Thursday, February 24, 2005

Book, Party, Big curvy questions

The small supper party went wonderfully - beautiful leider, delightful company, great food and wines. Hope the larger one in Cambridge is good as well - and that snow doesn't lead to no shows.

First draft of book needs to be with publisher by the end of the month - so frantically filling in bits - will need a lot of editing I think.

Meanwhile a student (possibly Islamic?) is asking about The Trinity and someone is asking about Linde's theory of Chaotic Inflation (about which I have had to read up - v interesting but what should one say?).

Life certainly ain't dull.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Concept of the Trinity

Well eventful 50th - someone emailed Q4JCP what is the concept of the Trinity. Pointed them to Bp Richard's starcourse talk. They then asked why should anyone put their faith in something counterintuitive? Of course counter-intuitive does not imply deep & true, but it's hard to think of a deep true fact that is not counter-intuitive: ice floats ... ei pi = -1 ... planes fly ... most of solid matter is in fact 'empty' .... a vacuum is in fact teeming with energy ... e = mc2 ... f = dp/dt ...

Wonderful party - both the singing and the supper afterwards. Meanwhile, icasualties goes up to 2.05 per day. Brethren, be sober, be vigilant, for your adversary the Devil goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour - whom resist, steadfast in the faith.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Milestone birthday

Well today I turn 50 - world seems much the same. We have lovely soprano coming round to sing Schumann and then a small supper party - big party in Cambridge on Sunday. Hoping to run for 1hr today since need to build back up to Marathon after spraining ankle.

Vicar leaving after 2.5 years at our church so there'll be another interregnum but hopefully we'll get an excellent person then.

It's just possible that I could pull together a first complete draft of my book today - that'd be a good 50th Birthday project.

Iraq casulaties still seem to be running at just under 2/day - that's 2 too many of course but it would be the best for 7 months - let us hope and pray it continues to fall.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Q&A Serendipity

Another little burst of questions on polkinghorne.org. Funny how these tend to be topical in terms of discussions we have been having at home. One about Universalism and the story of Dives and Lazarus has me checking the Greek and thinking hard - John delights me by "nothing to add to this excellent response". Then a priest who used to be a chemist asks about my somewhat speculative carbon cycle response on Water into Wine. Keeps me on my toes - and off the book, alas.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Displacement - book & sailing

Gosh it's difficult writing a book! Have to get the first draft to publishers by the end of this month and it's nearly done but it often feels like "any excuse not to write" Hence the delay in updating the blog - but maybe this is itself an excuse not to write??

Other excitements include 'big' birthday on Tues (playing lieder and then a supper party - biggish party in Cambridge on Sunday) and planning our sailing campaign from April - we aim to look for and observe dolphins in the S coast, Malta, and the N coast of Cornwall.

PS Iraq casualty count creeping up again - though still less than half last month's rate.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

ITLR societies are either religious or dead

A friend is helping to run a big study on ageing, which also looks at socio/economic factors like income. I asked whether they are considering religious belief and practice, since there is excellent evidence that this is a major factor. In the long run I suspect that all societies are either religious or dead: non-religious people tend to die sooner and don't have enough children. Look at Russia, facing a catastrophic population decline, and I'd bet that this was much worse amongst the non-religious.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Learning to choose to love

Hope and pray that the situation in Iraq is getting better, post-election. So far the coalition casualties are down to 1.5 deaths/day which is the lowest for months. The host at our party last night was a v liberal Muslim who goes to Midnight Mass and is indignant at the erosion of moral and traditional values in the name of Political Correctness. He's adamant that Muslims are not offended by Christmas and like the fact that we are a tolerant Christian country.

Just finished reading The Great Divorce to my daughter. It's a wonderful book - though of course not to be taken literally. But his fundamental point, about the reality of choice, must be right. Ultimately, either we say to God your will be done or God says to us your will be done. It's great to re-visit some fundamental questions with her - like the proofs of the existence of God (need to be understood in the context of Godel's Theorem - you cannot have completely watertight mathematical-quality proofs of everything, it's balance of probabilities). Even the First Cause isn't so bad as people sometimes suggest.

Ulitimately life is about learning to choose - specifically learning to choose to love. Maybe that's one reason why elections are so important.

Friday, February 11, 2005

What a week - Ellen & achievement

On Ellen's boat when docked
Sprained my ankle running on Weds night, which meant attending biz meetings in smart suit and trainers. Sat/Sun a sailing weekend - met pretty lawyer who blamed collapse of her marriage in 12 months on low boredom threshold. Mon: 3 biz meetings (morning, lunch, dinner) then train to Exeter and chauffeur to Falmouth where I had chartered a yacht - got on board 0300, up at 0600 and sailed out at 0620 to meet Ellen. Skipper took us out and then we sailed and I helmed so saw sunrise over the water. The ribs and speedboats went off towards the Lizard but we kept sharp lookout and saw a tiny stick on the horizon looking suspiciously like a tall vertical mast. We sailed towards it and were indeed the first boat from shore to spot Ellen and her naval escort. Then the speedboats realised, so we weren't the first there - just the first yacht, but it was great escorting her in. She then moored a few berths away in the marina so we got very close and I even got to go on board afterwards.

Some idiots in the Guardian and elsewhere then go on about pointlessness of her achievement, sailing by numbers etc... There's no doubt that she has energised the human spirit. But I also think of that pretty lawyer, who has 'achieved' each ambition: Oxford - tick, Law - tick, Marriage - tick, Affair - tick, Divorce - tick. For so many without faith, even if they achieve their dreams, they turn to dust. Is this it??

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Voyage to Peace

Off to Brighton for a sailing course - then hoping to take Tues off to welcome Ellen. Hard to imagine what she is going through - hope & pray she arrives back safely and beats record. Meanwhile so far the Iraq Casualty level is down to 1.2/day - lowest for a year. There was a lull at the beginning of last month too - again hope & pray that it doesn't spike up. The voyage to peace and democracy is even longer - but by God's grace the human spirit will triumph - as with Ellen DV.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Tothesource, Iraq and change

Interesting couple of emails from tothesource about Iraq. They are almost always worthwhile and thought-provoking. It was a great and humbling experience praying for Iraq at the prayer vigil and having Fr Toma with us, sharing his story, and praying in Aramaic.

Then on Sunday Fr Gavin announced that he was leaving after 2.5 yrs to become a school chaplain. So we are faced with another Interregnum after having 14 months after our beloved Fr David was murdered. Ah well - compared to Iraq this is nothing.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Light of the Cosmos

Interesting meeting of a few Christian business leaders last night. As part of it we read from Mathew 5: "you are the light of the world". I had brought the Greek and 3 things became clear: that "you" is plural (ye are..); "world" is "cosmos"; and of course in John Jesus says "I am the light of the world". So we, collectively, the disciples of Jesus are called to be the light of the whole universe! It seems there are 3 important moments in the history of the Universe:
  1. The Big Bang - matter and energy come into being
  2. The emergence of moral consciousness
  3. The emergence of Christ consciousness - radiating out to transform the whole Cosmos.
What an awesome destiny - and an awesome responsibility.