Tuesday, September 01, 2009

My attention has been elsewhere

Sorry, people. Lately I have been focusing on my other blog:

Shoes Off at the Door, Please

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Terrorizer is the best music magazine ever

Terrorizer is a magazine that covers extreme metal, stuff that is a bit harder than your AC/DC or Iron Maiden. I first read Terrorizer when I was 14. I was amazed at finding a magazine that was focused on death metal and black metal. I resented the way that mainstream heavy metal magazines like Kerrang! and Metal Hammer mocked death metal and black metal bands. Fourteen years later, I read Terrorizer every month.

In recent months, my respect for Terrorizer has grown even more. Two Christians had letters printed on their letter page and received sympathetic and respectful responses from the letters editor. Other heavy metal magazines have treated Christian correspondents with sarcasm and contempt.

This month, Terrorizer included a special feature on Christian exteme metal. They also included a Christian band on the covermount CD.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Spirited Away

I watched the Japanese anime film Spirited Away yesterday. It tells the story of a ten-year old girl who becomes trapped in a world of spirits and gods. I was fascinated by how the film captured many of the thematic elements of fairy tales from all different cultures.

Many nations have stories about young girls who are imprisoned by a supernatural oppressor and who are forced to perform impossible tasks, yet who receive supernatural assistance from a fairy guardian.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Holiday in Hastings

I spent the last week with my old folks in Hastings. I indulged my love of ecclesiastical art by visiting no less than six old churches:

St. Thomas the Matyr, Winchelsea
Charles the Matyr, Tunbridge Wells
St. Mary's, Rye
Chichester cathedral
Arundel (Roman Catholic) cathedral
St. Nicholas, Arundel


While I was away I also lead a Bible study at my parents' home fellowship on Genesis 6 and the days before the Flood.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Vive le roi Henri!



The royalist anthem of France. This song gets so stuck in my head.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Some good stuff on Pyromaniacs

I occasionally like to drop by Pyromaniacs. While I dislike the Calvinism and Lordship Salvation over there, they often write some really great posts, especially on the subject of Charismatic nonsense.

Recently we had a great post from Phil Johnson on the lack of modesty in evangelical circles these days and a book review by Dan Phillips on the subject of guidance. It contains a wholehearted endorsement of the position of Garry Friessen's Decision-making and the Will of God.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I actually saw one of my favorite paintings!



I stayed with my lovely sister in Poole this weekend. As I love Victorian art, she decided to take me to see the Russell Cotes Gallery and Museum in Bournemouth. It housed a fantastic collection of art, as well as many artifacts that its original owner had collected while travelling.

I was amazed to find that this place housed Auroa, by Evelyn De Morgan, one of my favorite paintings and one that I have commented about on this blog before.

After going to Bournemouth, we attended the Southampton Beer Festival. We had a good time, though I was not especially impressed by the four beers that I tried.

The weather was so wonderfully warm. It was an excellent weekend to visit the coast.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Completed and Submitted

I sent my PhD thesis to the university today.

The examination comes next...

Monday, May 25, 2009

I miss Worcester Cathedral so much



And I miss this lovely angel too.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Reading John Frame again

A while ago, I read Apologetics to the Glory of God, by John Frame. I think it was an excellent work, demonstrating the excellence of the presuppositional approach to apologetics. Despite my Arminianism, I am pretty keen on Presuppositionalism. I think Classic apologetics and Evidentialism are useful, but have their limitations.

I am now reading No Other God, John Frame's critique of Open Theism. This is a little less to my taste, as I do not share his Calvinism. I find his hostlity to the libertarian notion of free-will to be particularly misplaced. Nevertheless, like him I do not agree with Open Theism (though I still feel they make some good points). I find their rejection of exhaustive foreknowledge to be unteneable and I feel their aversion to classic theism to be as misguided as Frame's rejection of libertarian free-will.

Call an election, Mr. Brown

I believe the prime minister must dissolve parliament and call an election.

The current scandal over MPs expenses has lead to a crisis of confidence in parliament. It is simply unthinkeable that the government can continue to legislate while their reputation has been so badly tarnished.

An election now would give the public a chance to respond to the shocking revelations that have been made in the last month.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Diet Irn Bru

I was pleased to find that there is a sugar-free version of the weird Scottish soft drink, Irn Bru.

I don't care for the taste of many diet drinks, but I worry about the effects of sugary drinks. As it happens, the Diet Irn Brus is pretty good. It does not taste much different to the original.

Pear Cider

Until yesterday, I had never tried pear cider. I have never like apple cider (that's the British alcoholic drink). But I thought pear cider was much nicer. A far more refreshing taste.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The DNA Database

Maybe its my fascist streak coming out but the civil liberties lobby bores me to tears. I just don't feel any excitement or anger about the government's DNA database.

The government intends to limit the time that peoples' DNA stays on the database if they have been arrested but not been convicted of a crime. A lot of people say they have not gone nearly far enough and they should completely stop storing the DNA of innocent people.

It does not seem a big deal to me. So if you have been nicked without doing anything your DNA stays on file. If you commit a crime, you are more likely to be caught. That hardly seems a big loss of liberty. Its not like you are being locked up or being kept under a curfew.

Trends in Flip Flops this year

For women, black and white seems to be dominant. Coloured flip flops seem to be out of fashion this season. Gold, silver and jewelled flip flops are still very popular.

Flip flops seem to be popular with women in their twenties and older, but not so much with teenage girls.

For men, choice in flip flops is so much better than last year. Last year, the choice for men's flip flops seemed quite limited. The dominant trend was for brown and a leather look. Most men's pairs were chunky with big soles and broader straps. The newer trend seems to be toward rubber Haviana imitation flip flops with thinner straps and thinner soles. I get the impression this trend is more in line with the flip flops that are popular on the other side of the Atlantic. Contrary to the trend with the fairer sex, coloured flip flops seem to be in for men this year.

One interesting observation I have made; you don't see many black ladies wearing cheap looking rubber flip flops. If black ladies wear flip flops, they are invariably gold or jewelled and usually in the Egyptian style with the long straps.

Friday, May 08, 2009

The Book of Revelation

Did you know that many Christians have never read the book of Revelation?

Can you believe that? They believe that Revelation is a message from God, but they don't even open it up and read it. I just think that is mind-blowing that somebody can believe that a message has come from God and yet not read it.

They love Jesus but they don't want to read His own book.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Humour

Have you noticed that nearly everybody you meet tries to be funny?

Our society places a very high premium on humour. Those 'lonely heart' adverts nearly always specify that the WLTM must have a sense of humour. Even job advertisments often specify that candidates must have an sense of humour.

While humour is a pleasent trait, I worry about the pressure on people to be funny so often. It cannot be easy for people who do not have a strong natural sense of humour. The pressure to be funny often means that people come up with stupid remarks and coarse jokes all the time, even when they are not really funny.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thanks for your prayers

Thanks, people.

I was informed today that I will be able to renew my tenancy. A nice speedy response there.

My neighbours will continue to be perplexed by the chaotic and terrifying music that emanate from my apartment.

If you can spare a prayer as well for a client of mine who is homeless and who will probably be rough sleeping in the next few weeks. He was taken into hospital today where he had a nasty fit, probably brought on by his heavy drinking. His needs are much bigger than mine.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Another prayer request

The alcohol project I am running has got off to a good start, though it requires quite a bit of work.

I would appreciate some prayer about my housing situation. I would like to stay put. I really like my apartment and it is pretty convenient. The tenancy expires in June and I would really like to renew it. If I have to move out, it will cost me money and be very inconvenient.

If you could pray that my landlord will grant me the opportunity to renew my tenancy, that would be wonderful. Thanks.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Apologies to my Pre-Trib brethren for this post

Often you hear Christians gasp with amazement when they hear about the peculiar doctrines of cults like the Mormons and JWs. They often exclaim "How can anybody believe that?"

Typically, they have not read enough of the cults material too understand the reasoning behind some of these false doctrines. Hence, when they actually meet real live cult followers, they are confounded and have no idea how to answer them.

These false doctrines have not been plucked from the air. They are supported by twisted readings of scriptural passages. They are invariably based on wrong methods of eisegesis. Yet the reasoning behind them makes sense. When they present their arguments, you can see where they are going.

Yet despite the smart arguments, you are still left with the thought in your head "How can anybody come to that conclusion?"

For all the great theology that has come from Dispensationalist theologians, my thoughts on the Pre-Trib rapture are still exactly the same as my reaction to the odd doctrines of the cults- "How can anybody come to that conclusion?"

I have read book after book by Pre-Trib theologians. Yet I am still baffled as to how people come to think that there is a pre-trib rapture. The more arguments that Pre-Tribbers raise, the more implausible there proposition seems to me.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The battle of the shirts in Thailand

I don't pretend to be an expert on politics in Thailand.

Basically, the red shirts are supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawat, who was forced out of office by the army, allegedly because of corruption. For the most part they are rural poor. The yellow shirts, the People's Alliance for Democracy are fanatical monarchists who oppose Thaksin Shinawat and managed to pressure the previous government to step down. They are mostly middle-class.

It seems unfair that a government that was fairly elected should be forced out, the first time by the army and the second time by demonstors.

However, the part of me that feels nostalgia for Imperial Germany and Tsarist Russia leads me to a certain sympathy for the yellow shirts. They are supporters of monarchy and legitimate interests. They remind me of the religious middle classes who in the nineteenth century were distrustful of democracy.

The sad truth is that democracy does not always work. The previous Thai government may have been fairly elected, but was it good for Thailand? Most of its supporters were uneducated peasents. Surely the middle classes who support the yellow shirts have a better idea about the needs of their country?

Yesterday was the election in South Africa. I don't know if the results have been announced yet, but it is certain that the African National Congress will win. And it may be they will win the next election too. That cannot be good; yet that is what an illiterate electorate will come up with. The elections in Zimbabwe were certainly rigged, but even if they were not, we can be sure that many Zimbabweans would have voted for Mugabe despite all his tyranny. Across Africa, corrupt leaders have been able to exploit elections.

I am inclined to sympathize with the supporters of Thailand's elites rather than her rural poor. I guess that is the right-winger in me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Polish Salad

One of the wonderful things I have been buying from Tescos lately is Polish salad, or rather, salatka.

It is pickled in a jar and contains cucumber, carrot, onion and red pepper.

It is so convenient. The problem with fresh salad is that it goes off. This pickled salad lasts for ages. One of the wonderful things that Britain's new Polish population has brought us.

Tescos sell it on a special shelf dedicated to Polish products.

Times: Enemy of the people? No, Tesco is a hero

Times: Enemy of the people? No, Tesco is a hero

Despite the recession, Tescos, the supermarket giant, is doing incredibly well. She rules the whole world, except in the USA, where she failed to sink Walmart.

I used to resent Tescos for her market dominance, but I have grown to love the place; its choice and variety.

I love the Tescos here in Stevenage. It is huge and sells everything you could need. I bought my vacuum cleaner there and I could have got my laptop from there as well.

They sell flip flops. They had a sale on recently and I bought loads of pairs. Tescos clothing is pretty good and at excellent prices.

The online Tescos is great too- they sell albums by obscure black metal bands like Hate Forest (the thought of getting an Hate Forest album from Tescos is kind of surreal).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Night of the Dead Bees

The government is going to spend lots of money investigating the decline in the bee population.

Everyone seems really worried about the decline. Experts are saying that the consequences could be catastrophic.

Another doomsday scenario to add to the list.

Does anybody wonder if maybe it might be in the interests of bee experts to make people alarmed about this subject?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Is this a north/ south difference?

One thing I have noticed is that lots of people in the south wear bomber jackets. When I lived in the midlands, I did not see many people wearing bomber jackets.

Is this because the skinhead scene was much bigger in the south? Or did a skinhead revival start after I moved to the south?

Bomber jackets are cool. I think skinhead stuff is cool.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bespectacled

Have you noticed that nobody ever uses the word bespectacled any more? I suppose they think it has negative connotations.

I think it is a shame.

Surely it is easier to say bespectacled than wearing glasses?

Too many decent English words are being lost.

Not drinking much

I only had one beer this week. I have not bought any beer since the previous weekend.

In my job I see the bad side of alcohol, in fact that is the main thing I am dealing with. That does not really put me in the mood for drinking much, even though I enjoy beer.

A few weeks ago, I was drinking a bit more than was good for me. I have totally slowed down lately.

I think it is important that if I am helping people to cut down their drinking, I am not enslaved to the stuff myself.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Times: The Church must stop trivializing Easter

Times: The Church must stop trivializing Easter

by the Very Rev. Tom Wright, bishop of Durham

Wright may be an Anglican and therefore a promoter of false ecumenicism and his views on justification may be deeply unsound, but he has been stalwart in his defence of the historicity of the resurrection.

It is wonderful to see the evidence for the resurrection being brought to light in the Times.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Visiting St. Albans

My parents came to visit today. We decided to visit the pleasent medieval town of St. Albans. So far, I had only been there for work purposes.

Thankfully, it is a beautiful spring day.

We had lunch at a nice restuarant bar. I had a steak with spinach, potato wedges and fried cabbage. At this restuarant bar they had Franzikaner, a German wheat beer that I am quite fond of.

St. Albans cathedral is a mixture of both Norman and Gothic architecture. It was nice, but it lacked the magnificence of truly gothic cathedrals.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Details

I am listening to a punk rock band who shared the same name as the organisation I work for.

I can actually think of another punk rock band who shared the same name as a British charity.

I can assure you its not the Sex Pistols or the Dead Kennedys.

I prefer not to say too much about my exact job, in case I breach anybody's confidentiality or compromise my service in any way.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

I am Right-wing or Left-wing depending on my mood

I am Left-wing when:

* I listen to Punk rock music.
* I hear about the plight of asylum seekers and refugees in this country.
* Politicians talk about welfare reform.
* People make mean comments about single mothers.
* I read blogs by American conservatives who have the mad idea that free healthcare is a bad thing.
* I see cool people with pink hair and facial piercings.
* I meet Daily Mail readers.

I am Right-wing when:


* I listen to military marches from the Kaiserreich (Wagner's Kaisermarch is one of my favorites).
* I see anything to do with Tsarist Russia.
* I hear people worshipping Nelson Mandela.
* I hear talk about abolishing the Act of Settlement.
* I read articles in the Guardian arguing that too many people are sent to prison.
* I listen to black metal music.
* I see photographs of Sarah Palin.
* I see environmentalist protestors on the t.v.
* I hear trade union representatives speaking on the radio.
* I hear Liberal Democrats talking about rich people paying more taxes.
* I look at paintings by William Adolphe Bouguereau.

I have the urge to get my nose pierced again

I had my nose pierced when I was 18. It has since healed, leaving only the tiniest of scars.

A lot of people in my line of work have their noses pierced and I keep getting the urge to have mine done again.

Somebody with taste

Somebody complemented me on the pair of flip flops I was wearing today. Usually my colleagues in drug services either humour or ridicule my habit of wearing flip flops nearly all the time.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

No to Popery!

I am disgusted that our prime minister is seeking to end the Act of Settlement and therefore free the heirs to our throne to marry Roman Catholics.

We are a Protestant nation with a Protestant nation with a Protestant heritage that we must defend.

I am particularly disgusted at the way our weak and incompetent prime minister is trying to curry favour with Rome and Catholic voters. Just look at how keen he is to have the Pope visit the country.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Update

I have started doing what I have been employed to do. I won't go into any detail about my role, but it involves working with people with drug and alcohol problems, primarily the latter.

Things are going well. Thanks for all your prayers.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Surprise, surprise

I did an assesment today with a client who might be described as a hippy. Very into the drug and drop-out culture.

She addressed me as man. She told me I was very chilled out.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How to be a Drugs Worker Part 2

Always address your client as man.

When speaking to clients use hippy terminology, such as heavy, far out and groovy. Always refer to money as bread.

Another prayer request

I am feeling frustrated at the moment because I have not started the main function for which I was employed. I am in the post, but I cannot do the job until a certain agreement is made with another organisation. A result of this is that I am travelling a lot further to work than I am supposed to.

Please pray that this agreement is finalised and signed.

Thanks for all your prayers, people.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Drug Tests

I am temporarily based at the service in Watford.

Today I learned how to carry out urine and swab tests for drugs (for clients on probation). Not something I will ordinarily be doing, but it is good to learn new stuff. When doing the urine test, you have to watch the client do their business.

New Car

My parents got me a new car on Saturday. I am picking it up next Saturday.

Its a second-hand Hyundai Get.

I have to drive to the outskirts of London to pick it up. I am a bit nervous about the journey so I would appreciate your prayers.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Moderate or Good

Believe it or not I am setting my radio alarm really early these days so I can listen to the shipping forecast.

I just love the shipping forecast! Like every other landlubber, the shipping forecast means absolutely nothing to me, yet that is why it so pleasurable to listen to. I can just lie in my bed and let these mysterious announcements wash over me and be glad that I don't have to worry about it. It has such a soothing effect.

Meanwhile the captain of a ship somewhere is bracing himself for a terrible storm.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Organising a formal debate

I was due to lead the structured day programme today. This is a programme of group activities for people with drug and alcohol problems. The activity that had been planned for the group had been cancelled and so my boss asked me to come up with an activity for the clients.

I suggested getting them to do a formal debate and she liked that idea. She got them to debate the causes of addiction:

Addiction is due to personal choice

v

Addiction is caused by society.


A great subject because it addresses questions of blame and responsiblity.

The clients found the activity very challenging, but they nevertheless had a really good debate.

I bet you never realised how diverse drugs work can be.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cooked Breakfasts

For over a week I have been eating cooked breakfasts every morning. Not a full English breakfast with all the trimmings, but sausage sandwiches or black pudding (by the way, if anybody thinks Christians should not eat black pudding, see on of my earliest posts).

The great thing about cooked breakfasts is they give you so much energy to get through the day.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

ATM Cash Machines

Did you know that if you exceed your overdraft limit on an ATM cash machine, the screen flashes the message:

Think again, pal. Your shelf is empty!


Actually, I just made that up. But it would be cool they did.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Monkey: Journey to the West

I have been listenting to some amazing music.

Remember the BBC theme tune to the 2008 Olympics? The amazing cartoon with the monkey? That was a remix from Damon Albarn's most recent musical project.

Damon Albarn, formerly of the rock band Blur, surprised everybody recently by composing a Chinese opera based on the Chinese epic, Journey to the West, by by Wu Cheng'en. This music is absolutely amazing. It makes use of electronic music elements and a little bit of rock music, but it utilises the Chinese pentatonic scale rather than western musical structures.

I started reading Arthur Waley's translation of Journey to the West and am really enjoying it. It tells the story of Prince Tripitaka, a Buddhist monk who journeys to India to retrieve sacred scriptures. He is accompanied by three strange characters, the deified monkey king, a pig-like creature and a river demon. If that sounds a little familiar, it may be that you have seen the 1970s Japanese tv series based upon the story.

Journey to the West is an epic story, with fantastic monsters and creatures to rival Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Yet it is a story on an even more cosmic scale, taking place in heaven as well as earth.

The story contains some hilarious political satire. The Chinese believed their gods were organised along the lines of their own society. Journey to the West reflects this by portraying the celestial realms as being run by divine, but small-minded and incompetent bureaucrats.

Part of the reason I love this work is that it is based on a supernatural cosmology. The various beings of earth interact with heavenly beings who have a definite physical location. The tragedy of modern science is that it has left the west with a cosmology that is entirely physicalist and materialist. It sees only a vast material universe of decaying stars and cold, dead planets. Christianity has largely abandoned the idea of a definite place called heaven. Theologians are often quick to insist that there is no heaven 'up there.' If that is the case, then we have a real problem making sense of the Ascension of our Lord.

We have to recover the idea of a cosmos composed of regions celestial, terrestrial and infernal, populated by spiritual as well as earthly beings.

First male client

Usually drugs services treat more male than female. Strangely, enough I only did my first male client assesment today. So far most of my clients have been alcoholic ladies with child protection and domestic violence issues.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Professor Nutt had a point

Outrage was expressed in parliament yesterday over comments by one of the government's senior drugs advisors, Professor David Nutt. Nutt had pointed out that horse riding caused more deaths annually than the drug ecstasy. The home secretary, Jackie Smith demanded he apologised for the comments.

It is unfortunate that our leaders are so quick to miss an obvious point; that is that ecstasy causes only a small number of deaths in comparison with activities that are seen as perfectly normal. If the sole reason for keeping ecstasy illegal is that it is dangerous, why are other more dangerous activities permitted?

The home secretary has made it clear that she will dismiss recommendations by her scientific advisors that ecstasy shoiuld be downgraded from a class A to a class B drug. This raises the question of what the point is of having advisors if government ministers announce they will ignore their recommendations.

Monday, February 09, 2009

How to be a drugs worker

I say to the client:

I forbid you to ever take drugs again.


The client goes home and never takes drugs again.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Travelling in bad weather

I just made an horrible journey to Watford in this dreadful weather. I made it here, but I still got to drive back.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

You've got a Brrrrgrrr?

I have a colleague with a really strong Scottish accent.

Last week I brought in a burger from the sandwich shop next door. The Scottish colleague said:

You've got a brrrgrrr?


On seeing my brrrgrrr, she proceeded to buy her own brrrgrrr.

I am talking like a Southerner

I am starting to talk like a southerner.

I can't tell the difference between how people sound in London, Hastings or Stevenage, but I am talking like one of them now.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Prayer Update

The job is going well. Thanks for your prayers. I got to carry out my first client risk assesment today.

Please pray for my car. I am having an hard time starting it. This is a worry, beccause I need it to get to Hemel Hempstead. Please pray that the garage gets it running smoothly tomorrow. Thanks so much.























Update: The fault seems to be electrical and I need to go to another garage.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Yet more expence

My car would not start today. The battery had run out. It was old and needed replacing anyway. I had to call out the breakdown service before I could go to work. So I had to pay for a new car battery and I am going to lose my 'no-callouts' discount on the breakdown cover.



Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Working in Hemel Hempstead at the moment

I have started work. I am based in Hemel Hempstead for the moment. It is just under an hour's drive from Stevenage.

I have not started my proper work yet; I am currently shadowing another alcohol and drugs worker.

This is going to be a challenging job, but I am glad I am onboard.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Should be starting work Wednesday

I should be starting work Wednesday. My boss will confirm tomorrow.

I will probably working quite a bit in Watford at first, which will require a bit of travel.

Thanks for your continued prayers.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Thursday, January 08, 2009

I am OK

Things are going fine here in Stevenage, but I am itching to start work.

Please pray that I can start work next week and that I glorify Christ in my job.