Sunday, December 31, 2006

Jesus the Jew and Christian Practice

"(. . .) What all of this gets at (...) is how difficult it is for Christians to simply take the "Jesus of history" (itself a problematic notion) as normative for their faith and practice in any straightforward way.

First, as Derek also points out, the church has never confined Jesus' influence to the example set by a historical figure 2,000 years ago, much less to the latest scholarly reconstruction.

For Christian faith Jesus is first and foremost the living Lord whose Spirit continues to guide the church. Of course, that faith would be a mirage if the Jesus of history didn't do and say the kinds of things recorded in the gospel accounts.

But Christians aren't committed to slavishly imitating all the details of Jesus' life, even the religious details. That much was made clear at the Council of Jerusalem. (. . .)"

Read more of this quality posting at verbum ipsum .

The truth of the final paragraph above can also be seen in the Risen Lord Jesus's message to the Seven Churches of Asia Minor (all located within the borders of modern Turkey). More particularly see 2:9, 2:14, 2:20, and 3:9 .

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Rick Warren on Meet the Press (Psalm 72)

The TV was on this morning while we were waiting to go to church. So while flicking the channels I came upon a programme called "Meet the Press". It's one of those political interview programmes they have on Sunday mornings, a bit like the one David Frost used to have (and maybe he still does?).

I decided to stop there in my channel surfing mainly because I was intrigued that Rick Warren (Pastor of a mega-church and author of a mega best seller called "The Purpose Driven Life") was the guest.

The programme became even more intriguing when, in the context of explaining what he called the stewardship of influence, he referred to Psalm 72 . It was a mini sermon. And as you rarely get that on such Sunday morning political programmes I was listening even more intently.

He pointed out that in Psalm 72 Solomon prayed that God would magnify his influence throughout the world so that he might help the helpless. His point was that he was taking this as his model for social action.

It was time to go to church. When we got there can you guess which passage the preacher introduced as his text ? Yep, that's right : Psalm 72.

So now was my chance to get a fuller exposition.

We learn that this is a messianic psalm so that the person who will have the expansive influence and do all the great things is in fact the Messiah Himself. Solomon in this Psalm functions as the type of the Messiah.

I'm not saying that Warren was wrong in making a personal application of Scripture for his own situation but of course the primary focus of the passage is not Warren or even Solomon but the Messiah.

Christian Anarchism

". . . Instead, Clark adopts what he calls "anarcho-conservatism," an anti-revolutionary commitment to expanding the organization of the civil or economic means of social cooperation, side-by-side with, and gradually replacing coercive means. He concedes that such a conservative stance risks being insufficiently sensitive to present injustice, but argues that change which grows organically out of a people's past is preferable to the kind of sharp break with it that revolution often brings. Nevertheless, he admits that the anarcho-conservative requires a certain kind of patience:

and that may be easiest for those who can trust in God. If the God of justice will bring the Empire down, and we, God's people, will be there to see it fall (even if I, in this mortal body, never do), we can afford to wait, and not attempt to rule the world by force. (p. 90)

This last quote reminds me of John Howard Yoder's argument that Christians aren't called to make sure that history comes out right. That's God's business. The job of Christians is to be faithful to a certain way of life in the midst of the dawning of the new creation and the death-throes of the old. And certainly non-coercion looms large in Yoder's vision of what the Christian life is about. "

(Read More)

FAQ - Sunnis & Shiites

H/T Hugh Hewitt

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Why Keep a Diary ?

I couldn't have put it better myself.

Click HERE

Thanks to Paul for linking to this gem from Bill.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Christmas message from Celal

Happy Christmas to you all from America where Celal is at a family reunion.

America is seeming more like a foreign country to me now.

I have been identifying myself as Turkish- American and now this identity might be starting to disolve irretrievably from my psyche as a result of this visit.

Hey, maybe the good news is that my identity in Jesus will now outshine them all.

Was just watching CNN where the editors of TIME magazine have declared YOU and ME -- user generated media moguls as we are with our fine blogs as "Persons of the Year" .

On other news Celal is no longer working at Oak Hill College having (finally) been made redundant from a job that was going nowhere. Hope that will not prove to be the case with this fine biblical training institution.

And God has been good to Celal and his family having him back in the saddle with another permanent full time position in less time than it took for his redundancy cheque to clear the bank !!! Halelluia and Amen !!!!

Do me a favour and enjoy some fine mulled wine during my absence from the country.

Love and Blessings to all men and women of good will : the Saviour has come.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Turkey : Papal Visits Boosts Beleaguered Catholics

Celebration Outside Holy Spirit Cathedral

“I was very worried by all the negative news,”
said Antuan Ilgit, a Turkish Jesuit seminarian studying in Rome who traveled to Turkey for the pontiff’s visit.

“Nobody wanted me to participate in the papal mass, because they thought there would be a bomb,” Turkish Catholic Teresa Tuzun told Compass in the courtyard outside the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Istanbul.

Joining a spontaneous Turkish folk dance in celebration of the pope’s coming, Tuzun said she had thrown caution to the wind. “I told them, ‘If you hear a bomb, know that I exploded with the pope.’”

Recurring anti-Christian media coverage and social discrimination against converts to Christianity from Islam had compounded fears among Turkey’s Catholics that the pope’s trip could end poorly.

“Unfortunately, people aren’t able to accept the fact that we are both Turkish and Catholic,” said one convert from Islam who requested anonymity for fear of losing his job. “They treat us as if we are traitors to our country. But we are Turks and we will stand by our state and our people until the end.”

Full Report

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Islam Bashers And The Judgement of Matthew 7:21-23

Islam bashing sites tend to fall into the following categories:

  • Base hatred and racism

  • Jewish sites uncovering the hypocrisies and lies of their Islamic enemies

  • Sites defending ‘western civilisation’ against Islam

In this context I’m thinking more of the third category of which THIS BLOG is a particularly good example.

So what might the people behind such sites have to do with Matthew 7:21-23 ?

In the passage, the people who are standing before the terrible judgement of Jesus Christ appear to have been performing the most visible, the most high profile and even the most spectacular acts of ministry.


Perhaps it was for personal gain. But I think it is important to note that the Lord is not accusing them for any pecuniary motive in particular.

I think this gives us room, therefore, to think they may have been performing these spectacular acts of ministry in order to convince others of the truth of Christianity.

It’s a bit like the third category of blogs above which actually also use Christian apologetic material against Islam but the person using it has not himself bowed the knee to the Lord Jesus in this life .

It is conceivable to me that such a person might stand before the Lord Jesus and make a similar defense.

It is possible we will see the numbers of such people continue to grow in the current climate of ‘Clash of Civilisations’. Sadly such people will have turned to out have deluded themselves.

Negatively, we have to beware of acting like mercenaries of the Kingdom of God without first having become its’ citizens of good standing.

And more positively this underscores the fact that Christianity is not an ideology or a religion but an individual and personal relationship with the Risen Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Anything less is subject to terrible judgement.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Quote of the Day

"I know the best deadly sin.
And what do you think that is?
Sloth, because that means lazyness.
And if you're not doing anything, you won't commit any of the other deadly sins."
Frank McCourt

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Converts’ Trial Shows Tensions Before Papal Visit

We don’t use force to tell anyone about Christianity,”

Tastan said.

“But we are Christians, and if the Lord permits, we will continue to proclaim this.”

Describing himself and Topal as “citizens of the Republic of Turkey who love its democratic, secular system,” Tastan stressed they had nothing to hide in defending themselves in court. “We are not ashamed to be Turks. We are not ashamed to be Christians.”

Full report
Why Jesus said this would happen

The Narrow & Broad Road - Youtube Style


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Pope To Visit Turkey Nov 28-30

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, comes by way of "interfaith dialogue" as a result of the papal visit to Turkey next week.

But, I won't be holding my breath. I reckon both sides will be playing it safe and keeping close to protocol and issuing meaningless diplomatic platitudes.

I have to say that even as a Christian I thought the Pope's controversial lecture was philosophically clumsy.

If he wanted to make a thesis about the Hellenization of faith vis-a-vis Islam he would have been better advised to have contrasted Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and Al-Ghazali, two Islamic thinkers of the 12th century.

Ibn Rushd was recognised by Christian and Muslim thinkers of his day as one of the greatest authorities on Aristotle. Al-Ghazali saw the influence of Aristotle as harmful to the Islamic faith and wrote against Ibn Rushd. And Islam, I am led to understand, has largely followed Al-Ghazali.

Of course, while the worldview of Aristotle was problematic as history later revealed with the Galileo incident, the methodology of Aristotle's philosophy survives and remains valid. Perhaps this is what the Pope wished to underscore in his reference to the Hellenization of the faith. Or perhaps Gypsy Scholar has captured the essence of the point the Pope was making in that :

"The Pope argued that Christianity itself integrates reason with faith because it trusts in a rational God who acts according to reasonable principles and whose divine rational nature is reflected in both human reason and the order of the universe, whence the Pope's insistence on the "real analogy" between God and human beings."

Aristotle's legacy can be seen in the scholasticism of Aquinas. Scholasticism, moreover, did not remain only with the Church of Rome but survived right into the Protestant reformation. The influence of scholasticism can, for example, be seen in the writings of John Owen and Francis Turretin, who have been among the greatest thinkers and theologians of Protestantism.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Saatchi : In Praise of Ideology

Lord Saatchi has apparently just published a pamphlet analysing the election defeat of the Tories.

I won't be parting with £7.50 to get my own personal copy; but, a BBC interview with Saatchi seems to underscore the common failure of both mainstream political parties in Britain.

Saatchi diagnoses the situation and suggests "four essentials" for a new leader :
  • a noble purpose
  • a sense of direction
  • a fight against injustice
  • a destination.

Neither mainstream party is currently exhibiting these "essentials".

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Quote of the Day

"Mankind is threatened by the decline of morality of persons and states, demonstrated in the disintegration of the fundamental ideals of law and justice, in consumer egotism, the growth of crime, and the new international catastrophe of nationalist and political terrorism." Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989)

Source : TIME, November 13,2006 page 49

Friday, November 17, 2006

"I am fearfully and wonderfully made" Psalm 139:14

"The Inner Life of a Cell, an eight-minute animation created in NewTek LightWave 3D and Adobe After Effects for Harvard biology students (...) illustrates unseen molecular mechanisms and the ones they trigger, specifically how white blood cells sense and respond to their surroundings and external stimuli.

(...) “All of those things that you see in the animation are going on in every one of your cells in your body all the time,(...) [I]n the animation there’s a motor protein that’s sort of walking along a line, carrying this round sphere of lipids. When I started working on that section I admit I was kind of surprised to see that it really does look like it’s out for a stroll, like a character in a science fiction film or animation. But based on all the data, it’s a completely accurate rendering.” says XVIVO lead animator John Liebler

To watch the video go HERE.

H/T Telic Thoughts

Intimacy with God (Genesis 18)

"In this parsha, derivations of the word yada, know, are used to indicate intimacy. When G-d decides to tell Avraham of his intentions to destroy Sdom, he says Ki Yedaativ, for I have known him (Genesis 18:19).

The word Yeedativ is used here to mean love, Hashem is saying that he has known Avraham that through his knowledge of him Avraham is beloved to G-d.

When the men of Sdom encircle Lot's house demanding his guests, they also use a derivation of yada (Genesis 19:5). They demand that the guests be brought out to the mob, Veneida Otam. Here the word also involves intimacy but their intention is rape.

In both usages an intimate knowledge is meant but in the first case it involves love for another that comes through knowing another, in the second it involves an assault for personal satisfaction."

Source : Sultan Knish

Thank you JESUS !

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Our New Friends in the Middle East

"Politics makes strange bedfellows"

Political interests can bring together people who otherwise have little in common. This saying is adapted from a line in the play The Tempest, by William Shakespeare: “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” It is spoken by a man who has been shipwrecked and finds himself seeking shelter beside a sleeping monster.
Source :

Success in Business : A Matter of Priorities

A bit too cruel perhaps ?(views 1,319)

The BNP Is Coming

With both mainstream parties looking a lot alike, it is only Nick Griffin's ineptitude which is keeping the BNP from making serious inroads.

But if things continue as they are with the supposedly "Conservative" Leader making speaches embracing, as it were, homosexual marriages and not making speeches about making government smaller, then parties like the BNP will become the only genuine alternative and therefore much more appealing to the electorate.

Britain Beware ! Remember how Hitler came to power.

It could happen here as well.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Music Video : "La Isla Bonita" by Alizee

Back in the 1980's when she had some good songs and, shall we say, a more positive image I used to be a fan of Madonna; but not anymore.

Actually I came across this clip on a Turkish blog.

As I was watching it I couldn't decide if the singer was Turkish.

I think Alizee's rendition is pretty good. What do you think ?

And apparently she's not Turkish after all but a French singer and dancer.


Movie Review : Ushpizin

It's an Israeli movie about an (ultra?) Orthodox couple in Jerusalem who are about to celebrate Succoth (the Festival of Tabernacles).

I first read rave reviews about it in the Jewish press some time ago.

So when I happened to see it at my friendly neigbourhood Blockbuster last weekend, I thought "Why not?" .

My wife and I watched it and, as a Christian, I recommend it (without giving away the plot) for the following reasons.

This is a film where :

God is real

Prayer is real

Righteousness is real

Life is real and

The people are real

I also loved the relationship between the husband and the wife which is really central to the plot.

Barot - Cultural Learnings of Another Kind

Watch the film HERE

Friday, November 10, 2006

Cry Me A Tigris River (Richard Perle)

The mark of a successful politician is to be able to see which way the wind is blowing and adjust yourself accordingly.

Richard Perle is famously one of the Neocons who duped the eminently dupable GW Bush into Iraq.

Read what Perle now has to say about himself and Bush in the Vanity Fair interview .

Commentary by The Fifth Estate nicely fills in the gaps of Perle's selective memory.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

America Being Compared With Lebanon

HERE is an interesting animation.

As a Turkish-American, I find much anecdotal truth in it.

Golly Gee Ma It Was a Thumpin'

So said the Commander-in-Chief, or something to that effect.

Of course, there is no shortage of various politicos getting behind a microphone declaring : “We will win in Iraq”.

Maybe hearing that over and over again is supposed to work like a soothing balm or an anaesthetic on the American public.

I am sure all these politicians are, in their own way, trying to do is to neutralise the “cut & run” impressions or accusations or fears that have been emanating from various quarters. Maybe, in their own mind, they are carrying out their duty to “protect the troops”.

But, it still only comes across as American politicians sounding stupid.

Stupid because they must think people who hear these words would not for a moment stop and ask themselves the obvious follow up questions like :

• What does winning in Iraq mean ?
• And what is it we are supposed to be winning in Iraq ?

First, let’s start at the beginning.

The U.S. goes in on the basis of a LIE - no WMDs.

So already it’s a mistake, already it’s unjust and if there were real and consistent justice in the world the U.S. is NOT EVEN ENTITLED to win anything in Iraq.

Second, let's explore what "winning" might mean. Might "winning" mean establishing a stable and democratic Iraq? All peoples love democracy, right ? So what happened to the Iraqis ?Maybe they just forgot to send them the apple pie first ‘cause we’re not seeing the long promised democracy.

Instead there has been a civil war probably ever since the roof this mosque was blown off .

Of course, nobody is even admitting this much, yet. According to this blogger, that announcement may just now be around the corner. But, I think it will probably come after Saddam's execution just so it is clear there is no turning back.

Third, you have in Iraq a Muslim society so they don’t have the same values as Americans or Europeans when it comes to democracy plus you have three ethnic and religious groups that hate—hate--- absolutely hate one another.

Have any of these talking political heads figured out how they are going to make these mutually hating factions turn into peace loving altruists living for the greater good of a unified Iraq ?

Winning implies there is something within one’s power to affect some outcome or result.

They were certainly absolutely clueless about this when they completely destabilised the region.

Somehow I think unscrambling eggs usually is harder unless you are able to somehow run the film backward.

Like I said --- just stupid words.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I AM MAN!! (a commercial)

I think they just started showing this ad in the UK.

I saw it for the first time the other day and thought it was hilarious.

Maybe it's because i am old enough to remember the Helen Reddy original("I am woman").

So, if you haven't seen it enjoy; and, have a nice weekend.

If you have, just move on to the next blog; and, have a nice weekend.

The Psychological Contract With The American Soldier

A gaijin blogger makes the following comments from the heart of the Empire of the Rising Sun :

"Should Japan be attacked. No problem. Don't sweat it. We've plenty of American troops to send to their deaths for you. This is basically what Condoleezza Rice told Foreign Minister Aso today. It is important that the US renew and reaffirm its promise (treaty obligations) to defend Japan to America's last drop of blood while asking no commitment from Japan in return. I guess that is what the US government assumes young American men and women are raised for---to be killed fighting another country's war."

The American soldier fights because he "has a job to do". He goes where Uncle Sam (his employer) tells him to go to "get the job done".

That's it.

It's an employment contract.

In exchange, the G.I gets a college education, a steady paycheck, lots of benefits, and a pension after 20 years in service.

Death is just an occupational hazard which his employer undertakes to minimize in the only way he can -- by maintaining overwhelming military superiority.

But, not even the mighty Uncle Sam holds all the cards in his hands, so occupational hazards can sometimes get a bit more annoying and a bit less acceptable.

"We never even got a clear promise this time that Japan would not go nuclear. Uncle Sucker rides again."

Ah, well governments have been known to make secret agreements, you know. They are usually not in the habit of revealing all especially when it comes to foreign relations.

"(...) One can bet that few Japanese think that defending the US would be worth even one Japanese life, but again and again I talk to people (Japanese and American) who believe that America has some moral obligation to send its men and women to die for Japan. That would be interesting to explain to a mother in Iowa why her son died fighting for a country (Japan) in which many don't even believe their own troops should die for.Japan however, is a uniquely peaceful people and country (easy to say since the US has provided a military for Japan for 60 years)."

Well, what other country or fighting man has the same psychological contract ? Perhaps no other except maybe Britain.

Citizens of most nations in this world fight for more abstract concepts like honour .

Or if they are being less high-minded they fight for self-preservation.

Only Americans fight for the sake of "doing a job" like working in a factory or in an office.

And if you're doing a job you do what your employer tells you to do and go where your employer tells you to go - to Japan or Iraq or maybe even Iran.

Oh, and while we're on the subject, click HERE for an eminently balanced and fair review on the Kerry botched joke affair.

GOOG Buys U-Tube & This Is How They Announce It

Yeah, this is pretty old (Oct.9) news.

But, i just could not let it pass without featuring it on my blog for a number of reasons.

First reason and most salient of all is the stark contrast this announcement makes to the the usual and carefully PR massaged corporate announcements of this sort.

It just blows all those stuffed shirts right out of the water ! Over 2 million views of this clip only proves the point.

Second, this is a witness to the day when adhocracry rules over bureaucracy is coming ever closer.

And finally for a more real world business reason.

The entire film industry has in recent years been wringing its hands and groping for new distribution models. It has been asking itself questions like :

  • Does the movie house have a future ?
  • Which way is movie making technology heading ?
  • Will all film eventually be distributed by DVD ? etc. etc. etc.

These are such important questions for the future of the film industry that figures like Steven Spielberg have gotten involved in the discussion.

Well, in my humble opinion, YouTube could be, in the not too distant future, the pipeline of choice for movie distribution -- whether to movie houses or direct to the customer. The Google acquisition just gives the concept that much added horsepower.

So go ahead and watch Chad & Steve (again) making their announcement and watch this space for further inroads into Hollywod by the Google behemoth.

This is one Godzilla feature you will want to put some money on. I have.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

P.W. Botha (1916-2006)

P.W. Botha claimed, in 1998, in a statement to the press after his appearance before a court on charges of ignoring a subpoena to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, that these were "attempts to humiliate me and, through me, my people".

P.W. Botha evidently saw himself to be quintessiantially representative of the mainstream white South African.

But who is the white South African ?

The white South African, unlike his Teutonic counterpart from an earlier era in which claims to Master Race status were more easily entertained, is an entirely different kettle of cultural fish.

First of all, white South African society is one which has largely been untouched by the Enlightenment. That may be seen as a good thing in many ways and in many quarters. But, it also means the white South African has been untouched by the reality check features of some Enlightenment concepts like "Utilitarianism".

Second, the white South African appears ('appears' being very much the operative word here) to be the carrier of those traits to which his Teutonic counterparts of an earlier era may justly have laid claim -- of being at the cutting edge of Western or European civilisation.

As is so often the case, the reality can be very different from the perception for the white South African, after a 350 year existence in the Cape, has definitely "gone native".

He has been able to maintain a perception of cultural progressivity, of cutting edge civilisation and of material productivity only through the luxury of having at his own disposal a slave nation of black South Africans 5 times greater than his own population.

The white South African is stubborn.

It took the Berlin Olympic Games and World World II before world public opinion finally denounced eugenics and master race philosophies.

While happily the penny did finally drop, in the case of Mr.P.W. Botha and his apartheid regime, it was not to be for another 60 years and in a very very grudging manner as Mr.Botha's own personal and political record shows.

(Events in this world have a nasty habit of overtaking the dearth of wisdom found in it's rulers).

How do you greet the stubborn, behind-the-times white South African?

Perhaps with some pity and, if able, perhaps with some charity as well for Thabo Mbeki who lost a brother and a son to Botha's secret police said the following of him in a statement soon after Botha's sudden passing :

"It stands to his credit that when he realized the futility of fighting against what was right and inevitable, he, in his own way, realized that South Africans had no alternative but to reach out to one another".

Turkey : Converts charged under Article 301

HERE for the story

Turan Topal and Hakan Tastan

Monday, October 30, 2006

Difference between Fate & God's Providence

What is fate? Fate is this – Whatever is, must be. But there is a difference between that and Providence. Providence says, Whatever God ordains, must be; but the wisdom of God never ordains anything without a purpose. Everything in this world is working for some great end. Fate does not say that. . . . There is all the difference between fate and Providence that there is between a man with good eyes and a blind man.

Source : A Sermon(No. 3114)Published on Thursday, October 15th, 1908.Delivered by C. H. SPURGEON,At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Practice that Makes Perfect

1. Approach each critical task with an explicit goal of getting much better at it.

2. As you do the task, focus on what's happening and why you're doing it the way you are.

3. After the task, get feedback on your performance from multiple sources. Make changes in your behaviour as necessary.

4. Continually build mental models of your situation -- your industry, your company, your career. Enlarge the models to encompass more factors.

5. Do these steps regularly, not sporadically. Occasional practice does not work.

Source : Fortune magazine, October 30,2006 page 36

Sunday, October 22, 2006

" Celal is a nice person who . . . "

I was surfing the net aimlessly last night and happened to read bios of CNN correspondents. You know the kind where one speaks of oneself in the 3rd person.

I had never done that before and since I'm in the CV mode I thought I would try my hand at it. Here is the end product. Have a read and let me know what your think:

Celal began his high school career at Robert College in Istanbul and completed it as a PSAT NMSQT National Merit Finalist at Evansville Day School.

He enrolled at Cornell University as a pre-med student but transferred to the engineering department at Northwestern University the following year.

While at Northwestern, becoming a Christian caused a major upheaval in Celal’s family relationships as well as a major upheaval in his education from which he has never and probably never will fully recover.

He received a B.Sc. degree in Accountancy from Ball State University and remained to complete an MBA in 1982.

After a brief role as accountant in Houston Texas he returned to Turkey and worked as a cost accountant at Ford of Turkey and then in the planning and budgeting department at Interbank.

Desiring a finance managership at an American multinational company, he joined United Parcel Service to assume the role of finance and accounting manager at the planned operations in Istanbul. His career with UPS ended in London England by way of redundancy in 1999.

Not possessing UK qualifications in accountancy, Celal was able to secure a position as finance officer at Oak Hill College, an evangelical Anglican theological college.

He again faces redundancy and is now seeking another post in accountancy or perhaps one that combines his wide spiritual, philosophical, cultural, international business interests and experience.

Monday, October 09, 2006

"The Mystery of Providence" by John Flavel

(p.27) [Christ is] a head to the Church by way of union and special influence (John17:2). He is "the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe"(1 Thim 4:10). The Church is His special care and charge. He rules the world for it's good, as a head consulting the welfare of the body.

(p.32) If the concerns of God's people are not governed by a special Providence, how is it that the most apt and powerful means employed to destroy them are rendered ineffectual, while weak, contemptible means employed for their defence and comfort are crowned with success?

(p.33) "Though I make a full end of all nations, yet will I not make a full end of thee (Jeremiah 30:11) and "No weapon formed against thee shall prosper" (Isaiah 54:17)

(p.185) How may a Christian discover the will of God and his own duty under dark and doubtful providences?

(p.187) ... the most signal demonstrations of Providence are not to be accepted against a Scripture rule. No smiles or successes of Providence may in this encourage us to proceed ; and on the other side, no forwns or discouragements of Providence should discourage us in the way of our duty , howerver many we should encounter therein.

(p.188) "Paul by the direction of the Spirit was engaged to go to Jerusalem (Acts 20:22). After a clear revelation of the mind of God to him in that matter, how many difficult and discouraging providences befell his way ! The disciples at Tyre said to him 'through the Spirit' though in that they followed their own spirits, 'that he should not go to Jerusalem' (Acts 21:4). Then at Caesarea he met Agabus, a prophet, who told him what should befall him when he came there (Acts 21:10,11) but all this will not dissuade him. And after all this, how passionately do the brethren beseech him to decline that journey (verses 12,13) ! Yet knowing his rule and resolving to be faithful to it, he puts by all proceeds in his journey.

(p.189) "Providences, as they follow promises and prayer are evidences of God's faithfulness in their accomplishment.

(p.189) " Also providences give us loud calls to those duties which the command lays upon us and tell us when we are actually and presently under the obligation of the commands as to the performance of them" (...) "The Lord's voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name. Hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it"(Micah 6:9)

(p.190) "How may a Christian be supported in waiting upon God, while Providence delays the performance of the mercies to him for which he has long prayed and waited ?" (...) "For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie : though it tarry, wait for it: because it will surely come, it will not tarry"(Habakkuk 2:3) God appoints the time; when that appointed time has come the expected mercies will not fail. But in the meantime, "though it tarry", says the prophet, "wait for it, for it will not tarry". Tarry and not tarry, how shall this be reconciled ? The meaning is it may tarry much beyond your expectation, but not a moment beyond God's appointment.

(p.196) "Are not those mercies you expect from God worth waiting for ? If not, it is your folly to be troubled for the lack of them. If they are, why do not continue waiting ? Is it not all that God expects from you for the mercies He bestows upon you, that you wait upon Him for them ? You know you have not deserved the least of them at His hands. You expect them, not as a recompense, but as a free favour; and if so, then the least you can do is to wait upon His pleasure for them. Consider how many promises are made in the Word to waiting souls.

(p.197) One Scripture declares "Blessed are all they that wait for him" (Psalm 30:18). Another tells us that none that wait for him shall be ashamed (Psalm 25:3), that is, they shall not be finally disappointed, but at last be made partakers of their hopes. A third Scripture tells us "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength"(Isaiah 40:31), a promise you had need make much use of in such a fainting time...This impatience and infidelity of yours, expressed in your weariness to wait any longer, is a great evil in itself. Very probably it is that evil which obstructs the way of your expected mercies. You might have your mercies sooner if your spirits were quieter and more submissive. And so much for the second case.

(p.209) How may our hearts be established and kept steady under calamitous and adverse providences ? (...) There was a time when Job could call nothing in this world his own but trouble. He could not say, My estate, my honour, my health, my children, for all these were gone; yet then he could say "My Redeemer"(19:25). Well then there is no cause to sink while interest in Christ remains sure to us.

Psalm 25 - Knowing God's Ways

1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;

2 in you I trust, O my God.
Do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.

3 No one whose hope is in you
will ever be put to shame,
but they will be put to shame
who are treacherous without excuse.

4 Show me your ways, O LORD,
teach me your paths;

5 guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.

6 Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.

7 Remember not the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you are good, O LORD.

8 Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.

9 He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.

10 All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful
for those who keep the demands of his covenant.

11 For the sake of your name, O LORD,
forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

12 Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD ?
He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.

13 He will spend his days in prosperity,
and his descendants will inherit the land.

14 The LORD confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.

15 My eyes are ever on the LORD,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.

17 The troubles of my heart have multiplied;
free me from my anguish.

18 Look upon my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.

19 See how my enemies have increased
and how fiercely they hate me!

20 Guard my life and rescue me;
let me not be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.

21 May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope is in you.

22 Redeem Israel, O God,
from all their troubles!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"Jackie Mason, a Jew for Jesus!?"

Apparently, Jews for Jesus have published a tract by this name which has attracted a $2 million lawsuit from Mr.Mason himself.

When you get past the slightly misleading title, the tract nowhere makes the claim that Jackie Mason is a follower of Jesus.

I don't know how effective it ultimately is and if God does use this method, but I confess that I am partial (and so is Jews for Jesus) to "shake'em up, in yer face" evangelism.

Yet I do wonder about the ethics of this particular project.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sultanate of Oman on How Islam Spread

click HERE .

And just in case they decide to take the page down, here is the relevent portion :

"After God empowered Muslims to enter Mecca, Islam became the prevailing power and was spread by use of fear. This was particularly evident in the tribe of Quraysh, who had responded to the Prophet Muhammad’s new message of Islam with unrelenting persecution, eventually putting its resources in the service of the ever growing new religion. The Prophet then saw it preferable to contact neighbouring kings and rulers, including the two kings of Oman, Jaiffar and Abd, sons of Al Julanda, through peaceful means. History books tell us that the prophet had sent messages to the people of Oman, including a letter carried by military escort from Amr Inn Al Aas to Jaiffar and Abd, sons of Al Julanda, in which he wrote: ‘In the name of God the Merciful and the Compassionate, from Muhammad bin Abdullah to Jaiffar and Abd, sons of Al Julanda, peace be on those who choose the right path. Embrace Islam, and you shall be safe. I am God’s messenger to all humanity, here to alert all those alive that non believers are condemned. If you submit to Islam, you will remain kings, but if you abstain, your rule will be removed and my horses will enter your arena to prove my prophecy’. "

H/T Little Green Footballs

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Reflections on the Papal controversy

The movie put out by Mel Gibson two and a half year ago stimulated a lot of interfaith heat. And now, we have another interfaith controversy with the Pope himself at it’s epicentre.

When it comes to Jesus and/or Christianity we seem to be going from one fitful controversy to another – a bit like the proverbial birth pangs.

The earlier cartoon controversy and now this present one suggests to me that the person of Muhammad and what Muslims have made of him might be the greatest barrier to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let me explain why.

First, I find it highly significant that Muhammad has inserted himself directly into the Muslim creed which goes as follows: "There is no God but Allah and **Muhammad is his messenger**".

Second, the evidence from the Koran and the Hadith with respect to (among other things) the change in the direction of prayer from Jerusalem to Mecca and with respect to Allah's permission for Muhammad to have unlimited number of wives as against four for all other believers clearly indicates that Allah is very much a respecter of this person and even bends his own divine will to accommodate Muhammad's whims and wishes.

Therefore, wherever Islam becomes dominant via political, economic or military means it is not difficult to understand how the person of Muhammad then comes to function as an absolute show stopper on the preaching of the Gospel of the Son of God (Mark 1:1).

N.T. Wright has stated on a number of occasions in his writings that the gospel which the Apostle Paul preached was “Jesus is Lord and not Caesar. Isn’t that partly or even greatly why early Christians suffered so much under Rome?

Similarly, the message that needs to go out now is “Jesus is Lord and not Muhammad”. What the Pope did was clumsily and indirectly hint at the second part of this message without addressing the first:”Jesus is indeed Lord”. We need both clauses.

We need both clauses but this is becoming ever more difficult to express.

In fact i had blogged about this very point back when the cartoon controversy was upon us.

In our day we have the force of secularism in the West which is allied with political correctness. Misguided notions of tolerance are having a stifling effect on the preaching of Christ.

Will it be a force as strong as Islam in this regard?

Probably not.

Yet, despite areas of incompatibility it is still possible that Western secularism and Islam will find in this, the stifling of Christian preaching, their common ground and become united in more vigorous enmity against Christianity.

Have we not all heard the saying : "Politics makes strange bedfellows" ? It is true. The danger is real but I hope this does not happen.

UPDATE : Get Religion assures us that the English translation of the German utterances of the Pope should have been rendered as "bad and inhumane" as opposed to "evil and inhuman" which casts a slightly different shadow.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Quote of the Day

"Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence,"

says Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Philippians 4:5

"Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near"

A few days ago I prayed to the Lord to help me understand this verse:

Why should our gentleness be "evident to all”? And what is the connection between this and with the immediately following phrase “the Lord is near”?

Last night, I was watching and my wife was half-watching a dramatisation on BBC about some folk who happened to be have been in the Twin Towers during the attack. At one point there spoke a fireman (Capt. Jay Jonas - he tells his story on YouTube as well) who with a colleague had been helping a lady come down the stairway.

First, he revealed that he happened upon this lady just as she had been having difficulty walking down the stairs because of injury or smoke inhalation. This was just after the other building had collapsed. So the fireman knew he needed to get out of this one in a hurry. But when he was asked why he didn’t just pass her by and that nobody would know he said “I would know”.

So here is a man with a conscience.

Then he said that as they were slowly making their way down and as the stress levels grew and grew, he started speaking softer and softer. He said he consciously trained himself to do this because he said that at times like these you don’t want to add to the tension by screaming down at people – hence ”let your gentleness be evident to all”.

But what is the connection with “the Lord is near”?

Well, it may or may not be like when it was with the Twin Towers on September 11 but it is the testimony of the New Testament that the second coming of the Lord is going to be accompanied by very stressful times indeed referred to as “times of tribulation”. So it seems that, like this firemen, our comportment during times of “tribulation” must of one of “gentleness”. It may not be an automatic kind of gentleness but one which is maintained with conscious effort like the effort this fireman put into speaking softer and softer as the tension grew and grew.

But why gentleness?

I suppose one reason might be to help those around us who are also waiting for the coming of the Lord to endure the “tribulations”.

It’s also a fruit of the Spirit and a character trait of the Lord Jesus himself which was especially evident in his earthly ministry.

And I suppose we should be more like him generally but especially as we wait to greet His coming again.

Here is how William Hendriksen in his commentary on this verse puts it:

“ The idea seems to be : since Christ’s coming is near, when all the promises made to God’s people will become realities, believers, in spite of being persecuted, can certainly afford to be mild and charitable in their relation to others”.

By the way, this fireman, the lady and the other fireman who was helping the first carry the woman all came out of the building AFTER it had collapsed around them.

Maybe this true story is a good model of how Christians are to go through and finally emerge out of “tribulation”.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism

"We affirm that Palestinians are one people, both Muslim and Christian. We reject all attempts to subvert and fragment their unity."

This is a rather odd statement for the heads of Christian Churches to make. It's not a Christian statement but a patently nationalistic one that opposes any seperate discussions of rights for Christian Arabs ; essentially the heads of the top four Christian churches in Israel just signed away their own parishioners who are being persecuted by the Arab Muslim authorities. It's not a statement being made by the heads of Christian Churches but by prominent Arabs who prioritize Arab nationalism over Christianity.

Source : Sultan Knish

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Did Israel give Lebanon full and fair warning of attacks ?

I keep a stack of old newsprint beside my bed to use to catch my whiskers when I trim my beard.

The other day, as I was tearing off the top few pages of newsprint for this purpose, I casually looked down and the article caught my eye. It happened to be the June 2nd edition of the Jewish Chronicle. The news report was written by Joseph Millis, Foreign Editor of the paper. It's on page 9 . As I quote from that article bear in mind that the Israeli onslaught on Lebanon did not happen until July 12th:

"Israel this week warned Lebanon that the country would pay a "heavy price" if it allowed Hezbollah to continue to operate from the south of the country. The warning-- issued by a top military commander -- came after Israel responded with air strikes to a Katyusha rocket attack across the border on Sunday. (...) One of the rockets hit an Israeli Air Force installation on Mount Meiron, near Safed. "We hope the message from our response [on Sunday] was understood correctly by the other side", Brigadier-General Gal Hirsch, the commander of the Galilee division, told reporters on Monday. (....) The fighting ended on Sunday afternoon after the Lebanese government requested via the UN a cease-fire with Israel. On Monday, senior officers revealed that prior to the Lebanese cease-fire request, Israel had threatened to bomb additional parts of Lebanon, including Beirut, and not just the southern part of the country controlled by Hezbollah. "We told them that we would expand our firing to other parts of the country", one senior officer told the Jerusalem Post. "they understood very well what we meant". Last Wednesday - the [sixth] anniversary [of Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon] - the pro-Syrian Lebanese President Emile Lahoud praised Hezbollah, saying it should "stay[ in place] until a just and comprehensive peace is achieved in the region". However, Lebanese Christian, Sunni Muslim and Druze groups were less enthusiastic about Hezbollah "Firing rockets from South Lebanon is a violation of Lebanese sovereignty," the anti-Syrian March 14 Forces executive committee said in a statement. "There is a serious security vacuum in the area due to the lack of the government's control." [The group's] leaders include include Sa'ad Hariri, the son of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, and Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

British Multiculturalism

"The British government needs to stop trying to engage with the “Muslim community” (which simply means those who claim to speak for it), and start trying to engage with the citizens themselves – regardless of their beliefs.

Because, in order for a country to be truly liberal, or even democratic, the general view must be that individuals are of equal worth and that we all share a common, basic human nature underneath the superficialities of culture and upbringing. We all share, to varying degrees, the same needs: food, water, shelter, human company, etc.

It’s this shared nature, the things we have in common, that provides the basis for society – uniting us around common goals and values.

Identity politics – defining individuals based on just one aspect of their personality – is short-sighted, divisive and (by promoting an Us and Them mentality) ultimately quite dangerous."

Source : An Insomniac

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Build Me a Son

A poem by General Douglas A. MacArthur

Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face him self when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be;a son who will know Thee- and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here, let him learn to stand up in the storm; here, let him team compassion for those who fall.

Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goals will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously.

Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.

Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, "I have not lived in vain."

Friday, August 18, 2006

Loving Jesus

When a Christian dies we say “he/she has gone to be with Jesus” and it’s right that we do. But, do we really believe it? I mean we know it to be “theologically” true but is that sufficient?

There’s a song that is popular right now on the Christian radio station. I can’t remember the title but the chorus goes something like this: Everybody wants to go to Heaven but nobody wants to die”.

Here is what a missionary to Russia reported in his newsletter last year :

“David’s PSA cancer reading has gone up to 33, so his GP has arranged an early appointment for him with the consultant, so that various treatment options can be discussed. Best of all, each day is one day nearer being with the Lord”.

Do we carry around with us that joyous anticipation of being with Jesus one day?

Just to show this isn’t some crackpot idea here is how the Apostle Paul puts it:

"If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better." (Philippians 1:22-23)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Biblical Treasures of Turkey Trailer

A beautiful journey of discovery. The biblical events that took place in Asia, actually took place in what is now called Turkey! You will see the Roman World of St. Paul and St. John and the Byzantine Empire of the Greek Patriarchs. This film is an “eye opener” that will astound your audience. Robin D. Williams has traveled to Asia Minor for 30 years and this film is the result of his personal discoveries.

Partial Scene List: Constantinople, Haghia Sophia, St. Chora, Topkapi Palace, The Golden Horn, The Dolmabache Palace, Sumela monastery, Tarsus, Antioch, Silifke, Side, Aspendus, Perge, Antalya, Ephesus, Urfa, Harran, Mardin Monastery, Diyarbakir, Nemrut Dagi, Lake Van, Ani of the Armenians. MT. ARARAT and the supposed site of Noah’s Ark.

Walk the ancient highways with the Apostles. We hear the monks speaking the language of Jesus; Aramaic! We visit whole neighborhoods of Roman houses in Ephesus. Robin has brought the Romans to life! See the faces of the people who lived in the 1st Century A.D. See the ancient cities, caravan routes, ancient harbors and underground cities.

The earliest Christian art in Haghia Sofya and St. Chora Church and the Rock Churches of Goreme Valley. The city of the first Ecumenical Council...NICEA! Enter the cave of St. Thecla. Marvel at the beautiful rivers, lakes, waterfalls and mountain scenery.

Leon Morris (March 15, 1914 - July 24, 2006)

Here is a quote from one of Morris's books : Glory in the Cross (p.89)

"The atonement is not ... a way of excusing men from the tremendous moral demands that God makes on them ... [it is] only in the light of the atonement that those moral demands can be seen in all their fulness and met even approximately. Only as we appreciate that Christ had to die to put away our sin can we see sin for the enormity it is. Only then can we understand that certain things are sins, and therefore only then can we really grasp the magnitude of the moral demands that God makes on us."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Mossad Interrogates Captured Hezbollah Kidnapper of Israeli Soldiers

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Mujde FM in the Izmir Area

H/T to American Turk who has gently been pointing out my lack of postings recently.

Reason is simple : we have been away on a family holiday visiting my uncle (dayi) and yenge who live near Urla which is practically equidistant from Cesme on the Aegean coast to the West and the city of Izmir to the East.

I happened to turn on the radio in the bedroom of our holiday cottage to find Mujde FM.

Mujde FM broadcasts readings from the Turkish Bible, sermons in Turkish, as well as Bible readings and sermons in French, English and German.

I figured the station is located at 102 on the FM dial . This is confirmed by Mujde FM's own web site which gives the various FM stations over which it broadcasts throughout the country.

Give it a listen if you are in Turkey.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Hizbollah and Israel : Dateline 1996 Or is it 2006 ?

I just happened to stumble upon this eery piece of reporting .

You'll be doing a double take or two or three just to make sure they didn't get the date wrong on the report.

Only goes to show how "plus ca change plus c'est la meme chose" (the more things change the more they remain the same).

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Aish is Having a Rant About Missionaries in NYC

Here is what they have to say :

"After filing the unwelcome gift in appropriate receptacles, many then telephoned Jewish organizations like Agudath Israel of America, and Jewish newspapers, to warn others about the high-tech wolf in sheep's clothing."

"the wolf in sheep's clothing" ?

Hmmm. Wonder who said that first ? (Hint : Matthew 7:15)

Love it.

Love you, Lord.

"For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen." (Romans 11:36)

Separated at Birth

Ray Porter, Director World Missions, Oak Hill CollegeWarren Buffett, Billionaire Philanthropist

Verse of the Day

"But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband."
1 Corinthians 7:2 (New International Version)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Islamic Conception of Authority?

"Most often used in my personal experience by Arab military officers to excuse failure, and essentially transfer responsibility for the failure to God - I suspect a perversion of the original intent of the concept - but used in the listed instance to essentially say, "Bummer, I've been insufficiently pious, I will pray more often/better, think pure thoughts, etc, and take the test again next week. But you can't fire me/fail me because, well, God has already punished me and who are you to trump God?"

Source : Argghhh! The Home of Two of Jonah's Military Guys

UPDATE : HERE is an interesting study dealing with attitudes not far removed from that which is represented in my own post. What follows is a video interview with the academic who conducted the experiment. He has some very interesting observations especially toward the end :

UPDATE 2 : The Emirates Economist has more on the subject HERE.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Verse of the Day

"This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it."

Isaiah 30:15

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Christ in Whom are ALL the Treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge

Do you know this JESUS ?

"One of the most precious truths that we have in Chrisitianity is that "Leader" of our religion is alive and near to each one of us. Jesus promised to be with us until the end of the age. This He fulfills through His Spirit. Because of His nearness He is able and does speak to each one of us individually. This is a fulfillment of the promises of the New Covenant: "No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord.' For they all shall konw Me, from the least of them to the greateest of them says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more (Jer 31:34)." No other religion has a God so near (echo of Deut 4:7)."

H/T MOJO & Girls

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Bible teaches that we are born once physically and die once physically, and after that comes the judgment:

Hebrews 9:27
"Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment."

In the spiritual sense, the Bible says that we must be born twice but not reincarnated:

John 3:3
In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."

1 Peter 1:23
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

Titus 3:5
he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit ...

Jesus taught that a person who is born again in Christ dies once (physical death) but never faces spiritual death:

John 11:25-26
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

John 5:24
(Jesus is speaking) "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.

Meanwhile, the Bible says a person who is born once spiritually and is never born again dies twice (both physically and spiritually):

Revelation 21:8
"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."

That's why you sometimes see bumper stickers that say:

Born Twice, Die Once
Born Once, Die Twice

H/T Apologetix FAQ

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Milton Friedman on Limited Government

Chomsky on Just War Theory

Go HERE to watch a video of a lecture Chomsky delivered at West Point Academy.

Apparently the lecture is somehow connected with a new book of his entitled "Failed States".

The lecture revealed to me how difficult it is for people without a supernatural horizon to ethically come to grips with some of most disturbing realities of life and of nations.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Another Definition of 'Work'

"… work ought to be necessary; it ought to be good, it ought to be satisfying and dignifying to the people who do it, and genuinely useful and pleasing to the people for whom it is done. "
Source : Conserving Communities
H/T Matthew Bartlett

Site Statistics - Jan-June

Page loads, unique visitors, and returning visitors peaked in February at 1077, 659 & 93 respectively. Otherwise it's been flat across all the other months with stats of approx. 600, 300 & 100 for the respective site parameters.

Why the rise in February ? All I can think is that it must have had to do with the Muslim Cartoon Controversy.

One of my posts linked to a post in a site called "Magic Statistics" which itself had a link going to an online Belgian newspaper which reproduced the cartoons. So there was an inordinate amount of click through visits from there.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Class in Britain

A study carried out by the Sutton Trust ( The Guardian ) has found that :

54% of the top 100 newspaper editors, columnists, broadcasters and executives were educated privately, despite fee-paying schools catering for 7% of the school population”.

Furthermore, “That figure has increased from 49% in 1986, when the research was last carried out”.

H/T The Boy Phelan

Reading Jane Austen

"(...) Here is a textured vocabulary with which to communicate without being too direct, rude or crude in matters that require sensitivity. Take for example the grace with which Eliza Bennet’s refuses Mr. Collins’ suit, or the wit with which she nettles Mr. Darcy without shaming him. It’s almost a guilty pleasure.

To be fair, there is something very artificial about this comedy of manners. We are invited into the drawing rooms of an idle class of tea-drinkers and piano-players who can afford to learn fourteen different ways to flirt with someone without being crude.

The greatest distance that an Austen novel runs is from ettiquette to courtship and back. (...)"

click HERE to read more

More on 'Calling'

Muchas gracias to Dr.David Field who has focused and framed the argument most helpfully in his open letter on 'Calling' .

Since having had the opportunity to read David's comments, I happened across another definition of 'calling' which occurs on p.27 of Max Weber's magnum opus 'Protestantism and the Rise of Capitalism' :

"the valuation of the fulfillment of duty in worldly affairs as the highest form which the moral activity of an individual could assume."

I suppose I was really arguing against a Weberian concept of 'calling' which probably also operates subconsciously in the minds of many Christians.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Hooray! I passed the Ethics Exam !

Which I took HERE, HERE and HERE.

Here it is in Dr. Field's own words :

Congratulations - you passed! (You don't really want grades, do you? I'd only give them if they stayed completely private.)

And even better are his comments on my responses which he graciously took time from his busy life to offer :

3. An interesting discussion but one which omits some of the key moral theological considerations in this matter. Pls see the course notes :

6. Some important points made here and an internally consistent position, I think. However, 1st century writers would regard Ex 21.9-10 as relevant and there is the huge question of whether Jesus's remarks are intended to be "if you ask me about Dt 24, this is what I think (but there are other things tosay about divorce)" or "this is everything I have to say about divorce". It would be good to apply principles of resistance to the tyrant, ask questions about whether capital crimes are grounds for divorce, and consider the idea of "constructive unfaithfulness/separation" as parallel to"constructive dismissal".

Please see the course notes:

9. A good answer which makes relevant distinctions and applies key biblical principles. What about betting 1p on a poker game - just to add to the fun? There are additional considerations about the impact of gambling on others which it would be good to include.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Lillies of the Field - Matthew 6:28-34

Tonight we had a church business meeting and our pastor read these words of the Lord Jesus :

[28]"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

[29]Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

[30]If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

[31]So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'

[32]For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

[33]But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

[34]Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.