Photo credits

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

Friday, October 31

Wednesday, October 29

Creation and CERN

I have an image – theologically flawed I know – that while scientists are discovering new depths of detail in subatomic structure, one of the things that slows them up is that God is still busy inventing it all, just a couple of steps ahead of them.

Wednesday, October 22

Theology, pills, and sacraments

I went to the rheumatology specialist with my wife recently, and was well impressed by her knowledge of the subject, compared to the registrar who saw us the previous week. She had some students with her, and was explaining to them how to diagnose the disease and distinguish it from other inflammatory arthritis forms, and how to medically describe the deformities in my wofe's hands and what their impact on the diagnosis is. And loads of stuff like that. i am always fascinated by biology, and drink in all that information.

But all that information was bonus - what we really needed to hear was "take these pills", "have this injection". That is the root of the matter. That is how theory is translated into healing.

Back home, sitting on the loo is the only chance I get to read and I was dipping into McGrath's Historical theology and his bit about Baultmann (spelling?), and it twigged - theology is just the same. We can have all the knowledge in the world about the Bible, the great theologians and their ideas, etc etc, but when people come to us what they really need to hear is "take this bread", "drink this wine".

(apologies to my evangelical theology of sacraments)

It always happens!

Usual story – stand up in church and witness to the fact that through prayer you have been set free from the need for rheumatoid arthritis medication, and get hit within a couple of weeks by the biggest flare-up ever. Yes, ever. My beautiful wife has been so unwell that I have been off work for a week and two days caring for her, and am only back at work because the kids are on half term holiday and can take over.

Last week we went to the specialist at the hospital, and he gave her a steroid injection. Unfortunately it had no discernible effect, and a week later she was still unable to get out of the sofa without me lifting her up, and she is totally unable to care for her baby.

Yesterday she was back at the hospital, and this time saw the head of department who actually knew what she was talking about, had all the right records, and insight into our domestic situation. Another steroid injection, a prescription for steroid tablets, and the start of a course of a drug we have not tried before to replace the methotrexate she had previously weaned herself off. That will take 3 months to take effect, but this morning the steroids were beginning to show and she was a bit happier getting up from the sofa. The shock of her experience has changed the way she thinks about medication, which is probably a good thing in the long run, but it is a worry that you are filling your body with unnatural chemicals which even the doctors decribe as 'toxic'.

Meanwhile we have been hit by other pressures as well. Our 8-year old has a massive flare-up of eczema, so we have been running to and from the doctor with hydrocortisone, aqueous cream and doublebase gel, and they are talking of referring him to the dermatologist in the next city.

I have also had trouble with a debt collection agency chasing me for some money which I had already paid (late but voluntarily) before the contacted me, but they won’t believe me and have been phoning me every day, even though their client aggress that I have already paid and has told them to stop contacting me. What can you do? You find yourself dreaming up many unchristian vengeances for the extreme stress they cause.

It has also been the time of year when my company accounts for 2007/08 are due, and my accountant seems increasingly unable to put figures in the right column and so they want me to pay an extra £1400 tax which I am convinced is wrong. Looking after wife and baby all day means I have to do the sums at 1 am. This can’t go on!

But the good news is: the kids are off school, I’m back at work, and my wife might be starting to recover.

Friday, October 10

Interpreting science fiction

I was listening to a Radio 4 programme last night called "I've never seen star wars". In this programme they make celebrities do things they have never done, and talk about their experiences. I should have said 'minor celebrities', because i've never heard of them.

Last night they made some poor woman read the book "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep", because she had never read any science fiction. She was not impressed, denouncing it for not having any relationships of any substance in it, and expressing a preference for 'Sex in the City'. Well, on that last point alone I can tell that i am never going to get aong with her.

But I think she was mistaken to dismiss the whole genre of Science Fiction based on one book not having oestrogen-laced relationships.

Cynics dismiss SciFi as frothy nonsense about laser guns and space ships. But I think they are looking at it from the wrong perspective. Yes, there is the action and adventure of a good 'Star Wars' shoot-em-up, and I have to confess that Star Wars is pretty shallow in other areas. But the reason that I like SciFi is:

It defines a hypothetical culture and then explores how that society would work.

The technology, planets, spaceships, aliens and laser guns provide a background context for the hypothesis, and sometimes form it's main axioms, but really the story is about how people (or beings) behave in that hypothetical culture. Thus, SciFi is just a technique by which authors are able to make a clean break from our society, our culture, our technology, our planet, and look at how things would be if it were different.

The Androids book mentioned above was made into the cult classic film 'Bladerunner'. I love the film, not because it has action and robots, but because it looks at society. It presents a divided society, where the privileged elite live quiet sophisticated lives in tall buildings, isolated from the chaotic masses on the streets. It looks at a society with a sizable ethnic minority contributing to the economy of the city. On top of that layer it asks the questions of how that society relates to robots that are so advanced as to be hard to distinguish from humans - and it's not a pretty picture, exposing our natural prejudice against the 'other' that is a mirror of ourselves.

But on top of that there is the complex relationship between the hero of the story and the Androids he is supposed to 'retire'. And at the end, the final condemned android fights with the man sent to kill him, but then saves his life. There is almost something Christ-like about him. And the android's mercy is seen to triumph over mankind's inhumanity.

And they say it is frothy nonsence?

Wednesday, October 8

Rheumatoid arthritis flare-up

Notwithstanding my previous promise to go back to work, I have to request your prayers for my beautiul wife.

It is normal for rheumatoid arthritis to ease off during pregnancy and then flare up visciously afterwards, and right now she can barely walk more than half a mile, and that is very slow and painful, and she can't get out of her chair in a single movement, and she can't do the poppers on the bay's clothes. She has had to delegate all the night feeds to me.

We have in the past testified to the Lord's goodness in providing a partial healing which enabled her to come off drugs and have the baby. And so now, to go back on drugs, would seem to deny the healing. Also, she does not wish to fill her body with chemicals, prefering natural problems to artificial ones.

So, what do we do? Abandon faith and go back to drugs? She also believes God's plan may include another final baby, for which she already has a name which i believe to be prophetic. So we don't want to go back to drugs and deny the vision, but the alternative is looking harder every day.

So please pray for guidance as to what we should do, and more urgently for a full or partial healing so taht she can get on with the practical necessities of life.

Stresses and Reliefs - more follow up

My Laptop troubles seem to be over. I had a frustrating weekend when my replacement finally arrived, and I still had to call the help line and use the recovery disc - why can't they supply things ready to go? But that is all sorted now. I have installed my software, I have installed my mobile broadband package, and am busily typing into it right now.

THis will help me to make a clearer distinction between stuff I am doing for my clients and stuff I am doing for myself or my company. This will in turn help me to be more disciplined - which is why I have to stop typing now and go back to work.

Minibus speed limits

It turns out I have been wrong in my assumption that UK speed limits for minibuses are the same as for cars - it's actually 10mph less on A roads and dual carriageways.

My thanks to my colleague who told me he once got a ticket for the same misunderstanding, which I then checked on the web.

Monday, October 6

Sresses and reliefs - follow up ll

Church secretary D has resigned, thus enabling a more unified core team. This is still a sad loss to the church, since D was a powerful workhorse who put in long hours of dedicated work at low pay.

Wednesday, October 1

Stresses and reliefs - follow up

  • According to my site meter, someone viewed this post using the search words 'sexy wife'. I suspect that my testimony to the Lord's goodness was not quite what he was looking for.
  • After moaning about how much I was spending on machines, the taxman gave me a £435 refund from last year.

baby growing

Why have I had to buy a whole set of 6-9 month vests and sleepsuits for my 2 month old baby?