Photo credits

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

Wednesday, November 26

Sit on this

My 13-year old daughter was reciting her Christmas present requests to me. I was driving ad therefore wasn't really listening until she said "I want a vibrator". I nearsly crashed the car before I realised she was talking about a massage chair.

Wednesday, November 19

The Infinite Cross of Christ

This is a big, deep post, and I’m not sure how I will put it into words.

I suppose it starts in one of my previous posts, where I discuss my new vision on abortion. Please read the full post, but in summary I was saying that abortion is always an intolerable evil, but which still needs to be there. It’s always wrong, but is often the best way forwards. If you find you are walking on the forbidden lawn, you still have to walk on it to get back to the path. I referred also to the Israelite soldiers who went into Canaan and committed genocide under God’s command, and then offered sacrifices because they had incurred bloodguilt by breaking God’s law – even though he told them to do it..

So now I am developing those themes. Imagine an American abortion clinic. Outside are two massed demonstrations: one shouts and screams about the rights of the child, one screams and shouts about the rights of the mother. In the past I have always been very partisan: vocally anti abortion. I have even presented motions in meetings of my branch of ‘Unison’ (many years ago) to denounce the union’s extreme pro-choice policy. But now I see that we are created in god’s image, and both of those demonstrations is expressing the heart of God. God cares passionately for the baby he has created in the womb. He also cares passionately about the life of the mother. Both opposing demonstrations are expressing the heart of God.

So how do we proceed?

The difficulty is that we are mortal, limited, physical human beings. We don’t share God’s infinity. We cannot reconcile is trinity with his indivisible one-ness. We want one answer to each question. Our God is infinite. In him, parallel lines meet. Opposite truths are in balance. Free will and predestination co-exist. Three is one. Abortion is both the ultimate sin, and the ultimate right.

And yet, even within the infinity that is God, these opposites somehow jar. His love and his justice are not easy bedfellows.

Because of that, infinite problems require infinite solutions. In infinity, the normal rules of maths and physics cease to apply. And yet, infinity can still fit within the finite. If you go on a journey, you keep halving the distance remaining. You do it an infinite number of times. It should take forever, but in fact you reach your destination in a finite time, despite the infinite number of distance-halvings. And so: The infinite God shoe-horned himself into a finite man. The immortal one died.

So in the cross, parallel lines meet. It is the place where every irreconcilable opposite is reconciled. Love and justice embrace. Free will and predestination turn out to be Siamese twins. Abortion is the ultimate sin - permitted. The innocent is a convicted criminal, the convicted criminal is innocent.

The Cross of Christ is the narrow neck of the hour glass through which the whole universe falls. The Cross of Christ is the black hole through which we pass into the next universe. It is the singularity from which the universe emerges, and collapses into. It is the union of the infinite and finite. It is the union of God and man. Immortal and mortal…………………….

In fact, it’s really quite good!

Looking at it; is it two lines crossing on a flat plane, or is it four parallel lines meeting at the vanishing point on a far horizon?

Monday, November 17

Golden Wedding

My parents celebrated their golden wedding this weekend. Both are now in their 80s, with eyesight problems, angina, cancer, osteoporosis, and many other ailments I can’t give a name to. My Dad needs two sticks or a walker, and someone to hold his arm. But I am very proud of them because they only tell me about these things if I ask. Normally, they talk about day to day life – home improvements, friends, family, etc.

My parents are the most wonderful example I could ever have had, of how to live as a Christian and how to have a perfect marriage. I can only remember them having three arguments, and they were relatively trivial. My Mum has always submitted to her husband as to the Lord, my Dad has always given his life for his wife, as Christ does for the church.

So they are still madly in love. I think their bedroom activities are somewhat curtailed by the limitations of age and ill health, but I think they are still at it.

My parents were missionaries in South America and then Europe until they retired. In both places, they worked with indigenous churches. In Europe, they were invited by the local church. My Dad has always been a teacher rather than an evangelist. They have few converts, including me and my siblings. But they have a legacy of established believers, rooted in the Scriptures and living the Godly life.

For the celebration, they hired a hall in a Christian conference centre. This meant we had a three course meal and waiter service, nicely laid out tables with place names, music, etc etc. The guests were my parent’s children, their spouses, and all the grandchildren. Despite this, it was very quiet to start with, but the conversations soon got going, and we all had a great time. Some tears from my youngest boy, who trying to be on his best behaviour spilled his dinner down his front, and more tears from our baby who insisted it was "carry me" time. Happiness in the beginnings of a prodigal's return for one of my nephews. Avoided telling the aged missionaries that their grandchild is sharing a flat with a girlfriend. And a sister in law refrained from slapping and biting her husband. In fact they even looked in love.

I managed to get the dress code right in a suit, despite my wife telling me I would be overdressed. But I know my own parents! She also complained I spent far to much on their golden wedding gift. Is it possible to spend too much on a golden wedding gift?

The music was a CD of old hymns – exactly the right thing for my parents, whose day it was, but probably not what my sister-in-law would have enjoyed at all. She would also have found the grace, the closing prayer, and the speeches given by my brother and my Dad, all far to religious. But well done to her, she smiled through it all.

The key point for me though, was the final good bye hug to my Dad. I felt it might very well be just that – final. In a way I hope it was, because he is so weak he can’t have much quality of life now that he cannot fulfil his hobby of reading the scriptures. But mostly I felt really sad - a sense of loss even though he is still here. It would be convenient for himto go, and save me having to explain to him how far my theology has moved from what he taught me. But he taught me to love God above everything else, and that is the greatest gift, the greatest example that anyone could give. So I will be sad when he goes. Only now am I begining to realise how much I really do love him.

Friday, November 14

More prayers for my wife

The Vicar and Assistant Minister insisted on coming round to my house to pray for my wife's arthritis again. Well, we didn't resist too much! So they came on Wednesday evening, and prayed over her and annointed her with oil.

We shall see what comes of it.

Quality prayer

When the Vicar prayed for my wife (see following post), he asked me to pray for him before he started.

Put on the spot, I entered 'the zone', where in part I was showing off my eloquence and in part i was just trying to make an effective prayer. So afterwards the Vicar says "Simon, you pray very powerfully. Have you done the intercessions at church?" (Shows how much attention he was paying on the many times I have).

So now he thinks I am some kind of superhero "Captain Prayer" or something like that. And today, he bumped into my wife and asked if I could do the prayers this Sunday - fortunately we are away for my parent's Golden Wedding.

Has he not read the verse where Jesus condemns those who think they will be heard by their many words? Did Jesus not criticise anyone who made showy prayers? Is not one word uttered in faith by a humble but godly man not worth far more than my eloquent but 'un-rooted' prayer? (I haven't prayed or read scripture seriously for weeks). In short, you'd think a Vicar would be better at judging these things.

Moral dilemma (well, a mild one, anyway)

At work, I have found a small error on the process flow diagram for a £20M project. It’s only a small error in itself – a return pipe linked to the wrong place. But this reduces the flow through the main plant by 7% and that’s starting to look like a big mistake.

So the question is:

Do I tell the process engineer now, late on Friday afternoon, and mess up her whole weekend as she stays in work to fix it,


Should I leave it till Monday morning and delay the project for a few days so that it misses the deadline?