It's looking grim...

...but not as grim as when the Tories and their sidekicks release their plans to skewer the poor.

Three strikes and you are out

Not the ConDems new industrial relations policy but something equally as vile. Seems their latest plan to make the innocent pay for the sins of the capitalists in this new proposed 'Three Strikes and you're out' policy. Basically it's Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith planning to impose a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule that will remove benefits for three years from anyone caught trying to defraud the welfare state more than three times.

I actually think that the three strikes bit means something different, more along the lines of;

Strike 1 - involves the welfare state so despised by Daily Mail readers

Strike 2 - involves assorted ne'erdowells, single mums, wayward fathers, disabled people, Johnny Foreigner types, the type of people that Daily Mail readers assume are sponging off the state

Strike 3 - involves extra-judicial punishment to teach the rotters a lesson that the Daily Mail readers would approve of

How can the ConDems go wrong with such a policy!

I believe they can't go wrong because they will never get it past the judiciary. To my mind the whole concept of the welfare state is a contract between the citizens and and the state, overseen by those who we give leave to oversee the system - the politicians. The removal of benefits, whoever much brayed for by those who see it as 'socialism' is not going to happen.

If however your view of the welfare state is as a 'charity' then you might be led to believe that these benefits can be withdrawn at the whim of the administrator. Which reminds me of my favourite quote from Clem Attlee;

'In a civilised community, although it may be composed of self-reliant individuals, there will be some persons who will be unable at some period of their lives to look after themselves, and the question of what is to happen to them may be solved in three ways - they may be neglected, they may be cared for by the organised community as of right, or they may be left to the goodwill of individuals in the community. The first way is intolerable, and as for the third: Charity is only possible without loss of dignity between equals. A right established by law, such as that to an old age pension, is less galling than an allowance made by a rich man to a poor one, dependent on his view of the recipient’s character, and terminable at his caprice'.

To my mind the welfare state we have is the outworking of the virtue of Christian charity not merely preached but practised. Tinker with it and I'll happily man the barricades. And stay there until the government goes after the real abusers of the nations finances, the recipients of state capitalistm benefits, and Clem stops spinning.

((tag: condems, welfare state, Iain Duncan Smith))

Three Strikes and you are out

Thank you posterous, 30 minutes spent writing a post only to find out your sodding editor doesn't work in Opera.

Sunday morning worship

We shall see how this goes down this morning. Just me on guitar and hopefully someone else on the jemba!

There's just something otherworldly about Sacred music.

   (11440 KB)
Listen on posterous

I have to say that it is incredibly east to get content into Posterous!

Pastor Sam Lee - Reforming Pentecostalism

As the first decade of the new millennium is coming to an end, the Pentecostal movement is entering into a new phase in her developments: the Reformation Era in Pentecostalism.  This is an era of self-evaluating, self-awakening and reforming the Pentecostal movement as it is going on now. The Pentecostal Movement with its branches and side branches needs a reformation and a re-intervention on specific areas where things have been going out of hand or in areas that have been neglected.

Any Pentecostal Reformation is long overdue.

Honeybee Killer Found by Army and Entomologists

Since 2006, 20 to 40 percent of the bee colonies in the United States alone have suffered “colony collapse.” Suspected culprits ranged from pesticides to genetically modified food.

Now, a unique partnership — of military scientists and entomologists — appears to have achieved a major breakthrough: identifying a new suspect, or two.

A fungus tag-teaming with a virus have apparently interacted to cause the problem, according to a paper by Army scientists in Maryland and bee experts in Montana in the online science journal PLoS One.

Exactly how that combination kills bees remains uncertain, the scientists said — a subject for the next round of research. But there are solid clues: both the virus and the fungus proliferate in cool, damp weather, and both do their dirty work in the bee gut, suggesting that insect nutrition is somehow compromised.

Liaisons between the military and academia are nothing new, of course. World War II, perhaps the most profound example, ended in an atomic strike on Japan in 1945 largely on the shoulders of scientist-soldiers in the Manhattan Project. And a group of scientists led by Jerry Bromenshenk of the University of Montana in Missoula has researched bee-related applications for the military in the past — developing, for example, a way to use honeybees in detecting land mines.

But researchers on both sides say that colony collapse may be the first time that the defense machinery of the post-Sept. 11 Homeland Security Department and academia have teamed up to address a problem that both sides say they might never have solved on their own.

“Together we could look at things nobody else was looking at,” said Colin Henderson, an associate professor at the University of Montana’s College of Technology and a member of Dr. Bromenshenk’s “Bee Alert” team.

Human nature and bee nature were interconnected in how the puzzle pieces came together. Two brothers helped foster communication across disciplines. A chance meeting and a saved business card proved pivotal. Even learning how to mash dead bees for analysis — a skill not taught at West Point — became a factor.

One perverse twist of colony collapse that has compounded the difficulty of solving it is that the bees do not just die — they fly off in every direction from the hive, then die alone and dispersed. That makes large numbers of bee autopsies — and yes, entomologists actually do those — problematic.

Dr. Bromenshenk’s team at the University of Montana and Montana State University in Bozeman, working with the Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center northeast of Baltimore, said in their jointly written paper that the virus-fungus one-two punch was found in every killed colony the group studied. Neither agent alone seems able to devastate; together, the research suggests, they are 100 percent fatal.

“It’s chicken and egg in a sense — we don’t know which came first,” Dr. Bromenshenk said of the virus-fungus combo — nor is it clear, he added, whether one malady weakens the bees enough to be finished off by the second, or whether they somehow compound the other’s destructive power. “They’re co-factors, that’s all we can say at the moment,” he said. “They’re both present in all these collapsed colonies.”

Research at the University of California, San Francisco, had already identified the fungus as part of the problem. And several RNA-based viruses had been detected as well. But the Army/Montana team, using a new software system developed by the military for analyzing proteins, uncovered a new DNA-based virus, and established a linkage to the fungus, called N. ceranae.

“Our mission is to have detection capability to protect the people in the field from anything biological,” said Charles H. Wick, a microbiologist at Edgewood. Bees, Dr. Wick said, proved to be a perfect opportunity to see what the Army’s analytic software tool could do. “We brought it to bear on this bee question, which is how we field-tested it,” he said.

The Army software system — an advance itself in the growing field of protein research, or proteomics — is designed to test and identify biological agents in circumstances where commanders might have no idea what sort of threat they face. The system searches out the unique proteins in a sample, then identifies a virus or other microscopic life form based on the proteins it is known to contain. The power of that idea in military or bee defense is immense, researchers say, in that it allows them to use what they already know to find something they did not even know they were looking for.

But it took a family connection — through David Wick, Charles’s brother — to really connect the dots. When colony collapse became news a few years ago, Mr. Wick, a tech entrepreneur who moved to Montana in the 1990s for the outdoor lifestyle, saw a television interview with Dr. Bromenshenk about bees.

Mr. Wick knew of his brother’s work in Maryland, and remembered meeting Dr. Bromenshenk at a business conference. A retained business card and a telephone call put the Army and the Bee Alert team buzzing around the same blossom.

The first steps were awkward, partly because the Army lab was not used to testing bees, or more specifically, to extracting bee proteins. “I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”

The process eventually was refined. A mortar and pestle worked better than the desktop, and a coffee grinder worked best of all for making good bee paste.

Scientists in the project emphasize that their conclusions are not the final word. The pattern, they say, seems clear, but more research is needed to determine, for example, how further outbreaks might be prevented, and how much environmental factors like heat, cold or drought might play a role.

They said that combination attacks in nature, like the virus and fungus involved in bee deaths, are quite common, and that one answer in protecting bee colonies might be to focus on the fungus — controllable with antifungal agents — especially when the virus is detected.

Still unsolved is what makes the bees fly off into the wild yonder at the point of death. One theory, Dr. Bromenshenk said, is that the viral-fungal combination disrupts memory or navigating skills and the bees simply get lost. Another possibility, he said, is a kind of insect insanity.

In any event, the university’s bee operation itself proved vulnerable just last year, when nearly every bee disappeared over the course of the winter.

Let's hope this is the breakthrough that everyone has been looking for.

The Pirates - All In It Together (Rockpalast 1979)

I still have the 12" of this squirreled away somewhere. I should dust it off and play it for Cameron.

Here we go "Wee'ere all in it together!"

Well I would but I don't have a record player so the Youtube video will have to do.

The Pirates - All In It Together (Rockpalast 1979)

I still have the 12" of this squirreled away somewhere. I should dust it off and play it for Cameron.

Here we go "Wee'ere all in it together!"

Well I would but I don't have a record player so the Youtube video will have to do.

The Sensible Bond: Neither a borrower nor a borrower be

But there is another issue here and it is this: the more debt you are in, the more you are beholden to this consumerist culture. The more you have a stake in this tottering tower of interdependent debt, the more your interests lie in propping it up. I'm not underestimating here the power and the potential of debt. Nor am I denying that I have debts of my own! I'm simply questioning the probity of the conditions which its preponderance creates.

Ches has sussed why any transition away from capitalism seems to be becoming more and more difficult

Hypocrisy with a yellow tinge

Oh dear Nick, that's not good now is it?

Import Blogger into Posterous

I came across the import function on Posterous while having a look round to see how things work. Seemed a simple process, type in the web address for your blog, be it WP, Blogger and others, click the button and away it goes. Ten minutes later all my posts had been imported into Posterous. Job done.

It's made a good job of importing as well. Text, images and multimedia has been brought across and ispresented nicely. The only issue I had is that any script from Zemanta is left displayed as text at the bottom of the post.

Aside from that, a job donefrom Posterous.

Posterous or Tumblr

I've been having a rummage at convenient ways to add content to my online presence. I had my blogs, my twitter account, my picasaweb account and others. Then I came across Tumblr and Posterous.

Both seemed to do very similar things but there were a number of things that made me decide to use Posterous.

First off, Tumblr is extremely clunky when using Icecat on my Zenwalk laptop. It's not a problem exclusive to Tumblr but any application that relies too much on Javascript, or too much of the wrong type of Javascript ends up this way on my laptop.

Secondly Posterous can cross-post to wherever I want. So it's going to my blogs, image repositores and Youtube account where appropriate. And Psterous will also reformat stuff to fit wherever it's being sent. This is a serious timesaver.

Thirdly Posterous seems much more 'natural' to use than Tumblr. I really struggled making head or tail of using Tumble. Some have commented that Posterous has been 'engineered' and Tumblr 'designed'. Given that I am an engineer then maybe that's what swayed me!

So I'll be posting a bit using Posterous to see how it works out and how much use it will be. I'd be interested in people's take on the Posterous/Tumblr debate so feel free to comment.

Solomon Burke

In memory of Pastor Solomon Burke here is the man himself singing one of my favourites - None Of Us Are Free

RIP Solomon

Sent from my Nokia phone

21st Century Ents

Well they could be?

Sent from my Nokia phone

Emmanuel preaching at RCF

Emmanuel Bankole brings the word at Runnymede Christian Fellowship at Egham in Surrey.

If you're around Egham on a Sunday morning then please do consider visiting us!

Sent from my Nokia phone via posterous just to check and see if it's working.

Worldy Wiseman

Have the Catholics been feeling left out with the recent Methodist legal action mentioned in my previous post?

Seems there's moves afoot for a bit of priest-on-priest court action in the pipeline!

What in God's name is happening to our churches? We're meant to be in the world, not taking on the character of the world. All we need now to finish the show is for the Archbishop of Canterbury to slap a writ on Desmond Tutu's birthday cake. Happy birthday to Desmond tutu!

There is Method(ism) in their madness

Stripped image of John WesleyImage via Wikipedia
I don't know about you but I used to have an impression that the Methodist church in the UK was a denomination typified by being very, very nice people. The sort who wouldn't say boo to a goose yet would give you their last penny to the homeless if needed. In fact a church that I would have passed over if looking for a bit more get up and go, so to say. Looking a bit closer into their workings and teachings I see a much deeper Christian church which is highly concerned with the social gospel and a church that does speak and act louder than maybe their numbers would suggest. A church hidden from my view by my own ignorance I would suggest.

So I'm surprised to see signs of discord within the Methodist church over a resolution adopted by conference regarding the issue of the Occupied Territories and Illegal Settlements.

You can read the resolution over at the Connexions blog by Richard Hall, a Methodist minister. The resolution is hardly inflammatory stuff and concerns itself with goods emanating from illegal settlements.

But this resolution, adopted in a democratic style by the Methodist conference has rather annoyed one Methodist Preacher, David Hallam who is seeking to sue his own church for racism, anti-semitism and a breach of human rights. Although his initial blog post fails to mention that it is he who seeks to mount the legal challenge for some reason.

I have to say though that I'm mystified as to why and how David Hallam is seeking to involve the justice system. I can't for the life of me see any basis for a legal challenge. He is quoted in the Telegraph as saying:

What I object to is money which I am putting on the collection plate on a Sunday being used to fund a political campaign against the Jewish state. This is both discriminatory and a misuse of a charity's funds. The Methodist Church seems to think it has a God given right to tell Jews how to run their affairs. It is very disturbing we are getting involved in a territory where we don't have any members or churches.

I really cannot understand why he hasn't made full use of the Methodist church's internal grievance system, or at the end of the day accept that his church has made this resolution according to it's procedures and get over it!

Richard Hall is blogging about it here and elsewhere on his Connexions blog and is gathering quite a lot of responses.

It will be interesting to see where this goes, but God willing I hope it comes to a just and amicable end sooner rather than later. Things like this have a habit of turning nasty and unedifying.

Words of Wisdom

Image via Wikipedia
If it sounds like you can shampoo with it then regardless of what the marketers say, it isn't tea.

The Parting Of The Red Sea

John Martin's painting of the plague of hail a...Image via Wikipedia
An article on the BBC brings to mind a situation from a few years ago. I used to lead a house group attached to my local Anglican church. I remember one evening as we were studying the Bible that one gentleman couldn't wait to share some news. He had read in the papers that the miracles or calamities performed by God through Moses and Aaron, the Ten Plagues of Egypt were true! There were reports of scientific evidence of how they could have happened. As a reminder the events were:

  • Plague of blood
  • Plague of frogs
  • Plague of lice
  • Plague of flies
  • Plague of livestock death
  • Plague of boils
  • Plague of hail
  • Plague of locusts
  • Plague of darkness
  • Death of the first-born 
You can read about them in Exodus Chapters 7 to 12.

His understanding of 'true' was to reduce the cause and process to purely natural mechanisms.

Yet despite my friend's excitement the 'scientific' reports were pure conjecture. But there was a more serious point to be addressed. In accepting the 'scientific' conjecture he was dismissing the supernatural aspects of God. The fact that the world wishes to place 'scientific' explanations upon what is commonly considered miraculous or supernatural regardless of evidence is something that we as believers need to be on out guard against. Where scientific proof is available then we can step back and accept that there 'may' have been a rational explanation of the process. But our faith is based on the supernatural - outside of the human logic of nature. The resurrection, the atonement for sins, propitiation, healings, all of these involve a supernatural intrusion in our fleshly understanding of nature. Even if the parting of the Red Sea could be explained by natural means this doesn't mean that a supernatural intrusion wasn't the beginning of the event. Less of a co-incidence and more of a God-incidence so to speak.

As a reminder here is Exodus 14:21-23.

 21And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
 22And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.
 23And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.
 24And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians,
 25And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians.
 26And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.
 27And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.
 28And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.
 29But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.
 30Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. (Exodus 14:21-30, King James Version)

May the Lord keep us in faith.

All God's Creatures

Not all of them are beautiful.

I noticed a caterpillar that had rested below the lock on my back gate had made a cocoon around itself. That'll be interesting I thought, to see the process of a butterfly appearing.

Unfortunately nature had other ideas. Some beastie has laid eggs on the cocoon and parked itself next to it. Anyone any ideas on what it may be?

Nostalgia in B&W

Rummaging through YouTube I came across these two theme tunes from programmes that I remember from my childhood. They both create within me a very peculiar feeling, a mixture of melancholy and warmth. Odd.

First off is the title tune to The Adventures Of Robinson Crusoe.

Next up we have the opening theme to White Horses.

If you remember them then enjoy!

A Still Small Voice

All estimates but shouldn't be too far off.

Population of the UK - 61,000,000

Membership of the National Secular Society - 9,000 ( 0.01% of the population )

Membership of the British Humanist Association - 7,000 ( 0.01% of the population )

Number of Catholics in the UK - 4,200,000 ( 6.8% of the population )

It's a shame that the media doesn't give column inches and airspace in proportion to the numbers of those professing 'secularism' rather than in proportion to the egos of some of their spokespeople? Some people can't stand to see the Catholics celebrating with the Pope visiting and really need to take a measure of their own significance.

Someone's not telling the Queen

A snippet below from her Maj's welcome speech to the Pope yesterday:

"Your Holiness, your presence here today reminds us of our common Christian heritage, and of the Christian contribution to the encouragement of world peace, and to the economic and social development of the less prosperous countries of the world. We are all aware of the special contribution of the Roman Catholic Church particularly in its ministry to the poorest and most deprived members of society, its care for the homeless and for the education provided by its extensive network of schools."

Someone's obviously forgot to tell her of her own Government's success in legislating Catholic adoption agencies out of existence and the attack that Catholic, and other faith schools are suffering under.

Just When I'm Warming To Catholicism II

...along comes an article to derail me.

Tony Blair could accompany the Pope

Not only has the article reminded me that Blair was welcomed into the Catholic church despite his unrepentant attitude over the illegal war and hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq and his appalling contradictory record on all matters pertaining to Catholic social teaching, now they're planning to have 'straight guy' Tone accompany the Holy Father on his trip to England!

Who's running the show, who's planning the itinerary? They should sub it out to the National Secular Society or suchlike as you can guarantee they wouldn't do such an appalling job.

Do the English Catholics really despise Pope Benedict that much?

Burn A Koran Day

A few years ago 19 men hijacked a number of aircraft in US airspace and deliberately crashed them into a number of targets. There must have been a number of people working behind the scenes to enable this dreadful event. Maybe 50 people in total? From that dreadful day we have seen a wave of hatred for Islam fuelled by a desire for revenge coupled with ignorance about what Islam actually is. How many have died, have suffered because of the response of the 'West' to the events on September the 11th?

On September the 11th this year pastor Terry Jones from the Dove World Outreach Centre plans for his church to hold a 'Burn A Koran Day' to send a message to 'the radical element of Islam'. His church has about 50 people in their congregation. How much hatred and desire for revenge will be ignited by his event as the message is picked up by Muslims throughout the world who will not distinguish between the views of this pastor and the 'Christian West'?

In the book of Matthew Jesus clearly calls us to be peacemakers.
Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 
His call is to be peacemakers. Not peacekeepers. Not warmongerers. Not vengeful.

Jesus doesn't call us to be stupid either. Obviously the message isn't getting through.

It Was Gravity That Done It

It seems to me that those who loudly proclaim "There is no God!" seem to spend an awful lot of time talking about the deity they don't believe in. And oft ignorantly so.

Stephen Hawking seems to be sticking to type by claiming that God wasn't necessary to create the universe. He says so in his new book "The Grand Design". 'New book'? Perhaps this gives us a clue.

This book seems to contain a few cases that would stretch the laws of logic a tadge far. We have:

'Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.'
'Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.
Sigh. This makes the arguments of the 'Chicken Watcher General' look reasoned.

Now that's a calculator!

I remember my brother building this Sinclair Scientific calculator many, many years ago. Powered by 4 x AAA batteries and operating with reverse polish notation. I used it in earnest doing my HND at Southall College of Technology. And still working! Both me and the calculator.

Battery life better than expected as people who borrowed it quickly returned it when they couldn't find the 'equals' key. And there isn't one.

The secret life of Dr Marie Stopes

Author unknown (image is more than 100 years o...Image via Wikipedia
I have to wonder why the BBC is giving the revisionist whitewash treatment to Marie Stopes. Howard Falcon-Long seems to be deliberately leaving out the bits that taint her life and character by the standards of today. She is portrayed as a female pioneer in a man's world, someone with hidden depths and talent. Which in a way she was. But why has the more unsavoury aspects of her career and her thought been left out?

We can start with eugenics. She was an advocate of selective breeding and eugenics to ensure racial purity. She disowned her son because his chosen wife needed to wear glasses. She campaigned to get people of mixed race, the poor and the sick sterilised. She continually called for the compulsory sterilisation of the diseased, drunkards, or simply those of bad character. That's Parliament dealt with then!

She seemed to have a soft spot for Hitler and admired his initial policies on racial purity. She attended a Nazi party congress on 'Population Science' in 1935. The lower classes, the 'working class' were another of her special targets, hence the opening of her 'birth control' clinics in poor areas.

I think she would fit in rather well today given the recent furore surrounding the idea of compulsory sterilisation that we see in the news.

BBC News - The secret life of Dr Marie Stopes

All Creatures Of Our God And King

Saw this creature while out walking the dog. It was kind enough to stay still long enough for me to take a pic with my Nokia E71.
It's beauty reminded me of the wonderful hymn by Draper, 'All Creatures Of Our God And King', itself based upon St Francis of Assisi's 'Canticle of the Sun'

Things I Should Have Done - St Gerasimos

St Gerasimos (Gerasim)Image by jimforest via Flickr
Was on holiday in Kefalonia a few years ago. Had a choice of excursions. One was to do something, I don't know what. The other was to join the celebrations of St Gerasimos' feast day.

Because of his reputation as a healer his relics are brought out each year and passed over anyone who is suffering with an illness in order to effect a cure. Would have been interesting.

Needless to say we did the other, a beach bbq I think. Now where's my time machine.

Just when I'm Warming to Catholicism

Along comes an article to derail me.

Fr Lombardi: Great Expectations for Popes UK Trip

Such an inoffensive article detailing some of the itinerary of the Pope's forthcoming trip to England and Scotland. But there's one section which just got my goat. It's this one here:
Then, I would highlight the Pope's great address in Westminster Hall, his meeting with civil society, the world of culture, with all the most active and influential members of English society.
And what about the rest of us? What's with setting aside this group as the 'most active and influential members of English society'? I'm betting that most of them will be there because of who they know or who they've brown-nosed. How many of them are actually Catholics who support the teaching of the Church and support the Holy Father? Call it inverse snobbery or something like that but these sort of concepts really, really get my blood pressure up. What about the rest of the English Catholic church, or even the rest of the population, are they inactive and ineffective? The tone of the phrase I've picked out would seem to infer that.

One of the long standing takes I have on much of church leadership and the status of the great and the good is that they set themselves aside from the masses as though they were something special. That they are chosen to lead and we should know our place and follow. That they are the ones with the revelation which they will share with us as long as we doff the cap and curtsey. Know thy place.  As the oft missed out verse of 'All things bright and beautiful' goes:

The rich man in his castle,

The poor man at his gate,

He made them, high or lowly,

And ordered their estate.

I'm afraid my long suffering stereotype of the English Catholic has just been unfortunately entrenched.

Test sending from Nokia E71

Using my Nokia E71 to see if posting to this blog works, and also how it works.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Blogcatalog Widget is back!

I've been bitching recently, here and here about how the Blogcatalog recent visitors widget would only show on refresh and then refused to show altogether. Posting on Blogcatalogs support forum prompted not even a reply from the owners or the community.

But I presume someone's fixed the remote code as it now seems to be working. So a big thank you to whoever rolled their sleeves up at Blogcatalog.

Now, how to use Blogcatalog to increase interested and interesting traffic!

Anglicanorum Coetibus

Image via Wikipedia
The recent decision of the synod of the church of england not to accomodate those such as the Anglo-Catholics who cannot submit to the inclusion of women in the episcopate would seem to lay to bed the notion that the Anglican Communion is a broad and inclusive church.

Those such as the Anglo-Catholics are now in a position where the apostolic succession of any Bishop, and any priest, male or female may be uncertain and there are obvious issues when it comes to priestly duties.

It's a shame when a church which claims to be intolerant and inclusive refuses to show tolerance and patience to sections of it's own family. So the offer from Pope Benedict of the Anglicanorum Coetibus should be most welcome, although things do seem to be moving slowly.

I do wonder why the existing Anglo-Catholic structure and family can't be brought into full communion with the Roman Catholic church simply by becoming Catholics? If I was an Anglo-Catholic I'd be in the Tiber by the time you finished reading this.

Blogcatalog Widget Removed

I posted earlier about the Blogcatalog latest visitors widget which was only showing after a page refresh. Others confirmed that fact as well. So I posted on Blogcatalog's forums and received no joy, or even a reply.

Now it seems the widget is not showing at all. So until Blogcatalog can get their act together then it's been removed.

Oh, and they're annoying me with messages in my inbox about 'Expose Yourself!' I think it's one of their schemes but I ask you! Tsk, tsk.

Give and be blessed, receive and bless

Isaac Blessing Jacob, painting by Govert Flinc...Image via Wikipedia
We know full well that our obedience counts as a blessing, especially in the realm of giving. But it's also true that our obedience in receiving can lead to a blessing. Sometimes our pride can get in the way when people seek to bless us by their giving but we should always be obedient in such matters.

Let me illustrate this and more by way of an example from my pastor. He was on a mission trip to Uganda and was visiting a number of churches. As things go he would often have a lot of people wanting to speak to him at the end of the services. In one instance he was confronted by an old man who insisted that he give my pastor his blanket, a somewhat well worn blanket which in reality would be no use for my pastor. So my pastor tried not to receive the blanket, thinking it would be of more use to the man but he was pulled up by the local pastor. He told my pastor that God is telling him to give what little he has and by not receiving you are taking away opportunity to be obedient to God. So my pastor gratefully received the blanket.

Further on in the mission trip he came across an old man who had nothing, literally nothing. Then my pastor remembered the blanket which he'd tried not to receive. And with that blanket he could bring a blessing to the man who had nothing.

It shows that nothing is as simple as it seems, even the process of giving and receiving. The old man got to be obedient to God. My pastor got to be obedient to God. And in his obedience could convey that blessing to the man with nothing. We always need to be aware that Christ is at the centre, not man or ourselves. We need to have faith to trust beyond what we see or expect.

Meditiation on giving

St. Ambrose, painting by Maria Brusco; Oratory...Image via Wikipedia
I've blogged before about Catholic Social Teaching and now I've come across an excellent article from Miki Tracy from the Gilbert House Catholic Worker Community on giving and obedience which can be found on the Distributist Review.

In it Miki quotes a number of Church Fathers, bible verses, scripture and other Christians on the theme of giving to the poor. I've not noticed a lot of these before but they do really grab your attention when grouped together so I'm going to thieve them and post them here! They really do make an excellent base for some scriptural meditation.

"The mystery of poverty is that by sharing in it, making ourselves poor in giving to others, we increase our knowledge and belief in love." - Dorothy Day

"As you do to the least of these My brethren, so you do it unto Me." - Matthew 25:40

"Words express, but examples persuade." - Pope Benedict XVI

"It is the crushed heart which is the soft heart, the tender heart. - an OCD Sister to Dorothy Day

"Christian love is not philanthropy." - Father Stanley Jaki

"You never give to the poor what is yours; you merely return to them what belongs to them. For what you have appropriated [for yourself] was given for the common use of everybody. The land was given [by GOD] for everybody, not just the rich." - St. Ambrose of Milan

"The bread that is in your box belongs to the hungry; the coat in your closet belongs to the naked; the shoes you do not wear belong to the barefoot; the money in your vault belongs to the destitute." - St. Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea, c. A.D. 370

"Give something, however small, to the one in need. For it is not small to the one who has nothing. Neither is it small to GOD, if we have given what we could." - St Gregory Naziansen, Bishop of Constantinople, late fourth century

"Nothing is your own. You are a slave and what is yours belongs to the Lord. For a slave has no property that is truly his own; naked you were brought into this life." - Asterius, Bishop of Amasea, from "The Unjust Steward" c. A.D. 400

"It is true that there is a thing crudely called charity, which means charity to the deserving poor, but charity to the deserving is not charity at all, but justice." - G.K. Chesterton, in Heretics

"Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty, and remember their misery no more. Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are left desolate. Open your mouth, judging righteously, maintain the rights of the poor and needy." - Proverbs 31:6-9

"Make yourself beloved in the congregation; bow your head low to the great man. Incline your ear to the poor, and answer him peaceably and gently. Deliver him who is wronged from the hand of the wrongdoer; do not be fainthearted in judging a case. Be like a father to the orphans…you will then be like a son of the Most High, and He will love you more than does your own mother." - Sirach 4:7-10

"You shall love the Lord your GOD with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind….[and] you shall love your neighbor as yourself." -Matthew 22:37-40

"Stretch forth your hand to the poor, so that your blessing may be complete. Give graciously to all the living, and withhold not kindness from the dead. Do not fail those who weep, but mourn with those who mourn. Do not shrink from visiting the sick man, because of such deeds you will be loved. In all that you do, remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin." - Sirach 7:32-36
A big thank you to Miki for showing me such inspiring scripture and life.

St Justin Martyr and the Eucharist

This video seems to be doing the rounds of a number of Catholic blogs and sites. Certainly some interesting stuff there which purports to be written in the early church history.

When I was drawn to Christ I went to the nearest Church of England church to where I lived. After all, not knowing anything about Christianity I checked a few churches out but the CofE seemed the 'safest'. This church was actually in the neighbouring parish but because of the location of where I lived it made more sense to join with the neighbouring parish. We then had a Church Army captain planted on our estate to do outreach and after a year the parish set up a church to meet on out estate. It did quite well. But so that they could share communion they brought an ordained minister out of retirement to help with things. However, when he threw in the towel, the church plant wasn't allowed to celebrate communion without an ordained minister. And as they didn't have one they couldn't share communion. In the end the church plant faded and died.

At the time I think this sort of event built up my frustration with the CofE and evnetually I left for a pentecostal church where tings of this nature were looked at less religiously, or strictly.

But the video below does get me thinking, were the parish right to restrict communion or were they wrong.

What do you think? And any comments on the video?

Entertaining Angels

 1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. 3 Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.
4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say:
      “ The LORD is my helper;
      I will not fear.
      What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:1-6, New King James Version)

Blogcatalog widget issue

It may just be me but the Blogcatalog widget over on the right doesn't seem to load unless the page is refreshed. I've checked it with Opera, Chrome and Firefox on linux and all he same.

Anyone else see this problem?

French ban burkha

I wait for you...Image by insane_capture via Flickr
It's been reorted that the France's lower parliament has voted to ban the wearing of the burkha in public. The bill would make it illegal to wear garments such as the niqab or burka, which incorporate a full-face veil, anywhere in public. It envisages fines of 150 euros (£119) for women who break the law and 30,000 euros and a one-year jail term for men who force their wives to wear the burka. If ratified then it becomes law in September.

I can't say that I followed any of the debate but the soundbites being reported are somewhat worrying.

Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said it was a "victory for democracy and for French values" and "Democracy thrives when it is open-faced." She added that the bill, which makes no reference to Islam or veils, was not aimed at "stigmatising or singling out a religion".

Berengere Poletti, an MP from Mr Sarkozy's centre-right UMP party, said women in full veils wore "a sign of alienation on their faces" and had to be "liberated".

Andre Gerin of the Communist opposition compared the veil to "a walking coffin, a muzzle".

Now I'm no fan of Islam but this bill seems nothing more than playing the heavy hand against those who it deems are different. It's state intervention to change a cultural attribute, an action more worthy from a political dictatorship than a so-called modern democracy. Once the precedence has been set where do the limits end? Do we know? I could understand a bill that required faces to be seen in places like banks and government offices, but just on the streets? Likewise when driving I'm sure there are laws that require a high degree of vision.

So what does it mean for those affected, for the women, and it will be women who have to live with this decree? There will be fines for women who flout the ban. And if they are pressured or threatened by their husbands or families to continue to wear the burkha then the husbands can be fined or jailed. That's going to do wonders for the peronal safety of these women! But perhaps that's not important when compared to the state showing how tough it is when it comes to dealing with cultural islam.

I'm glad to see at least someone on the left who has managed to retain a modicum of common sense in this sea of xenophobia, Jean Glavany, a Socialist MP, who said he opposed the ban on the grounds that it was "nothing more than the fear of those who are different, who come from abroad, who aren't like us, who don't share our values". Shame on the rest of the so called left in France who have dropped their values of freedom and libertarianism.

It does make me wonder how long it will be before other cultural attributes become targets for the legislature?

A Spiritual Evening

Left Anti-Semitism?

This is a cross-post from one of my other blogs. As it's got a religious element I thought it fair game to post here!

It's not a website I normally frequent but there appears a peculiar story in the Brussels Journal. It's about the increasing harassment of Jews in Amsterdam.

As with any harassment of identifiable people groups the Dutch Police use undercover decoy tactics to hold accountable those guilty of such attacks. It's commonly used to identify people who are considered to actively harass groups such as prostitutes, gay persons, or the elderly. And to me it sounds a pretty good tactic. Who could find anything wrong with that?

Well it seems one particular party does, but only when the undercover police are dressed as Jews. The website reports Evelien van Roemburg, an Amsterdam counselor of the Green Left Party, saying that using a decoy by the police amounts to provoking a crime.

But only when it's the Jews. Apparently.

I would hate to think that a party that is identified by many on the left as 'of the left' in fact turns out to have such tendencies. Perish the thought.

But it could all be Daily Mail style reporting by what is obviously a right-wing website.

Spritual Radio

Eastern Orthodox CrossImage via Wikipedia
One thing I love to do when working, at a keyboard or elsewhere is to listen to the radio. At my daily work my lab doesn't have any windows with a view to the outside world and the radio reception tends to be a bit rubbish. It wouldn't be right to use the company's broadband so I use my mobile phone to connect to on-line radio stations.

One of my favourites is Ancient Faith Radio. On their website they say:

Ancient Faith Radio seeks to deepen and enrich the faith of Orthodox Christians around the world with streaming audio programming and on-demand podcasts. We feature liturgical music from a variety of Orthodox traditions, as well as prayers, readings, lectures, and interviews.

Ancient Faith Radio is a division of Conciliar Media Ministries, which operates under the auspices of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America. However, it is a pan-Orthodox ministry and thus serves and supports all jurisdictions.
One thing I would like to change about them is that all the liturgy seems to be in English.

Anyone know of any on-line radio stations broadcasting orthodox or catholic liturgy and chant?


I like Stan. You should too.

The Papal Visit

So Benedict XVI is going to visit the UK in September this year. How do we know? Because of all the protests that are being lined up!

We have the National Secular Society, The Orange Order, Gay Humanists, Central London Humanist Group, the British Humanist Association, the National Secular Society, One Law for All, the Gay And Lesbian Humanist Association, the Rationalist Association, OutRage! and more.

They must see Pope Benny as a big fish for him to generate this amount of indignation. Not even Mugabe could rouse the wrath of so many!

Prayer by Hans Urs von Balthasar

Just ordered Prayer by Hans Urs von Balthasar.

I was impressed by Pope Benedict's book Jesus of Nazareth and gave a short review on this blog The Sign Of The Cross: Jesus Of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI

I'm also aware of the huge theological influence that Hans Urs von Balthasar has has on the Pope so I thought it would be good to dip into some of his stuff. On his book called 'Prayer' gets some excellent reviews. And if you want to connect up on then you can find me here.

Now ordered, looking forward to delivery!

Catholic Social Teaching

One aspect of Catholicism that really appeals to me is the concept of Catholic Social teaching.

Aside from the work of the Church this is perhaps evolved and expressed most eloquently through the works of the Catholic Worker Movement initiated by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, although this movement is not an official organ of the church.

Here in the UK we even have our very own Catholic worker Farm! You can read more about the farm at the London Catholic Worker.

All fascinating stuff!

Do not the rich oppress you?

Funny what surprises the Bible can spring upon you. I got my large study bible down from the bookshelf to have a nose through when I had 10 minutes spare and I settled upon the James, specifically chapter 2.

 1My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
 2For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
 3And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
 4Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? (James 2:1-4, King James Version)

Quite a strong passage there highlighting how we should practice equality in our relations and transactions with other people. So strong is the request that the passage suggests that to treat people based upon their outward appearance or worldly standing is in fact a sin!

Verses 5 to 7 is an interesting passage which I think I will need to look into ar depth another time.

 5Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
 6But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
 7Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? (James 2:5-7, King James Version)

Who are the poor? In contrast to the ways of this world God seems to have a heart for those whom this world looks down upon or shuns. A world turned upside down is a world that God seems to favour!

Gang Attack St Michael's Abbey in Farnborough

Surprisingy Farnborough in Hampshire has it's own Abbey, St Michael's Abbey. Well, not quite it's own but one built by The Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III of France.

Unfortunately the Abbey grounds and the monastic community have recently been attacked, as reported in the Farnborough News and Mail.

I visited the Abbey last Saturday and asked my guide Brother Thomas how they were coping. His reply was "it's an occupational hazard nowadays."

Gang attack historic abbey in Farnborough
By Jack Sommers
June 25, 2010

MONKS are living in fear after a gang of teenagers stormed their historic abbey, causing £2,000 worth of damage.

A group of between 15 and 20 youths began shouting abuse at the monks at St Michael’s Abbey via the gate-phone at its Farnborough Road entrance in the late hours of Saturday June 12, the day of England’s match against the USA in the World Cup.

Father Dom Cuthbert Brogan, abbot of the Grade 1 listed abbey, said he had been frustrated when he was told by police that it would not be possible to immediately despatch officers to the scene when he reported the disturbance.

The police said that the evening had been busy, with disturbances caused by a large number of people who had gone out after the World Cup match.

Fr Cuthbert said: “While I understand the limited resources of the police force and the necessity of prioritising emergency calls, I cannot help but be disappointed to be informed, while 20 youths are breaking into our property and threatening us, that the most we can hope for is a visit within a few days for an incident report.

Pray for the safety of the Abbey and the community there.

Here's a pic I took whilst there. Enjoy, and visit if you can!

Religious Profiling

Not the sort that you'd expect from our present government in the UK but a bit of fun. Steve Hayes at Notes from Underground posted recently with his results from the Belief-o-matic questionnaire on religious identity. So here's mine:

1. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (100%)
2. Eastern Orthodox (93%)
3. Roman Catholic (93%)
4. Orthodox Quaker (93%)
5. Seventh Day Adventist (93%)
6. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (74%)
7. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (68%)
8. Jehovah's Witness (65%)
9. Hinduism (61%)
10. Orthodox Judaism (56%)

Interesting fun stuff, if perhaps a little inaccurate!

Jesus Of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI

Jesus of Nazareth Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was pleasantly surprised by how readable and encouraging this book is. Pope Benedict XVI has shown himself to have a fantastic understanding of the Gospels and their sources, as well he should! He brings that information along and presents it in a fresh and inspiring way. Many, many times he shows how connected the Bible is to itself and how doctrine and theology stretch consistently from Genesis to Revelation, how themes are repeated and built up and how what we have is truly inspired.

So put aside any bigotry, if you have any and grab a copy!

View all my reviews!

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When I Hear The Praises Start

Was there ever such a talent devoted to God?

Probably. But I bet they weren't as good at contemporary Christian worship as Keith Green was!


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Unwritten Traditions and Past Errors

As I grow older and hopefully mature more in the faith I become more aware of what I don't have to help me in the faith that other Christians have. And that is tradition. Years ago traditions were to me restrictive and also purposeful in defending an office of man - the priesthood. Now I see the errors in past. Tradition has a rightful and God-given role in the life and structure of the church. Tradition is there to unite, to guide, to inspire, to protect, to defend, to aid evangelism, nd to build up the community.

So there is my quandry now, how to live as a Christian in self-exile from the bearers of that tradition. And for the future may God grant me the guidance and strength I seek.

St. John of Damascus:

John de DamascusThe eyewitnesses and ministers of the word not only handed down the law of the Church in writings, but also in certain unwritten traditions. For whence do we know the holy place of the skull? Whence the memorial of life? Does not a child learn it from his father without anything being written down? It is written that the Lord was crucified in the place of the skull and buried in a tomb, that Joseph had hewn in a rock; but that these are the places now venerated we know from unwritten tradition, and there are many other examples like this. What is the origin of threefold baptism, that is with three immersions? Whence praying facing the East? Whence veneration of the cross? Are they not from unwritten tradition? Therefore the divine apostle says, So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter. Since many things have been handed down in unwritten form in the Church and preserved up to now, why do you split hairs over the images? Manichees composed the Gospel according to Thomas; are you now going to write the Gospel according to Leo? I do not accept any emperor who tyrannically snatches at the priesthood. Have emperors received the authority to bind and loose? ... I am not persuaded that the church should be constituted by imperial canons, but rather by patristic traditions, both written and unwritten. For just as the Gospel was proclaimed in all the world in written form, so in all the world it has been handed down in unwritten form that Christ the incarnate God should be depicted, and the saints, just as the cross is venerated and we stand to pray, facing the East.
Encouraged by The Lion and The Cardinal blog.
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Prayer for a pastor

Nigeria 2006, Abuja fishmarketImage by pjotter05 via Flickr
My Pastor, Dave Food is off to Nigeria on a week of mission. His first visit to the country. If anyone is able to remember him in their prayers with me then that would be excellent.

Planned Timetable

Tuesday 2nd February Depart Heathrow to Abujja

Wednesday 3rd February Arrive Abujja, Depart Abuja, arrive Oweri
Am - Preach at a city wide Prayer session

Pm - Preach at Kingdom Glory Church

Thursday 4th February Am - Speak to leaders (tbc)

Pm - Preach at Faith Chapel Church

Friday 5th February Am - Preach at Oasis of Faith, Pastor Emmanuel’s birthday celebration

Pm - Preach at Night of Miracles at the Umuahia Stadium

Saturday 6th February Am - Morning free – rest and relaxation

Pm – Prophetic Evening

Sunday 7th February Am - Preach at Faith Chapel

Pm - Preach at Oasis of faith Church

Monday 8th February Depart Oweri, Abuja

Day in Abuja with Wisdom Ministries leaders

Tuesday 9th February Depart Abuja, arrive Heathrow.
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The Pope and The Lady

My nephew found this card the other day. I know Pope Benny and The Lady but what is the card for? If any readers could enlighten me?



Bigots Ahoy!

I tweeted a link to a humorous and thoughtful post by George Pitcher in his Daily Telegraph blog regarding the article in the Times by Richard Dawkins. Minutes later I had a direct tweet from someone personally ridiculing my faith and calling me a 'pervert'. Not quite sure how that all links together? Anyway, that's the first time I've been abused via Twitter. A first time for everything I suppose.

How sad that we seem to have a growing fundamentalist atheism in the Western world. An atheism that cannot debate or argue without having to resort to such nastiness. An atheism that seeks to make it's philosophy and worldview the de facto worldview, in fact the only worldview. Is their arguement that far lost that they resort to such bigotry?

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