Thursday, March 31, 2005

Martyrdom and Resurrection

An article in the Spectator by the (atheist) Europe Correspondent of The Times points out that more than 500m Christians are threatened with violence or legally discriminated against for their faith, and that if this were happening (on 1/10th of the scale) to any other religious group the BBC etc. would be up in arms. As it is the BBC ignores 59,000 complaints against Jerry Springer The Opera because of 'Artistic merit'. Would they commission a dramatisation of The Satanic Verses I wonder?

On the other hand, maybe at a deep level this persecution is connected with the resurgence of Christian belief?

PS Iraq coalition casulaties are lowest since Feb 04 and 2nd lowest since records began.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

At last they are waking up

It's noticable that militant secularists are on the retreat in Britain. Bryan Appleyard in the Sunday Times admits that "like it or not, the Big Guy is back." and that "British secularism ... is based on a myth" The FT claims that secularism must mean tolerance (and not, as previously supposed, hostlity to religion). There is the assumption amongst secularists that the decline in church attendance is irreversible, but in our Deanery we have been seeing substantial growth in roll numbers. The truth will out! Let us hope that the Churches continue their work of evangelism and welcome - but those that turn in on themselves will not survive and probably don't deserve to. Those that proclaim the Gospel will bear fruit, 60 or 100 fold.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

He is risen indeed

Lovely day today - elder daughter was home, we all went to the local large evangelical church and then off to see son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren who are staying with their other grandma. Service used a series of Easter Eggs (containing thorns, nails, a stone and one empty) to illustrate Easter.

Answered an e-correspondent from Vietnam who had sent me an essay on Euthanasia (she's against it, I'm pleased to say, and from the Buddhist tradition). Wonderful how the web brings people together across continents. Then watched an episode of the delightful Sea Change where a buddhist nun comes to encourage people to tell the truth.

He is risen indeed - Alleliulia!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

This joyful Eastertide

Hectic few days. Some lovely friends over from the US whom we met for dinner - children for the first time. Our respective daughters got on very well, and it was great to see them. Next day another friend gave a wonderful concert in aid of Prostate Research UK. Now our elder daughter is staying for a few days and we have had our v nice in-laws for lunch and a long walk by the river.

Another delightful friend from the US emails about the thieves on the cross ... interestingly they are not 'thieves' (kleptoi) but 'brigands' (leeistai) like Barabbas - whose place Jesus is taking - and it is highly probable that they were in fact insurrectionists, trying to throw out the Romans by force. Much of Jesus' teaching's immediate historical context was a message "don't imagine that you can establish a 'Kingdom of Heaven' but force, expelling the Romans like Judas Maccabeaus - my way is the way of the cross, not the way of the sword which leads to disaster" - as of course it did finally in AD 70. Tom Wright is wonderful on this, as on many other things.

May the peace, forgiveness and joy of the resurrection fill our hearts this Eastertide!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The world must be peopled

It seems possible that Cosmpolitan will have decided the UK General Election. By raising the question of Abortion in their interviews with all 3 main party leaders, they then got the Head of the RC Church in England & Wales endorsing Michael Howard's position, and now the Archbishop of Canterbury. There are an awful lot of Catholics in the UK and they have traditionally voted Labour - and I suspect that most Anglicans voted Labour or Lib Dem. I sopke to a friend who is a leading MP who agrees that unless Blair concedes a free vote on Abortion he will probably loose.

As Marc Steyn points out today, abortion is not just a personal issue - the lack of babies born to the Euro-Canadian-Democratic Party welfare secularists means they will die out - and (thank God) incresingly loose influence in a democratic society. Another aspect of the fact, as it seems to me, that in the long run all societies are either religious or dead.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Sometimes they strew his way

"But why would they throw palms on the road?" asks my wife.
Well I think it's a Messianic Prophecy. Quick check on the commentary and I'm referred to 1 Macc 13:51 which is interesting because this was Simon in a bloodless victory expelling the enemies of Israel from the Citadel of Jerusalem!
"Yes - I can understand waving the palms in the air, but why throw them on the road. Won't it get in the way of the Donkey?" Well I wonder, the Greek says the crowd estrwsan their garments en tee hodw and others took branches off the trees and estrwnnuon en tee hodw. and this can mean fitted out in the way so I think it probably means that they went behind him waving the branches - rather like banners in a demo. St John tells us they were Palm branches and they people from Jerusalem went out to meet (or encounter) him, which makes lots of sense.

Had a lovely ecumenical Palm Sunday meeting in the local park and the processed to our various churches. In addition to singing hymns on the way/in the road (en tee hodw) a lovely and highly respectable lawyer was leading us in impromptu shouts of Hosannah hosannah hosannah! Really inspiring.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Signs and Symbols

Anxious Q to me and JCP - if we suggest that the 7 days of creation are not literal doesn't this allow Scptics to re-interpret the Bible wholesale. Well of course I can't stop them - but it's a question of discerning what the words mean. Same applies to the account of Jesus's temptation in the wilderness.

Reading the signs of the times is never easy. It's great that the consensus is moving towards further restrictions on Abortion in the UK - there are other issues between the parties but none that costs tens of thousands of lives per year. There are pro-life MPs in every party and it shouldn't be a party-political issue, but any Christian who votes for an pro-abortion MP is committing a grave sin. I've been saying for at least 2 years that the next UK election will be much closer than people think - we'll see.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

World wide web and world wide church

It never ceases to amaze me how the web is really worldwide. Many of the polkinghorne.org Q&As come from America, and we now have an Indian web designer working on the site. When we wrote Cybernauts Awake we noted that "Christians may find some encouragement in the development of cyberspace and cyber-concepts. People who once scorned the notion of 'spiritual reality', and who rejected Christianity accordingly, might find their ideas transformed by experience in cyberspace." and that "Historically, every new advance in communication has been a means of proclaiming the gospel, and cyberspace is no exception"

Of course there are teething troubles (witness my last post!) but we must embrace the opportunities for evangelisation that it presents.

PS Iraq casualties still at lowest rate since Feb 04. Let's continue to pray for this.

Also interesting that Niall Fitzgerald says in the FT that a major reason for supporting the Commission for Africa, that Africa is at the epicentre of the Christianity/Islam clash.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Apology to Fr Gavin

Dear Fr Gavin

I want to apologise publicly that I have hurt you by 2 sentences in my blog. I have removed them.

Following the command of Jesus in Matthew 18:15 would have been better.

YIC

Nicholas

Across time and space

Nice email from India from an indian web-designer who is also into Christian apologetics offering to redesign the Starcourse website. It's great that this is now an intercontinental collaboration. The Q4JCP feature has had questions from all over the world and I suspect is the most visited, although I have no statistics. Maybe we should turn that into a book one day?

Meanwhile my struggle to do my daily NT readings in Greek continues to give rewards. Just listen from Heb 11:33(b)...
eergasanto dikaisuneen
epetuchon epa(n)ggeliwn
efraxan stomata machleontwn
esbesan dunamin puros
efugon stomataa machairees
edunamwtheesan apo asthevias
egeneetheesan ischuroi en polemwi


I'm also delighted that the US interview with John Polkinghorne is now on the web. I'm listening to him now.

How all these ringing words of encouragement resonate across time and space.

PS Iraq Coalition casualties now down to 1.38/day, lowest since Feb 2004.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Links

My friend Gloriana has started a blog - she's a bit downbeat about its quality but I think it's super. Poor Fig Tree :-)

Trying to make myself read my daily NT in Greek. I'm not really good enough for this, and have to refer to the english from time to time. esp as Hebrews is rather obscure. But so many things that are not apparent in English come out clearly in the Greek - for example in Heb 11v1 "ancients" is presbeuteroi which in other contexts means Elders and v2 has not from phainomenwn did the visible come to be.

Seeing a brilliant Artist friend back from NY and her new Husband tonight. Longing to see her again/meet him.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Water into wine

Hans Bethe has died - who discovered the Carbon Cycle. It's interesting that it powers the sun (in a sense) - so maybe my wild speculations about Water into Wine have another little tick by them. I'd love to know if these things can happen at room temperature.

Grandchildren , daughters, daughter-in-law and her mother for Mother's day - son on call at his hospital. And I've decided to pull out of London marathon 'cos sprained ankle has now led to other injuries - will sail instead, and run Kingston.

4 days without a single coalition death in Iraq - pray that this is a trend. Sad about the Italian but "normal speed" to an Italian and "driving fast" to an American are about the same.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Spreading inspiration

Nice email from the US where John Polkinghorne has been speaking - "we, and our audience of some 300 persons, were thrilled with his very articulate and thoughtful presentations. He was very accessible, affable, enthusiastic and greatly appreciated by all. His visit here has spawned additional gatherings in both Minneapolis and St. Paul for further discussions." The visit had been set up through polkinghorne.org.

Meanwhile we have the grandchildren to stay - which spreads inspiration on a smaller scale!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

"7 days" and Islamism

Last night a girl emailed saying that an ex-Christian was attacking her faith and wondering about predestination and creation in 7 days. We'll see how this goes - hope these answers help.

Had lunch with a business friend with a truly global perspective, who recounted one of the world's greatest statesmen (non-Western) saying to him that it's the Christianity/Islam conflict that will define the 21C. It's fasionable to deny this in Europe but not elsewhere. Let's hope and pray it's resolved the way Communism was eventually resolved, ie (relatively) peacefully. Can we meaningfully distinguish between Islam the religion and Islamism the violent ideology which dresses itself up in Islam rather as Lenninism dressed itself up in Marxism?

PS This is an interesting article by Daniel Pipes from 1998.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Birthday & Birth of the Universe(s)

Lovely birthday party - 62 guests including one surprise who had flown in from Milan. My 2 elder children gave a lovely improvised speech and then my 13 year old gave one of her own - I was close to tears.

Finally had a shot at addressing the question about Chaotic Inflation for the polkinghorne website. Tricky - I hope it was some use.

Iraq coalitition casualties lowest since July - let's continueto hope and pray it's a trend.