Friday, 31 October 2008

BBC Bias Exposed

From the Christian Institute

The BBC has, finally, taken action over the lewd behaviour of two high-paid presenters. But when lewd remarks were made about Christ and his followers, the BBC didn’t budge an inch.

Jerry Springer the Opera

In 2005 the BBC’s decision to broadcast Jerry Springer the Opera sparked national outrage and led to over 60,000 complaints to the Beeb – twice the number received over the Brand-Ross affair.

The show contained hundreds of swear words and featured God the Father, Jesus Christ, Mary, Adam and Eve and Satan as warring guests on a special edition of the Jerry Springer show – staged in Hell.

It included a portrayal of Jesus as a childish, foul-mouthed woman-beater with a sexual predilection for human excrement and who declared himself to be “a bit gay”. It also featured an attempt by Eve to masturbate Jesus.

God the Father was called the ‘fascist tyrant on high’ and was presented as a reflection of an over-weight bisexual from earlier in the show. Christian evangelism was ridiculed by a spoof advert with people singing the words, “Give in to Jesus! Or alternatively die a horrible death.”

The then deputy leader of the Conservatives, Michael Ancram, said the BBC had a duty to exercise caution. Hundreds of people gathered outside various BBC buildings across the nation to protest against the show.

The broadcaster faced two unsuccessful High Court legal actions – one a private prosecution for blasphemy and one arguing that the BBC had broken its own taste and decency rules and discriminated against Christians.

Ofcom launched an investigation, but ruled that the BBC did not break any taste and decency codes.

The BBC’s Director General, Mark Thompson, defended the broadcast saying that there was nothing blasphemous in the show and that the screening was preceded with strong warnings that it could cause offence.

No action was taken against anyone involved in the broadcast. A BBC Radio 3 producer resigned in protest at the corporation’s stance, saying it offended his Christian beliefs. Antony Pitts quit after watching the show, saying: “The blasphemy was far, far worse than even the most detailed news reports had led me to believe.”

Brand-Ross ‘prank’ calls

On Saturday 18 October, Russell Brand’s BBC Radio 2 show was broadcast featuring him and his guest, Jonathan Ross, leaving crude telephone messages on the answer phone of 78-year-old Andrew Sachs, who played ‘Manuel’ in hit show, Fawlty Towers.

The messages were about Brand’s sexual exploits with his granddaughter. Brand and Ross joked that Mr Sachs may kill himself over the revelations. The show was pre-recorded and then broadcast to the nation with the approval of BBC editors and producers.

When the ‘stunt’ was reported in the press there was a surge in complaints to the BBC. The number of complaints currently stands at over 30,000.

The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have both demanded action from the broadcaster.

Commentators said the public outrage was not just a reaction to the two presenters, it was something deeper – people were fed up with plunging standards at the BBC.

Ofcom – the broadcasting watchdog – is investigating the incident.

Director General, Mark Thompson, issued an unreserved apology and suspended the pair before entering a series of emergency meetings to investigate the matter.

Brand later resigned over the affair, as did the controller of Radio 2, Lesley Douglas. The BBC issued a “final warning” to Ross and suspended him without pay for 12 weeks.

Thompson announced a clamp down, saying there must be “tight discipline” across the corporation and that “nothing like this must ever happen again”.

Why the difference?

When Ofcom rejected complaints against Jerry Springer the Opera it said it had to balance protection from harmful and offensive material with freedom of expression.

The watchdog said: “Freedom of expression is particularly important in the context of artistic works, beliefs, philosophy and argument.” No doubt this will be used by some to justify the difference in treatment.

But many Christians will feel the difference is the latest in a series of incidents which reveal an anti-Christian bias at the publicly-funded broadcaster.

Last month, before the Brand-Ross saga blew up, Mark Thompson admitted that the BBC treats Christianity less sensitively than other religions.

The BBC’s own Andrew Marr has described the corporation as “not impartial or neutral. It’s a publicly funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people. It has a liberal bias.”

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Don't Worry 11 - Get your Thinking Straight (A)

I'm still thinking about why Christians have no need (or right!) to worry, and how they can avoid worrying...

11. Get your thinking straight: think about the things that matter

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

Don’t dwell on the problem. If you fill your mind and thoughts with the things that really matter then (a) you'll think less about your worries and (b) it will help you to get things in perspective. We’ve all been caught out by someone saying something like, "Don’t think about yellow tigers walking down Cricklewood Lane"—and that's immediately all we can think about!

It’s no good just telling yourself you mustn’t worry—that will only cause you to worry more. But if, on the other hand, you think about God’s word, about the blessings that God has brought your way, about the kindnesses that people have shown you, about the beauty and wonder of his creation, and other things that are noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable, you’ll find that a great help.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Secular Bigots

In his sermon on Sunday morning, my pastor, Gary Brady, made mention of the rise of secular bigotism.

Definitions from Dictionary.com:
Secular: (1) Of or pertaining to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred; temporal: secular interests. (2) Not pertaining to or connected with religion.
Bigot: A person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.

As an example, he quoted Anthony Flew on Richard Dawkins. Professor Flew, a life-long atheist, created some stir a few years ago by espousing deism. He has criticized Richard Dawkins for inadequate research and poor reasoning: "An academic attacking some ideological position which he believes to be mistaken must of course attack that position in its strongest form. This Dawkins does not do in the case of Einstein and his failure is the crucial index of his insincerity of academic purpose and therefore warrants me in charging him with having become, what he has probably believed to be an impossibility, a secularist bigot." (quoted in The Telegraph).

It was interesting to come across another example of such bigotism only today. Angus Kennedy, a Christian geologist, has written an open letter to the editor of Earth Science Ireland protesting the ill-informed and hostile attitude that were expressed in three articles that appeared in the Spring 2008 issue. The relevant paragraphs from his letter are:

In talking with you previously, I said that I was a Christian and a creationist. I became a Christian before I went to Glasgow University where I studied geology for four years (1975–79). I recall my first palaeontology lecture given by Dr James Lawson. His opening statement was to tell us that ‘though we knew the Bible said that “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”, well, it didn’t happen like that!’ This upset me somewhat, but I accepted what was being taught, as at that time I didn’t know science based creation apologetics existed. Surprisingly, at the end of my studies I had not lost my faith, but I had rationalised the concept of long ages and evolution with the Genesis account by reasoning that God must have used evolution as a means of creation. This was the situation until I came across a copy of Whitcomb and Morris’s ‘The Genesis Flood’ five years later. I found their arguments in favour of a young-earth creation compelling. Since then, I have followed the subject with great interest.

Within the issue in question, Paul Lyle’s comment in his Chairman’s remarks ‘Just when we think that things cannot possibly get worse, along comes news that there is an active lobby putting forward a creationist view of the origin of the Causeway lavas–and wanting equal status with the scientific explanation in any future Visitor’s centre. Elsewhere in this issue you will read what we think about this!’ set the partisan tone against creationism which was greatly amplified in the two other articles.

In the Stratigraphic Commission’s article, the openly hostile comment, ‘The young-Earth creationists’ view of Earth history is quite simply wrong. It is a manifest untruth.’ belies their sop, ‘It is no attack on Christianity … to say that the Earth and its rocks stretch back to ages far greater than those claimed by the young-Earth creationists.’

Their view that had Archbishop Ussher ‘lived today and had access to the wealth of contemporary scientific knowledge, he would have seen the Biblical texts in a very different light.’ could just as easily be said of Darwin–had he lived today and had access to the wealth of contemporary scientific knowledge (e.g., still no (undisputed) missing links, nor any sign of finely graduated series of fossils linking phyla; so-called living fossils showing no change over the assumed millions of years hiatus between their fossil occurrence and the present; and developments in microbiology which show the sheer complexity of the cell), he too would almost certainly have seen his theory in a different light!

Has the Commission no thought for taxpayers such as me when they opine, ‘We do not question the right of creationists to hold or expound their views. We do, however, profoundly disagree with any suggestion that creationist views should be given significant space in publicly funded museums, visitor centres, school science lessons or science textbooks.’ Is it not somewhat ironic that Christian taxpayers find themselves in the position of funding atheistic evolutionary propaganda, whilst at the same time being denied any opportunity of publically putting forward their views–is this not censorship in another guise?

Tom Mason’s opinion piece, written to counter his perceived ‘local shift towards irrationality.’ descends rapidly to the level of a diatribe. I am surprised that such an ill-thought-out article could come from a man in his position and be printed. His statement ‘There remains, however, in the spectrum of both Christianity and Islam, fundamentalist minorities seeking the conversion of everyone to their belief systems, sometimes still advocating alarming violence to do so (the Inquisition and Jihad). I see this as a scary consequence of irrationality, and a stubborn lack of acceptance that others are equally entitled to hold diametrically opposing views to theirs’ unjustifiably conflates creationists with the Inquisition and Jihad, and appears to impugn creationists by implying that they would use force against those of opposing views. Is Mr Mason’s polemic not an indication that he too holds a stubborn lack of acceptance of others?

In expressing his view that science is ‘reason versus irrationality’, and belittling creationists as being both irrational and ignorant, and who are also deluded by a ‘god-given belief that [creationists] know better than others’, he appears to arrogate to himself an unassailable ├╝ber-knowledge which he denies to the Christians’ omniscient Creator God (whom he also denigrates as ‘a god of ignorance’). That his knowledge is not certain nor unassailable is given away by his comments regarding scientific knowledge–it ‘changes on a daily basis’, and, ‘we place before our audiences’ [sic] scientific facts and try to explain them as best we can’. He frequently cites the need to infer and interpret the facts (i.e., trust me, I’m a scientist).

The putative evolution of the eye is more involved than suggested by Mason, with no clear path from simple to complex. Amongst evolutionists, the matter is so murky and involved that some suggest that eyes independently evolved at least 40 and as many as 65 times! The biochemistry of even the simplest conceivable ‘light-sensitive spot’ is going to be already horrendously (and probably irreducibly) complex, and no-one has come close to suggesting a credible biochemical pathway for its alleged evolution.

Mason rounds off his bald assertions regarding eye evolution with the non-sequitur that creationists can be easily countered as they know nothing about the topic! I beg to disagree. Creation science articles that I read have been written by bona-fide scientists, many with multiple degrees, and in many disciplines–e.g., biology, biochemistry, astronomy, mathematics, physics, geology etc.–and yes, ophthalmic science in the case of the eye’s alleged evolution. They do know what they are talking about.

It is a travesty for Mason to try to impugn creationists with his offensive assertion that ‘The god-given belief that you know better than others leads not only to intellectually impoverished intelligent designers but also to the aberrant psychology of jihadists and suicide bombers. They are two faces of the same coin …’

I wish to keep this letter as brief as possible, so I have avoided lengthy treatments of the scientific evidences against evolution and for creation. Creationist arguments are certainly cogent and not as misrepresented in the articles in question. An open-minded look at the creationist position on the web would confirm this. I can recommend CreationOnTheWeb.com and a browse through their FAQs section.

I will mention that in the years since I left university, a number of things that I was taught as axiomatic appear to have been overturned, for example:
* ‘High-grade’ metamorphic minerals have been found forming within hydrothermal piles on the ocean floor–not scores of kilometres down in the crust.
* Large-grained plutonic bodies can cool quickly–grain size is not dependent on cooling time, but on other factors, such as number of crystal nucleation centres and volatiles.
* Fine sediments and clay laminae can be laid down rapidly from flowing water–mudstone and shale do not require still waters and long periods to accumulate.
* Graptolites are not extinct!
* I have read the late Professor Derek Ager’s book ‘The New Catastrophism’–he recognised that sediments world-wide were laid down rapidly in catastrophic events, not in the uniformitarian slow and steady way postulated by Hutton and Lyell. All well and good from a creationist world-wide Noachian deluge point of view, as he had to grudgingly admit, but he couldn’t let go of millions of years and was thus reduced to positing that the time not seen in the actual rock layers was represented by untold periods of quiescence between layers. Layers that appeared for all intents and purposes to have been laid down contiguously.

Having studied both uniformitarian evolutionary geology and creation science apologetics, I am satisfied that the geological facts fit the young-earth creation model best. I consider that the eye-witness account given by the God of the Christian Bible (‘the only true God’, and his incarnate Son Jesus Christ–who is ‘the way, the truth and the life’) gives a more logical basis for the order we see in creation and purpose to our lives. We may look at the same facts–the rocks and fossils–but our underlying presuppositions are different, therefore our interpretations are different. For evolutionists to insist that they have science on their side is for them to ignore the difference between operational science–dealing with measuring tangible things in the here and now (how the world works if you like) and historical science–trying to find out what happened in times past when none of us were present. The first employs fundamental principles and repeatable measurements and experiments and has led to the breadth of modern technology we see today. The second relies on extrapolation of measurements (no matter how exact these measurements are), constructs (like the geological column), assumptions, and interpretation (no matter how scanty the evidence). Evolutionists would say I have faith in some imaginary being I can not see, ditto the evolutionist–he has faith in his interpretation of the remains of material things he did not witness at first hand–how they were formed, how they lived, how they died, how they were preserved, or the time-frame involved.

May I suggest that rather than reinforce an exclusive and singularly evolutionary point of view, why not open up your publication to debate with creationist scientists and test their mettle?

Finally, in defence of myself against evolutionists, I am not ignorant, violently threatening, peddling untruths, not a naked ape, nor evolved.

(Full article: CreationOnTheWeb.com)

Monday, 11 August 2008

I Can't Believe It's Not Biblical

Those Pyromaniacs have discovered a brilliant new product...

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Don't Worry 10 - Count Your Blessings

It's been a while! Here's another way the Christian can avoid worrying.

10. Count your blessings

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. (Johnson Oatman)

This isn’t one of my favourite hymns, but there is truth in what it says. Concentrating on God’s goodness and all that he’s done, helps us to realise how little we really have to worry about.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

We have wonderful blessings to look forward to in heaven, but even in this world we’ve known wonderful providences from God. When you’re tempted to worry, spend some time thinking about how good he’s been to you up to now (even despite, perhaps, your previous worries!)

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Don't Worry 9 - Be Thankful in All Circumstances

Here's another suggestion for avoiding worry.

9. Be thankful in all circumstances

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. ... Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:17-20)

If I'm worrying then it's unlikely that I'm being thankful to God for his gracious gifts to me.  On the other hand, being thankful will help to drive out worry.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Monopoly Cards

A couple of days ago I searched the internet in vain for a complete list of the cards used in the traditional London version of the Monopoly board game. So, as a service to the public, here they are:

Community Chest Cards

Movement
Advance to "Go"
Go back to Old Kent Road
Go to jail. Move directly to jail. Do not pass "Go". Do not collect £200

Taxes, Fines, etc.
Pay hospital £100
Doctor's fee. Pay £50
Pay your insurance premium £50

Receipts
Bank error in your favour. Collect £200
Annuity matures. Collect £100
You inherit £100
From sale of stock you get £50
Receive interest on 7% preference shares: £25
Income tax refund. Collect £20
You have won second prize in a beauty contest. Collect £10
It is your birthday. Collect £10 from each player

Other
Get out of jail free. This card may be kept until needed or sold
Pay a £10 fine or take a "Chance"

Chance Cards

Movement
Advance to "Go"
Go to jail. Move directly to jail. Do not pass "Go". Do not collect £200
Advance to Pall Mall. If you pass "Go" collection £200
Take a trip to Marylebone Station and if you pass "Go" collect £200
Advance to Trafalgar Square. If you pass "Go" collect £200
Advance to Mayfair
Go back three spaces

Taxes, Fines, etc.
Make general repairs on all of your houses. For each house pay £25. For each hotel pay £100
You are assessed for street repairs: £40 per house, £115 per hotel
Pay school fees of £150
"Drunk in charge" fine £20
Speeding fine £15

Receipts
Your building loan matures. Receive £150
You have won a crossword competition. Collect £100
Bank pays you dividend of £50

Other
Get out of jail free. This card may be kept until needed or sold

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Stem Cells

I have rather belatedly come across this perceptive post about the recent debate on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

This week, Britain's Labour Party made remarkable progress in securing the country's reputation as the most scientifically illiterate and morally obtuse hamlet in the Western world. At the urging of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, both houses of Parliament defeated amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill that would have outlawed the creation of "chimerical embryos."

... Whether from honest ignorance or blatant dishonesty, Brown attempts to convince the public that chimerical research is not only necessary but vital for biomedical research.

Since adult stem cells are "already being used in treatments for conditions including leukemia and heart disease," explains the Prime Minister, "scientists are close to the breakthroughs that will allow embryonic stem cells to be used to treat a much wider range of conditions, especially those affecting the brain and nervous system."

While it is true that adult stem cells have been used in treatments for over 70 diseases and [conditions], it is patently false that "scientists are close" to breakthroughs using embryonic stem cells. The question, as framed by Professor Sherley [from the Program in Regenerative Biology and Cancer, Boston], is not "How soon could human embryonic stem cells be used for cures?" but rather, "Could human embryonic stem cells ever be used for cures?"

Answer: "When the errant biological properties of human embryonic stem cells are considered, it is difficult to foresee them ever being used directly as cures in children or adults...figuring out how to use human embryonic stem cells directly by transplantation into patients is tantamount to solving the cancer problem."

In other words, embryonic stem cell research will start producing cures as soon as we figure out how to cure cancer.

And stem cells derived from cloned embryos are even less useful. Even the New England Journal of Medicine backhandedly admits that such research is likely to be fruitless, because the "technical difficulties and ethical complexities of this approach [cloned human embryonic stem cells] were always likely to render it impractical."

... In clinging to their willful ignorance, Brown and his Labour Party are attempting to deny the reality of bioethics and bioscience. But as Aldous Huxley once observed, "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored."

The full article is here.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Don't Worry 8 - Do What's Right (However You Feel)

8. Do what is right however you’re feeling, including your everyday duties.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)

Our calling is to work hard at whatever we’re called to do. Not only is this a command of Christ, but if we do it, then we’ll find it takes our mind off our worries.

You can't wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time. (Pat Schroeder)

As a cure for worrying, work is better than whiskey. (Thomas A. Edison)

Friday, 23 May 2008

The Ants Are Coming


A flood of voracious ants is heading straight for Houston, taking out computers, radios and even vehicles in their path. Even the Johnson Space Center has called in extermination experts to keep the pests out of their sensitive and critical systems.

The ants have been causing all kinds of trouble in five Texas counties in and around the Gulf Coast. Because of their sheer numbers, the ants are short circuiting computers in homes and offices, and knocking systems offline in major businesses. When IT personnel pry the affected computers open, they find the machines loaded with thousands of ant bodies.

"These ants are raising havoc," said Roger Gold, professor of entomology at Texas A&M University in College Station. "They're foraging for food and they'll go into any space looking for it. In the process, they make their way into sensitive equipment."

The ants have been dubbed Crazy Rasberry ants after Tom Rasberry, owner of Budget Pest Control in Pearland, Texas. He first tackled this particular type of ant back in 2002. Since then, the problem has only escalated.

Rasberry said the ants have caused a lot of trouble for one Texas chemical company in particular. Not wanting to name the company, he said the ants shorted out three different computers that were running a pipeline that brought chemicals into the plant. The ants took down two computers last year and one in 2006, affecting flow in the pipeline each time.

"I think they go into everything and they don't follow any kind of structured line," said Rasberry. "If you open a computer, you would find a cluster of ants on the motherboard and all over. You'd get 3,000 or 4,000 ants inside and they create arcs. They'll wipe out any computer."

The Johnson Space Center called in Rasberry a month or two ago in an attempt to keep the ants out of their facilities. Too late. Raspberry said he's found three colonies at the NASA site, but all have been small enough to control.

'With the computer systems they have in there, it could devastate the facility," said Rasberry. "If these ants got into the facility in the numbers they have in other locations, well, it would be awful. I've been in this business for 32 years and this is unlike anything I've ever seen. Anything. When you bring in entomologists from all over the United States and they're in shock and awe, that shows you what it's like."

The Johnson Space Center referred all questions about the ants to Rasberry.

The ants, which are tiny and reddish, aren't native to Texas. Officials believe they came off a ship from the Caribbean, said Paul Nester, a program specialist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. They were first spotted about six years ago. Gold said in the last few years they've spread in a radius of about 50 miles. And now they're moving into Houston, the fourth-largest city in the country.

"Fifty miles might not seem like a lot until you realize they're moving into Houston," said Gold. "It could really affect a lot of people's lives."

A big problem here, noted Nester, is how quickly their numbers are multiplying.

A queen fire ant, long a problem in Texas, can lay as many as 1,000 eggs a day, he said. The Crazy Rasberry ants are thought to be as prolific. However, an ant mound normally has one queen. The new ants have many queens so they're able to multiply their ranks that much more quickly. They also don't go to the trouble of building ant hills. They simply nest under anything they can find -- a log, a tire or a pet's water bowl -- and then they quickly move on as they spread further into the state.

Nester said the ants swarmed into trucks at a shipping company, shorting out the radios and even the vehicles themselves.

Gold said the ants got into an engine compartment at a sewage treatment plant and shorted out the pumps so they couldn't move the sewage out. He added that they've also overrun a subdivision and caused a lot of electrical damage to houses there.

Part of the problem is that exterminators have found it nearly impossible to kill the ants. Oh, you can kill some of them - the first wave, maybe. However, there are so many more ants coming behind them, that the first wave falls dead in the insecticide and the subsequent waves merely walk on the dead bodies, keeping themselves out of the poison and safe from harm.

Gold warned people not to spray pesticide inside their computers and to simply call in the professionals to prevent mixing up poisonous concoctions or storing the potentially harmful partly used insecticides.

Originally posted on the Forum On Risks To The Public In Computers And Related Systems, quoting from IT Business.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Administration: Better than Tongues

Being something of a process-geek myself, and knowing something of the charismatic mind-set, I was amused by this piece from Team Tominthebox:

Church planningST. LOUIS, MO - Riverside Spirit-Filled Assembly is fairly typical as far as charismatic churches go. If you attend one of their services, you will experience lively worship, Bible reading, testimonies, and a happy church family. You will see a choir, praise team, ushers, and several pastors. They even have Children's Church. Things will also be very well-organized.

There is one thing, according to the Apostle Daniel Morris, senior pastor at Riverside, that does make his church unique. Morris told TBNN, "As with most charismatic churches, we heartily believe in the second blessing of the Holy Spirit. However, at our church this does not take the form of speaking in tongues. At Riverside, our second blessing comes in the form of administration."

Fellow Apostle Samuel Baker informed us, "We take I Corinthians 12:28 very seriously. Paul writes, 'And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.' We believe the word of God is inspired and infallible. In our church, the Spirit always manifests Himself in administrative gifts."

When you first walk into the church, the leadership and organization stand out. From the moment you arrive on the scene in the parking lot, someone is there to assist you. You are immediately provided with a map, calculator, and pager. No questions are left unanswered. No detail is too small to be ignored. When we at TBNN attended Riverside for a service, we noticed that all aspects of the performance ran very smoothly. Even the puppet ministry and youth drama teams performed seamlessly.

According to Apostle Gregory Nixon, "When people first join our church, they appear a little confused and don't always know what is going on. However, after a few weeks they are filled with the Spirit and it is amazing to see what happens. They begin giving orders to people they hardly know. They begin scheduling meetings and forming committees. They begin organizing every little thing that they see. No matter what ministry they are a part of, all the details are taken care of. We may not be the most spontaneous church around, but we sure have a chain of command. No detail is too small for us. You should see our bulletins."

Apostle Morris admitted to one problem, "We do have a few people in our church who remain disorganized. We keep praying for them to get saved."

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Please Stop

The RSPCA reported this week that some 7,300 pets were abandoned in the UK last year. This made headline news in a number of media outlets.

The Daily Mail, reporting on a recent inquest, rightly expressed horror that a baby girl was mauled to death by two Rottweilers.

Stop!But where are the headlines about the ongoing killing of our nation’s children?

Why isn't there more outrage about the way we treat our unborn? They are dismembered and poisoned, subjected to all kinds of humiliation and torture, before being killed.

Last Sunday, 27th April 2008, saw the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act coming into force in the UK. It serves as a marker of a sad and appalling period in British History.

During that time, some 6,500,000 – six and a half MILLION – babies have been killed. In 2006 alone (2007 figures are not yet available) there were over 200,000 abortions. That's over 500 a day. Day in, day out.

Some 97% of these were because of potential "injury to the physical or mental health" of the mothers. This broad category, widely misused and misapplied, effectively means that abortions are more or less available on demand.

Today we hear the disturbing news that more and more 12 year olds are being given abortions.

And there are renewed calls to allow “abortion on request” by ending the need for doctors to give permission for a termination.

All this in the name of sexual freedom; all this because women (and men) are unwilling to control the way they behave or to face up to the consequences of their own actions.

When will the killing stop?

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Night Crossing - Teaser 7

There are 4 people who need to cross a footbridge at night. The bridge can only bear the weight of 2 of them at once. They only have one torch between them and it is too dark to cross without it. If two of them cross together they have to travel at the rate of the slowest person. One of them takes 1 minute to cross, another of them takes 2 minutes, the third takes 7 minutes and the last 10 minutes.

What's the quickest way for them all to cross?

Hint

The easiest way of tackling this is to list out all the possibilities systematically.


Answer

Sorry, I'm not going to tell you the asnwer to this one! Suffice it to say that if you've come up with 21 minutes, that's wrong. It's possible for them all to cross in less than 20 minutes.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Flash Explosion

HEMA
I'm not really sure what this is all about, but I enjoyed it anyway. Go to http://producten.hema.nl for the whole story.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

40 Years On - Where Are We Now?

If you are in the vicinity of Childs Hill Baptist Church next Saturday (19th April), do come to what promises to be an informative and challenging talk by John Ling on recent trends in bioethics.

This year sees the 40th anniversary of the Abortion Act coming into force in the UK. Is 200,000 abortions each year in England and Wales too many?John Ling

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (2008) looks set to legalise human-animal hybrids, fatherless children, saviour siblings and “family balancing”. Is this a step too far?

And what about the “old” topics like euthanasia, IVF, cloning and surrogacy?

What should Christians think about these issues? What should we be doing?

Dr John R Ling will tackle these questions. He will construct a robust bioethical framework based on principles derived from the Bible — leading to the proper response: principled compassion.

More details.

Monday, 31 March 2008

Avoiding Worry 7 - Help Others

Here's another suggestion to avoid worrying as a Christian.

7. Help Others

Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:33-40)

Looking after the needs of others is not only another command that we should obey, it will also help you to take your mind off your problems and your needs.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill

Inspired by Exiled Preacher, I have just written to my MP, Dr Rudi Vis, about the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill which is making its way through Parliament:

Dear Dr Vis,

I am writing to you about the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill which I understand is soon to be debated in the House of Commons.

Please will you consider voting against the proposals on additional embryo research and for any amendment that would lead to the reduction in the abortion limit?

The Bill raises some serious ethical issues and I find some of its aspects very disturbing.

Researchers should not be allowed to work only on the basis of what is possible in the laboratory without regard to ethical principles. The unique dignity of human life should not be undermined by allowing the production of human/animal embryos for the extraction of stem cells. This is especially the case now that scientists are discovering the potential of adult stem cells, culled from human skin. See, for example, http://www.newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/scientists-reprogram-human-skin-44173.aspx. Money should be invested in developing the benefits of this kind of research rather than in ethically questionable work on embryonic hybrids.

I am also very concerned about the proposals in the Bill regarding therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning. These also represent a serious attack on the value of human life.

Regarding abortion, I find it incomprehensible that this country is not horrified that there are now some 200,000 abortions occurring every year. The Bill will give an opportunity for MPs to table an amendment reducing the abortion limit from the current 24 weeks. In specialised neonatal units, up to 82% of babies born prematurely at 24 weeks now survive. Added to this is a new appreciation of foetal sensitivity to pain.

The Christian Institute has a helpful set of resources on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill: http://www.christian.org.uk/issues/2007/hte_bill/index.htm.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Abortion Petition

Since 1967 there have been almost 7 million abortions in the UK, now 200,000 a year, with one in four pregnancies ending in abortion.

Please take the time to sign this petition that has been organised by a number of pro-life organisations.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, now in the House of Commons, provides the first opportunity for 18 years for changing the law on abortion.

Please sign the new petition at http://www.aliveandkickingcampaign.org/petition/ calling on Parliament to support amendments to reduce the number of abortions in the UK from 200,000 a year and to oppose amendments that would further liberalise the abortion law.

Praying must Stop?

BidefordAccording to a report in today's Daily Mail, Bideford Town Council has been advised to stop opening meetings with prayer.

The National Association of Local Councils has advised that the practice might fall foul of the Race Relations Act. It could even attract an action under the Human Rights Act. It said the practice, which is observed at many town halls, was merely an "old custom" which might upset councillors and members of the public of other religions.

How sad that this should happen in this country.

At least this doesn't seem to be the end of a story. The report says many councillors are outraged by the advice. While the local MP is quoted as saying, "This situation is proof of a disturbing tendency to try to use spurious legal arguments under the Human Rights Act, and equality legislation, to eliminate the Christian faith from the fabric of our public life ... I do not believe that there is any serious risk of a meritorious action under the Human Rights Act, or the Race Discrimination Act. The advice is quite simply misleading and wrong."

Apparently he has written to the Local Government Secretary Hazel Blears demanding "urgent clarification" for town and parish councils to know how to conduct their meetings without breaking the law.

So that's all right then.

Friday, 29 February 2008

Marriage and Suicide


In a report published yesterday, the Office for National Statistics shows that married people have a substantially lower risk of suicide than non-marrieds.

The key findings of the report are (emphasis mine):

  • People who are married still have a substantially lower risk of
    suicide than those who are not, despite changes in marriage
    patterns over the last 25 years.

  • Despite an overall reduction in suicide rates, there has been no
    narrowing of the gap in suicide rates between those who are
    married and those who are single or divorced. Rates for single
    and divorced men and divorced women were around three times
    higher
    than for married men and women throughout. For single
    women, the differential widened from just over two times to
    around three times between 1983 and 2004

  • There was a small decrease in the differential between single and
    married men aged 25 to 44. Suicide rates were three times higher
    for single men in 1984 but two and a half times higher in 2004

  • Among men aged 45 and over, the gap in suicide rates between
    widowed and married men fell from just over four times to around
    three times between 1983 and 2004. For widowed women, the
    differential was around two and a half times throughout

Monday, 25 February 2008

Avoiding Worry 6 - Be Spiritual

Another way of avoiding worry ...

6. Be spiritual rather than material

The present world view is basically existential - live for now and for what pleases you. But the Bible says:

(a) Store up heavenly treasure

The verses in Matthew 6:19-6:24 about storing up heavenly treasure act as prelude to the teaching about worry. The juxtaposition of this teaching with the teaching about worrying is surely not a coincidence - even though in many of our Bibles it’s broken up with sub-headings.

The main lesson of this is: we have to get our priorities right. If we’re always concentrating on ourselves - what we need, treasures on earth - then it will lead to worry; but if we look outside of ourselves - the needs of the kingdom and of others, storing up treasure in heaven - then we’ll be less inclined to worry.

(b) Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33)

Our main responsibility is to look to the needs of God’s spiritual kingdom, not our material needs. I would suggest that this includes: seeking to meet regularly with God’s people; praying for others; looking for ways to tell others about the good news of Christ; being kind to others; reading the Bible, meditating on what we read and seeking to put it into practice; seeking to live holy lives before God.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Should the Church of England be Disestablished?

I came across a thoughtful post from Exiled Preacher on this question.

Some extracts ...

... the idea of an established Church is alien to the New Testament. Under the old covenant there was no distinction between the religious and civil aspects of Israel's life. The nation was a theocracy - God's chosen nation, living under the terms of his covenant.

But all that changed under the new covenant. Now the people of God are gathered from all nations. The Church may be a theocracy under the lordship of Christ, but she is distinct from the State. The State has been ordained by God to restrain evil and preserve peace and order in society (Romans 13:1-7). But the Church has been called to carry out her Great Commission to preach the gospel and make disciples for Christ from all peoples. The State may use force to subdue law breakers and protect its citizens. The Church's only weapon is the sword of the Spirit, the word of God.

There is no sense in the New Testament that the Church should aspire to a position of establishment. Obviously, that kind of thing would have been impossible under Nero. But the apostles don't so much as hint that a State established Church would be in any way desirable. All they asked was that the State tolerated the existence and activities of the Church (see Paul in Acts).

The apostles would certainly have been outraged at the thought that the State could appoint Church leaders. But the Church/State distinction found so clearly in the New Testament was gradually eroded away from Constantine onwards ...

... Some would like to see the Church of England disestablished for secular reasons. They resent the intrusion of Christianity into public life. But that is certainly not my motivation. Christ's lordship is not limited to the Church. He is Lord of all. Christians should [act] as salt and light to influence the direction of their country. We can do that by scrutinising legislation, writing to [MPs], lobbying Government ministers and so on. It would be a good thing if more genuine believers entered politics to bring Christian values to bear upon the public square.

The fact that the Constitution of the USA forbids the establishment of a Church, does not mean that Christianity has no voice in public life over there. In fact it is a strange paradox that in England, with its officially established Church, Christianity is often banished to the sidelines. ...

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Paradoxical Twins - Teaser 6

Peter and Allison are twins. Peter is Allison's older brother because he was born 34 minutes before her. But Allison's birth certificate records that she was born at an earlier time.

How is this possible?

Hint

This really happened — on 4 November 2007 in North Carolina. In Britain it would have had to happen a week earlier.

See Answer

Peter was born at 1:32am on 4 November. 28 minutes later the clocks went back an hour because Daylight Saving Time (equivalent to British Summer Time in the UK) had come to an end. Allison was born 6 minutes later, at 1:06am.

Full details: http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/2011296/

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Avoiding Worry 5 - Remember God's Character

Another way that a Christian can avoid worry ...

5 Remember God’s character

Not only does God love you but ...

(a) He is all powerful, he is the one who created you, and he’s sovereign over the universe. He is able to bring his plans to fruition and nothing can thwart him.

(b) He’s also all-knowing and wise. He knows what is best for you.

(c) He’s also omnipresent – present everywhere. You cannot walk away from his protective hand – neither intentionally nor unintentionally.

(d) Finally, remember that God is dependable – he never changes. You can trust him for the future.

Do not be afraid of tomorrow; for God is already there. (Anon)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

A Thief

A thief in Paris planned to steal some paintings from the Louvre.

After careful planning, he got past security, stole the paintings and made it safely to his van.

However, he was captured only two blocks away when his van ran out of petrol.

When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make such an obvious error, he replied,

"Monsieur, that is the reason I stole the paintings...

I had no Monet...

to buy Degas...

to make the Van Gogh."

See if you have De Gaulle to pass this on to someone else.

I posted it here because I reckoned I had nothing Toulouse.