Photo credits

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

Wednesday, July 25

Fifty shades of grey II

Well, she bought it, but has banned me from picking it up. 

Then we've been through cycles of morality debate.
  1. She needs to read it to communicate with peers.
  2. That's just an excuse: it's porn and will pollute her
  3. She would object to me reading a male equivalent
  4. Therefore she will throw it away
  5. But before she does she will read enough to get the feel of what it's about.
  6. From a human perspective, I would like her to read it all, in the hope that it will awaken her post-menopausal hormones and make her more sexual, both in frequency and diversity.  (but see item 2)
  7. Her friends (some aka pastoral cases) are all talking about it (see item 1)
  8. etc
I think we are on step 5 at present.

Personally, I flicked through some pages and came to these conclusions:
  • It's for women (ie you have to flick through many pages before you get to the 'interesting' bit)
  • When it is 'interesting' it is quite strong in content and language - not like Mills and Boon euphemisms.
  • If she does try to read it all, since she is really quite civilised, she is most likely to find it too strong and bin it anyway.

Work is finally beginning to pick up a bit.

(See post title)

Fourth of July

Hah!  I get the prize for a misleading post title!

It was my daughter's fourth birthday, 'of July' in the sense that it was 'in' July.

She was very excited, loved her presents (Don't tell her they were cheap because they ware last season's).

Went for  a walk in the park, where she told EVERYBODY "It's my birthday.  I'm 4"

15 small noisy children at her party later on.  Cake in the shape of a pony's head.

She loved it all.

I loved her loving it.

Mid-Wales is dead

Well it is on Sunday afternoon anyway.  Perhaps it is because there are so many churches?

But we did find a very nice cafe in Llandeilo and the Pontcysyllte aqueduct is spectacular and amazing.  Unless you suffer vertigo and the 4 year-old daughter tugging randomly at you is small enough to fall between the railings into the river more than 50m below!!!

Best Dad in the World

I had that panicky email from my Brother in law last Thursday - Dad's gone into hospital - looks like this might be it - if you're going to visit you had better do it quickly.

He's 89, virtually blind, hard of hearing.  Barely able to walk even with help, and at serious risk of falls.

On Thursday he was weak, dehydrated and panting for breath (while proclaiming to be fine).  So they rushed him into hospital.

We saw him on Friday morning.  Looking like a pal;id, jaundiced skeleton.  On a drip, catheter and oxygen mask.  Dr said he was stable, suffering from a chest infection which caused the loss of appetite (hence weakness and dehydration) and the panting.  Antibiotics would fix the infection, and everything else would follow.

He kept saying he was cold.  The nurses dismissed this as just a perception owing to his fever, and would not get him a blanket.  So we had to put a vest on him, which meant disconnecting the drip and then waiting for ages for them to reconnect it.  Ditto, later, cardigan.

We visited again on Friday.  He was in a bigger room, off the drip and oxygen, looking a better colour, eating and drinking more, chatting more, sleeping less.  Dr was right!  Talk was now of what to do with him next.  He is too weak to go home and Mum is too weak (and getting batty) to look after him.  So it will probably be a nursing home.

My Brother and Sister were both there too, and Mum: the first family gathering for years.  So I took the chance to shyly and tentatively do a speech, which came out all wrong.  "He's one of the best Dad's in the world".  Brother jumped on that - "ONE of the best??? THE best!".  I couldn't agree more.  Everything that I am comes from him (with elements of Mum as well of course).

I love him to bits.  It will hurt more than I realised it would, when he goes.  But the time has come when it will be kindest to let him go to Glory.

Sunday, July 15


Went to Kendal on Friday for the funeral of my colleague that passed away recently.

It turned out to be more of a memorial service - no coffin or anything - so I felt vaguely let down, as did my other work colleagues I think.

The mood was quite light.  The Eulogy was quite humourous, with ripples of laughter going across the congregation.  I have no doubt that its what the family (and my dead friend) would have wanted, but it didn't work for me.  I needed something with a joy at a deep level rather than superficial, and with more acknoledgement of the grief of parting.

Anyway, it meant I had an excuse to be in the area, and so I took my wife and pre-school child along too.  We found a good play area (The Fun Factory) right on Bowness Bay.  Last time we went this had closed down, but it was now very much open.  Soour daughter had a really nice time playing there while Mrs and I sat by the window overlooking the lake.  Really nice!  Then we moved to the pub next to the main jetties In Bowness Bay - I have to recommend it.  They do a generous and ridiclously cheap carvery, and you can sit by a large window with a view up the lake.  Wonderful!

Thursday, July 12

Openly sexist moan about covert sexism

Scenario 1

Dominant woman says to husband “I want a big family”. Husband doesn’t really want kids, is not interested in childcare, but dutifully impregnates her multiple times, because he loves her and wants her to be fulfilled. Wife then says to husband “They’re your children too, so you have to help pay for them and look after them”

That all seems very reasonable, doesn’t it?

Scenario 2

Dominant husband says to his wife “I want a motorbike”. Wife dutifully doesn’t really want a motorbike, isn’t interested in Zen (or the art of motorcycle maintenance) but she buys him one because she loves him and wants him to be fulfilled. Husband then says “It’s your motorbike too, so you have to help maintain it and clean it”.

That doesn’t seem reasonable.

Why?  It's not fair!

I don’t actually want a motorbike. I’m just making a point. I didn’t want a big family; I only have one because that’s what she asked for. The kids are her idea, her wish, her dream, her project.  So why am I expected to do the hard work in what is actually HER hobby?


Bored Bored Bored Bored Bored Bored.

When will my project kick off again?  Pleeeease, somebody give me something to do!

Fifty shades of grey

A rather stuffy middle aged woman at church posted on her facebook page “I have got Fifty shades of grey – it’s not as good as I though”.

She’s not the kind of person you would expect to be redaing that book.

But scroll down on her page – it’s a monochrome copy of a Dulux colour chart – 50 shades of grey!

(Well. I thought it was funny).

Meanwhile my daughter, whose nickname at work id mysteriously “Greybone”, is now being called “Fifty shades of Greybone”.

My daughter’s friend had a copy of the book, so my daughter showed a page to my wife (I was away at work). She only scanned it briefly, but told me it was ‘very descriptive’.

We discussed.

Initially, my wife was saying it was a good thing: she distinguished it from porn because that is ‘in your face’ whereas this ‘makes you work’. Also, husbands would be excited to think their wives were reading it – probably true. (Blush). But I countered that it still corrupts, and that if I was reading a male equivalent she would not be happy.  She couldn't argue with that.

Later I confided to her that part of my vocal opposition was largely for the benefit of my eavesdropping daughter, to whom I need to set a good example, but that I would secretly be pleased for my wife to read it. (Blush again). Even though I still regarded it as porn and therefore technically sinful.

(Side story: she has lost her Kindle, which she was using to download scriptures and devotional books.)

This morning my wife said that maybe the Lord had hidden her Kindle to stop her from polluting it with 50 shades. She vowed not to download it, and reasoned that if she was right, her Kindle will re-appear today.

(Failing that, she’ll probably go and buy the book!)

Relics of tradition

I had this email conversation with a Roman Catholic Priest:

My Question: I have heard it said (I forget where) that for a Roman Catholic Altar to be consecrated it must contain a relic of a saint. Is there any truth in this? 
As a side comment, I hear that this is vaguely linked to the origin of graveyards around churches - at the resurrection the saint will rise (from his relic) and lead the way for the others in the graveyard.

His answer: It is the custom , though I don't believe that it is absolutely required at present. Relics are never place in a movable altar, only in a fixed, or built in altar

Q: Thank you for a pretty much instantaneous answer!
What is the theology of this custom? Numbers 19:11-16 (especially 16) indicate that that a dead body would defile an altar. (compare also 1Ki 13:2). I know that is the Old Testament and that the New Testament heads in a differnt direction, but the NT is still built on the old and for such a radical 180 degree reversal from a body defiling an altar to being part of its consecration is surprising.

A: You are forgetting about the resurrection. It changed the way we look at the body. Yes it is a very ancient custom it was an early first century custom to offer mass on to of the tombs of the martyrs

My comment: Thanks again for your reply.  I remain staunchly protestant, although slightly more educated. I continue to have a fundamentally different view of the Lord's table from Rome, but within the premise of the Roman view your answer to my query is an intellectually tenable position that I can respect, while politely disagreeing.

His reply: Disagreeing is not a problem. I often disagree with myself! Thanks for the note.
So, what do you think?
My comments are along these lines: Caholicism seems to be much more rooted in physical things than Protestantism.  We feel that the Roman Catholic approach bordes on superstition and magic, and we feel that their faith has been displaced from Christ onto objects.  This would be idolatry, as explained eloquently in the book of Wisdom 14:15-21 which they would include as canonical scripture.  They feel that the fact of the incarnation means that God IS in touch with the physical world, and there are examples in the Bible - for example - of people being being healed by touching clothes or passing under a shadow.  We counter that we 'worship in spirit and in truth'.
In any case, it would seem rather weird and macabre if protestants started digging up their dead pastors, cutting up the bodies and distributing bits around the country and putting them under the table they use for communion.  Probably get arrested, or at least some negative media coverage! 
My friend's point about the resurrection changing the way we view a body is valid.  But I still think the whole thing is misplaced faith and distracting from our focus on Christ and turning people into idolators.
Sorry if this seems strong: I don't intend to offend, but that's the way I see it.

Monday, July 9

Back to work?

Head a project meeting this morning.  The project manager decided that the project approval group on 24th July is 99% likely to choose the cheaper option, so I was instructed to continue on this basis.  So I might actually do some work now, which will reduce my blogging for a bit.

Supporting son, seeing spillway

Took my son to an open day at his future university on Saturday. Looks really good. I think he will have a really good time there.

On the way, stopped casually at the reservoir spillway that I designed which is under construction. Looks really good. Co-incidentally met the headworks controller who was able to show me round more formally and we were able to discuss a few points:

• He would have preferred the bare concrete walls to be stone clad (not for me to decide)

• In recent heavy rain some water and spilled from the temporary channel. This was at least in part the contractor’s fault for having an abrupt bend in his temporary diversion channel. Fast-flowing water doesn’t do abrupt bends. So some freshly laid concrete had been damaged and they had to do it again and were now moaning that they had lost all their profit in the job.

• I was concerned that we had put the ‘compensation flow measurement’ device in the wrong location, omitting one flow stream, but he set my mind at rest that when this flow stream was operation the compensation flow would not be measured anyway.

And so on.

Also over the weekend, helped the same son with his scholarship application. We have been trying to get on to this for weeks but there always seemed to be something in the way. The deadline Midnight Sunday – loomed and concentrated our minds. So while he desperately scribbled answers to the questions onto reams of paper I typed them frantically into the online form. We finally hit the ‘submit’ button just as the clock turned to 00:00!

Which is technically past midnight, so I hope they still allow the application.

Friday, July 6

Barely a man?

I did a little test on the BBC website which purports to decide if you have a mostly male or mostly female brain.

Apparently I am only just male, about 55% of the way along the line bewteen fully female and fully male.

Unexpected reults:
  • I am a poor empathiser
  • I am a good empathiser
So maybe its not such a good test.

Did it predict correctly for you?

Laying down History

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m still quiet at work and hence busy on the blog.

I’m actually a bit more upset about my colleague passing away than I thought I would be. I guess I expected it during one of his crises a few weeks ago, and since he survived that I thought he was going to pull through. So the expected became unexpected.

I have been thinking a lot recently about how history comprises things happening. I know that’s obvious, but its getting into my consciousness via the ‘philosophy’ channel at present.

Before things happen, we have no knowledge of them. No certainty of knowledge, at least – we might foresee or plan, but until it does happen we can’t guarantee it. Some we foresee for years, others not even for seconds. They just happen, and then the world changes. We go from one situation, one normality, to a new situation, which immediately becomes the new normality.

Take for example, Glasgow - a city which has always had two football teams, reflecting a cultural and religious division across the city. And then one year, one football club runs into financial trouble and closes. Its phoenix successor is cold-shouldered out of the league. And all of a sudden everything had changed.

Then there is the Scottish food company which takes 75% of all pigs produced in Scotland. It’s going down, and will take all of those farms with it. A new reality, a new normality, is dumped on us.

It was the same when Woolworths - my wife’s favourite – closed (we used to tease her for any visit to any town being incomplete without going into the Woollies there)

Each of these things is a shock. It takes the wind away from us. We gasp, and wonder how life can continue when normality is shaken.

But of course all these are ‘first world problems’. It’s worse if you were a Haitian who woke to find your capital city flattened by an earthquake, and then devastated further by crime and disease. A new normality.

So History comes at us as this series of events, and is laid down unchangeably forever.

Is it like dealing cards from a pack? You never know what the next one will be, but as soon as it is laid you see it and it cannot be changed. And then almost as fast as you recover from that a new equally unexpected card is laid on top. Almost like archaeological or geological layers, that let us see and analyse history but not change it.

Has God shuffled the cards, or has he fixed them in advance? And for all those random dice rolls, did he roll the dice once only before time began to fix the outcome of each and every game of bones?

I get a related feeling sometimes when I am driving, particularly along a winding road. The three dimensional landscape in front of me seems to become a flat disc; the scenery appears at the middle and rushes to the edge. (Imagine a video of a bath tub vortex being played in reverse; it would give a similar effect.) I know the road ahead, yet it still remains invisible until it appears at the centre and expands.

It’s the same with the lead in my pencil. Each layer of graphite is already there, but I know nothing of it until I scrape it onto my paper.

My son plays ‘minecraft’ on the computer. The contents of the earth are fixed by the terrain generator, but then your little man goes and digs, not knowing what he will find, and unearths the various materials that he needs if his search is successful.

I guess, thinking aloud, that the unforeseen future that we face, that shocks and surprises us every day, is already known to God. He has already seen it, and prepared us for it. I believe he has already written it. He put the lead in my pencil. He was the programmer that made the minecraft-like universe for us to explore. He made the road that unravels itself into my visual disc. He made the card deck, and arranged its order. He determined when companies rise and companies fall on the stock market. He can already see the parts of the gold price chart that have not been revealed to us yet. He knows what the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum will be. He knows the day I will die and what will kill me. He wrote that day.

This sounds perhaps too determistically Calvinist – I see ‘the plan’ not so much as a single line as a branched tree in which decision is possible but the outcome of each choice is pre-determined and within the overall plan, and there is foreknowledge as to which twig you will end on.

So, though I remain as shocked as anyone else by the daily news, yet I remain confident in his sovereignty. “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer 29:11

Rest in Peace

My colleague, a health and Safety officer and one of the strongest and most cheerful members of our workplace Christian fellowship, died yesterday, a few weeks after his formal retirement, having been diagnosed with a cancerous tumour in his brain a few months back.

He will be sadly missed, and we look forward to our future reunion.

Thursday, July 5

Scripture trumps Apostolic Succesion

I don't normally agree with triablogue - I don't like the tone or content.  But if you follow the link you will find a good explanation that Irenaeus {redited with initiating the doctrine of Apostolic succesion} considered that the Scriptures written by the Apostles take precedence over those installed by the Apostles and furthermore that with Apostolic Succesion comes the responsibility to continue faithful to the Apostles' written word rather than to 'develop' the teaching as the Gnostics claimed.

I do encourage you to read it.

[Edit: in 'normally disagreeing' with Triablogue's 'tone and content' I am primarily objecting to the attitude of their dispute with Arminians, although I too lean towards Calvinism.  For clarification: They also write some anti-racist stuff which I do agree with!]

The Theology of Sewage Works

My project reviewer commended my ‘Capacity Statement’ [A statement of the hydraulic capacity of the seven feed pipes for a complicated bank of 24 filters at a sewage works]

He said it was ‘very professional’ and ‘inspired trust’.

This was mainly based on the opening paragraphs, which I quote for you below with certain ‘fudge’ words highlighted.

Statement of Capacity of Existing Filter Feed System

July 2012

Selection of calibration models

The calibration exercise considered four flow survey cases and produced up to three possible calibrated models for each of the individual lines corresponding to relevant flow survey cases.

Uncertainties regarding flow measurement at the site resulted in a need to review the possible capacities for ‘low’ and ‘high’ flow measurement interpretations.

A pragmatically selected collection of the more realistic calibration models for the individual lines (while still reflecting a conservative approach particularly with respect to flow measurement) was combined into a system model which was then tested across a range of flows up to FTFT [the maximum]. Variant models were made and tested for different flow split design cases.

If you read between the lines of the above, you will perceive that we haven’t really got much clue as to what is going on.

We went to the site for four separate flow surveys in different conditions. They were fairly dry days and there simply wasn’t enough water to test all of the pipelines each time. Then we found out that the site’s main flow meter had broken down and we didn’t really know what we were testing with at all. We spent moths trying to match the contradictory surveys to each other and trying to build a believable computer model of the system – one where the model predictions would match the realities we observed on the site so that we could build future designs on. Some of the more extreme conclusions implied that the site’s original designers had been so totally incompetent as to only get half of the design flow through it. My reviewer said that this could not be true, and we should not include that particular survey result in our conclusions. Even with the more credible surveys, the results were contradictory. We think that some of the outlet pipes are too close to the weirs so that air bubbles are being sucked in which then accumulate in the pipe and reduce its effective size. You would have a different amount of bubble each day, hence the variation in survey results.

The scientific answer would be to spend years on site surveying every possible parameter, spending £xx,000 on equipment, and interfering with the operation of the site as we tweak the valves to test all different options. The reality is that you can’t do that. The Environment Agency is likely to prosecute the water company if the site’s problems are not resolved within the current Asset Management Plan, which ends in 2014 and it takes at least two years to implement a solution. We have to do it now.

Science is limited – by time and budget - in its ability to answer the question. We have to make a judgement call, and write a statement of capacity that gives a reasonable degree of confidence in the results without hiding [too much] the considerable uncertainties we have in it.

It’s not perfect, but its as good as its ever going to be, and based on that limited information we have to make a decision as too how to proceed.

Don’t worry – it’s only a £20million project that we are exercising this guesswork on!

So my capacity report I use words like ‘Uncertainty’, ‘Interpretation’, ‘Conservative’ (ie guessing on the safe side), ‘Pragmatic’.

This is like our faith, isn’t it?

In our life we see a lot of evidence that Christianity is true.

But a lot of that evidence is incomplete. Muddled. Contradictory. Based on assumptions. Based on data that turns out to be incorrect. And yet on this incomplete data we have to make a decision – reject or accept the message.

Now, if this level of evidence is sufficient for my water company client to spend £20million, then I don’t think its unreasonable for a similar level of evidence to allow us as individuals to decide in favour of Christianity.

We can’t prove it scientifically. But it is sufficiently reasonable to proceed, cautiously, and build our lives on it. And we have to preach with a reasonable degree of confidence that we are right but also with honesty about the uncertainty.  Hopefully such a presentation of the gospel will be ‘very professional’ and ‘inspire trust’

Wednesday, July 4

Mum needs a new pacemaker.

It's ten years old and worn out.  The amazing British NHS will replace it.

I told her to ask for a new rythm - maybe jazz or rock

My Dad is going to die soon

He's 89.

He's virtually blind.

He's hard of hearing.

He is very weak.  He walks very slowly with a zimmer frame, but his knees keep giving way and he ends up in hospital form falls.  He now has NHS nurses coming to the house to dress him and bathe him - which is a great relief to my Mum who has her own weakness and health problems, but is a great loss of dinity for him.

He spends increasing amounts of time asleep.  With his mouth open.  My Mum keeps thinking he has died.

The kindest thing would be for that to be true - to pass in his sleep from weakness and blindness into the dazzling blaze of glory with a new young fit body and many many crowns for his hard service to the Lord.

I am increasingly divergent from the narrow theology he taught me as a child.  But I owe to him my excellent childhood and upbringing, my values, my personality, my preaching gift, and above all my faith. 

See not the frail old man - see the mighty hero of the faith, and salute him.


I'm blogging a lot at present because I've not got much on at work.

My one project is waiting for approval to proceed to the next phase.  When it gets approval I will suddenly become very busy and not blog for ages.  Meanwhile, I have asked for more work but they won't give it to me because they know the main project is due to get going again soon.  The one bit of work they did give me was a bit of checking on a colleague's work - but he hasn't given it ot me yet.

Of course, soon, I will find out all the things I should have been doing in this quiet period and will be in trouble for not doing and will have no excuse for not doing but haven't done becasue I can't thin what they are.

So typing into a blog looks marginally better to a passing colleague than lying abck in my chair snoring with my mouth open and dribble running down my cheek.

Out of touch with Worship

While I was in my 16-month self-imposed exile from my church I experienced a variety of worship styles.

My starting point:

The singing in my church is based on modern worship songs and choruses, led by a band of competent musicians. In fact, we have four bands that play on different weeks. The band leader is in effect the worship leader during the songs, deciding on rhythm, style, what verse to do next, etc. Generally they are very good. I am biased of course, since my children are involved playing acoustic and base guitars and singing. But my favourite instrument is the drums – they somehow convey the power and majesty of God more than the other instruments.


The music at my next church was predominantly hymns. Within each service some hymn would be played on the organ and led by a choir of three shrill women. Other songs would be either modern worship songs or hymns led by a poorly amplified band of acoustic guitar, singer, and perhaps something else. The overall impression was of a predominantly traditional approach to music being dragged slowly reluctantly and ineffectively with too many compromises into the 21st century.


The next church was much smaller and much more limited in its pool of resources. There would be three reasonably good singers with microphones at the front, and the organ or piano would be played by someone shipped in from outside the church – a different person each week. In family services the curate’s children were let loose with recorders and tiny tom-toms. Before the service started there would be some worship songs, but during the service it was all hymns.

‘Before the service started there would be worship songs’ – how self-contradictory and just plain wrong is that?


During the third church I started to pine for the modern worship songs I used to sing. Hymns are all very well, but they tend to be ‘about’ God, rather than ‘to’ God. It was much harder to get into them, to sing them with passion. In one focus group activity I asked ‘how can we move from just singing songs to worship?’ The hymns were not doing it for me. But my comment was rebuffed. We do worship. I began to change my view – not necessarily of the hymns themselves but at least of the people singing them and their sincerity and spirituality.

And as often happens, without you really knowing it, you find yourself actually liking it. The rhythm of the services, the atmosphere, etc. And I was happy.

Except of course for all the trouble with my wife and the Sunday School and the curate’s attitude to children I the church making it very difficult to bring our daughter, and the whole thing of being called/sent back to our original church and the mess around all of that.

And I found myself back singing the worship songs I had pined for.

This should be great. But there is something broken about it – it’s not the way it was before. Partly this is from what I call this the Rip Van Winkle effect.

Some of those who used to be band-leaders have moved on, while new ones have come in. They lack the same skill and experience, it doesn’t flow so well. Also one of the bright rising stars is the son of he-whom-we-still-have-trouble-forgiving and it hurts every time his offspring – unfairly guilty by association – is in the limelight.

It’s also partly because I have separately developed a taste for Gregorian chant. I love the mood it creates. I just wish there was more variety in the songs sung in Gregorian chant (and Russian and Greek Orthodox chant or Byzantine chant and even some Anglican chant) – but most of the limited repertoire that there seems to be on YouTube is too Mariolatrously Catholic for me to really enter into.

But setting aside all those transient things, I still find it hard to get into the music again. I guess it is all part of the sense of unsettledness resulting form all the moves and a psychological reluctance to get too involved again in case it all flares up again and we move again in six months. God forbid!

But even deeper than that is a changed perception of the worship songs and the way we sing them. Somehow it seems a little too shallow and fluffy. And yet I know it is not shallow and fluffy. When you engage with it, it is deeply moving and God has often spoken to me through it. But there is something ‘not there’ in my worship at present.

Maybe I just don't love God at present.  But I think I do.  And anyway Evangelical theology is that Salvation is not about our temporary 'feeling-state'.

I’m just thinking aloud.

Overall, I think it is mostly the scars from all the moves and from hurts that set the moves off.

Chicken and Egg

We asked our three year old which came first, the chicken or the egg.

"The nest" she replies.

Tuesday, July 3

First house viewers

Well, they didn't say 'wow'.

But they were Christians.  We suspect they were sent to us by the church we want to buy a house from.

I won't hold my breath.

The Authority of Scripture

NT Wright said all this back in '89.  But I've only just discovered it, and I think it's really really good.  I adopt it into my life.

Monday, July 2

Ordination quest

Following last week's church where we went forward for prayer about ordination, Mrs has a previously arranged meeting with our assistant minister today (to talk about difficulties she is having with setting up a cell group she has been asked to do), and she reports that during this meeting she floated with the assistant minister the idea of Mrs being ordained together with me.  This is the first time we have mentioned it in such a formal way with our current church.

She tells me that it went down well - "she could see us both in ministry".

She was also helpful to Mrs in terms of shared expereinces of being hed back by sexism.

So, she is very encouraged.

There is the possibility that the assistant minister is just being polite, given that she is one of those we rowed with before and so she may be trying too hard to avoid furthre upsets.  But on balance I think it was right.

She also suggested that in her view, our ideas for the house we were going to swap with were probably incompatible with training for ordination.  I'm not sure why really - finance probably.  Maybe that is still going to be a future thing,.  But it does make it hard for us to know when we are and when we are not hearing form the Lord.

Woohoo! - first house viewers tomorrow

Apparently they are Australians emigrating to the UK.  They must be mad!  Based elsewhere, but doing a whirlwind tour of our area.

Pray for a quick sale!

Hold the tension

Our preacher on Sunday was talking about the balance between working hard and resting. In the sense that on the one hand we have to ‘let go and let God’, while on the other hand the imperatives of the gospel are that we should spare no effort to save the lost. He was talking about how these two truths appear to be opposite to one another. And then, holding his hand forward, palm vertical like the prow of a ship cutting a path through the water, he waved that had side to side to illustrate that “we can not cut a Christian ‘floppy middle line’ – we have to take those two opposites as they are and hold them in tension”

Which is interesting, because that is almost exactly what I have been thinking recently.

Too often, as Christians, when we face such opposites within our faith, we either have a war with major casualties and bloodletting (or at least mutual excommunications) or else we fudge a compromise where neither side is happy.

I think we need to do more of this ‘holding things in tension’

Obviously there’s the Trinity itself – three persons but definitely ONE God.

Then there is predestination and freewill.

Then there is suffering – the work of an evil Satan under the command of a holy God.

More controversially, the equality of genders but the maleness of Church leadership????

Perhaps we should affirm that priesthood is male while continuing to ordain women – holding two opposing doctrines in tension. (Don’t quote me as holding any of these positions on this I’m just musing theoretically)

What I’m really leading to is homosexuality.

We have denominations – seeking pure holiness through the Scriptures – that avow that marriage is between opposite genders for complementarity to reflect the image of God. And we have denominations – seeking pure justice through the Scriptures – that avow that we are all equal and have equal sanction to marry for love.

There’s no scope for compromise, but do we have to have one doctrine or the other? Does one have to win, while the other loses? Do we have to have public wars and excommunications? Can either of these churches represent the wholeness of God? Can a church be pure while perpetrating injustice? Can a church truly be just while sanctioning marriages that [may] fall outside of God’s perfect will? Can any one church, in its monochromatic unity, truly represent a multi-faceted God?

I believe we need to hold the tension. We need to have unchanging traditional churches upholding unchanging traditional doctrines, sticking exclusively to heterosexual marriage. We also need to have flexible churches that look in the mirror and say ‘sorry, we got that wrong’ and adjust as necessary, willing to marry same-sex couples. We have this already, but what we don’t have is mutual respect or the understanding that unity does not mean uniformity. We can hold radically different and opposing doctrines while still respecting one another as genuine expressions of God’s heart. We don’t have to understand it. We just have to hold the tension.