Monthly Archives: September 2015

Inscrutability

One of the things that has struck me in preparing the house-group course on Revelation that I’ve been running is just how distant and indistinct the figure of God remains throughout this final book of the New Testament. That’s odd for a book intended to reveal God’s coming to dwell with men. His heavenly throne in ch4 (albeit the representation is itself apocalyptic and based on temple imagery) tells us a lot about the worshippers and what they say, but regarding God himself there are only metaphors. To my recollection, apart from 21.5-9, he does not himself speak, but is represented by voices from angels, the throne, the altar and … Continue reading

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The role of eclipses in the culture wars

Last night we had a total eclipse of the moon across Europe, which since it coincided with the recently popular category of a “supermoon” event got lots of press coverage.

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Moral certitude on shifting sand

There’s been much discussion here recently about inculcating “British values”, especially into those communities that might, being recent immigrants, be in danger of missing out on them and becoming radicalised into jihadist ways of exploiting the weak, wanting foreign cars and so on. Maybe there’s a similar effort in America, although perhaps it’s less necessary as Superman has been promulgating Truth, Justice and the American Way (as separable items?) since the 1930s. Britain has, until now, always been more reticent about brandishing its values, celebrating instead generalities like fairness, decency and Christian piety. Oddly none of these are on the new lists of established British values.

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The Copernican Principle revisited

I’m far from the first person to point out that when Copernicus turned the Universe inside out it wasn’t in order to knock the earth off its perch of geocentric pre-eminence in human thought (as the modern so-called “Copernican Principle” implies), but if anything to make it, for the first time, one of the heavenly bodies.

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Revelationary politics

Teaching the Book of Revelation, as I am at the moment to a home group, always raises interesting questions of the type “Things I always wondered about, but was afraid to ask”. In the context of Revelation it’s not surprising, because being cryptic and aimed at providing insights to 1st century persecuted Christians with a Jewish background, rather than to twenty-first century Gentiles, it tends to get left on the shelf, and the questions it raises in people’s minds left unaddressed too.

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One man went to mow a meadow…

…but he didn’t, or at least not yet. Our small piece of Devonshire hillside has acted as a one-and-a-half acre paddock for a couple of ponies since we moved here. The basic management has been to use the lower (damper) part in summer, and the drier upper part in winter, strip grazing both in as convenient a way as possible, mowing the unused bits if and when they get too long. It’s good exercise to walk a mower up and down a steep hill.

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Sharing Traherne

I’ve mentioned before something of my enthusiam for the metaphysical poet Thomas Traherne. The Eclectic Orthodoxy blog has a piece which is just a fairly lengthy quotation from one of the better known parts of his Centuries of Meditations. Read, enjoy and meditate.

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Science and divine judgement

There was a bit of a discussion on BioLogos not long ago about the possibility of miracles in relation to scientific laws. Interesting enough, but the subject has been treated quite frequently, in point of fact, from C S Lewis through to Alvin Plantinga. And it’s not really that controversial amongst contemporary Evangelicals, the target audience. As I pointed out there there’s been an intriguing change in general attitude to miracles within my lifetime, from something no modern man could countenance to something only old-fashioned atheists reject out of hand. But there’s a related field of divine action that’s both more ubiquitous and more controversial than that of occasional miracles.

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And talking of Elizabeth II…

Today is actually the day that the length of her reign overtakes that of Queen Victoria, making her the longest ruling of Britain’s forty monarchs since the Norman Conquest in 1066. As an individual she now has pretty universal respect. Opinions vary about the effectiveness of her reign, from historian David Starkey’s assertion that she’s never said anything that will be remembered, to others who consider that her management of the changes in Britain, from a stiff nominally Christian state to a secular one, and from an imperial power to a more modest world-player, has been masterful.

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Gregor Mendel: My Part in his Downfall

The title, for Uninitiated Foreigners, alludes to this celebrated autobiography¬† by this mad genius, lest you think I really wish to denigrate the great monk. Below the fold is a link to a British documentary about epigenetics. It’s primarily about the discovery of epigenetics in the transmission of disease down generations, but we need always to remember that the medical aspects are just a window on a process that must, by its nature, be primarily physiological and adaptive, and is turning out to be ubiquitous:

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