Friday, July 25, 2008

Obama the promised one

Click on the title for a great read.

Sacramento Airport 1 pm 25 July 2008

What has Sacramento got that Heathrow and Washington do not? Free wifi in the airport!

Dennis, Julie and Ty have dropped me off. Thank you for all your love, fellowship and hospitality. I have made new friends and met some beautiful young ladies :-)

It was an eventful check in. I was about to go through security when the tannoy called my name. I was to go back to the check in. They wanted the combination to my case lock. I thought the lock was to stop them getting in my case.

After three attempts I finally negotiated the metal detector. I think it disliked my belt buckle and the cavalry badge on the hat Dennis gave me.

Then security said they had to open my bags. Voila! In my pipe case was the knife I could not find this morning. So folks, if you need to locate your missing metal I recommend Sacrament airport security. They even offered to let me go back and put it in my case . I declined.

Good news from the SNP

The Christian Institute says, "Labour has lost the Glasgow East by-election to a pro-life candidate who openly criticised the Government’s controversial embryos Bill.

The winner, John Mason of the SNP, opposes abortion on demand and so-called “social abortion”. He is “extremely uncomfortable” with embryo experimentation.

During his victory speech he said, “I would like to thank all those who have prayed for me during this campaign.”"

This is a first for me. I am thankful for an SNP victory.

Purgatory -

God has placed two ways before us in His Word: salvation by faith, damnation by unbelief (Mark 16:16). He does not mention purgatory at all. Nor is purgatory to be admitted, for it obscures the benefits and grace of Christ. - Martin Luther Table Talk.


The idea that the sole aim of punishment is to prevent crime is obviously grounded upon the theory that crime can be prevented, which is almost as dubious as the notion that poverty can be prevented. H.L. Mencken

One is punished by the very things by which he sins. WISDOM OF SOLOMON (11:16)

Grass Valley, California 25 July, 6.30 a.m.

My last morning watching sunrise over the Sierras from the roe's verandah, or deck as it is known here.

Yesterday was a quiet day. I did some sermon preparation and reading, visited with Dennis when he went to sort out a church member's computer, and enjoyed a fine Mexican dinner from Julie who had two church families round too.

I leave Sacramento 2pm for Denver where I have three hours before the flight to Heathrow, arriving DV around noon tomorrow.

Punctuality -

Punctuality is a virtue, if you don't mind being lonely.

The only good thing about punctuality is that it usually gets you an apology.

Punctuality is the art of guessing how late the other fellow is going to be.

A professor who arrives ten minutes late is more than unusual -- he is in a class by himself.

The early bird would never catch the worm if the dumb worm slept late.

Punctuality is the stern virtue of men of business, and the graceful courtesy of princes.-- Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

One way to make sure everyone gets to work on time would be to have 95 parking spaces for every 100 employees. ~Michael Iapoce.

I have noticed that the people who are late are often so much jollier than the people who have to wait for them. E.V. Lucas

I've been on a calendar, but never on time. Marilyn Monroe

Punctuality is the virtue of the bored. - Evelyn Waugh


A good pun is its own reword.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


A psychiatrist is a fellow who asks you a lot of expensive questions your wife asks for nothing. -- Joey Adams

Words are the physicians of a mind diseased.-- Aeschylus

To assume that either conversation or drugs --or a combination of both-- could solve all the problems of human existence and make every life fulfilled and complete is the kind of magical and wishful thinking that has made one class of our citizenry, the therapeutic community, successful and wealthy; and another class, their clients, more miserable and unsettled than they were before they began placing their hopes on the promissory note that someone else could tell them what to think and how to live, and thereby make them happy.---------- Robert A. Baker, American psychologist, from his book, "Mind Games: are we obsessed with therapy?";1996.

A wonderful discovery, psychoanalysis. Makes quite simple people feel they're complex. --S. N. Behrman

[Children who have undergone divorce counseling] have beentold how to feel and what to think about themselves by psychologists who are paid by their parents to make the whole thing work out as painlessly for the parents as possible. This, it seems, is a part of no-fault divorce. If ever there was a conflict of interest, this isfast are the sworn enemies of guilt. And they have an artificial language for the artificial feelings with which they equip children. Prosthesis for spiritual amputees, which unfortunately does not permit them to get a firm grip on anything." --Allan Bloom, 1985

In California, everyone goes to a therapist, is a therapist, or is a therapist going to a therapist.-- TRUMAN CAPOTE (1924-1984)

Psychiatry's chief contribution to philosophy is the discovery that the toilet is the seat of the soul. ~Alexander Chase , Perspectives.

Psychoanalysis will fade away just as mesmerism and phrenology did, and for the same reason - its exploded pretensions will deprive it of recruits Frederick Crews

Man has discovered that to kneel before God at least is more dignified than to lie down before a psychiatrist. --William A. Donaghy (1909-1975)

When there is no explanation, they give it a name, which immediately explains everything. --Martin H. Fischer (1879-1962) _Fischerisms_

Sure you can psychoanalyze, but, why bother to sort garbage. -- Martin H. Fischer

1965 youth, with casual flippancy, calls psychoanalysis "the examination of the id by the odd."
(in *What's Right With Our Young People* by Grace Nies Fletcher, 1966)

To be honest, as a humanist I don't much like the idea of sin. But given the choice of being powerless in the face of God or an impotent client of a therapist, I side with the Church. Therapeutic definitions of addiction elevate the sense of human powerlessness to a level unimaginable in mediaeval times. From the standpoint of our therapeutic culture, powerlessness becomes not merely an episode in one's biography but its defining condition. From this fatalistic perspective, treatment acquires a passive, even fatalistic, character. Addicts are told that they will never be completely cured. We have recovering sex addicts, recovering religious addicts and recovering alcoholics. No one ever really changes. That's why I say bring back the idea of transcendence. Frank Furedi, "Making a virtue of vice" The Spectator 12 Jan 2002

Of all the seven deadly sins, pride is the only one that has been completely rehabilitated. That is why pride is never diagnosed as a disease. The American sociologist Joel Best has observed that it is the absence of pride that constitutes a serious psychological problem. These days virtually every social and psychological problem is blamed on low self-esteem. The solution to poor educational performance, teenage pregnancy, anorexia, crime or homelessness is to raise the self-esteem of the victim. In our self-oriented world, society continually incites people to take themselves far too seriously. That is why pride has become one of the prime virtues of our time. - Frank Furedi, "Making a virtue of vice" The Spectator 12 Jan 2002

It should be noted that the therapeutic imperative alters the concept not only of sin but also of virtue. In the Middle Ages, practising the seven contrary virtues &emdash; humility, kindness, abstinence, chastity, patience, liberality, diligence &emdash; was believed to protect one against temptation towards the seven deadly sins. Today, people who practise some of these virtues are just as liable to be offered counselling as those who are tempted by sin. Kindness? Too much kindness may lead to compassion-fatigue. Diligence is sometimes dismissed as the act of someone suffering from a 'perfectionist complex'. Humble people lack self-esteem, and chastity is just another sexual dysfunction. Virtue is not so much its own reward as a condition requiring therapeutic intervention. - Frank Furedi, "Making a virtue of vice" The Spectator 12 Jan 2002

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined.--Samuel Goldwyn

Psychology: The theory that the patient will probably get well anyhow, and is certainly a damned fool.-- H. L. Mencken

The field of psychology today is literally a mess. There are as many techniques, methods, and theories around as there are researchers and therapists. I have personally seen therapists convince their clients that all of their problems come from their mothers, the stars, their bio-chemical makeup, their diet, their lifestyle, and even the "kharma" from their past lives. -- Roger Mills

Good theology makes good psychology ~ M.Scott Peck

The science of Psychiatry is now where the science of Medicine was before germs were discovered.-- Malcolm Rogers

Psychoanalysis is an attempt to examine a person's self-justifications. Hence it can be undertaken only with the patients cooperation and can succeed only when the patient has something to gain by abandoning or modifying his system of self- justification. ~ Thomas Szasz, The Second Sin (1975)

It [psychology] is not merely a religion that pretends to be science, it is actually a fake religion that seeks to destroy true religion. ... psychotherapy is a modern, scientific-sounding name for what used to be called the "cure of souls" ... with the decline of religion and the growth of science in the eighteenth century, the cure of (sinful) souls, which had been an integral part of the Christian religions, was recast as the cure of (sick) minds, and became an integral part of medicine. Thomas Szasz

I stick to simple themes. Love. Hate. No nuances. I stay away from psychoanalyst's couch scenes. Couches are good for one thing. John Wayne (1907-1979) In "Reader's Digest," 1 Sep 1970.

A vigorous five mile walk will do more good for an unhappy, but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.--Paul Dudley White

Grass Valley, California 24 July, 6.30 a.m.

I had a quiet day yesterday. I took my hosts to lunch at a very good local Italian restaurant. One of the things I like about the U.S, and there are many, is the quality, quantity and price of eating out. It is just as well I do not live here as I would be even larger than my present considerable bulk. Also the standard of service in eating places and retail establishments is far higher than in the U.K.

Another positive is that this is a far more friendly country, certainly to a visitor from England. In five visits here, only a few Irish Americans in Boston have been less than welcoming. The only unwelcoming places, and this applies to all who drive through them, are the Native American reservations.

Positives far outweigh negatives in my estimation. My biggest gripe is sales tax. The visitor will not know how much money to get ready for a purchase as the price displayed is not inclusive of tax. My other mnor gripe is that life is tied to the cell phone. Mobile phones may be cordless but the people are so attached to them. England is bad in this respect but here it is worse. I had to laugh at this yesterday. Driving to lunch, Dennis complained that his nephew in the back of the Jeep was interrupting his conversation with me. Ty, in the back of the vehicle, was not butting in at all, merely talking loudly on his phone.

So not much else to relate from yesterday. I did a little shopping and visited the home of Dennis's assistant pastor in the evening.


The richest endowments of the mind are temperance, prudence, and fortitude. Prudence is a universal virtue, which enters into the composition of all the rest; and where she is not, fortitude loses its name and nature. Vincent Voiture (1597-1648)

Proverbs -

Do not compute the totality of your poultry population until all the manifestations of incubation have been entirely completed. William Jennings Bryan (1860 &endash; 1925)

All maxims have their antagonist maxims; proverbs should be sold in pairs, a single one being but a half truth. --William Mathews

Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it. -- George Santayana, _The Life of Reason_

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Grass Valley, California 22 July, 8 a.m.

Click on the title link for yesterday in Nevada. We lunched in a casino, less than $6 for lunch for senior citizens, an all you can eat buffet with four different cuisines. i had Mexican. It just about filled me for the day. Gambling is everywhere in this state. it is depressing. We drove through Reno then over the mountains to Lake Tahoe viewing the silver mining town of Virginia City on the way.

Today we drive to San Francisco and i have just been told to remember to take a jacket as it is cool there.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Grass Valley, California 21 July, 6:25 a.m.

No-one was up quickly the day after the wedding. We all missed adult Sunday School at Grass Valley Covenant Reformed Church but we did make the 11 AM service. Most of us were rather sleepy though and the cinema style seats did not help one keep alert. It is a friendly congregation and lots of folks remembered our last visit there back in November.

After lunch at the Roes and a siesta too we all were driven to Placerville and the new home of the Borens. Abigail is a Roe daughter. Click on the title for the photos. I did not get any photos of Steve's scrupmtious bison burgers from the barbeque though. Dennis's sister was our driver for the hour long drive in the most enormous Chelsea tractor I have experienced, It seats eight. The day before Dennis had driven me to and from the wedding in his Mazda sports car. I have now requested a drive with the top down.

We are now in "winding down after the wedding" mode and have lots of wedding left overs to consume.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Grass Valley, California 20 July, 7.30 am

If you click on the title link you should get to my wedding photos which will have comments on the big day's events

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tax Freedom Day

Tax Freedom Day is the day on which we stop working for the Chancellor and start working for ourselves.
If the average person works from 1 Jan each year, it will be June before they have earned enough to pay their taxes.
The tax burden isn’t just income tax and national insurance, it includes VAT, fuel taxed, alcohol and cigarette duties, airline tax, fuel duties, car tax and many, many more.
The preferences for stealth taxes in the past few years has meant that it’s becoming harder for people to understand how much they are paying. The importance of Tax Freedom Day is that it detects stealth taxes.

Tax Freedom Day 2008 falls on 2 June.

This means that for 155 days of the year, every penny earned by the average UK resident was taken to support government expenditures.

1965 27 April 1987 5 June
1966 4 May 1988* 5 June
1967 16 May 1989 3 June
1968* 22 May 1990 3 June
1969 29 May 1991 3 June
1970 2 June 1992* 29 May
1971 25 May 1993 23 May
1972* 17 May 1994 23 May
1973 11 May 1995 26 May
1974 27 May 1996* 25 May
1975 2 June 1997 26 May
1976* 30 May 1998 28 May
1977 31 May 1999 3 June
1978 27 May 2000* 3 June
1979 29 May 2001 4 June
1980* 11 June 2002 26 May
1981 18 June 2003 23 May
1982 20 June 2004* 25 May
1983 14 June 2005 29 May
1984* 14 June 2006 3 June
1985 11 June 2007 4 June
1986 7 June 2008* 2 June

* Leap years make Tax Freedom Day appear 1 day earlier in the year.

IN 2006 THE USA had their day 37 days earlier than us, the EU 8 days later. Another reason why I favour closer links across the Pond, not across the English Channel.

Click the title link for more info.

Grass Valley, California 19 July, 6.30 am

Yesterday we men were sent out to lunch while the bridal party lunched here. I think there were at last a dozen of them. Five bridesmaids are here overnight but that is small beer. At the wedding rehearsal I counted nearly thirty people at the front. It was astonishing. Linda Young, a family friend was in charge of what came close to a litugical dance getting a minister, twenty assorted bridesmaids, matrons of honour, best men and ushers onto the stage as well as two flower girls and Jacob, the sweet little ring bearer (who is decorative not functional as he does not have the actual rings on his cushion). There was a small string group to provide the music. It took an hour and a half, I can only compare it to preparations for a royal visit in terms of the atention to detail.

Afterwars the father of the groom treated around sixty us to a first class Italian restaurant dinner. I had thought rehearsal dinners were small family affairs. Not this one. Our host is a political consultant. He asked me if I knew Harvey Thomas with whom he has worked. Not my league at all. HT was Mrs Thatcher's PR advisor. He suffered in the Brighton bombing and as a Christian has met with and forgiven the IRA terrorist responsible. (Click on the title for a link to his story)

I sat at the same table as Jim West, the minister of the Sacramento church who is officiating at the service up to the point where my friend Dennis, the father of the bride gives her away. Then Dennis will take charge and do the remainder of the service. It was a treat to meet Jim West as I have for years wanted to read his book, Drinking With Calvin and Luther!: A History of Alcohol in the Church. At the wedding today we are to drink a beer specially brwed by his deacons. I believe it is called "I Do" Here is Jim at the head of the table, Dennis on the left. All eight of us giving speeches today are under strict instructions not to imbibe to excess before or after our toasts.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Schoolboys punished with detention for refusing to kneel in class and pray to Allah

DAILY MAIL says on 04th July 2008, 'Two schoolboys were given detention after refusing to kneel down and 'pray to Allah' during a religious education lesson.

Parents were outraged that the two boys from year seven (11 to 12-year-olds) were punished for not wanting to take part in the practical demonstration of how Allah is worshipped.

They said forcing their children to take part in the exercise at Alsager High School, near Stoke-on-Trent - which included wearing Muslim headgear - was a breach of their human rights.

Alsager School, near Stoke, has received furious complaints from parents after two Year 7 boys were punished for refusing to kneel to Allah during a religious studies class

One parent, Sharon Luinen, said: "This isn't right, it's taking things too far.

"I understand that they have to learn about other religions. I can live with that but it is taking it a step too far to be punished because they wouldn't join in Muslim prayer.

"Making them pray to Allah, who isn't who they worship, is wrong and what got me is that they were told they were being disrespectful.

"I don't want this to look as if I have a problem with the school because I am generally very happy with it."

Another parent Karen Williams said: "I am absolutely furious my daughter was made to take part in it and I don't find it acceptable.

"I haven't got a problem with them teaching my child other religions and a small amount of information doesn't do any harm.

"But not only did they have to pray, the teacher had gone into the class and made them watch a short film and then said 'we are now going out to pray to Allah'.

"Then two boys got detention and all the other children missed their refreshment break because of the teacher.

"Not only was it forced upon them, my daughter was told off for not doing it right.

"They'd never done it before and they were supposed to do it in another language."

"My child has been forced to pray to Allah in a school lesson." The grandfather of one of the pupils in the class said: "It's absolutely disgusting, there's no other way of putting it.

"My daughter and a lot of other mothers are furious about their children being made to kneel on the floor and pray to Islam. If they didn't do it they were given detention.

"I am not racist, I've been friendly with an Indian for 30 years. I've also been to a Muslim wedding where it was explained to me that alcohol would not be served and I respected that.

"But if Muslims were asked to go to church on Sunday and take Holy Communion there would be war."

Parents said that their children were made to bend down on their knees on prayer mats which the RE teacher had got out of her cupboard and they were also told to wear Islamic headgear during the lesson on Tuesday afternoon.

Deputy headmaster Keith Plant said: "It's difficult to know at the moment whether this was part of the curriculum or not. I am not an RE teacher, I am an English teacher.

"At the moment it is our enterprise week and many of our members of staff are away.

"The particular member of staff you need to speak to isn't around. I think that it is a shame that so many parents have got in touch with the Press before coming to me.

"I have spoken to the teacher and she has articulately given me her version of events, but that is all I can give you at the moment."

A statement from Cheshire County Council on behalf of the school read: "The headteacher David Black contacted this authority immediately complaints were received.

"Enquiries are being made into the circumstances as a matter of urgency and all parents will be informed accordingly.

"Educating children in the beliefs of different faith is part of the diversity curriculum on the basis that knowledge is essential to understanding.

"We accept that such teaching is to be conducted with some sense of sensitivity."'

So can I go to Saudi and teach them the Lord's prayer in school?

Blears: faith groups can’t do social work if they evangelise

The Christian Institute reports, 'Christian groups providing community services should not evangelise, says Government Minister Hazel Blears.

In a White Paper entitled ‘Communities in control: real people, real power’, Mrs Blears outlines Government plans to commission services from faith-based groups.

However, during a Commons debate on the issue, Mrs Blears said that this will come with strings attached.

She acknowledged in the debate that “many people are motivated by faith of all kinds to do great acts of social good”.

“However,” she continued, “I am concerned to ensure that if faith groups become involved, they do so on a proper footing – not by evangelising or proselytising, but by providing services in a non-discriminatory way to the whole community”.

Mrs Blears said that she planned to draft a charter for Christian groups along the lines of the one provided by Faithworks for churches and Christian agencies providing community services.

The charter requires groups to pledge to provide “an inclusive service to our community” in a number of ways. One of these is: “Never imposing our Christian faith or belief on others.”

There have been cases of Christian groups being denied funding for the services they provide because they refuse to compromise on their ethos.

In 2005, one Christian-run shelter for the homeless was threatened with the loss of £150,000 of funding unless it stopped saying grace at mealtimes and putting Bibles out for use by guests.

Teen Challenge UK, an organisation in Wales that helps drug addicts, had £700,000 of funding withdrawn. During a debate in the House of Commons, Bob Spink MP said: “The organisation’s grant was removed essentially because it has Christian roots and is run by Christians.” The Welsh Assembly denies that this was the reason.

Caring for Life, a Christian group providing help for homeless and vulnerable people, has also had problems accessing funding.'

Has she read this charter?

The Faithworks Charter says,'We will provide an inclusive service to our community by:

1. Serving and respecting all people regardless of their gender, marital status, race, ethnic origin, religion, age, sexual orientation or physical and mental capability.

2. Acknowledging the freedom of people of all faiths or none both to hold and to express their beliefs and convictions respectfully and freely, within the limits of the UK law.'

Faithworks contradicts Blears. Christian providers must be free to express their faith

Grass Valley, California 18 July, 6.45 am

I saw the deer three times yesterday, the last time being at dinner time. I was amused to see our hostess tip the leftovers from the plates, over the side of the veranda for the deer to eat our scraps,

We saw a couple of hinds with fawns beofre dinner but I took these earlier.
Note how well camoflaged they are, especially the fawn.
I am typing this just after sunrise and the deer are here again. I am multi-tasking, listening to Test Match Special as I type, Headingley is being heard in California.

Yesterday was more of the wedding preparations. Friends came in from Philadelphia. I am giving the mother of the bride the message from Dad's Army. "Don't panic, Captain Mainwaring.' The longer I am here the more I marvel at these wedding preparations. There are far more formalities to be sorted out than I expected, including printed biographies of all major participants. Last night the younger generation were off to hen and stag parties. Today there is a bridal party luncheon here, then wedding rehearsal at the church followed by rehearsal dinner for about fifty of the two hundred or so guests expected on Saturday. This is a BIG wedding.

It is coming up to 7 am and a very pleasant 65F. Yesterday reached 91F and we expect more of the same.

Tame Islam?

BBC says, "The British government is to fund a board of Islamic theologians in an attempt to sideline violent extremists.
The move will see Oxford and Cambridge Universities host a group of scholars who will lead debate on key issues such as women and loyalty to the UK.
The plans have angered some hardline activists who accuse ministers of trying to create state-sponsored Islam.
But Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said it was government's job to support Muslim leaders on controversial issues.
Under the plans, the two universities will bring together leading thinkers, yet to be named, to debate critical issues affecting Muslims in the UK.
The Department for Communities is responsible for the government's strategy to combat violent extremism, known as "Prevent"..
The board's work will focus on examining issues relating to Islam's place in Britain and obligations as a citizen.
Ministers say the board's membership will "reflect the diversity of Islam and Muslim communities in the UK" and the work will include seminars around the country.

But Islamic groups who have clashed in the past with the government have already attacked the plans.
Taji Mustafa of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a group that fought government attempts to ban it, predicted that many ordinary Muslims would be suspicious.
"The British government's interference amongst the Muslim community and matters of Islam, is unprecedented in comparison with any other religion," said Mr Mustafa.
"The government would like nothing more than to have credible figures pronounce that opposition to their foreign policy is tantamount to heretical extremism. Their problem hitherto has been to find credible figures to do their work." "

Can they bell the Muslim cat? What is authentic Islam? The liberal version happy in the West or those who want a universal caliphate, shari'a forced on all and an end to democracy?

Can we expect sponsorship of liberal churches to counteract evangelicals opposed to homosexuality?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Grass Valley, California 17 July, 7 am

This is yesterday's view over the mountains as the sun rose. It was take from where I am now blogging.

I am out on the veranda decking and have seen the sun rise again. Days are shorted here being a more southerly latitude. There is an interesting dawn chorus heard after i woke at 5 am. It includes squirrels making strange noises and some animal I could not identify. I heard and saw deer in the woods below me but unfortunately my attempts to photograph them were not good. It is 69 F now. Yesterday reached 92 F here. The grass around is all brown as they have had two rainless months but at least the forest fires seem to have died down. Last week i am told there was much smoke in the air.

The main activities of the day yesterday were wedding preparations. I went into town in the morning with Dennis and Julie for him to battle with what he calls tuxophobia. He had to get his suit fitted for the big day and we brought his tuxedo etc home. In the afternoon we took a load of things to the Flower Farm where the reception for around 200 guests is to take place. I think we transported around 500 cans of soft drinks. Now I know why people here drive what they call SUVs, Chelsea tractors to Londoners.

In my battle with jet lag I slept a couple of hours in the early evening while Julie went to pick up their son Josiah and his wife April from the airport. They have flown in from Tennessee.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Grass Valley, California 16 July, 4.24 am

First post in my holiday blogging.

The body clock is out of sync after a 26 hour day yesterday to get here.

As usual I was up at home by 6 am yesterday, packed and left by 8.30 to catch the Tube to Heathrow as soon as I could buy a 9 am ticket on my free senior citizens pass. Travel through Terminal One one the smoothest I have ever experienced as I booked in for the noon United fight to Dulles, Washington DC. My only complaint is the removal of all smoking areas from Heathrow. Dulles is better but that was eight hours away.

I was given a bulkhead seat so plenty of room. I snoozed on and off and read Nick O'Farrell on the History of Britain, a fun read.

Dulles was slow through immigration but I had time for a good chat with a Korean doctoral music student who is a conductor. I had a three hour transit then a five and a half hour flight to Sacramento, again legroom in a window bulkhead seat. I was there just after 9 pm in a not unpleasant 80's temperature. Dennis met me with grandson Jacob who was having a very late night for a four year old. On the way to Grass Valley we called on Joanna the bride to be in her new apartment on a gated estate.

It was good to get to Grass Valley, see Julie and daughter Esther and get to bed at 12.30 after the 26 hour day.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Christian registrar wins discrimination case

Christian Institute reports, "A Christian registrar from Islington who was bullied and threatened with the sack because of her religious beliefs on same sex unions has succeeded in her claims of unlawful discrimination by the council.

In its unanimous judgment, the employment tribunal found that Miss Lillian Ladele was directly discriminated against by Islington Council after she asked to be allowed not to perform civil partnership registrations.

Miss Ladele was supported by her Legal team, James Dingemans QC and Mark Jones of Ormerods solicitors. The case was financed by The Christian Institute’s Legal Defence Fund.

The highly significant ruling confirmed that the various acts of direct discrimination committed against Miss Ladele by Islington Council on the grounds of her religious belief included: failing to consider her for promotion; deciding to discipline her and threatening her with dismissal; concluding she had committed gross misconduct; failing to redress allegations that she was “homophobic” and labelling and treating her as homophobic; disregarding her concerns about her treatment; and failing to apply its anti-discrimination policies to gay colleagues who were mistreating her.

The tribunal also accepted that Islington Council had been able to deliver a “first-class” service to homosexual couples seeking civil partnerships, without Miss Ladele’s involvement. Therefore, the Council’s decision to require Miss Ladele to perform civil partnership registrations, contrary to her conscience, was an unlawful act of indirect religious discrimination.

The Council’s actions also amounted to unlawful harassment. The judgment found that the Council “disregarded and displayed no respect for Ms Ladele’s genuinely held religious belief,” and it created an “intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for her on grounds of her religion on belief.” (para.104 of the judgment).

In coming to their conclusion, the tribunal said, “It is an important case which may have a wider impact than the dispute between the parties.” (para.53 of the judgment).

Reacting to the decision, Miss Ladele said: “I am delighted at this decision. It is a victory for religious liberty, not just for myself but for others in a similar position to mine. Gay rights should not be used as an excuse to bully and harass people over their religious beliefs.”

The case was financed by The Christian Institute. Its Head of Communications, Mike Judge, said: “This important ruling confirms that gay rights should not be treated as trumping religious rights. The law clearly recognises this.

“If we really believe in equality before the law, that means respecting people who have sincerely held religious beliefs on sexual ethics. The witch hunt against those who disagree with homosexual practice has to stop.”

Mark Jones, solicitor for Miss Ladele, said: “Hopefully this decision will encourage other employers to balance competing rights where they conflict. In standing up for her faith, Lillian Ladele found herself vilified by various people, including some holding themselves out as protectors of the rights and freedoms of others. She faced this with a quiet dignity.

“I hope that those who were quick to criticise Lillian - including those holding political and clerical office - will now swiftly express their support for her (and others like her) now she has been revealed as the victim, and not the perpetrator, of the discrimination they purport to oppose.”"

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Prostitution -

Let the libertine reflect a moment on the situation of that woman who, being forsaken by her betrayer, is reduced to the necessity of turning prostitute for bread, and judge of the enormity of his guilt by the evils which it produces. It cannot be doubted but that numbers follow this dreadful course of life with shame, horror, and regret; but where can they hope for refuge? 'The world is not their friend, nor the world's law.' Their sighs, and tears, and groans are criminal in the eye of their tyrants, the bully and the bawd, who fatten on their misery, and threaten them with want or a gaol, if they show the least design of escaping from their bondage.- Samuel Johnson: Rambler #107 (March 26, 1751)

Sir, a man will not, once in a hundred instances, leave his wife and go to a harlot, if his wife has not been negligent of pleasing. -- Samuel Johnson (Boswell: Life of Johnson)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Prosperity -

All sunshine makes desert.--Arab Proverb

Prosperity does not promote piety for a full belly stands secure and neglects ~God - Puritan Proverb

Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes. Francis Bacon. 1561-1626.

Is it, then, an exaggerated statement, that a time like the present is one of more danger than the time of oppression and persecution? We verily believe that, splendid as is the grace which carries the martyr to the stake, and sustains him in his baptism of fire, glorious as is the display of Divine power, in a church down-trodden but indomitable, persecuted but not consumed; the grace which would carry a church through such a season of continued prosperity and carnal ease as we are now experiencing, without a decay of spirituality, would be still more mighty. The church has often enjoyed the former grace; she has not yet attained unto the latter. R.L. Dabney

Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay.
Oliver Goldsmith, The Deserted Village
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Affliction has slain her thousands but prosperity her ten thousands. - C H Spurgeon

How soon are we broken on the soft pillow of ease! Adam in paradise was overcome, when Job on the dunghill was a conqueror. - THOMAS WATSON

Wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreased in the same proportion. Therefore I do not see how it is possible in the nature of things for any revival of religion to continue long. For religion must necessarily produce both industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and love of the world in all its branches. John Wesley

Prophet -

The Hebrew word, nabi, translated "prophet" in English Bibles, has the connotation of "message bearer". The prophets were men called by God to serve as His messengers to a stubborn and unheeding people. They were always careful to point out that they were not voicing their own wisdom. Their warnings, entreaties, and promises were always prefaced by the awesome proclamation: "Thus says the Lord..." When the prophets did engage in prognostication, they usually were concerned with events which were fairly close at hand, such as the Assyrian conquest of Israel and the Babylonian conquest of Judah (both of which they foretold with deadly accuracy). But occasionally a prophet's vision ranged farther into the future, to the day when God would enter into a new covenant with his rebellious children. The hope of reconciliation was often linked with the coming of a very particular person, a Messiah or Savior. What made the prophets so sure that they had a right -- nay, a duty, to speak in the name of God? It is clear from their writings that they were not megalomaniacs who confused their own thoughts with the voice of God. On the contrary, they were humble men, awe-stricken by the responsibilities thrust upon them... The prophets minced no words in their indictments of the sins of Israel and Judah, and they trod especially hard on the toes of the rich, the powerful, and the pious. The Establishment responded then as some church members are wont to respond now when a preacher speaks out on controversial public issues: "One should not preach of such things!" (Micah 2:6). ... Louis Cassels (1922-1974), Your Bible [1967]

In my eyes, both Adolf Hitler and my grandfather were false prophets of the 20th century. ~Sophie Freud, interview in Manfred Becker doco, Neighbours: Freud And Hitler In Vienna (2003)

The well-adjusted make poor prophets. -- Eric Hoffer

If you keep saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of being a prophet. - Isaac Bashevis Singer, 1904 - 1991

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Progress -

Do you know what the largest room in the world is? The room for improvement.

As of 1945 -- the year in which more people were killed violently, more buildings destroyed, more homes burned than any other year in history -- World Wars 1 and 2 had made a mockery of the nineteenth-century idea of progress, the notion that things were getting better and would continue to do so.-- Stephen E. Ambrose, "Citizen Soldiers

If you don't like my opinion of you, you can always improve - BRILLIANT, ASHLEIGH (1933-)

I am afraid I believe we delude ourselves if we think that humanity is becoming ever more civilised, ever more sophisticated and ever more reasonable. It's simply not the case. --Charles, Prince of Wales

It is necessary to try to surpass oneself always; this occupation ought to last as long as life. -- Christina, Queen of Sweden

If there is no struggle there is no progress. -- Frederick Douglass

Exactly a week before the final treaty with England was signed, Franklin saw Paris's first balloon ascension at the Champ-de-Mars... What good, some skeptic asked, could a balloon be? What good, Franklin replied, was a new-born baby? "Benjamin Franklin" by Carl van Doren

The progress of mankind has always depended upon those who, seemingly isolated and powerless in their own day, have seen their vision and remained true to it. In the darkening corridors of time, they preserved integral their vision of the daylight at the end. This is a matter not of calculation but of faith. Our work may be small and its results invisible to us. But we may rest assured it will come to fruition in God's good time.- John Ferguson, The Enthronement of Love

All that is human must retrograde if it does not advance. -- Edward Gibbon

One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. Andre Gide

Is it progress if a cannibal uses a fork? Stanislaw J. Lec, UnkemptThoughts (1962

We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn, and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. C.S. Lewis

I will go anywhere, provided it is forward. David Livingstone

Slumber not in the tents of your fathers. The world is advancing. - Giuseppe Mazzini (1805 &endash; 1872)

Every step in human progress, from the first feeble stirrings in the abyss of time, has been opposed by the great majority of men. Every valuable thing that has been added to the store of man's possessions has been derided by them when it was new, and destroyed by them when they had the power. They have fought every new truth ever heard of, and they have killed every truth-seeker who got into their hands. -- H.L. Mencken

Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress ... Alfred A. Montapert

"Why is there not national like individual progression? Does it not seem as if the greatest amount of progress would be secured by the *same* nation continuing to carry its own on, and profiting by its own experience? It cannot be a law that all nations shall fall after a certain number of years. God does not work in that sort of way: they must have broken some law of nature which has caused them to fall. But are all nations to sink in that way? As if national soil, like the soil of the earth, must lie fallow after a certain number of crops. And will England turn into Picts again, after a certain number of harvest years, as Egypt has turned into Arabs? Or will a nation find out at last the laws of God by which she may make a steady progression? -- Florence Nightingale, 1850

The victory of Christianity over paganism was the greatest psychic revolution in the history of our culture. It has become fashionable today to say that, for better or worse, we live in "the post-Christian age." Certainly the forms of our thinking and language have largely ceased to be Christian, but to my eye the substance often remains amazingly akin to that of the past. Our daily habits of action, for example, are dominated by an implicit faith in perpetual progress which was unknown either to Greco-Roman antiquity or to the Orient. It is rooted in, and is indefensible apart from, Judeo-Christian teleology. The fact that Communists share it merely helps to show what can be demonstrated on many other grounds: that Marxism, like Islam, is a Judeo-Christian heresy. We continue today to live, as we have lived for about 1,700 years, very largely in a context of Christian axioms.- F A Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the 20th Century,

Yesterday I was a dog. Today I'm a dog. Tomorrow I'll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There's so little hope for advancement.-- Snoopy

When I was a child,
I thought as a child
I spoke as a child
I didn't know better
But now I'm a man
I look like a man
I'm old as a man
And I should know better...
Todd Rundgren (1948 - )

Why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where the fruit is? Frank Scully

Stop this Progress! --Theotocopulos in the H. G. Wells movie _Things to Come_

Paper, paper everywhere!

BBC says, "Police sergeants are afraid to challenge scruffy constables because they fear being accused of bullying, an official report suggests.
The Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) report also discloses that nearly half a frontline sergeant's time is spent on paperwork.
The HMIC suggests sergeants in England and Wales are issued with a set of standards to improve effectiveness."

More paper to improve the glut?

I ask in my profession, "Do you want me to do the work or to write about it?" I am told to record all manner of things in case of possible litigation.

I live in the real world, not the Planet Fear. My records are of the minimalist school.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Profanity -

Profanity is the attempt of a lazy and feeble mind to express itself forcefully.

Profanity is the weapon of the witless.

In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied even to prayer. Mark Twain

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Reading in the past year

83 this year, 127 books last year and 97 the year before. Perhaps I have been more on the web this tear with my new Macbook and then Facebook.

1. History 18 (14 4th, 32 1st)
2. Biography 12 (16 3rd, 20 2nd)
3= Novels 11 (34 1st, 3 7th= )
3= Theology 11 ( 8 5th= 7 4th)
5. Commentaries 8 1 (1 12= 0 14th=)
6. Islam 6 (8 5= 9 3rd)
7= Devotional 3 (3 8= 3 7th)
7= Travel 3 (1 12th 0)
9. Trivia 2 ( 3 8th= 2 10th=)
10= Psychology 1 (2 19= 2 10th=)
10= Politics 1 (6 7th 4 6th)
10= Humour 1 (1 12th 5 5th)
10= Mission 1 (0 9th 2 10th= )
10= Ethics 1
15= Letters 0 (1 12= 1 14th=)
Sport 0 (1 2= 1 14th=))
Quotations 0 (2 10th= 2 10=)
Diaries 0 (1 12= 0)
Prayers 0 (1 12= 0)
Children's 0 (24 2nd 3 7th=)

I do believe I have read books to the grandchildren this year but forgot to record them.)

Books read in July 2008 (9)

1. A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage

A fascinating social history of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and Coca Cola. How these drinks were part of history and influenced it from the ancient world through to globalisation is well told and most informative. There is a section on how these drinks would have tasted originally.

2. The World According to Nick Ferrari - Nick Ferrari

Having enjoyed him on the radio I enjoyed his book too and learned more about him. There are similarities to Richard Littlejohn who is, I think, a more gifted writer. But they both speak for the right of centre common man against the Guardianista and PC brigade.Those reviewers who think this man deficient in humour would appear to have had the humour bypass operation chartacterisic of The Left. By and large he made me laugh though sometimes we part company. He is for example anti monarchy. Sometimes he surprises you, especially his article calling on the church to preach hell fire.

3. Jesus and the Victory of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God: Vol 2 (Christian Origins and the Question of God)
by N.T. Wright

This is a great book which puts Jesus firmly in the context of his contemporary Judaism. it is a book one will want to refer to when studying gospel passages. However it is a book written for contemporary academic theological debate. While the author is a great critic of Enlightenment rationalistic thinking I do wonder if he really sits in the supernaturalists chair. It seems the humanity of Jesus is so emphasised as to neglect aspects of his deity. The passages where he three times states he must go up to Jerusalem to die are not really exegeted nor is the question of his self consciousness as Son of God. This gives an unbalanced answer as to why Jesus died. The non-academic reader can skip some of the answers to the differing views of theologians who often do not share the author's evident submission to the Scriptures. There is much exegetical meat to chew on, many insights to learn. Wright has to be the foremost New testament biblical theologian of today. Read and benefit.

4. An Utterly Impartial History of Britain: (or 2000 Years of Upper Class Idiots in Charge) by John O'Farrell

Having an aversion to The Guardian I was not familiar with the excellent wit of the author until I read this book. I shall now seek out his other books. It is the funniest history I have read since 1066 and All that. it is excellent. I laughed out loud, read excerpts to friends and cried at parts of his WW2 chapter. Of course the title is ironic. He is a leftie but a very funny one. I guess from his name his background is Roman Catholic but if so he does well in a very Protestant story. It is informative and witty. I only wished he had gone on past 1945. Stimulating first class read. One spelling error spotted. Should be Meccano.

5. The English: A Portrait of a People by Jeremy Paxman

Paxo writes well and is a joy to read. This book is far ranging on who we English are, our strange national characteristics which relate to our history. "Like a pair of newly-weds in a sabotaged car, every people sets off into the future clattering behind it the tin-cans of its history." Here are many tin cans and some glimpses too of the possible road ahead. I would recommend this book to visitors to our country. The only slight draw back is that reading it ten years after it was written I sense it is slightly dated. It predates 9-11, the rise of Islamic militancy and a new huge wave of immigration, to say nothing of the effects of devolution and the rise of Scottish nationalism. All these are now having an effect on what it means to be English today. Some of his chapters are masterfull and memorable. Our animosity to the French and the sentimentality over Diana are examples.

6. The Glory of God's Will by Elisabeth Elliot

A short booklet on knowing and obeying God's will from a woman whose faith has been tried in the furnace of affliction. She waited five years to marry her first husband only to have him martyred in Equador after only two years of marriage. I have only one slight caveat. I find it hard to agree with the Gladys Aylward story that God had answered her prayer for a husband by calling someone to be her husband but he had refused the call.

7. What in the Word?: Wordplay, Word Lore, and Answers to Your Peskiest Questions about Language by Charles Harrington Elster

If you are a lover of words, a logophile, you will love this book. It may be a bit too American for some UK readers but it is great fun with lots of information on words and their usaage plus some interesting quizzes too. For me it is worth its price just to find out that "the dog's bollocks" was the printers' phrase for :- .
A great book too for trivia quiz setters. He could though have done better in naming the ladies Churchill's wit insulted.

8. Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan

This book is to autobiography as Dylan's voice is to sweet melody. I found it a huge disappointment for it is singularly lacking in facts about his career. About the only thing I learned was the origins of his pseudonym. There is nothing about how he achieved fame, his wife or children. One does learn a little about his family background. But for the most part it is a boring ramble. I like the man's music. The cobbler should stick to his last.

9. Coast from the Air by Neil Oliver

I am surprised that other Amazon reviewers are not enthusiastic about this great book. It gives superb shots round our beautiful coast. I made me want to visit more of these places, travelling by helicopter if possible. Our coast from the air is a delight. My only quibble is I want to see more of the Hebrides.