Hymn of the day

by Richard on February 25, 2018

Praise the Lord who reigns above
And keeps His court below;
Praise the holy God of love
And all His greatness show;
Praise Him for His noble deeds;
Praise Him for His matchless power;
Him from whom all good proceeds
Let earth and Heaven adore.

Publish, spread to all around
The great Jehovah’s name,
Let the trumpet’s martial sound
The Lord of hosts proclaim:
Praise Him in the sacred dance,
Harmony’s full concert raise,
Let the virgin choir advance,
And move but to His praise.

Celebrate th’eternal God
With harp and psaltery,
Timbrels soft and cymbals loud
In this high praise agree;
Praise with every tuneful string;
All the reach of heavenly art,
All the powers of music bring,
The music of the heart.

God, in whom they move and live,
Let every creature sing,
Glory to their maker give,
And homage to their king.
Hallowed be Thy name beneath,
As in Heaven on earth adored;
Praise the Lord in every breath,
Let all things praise the Lord.

Charles Wesley

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Remembering BP

by Richard on February 22, 2018

For Scouts worldwide, today is “Founder’s Day”. (Guides call it “Thinking Day”). So, in celebration here’s a clip from a BBC documentary about scouting.

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Doing anything interesting for Lent?

by Richard on February 19, 2018

Stephen Wigley writing on Theology Everywhere

…the things which matter most are the things which are worth committing to – and that if we were a little more serious about our commitment to the faith we profess, then others might be a little more willing to take it seriously. And maybe that’s the message of Lent; that it’s a time for being serious rather than interesting

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Hymn of the day

by Richard on February 18, 2018

Jesus! the name high over all,
in hell, or earth, or sky!
Angels and men before it fall,
and devils fear and fly.

Jesus! the name to sinners dear,
the name to sinners given!
It scatters all their guilty fear,
it turns their hell to heaven.

Jesus! the prisoner’s fetters breaks,
and bruises Satan’s head;
Power into strengthless souls it speaks,
and life into the dead.

O that the world might taste and see
the riches of his grace!
The arms of love that compass me
would all mankind embrace.

His only righteousness I show,
his saving grace proclaim;
‘Tis all my business here below
to cry: ‘Behold the Lamb!’

Happy if with my latest breath
I might but gasp his name;
preach him to all, and cry in death:
‘Behold, behold the Lamb!’

Charles Wesley

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Dust

by Kim on February 14, 2018

We are made of dust, we are
Flying on every wind,
Blown to the back of the earth,
Stormed at, broken, defiled.
We are people of dust
But dust with a living mind.

Dust with a spirit, grace
Goes to the end of the earth,
Follows the dark act, the thought
Lying, wounding, distraught,
We are dust from our birth
But in that dust is wrought

A place for visions, a hope
That reaches beyond the stars,
Conjures and pauses the seas,
Dust discovers our own
Proud, torn destinies.
Yes, we are dust to the bone.

– Elizabeth Jennings

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Hymn of the day

by Richard on February 11, 2018

GREAT is our redeeming Lord,
In power, and truth, and grace
Him, by highest heaven adored,
His church on earth doth praise:
In the city of our God,
In his holy mount below,
Publish, spread his name abroad,
And all his greatness show.

For thy loving-kindness, Lord,
We in thy temple stay;
Here thy faithful love record,
Thy saving power display:
With thy name thy praise is known,
Glorious thy perfections shine;
Earth’s remotest bounds shall own
Thy works are all divine.

See the gospel church secure,
And founded on a rock;
All her promises are sure;
Her bulwarks who can shock?
Count her every precious shrine;
Tell, to after-ages tell,
Fortified by power divine,
The church can never fail.

Zion’s God is all our own,
Who on his love rely;
We his pardoning love have known,
And live to Christ, and die:
To the new Jerusalem
He our faithful guide shall be:
Him we claim, and rest in him,
Through all eternity.

Charles Wesley

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The first Britons were black

by Richard on February 7, 2018

This story must have had the likes of Britain First and the EDL choking on their sugar puffs* this morning: DNA shows early Briton had dark skin
cheddarman

A cutting-edge scientific analysis shows that a Briton from 10,000 years ago had dark brown skin and blue eyes.

Researchers from London’s Natural History Museum extracted DNA from Cheddar Man, Britain’s oldest complete skeleton, which was discovered in 1903.

University College London researchers then used the subsequent genome analysis for a facial reconstruction.

It underlines the fact that the lighter skin characteristic of modern Europeans is a relatively recent phenomenon.

No prehistoric Briton of this age had previously had their genome analysed.

*Other breakfast cereals are available

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If you’ve got Jesus, you don’t need a flu jab

by Richard on February 7, 2018

Because, obviously, Christians never ever get poorly at all.

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Pots and kettles

by Richard on February 6, 2018

Scrolling through my twitter feed with my cereal this morning, I came across a link to a video by Tim Challies, the 5 Most Ridiculous Books to Ever Become Christian Best Sellers. Tough call, I thought — the competition is stiff. But I watched the video to see what he thought. Opening with ‘The Prayer of Jabez’ is getting off to a good start in my not very humble opinion, because that really is an excrescence. Joel Osteen was a sitting duck of course. I hadn’t read any of the others, though I was very surprised that ‘Left Behind’ didn’t make the cut. But maybe Tim knows better than me.

However, his authority to point the finger at the excesses of the Christian book industry was undermined a bit by what came next. Intrigued by the title ‘Why My Family Still Doesn’t Do Sleepovers‘, I started to watch. Only a few moments in I was confronted by “This video was made possible by MissionalWear, unique theology-inspired apparel and gifts for the holiday season.”

I’m sorry, but if youe sponsorship includes Calvin bow ties or Soli Deo Gloria hats, you’re in no position to judge others. Not to mention the ‘Tulip Girl’ ladies tee, for the Calvinist woman in your life.

Physician, heal thyself.

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Violence in Bristol - but from Left or Right?

by Richard on February 6, 2018

The other day there was a bit of fuss about “the Left” disrupting a speech by Jacob Rees-Mogg using violence and intimidation. Reports at the time were very clear about what had happened

reesmoggbristol

Every report I saw at the time shared more-or-less the same narrative and many commenters from across the political spectrum roundly condemned those who had disrupted the event for their assault on free speech.

However, the truth of what happened may not be as simple as it first appeared. Video emerged which appeared to show that the violence was not initiated by those who noisily interrupted Rees-Mogg, but by a man in a white shirt who seemed to be one of Mr Rees-Mogg’s supporters. The man has since been identified as a Mr Paul Townsley, a Bristol martial arts instructor. And, to judge by his taste in fancy dress, he’s a very nice man

nazi

Did we need reminding that you can’t always believe what you see in the media?

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Hymn of the day

by Richard on February 4, 2018

GREAT is our redeeming Lord,
In power, and truth, and grace
Him, by highest heaven adored,
His church on earth doth praise:
In the city of our God,
In his holy mount below,
Publish, spread his name abroad,
And all his greatness show.

For thy loving-kindness, Lord,
We in thy temple stay;
Here thy faithful love record,
Thy saving power display:
With thy name thy praise is known,
Glorious thy perfections shine;
Earth’s remotest bounds shall own
Thy works are all divine.

See the gospel church secure,
And founded on a rock;
All her promises are sure;
Her bulwarks who can shock?
Count her every precious shrine;
Tell, to after-ages tell,
Fortified by power divine,
The church can never fail.

Zion’s God is all our own,
Who on his love rely;
We his pardoning love have known,
And live to Christ, and die:
To the new Jerusalem
He our faithful guide shall be:
Him we claim, and rest in him,
Through all eternity.

Charles Wesley

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Women, Know Your Limits

by Richard on January 31, 2018

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The term ‘Climate Change’ was adopted in preference to ‘Global Warming’ in a deliberate attempt to distract the public as part of a political campaign.

donald trump

I didn’t watch Piers Morgan’s interview with Donald Trump. When I need an emetic, I’ll go to the chemist. But I was interested to read a report of it in The Independent. The headline “Donald Trump appears to misunderstand basic facts of climate change” didn’t exactly surprise, but there were some interesting nuggets in the piece. In particular, my eye was caught by this:

When asked if he believed in the existence of climate change, however, Mr Trump’s answer did not chime with the scientific consensus.

“There is a cooling, and there’s a heating. I mean, look, it used to not be climate change, it used to be global warming. That wasn’t working too well because it was getting too cold all over the place,” he said.

Global warming and climate change are often used interchangeably, but in fact refer to slightly different things. The two are not mutually exclusive.

While global warming refers only to the Earth’s rising surface temperature, climate change is a broader term that includes the other effects of carbon pollution, such as changing weather patterns.

Trump’s claim that the terminology of ‘global warming’ was changed to ‘climate change’, and The Indie’s subsequent justification of it, have been commonplace for a long time. Even NASA plays along.

It is easy to forget (I had in fact forgotten!) that the widespread use of ‘climate change’ as the prefered nomenclature can be traced to Republican consultant Frank Luntz who argued for the re-framing of global warming as climate change for entirely political ends. Here’s an extract from a leaked memo from Luntz, reported in the Guardian in 2003
guardianluntz
The article went on to conclude,

“A compelling story, even if factually inaccurate, can be more emotionally compelling than a dry recitation of the truth,” Mr Luntz notes in the memo.

So compelling, in fact, that it has become entirely mainstream.

Meanwhile, climate change deniers continue to claim that it is scientists and environmentalists who have politicized this issue. And we let them get away with it.

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Baptism and Eucharist at Auschwitz

by Kim on January 28, 2018

Häftling*: I have learnt that I am Häftling. My number is 174517; we have been baptized, we will carry the tattoo on our left arm until we die.

The operation was slightly painful and extraordinarily rapid: they placed us all in a row, and one by one, according to the alphabetical order of our names, we filed past a skilful official, armed with a sort of pointed tool with a very short needle. It seems that this is the real, true initiation: only by ’showing one’s number’ can one get bread and soup. Several days passed, and not a few cuffs and punches, before we became used to showing our number promptly enough not to disorder the daily operation of food distribution …

*Prisoner

Primo Levi, If This is a Man (Abacus edition, 1987), pp. 33-34.
[Se questo è un uomo first published in Italy, 1963.]

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Hymn of the day

by Richard on January 28, 2018

Father of Jesus Christ, my Lord,
My Saviour and my Head;
I trust in Thee, whose powerful Word
Hath raised Him from the dead.

In hope, against all human hope,
Self desperate, I believe;
Thy quickening Word shall raise me up,
Thou shalt Thy Spirit give.

Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,
And looks to that alone;
Laughs at impossibilities,
And cries, “It shall be done!”

To Thee the glory of Thy power
And faithfulness I give;
I shall in Christ, at that glad hour,
And Christ in me shall live.

Obedient faith that waits on Thee,
Thou never wilt reprove;
Bt Thou wilt form Thy Son in me,
And perfect me in love.

Charles Wesley

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Immigration and the NHS

by Richard on January 27, 2018

If conversations I’ve had recently are anything to go by, it seems to have been widely accepted that the current problems of the NHS can be laid at the door of “runaway immigration” and “health tourism”. This comment from a recent article in the Daily Mail about sums it up
dailymailcomment
It isn’t true, as a few facts quickly demonstrate.

First, the NHS budget in England is something over £100 *billion*. That’s a huge sum of money, but it provides treatment for an awful lot of people, free at the point of use. There’s no denying that it isn’t perfect, but no one on these islands need fear the cost of their medical treatment, and the NHS is a huge indicator of what we sometimes call our shared values. We are rightly proud of our health service. If you’ve ever needed to receive medical treatment in a country which does not have a comprehensive health system and have had to spend time with hospital administrators before you get anywhere near a nurse, let alone a doctor, you’ll understand why.

It is undeniable that immigrants who use the NHS add to its costs, but this additional burden has been wildly exagerrated to serve the political agenda of the Right. For example, immigration from the EU adds £160 million to the NHS budget. That’s a big wedge of cash, but it’s a lot less than 1% of the whole budget. So-called ‘health tourism’, in which people come to the UK specifically to make use of the NHS, is estimated to cost £60 - £80 million. Another big wodge of mullah by everyday standards, but trivial in comparison to the total budget.

And let’s not forget that the NHS depends on immigrant workers. Around 12% of NHS workers come from outside Britain. Every hospital I’ve ever been in would have to close almost immediately if non-British workers listened to the racists and “went home”.
doctorsorigins

doctorsorigins2

How would we do without the 36% of doctors who qualified overseas?

Finally, this study on the impact of immigration on NHS waiting times concluded that “immigration reduced waiting times for outpatient referrals and did not have significant effects on waiting times in accident and emergency (A&E) and elective care.”

The simple truth is that immigrants make a convenient scapegoat for a government that has clearly failed in its duty to provide proper funding for one of our noblest institutions.

And it really is time we stopped peddling the lies.

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The Fuck prayer

by Kim on January 25, 2018

When I write that my own situation in those months of pain and decision can be described as prayer, I do not only recall that during that time [of illness] I sometimes read the Psalms and they became my psalms, or that … I occasionally cried “Jesus” and that name was my prayer, but I mean that I also at times would shout “Fuck!” and that was no obscenity, but a most earnest prayerful utterance.

– William Stringfellow

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Hymn of the day

by Richard on January 21, 2018

Eternal Son, eternal Love,
Take to thyself thy mighty power;
Let all earth’s sons thy mercy prove;
Let all thy saving grace adore.

The triumphs of thy love display;
In every heart reign thou alone;
Till all Thy foes confess thy sway,
And glory ends what grace began.

Spirit of grace, and health, and power,
Fountain of light and love below,
Abroad Thy healing influence shower,
O’er all the nations let it flow.

Wisdom, and might, and love are thine;
Prostrate before thy face we fall,
Confess thine attributes divine,
And hail thee sovereign Lord of all.

Thee, sovereign Lord, let all confess
That moves in earth, or air, or sky,
Revere thy power, thy goodness bless,
Tremble before thy piercing eye.

Blessing and honour, praise and love,
Co-equal, co-eternal Three,
In earth below, and heaven above,
By all thy works be paid to thee!

John Wesley

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Hymn of the day

by Richard on January 14, 2018

Christ, from whom all blessings flow,
Perfecting the saints below,
Hear us, who Thy nature share,
Who Thy mystic body are.

Join us, in one spirit join,
Let us still receive of Thine;
Still for more on Thee we call,
Thou Who fillest all in all.

Move and actuate and guide,
Diverse gifts to each divide;
Placed according to Thy will,
Let us all our work fulfill.

Sweetly may we all agree,
Touched with loving sympathy,
Kindly for each other care;
Every member feel its share.

Never from Thy service move,
Needful to each other prove;
Use the grace on each bestowed,
Tempered by the art of God.

Many are we now, and one,
We who Jesus have put on;
There is neither bond nor free,
Male nor female, Lord, in Thee.

Love, like death, hath all destroyed,
Rendered all distinctions void;
Names and sects and parties fall;
Thou, O Christ, art all in all!

Charles Wesley

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Screwtape on prayer

by Richard on January 11, 2018

From the senior demon Screwtape, to his nephew Wormwood

“My Dear Wormwood,

“… it is high time for me to write to you on the painful subject of prayer…

“The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the patient from the serious intention of praying altogether. When the patient is an adult recently re-converted to the Enemy’s party, … this is best done by encouraging him to remember … the parrot-like nature of his prayers in childhood. In reaction against that, he may be persuaded to aim at something entirely spontaneous, inward, informal, and unregularised; and what this will actually mean to a beginner will be an effort to produce in himself a vaguely devotional mood in which real concentration of will and intelligence have no part….

“… Whenever they are attending to the Enemy Himself we are defeated, but there are ways of preventing them from doing so. The simplest is to turn their gaze away from Him towards themselves. Keep them watching their own minds and trying to produce feelings there by the action of their own wills. When they are meant to ask Him for charity, let them, instead, start trying to manufacture charitable feelings for themselves and not notice that this is what they are doing… Teach them to estimate the value of each prayer by their success in producing the desired feeling; and never let them suspect how much success or failure of that kind depends on whether they are well or ill, fresh or tired, at the moment.”

C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

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