Saturday, December 31, 2005


New Year's Eve

Finished my second essay: "Discuss the characteristics and theological significance of the principal covenants in the Hexateuch". Hmm, yes. More interesting than you might think. The first issue is what the Hexateuch (first six books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua), not the first five (first five == the Pentateuch))? The main reason is that, if you're looking at covenant issues, then finishing with Joshua 24 makes lots of sense. Anyway, did just over 1500 words for this, which is a wonder (I expected to be well over, as I struggle with word limits). I was worried that I wouldn't have much to add the sum of human knowledge on this issue, which I don't like: I'm used, these days, to writing documents that push my understanding. However, I certainly learnt a few things as I wrote the essay, which is good.

Took Jo to Halstead in the morning, and spent a good hour and a half tramping round the shops and up and down the high street. Went to the police station to hand in a dodgy fiver (== five pound note). Me: "you can do what you want with it, but I wouldn't advise trying to spend it." Policewoman: "We'll burn it". Ah, OK, then. Jo was fantastic. We spent the time trying to find presents for Si and D, only to discover, when we got to theirs this evening, that they'd thought that we weren't buying them for each other. Whoops. Oh, at least D liked the yard of Jaffa Cakes that I got her. We've spent a good hour playing "Piss Artists", which is a game where you have to describe/draw (not very) dodgy phrases, etc.. Entertaining and diverting, at least.

Anyone who wants to come along is very welcome to join me at Stambourne church at 0930 tomorrow morning. I'm taking the service and will be preaching on Christ's naming and circumcision. I'll not focus on the circumcision: more on the issues of observance and Luke's keen-ness to situate Jesus within the Jewish tradition.

Breaking news: Moo's sat outside and describes me as a dullard for sitting in here (briefly) writing up my blog. Si says: "isn't that a kind of duck?".

No, Si, that's a mallard...

Friday, December 30, 2005


Every valley shall be exalted...

If only they had been, is all I can say. At around 1400, water started coming through the ceilings. This isn't a particularly rare occurence (we live in a seriously old house, and I'm sure it's been doing this from time to time for the past 500 years), but it's a real pain. Even more so when it's coming through the _ground_ floor ceilings. In other words, it had made it through upstairs and then down...

So I rescued those things that were directly below the (4-5 sets of) leaks, put down towels, left Moo in charge of the Jo, and went next door to the shop to recruit someone to hold a ladder. Up the ladder (*yeuch*, I _don't_ like heights), and then using a mop to clear the valleys between our two pitched roofs.

If Moo's feeling up to it, we're off to Si and D's for poker and food, to meet Zae and Andy, and, if Si remembered to invite them, Tosha and Nik. We'll put Jo down in a travel cot, and I'll probably drive, as I've got to stay sober enough to take support calls anyhow, so I might as well go the whole hog.

Partly since Moo's not been feeling well (and so I've sent her up to sleep on a couple of occasions today), and partly since she's putting together applications for a couple of jobs, I've spent most of the day looking after Jo. She's a been a delight most of the time (though she now has a nice bump and bruise on her forehead from where I dropped her on her new wooden trike - whoops), and has just learnt that as well as taking the wooden animals _out_ of the truck, she can put them _in_ as well. Let's hope that she extrapolates this lesson to other containers. And that maybe I learn the same lesson, of course.

Moo and I have just about decided to make what's currently the dining room into an office for both of us. This will require:

This means that it's a sort of medium-term plan, rather than this week, but I think it should work well. Apart from anything else, it should mean that neither of us needs to head upstairs just to use our computers or do some work.

Must get back to Jo and getting her ready to go out to Si and D's. Hope Moo's feeling up to it: looking forward to seeing the plasma.

Thursday, December 29, 2005



We popped over to Si and D's around lunchtime today, as people were queuing round the block to get into the Sainsbury's carpark. They're on good form, and had a good Christmas, it seems. They're hoping to take delivery of a new flatscreen TV (see The Chronicles of Si for details), but I've yet to hear whether it arrived or not.

I'm on support duty from tomorrow 1000 until 1000 on the 2nd January, so I need to stay sober enough to deal with any calls that come in (though I think it's unlikely that any will), keep close enough to mobile coverage that I'm never 5 minutes away from answering a call, and be less than 30 minutes from broadband at any time. Shouldn't be a problem. I've got coverage at Si and D's, where we're be for New Year's Eve, and if there's one thing that Si does have, it's broadband. So it's only the first bit that I need to watch out for.

I was a little surprised to have Si and Moo say today that _they_ were surprised to see that I'd signed up for Google AdSense. I think the word "sell out" was used. I have to say that I'm not sure this is fair. I don't think I'll ever make anywhere near enough even to cover the cost of broadband, let alone any real pocket money, so I doubt think my mortal soul's in any real danger (well, not from this, anyway).

I need to start work on my second essay soon: Covenants in the Hexateuch. Not looking forward to it, but there you go.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Back home

No longer backposting, as we're back home. Had a good drive back, after leaving rather earlier than originally planned, as the weather was looking bad (there'd been a fair amount of snow in East Anglia yesterday, and enough in the East Midlands to be concerning overnight). Jo'd slept like a little angel, which was fantastic. Really, really fantastic. Again, drove straight through (we often stop at Land's End factory shop in Oakham to pick up some cheap clothes, go to the loo and have something to drink, but didn't this time), and made really good time. Lovely to be back home, but Moo's really not well, poor thing, and Jo's struggling with a nasty cough. Worse than that, she's just rather discombobulated by the changes in routine, and rather clingy. Understandable, but she's having a hard time getting properly to sleep. We're watching "Love, Actually", which I bought Moo a couple of weeks ago. Food soon. Lovely to be back home, hope Moo's better soon.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


St John the Evangelist

Yesterday, of course, was St Stephen's Day (first Christian Martyr), and tomorrow will be Holy Innocent's Day (for all the children murdered on Herod's orders at Christ's birth, and, by extension, for all other children, I think). The symbol of St John the Evangelist is the Eagle, I think, but I'm not sure why he got that, and not the human, the Ox or the Lamb.

Fixed Kate's computer today. Not that there was anything wrong with it: she'd forgotten that she needed to connect to the Internet to get mail...

Jo slept terribly badly last night, and we had to have her in our bed until 0100 until she finally went to sleep. Aargh. She's lovely, though. Later on, we thought about going out for a walk, but the weather was too cold and horrid, and Jo wouldn't have been able to cope, so we ditched the idea.

Monday, December 26, 2005


Boxing Day

(Still backposting.) Do you know what Boxing Day is called Boxing Day? I do. If you don't, then look it up.

We drove to Kate and Mac's today, where we met Jen (Moo's sister), Jake (her partner) and Turtle (Aurora) and Mouse (Mercy) their children. Also there were Kate and Mac (d'oh), and Moo's Nana and Aunty Kitty, who are getting and were both suffering from colds. We did more presents. Marvellous. Single malt, wine, books (including a Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Latin, oh yes, I'm dull).

The drive up was OK, and it was helped by the fact the Jo slept pretty well. Moo going down with something, unluckily - a nasty cold, it seems.

Saturday, December 24, 2005



(Still backposting) Christmas means a whole lot more when you have a child. Not only is there the fun of presents (which Jo enjoyed much more than we expected, as we assumed she wouldn't really "get" presents), but, as I began to realise when Moo was very pregnant late last year, part of the message about Christmas isn't just the Incarnation, but the fact that the Divine became not just human, but a baby. Babies are astonishing.

Lots of presents from lots of people. I got, among other things, a recording of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, a CD by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (which, incidentally, just rocks), the latest Coldplay CD, a seriously upmarket barbecue kit (in an aluminium case!), some calvados, a screwdriver with a flexible shaft and magnetic bits (these two features are very funny if you say them right), a car bin tidy.

Jim, Nina, Moo, Jo and I went to the 10 o'clock at Cheddar, which Jo enjoyed a lot, as she did a lot of wandering (by which I mean crawling) around the church. Lots of carols, a short and sweet sermon, and communion (Jo came up for a blessing).

Smoked salmon and champagne, followed by presents, then a proper Christmas dinner around 4pm. Jo slept quite badly, so to bed quite early for Moo, and not that late for me.

Note to self: don't play Monopoly with Nina again. She's a _fiend_.


Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve! Mum and Dad sent an email, which included enough information for me to work out his main account password and change the ADSL password. Must remember to tell Dad what it is, though I've written it down (not that I'm saying where...). Phew.

Jo not sleeping well. Cough. Carol arrived, we had a lovely day, etc.. Christmas tomorrow! Too knackered to go to the midnight, in common with everyone else, so Jim ran the car over to Cheddar to find out when the main morning service is on Christmas Day (the answer being 1000). Moo did salmon followed by the grape job (a traditional MacLaughlin pudding). Yum.

We also did a blind tasting of 5 different red wines (four of which Jim had brought along). I got 3 of the 5 right, (transposing 2, obviously), to my extreme surprise. Jim got none right, again to my surprise. I'd say he know his wine better than I do, but there we go. I kept changing my mind up to the last minute, so 3 wasn't bad, in the end.

A fun evening, and then to bed.

Friday, December 23, 2005


Connectivity problems

The hordes arrive

(I'm backposting: was ...Issues getting online, so apologies for lack of posting for a while.) Note: just seen my first two Google Adsense adverts. One is for a teen blogging site (what?), the other for maternity wear, and looks to be a very cool site, seraphine. I suspect that I'm not supposed to link like this, so I won't do it often, but it's an interesting choice of site, and seems to have some lovely bits and pieces on it.

Today Jim and Nina turned up, and Carol, Lee's mum, didn't. She was due to come around, but doesn't like driving in the dark, and as it happened she was delayed, so postponed till Saturday. The big nightmare today was trying to fix Dad's ADSL. Lee had been trying to send a very important file yesterday, and hadn't been able to. Today I tried to set up Dad's ADSL connection to work for all users on the system (I have a working account on the system). Unluckily, this required me to enter the original password, and seemed to lose the original one. And I didn't know it.

Neither, it transpired, did I know the main password for his account that would allow me to reset it. Bugger. Lee's file that needed to be sent was over 1.5 Meg, and the only way we could think of doing it was via my 3G phone (luckily I had some spare bandwidth to use up by the end of the month). Not that Winscombe seems to have Orange 3G reception. Or Axbridge. Or Cheddar. And no joy war-driving. So Lee and I drove to Wells, where they do have Orange 3G. I sent an email to Dad via my phone asking for details of his actual password. Whoops.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Off work, off to Somerset

(Backpost, due to connectivity problems) My first day off work on holiday, and how nice is that? We decided to try to head off to Somerset early, but that all depended on the presents that I'd ordered from iwantoneofthose arriving in time. The plan was either to leave before 1530ish, or after 1800, just in order to avoid the M25 around the rush hour. Well, we love iwantoneofthose, we do. The parcel arrived around 1100, which meant that we could get away nice and early. Before then, we invited Simon, one of Jo's godparents, over for lunch, so he got to spend some time with Jo. We ended up leaving just after 1530, and drove down to my parent's house in Somerset.

Due to previous experiences, I decided to put Moo in the back with Jo, and pack the front seat. This meant that if Jo did wake up and get upset, Moo could look after her without our having to stop and repack. In the end, we drove straight through from home, Jo was asleep within 30 minutes, and didn't wake up until a couple of miles from my parent's house, so all in all, it went very well.

My parents are away over Christmas, so Polly (my sister) and Lee (her husband) are house-sitting. We arrived in time for supper, and Lee's sausage-eating abilities astounded one and all!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Creationism, torture

These are two issues that I want to address, and to address from a Christian point of view. I've talked before in this blog about creationism, but the Blogs4God site has a highlight on torture today which has riled me a little. There's a link to an article by Charles Krauthammer which has the astonishing line about whether it's permissible to torture terrorists in certain circumstances: "Not only is it permissible to hang this miscreant by his thumbs. It is a moral duty." I _will_ address this question. I have qualms, God help me, about torture, and whether it is ever permissible, but this article has helped me.


Theology and hairdressing

I had my hair cut today (oh, the excitement), and having done the usual "how's your baby?", and "what have you bought for your partner for Christmas?" questions, I decided to be brave and ask my (male) hairdresser/barber whether he was intending to go to church at all over Christmas. "Nah, not really my thing," was his answer. "Fair enough - some people do go at Christmas who don't usually. In fact, my Dad's a priest, and I'm training to be one, so I can't really get away with not going." Fine - so, no problem, no issue.

What happened next was the surprising thing. After a couple of sentences about other stuff, he came out with, "we haven't had our son christened yet." It turned out that their local vicar isn't that keen on baptising the children of non-practising Christians (although, by law, he has to baptise anyone if asked, as I explained), but that they'd like to. I suggested finding someone else if needs be, and he said he'd think about it. He said, about his vicar, "I know I'm not much of a church-goer, but my son might be, so why shouldn't he christen him?" I thought this was fascinating: the view, from a non-church-goer, that his son should be set up for church if he ever wanted to go. There didn't seem to be any suggestion that he thought he'd be disadvantaged if he _wasn't_ baptised, just that he should know, for when he's older, that he has been baptised. If I were his vicar, I'd jump at the chance to baptise this kid. The whole conversation brought home to me something I've suspected for a long time: I live in a country which not only conceives of itself as basically Christian, but also that the Church of England has opportunities and duties to serve that country. And, most of all, that the country has expectations of the C of E. This is heartening.


Google AdSense

Well, as you'll see above this post, I've decided to sign up for Google AdSense. This should provide links to advertisements that are of interest to people who read this, because they supposedly do some clever things to check what I write about, and find appropriate ads. Why have I done this? Well, there's the money, I guess, and although I don't think there will be much of it, every little helps. I don't feel that the "filthy lucre" argument counts against it, and I can always remove it if I get uncomfortable about it. I don't think that it looks too obtrusive, and the colours are chosen to match the blog template. I'm also really quite interested to find out what they end up sending as ads, I have to say. Linux stuff? Theology stuff? Baby stuff? Parenting stuff? Geek toy stuff? Security stuff? We'll find out once the registration's complete, which takes a while, apparently. I don't get anything for clicks now.

I believe the way it works is by click-throughs (clicks-through?): I get a (probably small) amount of money for every time someone clicks on an ad. So, if anything catches your eye as interesting, go for it. I won't encourage you to click on stuff randomly, as that breaks the AdSense agreement!

What else is going on? Well, today is my last day in work before the New Year, although I'm actually on 24 hour support over the New Year for 3 days. Don't have to go in, though. I was expecting today to be quite quiet, but a couple of annoying bits and pieces came up, so that's kept me at least a little busy.

Jo didn't sleep all the way through, but she only woke once (at around 0200), and went back down very quickly. Then 0540 or so, which isn't too bad. What am I saying? That's awful, or at least, I would have said that only a year ago. How parenthood changes you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Well done the Jo

Well, she delivered, and slept all the way through. What a relief. I did some work on Old Testament Covenants, and am not convinced that I'm going to write a very good second essay at all, but that's just life. I'm too late to get any books out, realistically, so I'll just have to go with what I already have, plus Internet resources. And, come to think of it, anything that I can borrow from Dad's bookshelves over Christmas.

I've got sinusitis, which is dull, but at least the doctor's now diagnosed it and given me some antibiotics which I really hope will fix it.

What else? Well, I've been playing with sipgate, and that's quite cool. It's a VoIP gateway that you can use with h/w or s/w VoIP phones. I've got it kind of working at work, but not properly at home yet (I can hear the other person, but they can't hear me, which isn't ideal). Had fun with Jo in the morning, getting her to pick out a named animal from a two or three in a row ("Where's the penguin?" "Where's the dog?"). I'm amazed, but she was getting this right much more than wrong.

Monday, December 19, 2005


Sleeeeeeeeeep! Give me sleeeeeeeeeep!

Propping those eyelids open with matchsticks this morning. And afternoon. We should probably have gone to bed earlier (West Wing is just too addictive), but we weren't that late. But then Jo woke up as we were going to bed, and wouldn't go down. Moo was getting tearful, and it was stress, stress, stress, so I suggested brining Jo into our bed for the night just to give us a good chance of a full night.

Unluckily, this didn't work: she woke up anyway. The problem is that since forgetting how to sleep through, she now also seems to require that she goes to sleep whilst being held, rather than on her own in bed. We _have_ to fix this. Unluckily, I suspect that our Christmas routines will be so off-putting for her that we'll actually step backwards.


Noticed while I was trying to write my essay over the weekend that gnump3d had stopped working. Tracked it down to a new version of sox (12.17.9), which doesn't seem to like what it's being asked to do by gnump3d. Downgraded to an old version, and everything seems fine. Also emailed Steve, who wrote and maintains gnump3d, to let him know. I expect he'll have a look at it.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


More essay, Tumblewood, Carol service

Well, I did more work on the essay, trying to bring in the New Testament angle a little more. I think it's got a little more polished, and I'll have a look at it later on this week, but if I had to send it out today, I'd be happy.

We were up early this morning - for me, it was 0540, then dozed till around 0620 (thanks, Jo) - and as I'd suddenly realised last night that it had been weeks since I'd received communion, I went to the (very, very chilly) 0800 BCP service at Great Yeldham. Four of us there, and a nice quiet service. So, by the time I was back and we were all sorted, though it felt like some time around 1130, it was 0905. We decided to try Tumblewood, a kid's indoor play centre that Carolyn's taken Jo to before, and which Moo had visited with D and Morgan when she was pregnant, but which we'd not been to with Jo. Jo had a great time, we had bacon butties and chips (Moo had _cheesy_ chips), and we popped into a little second hand children's clothes shop and bought a couple of outfits (very, very cheap!). So we got home around 1230, Jo having had a great time, as had we: Jo thinks that Daddy doing forward and backwards rolls is absolutely hilarious.

I did the extra work on the essay, and then it was time for the Carol Service at Toppesfield. Jo was hard, hard work. She enjoyed herself, and I spent most of the time chasing round the church. No problem, of course, but hard work. We got home, I drove to the house of some friends (who are away) to feed their cats, then we put Jo to bed. Not sure who's sleepier: her or us. Currently watching the CSI we recorded last night.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


Essay done

Well, I'm posting this late (on Sunday), not so much because I'm a bad, bad boy, but because I was up late last night finishing my first essay for ERMC. I got to choose the title (although I had to get it approved), and it ended up being "Can we study the Old Testament? The impact of the Christian canon on Old Testament theology". The first draft ended up having less than it should have done about the New Testament, however. More work needed there.

However, I managed to get a draft done which I was pretty pleased with: there's a strong postmodern slant to it. Lots of semiotics in there, discussions about tradition and translations both being betrayals of the text, that kind of thing. I'm rather pleased with it: although it's serious, it was somewhat playful, too, which is good deconstructionist stuff. I know that all sounds desperately pretentious, but I think that the essay hangs together pretty well.

It's a bit weird, however: I'm supposed to be writing a essay that follows up my own interests, and at MA or doctorate level, and it was quite difficult to work out how to pitch it. I ended up - not entirely consciously, though it seemed to work - trying to write something that I'd be happy working up for a published article.

Earlier (lots earlier: starting at 0835), I'd taken Jo for a walk (her on my back, obviously). I was feeling great, and hoped to make it a two hourer, but she started to get upset. For the first couple of times, I discovered that running for a bit, which got her bouncing up and down, helped, but then it all went a bit Pete Tong. She really lost it, and I had to call in the cavalry and ask Moo to come and pick us up. To be fair, the problem was the it was just below freezing, and blowing a really cutting gale which kept hitting as we went across exposed areas. I think that her face just got to cold. Moo forgave me, but mainly because the sulky looks the Jo gave me (oh, she looks so like her mother sometimes) meant that I was already well guilt-tripped.

Friday, December 16, 2005


Ordinand's evening

Each year, the Chelmsford Diocese runs an evening for those training for ordination, and those considering it. I didn't make it last year due to work commitments, but it's been made known to me that it's pretty much a three-line whip this year, so I'm going. It's hardly easy: it's in Billericay, which is a good hour and a half from work, and the thing starts at 1800, with a service of some type at 1830. Luckily I should be able to get away form work a little early, but it's a pain. Moo - who's really not up for this sort of thing - had made it clear that she would come, as partners/spouses are welcome, but we then discovered that children weren't welcome (officially "cannot be accomodated"), and neither of us felt that it was worth getting a nanny in for the evening, so it's just me.

Although I'm being a little negative, I expect to have an interesting time, and there's at least one person who lives in Halstead who's got in touch. I think she was planning on sharing a car (which I can't do on the way there, as I'm not going via home), but she may also want to talk about things, which I certainly look forward to. What's slightly weird is that I really see my peer group as the ERMC folks, and this is a different group of people. Actually, thinking about it, there might be two or three other people from ERMC there, which would certainly cheer me up. And I'm sure to meet some of the people who were at the selection preparation weekend I went on over a year ago, now. So, it shouldn't be too bad, but I'm knackered and it's the end of the week and bleurgh.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Bad night

Not sure quite what's up with Jo at the moment - though she's still got something of a cough - but she was up more during the night than we would have liked, as she has been for a number of nights, now. Basically, she's not got back into the rhythm of sleeping through that she'd got into before she got ill. As a result, we're both running a little tired.

I realised today that I've been listening to music from my home server at a reduced bitrate (and, I think, in mono, rather than stereo), which has significantly degraded my listening pleasure. Not sure if I did this on purpose before we moved to a faster ADSL connection at home, or for another reason, or if the configuration file got over-written at some point, but it's sounding much better now.

Good day at work, tackling security vs performance vs architecture vs integration ease vs backwards compatibility trade-offs.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Space Cadets

This really shouldn't be as funny as it is. But it really, really is. I don't care whether they're all actors and the whole point of the show is to hoax the public, but it's very funny.

I've been reading more work on Canon and the Old Testament, because I really need to be doing some work on my essay. I really hope to get at least a framework finished by the end of the weekend. I'm pretty sure I know how I'm going to go about it, but I don't yet have a structure. We'll get there.

One excellent thing that I've discovered today is that the entire Naxos catalogue is now available on emusic. I've been a member of this for a couple of years or more, but not really used it - certainly not used up all of my downloads every month - but now that I know that there are lots of Naxos CDs and trakcs to download, I'll be using it lots more. I've done some work on scripts to ogg-ify the mp3s and then put them in the correct directory. The one thing that I've not done is to write a script that will create playlists from downloaded sets of tracks. I use grip to rip CDs, and that does it automatically, and I don't think it should be difficult: something for the next few days.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005



I had a supervision this evening with Keith. A good chat about a variety of subjects, from how the academic stuff's going through the preaching and taking of services through the course itself through how well I'm coping with the demands in terms of time. Keith's job is to guide me through the process and keep an eye on the non-academic side of my training, and it's really helpful that we get on so well and can talk so well.

Jo's talking is coming on a treat, with new words (not perfectly enunciated, but recognisable in context) including "miaow" and "Jojo". Although she's still got the odd cough here and there, she's over her cold and feeling fine. She's so talkative and curious about everything. What a star.

Monday, December 12, 2005



A bits and pieces day at work, tidying things up, getting more information on a couple of things, updating documents, that kind of thing. It's really feeling a bit end-of-yeary, and I rather hope something interesting comes up to keep things ticking over for the next week and a half. Not too big, of course, just something. As it happens, there are 2 or 3 things waiting in the wings, so that could easily happen.

Jo continues to improve. Moo was in London today, and so Carolyn came early, which meant that I did the hand-over to her. I stayed and chatted to Carolyn while Jo had her breakfast, which I'm pleased to say went down a treat, so I think that although she's still got a bit of a cough, she's pretty well.

Very much enjoying Space Cadets. Feeling a little sorry for the people on it, and I'm aware of the suggestions in the media that they might _all_ be actors, but it's fun anyway. We nearly peed ourselves laughing at the "monkey lecture" the other day.

Sunday, December 11, 2005



Well, it went really well, and I really enjoyed it. We had a full church, with lots of kids and parents, and lots of people said really nice things as they left. Words like "fabulous" were in evidence, and I was really chuffed, I have to say. I was particularly pleased when, at the end of the service, one of the regulars seemed very surpised that this was the first time that I'd preached to children. She'd assumed that I'd usually preached to children, and wondered what I'd be like to adults.

I made an effort to engage the younger members of the congregation, but to try to keep the adults amused, too. Si, D and Morgan came along (in fact, Morgan [sorry - I'd said "Si"!] held my hand for the Lord's Prayer at the end), as did Moo and Jo. Jo was very keen to follow Morgan all over the place, and there was lots of noise from both of them.

Not that I minded: I'm all for lots of activity from children during services. I'd much prefer that children feel at home during church services than that they felt uncomfortable or out of place. Some of my happiest memories of services as a kid were joining my dad up at the front of the church when he was taking a service or preaching. Mainly at St Francis, Ashton Gate, in fact.

Moo heard the explosion from Hemel Hempstead this morning. When she mentioned it, I mocked her, but after speaking to a couple of the people who attended Litle Yeldham this morning (who'd also heard it), and had to agree. In fact, I'd woken up around that time, as well, but not worked out what was going on. Moo'd already been awake, so fair enough, and it appear that it had been a _seriously_ big explosion. We've got to hope that it wasn't a terrorist attack. Apparently people have been panic-buying petrol. As far as I'm concerned, if I don't have enough petrol to get work, then I'll have to stay at home. Tough. In fact, great.

Back to the service. I felt closer to the actualities of being priest today than I ever have before. I'm not a priest yet, of course, but after walking to the front of the church today, I looked at everyone there, and the fact that there were many people who wouldn't normally be there, and that the church was full, and that there were people of all ages there just came together. I've felt the responsibility of preaching on other occaisions, but just the taking of the service meant more to me than ever before. The responsibility and the privilege really came through. It's a bit weird that if you stand up in front of a congregation with robes (I wore an alb today), people assume that you're a priest. The people who invited me to Helion's Bumpstead today know that I'm still training, but I noticed that in the service pamphlet that one of them had, I was down as "VIC", which you have to assume was short for "Vicar" (people aren't very good at separating the office (priest) from the job (vicar, rector, curate, etc.)). There's an enormous responsibility there: already. I try very hard to live up to it.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Christmas is upon us

I know that we're now in Christmas season because we bought a Christmas tree today, and got it decorated. We even have some of the other decorations up, too. It's traditional that we have carols and other Christmassy music on while we do it, and Jo was of course eager to participate. She thought that Moo and me dancing while we held her was one of the funniest things in the world.

Jo's getting over her cold, but it still very sleepy and not eating very much - subsisting instead mainly on breast milk. This is fine, but Moo's had to up her calorie count - she suddenly worked out why she was so hungry again.

Email from my parents today. They're on a cruise ship somewhere near Argentina at the moment. Dad's lecturing on the ship, and being the ship's chaplain over Christmas. Apparently all is well and the Falkland Islands were stunning.

Friday, December 09, 2005


Jo's unwell

It's just a nasty cough and cold: Moo took her to the doctor this morning, but there's little they can do. She'll get better, but she's not very happy. In order to make her a bit happier, I bought her this book at Stansted airport yesterday morning, which has a picture of a cat (or more than one) on every page. She thinks it's great, so that's good, anyway.

A mate of mine who was caught speeding was in court yesterday, and got a fine and a ban. I think he feels that this was fair, and Si (who's a really good guy, as evidenced by this) even took the morning off to take him in. I think this is extremely decent, particularly as he even agreed to bring him back. ;-)

I was telling Morten at work about the church in Brampton that we visited yesterday, and came across the church site, which has pictures of the windows. Well worth a look.

Services this week

For anyone who's interested, I'll be at: Still haven't decided what to talk about at the latter: it's difficult because I'm supposed to spend some time on a talk, and some more time on discussing the Christingle service itself. And there's something in between, which means that I can't cheat and just do one. I'm sure God will provide.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Trip to Newcastle

I'd never been to Newcastle before, and, in fact, I still haven't. I flew into the airport (modern, clean, uncluttered, etc.), met John, and we took the A69 cross-country to Brampton, where we were having the meeting. However, when we'd first booked the flights, the meeting had been planned earlier, and we'd played it safe: it was now a 1430 meeting, so we had nearly four hours to spend.

So, we carried on along the A69 to Carlisle, and popped into the cathedral there. Red (sand?)stone, some interesting medieval painted panels (in Middle English, not Latin, which somewhat surprised me), and a nice organ tootling away to some Bach in preparation for an Age Concern carol service. The war memorials for the Border Regiment were terrifying: lots of losses (mainly to disease) in the Boer War ("The South African War"). They'd been at most of the worst battles in the First World War, too: Ypres, the Somme, Thiepval, Passchendaele 1st and 2nd battles, Suvla Bay. The regiment had clearly suffered very badly.

Then to tea in the cathedral tea-shop ("how do you know that the cathedral will _have_ a tea-shop?" asked John. I just laughed), and drove back towards Brampton. Stopped for lunch, then on again. We were still over half an hour early, so we wandered around the town (nice little centre) and into the church. What a find! 14 fantastic stain glass windows by William Morris' factory, 12 of which were designed by Burn-Jones. Well worth a trip, as is the antiques shop in the lovely old church hall.

The meeting was interesting, too, but not as much as the rest of the day! Writing this in the airport: hope to be home by 2130 or so. Jo's been very coughy today, and very tired, and Willum's got cystitis, so the household's not very well, particularly as Moo and I are coming in third and fourth with annoying colds. Megan seems to be fine, at least.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


More on St Luke's, West Norwood

I had a good supervision with Alan today, who says that he'll look at my blog (he's not had the URL before), so "hello, Alan!". We both agreed that the topic - application of social-scientific methodology to Old Testament criticism - didn't feel all that odd to either us: in fact, it felt quite natural. But there were some interesting perspectives, and we had a good talk, including some thoughts on one of my essay topics, which is the next thing I need to think about, as I need to have two written by th 6th January.

Anyway - to the relevant point. Alan used to work on Denmark Hill, which is quite close to West Norwood, and used to suggest to his congregation that they visit St Luke's from time to time to get a different view on worship, in a large, vibrant, but safe church. I was glad that my initial feelings about the place were borne out by his wider experience of it.

On another note, Jo walked a few more steps today, but I was back late from the supervision, so I didn't see it. I'm flying off to Newcastle from Stansted early tomorrow morning, and won't be back till late, but I'll at least see her in the morning before heading off. Should be a good and interesting trip - John (a colleague) and I will be driving across the Pennines to Brampton, near Carlisle and back, and it should be a beautiful journey.


More on St Luke's, West Norwood

I had a good supervision with Alan today, who says that he'll look at my blog (he's not had the URL before), so "hello, Alan!". We both agreed that the topic - application of social-scientific methodology to Old Testament criticism - didn't feel all that odd to either us: in fact, it felt quite natural. But there were some interesting perspectives, and we had a good talk, including some thoughts on one of my essay topics, which is the next thing I need to think about, as I need to have two written by th 6th January.

Anyway - to the relevant point. Alan used to work on Denmark Hill, which is quite close to West Norwood, and used to suggest to his congregation that they visit St Luke's from time to time to get a different view on worship, in a large, vibrant, but safe church. I was glad that my initial feelings about the place were borne out by his wider experience of it.

On another note, Jo walked a few more steps today, but I was back late from the supervision, so I didn't see it. I'm flying off to Newcastle from Stansted early tomorrow morning, and won't be back till late, but I'll at least see her in the morning before heading off. Should be a good and interesting trip - John (a colleague) and I will be driving across the Pennines to Brampton, near Carlisle and back, and it should be a beautiful journey.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Proverbs 3:23

"Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble."

Well, I wasn't there, and apparently she did stumble a bit, but 2 steps is a start. We're very, very excited, and quite the proud parents!


Much loveliness

Jo's still very, very lovely, and has, on at least 2 occasions, said something sounding suspiciously like "cow" when referring to a cow. That would make two of her first words bovine-related, which is just weird.

A day reading hard at some low-level technical specs: tomorrow I have to prepare a presentation as I'm flying to Newcastle for a customer meeting up in that direction on Thursday. Back the same day, though, so not so bad.

Monday, December 05, 2005



Jo took a long time to go down last night - half way through Top Gear (oh, and Ellen MacArthur is _so_ the man) cuddling with Moo on the sofa - and it was just a little hard going. And she was up pretty early again, today, so I decided that Moo needed a little lifting up. So not only did I get another sausage each for us tonight (oh, the excitement, the excitement!), and also some crisps (nice Walkers ones - sausage and sage), but, as a special treat, some profiteroles. There's something coming from, too, but she doesn't know about that.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Speaking in tongues - and a "Bible-based ministry"

Yesterday, on the way to Jen and Jake's, I kept an eye out for a church nearby them so that I could attend this morning. The one I ended up going to (on my own, as it happened) was St Luke's, West Norwood. There were around 100-120 people there, maybe more, with another 30 children or so, who joined us towards the end of the service, and seemed to have had a lovely (and, at times, loud!) "Lighthouse crew" meeting (maybe not the right word, but hey) upstairs. The range of ages in the congregation was wide - from teenagers up to around 90, and the mix of race attendance probably mirrors the area fairly closely, with around 60% of the people there being black, at a guess. The rector (Luke) is white, and the curate (Josh) is black, and it was a friendly, happy, joyful set of people, who were very welcoming.

The service was pretty informal, and the format simple:

I felt that it worked very well, and felt entirely at home: which hasn't always been the case when I've visited churches which might call themselves "evangelical". There were a number of things that made it work for me: the ease with which the children made to feel part of the proces, the wide mix of ages, backgrounds and colours in the congregation, the friendly welcome, and the theology of the sermon.

The sermon - ah, the sermon. Luke, the vicar, preached, for around 37 minutes. And he preached well, and the theology was excellent, and it couldn't have been much shorter. I was very impressed. It helped that there was a Bible in front of every seat, and he walked us through many of the verses in 1 Corinthians 12-14, and some others besides, particularly in Acts. The exposition was clear, he referenced the Greek on a couple of occasions, and theologically very sound.

He preached on whether people should speak in tongues, an(d gave a well-based biblical argument. Here are some of the major points:

One thing that I wasn't sure could be held to the text was Luke saying that speaking in tongues, when interpreted, is the same as prophecy, but I don't have a big beef with this: what else _would_ it be? Another thing that he said that got me thinking was a story he told about a priest from whom he took a useful phrase: "If I tell you one thing, and the Bible tells you another, believe the Bible." This seems like good advice to me. But it got me thinking. I'm not sure whether St Luke's would say this, but it seems that some Christians with an evangelical background sometimes criticise others for having a faith which is not "Bible-based" enough. You see vacancies listed for churches who want a priest with a "Bible-based" approach. This is good, but it seems to be be suggesting that other people don't use the Bible, and, implicitly, that any thinking that doesn't use _just_ the Bible is suspect. In fact, that's exactly what some people believe, but I just can't go with it. For a start, we have an ideology that has built up over our lives, and it's impossible, _impossible_ to come to any text, let alone (particularly?) the Bible, without a view on it. Our reading of the Bible is usually in English - one of several different translations, mark you - and even those who have some - or even excellent - Greek or Hebrew cannot read it in the same way that those who wrote it - or originally read it - did.

The Aichele I'm reading talks about denotative and connotative language, and the difficulties of translating each, but that's so far away from all of this. The world, and how we understand it and interpret it, has radically changed. We think differently of people who accept slavery, or practice bigamy, or stone others, or have sex outside marriage, or are women and wear their hair short, to name but a few. And that's good. And some of those changes - many most of them - are demonstrably due, at least in part, to the influence of Christianity. And, if you are a Christian, you have to believe that even the ones which aren't _obviously_ due to the influence of Christianity, of individuals, are due to the influence of the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom of God is coming - slowly, it's true, at times - but it's coming, the society moves on. And members of societies change while they do that, and they read differently, and understand differently, and that's good. We need to use the Bible to try to test whether changes are good, and whether we believe that they really are God-given they stand the requirements that we put forward for our faith. Let's use 1 Corinthians 13 to give us those touchstones (again in the NIV translation):
" 1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away."

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Jo unwell

We're at Jen and Jake's tonight. Jo's not well - vomiting - but we think it may have been a couple of grapes, so we're not worried.

Friday, December 02, 2005


freak boy

So, I'm wondering whether it was such a sensible idea to expose my nickname to the world. To be fair, I do actually wear a t-shirt that I had made up which has it on, so it's not exactly a secret. Moo started calling Willum (the younger of our cats) "freak boy" a while ago, and I'm really not quite sure how it made its way to me, other than that I'm a boy, and Moo clearly thinks that I'm a bit of a freak. Can't think why.

Moo's taken her life into her own hands, and both cats and Jo to vets (that's zeugma, boys and girls). It could be worse: when we had Suzy, taking her and a baby wasn't much fun, apparently. And you could have tried taking both cats, too, though I can't think that either of us would ever have been quite that mad.

Tosha - hope you feel better soon.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Leaps and bounds - and the OT as canon

Well, she's not exactly leaping and bounding - or indeed walking yet - but Jo's development continues apace. Yesterday she started blowing raspberries on me, the way that we do on her, which she thought was very funny. Obviously, when she did it to me, I had to do it back, so then it was her turn again, etc.. And today she came out with her third word. She continues to use "Mummy" and "Daddy" (or similar) more consistently, but this morning we were in bed, and she was looking at a coaster that she's fond of, which is in the shape of a cow (yes, I know), and I said "Moooo", and she said "Moooo" back. And again. And we got a cuddly toy cow out, and she said "Moooo" to that, as well. Sometimes it's closer to "Bbboooo", but she's definitely copying the word, and saying it to the cow(s). Not the most useful word, you might think, but given that her mother's nickname is "Moo", you could be wrong. Now we need to get her to say "freak boy", and we'll both be covered.

On the other topic in the heading, I've been reading - and liking - Aichele's arguments. One of interest - which I may be over-paraphrasing (or even extending) - is whether the Old Testament has an existence outside a Christian reading. Not just whether canonically the books are defined - given that Jews take a different set to Protestants, for instance - but whether, given that, the texts that make up the "Old Testament" can even begin to have any meanings which aren't completely mediated by the New Testament. They are seen as lending authority to the New Testament, but it's a circular issue, as they have no existence without (in both senses: outside, and L: sine) the New Testament. Arguments such as those about homosexuality which are sometimes at least partly based on Paul's interpretation of particular OT passages become much more interesting where it's unclear how to deal with their ontology. I love this stuff.

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