And they wonder why we don't respect them

At a memorial service for Nelson Mandela no less. Must have been a bit of a wheeze, eh?

Authored by Chris Hall

Favourite Podcasts #2

The logo used by Apple to represent Podcasting
The logo used by Apple to represent Podcasting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Another podcast to add to BeyondPod on my smart phone -

Back To The Gospel - Sean McIntyre!

Link to Sean's blog section for sermons

Link to iTunes feed

Authored by Chris Hall
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My God is Awesome!

Sometimes a worship song comes along which really moves you. This one below from Pastor Charles Jenkins is one such. Awesomely so. Love the lyrics to it as well.

Authored by Chris Hall
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Favourite Podcasts

English: Podcast or podcasting icon Fran├žais :...
The smartphone now makes it so easy to get access on the move to audio podcasts of teachings and direction from many people. Certainly I'm finding that I'm using my smartphone more in the car to listen to sound Christian teaching, doctrine and worship rather than the radio or the news.

Here's a list of people and ministries that I regularly listen to.

Messenger International with John and Lisa Bevere

Let My People Think with Ravi Zacharias

Another Day of Victory with Ulf Ekman

Daily Hope with Rick Warren

Insight For Living with Chuck Swindoll

Radical Living, Radical Life with Runnymede Christian Fellowship

Daily Radio Program with Charles Stanley

Any ministries that you'd recommend or think I would benefit from listening to?

My software of choice to listen to podcasts on my Android phone is BeyondPod.

Authored by Chris Hall
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Invasion of the spiders

s. Bipunctata (Common False Widow)
s. Bipunctata (Common False Widow) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Seeing a lot in the news about the recent sightings of False Widow spiders in England. Given that it is one of the few spiders in the UK whose bite can break the skin then perhaps the worry can be understood although I expect it will die down soon with the coming of winter. It's bite can release venom and neurotoxins but it seems the more serious risk is from bacterial infection.

A good time to repost about the other forgotten invader, the Segestria Florentina or Tube Web spider. A few years ago these were harbingers of the end of Western civilisation but the world keeps spinning.

Here's some pics of one of the critters I found in my back garden a few years ago. It's big, black and with a bright green marking which gives the appearance of 'fangs'. This one flipped over on it's back when I disturbed it showing a what seems to be a well armoured body. Found another the following year in some brickwork. Like the False Widow it's bite can puncture skin and people say it's like receiving a 'deep injection' that remains painful for a few hours.

Cecil Frances Alexander wrote about:
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
in the poem Maker of Heaven and Earth and God related creation in Genesis 1:20-22
20 Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird—each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 Then God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply. Let the fish fill the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”

Perhaps a little less fruitful for some of creation Lord!

Authored by Chris Hall
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A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members

BBC News - Orchid View inquest: Pharmacist 'sickened by care home'
"Later, the inquest heard from the former regional manager Sarah O'Mara who denied claims she did not make enough visits to Orchid View, and also denied there was a policy of having no agency workers because of financial constraints.
The coroner said to her: "I haven't heard you take responsibility at all."
Ah, 'responsibility', one of those old fashioned words that didn't make it into the lexicon of 21st Century Management.

Pope John Paul II
Cover of Pope John Paul II
"A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members" - Pope John Paul II

Authored by Chris Hall
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The World Turned Upside Down

The Sermon of the Beatitudes (1886-96) by Jame...
The Sermon of the Beatitudes (1886-96) by James Tissot from the series The Life of Christ, Brooklyn Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In his recording of the Beatitudes St Luke says this:
Luke 6:29-30 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back.
Whilst it has a purpose for this world I don't think it was really meant as an operating procedure for the Metropolitan Police.

According to The Independent.
Police in north London have seized blankets, sleeping bags and food donations from rough sleepers in a crackdown on homelessness.
A local paper reported that the belongings, mostly donated by sympathetic members of the community, were snatched by police from a group of homeless people as they sheltered in an abandoned public baths for the night.
The nine people, including a man in his sixties, were seeking cover from a cold night in Redbridge and were left stunned when their worldly possessions disappeared into the back of a police car.
This one's for the Met, seems they need it reminding:
Prov. 14:31. He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honours Him.
Nicking sleeping bags from the homeless and destitute as winter draws in? Shame on the Metropolitan Police for this disgusting action if it turns out to be true.

Authored by Chris Hall
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Being Honest in the Christian Life

Something is really playing on my spirit at the moment. It's something that I'm hearing from people close to me and I find myself cringing every time I hear it. It's the concept that how good your day, your life, your relationships are is dependent upon how you verbalise it and how your own state of mind is towards it.

In the secular world I come across it as 'positive thinking' or 'self-help'. Often you'll find that it gets intertwined with 'New Age' concepts.

In the church I look upon it as an aspect of the 'Confession and Prosperity Doctrine' or 'Name It and Claim It'. Only an aspect though, something small yet something subversive.

I'll raise my flag here right at the beginning. Believer or not, shit happens. I don't believe that being a child of God gives us a Get Out of Jail card that we can throw at life's slings and arrows. An episode of Postman Pat summed it up beautifully for me. Pat was delivering to the church and went inside the church to get out of the rain. As he was speaking to the Vicar a drop of water fell through from a hole in the roof onto Pat's nose. The Vicar exclaimed 'Ah Pat, it rains on the just and the unjust'. Of course this is based upon Matthew 5:44-45
44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. (NLT)
Sadly I'm seeing it more and more in the Christian circles that I move.

If feel that it's a dangerous thing to do. It puts the onus of 'having a good day' upon you. It doesn't matter what's happening just verbalise some self-help tosh and it'll all be better. If you'd talked with me on the day my mum died and told me that all I have to do to make it a 'good day' is to say it then you'd likely have walked away with less teeth.

For people who suffer with mental illness this sort of doctrine is doubly dangerous: Even if you do confess it to be a good day and still feel crap then the blame lies solely at your feet. When it seems like the world is miles away from you mentally and emotionally do you really want someone telling you in an underhand way that it's all your fault?

Claiming the promises of God when taken together with advancing the Kingdom of God in our own lives is something to aim for. I believe that such will enable us through the Holy Spirit to much better deal and cope and endure. But to live in a delusion? No thanks. Live honestly with God, act as true children.

I'll finish with the wise words of The Teacher and a video from the great Pete Seeger.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

Authored by Chris Hall
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Quick Test with Podbean

Just looking at using Podbean to host some podcasts for the church!

Authored by Chris Hall

Tolkien the Anarchist!

J.R.R. Tolkien
Cover of J.R.R. Tolkien
“My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning the abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) — or to ‘unconstitutional’ Monarchy. I would arrest anybody who uses the word State (in any sense other than the inaminate real of England and its inhabitants, a thing that has neither power, rights nor mind); and after a chance of recantation, execute them if they remained obstinate! If we could go back to personal names, it would do a lot of good.

Government is an abstract noun meaning the art and process of governing and it should be an offence to write it with a capital G or so to refer to people … The most improper job of any many, even saints (who at any rate were at least unwilling to take it on), is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity …

There is only one bright spot and that is the growing habit of disgruntled men of dynamating factories and power-stations; I hope that, encouraged now as ‘patriotism’, may remain a habit! But it won’t do any good, if it is not universal.”

- J.R.R. Tolkien, letter to his son, 1943 (from The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien).

Who'd have thunk it!

Authored by Chris Hall
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Google+ Commenting

English: Google+ wordmark
English: Google+ wordmark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I think I'm going to try again with the Google+ commenting system.

Don't know if they've specced it up yet to accept non gmail commentators, will have to see.

Authored by Chris Hall
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Cricket, Incredible catch assist on boundary.

Not a cricket fan but this really is impressive! Co-ordination, athleticism and teamwork.

 Authored by Chris Hall

Is it really so black and white?

English: Nakumatt Westgate in Westlands, Nairobi
English: Nakumatt Westgate in Westlands, Nairobi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There have been a number of attacks by what I will politely describe as 'Islamists' across the world in the last few days. One has made the headlines full time in the Western media. Another got a mention but was rapidly relegated from the headlines. Yet another was rarely mentioned and was probably not noticed by many people.

Let's have a look at these attacks:

Kenya, Nairobi, Westgate Shopping Centre

An armed group enters and takes control of the prestigious Westgate Shopping Centre. Those who are deemed to be Muslim from the answer given as to what was the name of Mohammed's mother were allowed to leave. Those remaining were cut down with grenades and bullets and others retained as hostages. So far 62 people have been killed and 170 injured.

Pakistan, Peshawar, All Saints Anglican Church

Two 'suicide' bombers targeted the church during the celebrations for Mass and blew themselves up, killing many and injuring many others. To date 75 people are known to have been killed with another 120 wounded.

Nigeria, Borno State, Maiduguri-Damaturu road near Benisheik

Suspected gunmen belonging to Boko Haram laid siege to Benisheik, Kaga Local Government Area on Tuesday evening, killing people and setting buildings ablaze. They also blocked the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway, three kilometers away from the town, slaughtering dozens of travelers. Apart from the 142 travellers, also killed in the attack were 2 soldiers, 3 policemen and 14 villagers,bringing the total death toll to 161.

All of these events are vile, evil and brutal in their nature. All involve killing many innocents in pursuit of some perverted 'Islamist' agenda.

Yet one events stands out in the amount of coverage by the Western media, that of the attacks at the Westgate Shopping Centre. The question that comes to my mind is 'Why?'

It could be that some of the victims at Westgate were British, or that some of the victims were British and White. Certainly there is unlikely to be any British or White innocents killed in the atrocities in Nigeria or Pakistan.

Is our Western media really looking at this in such black and white terms?

This post inspired by this Twitter conversation.

Authored by Chris Hall
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Obama's Tweet

Whipped off Twitter.

Comedy gold!

Authored by Chris Hall

The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939

Spanish civil war monument
Spanish civil war monument (Photo credit: pixelnaiad)
Just finished reading Anthony Beevor's book The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 and it really is an eye opener. I've already read a couple of works on The Spanish Civil war such as Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, William Rust's Britons in Spain, the History of the British Battalion of the XVth International Brigade and some references in Jack Jones' autobiography Union Man. But nothing of the horror comes across in those references as it does in Beevor's book. The Spanish Civil War really did nail down the adage that there's nothing civil in a civil war.

So Beevor's book tries to take an unbiased overview of the timeline of the awful events and I think he succeeds well. Neither the Republican or Nationalist forces and their respective backers come out well. Everyone is tarnished.

I'm not going to write a review but instead highlight some points which have stuck with me after finishing the book.
  • The British government, especially Eden, Chamberlain and Halifax come out badly. Paralysed by uncertainty and a lack of concern for human suffering.
  • Stalin's support seems to start out with good intentions but soon falls apart as policy seems to become dictated by propaganda, communist hegemony, fear of the Nazis and paranoia about Trotskyist and Anarchist plots.
  • Italy input is coloured by Mussolini's character and plays to the stereotypes of Italian warmaking - incompetence, more interested in the sins of the flesh and an inability not to bomb their own troops.
  • The rapidity and willingness of the Spanish to kill with abandon those from the opposing camp.
  • The usual capitalist manoeuvres from the USA in selling equipment to both sides.
  • The greed of Hermann Goering in selling weapons to both to the Nationalist and Republican forces.
  • How the Nazis used the Spanish country and people as a test bed for new weaponry and tactics.
  • The barbarism of the Moors who form part of the Army of Africa.
  • The awful behaviour of the Republicans towards the Catholic church.
  • The absolutely awful behaviour of the Catholic church towards those they viewed as 'Reds' - '1 month off purgatory for every Red killed'.
  • The usual profiteering of those directing the war, both Republican and Nationalist.
  • The plan by the Spanish Communist leadership to purge the Socialists, Trotskyists and Anarchists when the time is right.
  • The bigotry and racism of some of the International Brigades towards the Spanish - Kleberism.
  • The hatred of the Spanish Communist leadership, people such as Marty and Negrin towards others on the left who weren't part of the Communist Party.
  • How Spain was forgotten and overshadowed by the events of Czechoslovakia in 1938.

It's well worth a read.

Authored by Chris Hall
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