Thursday, 27 August 2009

Aldeburgh in Suffolk

These monochrome images were taken at Aldeburgh in Suffolk. Aldebugh is a quaint seaside town that was once well-known as a fishing and boat-building town. All that has changed, though there are still lots of small boats that venture out each day and supply day visitors and hotels with fresh fish. There is nothing flash or superficially attractive about the town, but there is an undefinable late Victorian charm about the place that never seems to change.
I include these shots because monochrome images are so rare these days of digital photography.
I took this pictures with my old Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex camera. Then I scanned the negatives so that I could use them on my computer. I know that you can transform colour files into monochrome in photoshop, but I think you can't beat the the quality and tonality of the old technology. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to get films processed these days. So many printing houses are going out of business. Even laboratories that do digital prints are struggling. Many photograhers never see their images in print; they are happy just to share them on the web or to view them on digital frames.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Down the river to Kew

Posted by Picasa The above view is of the London Eye from the boat that goes regularly from Westminster up river to Kew. It is one of my favourite summer jaunts. It's lovely just to chill out slowly drifting upstream, leaving the congestion of London behind.
A typical view of the river is the middle picture. It reminds me of that comic classic Three Men in a Boat. I think this is the best way of getting to Kew Gardens if you have the time. Getting there by train is boring and laboriously slow and by car can be a bit of a hassle at peak periods.
If you are ever in London a trip down to Kew is well worth while if you have the time. The Botanical Garden, founded over 250 ago, is probably the best in the world. It has a fabulous collection of trees, shrubs and flowers all set out in a most attractive manner.he eminence of Kew today is thanks to a succession of avid collectors, visionary scientists, inspired landsche eminence of Kew today is thanks to a succession of avid collectors, visionary scientists, inspired landscape architects and redoubtable gardeners who, over the centuries, have grown and developed the gardens, and the collections they contain.ape architects and redoubtable gardeners who, over the centuries, have grown and developed the gardens, and the collections they contain.

Bible revision

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
O ye sons of men,

how long will ye turn my glory into shame?
How long will ye love vanity,
and seek after leasing?

Both these verses are from the Authorised Version of the Bible, which was the Bible that virtually all Christians used till about the seventies of the last century. When I became a Christian in 1953 everyone used and quoted from it. The only other version freely available was the Moffatt translation, but it was frowned upon because it was considered too modernistic. There were two main reasons why we have so many modern translations. At the period I am alluding to, many young converts found the quaint Jacobean English of the AV too difficult. There was a desire for something more simple and readable. Also great advances had been made in our knowledge of Hebrew and Greek. Masses of papyri had been uncovered in Egypt and these discoveries had thrown much light on the koine Greek used in the New Testament. Then there were men like Tischendorf who had discovered ancient manuscripts which were much older than those used by scholars working in the first decade of the seventeenth century.
Another major problem in reading the AV was the enormous change brought about in our language by three centuries of history. The quotations from above illustrate this problem vividly.
In the first from 2 Thess 2 we read that the Mystery of Iniquity letteth and will let. This phrase has a semi legal connotation and means simply that this evil entity will stop and hinder. Unfortunately modern usage has achieved a complete about turn. To let in modern parlance means simply to allow.
The second quotation is from Psalms 4. Leasing obviously in the above verse is not approved by God. I actually came across a story concerning a missionary giving up the lease on his property after reading this verse. But anyone who has studied Middle English knows that leasing is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning lying. It has nothing to do with the modern practice of leasing properties.
In a future post I will chat a bit more about Tischendorf and my thoughts about the amazing number of modern translations

God's help in dire straits

For the LORD shall be thy confidence , and shall keep thy foot from being taken. I was a worried and anxious teenager when this text from Proverbs 3:26 fell out of my Bible onto my bed in front of me. I was on my knees in my bedroom earnestly imploring God to help in a desperate situation.
I was a member of a youth group at a church with a very strong pacifist position. I had decided to appeal for conscientious objection status when it was time to do my National service. My appeal was to take place at Fulham Town Hall. I was full of easy-going confidence as I travelled with my pastor on the District Line towards central London. My appeal was a disaster. The theologians and the barristers hired by the state tore my feeble protestations and pleas into shreds. I went home a chastened and humbled young man. Later I learned that Rob, a fellow member of the same group, had also failed his first appeal and also the second, had been called up, had refused to put on his uniform and had been sentenced to three months in prison. News from prison was not encouraging. He was in poor health and had lost a lot of weight.
When I made my second appeal I approached the ordeal with a totally different attitude. Gone was my easy-going confidence. I knew it for what it was; it was totally carnal. My heart was trembling before the Lord as I knelt before my bed on the eve of my appeal in London. I was determined to get an answer from God even if I had to pray all night. It was after I had prayed for some time that I found this Sunday-School on a tiny piece of paper in My Bible. I immediately my faith rose and I knew that god had answered my prayers. A bit later I slipped into bed and slept soundly.
The next day I presented my case. As I spoke I was surprised by my confidence and boldness. I even thought I might be rebuked for my temerity. I needn't have worried. My appeal was accepted and I was allowed to do my National Service as a non-combatant. I went home very grateful to God. The thought of doing time in Wormwood Scrubs had wonderfully concentrated my mind!
I was a member of a church wII

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

A German pietist worth knowing

I would like to introduce you to a writer with a totally different style and message from what most Christians read today. Gerhard Tersteegen was pietist mystic who lived from 1697 to 1769. Though he was a simple weaver by profession he had a widespread and profound ministry, both by his travels and by his writings. Unless you read German it is very difficult to access his works. There is only one major work on Tersteegen in English that I know of. It contained an account of his life and selections from his writings. It was published in 1832 and the author is Samuel Jackson

God is a meek and friendly Being ; He is love ; and
he that abideth in love, abideth in God, and God in him.
(1 John, iv. 16.) Be therefore also meek, friendly, and
kind in thy whole conduct and deportment. Let the
wrathful and opposite powers of thy nature, be softened by
the Spirit of the love of Jesus, the obduracy of thy temper
be calmed, and thy obstinate self-will be bent and rendered
pliable ; and as often as anything of an opposite nature
springs up in thee, immerse thyself immediately into the
the sweet element of meekness and love. God is a placid Being, and dwells in a serene eternity ; therefore thy mind must become like a clear and silent
streamlet, in which the glory of God can reflect and pourtray
itself. Hence thou must avoid all disturbance, confusion, and irritation, inwardly and outwardly. There is nothing in the world deserves being troubled about ; even
thy past faults must only humble, but not disturb thee.
" God is in his holy temple, (Hab.iii. 20.) let all that is
within thee keep silence before him !; silent with thy lips,
silent with thy desires and thoughts, silent as it respects
thine own activity. how profitable and precious is a
meek and quiet spirit in the sight of God ! (1 Pet. iii. 4.)
God is a happy, contented, and delightful being : seek
therefore to acquire an ever joyful and peaceful spirit ;
avoid all anxious cares, vexation, murmuring, and melan
choly, which obscure the mind, and make thee unfit for
converse with God : turn thyself meekly away from it,
when thou art conscious of anything of the kind in thee.
Let thy heart be estranged from, and closed against all the
world and every creature, but entirely familiar with, and
open to God. Keep a very strict eye upon thyself, thine
evil lusts, self-love, and self-will : but towards God, be
truly free, childlike, affectionate, and confidential. Re
gard him as the friend of thy heart, and think nothing but
what is purely good of him. Though everything without,
fall into confusion, and though thy body be in pain and
suffering, and thy soul in barrenness and distress, yet let
thy spirit be unmoved by it all, placid and serene, elevated
above the accidents of all things, and delighted in and
with its God inwardly, and with his good pleasure out
wardly. If thou endeavour to exercise thyself in this manner, thy
mind will gradually become more conformed unto God,
and also more and more capable of substantially finding
this all-sufficient and most amiable Good, and of beholding his beautifying countenance.

Audley End House

As my blog is concerned with both thoughts and events I shall mention a few recent events that might be of interest. My wife and I went to Audley End House, a stately home near Saffron Walden in Essex. My son-in-law's parents came over from Bern and accompanied us for the day. They love these historic buildings and especially the beautifully landscaped meadows and wooded vistas.

Three Saints

In several places in the New Testament there are sobering passages concerning what John Wesley called the Great Assize, a tribunal before which all human beings must appear. On that day all of us will have to give an account of what we have done in our bodily existence. In one well-known parable( Matthew 25:31-46) we are given a picture of a shepherd separating his sheep from the goats. The nub of the parable is given in the words of Jesus. "Inasmuch as you have done this to one of the least of these my brethren you have done it to me." In this heavenly judgment the standard is simply this; has our life displayed the love of god in our dealings with our neighbour? In the classic languages this love was indicated by the words agape and caritas, words which once were adequately translated by charity. But this word has so many misleading associations that all modern translations use the word love, a word that has equally misleading associations.
In my reading I have come across three examples of Christians whose lives displayed the love of God in its power and attractiveness.
Lord Hailsham writes in his semi-autobiographical book The Door Wherein I Went ; "My grandmother knew the Bible better than anyone I have ever met and she knew it from cover to cover . She was by far the greatest and most loving woman I can remember ever having known."
A better known quotation the one regarding John Wesley. He met the theologian Alexander Knox in Ireland late in his life. Although they differred theologically Knox was able to pen these moving and instructive words;
: "So fine an old man I never saw! The happiness of his mind beamed forth in his countenance. Every look showed how fully he enjoyed 'the gay remembrance of a life well spent.' Wherever Wesley went he diffused a portion of his own felicity. Easy and affable in his demeanor, he accommodated himself to every sort of company, and showed how happily the most finished courtesy may be blended with the most perfect piety. In his conversation we might be at a loss whether to admire most his fine classical taste, his extensive knowledge of men and things, or his overflowing goodness of heart. While the grave and serious were charmed with his wisdom, his sportive sallies of innocent mirth delighted even the young and thoughtless; and both saw in his uninterrupted cheerfulness the excellency of true religion. No cynical remarks on the levity of youth embittered his discourses. In him old age appeared delightful, like an evening without a cloud; and it was impossible to observe him without wishing fervently, 'May my latter end be like his! '"
Lastly I include Southey's appreciation of William Wilberforce. The style is a bit too formal for modern taste and it contains a word not often used these days. Benignity means kind and gentle and given to gracious acts.
"There is a constant hilarity in every look and motion, such a sweetness in all his tones, such a benignity in all his thoughts, words and actions that ... you can feel nothing but love and admiration for a creature so happy and blessed a nature"

About myself and my camera

I am a semi-retired teacher living the London Borough of Havering, an area on the eastern edge of London. In many ways it is an ideal spot; you can get into the City within twenty-five minutes and you are within walking distance of the start of the rolling Essex countryside.
I am seventy-three and live with my wife, Meg. Professionally I have been a secondary teacher in state and also in private, mainly Christan. education. Although I could have retired thirteen years ago I still do several days teaching in our local church school. I help out when children need extra tuition and also I do some work in the French department.
As I have been a christian for many years some of my posts will comprise thoughts and quotes and narratives concerning my faith. I have read widely in christian biography and church history and I would like to share some of the treasures I have found, treasures that are often found in obscure places.
I like photography and travel, so I shall mention and perhaps illustrate those episodes in my experience that I think will be interesting.
Recently I have added a macro lens to my collection. This enables one to get in really close to the subject I am still pretty much an beginner in this new field and I am finding it difficult to hold really steady focus as I take a shot. Anyhow, I shall be bold enough to include a few close-ups I took in my garden.