wednesday, August 20

Jumping spider

It was crawling over my screen at work. Despite my arachnophobia I tried to ignore it (it was only little), but eventually it became too much. As it became my focus, I naturally moved the mouse to it. As the arrow approached, the spider jumped away from it it. whihc just shows how freaky spiders are - they are far too intelligent. fascinating, but don't let them crawl on me!

Any way, if it is on a near-vertical screen, how does it jump to anothre place on the screen? Why does it not fall down when it launches itself off the screen? Are spiders exempt from the normal laws of physics?

Eventually I plucked up courage to move it. It was easy enough to coax into a little transparent rectangular plastic lid. I moved it to the carpet, noting firstly how brave I was to carry it without any kind of cover, and then how it was jumping around inside the lid and how much I wished it dd have a cover.

On the carpet, it made its way to the nearets cover - the bin. I forgot about it.

But then, just five minutes later - there it was again (unless there were two unusual jumping spiders on my screen at the same time!). This time I moved it to a plant pot 7 metres away, and it has not come back yet. Yet.

Monday, August 18

A Christian response to 'Historic Allegations'

Another celebrity is facing 'historic allegations' (Cliff Richard). The BBC has been criticied for has broadcasting a convoy of police cars at one of his homes, which in my view may prejudice any future trial.

These cases seem to fall into two categories: those who vehemently deny everything and are found guilty (Stuart Hall), and those who vehemntly deny everything and are found innocent (the guys off Coronation Street).

Clearly, if something did happen, then it is quite right that the victim should be believed.

But equally, there are cases particularly with celebrities where the complaints are fraudulent or delusional or exaggerated. "There is no smoke without fire" ... except that sometimes it's just a smoke machine.

Also, which one of us would like to have the last 30 or 40 years of life scrutinised by a hostile prejudiced lynch mob, so that the rashness and errors of our youth should still count against us? Clearly in cases where it has been part of an ongoing pattern of deception and continous behaviour then that is one thing, but there will be other cases where there was a stupid mistake - that still needs to be dealt with by the law for the sake of the victim - but which the person then regretted and did not repeat. The media puts both types in the same box of 'evil paedos' who should never be allowed to see the light of day again, but this is grossly unjust.

As Christians we should not swallow the media story. As the Wesley song goes: "The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon recives." And where Jesus has pardoned, can we withold our pardon?

Yes, of course we should still have protections, and be on our guard against the clever deceptions of the bad ones, but we should also fully accept those that truly repent.

So there's actually three categories:
1) - Genuine cases of 'evil paedos' who do everything they can to covertly continue their crimes
2) - The repentant sinners: "That was wrong - I won't do that again"
3) - The falsely accused innocent

Calmer

A bit more relaxed about the way things are going now.

Spent the weekend packing boxes, emptying cupboards, repeatedly going to the tip, etc. how much stuff do we really need?

we could spend vast amounts of money on removal firms double handling and storing things, or we could donate nearly all of our furniture to charity. OK, its a cheapskate way of getting bulky items out of our house, using charity workers as removal men. But it does do good as well, and is also important symbolically, as we really want our new life to be a completely new life without baggage. (I don't include my heirlooms in this - I respect my heritage)

Two items for prayer:

1) Our 14-year old really does not want to come - mainly because he will be ripped out of his very strong friendship group. He wants us to let him stay with them, saying their Mums have offered to have him. We might contemplate this if he had learned the basic facts of life such as : daily shower, daily clean shirt, put your laundry in the basket, etc. He still needs mothering in these respects, and on the one hand we wouldn't want to impose those chores on some other poor woman and on the other hand my wife would feel further robbed if these duties were taken from her and given to another. Additionally, he is quite naturally apprehensive about being thrown into a completely new school in a completely new environment and cultural milieu at a key stage in his education. Pray that our son will have a change of heart and see past the pain of loss and anxiety about the unknown to the new opportunities that are before him.

2) Since sending a very draft form of contract to our buyer for the advance rental, they have gone quiet on us. We are worried they are beginning to get cold feet. Pray that they do not back out of either the rental period or the purchase.

And to conclude on a humorous note: using a chair and barstool as a staircase to reach a high cupboard, and to spend time packing a heavy crate with books while up there, of course by the time I came down I forgot about my 'stair' and stepped straight off the bar stool into the void with the heavy crate. Wooooaaaahhhhrrrgggg! Crash! I got away with a slightly bruised knee and a deeper conviction that my vertigo is an essential self-preservation device that should not be ignored.

Friday, August 15

Floundering - but finding the hand of Jesus

This is an update on my previous post
  • Sale of our current house: price agreed in writing, progressing slowly
  • Renting of our house while the sale goes through: date agreed, trying to sort a contract out
  • Purchase of new house: price agreed in writing, progressing slowly
  • Renting temporary accomodation: were on the verge of renting a bungalow with a minimum six month contract. This morning Mrs switched to renting some holiday flats long term - for holiday flats(i.e. 3 months) - this is a bit risky because if it turns out to be protracted we could end up paying a lot more. The main thing is that it is a smaller deposit and becuase it is furnished it will save £900 on removal fees, and maybe more on taxes and utilities, so it is very helpful in terms of cash flow now.
  • Church: liking the independent one in a cinema. Which is awkward since I have come to believe in all sorts of very non-evangelical things like apostolic succession, infant baptism, and gay marriage. Not sure 'My' church even exists! the anglican one in the town is a bit too catholic, praying for the dead which I still don't believe in (Lazarus and dives shows that the dead are either with Him and don't need prayer, or not with Him and its too late).
  • The car: I took it to the garage and said "I'm having trouble changing gears - I think its because I have let the gear box oil drain too low." He said "No, there's an oil leak in your clutch, plus your clutch is worn". I said OK, do it, he said "£528". I said "Ouch" and "give me the cheapest clutch available, I'm not looking for luxury and the car has already done 135000 miles, it won't last much longer". Three days later, having not been able to go to work and earn anything without the car, he gave it back, saying that "it needs a new gear box because you have let the gear box oil run low". AAARRRGGGHH! That's what i told him in the first palce! Now, I accept that it changes gear very slightly better, and that it did need a new clutch eventually, BUT it still feels basically the same as it did when I took it in. It struggles to go into first or reverse and won't go into fifth at all. So at a time when cash flow is critical, I have spent £528 on something I didn't need (yet) and did not get the thing I wanted. At least i feel slighty more confident that it is not going to let me down, and am just having to do 70 mph on the motorway in an uneconomical and un-environmental and noisy 4th gear.
  • Student Finance: My daughter complained she was getting less from the Student Loans Company than her brother. I rang them to complain. They said "Oh, yes, I can see we have made a mistake. Don't worry, we'll sort it out". So they reduced the brother's student finance to match hers. He is now livid, and neither of them have enough to live on at university. (Her £68 plus her overdaft allowance until Christmas, him £100 left in his overdraft until Christmas). He rang to ask why they have reduced it four times since May when he signed his accomdation contract based on a much huigher student loan amount. But the Student Finance Company employs air-headed people who know nothing more than stock answers in their call centre. So to avoid an all-out riot we have had to promise our kids increased support that we can't afford at this time.
  • Transporting kids too/from university towns: I think this is OK, but will have to do it in 4th gear!
  • Son's flat: still stuck in legal procedures. Everyone knows the flat is OK, but we still have to wait while letters go through snail-mail from our solitor to their solicitor to the local authority to their solicitor to our solicitor and back to us. AAARRRGGGGHHHH!
  • Work: I have been in the office for 13 hours this week, which is clearly not enough!
But overall, panicking less than when I last posted, and God is still in control.

Sunday, August 10

Getting out of the boat....

... is fine when you get out of the boat by choice. We feel that the oat has been picked up, turned upside down and shaken until we all fall out.

So now we flounder, in huge waves that we should be walking on.

We have a buyer for the house ... great!
who wants to rent it while the sale goes through .... great!

But that means sorting the rest of life out within a few weeks.

Complexities:

  • Moving to a new area
  • Schools .. at this time of year!!!!!
  • Temporary accommodation
  • Permanent accommodation
  • Choosing a church ... though that can wait
  • Car is breaking down
  • Son is getting married
  • Daughter wants assistance with student finance
  • Other son wants fetching with his stuff for the wedding
  • Daughter wants taking to college
  • Buying flat for son
  • Trying to put in some hours at the office to finance all this.....

I CAN'T COPE!!!

Please pray.
I know God is control.  I know I am certainly not up to all this.

Monday, August 4

Continuing the search for the new life - housing

The current plan is that Mrs will move and rent a flat until we sell our current house.

So over this weekend we viewed a number of flats in the new town. It doesn't look promising. Three were two far away from the school and didn't allow children anyway. One was ideal and we immediately contacted the agent to pay the deposit, only to find that someone who viewed the day before had just beaten us to it. Another was up a steep hill, which even if they installed handrails would be too dangerous for her arthritic legs. Even more unthinkable in an icy winter.

But I've just been on the phone to Mrs while writing and - plans always change with her - there is a bungalow in the next village practically on top of that village's school and close to the station on the line to the main town, and close to the cinema church. So we shall investigate!

Continuing the search for the new life - church

still trying out churches in the place we plan to move to.

This weekend it was the big Anglican church in the centre of town.

In many ways it lived up to expectations (which wee low, based on the absence of anything outside communicating anyninidcation of spiritual life inside. The only poster was advertising a choir): the Sunday School had closed down for summer (why??), the singing was thin and inaudible, the liturgy was followed to the letter, etc. Probably not as dire as we feared, but certainly very little sign of people being in love with God - more of a middle class social gathering.

But, despite all of that, it was gooood, and I felt at home for the first time in ages. (The last two churches visited were charismatic independent churches, one meeting in a cinema with excellent contemporary worship and a good Sunday school, the other meeting in a rather grand hotel also with a good sunday school but very shouty)

It was good despite the fact that this church is really not up my street tehologically: I am evangelical, whereas this had strong catholic leanings. There was much talk of praying for the departed and offering a Eucharist for them. OK, it was the commenmoration of the start of the great war, hence tat emphasis, but it revealed what was there. The Rector, Fr N., wore his chasuble throughout. It was not a sung eucharist: only the collect was chanted. But many of the responses were led by the choir. That is to say that at the point where you were just about to launch passionately into declaring the response tere would be a pause, then the organ would start, and then the choir would sing the response to a tune which even the regular congregation were unable to join in. It might have been OK if the choir had been strong, but it was all rather feeble. I'm not saying I could ahve done it better, but I am saying that although I am all in favour of a bit of Anglican chant it has to support the worship not detract from it.

Towrds the end there was the war commemoration. We each had to place a stone on a cairn in the memorial chapel, and then light and hold a candle during the prayers. One had to be quite deft to hold the candle in such a way that it did not set light to the cardboard container. My daughter got scared and asked me to hold hers. So I was holding these two awkwaard, hot and dangerous things while my beard started to itch ..... so I was gald when it ended. But this part of the service was very good.

Afterwards we chatted to the Rector over coffee. we felt that the ord was in this conversation: a large part of our concerns reate to getting our daughter into a good school and the local church school is oversubscribed, but the rector gave us details to contact the headmaster. Not taht one should bypass the official procedures, but it just made us feel that God was leading the way. In the conversation it also came up taht I am a Reader, and he immediately suggested transferring my readership (which is of course not so straightforward as he made it sound) Also, that was before we admitted to being evangelicals, at which point he started recommending the local Pentecostal church. Not sure if he was trying to be helpful or get rid of us!

Anyway, the salient feature is that altough its not my kind of church theologically, I felt at home for the frist time in ages.

Wednesday, July 30

Here it is

This is my 1000th post.

I have been blogging since 2006. So that's 125 posts per year, or just over two a week. Not too prolific, not too silent.

(I have deleted quite a few posts that were defamatory or otherwise inappropriate, and I'm not sure if they are included in the count or not.)

My intention with the blog is to show that the life of a normal mundane man can be varied and exciting - an adventure with God.

I started just with an update of my life to that point. The I followed on with the adventures of conceiving in relatively old age, church ventures, the ups and downs of faith, the ups and downs of marriage (many of these posts have been deleted), and so on.

The current adventure is the total falling out with our Vicar, which is pushing us out of our town and into a new region. On the one hand this is absolutely terrible; full of stress and anxiety. On teh other hand the open unwritten blank sheet future is very interesting to watch as it starts to be made known. We are really stepping out of the boat at this time!

My blog has also charted how I have changed from being completely opposed to the acceptance of homosexual realtionships on the grounds that the scripture reveals these to be contrary to the will of God (i.e. sin), to being fully accepting of gay marriage on the grounds that the scripture DOES NOT oppose them - it's just that we have unwittingly read them through homophobic lenses, not helped by biased and inaccurate translations made by homophobic scholars.

There's also a couple of posts about how I became tolerant of abortion: it is still always a sin requiring the blood of Christ but tolerating it is frequently the least sinful option.

And my current theme or campaign is to draw people's attention to Gaza. As Christians we tend to side with Israel: God's chosen peolpe in the land he promised them. But God is a God of justice, and he states that "Judgement begins with the house of God" (.... this is where I can't find the verse I have always remembered, so I have probably made it up - but its still true). And the things Israel is currenlty doing are heinous crimes, for which god will judge them. And at a time when the worls is outraged by apparent Russian involvement in less than 300 deaths in the MH17 incident, why is the world not outraged by the much greater number of innocent deaths in Gaza?

My blog is not just to tell a story. It is to encourage people to greater faith in times of hardship and to see the working of GOd in every crisis of life ... which I know can be very hard! But it is also to move on from that passive acceptance of God's actions and on to a more active call for justice. We are not called to simply accept God's forgiveness. We are not called to simply to accept God's forgiveness and avoid sinning; we are called to DO good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Justice for homosexuals
Justice for women
Justice for the oppressed



It's coming soon!

WHAT??!!

It's coming

What is?