Photo credits

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

Wednesday, January 28

Today is a much better day

  • Work - I have an interview lined up for next week; same client, same business park, but different department, different skill, different building. This is the kind of thing I was hoping for. I would be doing dynamic modelling of sewer networks, rather than steady state modelling of treatment works. In particular, this kind of work is aimed at reducing cases of sewage flooding people's houses, so it gives you more of a buzz.
  • Internet - truth, peace, and reconciliation all round! A huge relief. 1000 'thank you's!

Yesterday was a bad day.

  • At work, given my 4 week notice of contract termination owing to downturn in workload.
  • On the internet, I am wrongly accused of posting anonymous sexually explicit comments on the blog of a woman the other side of the Atlantic – which I have not even thought of doing!

Tuesday, January 27

I need a new client III (beginning to panic, now)

This is nothing to do with my previous post - it's just the quiet year in the water industry cycle.

My current client and I currently have different ideas about what my notice period is - they think its a week, whereas I ams ure it's a month. The difficulty i forsee is that their contract with my agent says something different form my contract with my agent. In which case, I can argue till the cows come home but they wont let me in the building after my 1 week is up. (They have not given formal notice yet - so it still looks like mid February).

In any case, I need a new client, and fast!

I will have to re-write my CV with less emphasis on my hydraulci modelling specialisation, and try to get a more general civil engineering job. Otherwise I will have to travel to the other end of the country, which would not be good.

Do you know anyone who needs a spare civil engineer for a couple of months?

Self discipline at work

Yet another day is passing with me doing a minimal amount of work. I drive to the office praying that I will have a productive day. Then I sit at my desk and:
  • check my private emails
  • check the BBC news website
  • check some blogs
  • have a drink
  • go to the loo
  • eat something
  • look at the papers for my work, but decide to have a drink before starting
  • go to the loo
  • eat
  • check private emails
  • check bbc news
  • go to the loo, get a drink on the way back
  • look at the work papers, but a private email might have come in so i check.
  • now i need the loo agian.
  • chocolate break
  • tea break
  • toilet break
  • write a blog post
  • comment on someone's blog
  • check with recruitment agencies; has anything come up?
  • pick up my work, start to think about it, need a cup of tea to lubricate the brain.
  • print something.
  • fetch it from the printer, after a trip to the loo.
  • Oh, check private emails again
  • remember i should be sorting out my tax affairs
  • remember i should be moving money around my accounts to fend off the debt collectors
  • Can' be bothered with those and I need a cup of tea.
  • toilet
  • What is my profession? I've forgotten.
  • Now, where's that paper I printed - need to discuss with boss. I'll have a drink first.
  • toilet
  • fruit
  • chocolate
  • drink
  • toilet
  • fill in time sheet. According to this I have worked 8 hours.

This can't go on!

I am supposed to go to the gym to help me focus, but have not been for six months owing to lost shorts. Have bought some new ones, but keep forgetting to bring them. I really must make my timesheet match reality, and also feed my family, whcih measn I must learn how to make myself focus on the work I am supposed to be doing.

Please pray!

Thursday, January 22

What if it was one of my children?

I was asking one of my work colleagues – a Bulgarian member of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church -about reports I have heard that between 500Ad and 1300AD the Orthodox Church developed liturgies for what amount to gay weddings. (Boswell J, (1994) The Marriage of Likeness: Same Sex Unions in Early Europe, London, Harper Collins) And as part of this conversation I explained my new position to him.

He did not agree with me at all!

Amongst his comments were:

1) The Orthodox Church has never changed its liturgies
2) Even if they did do this, it doesn’t make it right. Sooner or later some Bishop will decide that it’s OK to marry your dog!
3) Common sense tells us it is wrong
4) How would you feel if it was one of your children?

My responses:

1) Either my colleague or Boswell is wrong. Do you choose the academic who's done research, or the church member? [I have not read Boswell - just seen quotes from him in an internal church document]
2) Good point
3) Different people have different ideas of common sense. Conservatives' common sense is that we are made for heterosexuality. Gay people’s common sense tells them it’s their God-given nature. And in the past, common sense told us that women are subordinate and slavery is OK.
4) If it was one of my children? Well his is what this post is really about. There was a time when if one of my children told me they were gay, I would have been fairly distraught. I would have told them they could never fulfil their urges, even in a gay marriage. I would have advised them not to tell people. I would have imposed great burdens on them. They would be left in a position where they felt I was ashamed of them. I don’t want to be ashamed of my children! So now, if my child tells me he/she is gay, I can affirm them for what they are, and help them to live a happy and fulfilled life in partnership with God, not resenting him. So I’m not sure my friend’s question had the effect he intended! [PS none of my children is gay – as far as I know]

Where did they go?

You may have noticed that some of my posts on the topic of homosexuality have been deleted. I had made the mistake of naming someone in them, and when read in the cold light of day they were offensive to the person concerned and it was not right for them to remain. My apologies have been given, and seem to have been accepted.

In one of those posts I promised some feedback from my discussions with that person on the application of ‘One Flesh’ to homosexual relationships.

My correspondent’s conviction was that her relationship was a living example of ‘one flesh’, and that the principle does indeed apply to homosexual relationships. She was ‘married’ [she used those inverted commas – I think because of local legal reasons?] by her Christian Pastor, and she describes her partner as her wife.

She claimed to not be a theologian and for that reason did not attempt to back it up with chapter and verse. Which is OK – in my own experience the inner conviction sometimes comes first and the academic theology has to catch up later. And I suppose that my own conviction has also been for some time that gay marriage is OK, and my posts wrestling with the theology have been part of that catch up. And there are still some points to clear up. I am still looking for the academic theology to support my 'one flesh' conviction. No doubt some conservatives will argue that the experience of one woman is not a sufficient basis for a doctrine, and you have a point, but I'm working on it.

But I suppose, overall, I am a convert!

And if a raving homophobe like me can radically change my views, and over a two year period move from writing angry letters to parliament against the Sexual Orinetation egulations and come to a point where I endorse the idea of gay weddings in church, then I lay down the challenge to other readers of my blog.

Monday, January 19

I need a new client

It is now over two years since I took the plunge and became a freelance engineer. It has been successful so far, with my only real worry being that I have been with the same client all this time, which could cause the tax man to doubt my independent status. So I have been looking for other work, and apart from a bit of part time work for a local council in summer, nothing has come up. My search has been getting more intense and frantic as time passes.

Things have now come to a head since my client has informally let me know that they can’t see work for me beyond February, and that while they are not giving me the formal notice required by the contract YET, I should be aware of the situation. (This is not credit-crunch related – it’s to do with the five-year cycle of the English water industry funding mechanism.)

So I have been contacting all my old colleagues etc, and it’s not looking good – all have politely said ‘no’. Agencies have suggested two posts, each at least 4 hours drive away, OK for an occasional trip but too far to commute every day and with my family commitments I can’t stay away from home.

So while I remain ‘in faith’ that God will bail me out at the last minute, as he always does, there is still a rising sense of panic.

Thursday, January 15

Normal Life Adventure, with homosexuality and arthritis, kids and money, and preaching.

This blog is full of posts tracing my exploration of the theology of homosexuality – which no one reads – and it also contains a few small posts about my wife’s rheumatoid arthritis, which get lots of readers.

What links these two topics? Nothing at face value.

But my blog is about how a normal life, if lived with God, becomes an adventure. So as well as all the mundane stuff, I have these ongoing adventures – things I would never have imagined:

  1. Radical changes of theology
  2. Living with disability
  3. Having 7 kids (so far)
  4. Stepping out of the boat in faith financially to buy a large house
  5. Becoming self-employed
  6. Becoming a Licensed Reader in the Church of England

Which reminds me: On Sunday I preached that Faith and Action work together, and as an example I said that if you pray for money, usually the answer involves you going out and getting a job and working for it. Now, my finances have been deteriorating for some time as one the one hand my income decreases (I keep finding mistakes in my company accounts that I have to make up for by reducing dividends) while at the same time costs have been getting larger (for example, a letter from my energy supplier telling me they will increase my monthly payment by £50). So, having told the congregation that financial miracles whereby someone knocks on your door offering money are very rare, a man knocked on my door and, cutting a long story short, I have signed up to change my energy supplier, saving me about 20%.

Now it might have happened anyway, but when the timing of things, the coincidence, is unusual, it smells of miracle (or God-incidence) to me.

So my normal life is an adventure with God.

And nice to think that even if I am toying with what might be heresy, He still cares.


The office in which I am working is rapidly becoming overgrown by pot plants. There seem to be more each day. I expect someone in management has read that they improve productivity or something. Alternatively, it’s ‘Day of the Triffids II”

Monday, January 12

How important are the commas in a book title!

More thoughts on homosexuality

One of my 'liberal' views on this topic is that the Sodom story should be read in parallel to the story of Gibeah in the book of judges: a very similar story but where no same-sex act took place and yet the town was still punished by God. I have therefore stated that these stories are about hospitality, not homosexuality.

Now I have to concede that I am at least partly wrong, because Jude 7 says "Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion".

So clearly, God's word states that the problem was their sexual imorality and perversion.

However, we must be careful not to read too much into this. You might latch onto the word 'perversion' and say 'there you are, it's obviously homosexuality", but there are plenty of other perverse sexual practices. Raping visitors to your town is sexually perverse! And if through other study that i have done I have concluded that homosexuality may not actually be sexually perverse in itself, then the Jude passage does not prove that homosexuality was the sin of Sodom. We really have to be careful to read what the Scripture really says, not what our Christian heritage has made us think it it says.

Consider also the definition of Sodom's sin in this passage: Ezekiel 16 " 49 Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me."

OK, a conservative scholar might jump to the conclusion that 'detestable' means 'homosexual', but this is not a safe conclusion and even if it were, it comes last in a long list of other stuff that most Christians are guilty of everyday but think nothing of it.

(And note that Sodom is charecterised as a female, which is strange if she is meant to represent male-to-male sexual penetration)

So while I have to refine my position, it turns out to make little difference in the grand scheme of things.

All refs from (sorry if this is a breach of copyright)

Sunday sermon (Nehemiah ch4) - chaos and confusion

I had thought I was on the rota to preach next Sunday, but it was actually this Sunday. Fortunately someone phoned me on Friday and I realised my mistake. Being therefore a week behind on my preparation, I didn’t have a wonderfully enjoyable Saturday, catching up. But it got me out of my domestic chores!

I had to give the sermon at both morning services. This meant going early to photocopy the question sheet I had to write for the midweek home groups – normally the secretary’s Friday job, and the thing she phoned about. At least I had the sermon ready, but as the first hymn started I realised I had not downloaded my PowerPoint slides onto the memory stick or given them to the projectionist. I sneaked out to my laptop, and downloaded it easily enough, but how to get it to the projectionist, who was busy with the songs and liturgies? I asked someone to give it to her as I went to the lectern –she would find it easily enough. Or at least someone technically minded would – the first slide appeared about 5 minutes after I really wanted it and from the pulpit I could tell she was highly stressed and thinking unchristian thoughts about me. With good reason!

Apart from that the sermon itself went reasonably OK, and quite a few people commented positively afterwards. But not the gushing enthusiasm I received last time. I suppose you can’t do your ‘best ever’ every week. Even in my own rating I would have given it a B- rather than an A.

For the second service, the PowerPoint problems were resolved, and I spoke more confidently (though my wife could still spot that I was nerve-wracked by everything). But the second time round I made more mistakes in terms of leaving bits out that I meant to say. And my overall delivery in both services was rather too deadpan.

For the sermon, I was given the title “Facing the Enemy” and the second half of Nehemiah Ch 4. Clearly every significant scholar/minister/theologian has written a book on Nehemiah, and since it is such a densely packed book they all come up with different things. My sermon was therefore based on what struck ME as I read the passage, thus:

If we do God’s work on earth the Devil will oppose it. We therefore have to face up to him, thus:
  • Faith and Action together (v14)
  • Allocate resources (Various verses)
  • Unity (Various verses).

Women drivers

I am not at all sexist in anyway. (??).

Today, I turned into a side road, and then waited while a learner driver was reversing into a parking space. A woman came up behind me, and seemed completely oblivious to the fact I was waiting, even when I gave her the lue that I was an 'active' car by edging forward. She went past me, and then disrespectfully squeezed through the narrow gap by the learner driver, and then proceded up the road at a cautious 20 mph no doubt congratulating herself on what a careful driver she was and totally oblivious to the carnage behind her.

Needless to say, my driving is perfect.

But why can she get cheap insurance through 'Sheila's wheels' when I can't?

Monday, January 5

2009 Position Statement

So where do I stand on homosexuality? Confused as ever!

On one level, I have moved away from my conservative interpretation of Leviticus and 1 Corinthians 6 – having looked into it I now believe these refer to temple prostitution. I previously rejected this as liberal excuses, but it does actually work.

On another level, the doctrine of ‘one flesh’, which underpins the doctrine of marriage, does not seem to transfer well into a homosexual context. In response to this problem, one could say that ‘one flesh’ is not relevant to homosexual relationships, but the corollary of this is that the principles of fidelity, abstinence etc do not apply either, and you then have an unequal situation where gays have a free-for-all while heterosexuals are subject to the constraints and limitations that arise from ‘one flesh’.

Therefore, if one is to accept the validity of homosexual relationships, then one has to have some kind of theological framework in which those relationships would work. I would like ‘one flesh’ to be transferable, but if it is not, I would look for something of equal weight, depth and importance. And I can’t find it yet. I get the feeling that this is something where there is diversity of opinion in the homosexual Christian community, with no consensus as to the place of ‘one flesh’ or civil unions.

This makes me turn again towards conservatism. But I don’t like the things I left there. No matter how much one talks of loving the sinner but hating the sin, the fact is: they don’t feel loved. And if they don’t feel loved, it’s because they are not loved.

So my present position is this:

I would rather sin by tolerating something that might be sexually immoral than sin by perpetuating something that is definitely unjust.

But I am still looking for that framework to explain how homosexual relationships should work in a Christian context. Please point me in the right direction!