Friday, 29 October 2010


I have been interested in photography since I was a student in the late fifties.   For the next forty years I owned and used a variety of film cameras, taking both colour and monochrome pictures and slides.  In the past few years, like thousands of others, I have gone over to using digital cameras.  I love its immediacy and the ability to modify the images in Photoshop etc.  But there is one thing missing.  I used to take a lot of monochrome prints, developing and printing them in my primitive dark room with pleasing results; but I find it very much more difficult to achieve the same results in digital.  That is why I still keep my ancient roll-film Rolleiflex.
I have been working hard on producing better black and white prints using digital capture.  Here are some of the results.

An artist in Bruges
                                                A punt on the Cam
                                                    A dome in Budapest
                                                              Canterbury Cathedral        
                                                                    Montmartre Paris 
                                                  Modern Art - Gare du Nord, Paris
                                             Don't mess with me - Audley House

Monday, 25 October 2010

NET Bible

I came across this site by accident a few days ago.  It is a must for anyone doing serious Bible study, either for personal reasons or for academic courses.  It contains a  fresh up-to-date translation together with detailed notes on the Greek or Hebrew original and the problems facing a translator.  Along with the text you can access the Authorized Version if you want to make comparisons , and it has extensive marginal references, notes in the names of biblical characters, and even hymns that are traditionally associated with a particular text, together with immediate access to Strong's concordance and Nave's notes.
It is a sort of theological library on one site.  There are literally tens of thousands of notes, references and theological articles.  It will save you a great deal of searching and bother.
The best way to access the biblical text is to go to; and then go to Net bible, and then go to down load Net bible.  

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


 The famous Guildhall in Faversham, originally built in 1574, busily surrounded by the popular Saturday market.

Last Saturday we visited the ancient market town of Faversham.  This is situated in the North of Kent, just a few miles to the east of Canterbury. Before the coming of the railways in 1844 the town lay on the main coaching route linking London with Dover.  There are  several inns that used to have stables and  busy ostlers and all the  other paraphernalia for tending the tired and hungry travellers.  But times have changed.  The railways, and later the motorways,  have meant that the once-famous town has been by-passed by the hustle and bustle of the modern age.  To the curious traveller this is a bonus.  The town still retains traces of its past; late medieval and Georgian and Victorian buildings abound.

A couple of the former coaching inns to be found in the town.

The town is surrounded by what has been termed the Garden of England.  In the market you buy local apples such as the ever-popular Cox's Orange Pippin and the slightly rarer Egremont Russet as well as locally grown strawberries and raspberries.  Perhaps the most celebrated Kentish crop is the hop, a straggling plant whose fruit, if it can be called that, is used to give a bitter taste to beer.  In fact, nearby, is the oldest brewery in England, the Shepherd Neame Brewery.

No quaint English town would be without its assortment of attractive teashops.  This is photo is of one I found down a short alley off one of the main streets.  Near by is one of those cosy little antique shops that are so common in historic towns.
I saw this strange water pump just behind the Guildhall.  I have no idea about its history

This a typical scene in an English market town.  A couple of locals enjoying some refreshnent outside a  pub - Shepherd Neame's of course.

Monday, 4 October 2010


A few years ago I was invited by my daughter and her husband to spend a week in Tuscany during the school autumn break.  The very word Tuscany seems  to sum images up romantic views of sun drenched olive groves and vineyards,  
and of towns that have changed little since the middle ages.  The towns we visited did not disappoint.  The wide piazzas and the fascinating narrow streets  and splendid architecture are probably unequalled anywhere in the world. The amount of artistic and cultural history in this part of Italy stuns the mind and the imagination. It is no wonder that English aristocrats in preceding centuries always  included Tuscany in their Grand Tours. The only problem we faced was our expectation of a sun drenched landscape.  Our visit coincided with a severe cold snap caused by a wind sweeping down from the Alps. I shivered throughout!

Below is a typical piazza in Tuscany.

I took this shot of an annual street market.  You simply pay an fee on entering and then you can saunter about and taste all the local produce that appeals to you.  Here are some vendors slicing some very tasty salamis for passers by to sample.

Of course, wherever you go you meet the most amazingly elegant Baroque churches, even in the smallest towns.

I was wandering around this interesting town when I saw this view of a typical Tuscan scene - an attractive jumble of roofs all covered with ochre- coloured tiles

This shot is of the world-famous Ponto Vecchio in Florence.  It is lined by shops - mainly jewellers today - but  it was lined by butchers shops in the middle ages. The retreating German army in 1944, when told to dynamite it, refused to destroy this world famous landmark;  instead they blew up the roads approaching the bridge.

In the middle of the main square in Florence is a memorial plaque that few seem to notice.  It marks the spot where in 1498 the Florentine authorities burned alive, with exquisite cruelty, one of their most illustrious sons, Girolamo Savonarola.  
Savonarola was a Dominican monk with a passion to reform the Roman Church of his day.  He was scandalised by the worldliness of the Papacy, where Pope Alexander Sixth lived a life of debauched luxury. He had mistresses and at least five illegitimate sons. He was more akin to a degenerate Roman emperor than to a prince of the church.  Savonarola also attacked  in fiery sermons the lives of the local priests and merchants, who seemed to be more interested in Aristotle and Plato than in the Bible and whose lives were consumed by vanities.
All this was a bit too much for the pleasure-loving Florentines.  He was tried, found guilty and summararily executed and his ashes thrown into the river Arno. 
 It would take another monk, in another country, and  nearly twenty years later,  before a serious Reformation became possible.  Luther  was in Germany, living under princes who sympathised with his message, when he published his theses at Wittenberg. in 1517.  In Italy he could have met with a like fate to Savonarola's

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Judging others

A few months ago I heard a talk given by a South African lady that has remained in my memory.It went something like this:
You have some spare moments and you decide to spend some time at a well-known shopping mall. The weather is fine and you feel pleasantly relaxed.  You meander  around, casually window shopping for the most part, but occasionally buying a few items that  you have on your list.  You gaze for a while in front of a high class jewellers and peer at those fabulously expensive brightly-lit Rolex watches  behind that thick glass.  You sigh with a certain envy and  move on.  Then you wander round Waterstones and buy a popular book that you have seen reviewed in the press: but the experience is tinged with a slight depression as you gaze at those classics that were mentioned at college that you have never got around to reading.  After an hour or so you legs begin to ache and your feet begin to burn.  It's that Starbucks moment.  A nice coffee and a pastry would be very welcome.  Sipping coffee in one of these malls has an added pleasure,  You rest your weary legs, enjoy your well-earned coffee and at the same time watch the world go by. As you relax you often experience a sort of interior critical monologue.   
That smart young man striding purposefully along - he;'s obviously into corporate business and probably takes home an enviable salary.  Then a slightly shabbily attired young woman passes.  She shuffles along and is obviously obese.  Why doesn't she get a grip of herself before she ends up grossly  overweight!  A rather harassed women with two children walks by.  Her children are noisy and obstructive.  You feel that she hasn't a clue how to discipline those two potential brats. That woman, she's obviously in her sixties; she's got all the latest teenage gear.  Talk about mutton dressed up as lamb! And so it goes on.
Probably all of us have experienced this sort of thing in some measure.
But the south African lady went on to say something that is very obvious - such critical and judgemental behaviour is profoundly unchristian. Personally I had to admit that I do it a lot.  As Christians we are  put on this earth not to criticise and to judge, but to love and to pray for those whom God puts across our path.

A little later I bought a book on Amazon on the Desert Fathers, those strange Christians who retired into the wildernesses of Egypt during the third and fourth centuries.  The book contained an anthology of their sayings.  One of them struck me.

 "A certain brother came to Abbot Poemen and said: What am I to do father?  I am in great sadness.  The elder said to him: Never despise anybody, never condemn anybody, never speak evil of anyone , and the Lord will give you peace."

I am still trying digest these words and, even more difficult, to put them into practice.

Saturday, 25 September 2010


Living in England has its definite benefits.  It has spared us from the tyranny of continental dictators such as Napoleon and Hitler yet it is near enough for us to visit France or Belgium or Holland with ease.  This has become especially so since the channel tunnel was opened in 1994.  This was an incredible feat of modern engineering.
Europe has everything - beautiful cities soaked in history and culture, mountainous regions such as the Alps or the Pyrennees, where the young and energetic can enjoy hiking and skiing, and the sandy beaches that stretch along the coast of the Mediterranean.  Also it has been the source and inspiration for all that is technically wonderful in the modern world  Think of anything, from the latest mobile phone to the latest high-speed train, and you will find that the basic knowledge behind these wonders were discovered in Europe.  Other countries have produced many wonderful things, but they have invariably built of the scientific knowledge amassed in Europe during the past four hundred years.
In the past few years my wife and I have visited a lot of these attractive cities.  These short breaks as they are called are very popular in the UK and are relatively cheap.
The pictures below are from the Belgian city of Bruges.  It has many attractive canals and is known as the Venice of the north.   It grew very rich by exploiting the wool-producing areas of Scotland and England.  This wool was made into garments that were eagerly sought throughout Europe
The first picture shows one of the fine bridges that can be seen and the second  shows one of the many street cafes where one relax and enjoy a coffee.  The third shows the novel and attractive means that are used to see the sights of the town

I have several more cities to put on my blog - such as Paris, Florence, Krakov and Budapest- which I shall do when I have a few spare moments.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Pope's visit to Britain

The Pope, Benedict XVI , made an official visit to the UK last week.  It was a visit surrounded by controversy and tight security.  The secularists and the agnostic/ atheist left were strong in their condemnation of the whole event.  True to their fears he spoke out strongly against secularism and the almost universal marginalisation of the Christian faith in Europe. 

Secularism can be summed in a couplet from the poet Swinburne, a poet who wrote in the latter half of the Nineteenth century.

Glory to Man in the highest!  
For Man is the master of things

The Pope spoke eloquently about the need for Christians to bear witness to the glorious truths of the Christian faith.  Even hardened protestants were impressed by his words.

"How much contemporary society needs this witness! How much we need, in the church and in society, witnesses of the beauty of holiness, witnesses of the splendour of truth, witnesses of the joy and freedom born of a living relationship with Christ!
One of the greatest challenges facing us today is how to speak convincingly of the wisdom and liberating power of God's word to a world which all too often sees the gospel as a constriction of human freedom, instead of the truth which liberates our minds and enlightens our efforts to live wisely and well, both as individuals and as members of society.

Let us begin with the sacrifice of the cross. The outpouring of Christ's blood is the source of the church's life. St John, as we know, sees in the water and blood which flowed from our Lord's body the wellspring of that divine life which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit and communicated to us in the sacraments (Jn 19:34; cf Jn 1:7; 5:6-7)."
We rarely hear such sentiments from a senior ecclesiastic in Britain these days.
The visit coincided with seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Britain,  when the nation fought for its very existence in the face of the onslaught from Nazi Germany,  We stood alone in Europe.  Our natural ally, the United States, had not entered the war.  The Nazis had conquered Poland in less than a fortnight and had scythed through northern France in less than ten days.   Their armies were strongly encamped on the coast of France, just over twenty miles from the English coast.  All that stood between us and ignominious defeat was this stretch of water, the timeless eloquence of Churchill and the immense bravery of the pilots of the Royal Airforce.  For weeks a protracted battle raged in the skies above Kent and London.  Sometimes the September sky was filled with more than 400 enemy bombers surrounded by hundreds of spitfires and hurricanes.  In the end the Luftwaffe realised they had bitten off more than they could chew, having lost over one and a half thousand aircraft, and Hitler postponed indefinitely the invasion of these shores. The cost was great: hundreds of young pilots were killed and over 40,000 civilians had perished in and around London,   
I think God spared us.  Not many people realise that King George VI and Churchill had called the nation to prayer and humiliation in May, just before the battle began.
As I finish I would like to pay tribute to the American journalist and broadcaster, Ed. Murrow.  As the bombs were falling, and with great personal courage, Murrow would stand in a doorway or under an arch during the Blitz, and begin with his famous opening phrase This Is London,  and then go on to describe the devastation and death all around him.  His words were eagerly listened to by millions in America.  President Roosevelt honoured him later in these words,
You burned the city of London in our houses and we felt the flames. You laid the dead of London at our doors and we knew that the dead were our dead ... were mankind's dead without rhetoric, without dramatics, without more emotion than needed be. You have destroyed the superstition that what is done beyond 3000 miles of water is not really done at all.
I think he did much to influence American public opinion in Britain's favour.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Israel and Christian Zionism

My eldest daughter  is doing a bold thing.  She is flying out to Israel and meeting some Arab Christians, staying at a hostel run by some nuns in Haifa,  before driving over to the sea of Galilee to meet some friends. She is doing this solo.
Strangely enough very few visitors to Israel ever meet a Palestinian Christian
The words Israel and Zion evoke very strong emotions at the  moment.  There is a very strong movement in the Church called Christian Zionism, which has been deeply impressed by the creation of the state of Israel and which feels that this event will be the trigger that precipitates the end of this age and the coming of Jesus as the promised Messiah.  They feel that the restoration of Israel to its ancient land in 1947 is a remarkable fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.  They interpret the ancient prophecies of the books of Daniel and Revelation as  providing us with exciting insights into the End Times.
Others think very differently.  They feel that the church has replaced Israel in the purposes of God (replacement theology), and they feel that the current support for Israel by the evangelical Church, especially in America, is a recipe for future disaster.
Others feel that the preterist position regarding Daniel and Revelation is the only true one to take.  They say that the force of evil in Revelation is undoubtedly Rome as represented by the monstrous emperor Nero, and that the book has nothing to do with the End Times.  They quote Rev 1:1. which   states that all these events will take place "soon" or "shortly" (translations vary).  These adverbs can hardly be used to refer to events two thousand years later.  They mention that Neron Caesar, when the letters are used as numbers in both Greek and Hebrew,  can be represented by 666.
For those with sufficient leisure and curiosity, all the various details of this often acrimoniousness debate can be accessed  by reading the relevant books by the chief protagonists: David Pawson and Stephen Sizer.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Havering atte Bower Fayre

Last Saturday the nearby village of Havering had its village fair.  The village goes back centuries: it is even mentioned in the Domesday Book.  Kings and Queens of England once lived in the palace which was situated behind the present Church, but all traces of this palace have long since disappeared.  There is a story that Edward the Confessor used to wander through the woods saying his prayers, but one day the nightingales disturbed his devotions and he cursed them!

A local butcher roasted a whole hog to feed the many visitors

The chief musician of the Morris Dancers tunes up

The Morris Dancers

This is a view from the church tower, looking west.  You can see the skyline of the city of London on the horizon.  To the left you can see the roof of the famous Dome.

Monday, 6 September 2010


Last week my wife and I decided to do some touring of the villages in the north of Essex on our bikes.   Unfortunately, Essex has poor image in the popular press and media.  It is looked upon as a rather boring county inhabited by less than intelligent people.  An Essex girl is often portrayed as a mindless bimbo, especially if she comes from Romford or Dagenham.  These are unjust slurs.  The countryside in Essex contains many fine villages and areas of great attractiveness.  Our young people are on the whole as smart and educated as more affluent counties.
We decided to put our bikes on the back of our car and to drive out to the very historic and culturally renowned town of Thaxted.   Probable the finest building to be seen is the ancient parish church,  built over six hundred years ago.  It is an enormous church for such a small town.  The shot below shows the tower as it is seen from the splendid medieval Guild Hall.

We cycled for a few miles NE to the villages of Great Samford and Little Samford, then on to the picturesque village of Finchingfield.  It is justly famous for its attractive green, a pond that attracts an assortment of bustling bird-life, and one or two fine inns, all of which are dominated by the  medieval parish church.  We had cycled a few miles and our legs were ready for a rest and our bodies were  ready for some sustenance.  Just nearby was an inn, The Fox, which had a good selection of meals cooked on the premises

He is the Fox inn, with the diners sitting out in the sunshine, enjoying their food and surrounded by the splendid local scenery.

This is the interior of The Fox.  It is typical of many English country inns.  When I was here several years ago we brought an American who was working in France.  He said, "I'd like to see the inside of an English pub while I'm here."   So this is where I took him.

On the way back to Thaxted we passed through the tiny village of Little Bardfield and saw a thatcher putting a new straw-thatched roof on a cottage.  I got chatting to him and was told that the thatch lasts about twenty-five years before it needs renewing.  There are many thatched-roofed cottages in this part of Essex these days.  This is an excellent thing because this ancient craft was beginning to die out.

These are some very attractive alms-houses near the big church in Thaxted. They go back about three hundred and fifty years.  In the background there is an old windmill.

I hope my friend David will enjoy these photos of his native Essex as he settles into his new life in Redding, California 

Friday, 3 September 2010

"A New Kind of Christianity"

The above heading is the title of a new book by Brian Mclaren, outlining his revolutionary ideas concerning a radically new type of Christianity.
The first few chapters are an attempt to completely rewrite the essential narrative that has always undergirded the message of Christianity.  Gone are the doctrines of Creation and the Fall.  There was no primeval falling away from God.  The usual narrative of the temptation and the fall into sin is interpreted in a totally different manner.  Rather, it is  mankind's stumbling and often rebellious coming-of- age, the gradual transition of the hunter gatherer to a pastoral society.  All the previous ideas are alien importations from the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle.  All the ideas that have been around for two thousand years must go, all the doctrines of the fall, redemption and the notions of heaven and hell .  They are the constructs of the the Greek God Theos, as opposed to the more natural narrative of the Hebrew God Elohim.  This is rather strange: the Greek term Theos is the word for God used hundreds of times in the New Testament.
When asked to define what exactly is the Gospel, Mclaren avoids any text in the epistles and goes back to the words of Jesus in Mark chapter one, "The kingdom of God is at hand". P. 184.  (Note his omission of the the verb repent in the imperative voice) .  The Gospel is defined on the next page in the following terms. "God's new benevolent society is among us" (British readers beware - think not of the Prudential!)  While it is very true that Christianity involves benevolence to all men, I think that it is a one-sided definition. It is too humanistic. He goes on to say that Christian benevolence will bring in peace and justice and the final abolition of poverty and oppression.
I have two criticisms to make.  I think his whole approach is basically  horizontal.  There is very little of the vertical aspects - the divine forgiveness as a result of repentance and faith and the freeing of humans from the power of sin and bondage to demonic forces are omitted.  It is too humanistically optimistic.
There is little in the New Testament about the Gospel bringing peace on earth.  This is usually based on a mistranslation of the verse in Luke where the angels say, "Peace on earth and goodwill to all men."  Luke2:14. All modern translations, based on better manuscripts, read as follows,  "Peace to men on whom his favour rests"  
Peace is not simply and universally dolled out: it is a gift based on grace for those in a right covenant relationship with God.  In fact Jesus said little about societal peace.  Jesus said these disturbing words in Matt 10:34, " I am not come to bring peace but a sword"  He then goes to describe how the gospel will divide families and the closest relationships. This has been true whenever or wherever the gospel is truly preached.  It always divides, it always provokes fierce antagonism   There is something in the Gospel that is profoundly threatening to the human heart. Voltaire was wrong when he said that if there was no god it would be necessary to invent him.  No one in his right mind would invent the Christian God.  He is too disturbing to our selfish independent existence.
The essential problem, one that is glossed over in these new theologies, is the problem of human sin and rebellion.
This a very unpopular topic at present.  The New Testament presents us with a not very optimistic picture.  This is illustrated by a verse in one of the prophets that seems to me to sum up the matter.  "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure" or desperately sick or wicked.  (Jer. 17:9 _NIV)  The only cure is a radical presentation of the Gospel; all other remedies are spiritual elastoplasts.

Note: I feel sorry for poor old Plato, that brilliant but dreamy philosopher who believed that the world was an illusion and that the only realities were the eternal 'forms' existing in heaven and who believed that knowledge was a recapitulation of previous existences.  He is often derided by people who have never read a word of the Republic or any of his dialogues. 

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Post- modern Epistemology - how we know

I was talking a few days ago about post-modern forms of Christianity. They are characterised by a rejection of dogma and what they call unchristian divisiveness. 
 One of the foundational ideas about these days is about relativism.  Thinkers no longer believe in any absolute certainties.  Absolute truth is a myth. It is an intolerable concept.  There is an atmosphere about that is summed up in the ideas of Lyotard (nothing to do with dance or gymnastics) and his rejection of all grand, all-explaining theories (meta-narratives) and all the so-called certainties that were the fruits of the Enlightenment, whether in science or religion or philosophy.  This modernism is out of date and needs to be supplanted by dialogue and tolerance.  The old certainties are gone.
These sceptical ideas go back a long time. There is nothing new under the sun.  The Greek sceptics at the time of Plato are well known.
The two supreme English examples are Berkeley and Hume, both of whom lived at the time of Wesley.  Berkeley was a sincere Christian who published books and dialogues concerning idealism. This doctrine says that we know only what is going on in our own minds. We can be certain of nothing else.  We cannot know whether this bundle of perceptions in our heads refer to any objective reality.  His Latin motto was esse est percipi - existence is based on perception.  If an object is no longer perceived it no longer exists. When challenged by this question, "If an object ceases to be perceived by someone does it cease to exist?",  he replied, "No, it still exists because it is perceived by the mind of God" 

Ronald Knox, a Catholic wit of the last century, wrote an amusing limerick on Berkeley's idealism

There was a young man who said "God
Must find it exceedingly odd
To think that the tree
Should continue to be
When there's no one about in the quad."
"Dear Sir: Your astonishment's odd;
am always about in the quad.
And that's why the tree
Will continue to be
Since observed by, Yours faithfully, God."
Of course, most of us endowed with a modicum of common sense, will treat all this as a lot of intellectual nonsense.  Dr Johnson, a contemporary of Berkeley, when told of his theory that matter didn't really exist, shouted loudly and said, "I refute it thus!" and kicked a nearby pillar with some force!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Christianity and other faiths

In my blog concerning the emerging church I made a point in paragraph 9 about Brian Mclaren's thoughts on what to advise converts, say from Islam or Hinduism, to do after their conversions.  What I wrote seemed a bit too radical.  I shall insert a quotation from one of Mclaren's books to illustrate what I wrote.
He writes:  
I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish contexts … rather than resolving the paradox via pronouncements on the eternal destiny of people more convinced by or loyal to other religions than ours, we simply move on … To help Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, and everyone else experience life to the full in the way of Jesus (while learning it better myself), I would gladly become one of them whoever they are, to whatever degree I can, to embrace them, to join them, to enter into their world without judgment but with saving love as mine has been entered by the Lord

Monday, 23 August 2010

The emerging Church

There is a growing awareness that a new sort of church is emerging onto the scene in Europe and America. It is usually called either the emerging or emergent church.  It is radically different in many ways from the traditional Anglican or Reformed or Charismatic churches.
I have decided to write a few numbered paragraphs on the subject and later I will go into  more detail in other posts.
1.  It has its roots in a dissatisfaction with normal church life and experience.
2.  It is almost totally made up of white  middle-class Christians with a good educational background.  It doesn't seem to appeal to the marginalised or ethnic minorities
3.  It is infinitely varied in belief and practice.  Some congregations use armchairs in a circle and use large screen televisions and have varied rituals and acts culled from many sources, including liturgies from orthodox sources.  Others are more traditional in their worship.  
4.  They all say they are on a spiritual journey into an exciting and rather unknown future.  Brian Mclaren, the main writer to emerge from this new form of Christianity, writes,  "It is a quest for new ways to believe and new ways to live and serve faithfully in the way of Jesus, a quest for a new kind of Christianity".
5.  It seems to be influenced by the philosophic theories and ideas by two French intellectuals, Derrida and Lyotard.  These writers majored on literary deconstruction and post-modernism.
6.  There is a deep mistrust of propositional statements.   The citing of doctrinal propositions such as,  "Jesus is the only way to the Father",  is looked upon as too narrowly restrictive for this modern age.  (This suspicion of doctrinal propositions is fully brought out in Hans Kung's book,  Infallibility.)  There is a rejection of all meta-narratives.  A meta-narrative is any all-inclusive system of religious or philosophic belief that provides all the answers, whether it be Marxism or Islam.  Life as we know it is too varied and problematic to be boxed in this way. Thus this movement has little place for the  doctrinal statements or historic creeds of the Church.  All is in a state of flux.
7.  There is a total rejection of all end-times theories or eschatologies and all prejudices concerning the lives of gays and lesbians.. They should totally and lovingly accepted.
8.  There is very little emphasis on the corruption and deviousness of the human heart.  
9.  Other religions should be tolerated and respected. When a Muslim or a Buddhist decides to follow Jesus he or she can still stay in the bosom of these faiths without fear of compromise.
10.  Though the movement does not seem to be interested in Biblical higher criticism and its praxis is totally different, the mood and moral stance seem to me to be very similar to the liberal theology that swept the churches in the early part of the last century

Friday, 13 August 2010


Meg and I spent a short break in the city of Amsterdam in Holland.  It's a lively, bustling energetic city full of interesting sites and historical associations.  We stayed at a hotel just outside the city in the Old South area, an area considerable prosperity.
As anybody who knows Holland will tell you, the best and easiest way of getting around is by bike.  The city has over half a million in all!  Nearly everyone, young and old, and rich and poor,  uses the bike for all short and medium distance journeys. In fact, you are more likely to be knocked down by a bike than a car here!  Everyone seems so slim and energetic, though  piles of chips (fries) dipped in mayonnaise are very popular! 
Outside our hotel is a rank of bikes and my wife is trying to understand the two sorts of locks used in Holland.

I don't think you will see anywhere else a groom ferrying his bride to the  town hall to be married - no posh car but a bike. The photo was taken in the main square in the nearby town of Harlem.

Near the hotel is the famous Vondel Park, the biggest and most popular in Amsterdam.  It's a favourite place for joggers and all those, like ourselves, who just meander through on our bikes and enjoy a stop at one of the riverside cafes.  In Amsterdam you are never far from a canal or a river.
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Below is a typical scene in the city.  Some young people sit by the edge of a canal, chilling out in the sunshine and enjoying a snack, surrounded by cycles of course!

This is a typical scene taken from one of the many bridges over a major canal

One day we took a train to the famous town of Haarlem.  The photo below is the famous jewellers owned by the Ten Boom family, that was used in the war to hide Jews from the Gestapo.  The Hiding Place, a film and a book, describes the amazing life of Corrie Ten Boom.  The whole of her family were betrayed and perished in Ravensbruck, except Corrie, who was released for some unknown reason.  She spent the rest of her life wandering from country to country telling the Gospel wherever she went.

The picture below is a shot of the magnicent Great Square of the historic city of Haarlem.

One of the most visited areas of Amsterdam is the Red Light district.  In it everything goes - drug taking, lots of sex shops, live sex shows and strings of shop fronts where scantily clad girls sit in front of windows offering themselves to anyone passing by. For years the town elders have been happy to sponsor this display of tolerance and so-called sophistication.   But things have started to change.  They became aware that nearly all the sex workers were from Eastern Europe or Africa.  It was obvious that people traffickers and foreign pimps were using psychological and physical force to run the area and to keep the girls in virtual slavery..  They are trying to deal with the problem, but it is very difficult to get witness evidence that will stand up in court.  
There is a Christian group known as the Scarlet Cord trying to befriend and help the girls involved.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


A few weeks ago I was watching a U tube extract when the internet suddenly stalled,  A few minutes later a knock came at the door and a workman from the water board said, "I'm sorry - I've severed your cable."  From that moment on I had no phone, no TV and no internet.  Hence the large gap in communication.  Fortunately all has now been restored!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

A glimpse of England

I have decided to place a few shots of various places that I have visited in England in the past few years.  It will give you a flavour of the variety of scenery you can find on a visit to our country.   
The shot below is of the choir of perhaps the most famous cathedral in England.  This part of Canterbury cathedral was built by the Normans, as can be seen in the rounded arches.

This is a shot of one of the splendid stain-glass windows.
 During the war the German Luftwaffe tried to destroy the ancient building, but a strong wind carried the bombs away to the east of the town.  

The shots below are of a sleepy Victorian seaside resort to  the north-east of London - Aldeburgh

Below is one of my favourite Bed and Breakfast venues.  It is found near the market town of Framlingham in Suffolk.  

Last year we went  for a week to the coast of Northumbria.  The coastline is superb and the towns and islands are full of historical and religious interest.

This shot is of the quaint village of Clapham in the glorious Yorkshire Dales, where the famous scientist Michael Faraday was born. 

Wherever you go in England you can usually find a good pub or inn where you can chill out and refresh your tired limbs..   Many of them are hundreds of years old.

One of life's greatest pleasures is to punt along the Cam and under the Bridge of Sighs at Cambridge!

Last of all: my wife looking out on a typical valley in Wales.