Sunday, July 31, 2005

Books read in July (9)

1. The Gunpowder Plot - Antonia Fraser
Detailed account by a RC historian of our first real terrorist plot. See my post "On terrorist plots" below

2.Robert Murray Mccheyne - David Robertson

McCheyne died in his 30th year but in a short ministerial career he made a lasting impression on Dundee where he was a Presbyterian minister.
This new biography is no hagiography but an account of a man struggling with illness, depression and other trials yet living a holy, Christ-centred life of evangelism and devoted pastoral care. Revival came to his church while he was away on a missionary survey of Jews in Palestine.

We are given questions and a prayer at the end of each chapter to bring home lessons from this short but blessed life. An unusual but helpful innovation in biography.

3. The Great Divide - The Failure of Islam and the Triumph of the West.

Not a book your Muslim friend will like as it pulls no punches about the false prophet and his religion, how it has been spread by violence in the past and today. Totally partisan and at times I think a bit simplistic and inaccurate. e.g. On the Atlantic slave trade he says it was started by the British. No, the Portuguese were the first European slavers. He says nothing about the white slaving of the Moors, a surprising omission. But it is a corrective to the "Islam is a religion of peace brigade." Its aim is world domination.

4. London The Biography - Peter Ackroyd

A comprehensive historical survey of our great city done topically rather than chronologically. Recommended as preparatory reading for all visitors who like history. As of this month, a new chapter might be apposite.

5. Vital Christianity - The Life and Spirituality of William Wllberforce - Murray A Pura

Not an historical biography but an account of Wilberforce's spiritual life. He was a man who believed he could accomplish nothing unless he daily walked close to God.

6. Marching on Together - My life with Leeds United - Eddie Gray.

Reliving the glory days with one of Revie's legends. How have the mighty fallen since his concluding words in 2002 that Leeds have the potential to be in the same bracket as Arsenal or the red devils :-( Not even the same league now.

7. Wild at Heart - John Eldridge

A good friend gave me this as he was so impressed by it as to buy a number of copies to give away. I can see why my friend loved the book. It is about the need for Christian men to be masculine. My friend was for many years beset by the conviction he was transexual. God freed him to be a masculine man. It is also good on why men like pornography.

That men have become emasculated and feminized is IMO self evident. How to be a Christian male without being a macho chauvinist is well taught in this book.
But I am still left with a question. The author was arrested by these words. " Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go and do that, because what the world needs is people that have come alive." - Gil Bailie.
When it comes to guidance, should I base it on what I want to do with my gifts or should I seek to know what God wants for me through his providence?

8. Infidels - A history of the Conflict between Christendom and Islam. - Andrew Wheatcroft

Starting with an account of the great sea battle of Lepanto between the galleys of Europe and the Turks, the author surveys the whole of the history of conflict with Islam up to the present day. He perceptively put Christendom not Christianity as a participant in the conflict which today ends with a secular West versus Islam.
The author has some Christian family history but little sympathy with the faith. He is a secularist who rightly says the Enlightenment never reached Islam. But his only appeal is then to reason, ever the inadequate refuge of the liberal, for the reform of Islam. He has no concept of a spiritual battle taking place and criticizes those who do. I do though agree that the word crusade should have no part in the evangelistic vocabulary of Christians today.
He regards G W Bush as a sincere Christian who is not a master of communication, hence some faux pas in talking about the response to Islamist threats.
I also enjoyed the book for filling me in on the history of Spain and Islam as well as conflict in the Balkans.

9. Emancipation and Apologetics: The formation of Abraham Kuyper's Anti-Revolutionary Party in The Netherlands, 1872-1880 - Mckendree Langley

This is a 1995 doctorate thesis. I heard the author lecture in London on Kuyper so bought his thesis.

The context for Kuyper is given in analysis of the Enlightenment and its political manifestation, the French Revolution. This rejection of God's rule is shown to be critiqued by Burke, Lamennais and van Prinsterer before Kuyper gave practical political response to secularisation.

The biographical part recounts Kuyper's education, conversion and the development of his worldview with Christ the king over all of life, including politics. Here is a principled, not a pragmatic approach to politics, a Protestant Christian democratic response which led to the ARP, a party whose rise the author charts. The ARP eventually shared power in co-alition governments with Roman Catholics and provided several of the country's premiers, including Kuyper, but that is to go beyond this volume. Kuyper is shown to be a man of vital evangelical faith who could work in politics with those he would not tolerate in his church fellowship.

Kuyper always stressed antithesis as part of his apologetics. In politics the antithesis is between Christian thought with God supreme originating government as against the Revolution's view of government deriving from the social contact where the voice of the people has replaced the voice of God.

Kuyper is shown to have clear stated Christian principles underpinning his politics, though the practical outworkings will always have a pragmatic aspect to accommodate the needs of the age. Like all of us Kuyper was a product in part of his age. He was a Victorian patriarch, a big man with accompanying big faults which the author does not shrink from critiquing. The age is distant form ours. When Kuyper set out on his political journey the electorate was only some of the male property owners. Kuyper wanted the franchise extended to heads of households and to have proportional representation.

Education gave the first impetus to Kuyper. He campaigned for Christian schools to receive the same state recognition and funding as secular ones. Eventually he founded a free university too.

Kuyper's political career was made possible because of his gifts in another sphere, journalism. The thesis shows how Kuyper communicated his message through the newspapers The Standard and The Herald which he edited. Much of this thesis comes from the author reading The Standard. We must be grateful that he has culled so much for those of us who cannot read Dutch and made it available in this form.

Kuyper was criticised for being a theocrat but he repudiated any state establishment of Christianity, teaching political pluralism with firm separation of church and state. It is sad that so many Christians and non-Christians alike cannot distinguish separation of church and state from separation of faith and politics. The latter was anathema to Kuyper.

However I question how far Kuyper took his antipathy to the establishment of religion by the state for in the Dutch colonies he wanted the government to promote Christian mission and disadvantage Islam.

Kuyper is shown to be an admirer of Gladstone's politics and this now stimulates me to read more about the Grand Old Man whose churchmanship was very different from Kupyper's.

The thesis is available from UMI Dissertation Services, www.il.proquest.com

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

The French Trip

Yesterday we went on a Dover - Calais day trip, mainly to eat lunch in France. An excellent meal was had with wine and coffee, E52 with tip. Piece de resistance the starter. Oysters were off so I had the mussels, all 84 of them! Vive L'Entente Cordiale!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Dover Castle


Visited this historic castle today.
We started at the garrison church, definitely a Saxon building from 4th to 6th century. But it has Roman stones and there may have been Christian worship here from the second century.

The castle is Norman with a 12th century keep. It has been garrison from the 11th century to the 1980s. Its greatest moment was being the command centre for the 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk. Getting over 300,000 besieged soldiers out of France was regarded as a miracle at the time. We saw the secret WWII tunnels which directed the efforts of all military services in the area as well as housing a hospital. In the Cold War they were to house the regional government after a nuclear attack.
Called at a vineyard on the way back to Canterbury and bought some excellent English wine, after sampling of course.

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Monday, July 25, 2005

Full steam ahead!


Today we went on the Kent and East Sussex Railway from Tenterden to Bodiam and back, steam hauled both ways.
For the first time ever we traveled first class. We were in a Victorian engineer's observation car. I sat outside on the observation platform for most of the first leg. It was smoky but the sight, sound and smell of steam power is uplifting. Why is no other form of transport as stirring as a steam locomotive? Granddaughter Sahara loved it too.

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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Gloria in excelcis Deo

Last night Katy and I went to a concert by the Berkshire(USA) Choral Festival in Canterbury Cathedral Quire.
We heard Handel's Coronation Anthems and Vivaldi's Gloria in a place built 700 years before these composers lived. Wonderful music to the glory of God in a magnificent setting. I did not listen with any attention to the thirds composition sung, Pergoliesi's Salve Regina. I read a hymnbook instead. I do not participate in mariolatry. Theology limits my musical taste.
There was also something unreformed about the Quire too. It is separated from the nave by an ornate rood screen which I presume survived the Reformation iconoclasm which removed such barriers to the common people observing all the eucharistic rite.

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Priorities

Yesterday friends were emailing on hearing about the explosions and telling me they were praying.

But this was the first day of the Ashes. My attention was on Lords ( and the work have to do). Yet another English batting collapse caused me more anguish than failed bombs.

However, in serious mode, I thank God for his proidential care and observe that the devil and his progeny are not so clever after all.

Mr G McGrath is though :-(

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Canadian contractual sodomy

Other people call it gay marriage but it is neither gay nor marriage, hence my title.

Sad indeed. England is protected from this, IMO, by the C of E being the established church. This means that its clergy have to marry those in the parish if they so request. Too many clergy would object to same sex unions ( I will not call them marriage for they are not) for such a law to be workable. So instead we have civil registration of same sex unions, a clever English compromise which gives the homosexualists almost what they want but protects the established church from direct involvement.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Incredible Sulk

Ted Heath is dead. IMO the worst British PM of the 20th century for he got us into the EU by misrepresenting it as a mere economic union, not the political monster it was always intended to be.

Heath fell from power because he misunderstood the public mood over his confrontation with the miners. He then sulked because Maggie became leader of the Conservatives. He was singularly lacking in graciousness. She paid warm tribute to him on his death. In life he rejoiced when she fell from power. Benn described Heath as to the left of Blair. That was his trouble. His idea of Conservatism was so far to the left that the party needed Maggie to shift the whole centre of Brotish politics. When Heath first met the newly elected MP Blair he said that Blair did not look or sound like a Labour MP. So perhaps Ted was a better prophet than PM.

Funny, but neither Heath not Maggie sounded at all like their origins. When they got on in politics they sounded like the toffs surrounding them.

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

London defiant

You come to place your bags of hate
On bus and train, you made us late
Yet we'll be back again tomorrow
We'll carry on despite our sorrow

Your bags of hate caused some to die
Yet we stride out strong with heads held high
You'll never win, we will not bow
You can't defeat us, you don't know how

This London which we love with pride
Is a town where scum like you can't hide
Don't worry we will hunt you down
Then Lock you up in name of Crown

We're London and we're many races
Just look you'll see our stoic faces
We all condemn your heinous act
You will not win and that's a fact

We'll mourn our dead and shed a tear
But we will not bow to acts of fear
You're out there somewhere all alone
There's nowhere now you can call home

Olympics ours we've won the race
Your timing then a real disgrace
Our strength you'll find remains unbowed
We're London and we're very proud.

http://iraqiexpat.blogspot.com /2005/07/shame-embarrassment-t ime-to-wa...

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From the Bard

To-morrow toward London back again,
To look into this business thoroughly
And call these foul offenders to their answers
And poise the cause in justice' equal scales,
Whose beam stands sure, whose rightful cause prevails.
-- William Shakespeare, 2 Henry

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In perspective

We mourn the bombing deaths but in 2003, the last year with available figures on average 87 unborn babies were killed in London every day.

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News from France

The AP and UPI reported that the French Government announced yesterday
that it has raised its terror alert level from Run to Hide.
The only two higher levels in France are Surrender and Collaborate.

The raise was precipitated by a recent fire which destroyed France's white
flag factory, effectively disabling their military.

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Friday, July 15, 2005

Keeping the peace

Our political leaders have intelligence advisors who
must brief on the real nature of Islam, but the
politicians talk up a religion of peace because they
want civil peace not unrest. It does not take much for
the ignorant to disturb the peace. A Sikh Temple has
been attacked in Leeds in the wake of the London bombs

Joe Public is blind to the true nature of Islam
because he is ignorant of the Koran and history, to
say nothing of the non-reporting of Christians being
persecuted today in Muslim lands. He also, usually has
contact with Muslims who keep the peace and do not
push their faith in a way he finds unacceptable.

Here, Joe Public is indifferent to religion so has no
pride in a Christian cultural heritage. Over 70% will
declare in the census that they are Christian, but
they do not protest when told we live in a
multi-cultural, multi-religious society. They ignore
the fact that this is only true in some urban areas
and that constitutionally, England is a Christian
country. No-one tales pride in the latter fact.
Non-Christians ignore it and most Christians find an
established religion an embarrassment. However, one
will find both Muslims and Jews who will prefer the
present condition to the de facto establishment of a
secular public square, (as in the US), that would
result from altering the position of the Church of
England here.

But to sum up, we have as a nation turned away from
the Living God and the terrors we face are part of the
judgement in store when his grace is removed. In a
fallen world, a peaceable society is not the norm.
Evil should not surprise us. If God;s common grace is
removed, chaos ensues.

Added comments 16 July

These men were British Asians or Caribbean. British
they be but not English born and bred. There has been
little questioning of the English way of life, since
despite the trumpeting of how multicultural we are the
English still retain their quiet modest air of
self-confident superiority (I generalise and am not
speaking about real Christians here). OTH the obvious
reason that the bombers were not more affected by our
civilised values is that they were Muslims and most
Muslims are from poor, uneducated rural-origin
families in Pakistan or Bangladesh who do not
integrate with the majority culture.

Islamic ideology produced
suicide bombers and Islamic theology has to fisd a way
of dealing with them.

I believe that we must examine this as God withdrawing
his common grace which preserves order in society and
restrains the effects of sin. Here, in judgement,
God's restraint was partially withdrawn and we see how
sinful sin is.

It may have some significance that they went for the
transport system, like in Madrid, and not for some
capitalist symbol like in New York. Personally I find
myself uncomfortable in The City (the financial
centre) as it is full of temples of mammon dwarfing St
Paul's which used to dominate the sky line.

Yes I see judgement on London and a necessity of
Christians to show grace to their Muslim neighbours.

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Who can sort this problem?

The best Muslim comment I heard on the bombings was from someone on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. I did not catch his name but he said that just as only whites will defeat the BNP ( far-right anti-immigration British National Party) SO ONLY MUSLIMS CAN DEFEAT THIS TERRORISM.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The proposed UK law on religious hatred

This law has one aim only. It is to keep Muslims loyal to the government of Blair's party. He has lost thousands of votes over Iraq. He needs to keep Muslims' votes. No-one except Muslims support this stupid law. No other law has united homosexual activists, comedians and Christians.

I am sick and tiered of Blair's version of what it means to be a Chritian politician. May God give us a 21st century British Abraham Kuyper!

G

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Providence

A firm faith in the universal providence of God is the solution of all earthly problems. It is almost equally true that a clear and full apprehension of the universal providence of God is the solution of most theological problems. B. B. WARFIELD

This belief helped me travel on the Tube today. That's the London subway for you who speak a diferent English.

I do not often use public transport. When I do it is usually to go into central London as I did today for the cricket at the Oval. Best day in the sun I have ever spent at cricket. Pity about the result.

Bring on the Ashes!

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The thought and the act

I think one can distinguish between temptation,
entertaining temptation in the mind and then acting
out the temptation.

The first is no sin. We are all tempted as was our
Lord. Many of us entertain adulterous of homosexual
temptations. We are then adulterous or homosexual in
mind. This is sin but it is not as serious in
consequences as the act. Looking at porn is not a
ground for divorce. Adultery is.

The act makes one a confirmed adulterer or homosexual
sinner. But one can seek forgiveness, find it and be a
forgiven adulterer or homosexual.

When is a homosexual not a homosexual? When he does
not commit homosexual acts of entertain homosexual
temptations.

I finish with my favorite quote on the subject from an
unusual but respected source.

It would encourage clear thinking on these matters if
persons were not characterised as heterosexual or
homosexual, but as individuals who have had certain
amounts of heterosexual experience or homosexual
experience. Instead of using these terms as
substantives which stand for persons, or even as
adjectives to describe persons, they may be better be
used to describe the nature of the overt sexual
relations, or of the stimuli to which an individual
erotically responds.
Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male Kinsey et al 1948
p617

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Death penalty

I am afraid the lack of the death penalty here upsets
me. I watched the first half of a programme about the
bombing of the Grand Hotel Brighton, but switched off
the second part as I could not bear to watch a freed
murderer speaking about his crime. IMO Blair et al
have a lot to answer for with the Good Friday
Agreement "get out of jail free" card. There can be no
peace built on injustice.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

With friends like these

Thousands of US military personnel based in the UK
have been banned by commanders from travelling to
London in the wake of Thursday's bomb attacks.
Personnel, most of them from US Air Force units at RAF
Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath, in Suffolk, have been
told not to go within the M25 motorway.

Family members who are from the US are also being
urged to stay away.

The US air force said the order had been made in the
interests of the safety of its troops.

'Safety paramount'

Most of the 12,000 US personnel in the UK are based at
Mildenhall and Lakenheath.

"We are concerned about the safety of our folks and
are trying to do what we can to protect them," RAF
Mildenhall spokesman Matt Tulis said. -
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4673987.stm

I knew this two days ago when a US major told me about
the ban and him ignoring it. He told his CO that his
family home and church were here and he was visiting.

In the past I have viewed with contempt the cowardly
tourists, mainly US and French, who would not come
here because of perceived threats to their safety.

To the US military i would say, "C'mon guys. Who is
standing with you in Iraq? Get off base into London
and show an example."

As for me, I am travelling on the Tube today to see the cricket.

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Monday, July 11, 2005

A new experience

My youngest is learning to drive and for the first time I am supervising a learner driver. It seems she is moe nervous than me though all I can control is the handbrake. yesterday she went round the block, today church and back. She has pssed her theory test. The driving one is in September. Her elder siblings all pased first time as did their mother. It took me thre attempts to get my license in 1969.

She is growing in confidence with less stalling. I was incensed by a thoughtless bus driver who hooted her when she stalled in front of him at lights.

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Sunday, July 10, 2005

On terrorist plots

I have just finished Antonia Fraser's The Gunpowder Plot and see interesting present day parallels. The conspirator's were a small minority of a minority religion in this country who believed that killing their persecutors together with their RC co-religionists was a justifiable political act. The majority population could argue that the terrorists' religion supported such actions, though the majority of that faith denied it.

It took a long time, centuries, for the majority population to be convinced that this minority faith could be a loyal part of this country and so freed from civil disadvantages. AFAIK RCs have only one remaining civil disadvantage, royal succesion is denied them! The roal family must still profess the "reformed religion of the Church of England".

I think it requires a big effort from British Muslims to convince some of us, the majority population, that they are to be trusted as loyal subjects of Her Majesty, comitted to democracy. Bush and Blair may tell us Islam is a religion of peace, but as we study it we find otherwise.
OTH we do find our Muslim friends to be peacable people. But only in proportion to their political secularisation do we find them peacable. Islam knows no separation of religion and politics.

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Gettting the hang of blogging

I see there is a league of Reformed bloggers,


I am still finding my way on how to post here, but for shameless self promtion,from,

Graham J Weeks M.R.Pharm.S.
http://www.christiansquoting.org.uk
10201 quotes 654 topics 2452 authors indexed 903 links
http://www.donkeyworks.com/ipc / Our church
http://groups.yahoo.com/subscribe/Christiansquoting Daily quotes

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Saturday, July 09, 2005

Wembley Stadium

This afternoon we visited the new Wembley Stadium being constructed about three miles from our house. It is to seat 90,000 and due to open next May. The Aussies building it are losing money.
The arch over it is spectacular but I do not know why it is not vertical. I think they should have put two rides in it; a slow one for the view, a fast one for the thrill.

People ask me where is this Perivale, Greenford where you live. answer, half way between Gujerat (Wembley) and the Punjab (Southall). If they ask if i have been to India I say, only in Southall.

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Return of the lost blogger

A year away as I had trouble seeing my blog on my mac. It has now crashed and is to go for repair. Now I am on my daughter's state of the art G5 and have found this again.

This week I took a couple of days off work to attend a course on my hero, Abraham Kuyper, at the London Theological Seminary. It is part of a degree course run by Westminster Theological Seminary.

The Gospel versus the Revolution could now be my sig. Our teacher, McKendree Langley taght us the background to Kuyper was the French Revolution, the first true revolution to change the world. Christendom was overthrown. man was put on the throne in place of God, reason in place of revelation. Kuyper formulated a Christian political response to this with his Anti-revolutionary Party in the Netherlands. It was a principled pluralistic response. He rejecteded any establishment of Christianity as theocratic.

Our teacher came to us to dinner last night. A great encouragment to have fellowship with a conservative Kuyperian. He tells me there are progressive Kuyperians who want the worldview without the spirituality of the great Abraham. I think they call themselves neo-kuyperians.

Now to prepare for sporting humiliation as I watch The Lion's third test. At least we play clean by comparison with the All Blacks whose fouls seem invisible to referees.

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