Friday, December 17, 2004

wallis points!

you've probably seen these already if you keep an eye on things emergent, but they really made me chuckle. and then, in the light of certain developments, they made me think... there are wallis points out there to be earned! (if that came out a little slur-ry, it's because my tongue was firmly in my cheek).

though i did figure out (i think) that the 'intentional' in 'post-intentional' is akin to the 'intentional' used in the phrase 'intentional communities'. yeah, that's a lot clearer now.

Monday, December 13, 2004

nothing abides, nothing abides but change

which is both good and bad, depending if you like your circumstances.

some rather heavyweight comments passing back and forth on grommit's rants and pants about post-intentionality.

"Intentionality, originally a concept from scholastic philosophy, was reintroduced in contemporary philosophy by the philosopher and psychologist Franz Brentano in his work Psychologie vom Empirischen Standpunkte. While often simplistically summarised as "aboutness" or the relationship between mental acts and the external world, Brentano defined it as the main characteristic of "psychical phenomena" (psychische Phänomene), by which they could be distinguished from "physical phenomena" (physische Phänomene). Every psychical or mental phenomenon, every psychological act has a content, is directed at an object (the intentional object). Every belief, desire etc. has an object that they are about: the believed, the wanted. Brentano used the expression "intentional inexistence" to indicate the status of the objects of thought in the mind. The property of being intentional, of having an intentional object, was the key feature to distinguish psychical phenomena and physical phenomena, because physical phenomena lack intentionality altogether.

Through the works of Husserl, who took it over from Brentano, the concept of intentionality received more widespread attention in current philosophy, both continental and analytic.

In current artificial intelligence and philosophy of mind it is a controversial subject and thought to be something that a machine will perhaps never achieve."

um, if you see me doing something post-intentionally, do let me know... maybe i'll change.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

damn, these science people are so sharp, i wonder how they don't cut themselves!

"It may sound obvious, but the more you put on your plate the more you'll eat."
mystery and make believe

i saw twelfth night last week. the production got pretty good reviews even if the players didn't. however, despite not getting splashed by water or spittle, i enjoyed the evening tremendously. not a small part of that enjoyment was down to the fact that i don't really follow shakespearian dialogue that well, so a lot of what went on went on somewhere over my head. but because of this, i really enjoyed it. i liked being part of something that was beyond me, that wasn't dumbed down for my tv generation. it made me feel like a kid again, watching my elders and betters being my elders and betters. it made me hope that one day i might get to a place where i could understand and follow shakespeare (maybe). it reminded me that the world is a place full of things to wonder at (as opposed to mourn for).

then there is the subject of a cheese sandwich worth $28,000 - a complete mystery to me.

finally, let phillip pullman have the last word on the theatre:

"Where the theatre scores over the cinema is in the power of metaphor and its engagement with the audience's own imagination.

We have to pretend, and furthermore all of us have to pretend together. With video and DVD the experience of film is often, these days, not so much a joint experience in a big public space as a private experience in a small one. We have to go [to the theatre], and share it with others. And once there, we have to agree to sit in the dark and be quiet at the same time and all imagine together.

[T]he thing that the theatre does best and most potently is to tell stories in a way that partakes of magic, of ritual, of enchantment. [W]hen everything is working well, something mysterious happens between an audience and a play that isn't just the sum of the component parts. [S]omething happens, and everything is transformed. We could use a scientific term like emergence for this process, or we could use an older word and call it sorcery; but whatever we call it, there's no point in trying to explain it to those who insist on a functional justification for everything, those who can only see value in an activity if it brings in money from tourists, or helps children with their GCSEs. They'll never understand. You have to find some other sort of language if you want to convince them."
oh to be a Couch/potato

quoting this from tallskinnykiwi (also check out these subsequent posts):

"Its a rhizome structure, like potatoes. People liken the web-like interconnected structure of the internet to Rhizomes. The thing about rhizomes is that they do not multiply- they are a single multiplicity that extend themselves outward into new territory, yet maintain their oneness. If we are to adopt a similar view of church, then Couch Grass is either:
a) a pest that could wipe away 30 years of Church reproduction/multiplication theory, or
b) a framework for understanding the invisible unity of the church while maintaining a missional strategy.

Maybe i wont tell anyone about Couch Grass. Or Rhizomes. Too controversial. I studied at Fuller School of World Mission, under Peter Wagner, where i learned much about church growth and church planting. i would hate for something as simple as the existence of Couch Grass to undermine the idea that churches must multiply or reproduce as seperate entites, rather than maintain their unity as a single organism. "

oh to be some couch grass, or a spud, and not a dandelion as i mistakenly said last night (although you can't fault their tenacity!)

Monday, November 15, 2004

miso soup for the soul

autumnal acersit was the first frost over the weekend - saturday was a truly gorgeous autumn day with a crisp blue sky and a sharp nip to the air. mrs hope and i signed up to membership of westonbirt arboretum. we spent an enjoyable afternoon pottering around and under and through some spectacular specimens. i'd like to say we took this pic, but the only cameras we had were on our phones. nope, this is nicked off the net.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

got your fix?

random browsing sometimes turns up some real gems, such as this magical little world:

the trail:

vitamin e scare - guardian website
newsblog - guardian website
10x10 -
number27 -
oralfix -

Monday, November 08, 2004

what does it take to make a difference?

my local coffee house, baristas coffee collective, has started selling fair trade coffee now. today i gladly parted with the premium of 30 english pennies to have my mocha made from fair trade beans.

the reason it's a mocha day is because there is a fine drizzle falling over town and that makes it a day for hot chocolate as well as coffee. my weatherpixie, however, is from another planet and seems to dress according to temperature and not precipitation.

i saw the screen of one of those i-points that the council have scattered around the centre of town (apparently the centre is also a wi-fi zone now - drizzle and laptops go well together i find). it was flicking through the headlines and showed that there was a nine year old girl was among the casualties of the weekend's railcrash. clutching my fair trade coffee, i wondered at the gulf between 1st and 3rd world, and whether the same incident (i.e. the loss of a nine year old's life) would make headlines in a similar fashion in sudan, uganda or palestine. i'm not saying that such an incident, wherever it occurs, isn't a tragedy, rather i'm trying to get at the relative views on sanctity of life/right to life.

Luke 16:19-31

Jesus said, "There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed and who lived each day in luxury. At his door lay a diseased beggar named Lazarus. As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man's table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores. Finally, the beggar died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Lazarus in the far distance with Abraham.
"The rich man shouted, 'Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in anguish in these flames.'
"But Abraham said to him, 'Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. Anyone who wanted to cross over to you from here is stopped at its edge, and no one there can cross over to us.'
"Then the rich man said, 'Please, Father Abraham, send him to my father's home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them about this place of torment so they won't have to come here when they die.'
"But Abraham said, 'Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read their writings anytime they want to.'
"The rich man replied, 'No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will turn from their sins.'
"But Abraham said, 'If they won't listen to Moses and the prophets, they won't listen even if someone rises from the dead.'"

i often think about what would happen if God were to raise someone from the dead here in the west, most recently i thought about it at my friend's funeral last week. this is the parable that comes to mind though.

final thought: i usually dwell on the rich/poor people in this parable (stupid rich ppl, glad i'm not one of them!). what about the prophets - are people unable to hear them today because they aren't even speaking? have they been seduced and silenced by luxury, and compromising themselves by paying 30 pennies for a mocha.

this is just spooky - my boss just inadvertently referred to me as tom good from the the good life. hmm...

Thursday, November 04, 2004

earth from the air

mrs hope and i are planning to visit this exhibition at some point as it is in town. in addition to some stunning photography, monsieur arthus-bertrand has collected some fascinating (if not sobering) statistics.

the website also contains some excellent advice on how to make a difference. i say it is excellent because a) it doesn't cost much; and b) is achievable by most people.


A pledge such as "putting a 'brick' in the toilet cistern" would save a third of the average family's water use that is flushed down the toilet. Every flush uses 12 litres of water - with a water filled plastic tub in your toilet cistern, you will save over 3,000 litres a year. Imagine that 30 million litres can by saved by 10,000 people! A pledge such as "using short bursts of water from the tap when brushing my teeth" could save 80% of the water you would normally use.

see more pledges here.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

death of death, and hell's destruction

i echo mrs hope's comments on yesterday's service and the atmosphere in general. i will add that the reading was from ecclesiastes 3, but the more popularized 'time for everything under the sun' bits and not the bits that i blogged earlier. 'guide me o thou great jehovah' was edited to omit the reference to hell. despite stating that one should refrain from canonising the deceased, the vicar went on to refer to my friend as a 'saint' anyway. it was a peculiar service in every respect. the congregation shuffled uneasily in the face of the family's obvious grief, and the diluted humanistic reassurance that my friend was present in each of our hearts and memories did little to comfort. instead the issue of everyone's mortality was, more or less, edited out of the entire day.

it was good to say goodbye though. she was an incredibly generous person, and good fun to be around. i found it interesting that she picked the church and planned the service a few months ago, and wonder again where she is now.

"When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing -- they believe in anything."

gk chesterton

Friday, October 29, 2004


notwithstanding the presence of a weather pixie, whom i consulted twice today, the weather outside was grey and rainy. when this coincided with a false fire alarm at school, things weren't looking great on the productivity front. thankfully there's no homework for the weekend though.

planit is blogging from venice - exotic.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

the colour pink, weather and time

i now have a weather pixie to tell me what the weather's like out at bristol international airport. i suppose i could look out the window, but it would mean tearing my eyes away from my computer. anyway, it's useful, isn't it?

i have also put a clock up, in case i can't see the clock on my toolbar, fail to wear my watch or forget that my phone or mobile also tell the time. i prefer analogue to digital though, and often can't be bothered to look at my wrist.

my friend requested that all attendees at her funeral wear one item of clothing that is coloured pink.

i had a very pleasant lunch break today (also yesterday in fact) sitting in my regular coffee bar with a mate, sorting out the world over a latte. didn't want to go back to the office at all!

check this out as a great photo...

golden jackal chasing a lesser flamingo - ngorongoro crater, tanzania

other impressive pics here and here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

life and death (and rugby)

today i was told that one of my good friends from university had passed away after a long battle with cancer. the last time i saw her was at my wedding, where she seemed full of life and in good spirits. i even remember from that whirlwind day snatches of a conversation where she told me, as i teased her about how she still smoked, that if she'd learnt one thing through her illness was that life was too short and she intended on enjoying every minute of whatever she had left.

i wish now i'd called her on her birthday (6 days after mine - she was 26 this year).
and sent her flowers like i intended too.

i wonder where she is now.

i wonder if i did enough. i wish i knew. i wish i knew where my responsibility ended and her's began. i wonder how on earth You exist with life and death. how do You live with Your responsibility? i don't want to feel what You feel - just the thought terrifies me.

yesterday all i was concerned about was who made the all blacks squad for their end of season tour.

Ecclesiastes 3

What do people really get for all their hard work? I have thought about this in connection with the various kinds of work God has given people to do. God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end. So I concluded that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to enjoy themselves as long as they can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labour, for these are gifts from God. And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God's purpose in this is that people should fear him. Whatever exists today and whatever will exist in the future has already existed in the past. For God calls each event back in its turn.

I also noticed that throughout the world there is evil in the courtroom. Yes, even the courts of law are corrupt! I said to myself, "In due season God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds." Then I realized that God allows people to continue in their sinful ways so he can test them. That way, they can see for themselves that they are no better than animals. For humans and animals both breathe the same air, and both die. So people have no real advantage over the animals. How meaningless! Both go to the same place--the dust from which they came and to which they must return. For who can prove that the human spirit goes upward and the spirit of animals goes downward into the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is why they are here! No one will bring them back from death to enjoy life in the future.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

1,000 visitors

at some point over the last month or so, my counter reached the heady landmark of 1,000 visitors to this site.

interesting observation from kirbs:

"I get more comments about mac's and dell's then about my deep life stuff.
I'm beginning to think this blog world's far too techy led, where are you

hmm... i wondered the other day if all the EmGenners (who possess all the toys, natch) aren't as postmodern as they'd like to believe. by constantly chasing the latest Mac they demonstrate that they subscribe to that most modern of meta-narratives, that of progress through science and technology. unfortunately, airing this thought will undoubtedly only encourage mrs hope in her habit of writing notes on the back of her hand.

trying to recalibrate the old noggin to live in the kingdom (remember, one is always safe in the kingdom of god - d willard) and starting small. last weekend i cleared out some of the (many!) clothes i own but don't wear very often because i don't have the time. ridiculous as that sounds, it's the truth now that i've got a school uniform again i just don't need so many cool clothes for week nights and weekends. so the wife and i have started looking at buying ethical clothing from now on. now the problem is our natural inclination to think we can go shopping and buy lots of nice new ethical clothes now, instead of waiting for something that needs replacing!
the fire bible

this just has to be checked out. for more stunning products in the same vein, check out 'Gadgets for God' on the Ship of Fools site.

also, beware of the midi tune at

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

anyone fancy designing their own t-shirt? check out this site: equop

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

quakers or presbyterians?

what a great question! i didn't have a clue as to how to answer that, so immediately dived into the Net to get some more info on both presbyterians and quakers.

from the presbyterian church (usa) i found out that presbys originated from the protestant reformation, deriving much of their theology and praxis from the writings of john calvin on reformed theology. what i read, i liked!

reformed theology:

" Reformed theology evolved during the 16th century religious movement known as the Protestant Reformation. It emphasizes God's supremacy over everything and humanity's chief purpose as being to glorify and enjoy God forever."


"Song is a response which engages the whole self in prayer. Song unites the faithful in common prayer wherever they gather for worship whether in church, home, or other special place . . . In worship music is not to be for entertainment or artistic display. Care should be taken that it not be used merely as a cover for silence."


Calvin argued from Scripture that God has "predestined" or "elected" some people to be saved in Jesus Christ and others not to be. He insisted, nonetheless, that we could be sure only of our own salvation; we were never in a position to judge whether or not another person was saved. As the Second Helvetic Confession says,

We must hope well of all, and not rashly judge any man to be a reprobate. (5.055)

For Calvin, the point of the doctrine of predestination was to remind us that God is free and gracious."

from a quaker site i was reminded of the vineyard's origins - wimber attended a quaker church in yorba linda before founding the vineyard. i also liked what i read there:

"[George Fox] was genuinely shocked by the failure of the 'professors', the professing Christians, to live their beliefs."

"The rediscovery by ordinary men and women of a sense of the immediacy of God is one of the most distinctive aspects of Quakerism. The writings of early Friends are full of stories of "meetings with God" and of "being led by the Holy Spirit". Sometimes these experiences helped their understanding. Sometimes it was an awareness of something that had to be done as part of God's purpose on this earth. Friends began to use the term 'concern' to describe the experience of Friends who believe that God might be saying to them: "this is what needs to be done - and you are to help do it"."

"Quaker worship happens when two or more people feel the need to be still together and seek God's presence. This can happen anywhere and anytime, but Friends usually refer to a 'meeting for worship' to indicate the meeting which takes place regularly at a meeting house or another fixed place.

Silence is greatly valued by Friends. In removing pressure and hurry, it helps them to be aware of the inner and deeper meaning of their individual and corporate lives. It enables them to begin to accept themselves as they are and to find some release from fear, anxiety, emotional confusion and selfishness. This silence is more than an absence of sound. . .

The seating for a meeting for worship is usually arranged in a circle or a square to help people to be aware of one another, to be conscious of the fact that they are worshipping together."

go on nomes - are we more quaker, or presbyterian?

Monday, September 06, 2004

organic or fair trade?

went to the Organic Food Fair in town this weekend - not quite sure what to make of it all.

it is quite fashionable to be health-conscious these days - this seemed to be a large motivation for what was going on. why can't we be health-conscious simply because we care for ourselves, our children, other people and the environment?

i want to look into what makes something 'organic' and what makes something 'fairly traded' - for now i'm quite ignorant of the details. there were a lot more organic things than fair-trade things there, but that could be becuase the majority of the stalls were local/regional producers.

is it right to use consumer power to bring about change? the reason big supermarkets now provide organic alternatives is due to pester-power of consumers - the big corporates realised there was money to be made organic foods, etc. and have duly obliged us. no doubt they pass the cost on to us and the farmers who have to comply with all the regulations that govern the area. is this the most effective way of bringing change about, and does it give us the result we actually need? at the moment, most organic food is much more expensive than the chemically-soaked/GM alternative and isn't accessible to a large proportion of society.

given that fertilizers, pesticides, GM crops, industrial processes have largely been popularised by those with the aim of making as much money as possible for as little effort and that consumerism goes along hand-in-hand with that - is it possible to use a flawed system to change itself?

Thursday, September 02, 2004

new look

decided to go for a new look - got tired of the debugging message coming up again and again.

recent thoughts have been inspired by a preach by tim, two sundays ago. it was about how you realise when a houseguest, initially temporary, has actually moved in and is not intending to move on (the answer being their stuff gets gradually spread around your house and you find you are used to eating your breakfast with a view of their drying laundry). this was used as a metaphor for one's relationship with Jesus - eventually, His stuff is spread throughout your life, like an untidy houseguest, and you realise that He is not moving out.

applied to me this was of great comfort, because i tend to focus on the 'rooms' in my life that Jesus doesn't feature. as i do this, i fear that He will either never leave His socks to dry in that room, or He'll leave because i never let Him in. but no - i can say that there are some rooms in my life which have His stuff liberally strewn around the place, and despite my efforts at keeping Him out of various other areas, He is definitely here to stay.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

mrs hope was in hospital yesterday and last night for a wee operation. thanks to God, it went very well by all accounts, and although the feeling in her right leg didn't return until 4am today, she is now resting and recuperating at home.

two of our giant russian sunflowers have finally opened their faces to the world; the garden is now happily nodded at from a very great height. our tomatoes are ripening and our runner beans are going nuts - not long until our sweetcorn ripen and we gorge ourselves on that. which reminds me: my wife and i were taking the air on sunday evening and wandered down to the local allotments (it is the route mrs hope walks in to work). we saw an old fellow with two bags of produce from his patch, and i, spotting that he had sweetcorn in them, asked him how he knew they were ripe for harvesting. he didn't explain exactly, but happily showed us how ripe they were and insisted we take two of them to see for ourselves. so we had sweetcorn for tea on sunday, roasted in our chim. nice, eh?

Friday, August 13, 2004

went to see Spider-man 2 last night with mrs hope.

it was probably the best film i've seen for a while - even trumping the LOTR films. i used to collect spidey comics when i was a bairn, so i guess i've a soft spot for the webcrawler. what impressed me about this film was the vulnerability of the hero character, for whom everything seems to go wrong, precisely because of his efforts to do the right thing.

i was reminded of a talk given by dallas willard about how this is the crux of the human condition when separated from God - that each person does want to the the right thing, but also have a good life. it is the apparent incompatability of these two desires that leads to the individual choosing one aim over the other - tragically when one is separate from God, neither goal can be achieved.

anyway, for those that haven't seen the film, this human situation is very sensitively portrayed (albeit in Hollywood-action- hero-love-story terms), and a satisfying, but not cliched, 'wait-until-the-next-film-resolution' reached at the end of the film. well worth seeing if you haven't already.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

been a wee bit busy for a while, and a few people have commented about boy scouts, so i guess i should update this pesky thing.

apparently, i should have mentioned that on 9 April it was the 1st 'birthday' of this blog. well, i guess i have now.

as a 1 year old, it is now starting to throw a bit of a wobbly - anyone know what 'runtime errors' are? dunno if it pops up on you when you read this, but apparently lines 90 through to 230 are missing a few expected objects.

thunder and lightning and torrential rain outside at the moment. haven't had a chance to step outside for my lunch just yet, so i blog.

mrs hope and i have just watched the Blue Planet series by the Beeb. amazing stuff - and probably the only time you'll hear sir david attenborough say the word 'weird'.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Scouting for Boys: The Original 1908 Edition


Alcohol is now shown to be quite useless as a health-giving drink, and it is mere poison when a man takes too much of it. A man who is in the habit of drinking wine or spirits in strong doses every day is not the slightest use for scouting, and very little use for anything else. Similarly a man who smokes too much. The best war scouts don't smoke because it weakens their eyesight; it sometimes makes them shaky and nervous; it spoils their noses for smelling (which is of great importance at night); and the glow of their pipes or the scent of tobacco carried on them at night gives them away to watchful enemies. They are not such fools as to smoke. No boy ever began smoking because he liked it, but because he thought it made him look like a grown-up man. As a matter of fact, it generally makes him look like a little ass.

Robert Baden-Powell

this book is an all-time bestseller in the english speaking world, second only to the Bible...

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

i'm actually having to check my diary to see what's happened since i last blogged... hang on a sec.

i would go on about the rugby and football, but i know it'll get me in trouble with mrs hope. the issue there is that i'm scottish (BSL=pretend to play the bagpipes under your right arm) and mrs hope is english (BSL=hold out your left index finger and stroke it with the tip of your right index finger. odd, yeah, but hey...) and, as a scot, i support scotland and anyone playing england (at anything!). i need ministry for this (quite seriously - it's not something i am able to rationalise) but take time to enjoy the losses of english teams along the way as well.

so, that's background to england losing three tests in new zealand and australia (rugby union) and losing on penalties in the quarter finals of euro 2004 (football). curiously the excuses trotted out by both teams sound remarkably similar, although the reaction of the popular press to the referee of the football match was disappointingly predictable.

well, there's always tiger-tim (at least for another 24 hours anyway!).

our car broke down - the clutch cable snapped to be precise - conveniently when we were about to host a couple from nyc vineyard. it happened as we pulled up at the bus station to pick them up, and was a slight inconvenience to the bus drivers that needed to get out of the station. hey, life happens. it got a temporary fix that night, and a proper one last week. we also put new shocks on the front end, which have improved the handling no end. our mechanic still reckons we should sell it though.

garden update

our sweetcorn is now about a foot and a half high; sunflowers just topping that. neighbours' cats still crapping everywhere.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

chimineas, gangsters and cycling

been away for a while, so sorry for the back-blog-blitz of an update:

i took mrs hope to stroud on saturday (29th) to buy her birthday present. it's not her birthday until thursday, but we wouldn't have had the time to go otherwise, and the present had to be one of her choosing really.

this is the style we picked up, except in a slightly faded british racing green. we seasoned it on saturday afternoon and evening, but haven't had the time or weather to get a proper fire in it as yet. mrs hope was very pleased indeed - there are now plans afoot to have her birthday meal cooked in it.

the plans were foiled as it rained thursday evening, but we celebrated indoors with a bottle of champagne saved from our wedding - however, some celebrated more than others and it showed the next day

blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of Godwent to ashfield YOI on sunday 30th. i thought i was preaching, and was drastically underprepared. fortunately a friend, who also preaches regularly had thought he was to preach that day and had prepared something, so i was mightily relieved to let him go ahead - i just did the reading in the end! the lads were quiet as church mice during the preach (not normal behaviour), but were their usual sparkly selves during the songs. at the end, i had a quick chat with two 16 year olds - they told me when they grow up, they're going to be gangsters.

i got my bike back recently (had loaned it to a friend for a while, but she's moved up to leeds now) and have started cycling again. went for a ride with mrs hope on the bristol-bath cycle route and remembered that i have the most uncomfortable saddle in the world. cycling to work is much quicker, and frees up more time - all good!

the hopes on the roadalso, been to cambridge last weekend (to visit my wife's family) and picked up, among other things, a tent, a camping stove, a set of crockery, a set of mugs, a new rose for the watering can, a set of cutlery, a computer, a pair of tomato plants, a ground mat, a set of camping pots and pans, a garlic pot, a set of camping crockery, two gas canisters, a portable stove, a eucalyptus tree, a camp bed, two bottles of white wine, a vase, a terracotta pot, a garlic press and a pair of lavender plants.

mrs hope has made it past the baby-eating thing in insaniquarium... she was most pleased.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

a thief of time

i've just added a link to this game, Insaniquarium. be warned that it is very odd, but even more addictive.

also, check out this poem by andrew jones.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

this could only ever happen in the UK...

You have referees, linesmen, supporters and policemen, but the streakers out-sell all of those by a good margin
i'm fasting today - i blame all the errors and odd disconnected thoughts that follow on my low blood sugar level.

i'm conscious that i haven't blogged for a while; i don't want to blog out of guilt for not blogging, but don't want to fall out of the habit either. and, for once, at work it's quite quiet, so i should take advantage of the current lull.

weeds are a problem. dandelions have very deep tap roots, that can survive even though you manage to pull a good length out. i am tempted to resort to chemicals, but there is something satisfying about gradually eradicating them by hand. bit by bit, we're clearing the paving slabs of the weeds in the cracks. clean paving slabs are good!

i'm thinking of my talk for sunday:
i don't want to give them a lecture that they've already heard a hundred times.
i want to give them something they can relate to.
i want to offer them a tangible hope.
i want to offer them something different, but attainable.
i want to offer them something mysterious.
i want to challenge them.
i want to start from where they are, not where i am.


garden update

we're growing sunflowers, thusly:

look at the pretty flowers!

nice, eh?

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Whose well is it?

In the shanty-town there was no water...
It was evening, and the day had been very hard...
And Jesus said: 'Give me a drink.'

A woman passed that way, coming from afar. She was a stranger, someone they didn't know and she carried a bucket. She went up to the well where the children were sitting, and the old people and the men and women, looking at the water in the well - the water, so near and yet so far.
And Jesus said: 'Give me a drink.'

And the woman answered: 'Why do you ask me for a drink? You are poor and I am rich. You are thirsty but the bucket is mine.'
And Jesus said: 'Woman, what of the well? Whose well is it?'

And the woman's eyes were opened and with her bucket they began to draw water for the whole district.

Maria Teresa Porcile of Uruguay

from this article by len sweet.

Monday, May 17, 2004

...the idea behind Nationstates

just a neat pic i wanted to post...
This is my new blogchalk:
not bad... that's definitely my nose, but i've got no hair
lives United Kingdom, Bristol, St Werburghs; speaks English; male, 21-25; likes gardening, following jesus.

was going to try blogging by email out for the first time. am concerned that my blog could get spammed; though i am tempted to set up a spammable blog to see what would be written. on second thoughts, probably not a lot that would be fit for general consumption.

suddenly realised that if i tried it from work, the disclaimer added by work (which, unsurprisingly is quite lengthy) would show up. will try another time.

Keith died on sunday - a very sad day indeed:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

he is now buried at the end of the garden; a stone marks the spot where his mortal form now lies. he was beautiful fellow, even in death. we both felt utterly helpless to prevent his passing.

Monday, May 10, 2004

new shoes and old words.

saturday was new shoes day. the shoes are my wife's, but the shoe buying processing was definitely for the two of us. mrs hope has recently been in hospital, and as a result has had a sore tummy. i was on hand (luckily enough!) to help out with the trying on of various possible purchases, and able to offer great advice on what looked best. i even did the thing that sales assistants used to do when i was a wee lad buying school shoes, and pinched around the toes and measured the width of the shoe to make sure they fitted properly without pinching (the reason why the last pair of new shoes were rejected and a new set of new shoes was required).

to give you an idea of how seriously mrs hope takes the purchase of new shoes, i think i can just about get away with revealing she does in fact dream about them. by way of background, i should explain that my wife esteems the art communication so highly, and indeed is so proficient in it, that she is able to maintain a conversation whilst asleep. and so it was that at 1am this morning, she asked me where her new shoes were. i replied, with slightly less coherence but as much dignity as i could muster, that they were where she had left them (pretty good reasoning on my part i think, considering i hadn't the faintest idea of where they might be). she seemed satisfied with my answer, as she ought to have been and fell silent for a while (after all, i was using one of her own favourite phrases on her, and even i have never arrived at a suitable reply despite repeated exposure to it). sometime later, as we practised sharing the bedclothes once again, i was minded to ask what prompted her question in the first place. she sighed, and said as long as they weren't being sold to someone else it should be okay, but somehow i felt she feared the worst. needless to say, she was very glad to see them again this morning.

sunday was a day for gardening, specifically planting our first crop of sweetcorn and some sunflowers. whilst getting grubby, and uprooting various unwanted plants, i was able to think about my favourite gardening words, and here are my current top three:

1) Tilth

Main Entry: tilth
Pronunciation: 'tilth
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English, from tilian to till
1 : cultivated land : TILLAGE
2 : the state of aggregation of a soil especially in relation to its suitability for crop growth

2) worm

Main Entry: 1 worm
Pronunciation: 'w&rm
Function: noun
Usage: often attributive
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English wyrm serpent, worm; akin to Old High German wurm serpent, worm, Latin vermis worm
1 a : EARTHWORM; broadly : an annelid worm b : any of numerous relatively small elongated usually naked and soft-bodied animals: as (1) : an insect larva; especially : one that is a destructive grub, caterpillar, or maggot (2) : SHIPWORM (3) : BLINDWORM
2 a : a human being who is an object of contempt, loathing, or pity : WRETCH b : something that torments or devours from within
3 archaic : SNAKE, SERPENT
4 : HELMINTHIASIS -- usually used in plural
5 : something (as a mechanical device) spiral or vermiculate in form or appearance: as a : the thread of a screw b : a short revolving screw whose threads gear with the teeth of a worm wheel or a rack c : a spiral condensing tube used in distilling d : ARCHIMEDES' screw; also : a conveyor working on the principle of such a screw
6 : a usually small self-contained computer program that invades computers on a network and usually performs a malicious action
- worm·like /-"lIk/ adjective

3) spade

Main Entry: 1 spade
Pronunciation: 'spAd
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English spadu; akin to Greek spathE blade of a sword or oar
1 : a digging implement adapted for being pushed into the ground with the foot
2 : a spade-shaped instrument
- spade·ful /-"ful/ noun
- call a spade a spade 1 : to call a thing by its right name however coarse 2 : to speak frankly

all anglo-saxon words - what a great language for mucking about in the dirt with! i think they sound best if you put on a slight scottish accent as well...

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

bizarre story of the day

builder survives nailgun accident
last weekend

si and nomes had lent us their car (very kind guys, thanks again) and we gamefully set off around quarter to three. traffic was sticky straight away, although not so the car on the road as we found when joining the M5 northbound from the M4. those of you who know that stretch are aware that it is a gentle righthander that takes you up and over the M5 and onto a slip road. anyway, we found out that taking that turn in the rain, at 70ish, and hitting a cat-eye at the peak of the rise results in a little oversteer. only a little mind, though as i now know that isn't much of an excuse in my wife's books.

despite this, the journey proceeded uneventfully (and slowly) until we were approaching birmingham. it was here that i remembered that i was supposed to bring keys to the flat we were staying in (truthfully, my wife quite rightly asked for evidence that i had the keys on me) and i also remembered that we had left in an awful hurry and that a spare pair of clean socks is a useful thing to have around (as mrs hope found out on sunday, but that's another story for another time). clean socks can't unlock our flat however, so i ended up calling granny to see if we could borrow her spare keys. as it was her party (or one in her honour) it was nice to speak to her to see how she was feeling on its eve; we arranged for the keys to be left in a suitably secret place for me to collect on arrival in edinburgh, in some four hours time.

we queued from birmingham up to liverpool. i found out that the steering column on ford escorts cannot be tilted or otherwise adjusted and that the handle underneath the steering column is in fact the bonnet release. although the bonnet was only wobbling slightly as we cruised in the slow lane at 50, mrs hope decided she wanted to stretch her legs at that point and insisted on hopping out when we next came to a stop in the traffic and, whilst out and about, she took the opportunity to close the bonnet.

it's a bit of an animalwe stopped at tebay services for a quick snack and loo break. whilst munching on the lion's share of a peperami hot and taking some cash out, i was approached by a young scot, waving a grubby tenner at me and asking for a lift up to carlisle. now as i was already doing at least two things at once, my wife can testify my powers of concentration were sorely stretched, so i knew none of these details until i'd stopped chewing and put my cash away (i'd asked the guy to wait a minute already). even then, it took me a few seconds to understand what he was saying, as his accent was quite broad (my wife only remembers him saying 'yo' every other word, yo). it turned out he'd been kicked off his national express coach for smoking, but needed to get to glasgow, or helensburgh, or carlisle, or dumfries, and out of tebay services at least. i managed to convince mrs hope he wasn't carrying a bloody axe in the pocket of his shellsuit, and told him that we could take him to carlisle. delighted, he hopped up and down outside of the car until we asked him to get in or we'd leave him behind.

his name was barry. he was 23, and was, until recently, living with his brother in wigan. they'd fallen out and he'd moved to manchester. for some undisclosed reason, he was going up north. he happily told me the shellsuit he was wearing was someone elses, quite possibly belonging to the chap who's girlfriend he spent the previous night with, but he couldn't say for sure (and neither could he remember what he wore the night before). he spoke with great enthusiasm (constantly punctuated with 'yos') and animation on whatever i asked him; he was wonderfully open and i don't think it was just because of what he'd drunk. whenever we fell silent he would thrust his 'ten spot' at me, despite our repeated assurances we didn't want his money and advice that he'd need it later on if we dropped him in carlisle.

he said he was always too easily led; he'd done some time for petty theft although impressively he'd been off the gear for some three years now. he had a five year old son, jamie, who lived in scotland with his (jamie's) mum. he is going to be six in october, and although i can't remember the date, barry does.

we parted in carlisle, somewhere in the centre of the town (neither mrs hope or i had been there before). he intended to take the train (by hiding in the loos) or catch a bus to continue his journey. we gave him some heartfelt advice, and told him he could find friends like us at the glasgow vineyards. he grew very emotional and shook my hand, hugged me and offered me his last tenner several times. we last saw him running across the road. we weren't concerned with him getting caught smoking on a coach that night as he left his fags in the back seat.

the rest of the weekend was fun (seeing granny, digging for worms in the Moray Place gardens, catching up with family, a good curry) but not as fun as our hitchhiker.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

the bitter taste of their own medicine...

how ironic is this report? maybe they'll make the next step and connect their feelings of pain and dislocation with what the palestinians are going through, and shock, horror perhaps empathise with the palestinians?

"Tens of thousands of Israeli settlers have turned out in the Gaza Strip to protest against plans to evacuate settlements from the territory.

Members of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud party are due to vote on Sunday on his evacuation plan. The plan, which calls for the removal of all settlements in the Gaza Strip and some in the West Bank, has already been endorsed by US President George W Bush. It is also widely supported by the Israel public as a whole.

Others said it was unfair to uproot people from their homes. "Imagine living in a place your entire life and then being asked to leave," a man told the BBC. "I mean, it is our land, it hurts, it hurts."

People in a Palestinian area looked out of their windows as the marchers passed by."

then again, when this settler's reflection is so true, maybe that is wishful thinking:

"The problem is the Arabs see the whole of Israel as the biggest settlement of all."

how very sad to think of israelis tearing down each others homes. it's so messy, what kind of 'road map' can cope? and especially when bush and kerry are more interested in courting votes in their wonderful democratic way than watching what they say for fear of the wider effects...

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

first time i've fasted in a long while - can't say it's like riding a bike. read bill bright's advice on how to fast, as we have a link on our website to this. i suppose it's sensible to have these guidelines, discharge our responsibility to help people fast 'properly'. still, i have mixed feelings about it. i don't think i'm taking an overly puritan attitude to fasting (and of course, no-one would ever want to be 'religious' about fasting!), but isn't it a wee bit odd to fill your stomach with psyllium bulk if you're feeling excessively hungry? i am, however, sipping some fruit squash today.

went to see barenaked ladies last night at colston hall - they were excellent. had very sore knees though, from standing up (okay, kinda jigging a wee bit during the more up-tempo numbers i confess) for so long.

went to cardiff this morning with work; our train was early so we had time to grab a coffee and take in the sights as we made our way to the meeting. i must say i quite liked the atmosphere of the centre, and will probably take my wife there at some point. we actually had quite a bit of time to kill after the meeting and popped into a hiking shop that we had spotted earlier; tent shopping may be slightly cheaper in cardiff, and my wife will be interested in that (as well as the museums and other nice buildings of course).

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

the next installment of 'buy the best' is definitely for the boys out there, plus my wife who regularly reminds me that her moniker of 'Rally-Rowe' was not idly given.

got $1m to spare? have a look at this:

goes like the proverbial off a shovel

it's the bugatti 'Veyron', the first passenger car to have an engine which produces 1,000+ hp. having said that you only need $1m to buy it, it's worth remembering besides the insurance and servicing costs, that the W-16 cylinder, 8 litre engine will consume approximately 5 litres of fuel a minute. That's about £4 a minute in fuel costs...

Monday, April 26, 2004

buy the best has transmogrified into buying the most old-fashioned gardening implements... it started like this:

bristol city council are trying to reduce the amount of rubbish people throw away. they put a leaflet through our letterbox about subsidised compost bins. i like mud and worms and stuff, my wife thinks it will keep me amused and out of trouble (mostly), so we write off. a week later, we get a our bin (which moves down to the far end of the garden) and a wee bucket to transport stuff from the kitchen to the bin.

kitchen waste starts accumulating in our wee bucket: my wife diligently fills it up and i ocassionally empty it into the bin. when my wife does some weeding, she neatly piles the weeds by the bin for me to dump inside.

even though we keep piling stuff in, the bin never really gets that full, and i happily deduce that the composting process is taking place. my wife keeps filling the wee bucket with scraps and piling weeds up; i keep chucking them in the bin.

Hand-made in Holland, each Sneeboer tool has been hand-forged in the finest stainless steel. It is individually shaped, polished and sharpened by hand before being fitted with a fine quality wooden handle (standard garden tools with ash handles and hand tools finished with cherrywood). Anyone who has a Sneeboer tool will never want to use anything else...the sun comes out (in england this is no small matter) and the entire country devotes itself to barbeques, tanning and gardening. it falls to me to sort out the small raised bed covered in three foot high grass (affectionately known to us as our 'lawn'). having borrowed a strimmer and acquired a mild hangover from the previous night's celebration of the end of the working week, i take on the miniture meadow and reduce it to three inch high stubble. i readily sympathise with my neighbours that the strimmer is too loud. having raked up all the trimmings, and spread them out to dry a bit, i now have a considerable pile of material to add to the bin.

the problem is that the grass needs mixing in with the rest of the heap; my rake is not up to the task so i start to look for spades and garden forks. so far, the most expensive one i've found is a touch over £50, but does have flat tines (which i now believe to be an essential requirement for any fork).

however, we recently got taught on the meaning behind fasting (in part, to aid overcoming addiction) and i was able to recognise my cravings and confess to my wife. she's now looking to borrow a garden fork, but i don't think i told her to ask for flat tines.

Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, Think I'll go and eat worms, Big fat juicy ones, long thin skinny ones, See how they wriggle and squirm; First you bite off the heads, and you suck out the juice, then throw the skins away, Nobody knows how fat I grow On worms three times a dayyou can't, however, borrow worms, and i don't think i want to fork out £15 for some. my big brother (he's an engineer) has designed a mobile worm transporter for me, though the blueprints look pretty much like a jam jar, even to my untrained eye. still, you have to trust the wisdom and experience of older siblings.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

went to our sign language class last night - it was really good fun. our teacher was good - the perfect mix of intimidation and awareness of when we started to flounder which meant we were stretched but not humiliated. she had a great sense of humour, and didn't speak a word all evening. we learnt the alphabet and how to say our names and ask other people's names too. it was great fun meeting new people too, and hopefully we'll make some friends along the way.

what i particularly like about the language is its economy of phrases and the use of context to convey a thought. for example, instead of asking 'what is your name?', as would be done in english, in BSL you ask 'name what?' another example is the name of an area of bristol called Knowle; in BSL the sign is a combination of 'know' plus 'L'. simply neat.

Monday, April 19, 2004

so the kite flying was fun! only thing is (and this isn't helping me overcome my desire to 'buy the best') the wind was too strong for our kite's strings, and they snapped a few times. the kids were great and picked it up really quickly.

then the fun started when i broke the front door key in the lock. after abortive attempts to get a locksmith out (now i know they are distinct from key-cutters), get a key cut, get a spare set of keys, get another spare set of keys, we decided to drive out to where the wedding was and get the set held by the parents. it was a long day, but the kids were fun throughout. it even gave me an opportunity to play Twister!

also, watched a neat anime film called Spirited Away which was cool, sad, thought provoking and downright weird.

it rained on sunday, but the rose bush has recovered from it's attack of green/red/blackfly due to the chemical warfare tactics we employed the day before.

off to sign language classes tonight - quite excited about that.

Friday, April 16, 2004

ah, the weekend approaches. i think we're babysitting grommit's offspring tomorrow (some friends are getting married - a true cause for celebration!) and therefore planning a trip to a park. i have checked the weather and the sun is supposed to shine with a light north-easterly blowing: perfect for footy and kite flying!

hah! just realised my previous entry was the day the deal closed... won't forget that in a hurry.

tent shopping is being planned by my wife in the near future. there's something about me that always wants to buy the top of the range model, thank heavens my wife is much more practical and realistic. if it were up to me, we'd buy a tent that you could take to the antarctic, all carbon fibre poles, mono-fil tethers, taped seams, fabric with a hydro-static head that could hold off a hurricane and weighed 5gms. since we'll probably camp four times a summer at the most, it might be a wee bit of overkill - i'll let her chose.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

blowing the dust of my keyboard and brushing the cobwebs out of my head to do some blogging again. actually, it nice to have taken a break (when i say break, i mean not really having time to blog, apart from on holiday last week when looking at a computer was pretty much the last thing i wanted to do).

nice to see my parents. i always thought homesickness was something related to be at boarding school, and that setting up my own place in bristol would mean i wouldn't get homesick (apart from when i left bristol obviously). but when we were sitting in a cab on the way to the airport after a great week with the olds, i realised that being homesick and missing your mum and dad are different. the other thing i realised is that dubai cabs tend to be air-conditioned and dubai cabbies tend to eat a lot of curried foods... part of me was quite relieved to get to the airport and out of that cab.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

it's snowing!! how cool!? not that cool if you live in bristol and you need to take a bus home, i've just heard that the buses in bristol have been recalled until the council can grit the roads...


also, my wife and i are taking tomorrow off to have a long weekend. as an extra bonus, our very good friend, jacqui chan, is flying in from toulouse for the weekend too.

helped decorate one of our housegroup's house last night (just a wee bit of painting) and am really sore today! weird, getting achy muscles from painting?!

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

haloscan does Trackback

now i'm trying to figure out what it does... presumably would've made my latest exchange with nomes a lot easier (was i guilty of 'blogwhoring' then?).
comment on nomes' post dated 22.02.04

y'know, when you told me about that post, i was sorely tempted to wind some of those women up as i thought they were over-reacting and more than a wee bit touchy. but as i read the post and tried to read through the comments i thought better of it.

i think i realised that those women were genuinely hurt and offended, and although i didn't agree with their reading of the post, i guess it would have been nasty to aggravate things further.

at first, i was amused by their over-reactions, then bemused and confused! clearly these women are not having a go just for the sake of it (as i was about to!), but reacting out of their own experiences. now i can't relate to what they've experienced, but it must be fairly gutting to have lived through whatever's happened to them, so that a comment seemingly as innoccuous as that should provoke such a biting reflex. such responses aren't simply off the cuff; i must confess i wasn't aware of the depth of hurt around that issue. what have we done to these intelligent and capable women to make them react in such a way?

Friday, February 20, 2004

set up a new link to a website about martin luther king jr after a discussion in housegroup about one of his speeches. the discussion was about how king's speech, originally against the vietnam war, was relevant today and we spoke about a wide range of issues that night, though every one was concerned with God's justice.

what struck me was the insights that king had regarding his situation. he condemned his government for using an anti-communist stance as a pretext for all sorts of military actions (direct, such as vietnam, or indirect, such as providing arms to 'anti-communist' states in africa). the parallels this has to our situation today is unavoidable.

under the excuse of 'anti-terrorism' the UK and the US have invaded Afghanistan, ousting the Taliban. now, without the check of the Taliban to prevent this, the majority of the world's opium poppies are grown in Afghanistan.

under the excuse of 'anti-terrorism' the UK and the US have invaded Iraq and removed saddam hussein from power, only decades after they had assisted his wars against Iran by providing him with weapons.

under the excuse of 'anti-terrorism' the US supports the state of israel in its continued oppression of the palestinian people.

two quotes from his speech Beyond Vietnam:

"This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words, and I quote:

'Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the hearts of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.'"

is this not true of the west in the eyes of the muslim world today? if the US is the self-appointed "policeman of the world", qui custodiet ipsos custodes? (who polices those who police?)

"It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken: the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered."

nuff said. lets make disciples.

Monday, February 16, 2004

today, as i walked into work, i walked past an old man who looked like he'd been beaten up. what i'm ashamed to say is that i only registered his condition, thinking to myself, 'someone should stop and offer that guy some help', and it was some thirty seconds later when i realised that i should have been that someone. why did i walk on? i was concentrating on getting in to work on time, the quick pace of the 'late-for-work-employee' took me past him in barely three seconds. i don't like being this kind of person, i don't want my job to master my life. i don't want to be afraid of not having enough stuff, money, food, the right clothes, status, a 'secure future', 'peace of mind' and all that a career offers (but will only provide in exchange for your blood, sweat and tears). i don't want to get used to going home and thinking that because it's before eight it's not that bad. i don't want to be afraid of what others think of me.

why are north korean peasants forced to eat bark, while in the west there are more obese people than ever before (a recently published 'scientific study' confirms what is pretty bloody obvious - there is a link between being obese and consuming too many calories after all)? what is up with the world?!

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

been a bit busy at work recently, so am trying to discipline myself in having a lunch break and doing a bit of blogging a bit at lunch time. at the moment, work is non-stop, so the only breaks i have are when i visit the gents.

this weekend, i hope to be able to get away to our small group leaders training 'thing', and attendees have been given some homework to do as prep.

today i have the following two quotes to reflect on:

"Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts;
the whole earth is full of His glory"

Isaiah 6 v 3


"If you are a guide on a sightseeing trip, and you know the people are longing to enjoy beauty, and you come upon some breathtaking ravine, then you should show it to them and urge them to enjoy it. Well, the human race does in fact crave the experience of awe and wonder. And there it no reality more breathtaking than God."

john piper, Desiring God

yesterday morning, i was thrilled to see a bird (i think it was a thrush) on my birdtable. i guess i have been appreciating God's creation, and i ought to take that on a stage into appreciating Him. it's also a reminder of how much i need to acknowledge the adequacy of God, as set out in packer's Knowing God.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

wot i have been doing today...



Monday, February 02, 2004

Click here to find out why.
i gave this a go on recommendation from my friend jon:

create your own visited country map

hey, did anyone else catch johnny rotten on "I'm a Celebrity" last night? i hope i don't misquote the chap but, on the subject of being stuck in an australian jungle, i think he said:

"God's got a lot to answer for, but He's also done a lot to be appreciated"

cf Romans 1 v 20

"From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature."
the bird table is up! a few hours work over the weekend, in which i discovered my wife is far better at sawing in a straight line than i am. however, she graciously noted that my skewed attempts created a pretty zig-zag pattern on the edge of the bird table - quite frankly, i'll take any compliments i can any day!

and, as i happily put out the feed on our new, home-made bird table for the bird (the one regularly seen visitor, aside from a cat is one blue tit) i noted with immense satisfaction that there were beak marks in the food.

i was really encouraged this weekend when praying for people. i gave them some words that i thought God was encouraging them with, and i checked afterwards to see if they were right or not. as it turns out they were, i was amazed at how we are used by Him to help each other. i only wish now that i had checked earlier, instead of getting worried about being wrong and stopping praying quickly.

one of the things i really love about my wife is that we really laugh lots. just thought i'd say that.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

a tweak to my links to friends pages is that i've stuck our community's logo (yes, it's a logo, not a pretty green flower Nomes!) by them to show if they belong to it or not.

over the weekend i got, in addition to a sledgehammer, some odd bits of wood that my father-in-law had. my plan was to build a bird table in our garden. on tuesday, i was excitedly sketching some plans and figuring out how i could put one together - perches for birds, things to hang food off, etc. then on wednesday morning, i was peering out the window hoping to see some birds in the garden, i saw that our neighbours have put up a bird table almost identical to my plans (shows how basic and generic bird tables are, even i can think of how to build one)! my wife says that i inspired them with our peanut dispenser, but i am gutted. perhaps they felt like i was trying to steal the birds from their garden or something. they have a birdbox there too now, handily in time for spring. i guess i could go ahead and build my table, but now i'm going to look like i'm competing with them! the neighbour wars have begun... keeping up with the joneses and all that.

i had a check up with a dentist today. i need three fillings, two in a tooth that might show when i grin. so the decision is whether to stump up £50 each for composite fillings (the white ones that you can't see) or pay £11 each for amalgam ones (the metal ones that you can see). now i probably have less teeth than filling in my mouth anyway, but usually the ones in the more obvious places have been financed by parental sources and are therefore composite ones. now i'm looking at a £100 plus bill to achieve "dental fitness" (as the quote delightfully puts it) and that's largely due to my vanity. obviously there is no difference in performance between the two types of filling. my wife has helpfully indicated it's my mouth and up to me how that affects our bank balance. hmmm.

Monday, January 26, 2004

two things on the news on friday that i'd like to write about:

the first is what is now being reported from the Congo - all the 'war-crimes' that happened during the war there. it was a shocking article, in the sense that it was a shock to be told that those kinds of things had recently been done/happened to people. i guess it's no longer shocking that humans are capable of such things. it was very sad and made me want to do something about it and i briefly resented all the obligations and responsibilities that i have accreted like my job and my rented house and things like that (as an aside, i was re-assured the other day that i have married completely the right woman when i said i wanted to go elsewhere to disciple people and she said that'd be great without even batting an eyelid). then i lapsed into dithering about what to actually do, and my cluttered 'life' gently clustered around me again and i haven't thought about throwing them off again since.

the other thing was the MP who spoke her mind about the plight of the Palestinians. i was pissed off that the only interview they showed was an Israeli bigwig, obviously outraged and offended and dismayed that an MP would say such things when Israelis were being killed by suicide bombers. gutted that the Beeb is pro-Israeli. i thought of the prophet Nathan, who had the kahunas to go up to David and confront him about his adultery with Bathsheeba (and associated murder and cover-up). i want to load that story onto the present day Israel - who is abusing her poor neighbour and killing his only lamb. who can bring it to the attention of Israel that they are doing this? it has to be God; it can only be God.

my father-in-law gave me a sledgehammer this weekend (he had three in his shed). i now own a sledgehammer - how cool is that? i think i'll just have the one though...

Friday, January 23, 2004

blogging from cambridge today - it's nice to be out of the office.

cambridge is a funny town, or maybe it's my reaction to it that is funny (funny=weird, not funny=ha ha). i guess it is a place which strikes me as really rich, in terms of heritage and intellectual prowess. i think there is a part of me that would love to be accepted and belong to that world. yeah, that's my reaction to it i think. but it's also a lovely town, full of wonderful old buildings and hidden treasures. i think it's that hidden treasure aspect that really piqued my interest. one can imagine old colleges full of incredible things that no-one ever gets to see, apart from the crusty old college porter on his annual spring clean. that idea of special things just out of reach provoked huge waves of discontent in me... i almost couldn't enjoy the place. it was weird, because it's kinda gone now (perhaps just sitting beneath the surface waiting for another chance to manifest itself).

i guess the desire to be accepted and belong and stuff kinda springs from the fear of rejection from the same thing. for me, understanding paul's words of "God is for us", will mean digging into being accepted by God. i think i need to make that a real foundation of my identity. i remember steve nicholson talking about how essential it is for disciples to understand that they are children of God. it seems like such trite advice, but i think i have a long way to go on certain aspects of it.

so 'm glad we took a walk through cambridge this afternoon and that i felt all crabby and discontented inside as a result. God is for me, and it's His way of getting me to realise it.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

decided to re-publish the entire site; i'm so particular about things that i can't stand inconsistencies (i think that most people would call that being anally retentive). so apologies to those who commented on my previous facility, as those pearls of wisdom will be lost now. thanks to jon for all the advice on how to dress up my site, jacqui for her first ever shout out and my wife for her pertinent observations. all i can say is that i hope the inconsistencies are ironed out!

thinking generally about the last chapter of j i packer's book Knowing God and the identification of fears in there. i think i need to consider how i am affected by my fear of opposition and how to counter that with the glorious words of Romans 8:

"If God is for us, who can ever be against us?"

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

packer on theology

This is a wicked quote from j i packer, in answer to a question about what theology is (well, kind of, as i didn't really dig the question... here's the rest of the interview).

"First of all, theology simply means the study of God.

This is something that every Christian needs to realize. I think the way that the word has been used in the past has frightened many Christians away from it, even though they never stopped to consider what the word actually meant. People got the idea somewhere that theology is the business of the seminary professors and the clergy, but has very little to do with the day to day living of the Christian life. It's something people seem to think you can get along without, provided that you read your Bible daily and think one or two guiding thoughts from your passage to keep you on the rails. I do not believe it is at all like that.

But theology means the study of God, and if we are to love God, as we are commanded, with all our 'minds' them we need to be in the business of theology. So when I speak of theology, I am referring to the truth that God has given us all in Scripture which we all need to learn and digest. It is truth for life!

Now, I am a professor of theology, but I must tell you that in all of my teaching and writing, I am trying to show that theology is supremely practical. If this could be seen, then I think people's fear of theology could melt away and they would appreciate, and benefit from, serious theological instruction. Again, if you will allow me to beat the drum once more, this is a Reformational emphasis. If you actually get around to reading the Reformers, such as Luther or Calvin, you will find that they did all their work from a pastoral standpoint, but at every point they are applying truth to the lives of people. What they were trying to do throughout their earthly lives was to build the people up in God's truth so their lives might bring glory to their Creator and Redeemer. It's as practical and down to earth, and as pastoral as that. That's what we need to get back to first, I think."

A google search on packer will turn up this website as well: bible discernment ministries. apparently, packer is a neo-evangelical (as defined by the site) and bible-believing christians should read him with caution!

the guy's got some strong views (i'd like to see him persuade my wife about the accuracy of his beliefs about women!), but i was a little disappointed not to find vineyard in his cult section. ho hum...
this is a logo of my larger community - the bristol vineyard... just playing around to see if i can get a decent sized one on my site somewhere. mostly they have a fancy flash logo, but i can't figure out how to link to it just yet.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

just changed my comment function to Haloscan. i can assure those who've commented previously that their comments are archived (as long as i remember not to republish my entire site). i'm also told this one is more reliable.
i went shopping at lunch time and saw some of those charity workers - you know, the guys with the coloured bibs and clipboards that try and get you to sign up to give to their brand of charity. idly, i wondered what i would say to one of them, and if they would walk with you to get your commitment. guess what? i caught one chap's eye and he walked with me trying to get me to commit to giving £5 a month to Save the Children. he had some good lines: "only 17p a day!". i asked him how much it cost the charity to hire him and his 9 or so mates for the day. "not as much as the charity makes if we sign up ten people each. i assure you," he continued, "that the charity makes more money than me." hmm. he let slip he gets about £7 an hour. assuming a 7 hour day (he started at nine apparently), that's £49 a day. ten of them equals £490. so, to recoup it's cost in hiring them, the charity needs just over 8 members of the public to commit to £5 a month for a year. each worker need only strike once to make the charity money. no wonder there are so many of them, it's a very efficient (theoretically, at least) way for the charity to make money.

in our conversation he obviously knew to steer away from certain subjects, like confronting me on how much i did give to charity. he quickly ensured we were talking generally, about the typical person in the street, when i told him he had no idea what existing commitments i already had. he wasn't trying to make me guilty, for "guilt is a child's emotion, when the child knows it did something wrong." if i felt guilty, it was my own doing, he told me. i reckon he did an arts degree.

as usual i thought of the question i'd like to ask him after we parted.
i said something really dumb about someone i respect yesterday - trying to be funny i guess, but boy do i feel foolish now. so i walked into work with my demons haranguing me about this and that; i was just trying to cling to the fact that my cock-ups never did take God by surprise and His love for me is far greater than my disappointment with myself. as i got to work, having walked past lots of hurrying people, i thought about those who don't have anything other than demons to harrass them. i guess i was quite morose as i strolled in, but at least i had comfort in God. i suppose people either just don't think about it at all or it overcomes them. that made me sadder than my own mistakes.

i tried to bake some bread yesterday - naan bread to be precise. i didn't figure on the time necessary for proving it, so it was quite dense. i made a real mess though - it was fun! kneading the dough is good too - very satisfying. i want to get better at making bread...

Monday, January 19, 2004

weekends really fly by these days. i suppose we were quite busy, but also having fun. a good friend is moving to another country, and we helped shift some of her furniture into storage. amazingly, some of the furniture came our way and is now sitting smartly in our house - as is her barbeque!

we also inherited some nice house plants - an aloe plant with one teeny tiny offshoot. i planted it in an egg cup to see if it will grow. also in the egg cup is one leaf of a jade plant - another experiment.

still no feathered friends in our garden, but i'm still holding out for some.

we may not go to beirut after all. things there are looking rather tricky. prayer better work!

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

been busy, really busy.

still, found time to sleep, eat and attend a short session of football training. i am very out of shape and hurt a bit today.

prayer works: we didn't have enough money to pay for 'plane tickets to Beirut, we prayed and now we're being paid for.

Monday, January 12, 2004

i noticed two little birds in the neighbours' tree on Saturday. while in tesco's we decided to buy a bird feeder to see if we can lure them over into our garden. not that there is much to separate our two gardens other than a low brick wall, or that there are any trees or perches in our garden in comparison to our neighbours' tree, but i thought to give it a go. however, i am not sure whether the birds have noticed the little feeder, enticingly hung on a post, two-thirds full of peanuts. neither am i sure that yesterday's hail storms or this morning's heavy rain will have done the peanuts any favours either. still, we live in hope.

Friday, January 09, 2004

sometimes the internet isn't all it's cracked up to be. this week, we've been trying to buy one item and have repeatedly met with obstacles. and, as the exception that proves the rule, we ordered other items (from a different website) yesterday which were delivered this morning. irritated and confused, we have decided to abandon the first website and use a SHOP ON THE HIGH STREET. slightly more expensive, but worth the mark up in price for the convenience. if that all goes to pot as well, you'll hear about it here.

the worldwatch institute have published a report about how more people are becoming consumers. scary statistic about the US having more cars than people licensed to drive them. actually, that doesn't surprise me. neither does the report that the bush administration is planning to put men on mars in the next decade. what does surprise me is the second last paragraph, where more exchanges of technology are to take place between the Pentagon and NASA. implied is that technology exchanges between these two have been few and far between in the past. great to know that the technology available to the common man is only allowed to advance in the shadow of weapons technology and space exploration. well, in a world which annually spends $14bn on ocean cruises, it makes sense!

Thursday, January 08, 2004

what does God want from me? apparently i had asked someone that question; last night i was reminded of it.

the question came out of an evening of watching celebrities talk about their faith. it occurred to me that their expressions of faith varied according to their view or understanding of God. for some, God was to be feared, a Judge or Jealous Lover, and their faith was a response to that. for others, God was a Friend, or an Accessory, and their faith reflected that. the question then arose: what does God want from me?

it is different from: what does my god want from me? i disagree with some of those celebrities, i think their concepts of God are more incorrect than correct (or less attractive when compared to my own concept of God). i therefore judge them, thinking that they have answered this alternative question. this is, of course, a side-issue. the original question is asked relative to the Truth that rests comfortably on the fact that God defines Himself, and saves us the trouble. we could get into all sorts of bother trying to answer the question of what our own personal gods require from us.

in order to answer this question, one must know God. as defined by Himself. God is free of charge - a magnificent truth.

however a question that i ask of myself, whenever i challenge myself to get to know God more on His terms, is do i really want to know God? what will i do if i really see God? can i go back from there?

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

my thanks to jon for showing me how to post pictures. my first test pic is relevant, although i admit it's a bit random.

our attention turned to our garden on the weekend and we spent a chilly half an hour outside getting our hands very dirty as we picked out weeds and stones from our wee beds.

it's quite exciting to plan it, although we have a lot to learn about it. obviously we'll learn a lot from alan titchmarsh in the next few weeks!

i now know, for example, that lavender likes a good sunny spot.