Family Note

Before I forget I need to mention this. Kate went back to school this morning after two and a bit weeks on holiday. It is noticeable how effective and valuable recreation is, and it shows in Kate. Towards the end of last term she was getting tired, grumpy and ‘floppy’. However, in the last few days she has been bright as a button. Lots of sleep, interesting things to do, time out with family and some friends all make a big difference.

Last Sunday afternoon she and I decided to go for a walk. Susan decided to stay at home. It was slightly drizzly, so I was surprised Kate wanted to come. But, we had great fun. There are some fields on a hill behind us. So we said ‘hello’ to some horses, played some silly guessing games, chatted about all sorts of things (friends, family, The Passion) as we tramped over the wet grass.

I’m increasingly impressed at Kate’s ability to think things through for herself on issues, especially faith and relationships. I enjoy listening to her opinions. But then she is growing up. This is her final term at primary school. Secondary next year – a new era!

I thank God for my family, who I love and enjoy so much. He is good.

Family Note

Quick, Grab The Nearest Book

“The great instance of that, perhaps, is the Apostle Paul – you remember how he puts it – ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me’ – that is Paul’s way of saying that he does not understand himself any longer, he is surprised at himself, he looks at himself in amazement – Am I really this man, have I come to this, has this happened to me?”

from Old Testament Evangelistic Sermons by D.M. Lloyd-Jones (Banner of Truth 1995)


1. Grab the nearest book.

2. Open the book to page 23.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

(Via Semper Ubi Sub Ubi )

Quick, Grab The Nearest Book


I have to confess to being rather pleased that Mr Blair is to call a referendum on the future European Constitution. For a long time I was strongly in favour of our involvement in the European project. But over the last few years I have become increasingly unsettled by the whole thing.

My big problem is to do with the lack of democracy. The whole structure is run by unelected officials who seem unaccountable to anyone. The hiatus of two or three years ago, where the whole commission resigned over corruption allegations, brought the position into sharp relief. Apparently nothing much has changed – only the faces. We elect Euro-MPs but they seem to have little power. No wonder so few people turn out (20-30%?) for the Euro-elections.

Therefore, to hand over more powers to the EU under a new constitution seems to be a bad idea without first dealing with the democracy deficit that exists. We need clear accountability to the people.

I have always been against referendums. It seems to me that it is often proposed as a device to sidestep parliament. We must recognise that our elected representatives are just that – representatives of the people. In electing them, we trust them to act on our behalf. If we don’t like what they do we get rid of them. Simple, huh?

However, Tony Benn made what I thought was a good point yesterday on morning TV news. (I don’t appreciate his very left-wing politics, but I respect him as an advocate of democracy for the British people.) He noted that MPs are also guardians of our (i.e. British) constitution. They have no right to change it, only defend it. To change it requires consent. Therefore a referendum is necessary. This to me is a compelling argument.

The flaw I can see, however, is that we have no written constitution in this country. We have constitution by tradition and precedent. It is obscure and unclear in many areas. So to defend it is rather like trying to hold water in a basket!

Anyway, I think a referendum is a ‘good thing’.



(You can find it here.)

Yup. We had a great time. The family and I have been there several times now, but this was the first time at Easter. Some years ago we found a little house that we like so we have kept going back. It had never occurred to me before then how much difference the right place to stay can make to a holiday. It is more than simply a base from which to explore. Comfort counts! Perhaps this is just an age thing…

The journey was good (400 miles from the Midlands to the Mull of Kintyre via Glasgow to pick up Susan’s Mum) and the weather was reasonable: 2 days of rain, 2 of dry-but overcast, 2 of glorious sunshine.

We did a bit of walking and exploring the towns. They are very small in comparison to the mainland. The main industries are farming/crafting and the whisky industry. Islay is a famous for its peaty whisky. It has eight distilleries and a ninth coming soon. Bunnahabhain (pronounced boona-haavin, emphasis on the first and third syllables) is my favourite: peaty, yet a rich honey smoothness. Mmm.

On Easter Sunday, we went to the local Church of Scotland in Port Ellen. It was a communion Sunday so I think that is why it was pretty full, maybe 100 people. The hymns were great (good singing). Communion was well led.

Shame about the preaching. In the Easter sermon, the preacher denied the importance of the bodily resurrection of Christ. Rather the experience of the resurrected Christ is the most important thing. The influence of 20th century liberal writers was clear. There was a distinct note of the Christ-of-faith vs. the Jesus-of-history distinction made by these writers. As ever, truth is mixed with error. Experience is important, but history is vital. Otherwise there is no gospel, and we would be in no better position than buddists and others.

From experience this is par for the course in Islay. There is no gospel witness in the CoS. There is a small conservative Baptist church in Port Ellen, but it is very weak. Spiritually the picture is grim.

But overall, we had a good time. It all ended too soon. I had to be back home for Sunday, so we came home a day early.


Back from Hols

Well, we’re back. I might post some reflections later, but for now here is a view from one of those ‘big sky’ days on Islay last Friday…

The mountains under the clouds are the Paps of Jura. They are quite an imposing feature normally, but on this day…

Back from Hols

Bye, Bye.

We are off to Islay for a week, the island of ‘big sky’ and malt whisky (note the true spelling). So needless to say I will not be blogging…

Bye, Bye.

Tactical Withdrawal

I have been revising some of my study plans over the last day or two. I have rapidly come to the conclusion that I am in real trouble with Hebrew Grammar. There are a number of factors:

1) I didn’t make the progress through the material I wanted to last semester. I only covered 75% of the work. And you could tell from the result of the exam – a measley 45%. Probably one of the worst results I have ever had.

2) Though I am learning I don’t believe I am doing so fast enough. I am not sure, given a fair wind, that I would be able to catch up enough to get through the final exam.

3) The wind is not fair! After Easter I have a number of deadlines over the six weeks after Easter which, on reflection will make it difficult not to lose significantly more ground in Hebrew before the exam.

As a result I have real doubts that I will perform sufficiently well in the exam to pass the double module.

Therefore I am faced with making a strategic decision not to continue with Hebrew this semester in order to make sure of passing other subjects. I think this is the wise choice. Perhaps I can come back to it at some later stage.

I am very disappointed about this. I believe that a grasp of the biblical languages makes one a better expositor. It’s not that I think I can’t do it, it’s just that I can’t do it fast enough!

Tactical Withdrawal

Getting Passionate

The presence of The Passion is beginning to be felt. Church friends are seeing it. Family members are seeing it. Preachers are mentioning it in sermons. It’s bothering me.

This comparison may seem a little crude but it has been flitting through my mind over the last few days. Imagine this: a Christian friend says, “I think I’ll take a trip down to the local lapdancing club tonight.”


“Well, you know, these girls who dance are really quite artistic. They really are good at what they do, and I think their art should be appreciated.”

“What about the effect they have on your mind and your relationship with your wife?”

“No problem. I really don’t think it’s an issue. Come on. It’s only art!”

But we all know there is an issue with the 7th commandment (‘You shall not commit adultery’), don’t we? If you want to obey it, you don’t go putting yourself in places where it is difficult, if not impossible, to obey forever after. Not even for the sake of art. It makes sense.

So what about the 2nd commandment? Are we to place ourselves in a situation in which this commandment will be difficult to obey, too?

But then, as sophisticated 21st century Christians we don’t believe that idolatry is an issue, do we? Sex? Yes. Idolatry? No.

Getting Passionate

Mobile phones – Aaahhh!

Katie’s friends have all been getting moby phones as christmas/birthday/early birthday presents. The pressure is beginning to be felt. Here are the symptoms.

Katie’s friends who come round, eyes glued to the little screen, at most monosyllabic, usually downright rude.

Then they want to tell you the contents of their vacuous yet copious text messages. Yawn.

Kate is beginning to ask, “When can I have one?”

“When you can pay for it”, I say.

“Where can I get a job?”

“You’re not old enough.” (she’s 10)

“When can I have one?”

Ever feel you are going round in circles? How did we cope before the advent of this essential technology, I ask you?

But then, I am now an ancient, boring Dad after all…

Mobile phones – Aaahhh!