Friday, November 28, 2008

The Expulsion from Eden in a Worcester Cathedral Window



This is my favorite window scene at Worcester cathedral.

I love the way the cherub looks so grumpy- being ordered to put out Adam and Eve that day must have put him in a really foul mood.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Prayer Update

Many thanks to those who are kind enough to keep me in their prayers.

I can't wait to start work, but that is not necessarilly going to happen next week. The big problem with working for a big organisation, especially a state-funded charity, is that it has lots of layers and departments. Lots of boxes need to be ticked in and forms need to be filled before I can start work.

The big wait at the moment is for my contract to be sent. That is taking some time. Please pray this happens speedily.

On the housing front, things are looking good. I found a lovely apartment in Stevenage. Two weeks ago, it had been taken by somebody else, but they changed their minds (remarkably as they had already paid a fee). I have paid the admin fee for this apartment and hopefully will sign a tenacy agreement soon.

Guardian: Shock news- Christmas isn't banned

Guardian: Shock news- Christmas isn't banned

'Once again, as the build-up to festivities begins, newspapers are reporting non-stories designed to enrage Middle England'

by Dave Hill

It is so tedious when every year, the popular press run out the usual scare stories about the government wanting to 'ban Christmas.'

Daily Telegraph: Death of pubs will be death of UK

Daily Telegraph: Death of pubs will be death of UK

'Today the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) and the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) is launching a campaign to "Save the Great British Pub" with an "axe the beer tax" campaign.

But in truth it is more in hope than expectation. Last week Camra reported that it expected a "bloodbath" of pub closures following the traditionally busy Christmas period. It predicts 7,500 pubs to vanish by 2012.

The British pub is unique. It is an iconic institution as much loved at home as it is admired from abroad. (Look at any bumf tempting visitors to Britain and the pub is right up there with the Royal family and Swinging London.)

As Dr Johnson pointed out "nothing has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn".'



By Adam Edwards

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Free Grace Theology: The Passing of One of the Greats - Professor Zane C. Hodges

Free Grace Theology: The Passing of One of the Greats - Professor Zane C. Hodges

Two Kinds of Science

In my opinion, one of the greatest Calvinists ever was Abraham Kuyper. Not only was he a pretty smart theologian, but he became prime minister of the Netherlands.

One of Kuyper's great insights was that because there are two kinds of people in the world, regenerate and unregenerate, there are two kinds of science. There will be science that is done by people who recognise the reality of God and that which is done presupposing the non-existence or at least the irrelevance of God.

I think those of us who reject the theory of evolution would do well to take on board this concept.

In their haste to criticise evolution, Christians are often very quick to try to find flaws in the theory. They attempt to prove that evolution is bad science and therefore even the 'reasonable' atheist or to reject it. I would suggest that this is a flawed strategy.

One of the things I have noticed about most Evangelical Christians is that they do not know much about evolution and do not understand it. They too quickly try to criticise what they don't understand.

I would venture to suggest that evolution is good science within the framework of modernistic, anti-theistic presuppositions that govern academia today. Evolution provides a reasonably coherent explanation for the development of life on earth. It would be eminently rational for the unbeliever to accept the theory of evolution.

Christians will ever throw out perceived problems with evolution, yet many of these flaws arise from misunderstandings of the theory. Many of them can be resolved. It is important not to forget that science is all about solving puzzles. The more possile flaws are pointed out with the theory of evolution, the more scientists can apply their creativity to trying to resolve and explain them.

I would suggest that the strategy of trying to prove evolution to be 'bad science' is a dead end. Such a strategy fails to recongnise that a difference in presuppositions will inevitably produce two kinds of knowledge, and thus two kinds of science.

Instead, Christians should attempt to throw doubts as to the viability of atheism or agnosticism and the influence of such worldviews on scientific conclusions. A good question to ask the evolutionist would be whether she would still believe in evolution if she knew for certain whether God existed.

Guardian: Out of the mouths of babes

Guardian: Out of the mouths of babes

'Do children believe because they're told to by adults? The evidence suggests otherwise'

by Justin L Barrett

Very interesting article. It appears that children have an innate ability to receive and understand the concept of God.

"Children doubt that impersonal processes can create order or purpose. Studies with children show that they expect that someone not something is behind natural order. No wonder that Margaret Evans found that children younger than 10 favoured creationist accounts of the origins of animals over evolutionary accounts even when their parents and teachers endorsed evolution. Authorities' testimony didn't carry enough weight to over-ride a natural tendency.

Children know humans are not behind the order so the idea of a creating god (or gods) makes sense to them. Children just need adults to specify which one."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My favorite sneakers

I got my favorite pair of sneakers at the bargain price of £12, from the discount menswear store, Officers Club.

They are canvas slip-ons (I no longer wear laces- they inhibit shoe-removal at the door). They are black in colour and decorated with the skull and cross bones motif.

My sister said they were rather 'Emo.' I suppose they are, but I don't wear anything else that is 'Emo.' My mother said they made me look like a pirate (the skull and cross bones). A former colleague of mine said they reflected my fondness for Death Metal music.

I don't actually wear sneakers so often, as I prefer to wear flip flops as much as possible.

Cold Saturday?

Some people think me crazy for wearing flip flops in November. However, today I decided to wear socks and sneakers, as it was supposed to be really cold this weekend. Strangely enough, I saw three people wearing flip flops and even a few people wearing shorts. Maybe it had something to do with the clear skies and bright sunlight. In any case it was very cold this evening.

I went to the White Rock Hotel, which is one of my favorite bars in Hastings. They had installed a new bar in a more modern style. I am afraid to say it was not the same. It did not have the same Fawlty Towers charm. I had a pint of Boadicea Ale, a beer I had not tried before (amber coloured, slightly hoppy. Nothing special) and the Grolsch wheat beer, which I had also not tried before (a bit sickly).

Friday, November 21, 2008

Another answer to prayer

In order to do anything about getting accomodation in hertfordshire, I needed to know what my salary was. Some people think I am a bit silly accepting a job offer without knowing the salary. However, I had a good idea how much it was going to be and in any case, when you have been out of work for a few months, you don't take a job offer lightly.

I was having a frustrating week, waiting to hear back as to what my salary will be.

If you ever have to wait for anything, I recommend a good mental exercise- list all the Bible characters who had to wait for something. You will quickly realise that nearly every major Bible character had to wait for something.

Thankfully, I heard back from my boss yesterday and the salary was more than I had budgeted for. So I can rent a particular apartment that I wanted.

I celebrated my good news with a meal at the local Witherspoons pub. I would have gone to the pub anyway; after all that waiting I needed to de-stress with a couple of beers. I had a mixed grill (steak, sausage, lamb chops, pork chops, ham). Unfortunately, they did not ask me how I liked my steak. It was raw and bloody, while being a philistine, I like my steak burned to a crisp. They had an interesting cinammon-flavoured beer that I had not tried before. That was quite nice.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Guardian: A bureaucratic kicking won't help lone parents into work

Guardian: A bureaucratic kicking won't help lone parents into work

'The new child benefit rules make a mockery of Labour's rhetoric on choice and hurt those who most need support'

by Libby Brooks

"So welfare-to-work has its limits: more than half of children living in poverty already have a parent in employment. And these proposals also subscribe to a middle-class agenda which assumes that all mothers - and the vast majority of single parents are women - are desperate to return to meaningful, well-paid jobs which fulfil their sense of self beyond the home. While the majority of single parents in this country are in employment, the ones who remain on benefits are by definition those who need much more than a bureaucratic kick up the arse to get them behind the till at Tesco. Credit crunch or not, it makes no sense to remove support for the people who choose to concentrate on the hard work of parenting in difficult circumstances."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Guardian: The fortress Britain myth

Guardian: The fortress Britain myth
It's easy to believe that we are united by ill will to refugees, but the spirit of 1943 suggests otherwise

by Jeremy Seabrook

Guardian: This frenzy of hatred is a disaster for children at risk

Guardian: This frenzy of hatred is a disaster for children at risk

Britain has one of the best records on child deaths. One case blasted out of all proportion can undo years of good

by Polly Toynbee

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sorry, I have been busy

I have been a away from the computer a lot.

After seeing my PhD supervisor, I spent the week with my grandmother in Worcester. I indulged my love of medieval churches with visits to Hereford Cathedral and Malvern Priory.

This weekend, I looked at apartments in Luton and Stevenage. I did not put down a deposit for any. I will probably stay in temporary accomodation when I start my job.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Summoning

A lot of Black Metal has been influenced by the works of J.R. Tolkien. For me, Black metal and Tolkien go together, as I got into both when I was 18. Summoning, a band from Austria, have taken this too the ultimate extreme and based all their songs on Tolkienesque themes.

Summoning differ from most Black metal bands in that rather than simply making use of keyboards, their whole sound is dominated by them, almost to the exclusion of guitar riffs.

In my opinion, Dol Guldur (name after the fortress of Sauron in Mirkwood) is their best album. This album ought to be awful. It makes use of some really cheap and tacky sounding synthezisers (they sound like Cassio keyboards). Yet somehow, out of these cheap-sounding keyboards, Summoning manage to produce complex layers of sound in the style of Kraftwerk. The medieval sound really captures the creepier aspects of Tolkien's Middle Earth.

Elfstone is my favorite song from Dol Guldur:



In more recent years, Summoning have written Midrautas Vras, a song entirely in Orcish on their last album, Oath Bound:



Oath Bound differs from previous Summoning albums in being made after the Lord of the Rings movies. I think that is reflected in the sound. One can hear elements of the LOTR soundtrack in that album.

Friday, November 07, 2008

There is power in prayer

On Monday I prayed that McCain would win the election in America. Yesterday I prayed that Labour would be defeated by the Scottish National Party in the Glenrothers by-election. For whatever reason those things did not happen.

Nevertheless, I can praise God that He has answered the prayers of myself and many kind brothers and sisters in Christ.

I was offered a job today. It will involve running a drugs and alcohol project in an hospital in Hertfordshire.

Many thanks to everybody who prayed for me to get a job, especially my brethren in Germany. I don't know the words to the German anthem, but I can at least sing Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken to that tune (the best tune for that one). Thanks everyone.

There are still things to pray for. I need to pray that I can start in reasonable time, that I find a place to live in Hertfordshire and a Bible-believing church and most importantly of all; that I glorify Christ in this job.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

My message to the Republican party

We Tories have been there.

Back in 1997, the Conservatives were booted out of power when a young and charismatic leader, Tony Blair gained a landslide majority.

Under William Hague we moved to the right, putting out a strong Eurosceptic tax-cutting message. In 2001, we were defeated by another Labour landslide majority. Some people started to wonder if the Conservatives would ever be in government again.

After that, we took another right-wing leader, Iain Duncan Smith, sticking with the right-wing platform. Smith lost the confidence of the party and was replaced by a veteran Conservative politician, Michael Howard. Few people expected him to win the election in 2005, but we knew we could rely on him to be a credible loser who would restore something of the party's strengh and reputation.

Michael Howard campaigned on an unbelievably right-wing platform, focusing on immigration and other 'dog-whistle' issues. Back then I remember being slightly physically sickened when Michael Howard chose to make Gypsies an election issue.

As expected, Michael Howard reduced Labour's majority and gave us a renewed sense of confidence. But he was an old man and was not the one to lead the party. We also felt a certain lack of vision in the party.

In the leadership contest that followed, David Cameron charmed the party into following him. He was young, fresh and in tune with the modern world. He pointed out the need for the party to change its image; to become more inclusive and in tune with the liberal mood of modern Britain. Cameron shifted the gears by opting for more consensual politics, supporting some of Blair's programme. The party dropped promises of tax cuts and focused on delivery of effective public services.

Now we are strong. We have a real chance of winning the next election.

The Republican party will have to decide whether to move to the right or to the left. For us, going back to the tried and tested right-wing ways was an utter failure. Britain had changed and the old mantras no longer had the same resonance. We needed a leader who was different and spoke different language.

The Republican party needs to recognise that America has changed. It is a more liberal and more diverse society than it used to be. If the party is to address contemporary America, it has to be able to communicate with the people who adore Obama and saw him as a beacon of hope.

The Republican party needs to find a new liberal voice.

Times: The not-so-strange birth of liberal America

Times: The not-so-strange birth of liberal America

'The US is no longer a conservative nation. The Democrats have won a powerful mandate to move the country leftwards'

by Anatole Kaletsky

Voters resoundingly rejected the Republicans' single-minded focus on low taxes and small government. Having elected Mr Obama, the American people will demand big economic changes. And given the urgency of the financial crisis, Mr Obama would do well to signal these changes within days, rather than waiting until he is inaugurated on January 20. With luck, he will quickly appoint a team of experienced officials who understand that free enterprise is perfectly compatible with regulation, a moderately redistributive tax system and a stronger safety net than Americans currently enjoy.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Daily Telegraph: John Bolton- Letter to the next president

Daily Telegraph: John Bolton- Letter to the next president

I may be a liberal, but I sure like John Bolton.

Obama

I saw a picture of Obama in the newspaper the other day.He had a really cool pair of flip flops. But he was wearing horrible short shorts. I really don't like short shorts. I prefer either long shorts or cropped trousers.

That is all I have to say about Obama.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My message to America



Whether you are a liberal or conservative, you must see that it is McCain who has the experience and the commitment for this job.

Obama is untried and untested. His commitment to keeping America safe from terrorism is lukewarm. He is not the man to lead the free world.

Am I a 'liberal' or a conservative?

A lot of American bloggers talk about 'liberals' and 'conservatives.' We British tend to talk about 'left' and 'right' rather than liberal and conservative.

I am not quite sure which category I actually fit into, so maybe I should try and work it out.

Reasons Matthew might be a conservative

* A member of the Conservative party.
* A monarchist (not really relevant to US politics)
* Pro-life (that is)
* Supports the 'War on Terror.'
* Supports the war in Afghanistan and opposed to a hasty withdrawal from Iraq.
* Supports pro-marriage policies.
* Supports the death penalty.
* Critical of gun control (not really relevant to British politics)
* Supports free-market captialism.
* In favour of death penalty.
* Unhappy with criticism of use of imprisonment in sentences.
* Uncomfortable with the idea of redistributive taxes.
* Likes the idea of a flat rate of tax.
* Supports Britain remaining a nuclear power.
* Sceptical about environmentalism.

Reasons Matthew might be a 'liberal'

* Not uncomfortable with 'big government.'
* Critical of welfare reform.
* Thinks free healthcare is a good idea (But most people in Britain do)
* Believes social housing is a key government priority.
* In favour of an Individual Basic Income (but this goes nicely with a flat rate of tax- which is a conservative idea).
* Concerned about disparity of wealth in British society.
* Concerned about poverty.
* Looks with envy at social democratic Nordic countries.
* Pro-immigration (But maybe all supporters of a free market ought to be).
* In favour of an amnesty for illegal immigrants.
* Not particularly Eurosceptic (Not really relevant to US politics)
* In favour of better relations with Russia.
* In favour of legalizing or decriminalising heroin, cocaine and marijuana.
* Suspects that conservatives do not always take into account economic factors when considering issues such as crime.

So it looks like I am roughly equal on reasons for being liberal or conservative.

I do sometimes wonder why I support the Conservative party. I am uncomfortable with a number of their policies. I think David Cameron has gone a long way in making the Conservative party seem more liberal, but I do think that it still maintains an allergy to 'big government' that stands in the way of truly progressive politics.

On the issue of welfare reform and drugs, I am far more liberal than the Labour government. That is a bit worrying. I hope that when Labour is voted is out of office, they move back to the Left. That way, the Conservatives are in a better position to occupy the Centre.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

That would be so British!

This evening, I went to an hotel with my parents for a beer.

In the bar was a Scrabble set as well as several other board games. Unsurprising, given that it was a really wet day with non-stop rain.

That would be such an incredibly British holiday! Trapped by rain in an Hastings hotel, with nothing to do but play Scrabble!

Kraftwerk

Being a big Germanophile, sooner or later I was going to have to write a post on Kraftwerk, surely the greatest German pop band ever. Kraftwerk's music captures the simple beauty of technology. It has a really basic charm.

Kraftwerk's best album has to be Autobahn, which brilliantly evokes the feeling of driving along a motorway. You might want to ignore the video; the music is much better.



Kraftwerk also made an album about trains, Trans-Europe Express. This is the song 'Europe Endless' from it. It captures the peaceful majesty of the utopia that is modern Europe.



Kraftwerk are probably most remembered for the hypnotic hit single, The Model. It is a pretty amazing song:




I once read a music critic who said that the people who adore Kraftwerk all hate dance music. Not in my case. I have a great fondness for hardcore techno and trance.

Please pray for me

I possibly have a job in the pipeline. I am not certain how definite this is, but it is looking pretty hopeful. I may be starting in a few weeks.

Please pray that this goes ahead. Thanks.