Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Brahms, ID, Lebanon

Played 2 movements of the Brahms E mi Cello Sonata with old friend, cellist, over from Milan. Good fun but the piano was bashed up with E and F not sounding at random.

Silly review of "Intelligent Thought: science versus the Intelligent Design Movement" in Nature which suggests that ID is "the idea that life was shaped by an intelligent creator".

Situation in Lebanon and Israel depressing: Hezbollah winning the propaganda war hands down despite being clearly in the wrong.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Pezza and Bader

The report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards on Prescott makes interesting reading. He initially refused to answer the question of when these gifts were reported to the Permanent Secretary, and only when pressed by a second letter did he confess that they weren't reported at all, they were just added to his catalogue of gifts which was available for her inspection if she wanted. Also he was accompanied to the ranch by "Ms B" who was a junior Private Sec in his office with special responsibility for overseas trips. Hopefully not his mistress: but who is the 'lucky lady' whom people are refusing to name?

Too darn hot! Tried to run but after 5 miles was getting v hot, and asfter 7 walked most of the way. Finished Reach for the Sky. Fascinating and inspiring. Contrast with Prezza appalling.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Kayaks and Britophobia

Weekend Kayaking course - I thought I'd be much the oldest and most would be my daugter's age. But all the rest were adults, one older than me(!) and it was a little too tough for my daughter who learned a lot of skills but didn't pass. We had planned to sail there and back but high winds previous Sunday made that impossible, alas.

Reading "Reach for the Skies" - extraordainry that Douglas Bader was at school with Laurence Olivier!

Mary Ann forcefully attacks the "Moral Superiority" of Muslims in the light of the horrific recent conviction for "honour killing" - wondering why we hear so much of "Islamophobia" and not "Britophobia". But the Guardian-reading Establishment has been denigrating British values and history for decades. Not long ago she would be investigated by the Police for making such remarks - maybe she still will be. A mad mad world my masters. (Having Reach for the Skies a set text in GCSE might help a bit!)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Abbey, Polls, Iraq

Took day off on Tues to go to the Abbey - as an Oblate I should visit once a year but it must be 5 years or more :-(. I went by Bike/Train/Bike and got somewhat lost, thus arriving rather sweaty and 5 mins late for Mass. The brethren are in v good heart - the Abbey church as packed for St Benedict's Day and we had a buffet lunch afterwards. In addition to the stalwart six there is a promising postulant. They were delighted to know that they had been described at St Paul's Hammersmith as "the SAS of Prayer"

Lord Levy arrested, Prescott discredited further, Conservative lead in the Weighted Moving Average of the polls (which I keep to smooth the inevitable jumps from single polls) continuing to advance - the 2 major parties were level until April (34:34:21) and now its 39:33:17. The greater the C lead the more L fights, so the greater the C lead. I know Bob Worcester was assuring people last month that there was no way the Conservatives could win the next election, but even he can be wrong. There is in fact no way in reality, whatever the arithmetic of unfair seat distribution says, that a party with a 6% lead will not win. The British electorate has a sense of fair play and I suspect it has made up its mind.

Indian bombing completely appalling and the restraint of the Indian PM indeed admirable. Mercifully the Coalition deaths in Iraq are so far sharply down (0.8/day this month, vs 2.1 last month which was itself down on 2.6 and 2.7 the previous months). This reduction completely unreported by the Media, who have decided that "Iraq is a Disaster" There is no question that the Muslim v Muslim violence is appalling - it is being compared to Lebanon but recall that Lebanon is now (once more) a pretty successful country. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem - but peace in Iraq would also be wonderful.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

RS, King Arthur, sailing etc..

Thurs was at Royal Society - good to catch up on friends (a contemporary from Trinity is now a Vice-President!), meet new ones and see fascinating exhibits, esp about tool-using crows. Mother & sister were also there & stayed the night, as did Elder Daughter. Fri Son stayed and sat am - v good to see him & chat. Sat eve went to King Arthur (Purcell/Dryden) at the ENO which was directed and choreographed by Mark Morris. He threw away Dryden's linking text so made it a series of episodes, but the music was good/amazing - the singing excellent (two Ferrier-award-winning Sops, Gillian Keith & Elizabeth Watts) and the choreography, when not over-crude, interesting and enjoyable.

Sun planned a long sail but winds far too strong, the club decided to race in the river/harbour and although we went out we decided that we would not be able to control the boat well enough to be sure to avoid collisions, and came back. Useful boat maintenance but we decided that the winds would probably not drop at 1600 as forecast so came back. Indeed they were still far too strong at 7pm. So got to evensong - lovely. Psalm about destroying the ships with an East Wind, and it was Sea Sunday I believe.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Prisons, iraq, Ruth Palmer

Depressing report about how a prison psychologist and the Archdeacon responsible for prison chaplaincies apparently colluded to stop a programme called InnerChange from operating in prisons. Though the Alpha Course is still run in prisons, so it's not all bad.

So far this month (though it's only 8 days) the Coalition military fatalities in Iraq are running at 0.62/day, the lowest monthly rate ever and less than 1/3rd of the levels last month. Let's see.

Brilliant Ruth Palmer launched her CD last night - they had to put out a whole row of extra chairs at the Royal Overseas League. I bt 6 copies which she signed, looking forward to seeing the full movie, we only saw 1/2 and 2 movements of the Shostakovich sonata.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Spiritual & phyicial excercise (+Prescott & Iraq)

Elder Daughter staying which is a delight. Considering getting a car so that she can learn to drive. It's depressing that new drivers start of old cheap and thus unsafe cars. Work still rather busy - another new proposal requested by a CEO yesterday. Did first 10m run for ages, prer for Marathon in late Sept. Won't be easy but good that I can still do it - just.

Getting to the Abbey next week at last - it's been years and I really need to get there. Also planning 2 races and a long-ish sail on Sunday. Decided to pop into Church for midweek 1662 only to find that I had the date wrong and it was a Childrens Communion. Very delightful and I'm glad I came, though people were surprised to see me!

The decay of the Blair govt continues - the latest Prescott developments just another drip of butter melting in the heat. But although the casualties in Afghanistan are worrying, the trend in Iraq is that May was better than April, June better than May, and July so far is running at 1/day rather than 2/day in June and nearly 3/day in April. Pray that this may continue.

Tom Wright on Hebrews now. I've never really got into Hebrews - I'm sure Tom will help. Divine justice a major theme at present.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Music of Life and Mysticism

I've finished Denis Noble's excellent The Music of Life. I have slightly updated Dawkins in Wikipedia accordingly.

A discussion between him and John Polkinghorne would be very interesting indeed. In particular I think Prof Noble might be surprised by the extent to which Biblical Christianity, and especially the Hebraic thought that underpins almost all of the Bible, sees mind/body/soul as a psychosomatic unity. eg nephesh in Hebrew means soul or life (or very occasionally neck!). The characteristically Hebraic/Christian idea of resurrection (of the body) became rather transmuted in Western thought into "the soul going to heaven" and the kind of dualistic thinking which you criticise is not fundamental to the Christian tradition. It is also fair to point out that mysticism and apophatic theology have always been a fundamental strand of Christianity, somewhat submerged in Western thought (although there are many outstanding mystics even in the West, some like John of the Cross and Theresa being proclaimed, after much persecution, as "Doctors of the Church") but very much alive in the East. Olivier Clement's wonderful The Roots of Christian Mysticism is a great resource on this, mainly quotations from the extraordinary mystics of the Eastern Orthodox. This is not of course to disparage the Buddhist traditions but to provide a rather more rounded picture than his "there are very few followers of Eckhart today in the Christian tradition. Millions follow the Buddha."

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Anniversary, Denis Noble and Starcourse

Back from in-laws 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration. Lovely opportunity to have all our family together. Only one of their descendents was missing, and none of ours.

Neary at end of Denis Noble's great book The Music of Life which demolishes the nonsenses of genetic determinism. Though I fear he is over-impressed by Buddhism and doesn't appreciate that Cartesian Dualism is not part of Christian thought, esp in its Hebraic roots.

V good guy at Church training to be a Parish Evangelist came up to me today amazed that I had written the Star Course, about which he was being trained. Let us hope and pray that this resource (which had the help of Bp Richard Chartres, Bp Geoffrey Rowell, Bp Lindsay Urwin and Bp David Hope) becomes more used.