Showing posts from November, 2009

Wait for It...

Well, advent has officially begun… And at last I can mention the C-word… Christmas… I’m not a traditionalist in many things but on this I am a complete conservative… I absolutely, totally and completely refuse to put up decorations or even discuss Christmas beyond what is absolutely necessary in order to make family arrangements and preparations for worship, until advent begins… and our tree doesn’t go up until the first weekend in December…
And actually, even though the embargo has been lifted, I prefer not to rush ahead into Christmas carols and the like, but rather to practice the age-old discipline of advent… Watching and waiting for the coming King, as the prophets did of old… And one of the reasons is, I’m not actually very good at waiting.
A friend last week said that he wasn’t very good at waiting, when I suggested that he wait 10 minutes for something… In response I said that if that were the case he must really LOVE advent… to which he replied “It's always so busy I don&…

Children Come First...

Approximately once a month I toddle down to Newtownards at an unearthly hour on a Sunday morning to do a stint on their Sunday morning Christian magazine programme, Dawn Reflections, with Vanessa Jones. My role is to comment on the Sunday papers, from a faith perspective, and to do a pre-prepared 3 minute review of the key story or stories in the previous week's news. What follows is, broadly what I said in that review this morning.
There are various rules, regulations and guidelines regarding what you can and cannot say that anyone broadcasting on radio has to observe, and all of us at Downtown have had to have training in them. There are also personal rules that I operate by for these reviews of the week’s news (rules that I generally carry over onto my blog)… I try not to focus on salacious stories no matter how dominant they are in media… and I tend not to comment on negative stories affecting other denominations… hence I left it to my Presbyterian colleague to comment on the p…

Bad Bio-Medical Science... Good Gospel?

I'd never read one of Ben Goldacre's "Bad Science" column in the Guardian on a Saturday before, but will probably seek it out in future and his blog has now been duly entered in my blogroll. I had been recommended this book, however, by a couple of friends who, I think, saw that I and Dr. Goldacre are of a similar mindset. Nothing sets me off in a "white flecks of foam flying from my mouth" kind of way, as much as the incompetent handling of science in the modern media... Not even the incompetent handling of theology in the modern media, which is almost as bad.
The book should really be called "Bad Bio-Medicine" as it is largely about evidence based medicine and the modern world's/media's total inability to understand how it works. Actually my casual observation is that many doctors don't know how it works either, leading to them blindly jumping onto bandwagons along with everyone else, but then, in my more annoying moments I remind som…

Only an Horizon...

Whilst preparing for the two funerals that I have to conduct today, I came across this piece by Bishop Charles Henry Brent, which apparently was sent to Fiona Castle by a well-wisher shortly after the death of her husband Roy. Bishop Brent is probably more famous for his more developed analogy of death being like a ship sailing over the horizon. Here he uses the same image but in the form of a prayer:

We seem to give them back to Thee, 0 God, who gavest them to us. Yet as Thou didst not lose them in giving, so we do not lose them by their return. Not as the world giveth, givest Thou, 0 Lover of souls. What Thou givest, Thou takest not away, for what is Thine is ours also if we are Thine. And life is eternal and love is immortal, and death is only an horizon, and an horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight. Lift us up, strong Son of God, that we may see further; cleanse our eyes that we may see more clearly: draw us closer to Thyself that we may know ourselves to be nearer to our …

Fidei Defensor

Prince Chuck has long professed that when (if?) he is crowned King he would prefer to be known as "Defender of Faith" rather than "Defender of the Faith." Now any half competent Latin scholar knows that this is a perfectly legitimate understanding of the title "Fidei Defensor" from a linguistic perspective. What is much more questionable is whether any English monarch can legitimately claim this title given that it was bestowed on Henry VIII by the Pope after his defense of the Roman understanding of 7 Sacraments in the face of Luther et al, prior to the same king throwing his rattle out of the pram because the Pope wouldn't grant him a divorce...
But I'm thinking about this question today not because of the origins of the breakdown in relations between the Churches of Rome and England, which are currently being "repaired" by the current Pope's "generous invitation" to disaffected Anglicans to come back to the one true chur…

A Psalm for Remembrance Sunday

Praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD, O my soul.
I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortal men, who cannot save.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Israel
Those whose hope is in the LORD his God
the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them
the LORD, who remains faithful for ever.
He upholds the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free;
the LORD gives sight to the blind and lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the foreigner and supports the fatherless and the widow,
the LORD thwarts the ways of the wicked.
The LORD our God reigns for ever, throughout all generations.
Praise the LORD.

From Psalm 146


Tom and Toby Separated at Birth?

Here's one from Ship of Fools. Have you ever seen Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham and the West Wing's Toby Ziegler in the same room?


What's the Point in an Expert Panel?

In this time of public finance cutbacks can I suggest a means of saving a lot of money and wasted time and effort? Ditch all the expert panels and commissions that the government has been establishing... funding for various periods of time and then dismissing their findings when they don't think they will be able to sell them to the wider public... Rule No. 1 of being an expert on a government appointed panel... When they want your opinion they will give it to you.

Recently we've had the sacking of the government drugs adviser, the deliciously named Professor Nutt, for daring to suggest that government drugs policy was politically based rather than based on any evidence of the medical or social dangers of cannabis or ecstasy, and the subsequent resignation of some of his colleagues... And before that we had the public binning of recommendations from what was said to be the most comprehensive review of primary education in England and Wales for 40 years, which suggested that sta…