Photo credits

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

Monday, December 29

Christmas Holiday

....summarised by my 13-year-old daughter:

"Our Christmas tree looks like the hedge which all things have been dragged through backwards!"

(In case you haven't heard there is an expression for 'scruffy' - "It looks as though it has been dragged through a hedge backwards")

Apart from that:

  • Spent a week at the seaside - not a traditional British Christmas! But very nice.
  • Came home to a broken washing machine which had to be replaced before I went to work today.
  • The person we asked to feed the cats couldn't get the key to work, so she spent the week shoving food in through the cat flap.
  • Travelodge Hotels - our stops on the way there and back - are terrible in many ways but do fulfill their primary function of cheap, convenient stops.
  • I had a really bad unexplained pain in my foot and thought I would have to go to hospital. But all OK now.

Oxbridge makes me sin II

My son was offered a place at his preferred college. Fantatsic news!

Marred by my sense of triumphalism over over those unloved friends whose son did not get in.

Wednesday, December 17

Car trouble

On the way home form my son’s interview, the windscreen wipers on our courtesy car failed in the rain. Had to call the RAC out – fortunately I became a member that day when I put my car in the ditch. So it was not all bad news!

(One car is in having new clutch, new brakes and pads, new bushes (?), four new tyres (that's 'tires' if you live in America), oil, etc etc --- £850, while my minibus failed its MOT test and is having work on brakes, steering etc etc -- £250. Isn't Christmas great?)

Oxbridge makes me sin

My son had his Oxbridge interviews this week.

First interview went well, second went badly. We’ll see what comes of it. Personally, I am very pleased he has made it as far as an interview, but if he is one of the small fraction that gets through I shall be hugely proud.

The trouble is: it is very hard to see it purely in terms of him achieving what is best for him. My friends’ son – friends I don’t particularly like, did not get in a few years ago, so it would be very gratifying if mine did. But is that a righteous feeling?

And another friends’ son also applied to Oxbridge this year – a bright lad who has not had the benefit of private education as my son has. So I want that boy to get in, because I don’t want him to be disadvantaged by his parent’s poverty. (Sound people for whom I have much respect). But on the other hand if he gets in and my son doesn’t, when I have spent £xx,xxx.xx on his education – I will be more than a little miffed.

So the simple question of my lad getting to his chosen college suddenly gets filled with all sorts of petty bitterness, jealously, and unrighteousness. I hope my sin does not stand in his way.


Prednisolone (a steroid used for rheumatoid arthritis) can stop the menstrual cycle. You might think this is a good thing, but for my wife --> no cycle = no chance of pregnancy therefore no point in ‘doing it’. BAD NEWS FOR ME!

Wednesday, December 10

Rules are made to be broken

My 16 year old son, in a philosophical moment says: “You know Dad, as soon as you understand a rule, it doesn’t apply any more.”

He started with these ideas in an English lesson, where having been taught the rules of writing poetry, he observed that the best poets ignore the rules. As soon as you understand what the rules are for, you know when it OK to break them.

But he extended this to life in general, and we had a deep chat, in which I forget what was him and what was me. But think about it.

As soon as you understand the 30mph speed limit in British urban areas - the risk of an accident and the immeasurable consequences of killing a child – as soon as you understand this you don’t dare drive faster than 25mph. The rule doesn’t apply anymore.

Applying this now to spiritual things; in the Bible we read: “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15. (I’m sure there’s a better one of these that talks about servants and sons, but I can’t find it.). The point is, the servant has to obey rules. He doesn’t know what is going on, he just follows the rules and it all works out OK, or disobeys and gets punished. But the friends do know what is going on, and having a common cause, work towards its fulfilment. They have no need of rules, because they are doing what the rules would have made them do anyway. In fact, the rules would just cramp their style, and as friends they are free to work towards the common purpose, in consultation but not really under authority.

So in the old testament the house of faith was characterised as a servant, following all the OT rules and regulations.

But in the new testament, we are no longer under the OT law. We have been made sons of God. His interest is our interest. Our will is aligned with his. He communes with us in Spirit. So while the NT is full of commands, they are commands which are in line with our new nature and we are doing it anyway.

All things are permissible. We want to build with Christ according to his pattern. So of course, there is a blanket permission for us to do so.

Great principle.

  • See also David eating the Shewbread.
  • See also eating meat sacrificed to idols.
  • See also meat containing blood
  • See also eating with gentiles
  • See also Peter’s vision of the unclean animals.
  • See also circumcision
  • See also tithing

But lets look at some rules, that might not apply as “rules” when we understand what they are getting at:


  • conservative approaches to women in the church:
    “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man” 1 Tim 2:12
    “If a woman prays or prophesies with her head uncovered ….1 Cor 11:5.”
    “a woman must remain silent” 1 Tim 2:12
  • Relationships
    “…homosexual offenders….will not inherit the kingdom of God” [though I dispute that translation of arsenokoitai] 1 Cor 6
    No sex before marriage ( a principle derived from several scriptures)
  • Church traditions
    Only ordained priests can preside at the eucharist (No scriptures for this man-made tradition!)
    Holy days (Rom 14:5)

Any more suggestions?

Monday, December 1

Miracles do happen

My accountant has finally - after many many phone calls and emails - managed to produce a version of my company's final account that vaguely represents reality and does not add an unnecessary £1000 to my tax bill!