Friday, February 29, 2008

You Tube: Tallis - Spem In Alium

You Tube: Tallis - Spem In Alium

I you want an idea what heaven might sound like, have a listen to 'Spem in Alium' by Thomas Tallis. It is a complex 40-part vocal composition. It is the most beautiful music I have ever heard and in my opinion, one of the finest pieces of choral music ever.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Times: 1,726,400,000 free-range birds?

Times: 1,726,400,000 free-range birds?

"What if we all went organic? The anti-battery farm brigade have got to do the maths"

"Even if there was a way to make British production free-range, it would be impossible to stop cheap imports arriving from the rest of the EU, where subsidies aid French broiler houses. So there will still be that choice: an ethical British chicken, or an inexpensive French one. And how many have the time or inclination to investigate either way? Free-range birds can still be reared primarily indoors, as long as there is access to an open-air environment, which can equate to a small exit flap. Do you know whether your free-range purchase has been subjected to those conditions; or are you just reading a label and picturing a field of carefree birds, happy to be turned into a pack of mini-fillets in return for 80 days of roaming in the compulsorily purchased Lake District?"

Excellent article by Martin Samuel

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tea with Goat's milk

I just made a cup of tea without realising we had run out of milk at the office. A colleague offered me some of her goat's milk and I thought I would seem cowardly if I declined.

It is quite nice. I dont think I have ever drank goat's milk before.


There was an earthquake last night. No damage here, but it was rather scary. Woke me up.

Daily Telegraph: Largest earthquake in two decades hits UK

Daily Telegraph: Muslims are trying to prove their loyalty

Daily Telegraph: Muslims are trying to prove their loyalty

article by Daniel Hannan

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Blind Girl, by John Everett Millais

I think this picture is one of the best paintings of the Pre-Raphaelite era.

A blind girl sits with her younger sister in open country. In the blind girl's lap sits the accordion with which she provides a livng for them both.

The real pathos of the picture is the wondeful beauty of the landscape. The girl is unable to see any of it. She is unable even to see the moth upon her shawl.

There is a great intimacy between the two sisters. The younger one is looking out at the landscape. The blind girl seems to me in a moment of reflection. Perhaps her sister is telling her what she can see and she is trying to imagine it.

The two girls are dependant on each other. The elder depends on the younger to be her guide. The younger depends upon her sister's skill with the accordion to meet her needs.

Some critics have used the picture to talk about the social issues this picture higlights. In those days, there was little provision from the government to help disabled people. However, I think this approach to art destroys our appreciation of the picture itself. Once we move away from the picture to talk about social issues and politics, we are neglecting the aesthetic vision presented by the artist.

Though we may feel for the hardship suffered by the two girls; it is an immensely beautiful image. The warmth of the sunshine over the landscape illuminates that beauty to the viewer. One almost desires to get lost in the moment of tranquility, for all the sorrow that surrounds it.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I love entertaining

I had some guests for dinner yesterday; a young couple who are very dear friends. They took their shoes off, of course (the lady was thoughtful enought to bring a pair of socks in her handbag).

I cooked them a Thai-style chicken stir-fry. I did not put any chilli in this time. It came out quite sweet, because I put some honey in. Often my meals don't tend to be very sweet.

I love serving guests. It makes me feel so good to invite people to my house and cook them a meal.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Being a chef for the morning

I was helping at church today with the Dads and Toddlers meeting. I was cooking bacon and sausages. I got 'volunteered' to help last sunday.

It went very well. The Dads and Toddlers meeting seems a good ministry; there were lots of fathers there.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Times: Warning: Obama is dangerous

Times: Warning: Obama is dangerous

"The senator and his wife, as this week has shown, are classic European-style leftwingers."

Article by Gerard Baker

YouTube: Where Do You Go To My Lovely - Peter Sarstedt

YouTube: Where Do You Go To My Lovely - Peter Sarstedt

This is such a sweet song. It is kind of iconic too. It was a freak no.1 hit in 1969 (though it only reached 61 in the US charts).

I think this song kind of says something about the love-hate relationship that we British love-hate relationship with France. We love French things, but we despair of the French.

It is commonly believed that this song is about Sophia Loren and the lyrics support that notion. However, Peter Sarstedt denied this.

I love European kultur!

Times: Influx of migrants brings a ‘brain gain’ for the UK

Times: Influx of migrants brings a ‘brain gain’ for the UK

Monday, February 18, 2008

Times: Another day, another country for Europe

Times: Another day, another country for Europe

Article by Tim Hames

Preaching at Greatfield Road Evangelical Church, Kidderminster

I preached for the second time at Greatfield Road Evangelical church yesterday.

I did not lead the service. I preached on Genesis 32:1-7. It went very well.

My father happened to have his flute in the car and so provided some unplanned accompaniment for the worship. It was nice to hear his playing again.

I hope you will be edified by my sermon:

Genesis 32
1: And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.
2: And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.
3: And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom.
4: And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now:
5: And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.
6: And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.
7: Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands;

This short incident occurs to Jacob at a crucial point in his life. He has just left his uncle Laban who shamelessly exploited him and is now heading back to the land of promise, with some trepidation knowing that his brother is waiting there for him, possibly intent on killing him.

Yet at this rather stressful moment, he meets a host of angels. We are not given any details about this encounter. We are not told what they look like. We are not told how many angels he met. We are not told if they spoke to him. Yet he met them. He did not just see them, but they came very close to him.

I would say a word on angels. As Christians we believe in angels. A lot of unbelievers scoff at the idea of angels. They say you cannot believe in things like that. Yet the Bible tells us that there are angels. Perhaps you are here tonight and you don’t believe the Bible. I am sure that there are people here who would be happy to talk to you afterwards about some of the reasons why we believe that the Bible is reliable.

There are other people who get obsessed with angels. If you go to most bookshops you will find lots of crazy books about angels. Those things are of the Occult. They are of Satan and they will mess you up. The Bible warns us not to worship angels. The Bible says nothing about everybody having a guardian angel. If you try talking to your 'guardian angel' you don't know who you might be speaking to.

Sadly there are some Christians who have no interest in angels. They believe in them, but they don’t think it is a very important subject. If you are one of those Christians, I would really encourage you to do a study of the Scriptures on the subject of angels. The Bible might not tell us everything we might like to know about angels, but it does tell us quite a lot. We can learn a lot about God by reading what the Bible says about angels.

Let me tell you a fact about angels in the Bible. Which two books of the Bible feature angels the most? Genesis and Revelation. The beginning and the end.

When God made the world, the angels sang out in praise. When God pours His judgment out upon this sinful world, angels will be involved. We read in Revelation about the angels who bear the seals, trumpets and bowls.

The angels are celestial witnesses of God’s dealings with this world. God rules a vast kingdom of angels in the heavens. Glorious beings of enormous power. Yet these beings are interested in us. We are told in 1 Peter that the Gospel is about things that the angels desire to look into.

Our Lord said that there is rejoicing in heaven when one sinner repents. If you turn to the Lord Jesus Christ and trust in Him, angels will rejoice at your conversion. There will be rejoicing in heaven if you turn to the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is another reason why the angels have an interest in the salvation of men and women. The apostle Paul says ‘Know ye not that we shall judge angels?’ It is God’s purpose to put mankind in charge of both heaven and earth. This is realised in Christ and those who are in Him. Those Christians who have faithfully served their saviour will constitute a kind of heavenly aristocracy that will govern the angels. The angels look forward to the establishment of this new government in heaven. If you turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, you have the opportunity to be among those who will govern heaven and earth. It is God’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. God will do wonderful things for those who turn to Him and to the Saviour Jesus Christ.

Knowing about angels should be an encouragement to those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jacob was a man who was particularly prone to fear and doubt. Therefore God gave him three angelic appearances to encourage him. The first was at Bethel, when he left his parents to go to live with Laban. There he saw a stairway to heaven, with angels ascending and descending on it. The second was this one. And the third was at Peniel, before he met Esau again. At Peniel he wrestled with a man who was in fact the Angel of the Lord.

There is another incident in the Bible where a vision of angels is given as an encouragement. It occurs in 2 Kings. Elisha and his servant are surrounded by an army of Assyrians. The servant is in a terrible panic and he cries “O Man of God, what are we going to do?” But Elisha is perfectly calm. “Calm down, my son. For those that are for us are more than those that are against him.” I imagine he gives a weary sigh before praying “Lord, open his eyes that he may see.” And then the servant sees that they are surrounded by many chariots and fire. It is an amazing incident. What is amazing about it is not so much the vision of angels that the servant was given, but that Elisha did not need a vision to know that he was under the protection of angels. He had great faith.

You might think that like Elisha’s servant, Jacob would have been re-assured by his encounter with the angels. You might expect that he would think to himself “Okay, it is possible that Esau might still be planning on killing me, but I will be fine because God is on my side. His angels are there to protect me and they are more than those that are against me.”

Sadly, that is not the case. Despite being encouraged by seeing the angels of God, Jacob immediately starts scheming about how he is going to protect his family and himself from Esau. He puts his trust in his own cleverness and not in God. And then he finds out that Esau is on his way with four hundred men. This puts Jacob in a real panic. When he finally meets Esau he grovels before him in a quite unbecoming manner.

It is understandable that the thought of meeting four hundred men lead by a man with a grudge against him must have been a little worrying. But he had just met a host of angels. We are not told how many angels he met, but there may well have been four hundred of them. Even if there were not, angels are greater in might and power. Therefore Jacob should not have been afraid and distressed as it said he was here.

God’s people mess up. Christians fail sometimes. Christians get anxious and distressed about things. Christians can forget to do things that they ought to do. Christians can struggle with addictive habits like smoking.

Maybe you are not a Christian. Maybe you think that Christians are hypocritical. Maybe you have been disappointed by how some Christians live.

Christians are sinners. They need God’s forgiveness just like everybody else. The difference is that they have come to find that forgiveness.

You can know that forgiveness through Jesus Christ. He shed his blood for sinners that they might be cleansed from their sins and He rose from the dead that they might be justified and accepted in the sight of God.

Maybe you are a Christian who is troubled by your own lack of faith. You worry about things. You feel such fear. Perhaps you wonder if you are really born-again. Perhaps you think to yourself “If I am really saved I would have a stronger faith.”

If that is you, look at the life of Jacob. His life was marked by failure and a lack of faith. Yet God did not give up on him. God gave him no less that three appearances of angels to encourage him and yet he still kept displaying a lack of faith. Yet God continued to work through Jacob. God’s promises to Jacob were unconditional. He was to be the father of the nation of Israel. He was to be the ancestor of our Lord Jesus Christ. At his deathbed, we find him prophesying, speaking the Words of God.

Do not be fear that you are not a true believer because you fail sometimes. We have a sinful nature that tries to resist God’s working in our lives. It should not be a surprise that sometimes we fail to live the victorious life to which we are called to.

If you have turned to the Lord Jesus Christ you are eternally secure in Him. If you have trusted in Jesus Christ for eternal life, you possess eternal life. You shall never be lost. Do not be fearful.

Jacob named the place Mahanaim. This means two camps. The one camp was Jacob’s camp, with all his family and servants. The other camp was God’s. God’s angels had left heaven and dwelt temporarily on earth.

A camp is made up of tents or tabernacles. There is a lot of significance to tabernacles in the Bible. The Israelites celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles. They celebrated the time when their people dwelt in tents. In one of those tents dwelt the Ark of the Covenant. The very presence of God was manifested in that tabernacle. The glory of God was made known in the tabernacle and later in the temple.

Later in history, God became man. The Son came from heaven to earth and dwelt in flesh. At the Transfiguration, God’s glory was displayed in the person of Christ. Peter spoke about building three tabernacles. He did not know what he was saying, but he showed that the feast of tabernacles was being fulfilled in Christ. That God was dwelling in a tabernacle of flesh.

We read in Revelation that in the end, God will make His tabernacle with man. In the New Heavens and the New Earth, the whole universe will be filled with the glory of God. Jacob saw two camps, his camp and God’s camp. Yet in the end there will be only one camp. God will dwell with man. Heaven and Earth shall be brought together.

If you are in Christ you will see the establishment of this heavenly kingdom. If you have eternal life through Jesus Christ, you will dwell forever in the presence of God.

Turn unto the Lord Jesus Christ. Believe in Him and you will be with Him forever. You can forever know His love and His goodness.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Some pictures by Adolphe William Bouguereau (1825-1905)

Song of the angels (centre)

Homer and his guide(Left)

Innocence (right)


Annunciation (right)

Soul being carried to heaven (centre)

Rest (left)

Art and literature (right)

Rest at harvest (above)

Return from harvest (left)

The young shepherdess (right)

Madonna and angels (above)

Bouguereau's pictures are so life-like. However, despite their phot-realistic style, they are completely lacking in social realism. They are ultraconservative idealizations. There is not the slightest suggestion in Bouguereau's pictures that his peasents are at all unhappy with their lot in life.

I guess my conservatism comes out in my liking for this kind of stuff. I really dislike art that has left-wing political connotations. I prefer art that points to ideals of beauty and just ignores real life.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ghetto Blasters

Does anybody remember Ghetto Blasters?

I am old enough to remember the age of the ghetto blaster (Boom Boxes to the more politically correct).

I think it is impossible to think about ghetto blasters without smiling, if not laughing. In the age of the IPod, when an entire CD collection can be loaded onto a device barely more than an inch long, the thought of somebody lugging an enormous personal stereo on their shoulder just seems hilarious.

I think the new technology has been a loss in some ways. Carrying a heavy ghetto blaster on your shoulder meant having a real dedication to music. Those things were heavy.

The new technology also makes it harder to rebel throuh music. You do get people listening to IPods at a high volume, but that is nothing like pumping out the grooves on a massive stereo to every passer-by. To carry a ghetto blaster showed that you lived on another plane of existence, unbound by the conventions of polite society.

I suppose in today's Britain a person carrying about a ghetto blaster would be given an ASBO (anti-social behaviour order).

You Tube: Monty Python - The Spanish Inquisition

You Tube: Monty Python - The Spanish Inquisition

A classic British comedy sketch. Being a Protestant nation, the Spanish Inquisition has always been part of our cultural imagination.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Another picture of Jacob wrestling the Angel of the Lord

Eugene Delacroix

This is a nice picture, but I do think the nightgown is a bit impractical for wrestling.

Prospect Magazine: America still works

Prospect Magazine: America still works

"Anyone who reads the serious press about the condition of the US might be excused for believing that the country is headed towards a series of deep crises. This impression is exacerbated by economic slowdown and by the presidential primaries, in which candidates announce bold plans to rescue the country from disaster. But even in more normal times there are three ubiquitous myths about America that make the country seem weaker and more chaotic than it really is. The first myth, which is mainly a conservative one, is that racial and ethnic rivalries are tearing America apart. The second myth, which is mainly a liberal one, is that America will soon be overwhelmed by religious fundamentalists. The third myth, an economic one beloved of centrists, is that the retirement of the baby boomers will bankrupt the country because of runaway social security entitlement costs."

Article by Michael Lind

Monday, February 11, 2008

Health and Safety

I had some training today about health and safety procedures.

Health and safety gets a lot of bad press. The newspapers frequently present the notion of 'health and safety gone mad'. One continually hears apocryphal stories about all sorts of crazy regulations introduced beacuse of health and safety.

The guy who was carrying out the seminar began by dispelling the idea that health and safety is a lot of silliness. He told a story about a woman he knew who worked as a waitress. She tripped on a torn and uneven section of carpet. She fell onto a table. The cartillage of her nose broke through her skull killing her. His point was that had somebody taken the trouble to report the uneven flooring, she would still be alive.

The government's Health and Safety Executive have a very interesting webpage exposing some of the wilder stories about 'health and safety gone mad':

Health and Safety Myths

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Princess Mononoke

I watched Princess Mononoke yesterday. I am not actually very interested in movies, but I thought I should probably watch this classic Japanese animation.

It was quite good. Features lots of animal gods and forest spirits.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Jacob wrestling with the Angel of the Lord

Genesis 32
24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.

25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.

26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.

28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.

30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peni'el for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

31 And as he passed over Penu'el the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.

32 Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day; because he touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh in the sinew that shrank.

In this passage we find Jacob wrestling with a man who he comes to find is God in angelic form (Hosea calls him 'the angel').

Some commentators suggest that this story represents Jacob wrestling with God through prayer. While this seems an edifying thought and Jacob does pray in this passage, the career of Jacob can in no way be characterised by fervent prayer. We find rather that he was characterised by a severe lack of faith in God's provision and his habit was to trust in his own cunning.

It rather seems that the struggle with the angel represents the struggle of his sinful flesh against God. Every believer has two natures; a new nature that is created in Christ to be submitted to God and the old fleshly nature that wars and strives against the Spirit of God. The old nature cannot be in submission to God's ways. In the story of Jacob this conflict between flesh and Spirit is especially apparent.

In Galatians 5 we see the different results of these two natures:

16 ¶ This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20 idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23 meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Too often as believers we resist God and try to live the life we want to lead in the flesh.

Yet God has ways of bringing us to see the weakness of the flesh. The angel of the Lord wounded Jacob. Likewise the Paul was given his thorn in the flesh.

We read in Hebrews 12:

6 for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth,
and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

9 Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Too often when preachers give sermons on this passage they give comfort to Christians in their suffering without making a clear connection between chastening and sin. Not all suffering is due to sin. Sometimes we go through many trials without understanding why. However, when we suffer in the flesh, we must be willing to ask the question "Is this the Lord's discipline?"

We must not miss the amazing fact about this passage that God in angelic form allowed Himself to be overcome by Jacob. The God of the universe entered a struggle with a mere man and allowed him to prevail. The Lord might have obliterated Jacob, but he did not.

This is the wonderful truth of free-will that is resisted by so many theologians. So often the rallying call from Reformed theology is the Sovereignty of God. Yet this so easily minimizes the truth that God has allowed man to determine his course. God has delegated sovereignty to man to go in the direction he chooses. God has entered a two-way relationship with mankind and given men and women the power to reject Him.

Only a petty dictator needs to dominate all things to be in control. God has and will to continue to establish His sovereignty by giving men and women the freedom to determine their own plan. No matter what power is assailed against Him, God will prevail. The victory belongs to the Lord.

Garlands is my favorite Cocteau Twins album

Cocteau Twins are my favorite band ever. I own all their albums. I am afraid to say I am one of those elitist hardcore fans who like the first album best.

I do think that some of the later Cocteau Twins albums are better than Garlands, however, I really enjoy Garlands because it sounds so different to the later stuff.

The Cocteau Twins have always been associated with the Goth movement, but this album is far darker and bleaker than anything else they have written. It could almost be the work of a female-fronted Joy Division. You could compare Garlands to Siouxie and the Banshees, but the sound on this album is much richer and lusher.

What distinguishes this album from the others is that it features a different bass player, Wil Heggie, who left the band after the album was made. His thumping bass lines dominate the sound of the album, giving it a really mean edge. It sounds somewhat punkish.

However, Robin Guthrie's guitar playing was also promising on this early release. Guthrie drenches the record in harsh distortion.

However, as ever, the singer, Liz Frazer is the real star. Her vocal performance on this album is quite haunting. Her fragile and emotional voice contrasting with the aggressive bass line. This album introduced the vocal sound that so characterised the Cocteau Twins, that is multi-layered vocal parts; with Liz Frazer singing different vocal sections, sometimes at the same time.

The Cocteau Twins have often been described as ethereal, but the lyrics on Garlands are very grounded and earthy, abounding with references to the body and vegetation.

Times: Kids like booze and sex. So what?

Times: Kids like booze and sex. So what?

'Demonising teenagers, as this Government is doing, is risky and self-defeating'

Article by Janice Turner

I don't agree with everything she says, but she makes some good points.

Times: Tea finally making a stir in America

Times: Tea finally making a stir in America

You can now get pyramied-shaped PG tips in America. The sort that I use.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Yahoo!: Gates tells Europe to support Afghan war

Yahoo!: Gates tells Europe to support Afghan war

Latin Beer

I have mentioned on this blog my surprise love of Latin Jazz. It seems that Latin beer has something going for it too.

I recently tried Sol beer from Mexico and Brahma beer from Brazil and they were pretty good.

Times: Extradition to US for Abu Hamza al-Masri over terror accusations

Times: Extradition to US for Abu Hamza al-Masri over terror accusations

Excellent news. Put that man in an orange jumpsuit!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Another daft government proposal that will never be implemented

Daily Telegraph: 'Idle' jobless could be denied council home

The government has this hilarious habit. Every time attention is drawn to some particular problem, a minister will propose a solution to the idea that will get media attention. Of course, these solutions are always completely unworkeable and would be disastrous if they were implemented. However, that is not the point. It is 'spin', designed to re-assure gullible readers of newspapers.

On the face of it, it might seem a good idea to threaten unemployed people with being denied social housing. However, it seems unlikely that such a sanction could be used.

Local government have a legal duty to provide housing to families, so any threat of making the unemployed lose their councl houses would be illegal. According to the Telegraph the government might modify this legal duty to make this sanction lawful. But then what would happen? Would they house these families in expensive temporary accomodation? Or would they leave them to sleep on the streets? Would they put their children in foster care?

In case anybody accuses me of being a Left-wing 'do-gooder' who reads the Guardian, I will point out that today's editorial in the Right-wing Daily Telegraph agreed with me that this proposed policy is absolute nonsense.

If you want people to get jobs, making them homeless is not a very good way of going about it. I agree with the charity Shelter, that this proposal is a return to Victorian workhouses. You can read the Shelter statement on the proposal here.

'Any scheme that attempts to force people back to work by threatening them with homelessness will be an expensive, bureaucratic nightmare and cost the taxpayer much more than it would save.'

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Conservative Party and Primaries: John McCain reminds me of Ken Clarke

John McCain is an interesting figure. An experienced politician who seems to be winning a lot of popular support in the primaries, yet who is nevetheless despised by the Republican party establishment for being out of step with their own ideology.

He rather reminds me of Ken Clarke, a former British chancellor of the Excheqeur (the man in charge of the government's budget) and Conservative politician.

Ken Clarke is highly experienced and has a good deal of popularity with the electorate. There are few parlimentarians as strong as him in Commons debates. Yet Ken Clarke is loathed by the Conservative party establishment because of his Pro-European Union views. Ken Clarke was often seen as a thorn in the side of the Eurosceptic majority in the Conservative party.

Ken Clarke tried three times to become leader of the Conservative party and failed in each. In the last attempt, he went so far as to announce that he no longer favoured Britain joining the single currency. However, this was to no avail. It is very likely that some Conservative members of parliament tactically voted just in order to kick Ken Clarke out of the contest on the first stage.

This is a signficant difference between the British and American way of doing politics. In Britain, the Conservative party establishment decides who is going to lead the party. In the United States, the general public vote for the presidential candidate in primary elections.

If the UK parties adopted primaries as a way of choosing the party leader, Ken Clarke would have become leader of the Conservative party years ago (whether he would have won any elections is a different question). On the other hand, if the American Republicans followed the British system of choosing the candidate within the party, John McCain would never stand a chance.

Of course, Ken Clarke would have faced some big difficulties leading the Conservative party if he had become leader. And no doubt, if John McCain wins the primaries he is going to face a challenge uniting the Republicans against the Democrats. What is certain is that the man the party prefers is not always the man the electorate prefers.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Sunday, February 03, 2008

BBC News: Serbia election victory for Tadic

BBC News: Serbia election victory for Tadic

Serbia's pro-western president has been re-elected and his pro-Russian rival defeated.

It could be that we will see Serbia join the European Union.

These are wonderful times we are living in. What a wonder to live in the day when peace reigns in Europe, even in the Balkans!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Silence in Heaven

Revelation 8
1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

Though heaven rings with the praises of angels, the day shall come when that noise is silenced. The seventh seal announces the beginning of God's wrath and the destruction of the present world.

Man has been storing up divine wrath since the flood. When Christ appears, He shall execute vengeance against those that have rejected God. It shall be the most solemn silence in the history of the universe.

That the rebellion of mankind and God's judgment on that rebellion should silence the ancient and unending praises of angels demonstrates the importance of mankind in God's purposes.

Yet there is another reason why there is silence in heaven. That is that heaven has come to earth at this point. The Lord Jesus Christ appears at the openning of the sixth seal and raptures His Church who are delivered from the wrath that is to be outpoured. He comes with angels. Thus, the present age is brought to a close.

At present God deals with man only through the heavenly exercise of His sovereignty. The earthly government of nations is at present suspended and God suffers the nations to walk in their own course. This is the time of the Gentiles. The appearance of the coming king brings an end to this and the coming of a new heavenly government to rule over the earth.

My message to America

Vote for John McCain!

I am not the only British blogger getting involved in this American presidential thing, as you will see on my compatriot's blog.

Friday, February 01, 2008

BBC News: Text driver faces jail over death

BBC News: Text driver faces jail over death

This reminds me of the post I wrote three weeks ago, What is the Purpose of Prison?

Some liberals talk as if women should only be sent to prison if they are serial killers.

Cases like this one illustrate the necessity of sending people, both male and female to prison, regardless of their record or lack of danger to society. Not to reform them, but simply to send the message to the public that such thoughtless and dangerous behaviour is unacceptable.

Let anyone who writes text messages while driving take note.

Photograph of a British women's prison (Evelyn De Morgan)

Times: McCain's amazing bloodless coup

Times: McCain's amazing bloodless coup

Article by Gerard Baker