Blogroll: God Gold and Generals

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Book reviews and comments by Jeremy Marshall on Christian, historical and business themesJeremy Marshallnoreply@blogger.comBlogger173125
Updated: 1 hour 5 min ago

Childhood memories VII Eccentrics, Oddballs and Weirdos.

Fri, 19/05/2017 - 18:20

I am very aware that readers of my blog may have Christian views similar to mine, or radically different, or are atheists or follow other religions or simply dont know! All of you are most welcome and I appreciate you taking an interest.

A key message I am trying to get across is that many people I know are put off the Christian faith by bad experiences they have had, either with church or individual Christians. That's because both are often flawed and wrong. We are all a mess, certainly I include myself. Christians are not good "healthy" people but bad "sick" people. The church is a hospital for ill people, not an elite school for the successful and the message is not "come to God if you are good and well" but "come to God if you are sick and get the cure for your illness which we all have". Also, as I explain below Christians can appear decidedly odd - and we often are!  

In that spirit i want to look at some aspects of my childhood. I am describing my father's church, as it was, not making out that it was perfect but trying to show that behind some perhaps slightly unusual practices was a truth, a reality. The same with my father, who was a far better man than I am ("Gunga Din") but was not perfect. But, even in his eccentricities there is I suggest truth to be found. 

So in that spirit, come back with me to the past. It's a few minutes before 11 on a Sunday morning at Alexandra Road Congregational Church in Hemel Hempstead and my father is in the pulpit. Any Sunday morning ( or evening) between say 1958 ( not that I can remember that far) and 2003.  Formal Victorian church pews, a building bare of any decoration. The atmosphere once we go in is of dead silence. There might be 75-100 people there. Looking around most people are dressed very formally (even for the 1970s)  with black suits and ties for men and dresses for women. Hats for women in church went out during that period, but the older ladies still wore them. Then the first hymn would have been announced by my father - or a metrical psalm.   Now, as we had entered the church a man had handed us a red "Christian Hymns" and a black  "Scottish Metrical Psalms". For those of you not familiar with this genre, this is unaccompanied Scottish ( I.e Free Church of Scotland or Free Presbyterian)  psalm singing, little changed since the C 17th. Dad had a strong aversion to the very concept of a chorus, for him the hymn book should have and in fact did stop around 1900 and even the C 19th was to be treated with suspicion. A particular dislike was anything that smacked of being "Happy Clappy".
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When we went on holiday and ended up at a church singing choruses we children all viewed this with tremendous glee. I recall once at a church in Innsbruck, Austria on the way to Eastern Europe bible smuggling singing "Jesus' love is very wonderful" complete with actions "so high can't get over it, so low can't go under it etc" with great gusto. This effort of course was to wind my father up.  Afterwards with a more or less straight face I told him "I was only doing what the pastor told us". 
When I went to university and came back extolling the virtues of Graham Kendrick and other modern Christian song writers my father referred to the Cambridge Christian Union as "CICCU play school". But crucially he did it with a smile!  
Next come bible readings — from the AV of course. Other versions were available even in the 1970s, but regarded as much inferior. Versions were one of the main topics I used to argue with Dad about (recall that arguing was an important safety valve). I used to wind him up by suggesting that he was saying "If the AV was good enough for the Apostle Paul its good enough for me". Dad's tolerance of arguing included allowing his children to be highly provocative. His biggest "hot button" was me saying "Its all right for you, you are six feet above contradiction" (ie in the pulpit). That may have been true in the church but not out of it, we were allowed (even encouraged?) to contradict all you liked. 

There used to be a children's talk but Dad axed this ( to come — "100 reasons why you shouldn't have youth groups") and had instead a " Sermonette" which lasted about 15 minutes. When my then girlfriend, now wife, Jeanette first came to church with me, I had warned her that Dad's sermons were long. After the 15 minute sermonette she thought "well that wasn't too bad" :) The actual sermon which came later would last about 50 minutes to an hour and would normally be on one verse, sometimes several weeks on the same verse. Of the famous three sermon points there was often no sign! 
To most evangelicals , let alone Christians, let alone the general public if you were with me in this time machine the whole experience would seem rather unusual to put it politely. How old fashioned and outdated! That was also honestly what the preacher's teenage son (moi) thought as he sat in the pew. It seemed to him that he was in some kind of time warp and that the church door would open and in would walk CH Spurgeon or Jonathan Edwards. Certainly had this happened both of those esteemed preachers would have felt culturally right at home. 
So the whole experience is an object lesson in what not to do, right? 
I am not so sure. 
The reason I hesitate is that I believe that there are some important lessons for today that can be drawn from those distant hard pews and long sermons. No, I am certainly not arguing for a return to 1963 let alone 1863 but I do think there are some important principles behind the practices that deserve analysis. There was also a spiritual reality behind some cultural practices even though the practices seemed a little odd. I (still) don't think the actual practices were on balance always to be recommended and it reflected a bygone age anyway, even in the 1970s. But I do think that some very big questions were in my fathers mind that we would do well to reflect on today. In reacting against some of the Victorian heritage I wonder if we have gone in some respects too far in the other direction?
Firstly, the very nature of God. Dad took God intensely seriously. He had a great sense of the "otherness" of God. As the bible says "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9).I found this quote about this and think it's helpful "The transcendence of God is closely related to his sovereignty. It means that God is above, other than, and distinct from all he has made - he transcends it all. Paul says that there is "one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:6). The bible says elsewhere, ‘For you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods' (Psalms 97:9; cf. 108:5)."
So in worship the key for my father was a sense of meeting with someone who is altogether different and all together holier than we are. We can come to him freely because he is our Loving Father but we must also approach him reverently because he is also an awesome God. 
In Exodus we read "Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” 
Do we need to rediscover in our worship something of that that sense of both an approachable but also a transcendent  and an imminent God? We need both. Sometimes Reformed worship can go to the extreme of a remote cold and culturally odd format with no sense of excitement or divine presence. But I dont see why we cant have a God who is both awesome and transcendent and a loving father to his children — which is after all the God of the bible. Also, we should approach him in a way that is both biblical and culturally well tuned. Too often these are seen as mutually incompatible alternatives.
Secondly, when preaching, my father violated every conventional expository principle imaginable. He had to be polite an "unusual" taste in sermon structure (quite often for example after 35 minutes he would say "having finished my introduction"). I am not arguing for 1 hour sermons in 2017! But, he had something that perhaps we preachers today could benefit from — a power, a directness, a sense of the reality of God that at times as one of my sisters said could have you sitting on the edge of your seat. It was what the Welsh in a different context call "Hwyl" and what Christians in a biblical context attribute to the Holy Spirit. 

Dad was also particularly good at applying the bible passages to the hearers and making us feel it. Both head and heart were impacted. He engaged his hearers sometimes in a sort of debate — one of his most beloved phrases was  “now some of you are probably thinking”. By anticipating objections or reactions he effectively engaged the hearer in a discussion (albeit he was "playing" both sides of the debate — perilously close to one of his pet hates - acting!) He had a person to person appeal, a sense that he was talking directly and urgently to you. There was above all a warmth and a personal connection and an immediacy. He pleaded, cajoled and got alongside his congregation. 
I do wonder if we are in danger at times of taking exegetical preaching too far. Put it this way if using the same time machine we transported Spurgeon say to a conservative evangelical preaching seminar and could disguise who he was, his sermons would be pulled to pieces as far too personal and idiosyncratic and insufficiently expository.. Yet despite (because?) of this he was greatly and powerfully used. 
Is there a danger that our sermons  are finely crafted, carefully structured overviews of a passage but are really at times more like interesting theological lectures or bible studies than Holy Spirit filled personal connection? We need the power and the warmth of my father, if in a cultural form which fits 2017. Or, much better put, we need the Holy Spirit so that we too may feel "our hearts strangely warmed".

Finally, if you are not a Christian and you think church and Christians are odd, you are probably right! We dont get it right many times. There are lots of odd, eccentric nd downright weird people in churches. But try and see if, like me, you can look through the eccentricities and meet a real personal God beyond the "strange" church. 

The Devil will try and stop you doing this. As always, CS Lewis has the best lines. This is from his book "The Screwtape Letters" and is advice from a senior to a junior devil on how to put people off the Christian faith.  So you have to read it back to front i.e. the "our" in the first line is the view from hell and you can figure out whom "Our Father below" is.

"One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do riot mean the Church as we see her spread but through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans. All your patient sees is the half-finished, sham Gothic erection on the new building estate. When he goes inside, he sees the local grocer with rather an oily expression on his face bustling up to him.... When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of his neighbours whom he has hitherto avoided. You want to lean pretty heavily on those neighbours. Make his mind flit to and fro between an expression like “the body of Christ” and the actual faces in the next pew. It matters very little, of course, what kind of people that next pew really contains. You may know one of them to be a great warrior on the Enemy's side. No matter. Your patient, thanks to Our Father below, is a fool. Provided that any of those neighbours sing out of tune, or have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous. At his present stage, you see, he has an idea of “Christians” in his mind which he supposes to be spiritual but which, in fact, is largely pictorial. His mind is full of togas and sandals and armour and bare legs and the mere fact that the other people in church wear modern clothes is a real—though of course an unconscious—difficulty to him. Never let it come to the surface; never let him ask what he expected them to look like. Keep everything hazy in his mind now, and you will have all eternity wherein to amuse yourself by producing in him the peculiar kind of clarity which Hell affords."

Categories: Friends

Book Review: Dethroning Mammon by Justin Welby (Bloomsbury Dec 2016)

Sat, 13/05/2017 - 23:16

Justin Welby is the ideal person to write a book about the Christian approach to money and wealth. As Archbishop of Canterbury he has the platform and as someone who worked in finance as Treasurer of Enterprise Oil he also has the know how. I was pleased that he chose to make this subject his first book as there is a distinct lack of good teaching on this topic. Which is surprising given that the bible and the Lord Jesus in particular have so much to say on it. Someone has calculated that 45% of Jesus parables relate to money or wealth and that the bible has more than twice as many verses on money and possessions, as on prayer and faith combined. 
I have to say that given high expectations I was a little disappointed. Not that there isn't much good material in the book. Its easy to read and Welby writes with fluency and humility. The teaching is throughly biblical, looking at the key teaching  of Jesus in this area in the gospels of Matthew, Luke and John. As always with Justin Welby, he loves to talk about Jesus which is so good and very refreshing to read and he brings out well some important points about seeing money and indeed the world, as God sees it, rather than through the cultural blinkers of materialism. Jesus warns us that we can't serve God and Mammon and that is salutary. Rather as Justin Welby points out "God decides that he he will rescue ...the world by taking on the form of a servant...power is not money or status or's taking up the role of a servant." So he is spot on to argue that we need to dethrone Mammon and enthrone Jesus. "Mammon" incidentally is a word derived from the Latin word for wealth and means the worship of wealth. 
However, overall I feel that the overall impact of the book is somewhat less than the sum of its parts. It's not really clear what the book is trying to be - it's too short to be a comprehensive teaching on the biblical view of money and though it's structured for a Lent series I am not sure it achieves that goal either. What I found particularly striking was how indebted Justin Welby is to Catholic social teaching, whose main thinkers plus the Pope and leading Catholic writers are quoted approvingly throughout. Protestant thinking and teaching on the other hand is criticised and disparaged. Especially the dreaded Puritanism! I thought the Church of England was meant to be Reformed? I am not saying that there is nothing to be learned from the Roman Catholic Church, indeed I am always impressed by the clarity of the Catholic bishops teaching on moral issues, but Justin Welby seems to follow its every nuance with great gusto. And in the other hand a whole wealth of Protestant teaching is often dismissed as wrong. Very curious! 
Furthermore, not surprisingly given that this is the basic stance of Catholic thinking, the political thrust is to the left of centre. If you didn't know the author you would guess someone like Gordon Brown. Welby praises the NHS, the overseas aid budget, higher taxes and state intervention. Possibly he does this because he is trying to cover his flank from critics due to his past City career. Again I am sure there are good things that can be learned from some of these institutions, nor am I suggesting that the Archbishop has to be a Thatcherite. But, it's strange that for example philanthropy is repeatedly criticised with the strong implication that the state knows best and that Mammon can best be defeated by bumping up tax rates. (Though in fairness Bill Gates gets some good press). Equally strange is that state aid seems to be viewed as an unqualified good. The work of people like Dambisa Moya and others in books like her "Dead Aid" who point out the corrupting effects of state aid (which she argues tends to be be poor people in rich countries helping rich people in poor countries improve theiroffshore bank accounts) is ignored. 
Most surprisingly of all, are Justin Welby comments on the family. Never before has the traditional family in the U.K. been under such attack and you might think that the head of the Church of England would see this as an institution deserving his support and an important bulwark against the love of money. Yet we read several times arguments like "family can be the greatest idol that we have". Now it's true that Jesus said we must love him more than our families. But is this really the biggest danger in the U.K. - that we spend too much time in worshipping our family? Is it not rather that the Devil with every effort imaginable is trying to destroy one of God's key building block? Perhaps surprisingly, Justin Welby ideal throughout the book is not the family unit but rather something like the Catholic monastic community of L'Arche which does excellent work with disabled people. Again, I am not arguing we can't learn something from institutions like that, but I find it slightly surprising that he only looks to the Church of Rome for inspiration. 
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So although there is some really good stuff in the book, its biblical and easy to read, I would recommend more a book like Tim Keller's "Counterfeit Gods" or Allcorn's "Money Eternity and Possessions" both of which are much more comprehensive. I also hope that by his next book the good Archbishop will have a more balanced view of the great teaching in this area within his own (when I last checked) Protestant and Reformed tradition.  
Categories: Friends

Personal update for those not on FB

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 23:08

I got the results of my latest cancer scan today and in general they were good. There has been some growth in the tumours over the last 3 months since the last scan, but the growth is slow. The oncologist said on average they have increased by about 10% over that period, which given I finished chemotherapy last summer is a positive result. Modern technology gives you rotating 3D images of your insides, which is interesting!

I will therefore likely restart chemo at some point, probably in next 1-2 months, but my excellent oncologist says no rush on this. I will have another scan in a few weeks and we will decide the timing then.

Psalm 118:6 says "I will not fear for the Lord is with me". Fear is quite natural and I do feel afraid of course, but I also know that I have someone with me who is greater than my fear and in fact greater than anything - including mutating cells ! - and who will always be with me. God promises to those who love him that he will never leave us or forsake us

As John Wayne (my eyes) has been retired - I hope permanently but lets see - I have now decided to choose another star of Hollywood's Golden Age, famed for his lack of hair, as this is a sure side effect of my new production - "Chemo III"! Hence the picture.

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Categories: Friends

On the retirement from public life of HRH Prince Philip

Sat, 06/05/2017 - 13:16

Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen's husband, is retiring from public life later this year. He is famous for his "gaffes" or sense of humour, depending on how you look at it!I have to say most of his top 50 I have compiled below are pretty funny and he has undoubtably the most difficult job in the UK. His record of naval and public service for 95 years is amazing. My favourites are the top 5
  1.   “When a man opens a car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife.”
  2.  A VIP at a local airport asked HRH: “What was your flight, like, Your Royal Highness? Philip: “Have you ever flown in a plane?” VIP: “Oh yes, sir, many times.” “Well,” said Philip, “it was just like that.
  3. To Scottish driving instructor, 1995: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?”
  4. To Simon Kelner, republican editor of The Independent, at Windsor Castle reception: “What are you doing here?” “I was invited, sir.” Philip: “Well, you didn’t have to come.”
  5. After a breakfast of bacon, eggs, smoked salmon, kedgeree, croissants and pain au chocolat – from Gallic chef Regis Crépy, 2002: “The French don’t know how to cook breakfast.”
  6. “I never see any home cooking – all I get is fancy stuff.” 
  7. “I’d like to go to Russia very much – although the b.... murdered half my family.” 1967.
  8.  “People think there’s a rigid class system here, but dukes have even been known to marry chorus girls. Some have even married Americans.”
  9.  “Where’s the Southern Comfort?” When presented with a hamper of goods by US ambassador,
  10.  “You have mosquitoes. I have the Press.” To matron of Caribbean hospital, 1966.
  11.  After being told that Madonna was singing the Die Another Day theme in 2002: “Are we going to need ear plugs?”
  12.  After Dunblane massacre, 1996: “If a cricketer suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat, are you going to ban cricket bats?”
  13.  Asking Cate Blanchett to fix his DVD player because she worked “in the film industry”, 2008: “There’s a cord sticking out of the back. Might you tell me where it goes?”
  14. At a Bangladeshi youth club in 2002:”So who’s on drugs here?… HE looks as if he’s on drugs.”
  15.  At a WWF meeting in 1986: “If it has four legs and it’s not a chair, if it’s got two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane and if it swims and it’s not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.”
  16.  At Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme, 2006. “Young people are the same as they always were. Just as ignorant.”
  17. At party in 2004: “B... the table plan, give me my dinner!”
  18. His description of Beijing, during a visit there in 1986: “Ghastly.”
  19. His verdict on Stoke-on-Trent, during a visit in 1997: “Ghastly.”
  20. In Canada in 1976: “We don’t come here for our health.”
  21. On Ethiopian art, 1965: “It looks like the kind of thing my daughter would bring back from school art lessons.”
  22. On how difficult it is in Britain to get rich: “What about Tom Jones? He’s made a million and he’s a b... awful singer.”
  23. On stress counselling for servicemen in 1995: “We didn’t have counsellors rushing around every time somebody let off a gun. You just got on with it!”
  24. On the 1981 recession: “A few years ago, everybody was saying we must have more leisure, everyone’s working too much. Now everybody’s got more leisure time they’re complaining they’re unemployed. People don’t seem to make up their minds what they want.”
  25. On the Duke of York’s house, 1986: “It looks like a tart’s bedroom.”
  26. On the new £18million British Embassy in Berlin in 2000: “It’s a vast waste of space.”
  27. Peering at a fuse box in a Scottish factory, he said: “It looks as though it was put in by an Indian.” He later backtracked: “I meant to say cowboys.”
  28. To a British trekker in Papua New Guinea, 1998: “You managed not to get eaten then?”
  29. To a car park attendant who didn’t recognise him in 1997, he snapped: “You b... silly fool!”
  30. To a tourist in Budapest in 1993: “You can’t have been here long, you haven’t got a pot belly.”
  31. To Aboriginal leader William Brin, Queensland, 2002: “Do you still throw spears at each other?”
  32. To Andrew Adams, 13, in 1998: “You could do with losing a little bit of weight.”
  33. To Atul Patel at reception for influential Indians, 2009: “There’s a lot of your family in tonight.”
  34. To black politician Lord Taylor of Warwick, 1999: “And what exotic part of the world do you come from?”
  35. To Cayman Islanders: “Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?”
  36. To deaf children by steel band, 2000: “Deaf? If you’re near there, no wonder you are deaf.”
  37. To Elton John on his gold Aston Martin in 2001: “Oh, it’s you that owns that ghastly car, is it?”
  38. To parents at a previously struggling Sheffield school, 2003: “Were you here in the bad old days? … That’s why you can’t read and write then!”
  39.  To President of Nigeria, who was in national dress, 2003: “You look like you’re ready for bed!”
  40. To schoolboy who invited the Queen to Romford, Essex, 2003: “Ah, you’re the one who wrote the letter. So you can write then?”
  41. To Susan Edwards and her guide dog in 2002: “They have eating dogs for the anorexic now.”
  42. To the Scottish WI in 1961: “British women can’t cook.”
  43. To then Paraguay dictator General Stroessner: “It’s a pleasure to be in a country that isn’t ruled by its people.”
  44. Using Hitler’s title to address German chancellor Helmut Kohl in 1997, he called him: “Reichskanzler.”
  45. “Oh no, I might catch some ghastly disease.” - After being asked to pat a koala in Australia in 1992.
  46. In 2015 he was overheard telling an official photographer “just take the ******* picture” during a Battle of Britain photo call.
  47. When the Queen once asked a blind army hero how much sight he had, Prince Philip responded “not a lot judging by the tie he’s wearing”
  48. At a state visit in China in 1986 he told a group of visiting British students: “If you stay here much longer you’ll all be slitty-eyed”
  49. While at a visit to a new medical cardiac centre in February 2013 the duke was greeted by staff and remarked “the Philippines must be half empty — you’re all here running the (NHS National Health Service)
  50. The Duke met a disabled man who was driving a mobility scooter in 2012. He asked him, "How many people have you knocked over this morning on that thing?"

Categories: Friends

Happy Evil May Day!

Mon, 01/05/2017 - 14:10

‘Then all the misruled persons ranne to the dores and wyndowes of saynct Martyn, and spoyled all that they found, and cast it into the strete, and lefte few houses unspoyled. And after that they ranne hedlynge into Cornehill by Leadenhal to the house of one Mutuas a Frencheman or Pycarde borne, whiche was a great bearer of Frenchemen, were they pyckpursses, or how evell disposicion soever they were of, and within hys gate, called Grenegate, dwelled dyverse Frenchmen that kalendred Worsted, contrary to the kynges lawes: & all they were so borne out by the same Mutuas, that no man durst medle with them, wherefore he was sore hated, & if the people had found him in their fury, they would have striken of[f] his head: but when they found hym not, the water men, & certain young priestes* that were there fell to riflynge: some ranne to Blanchechapelton, & brake the straungers houses, & threwe shooes and bootes into the strete’
This was an eye witness account of "Evil May Day" in London which was 500 years ago today. It was one of the worst outbreaks of anti immigrant and xenophobic violence in the history of London.
The parallels with issues today around Brexit are obvious, especially the rights of people from Europe living in the UK and the link between politics and the economy. "Bl.... immigrants" has a long history!
London always had a lot of immigrants, not least as it was founded by immigrants (Romans). By 1517 the number was perhaps 5% of a population of up to 100,000, so around 5000 people. They mainly came from what is now Benelux and Germany, plus a few from elsewhere such as wealthy Italian bankers who had replaced the Jewish bankers when they were exiled by Edward I. Some immigrants had close ties to the Kings Court and provided important financing for the young King, Henry VIII. Some of these lived in "colonies" where they enjoyed exemption from the traditional "guild" rules which governed business. But many of the immigrants were not as wealthy, they were mainly working in the woollen trade, finishing or exporting partly made garments manufactured from English wool.
Londoners felt increasingly resentful that their jobs were being taken by immigrants and that they had too much power. 
Another eyewitness wrote
“[The Eighth year of King Henry VIII.] In this season, the Genovese  Frenchmen and other strangers said and boasted themselves to be in such favour with the king and his council, that they set nought by the rulers of the city; and the multitude of strangers was so great about London, that the poor English artificers could scarce get any living; and, most of all, the strangers were so proud, that they disdained, mocked and oppressed the Englishmen, which was the beginning of the grudge....For, amongst others that sore grudged at these matters, there was a broker* in London, called John Lincoln, who succeeded in persuading a Dr. Bele or Bell to give a sermon about the dangers the foreigners posed to those “born in London.”…  “Of this sermon many a light person took courage, and openly spake against strangers.  And, as the devil would, the Sunday after, at Greenwich, in the king’s gallery was Francis de Bard, which, as you heard, kept an Englishman’s wife and his goods.  And with him were Domingo, Anthony Caueler, and many more strangers; and there they, talking with Sir Thomas Palmer, knight, jested and laughed that Francis kept the Englishman’s wife, saying that if they had the Mayor’s wife of London, they would keep her.  Sir Thomas said, ‘Sirs, you have too much favour in England.’ There were divers English merchants by, and heard them laugh and were not content, in so much as one William Bolt, a mercer, said, ‘Well, you whoresome Lombards, you rejoice and laugh; by the mass, we will one day have a day at you, come when it will;’ and that saying the other merchant affirmed.” 
By the evening of April 30th, 1517 rumours were circulating that there would be an all out assault on the foreigners. Crowds of about 1000 young apprentices (the usual source of trouble) gathered and despite efforts by Sir Thomas More supported by officers (armed only with staves) to disperse them, overnight and the next day the buildings of foreigners throughout the City were systematically looted and in some cases burned. Also various apprentices locked up in Newgate Prison (where the Old Bailey now stands) were freed. Chaos reigned and the authorities completely lost control as there was no police force and the feeble "watch" was overwhelmed. The governor of the Tower symbolically fired cannon balls in the general direction of the city just to add to the fun. Nobody was killed throughout the distrurbances, glad to say. 
It  was not therefore until the Earl of Surrey and around 1000 of his private army arrived in the evening that order could be restored The authorities were swift in their vengeance, not least because foreign investors lending money to the government were so vital (no change there!)  Around 300 people were arrested some as young as 13, and also many women.  Between 15 and 20 men, including the ring leader John Lincoln, were executed. This would have been using the exceptionally cruel punishment of being "hung drawn and quartered". Mercy was shown however eventually.  According to the chronicler Edward Hall the rest of the captured rioters, with halters around their necks, were brought to Westminster Hall in the presence of Henry VIII. He sat on his throne, from where he condemned them all to death. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (some say Queen Catherine of Aragorn) then fell on his knees and begged the king to show compassion while the prisoners themselves called out "Mercy, Mercy!" Eventually the king relented and granted them pardon. At which point they cast off their halters and "jumped for joy".
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However, happily, in general London has an excellent history of welcoming foreigners and especially refugees. This was very much an isolated example and in fact within 30 years or so London was to accommodate a huge influx of religious (Protestant) refugees fleeing death and persecution on the Continent. London was also shortly to become the point of import into England of certain new religious ideas which began circulating when six months later an obscure monk in a remote part of what is now Germany nailed some debating theses to a church door...
I shall follow up on this.

* that bankers and theological students were the ringleaders is not surprising!
Categories: Friends

The Greatest Leader of all time - or an idiot?

Sat, 29/04/2017 - 18:35

Possibly no subject has been more researched and written about in recent years than leadership. The shelves of management theory and biography groan under the weight of the vast tomes written on the topic. Yet, especially in politics but also in business and elsewhere, there seems to be a general dissatisfaction today with our leaders and the quality of their leadership. 
The bible has a lot to say about leadership, good and bad. For example, Isaiah:-
"Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice. Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land. Then the eyes of those who see will not be closed, and the ears of those who hear will give attention. The heart of the hasty will understand and know, and the tongue of the stammerers will hasten to speak distinctly."
Christians understand this "king" as referring to Jesus. The man Himself said this

"But Jesus called them to him and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.' "
Jesus’s audience (including his disciples) were expecting a 'man on a white horse', an “Alexander the Great" type military figure who would be an earthly Messiah delivering the Israelites from the hated Roman rule.
Jesus' ideas on leadership were radically different. He spoke of himself using the language from the Old Testament of the "suffering servant". This came as a shock to his disciples who spent much time arguing about who was the greatest and who would occupy the positions of power once Jesus claimed his throne. Even just before his crucifixion they still "didn't get it".
John writes about the Last Supper
"(Jesus) got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel round his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped round him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus replied, ‘You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ ‘No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet.’Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me. ‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!’. When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them. ‘You call me “Teacher” and “Lord”, and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
John contrasts Jesus's "way" of leadership with that of the devil, whose servant Judas is going to betray Jesus. "My ways of leadership are not your ways" Jesus is saying. 
Satan's way is described in Isaiah "You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High’”
Jesus way of leadership is the exact opposite - in Philippians we read “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;  rather, he made himself nothingby taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!”
The cross is the ultimate "servant-leader' statement. 
John Stott has written helpfully on this in his excellent book “ Calling Christian leaders". He writes "It is my firm conviction that there is too much autocracy in the leaders of the Christian community, in defiance of the teaching of Jesus....our model of leadership is often shaped more by culture than by Christ. Yet many cultural model of leadership are incompatible with the servant imagery taught and exhibited by the Lord Jesus". Stott also points out that Paul in 1 Corinthians says that the Jews demand a sign (to overthrow the Romans) while Greeks looked for wisdom (philosophy). There are different types of leadership, but for both Jews and Greeks the idea of a crucified Messiah was an oxymoron. It was a  stumbling block to Jews - the Messiah can’t be crucified, he should be at the head of his army. It was foolishness to the Greeks - crucifixion was shameful and degrading. 
So the worlds idea of leadership should not be ours. Having said that, there is an increasing influence the other way round as in recent years, the so called “ Level 5" leader has emerged in management writings. It was developed by a Quaker writer, Robert Greenleaf in his seminal 1970 essay “ The Servant as Leader”. He wrote of such a leader as someone who saw their task as helping and serving others. Calling such leaders  "Level 5” was an attempt to rebadge this obviously  Judaeo-Christian idea for secular management theory. Many management theorists have been influenced by Greenleaf or have used “ Level 5” as a key building block of their writings. Probably the most well known is Jim Collins in his best selling book “Good to Great", which popularised the idea. Other management writers who have written along the same lines are Stephen Covey and M Scott Peck. 
These servant leader ideas have gained traction in recent years because there has been (rightly) a reaction against the “ Imperial CEO” cult. The worship of power and money has resulted in the overreach and hubris that led, especially in banking, to the collapse of 2008. The craving for power and control can lead us into a very dark place. The German C19th thinker and writer Friedrich Nietzsche for example disliked Jesus because he thought he was weak.  Nietzsche explicitly considers Jesus to be mortal, and as in fact the complete opposite of what he considers to be a true hero - the Übermensch. "Jesus was not a hero he was an idiot" raged the philosopher. " He also considered Christianity the ultimate evil. In fact some parts of his book 'The Antichrist' were suppressed during his lifetime as they were considered so outrageous. (Nietzsche was influential on Hitler, though it is doubtful Hitler actually read any of his books though he certainly found many useful quotes from Nietzsche. In fairness, Nietzsche was not an anti Semite, nor a proto Nazi, in fact in some ways he considered Judaism superior to Christianity. But his contempt for the weak and inferior and his glorification of power is strikingly born out in Hitler) 
He coined a new word "Übermensch" which he said "(Describes) a type of supreme achievement, as opposed to .. 'good' men, Christians ... When I whispered into the ears of some people that they were better off looking for a Cesare Borgia than a Parsifal, they did not believe their ears."
Nietzsche was especially repulsed by Jesus' concern for the lowly and oppressed: He wrote about Jesus's teaching "Everything pitiful, everything suffering from itself, everything tormented by base feelings, the whole ghetto-world of the soul suddenly on top!" He above all despised what he called Jesus's "pity" and we might call it that or "compassion".
In fact Jesus compassion or pity for the lowly and suffering, even those who were in the process of killing him ("Father forgive them for they know not what they do") illustrates how he was the strongest leader of all time — and also the most compassionate. The two are not mutually incompatible though they are rarely found in the same person. Possibly the nearest person in our lifetime who achieved that was Nelson Mandela.  
Christian leaders are called to be humble and weak. God chooses mainly weak foolish people so he may have the glory. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians "Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”
The Countess of Huntington a well known aristocratic and wealthy gospel patron in the C18th said “I thank God for the letter 'm' in that passage!” (by which she mean the "m" in many). 
Luther said "Only the prisoner shall be free/only the poor shall be rich/ only the weak shall be strong/only the humble exalted/only the empty filled/only nothing shall be something."
As John Stott points out 1 Corinthians is about power through weakness. Fundamental is our relationship to Jesus Christ: we are his slaves.  ‘Servant’ doesn't sound so bad" (we may think of the dependable and smooth Jeeves) but it's really "slaves."  We are accountable to Christ. Christ will judge our efforts. Our character as leader is what counts. The more Christ like we are the better leaders we will be. This includes being weak and suffering. "Suffering is the badge of the true Christian for the disciple is not above his master  " Dietrich Bonhoeffer 
So in conclusion, as leaders we should try and be a Christ like servant leader. How? A few thoughts
Serve, not be served.
Be humble (very hard I know from personal experience!)
“If you love me you will obey my commands”. 
Put others interests first
Willing to lose that others may win.
Confess our mistakes - when we fall short of our Lord's model of servant leadership - to God and each other
Know our weaknesses and guard our hearts against them
Listen to others. Be sensitive to their needs and compassionate. Know when to encourage and when to challenge. Note how gentle Jesus is with his disciples after the Resurrection.
Be servant hearted. Dont ask people to do things we wouldn't do ourselves

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Above all, love the Lord more, ask for God to change us and make us more like Jesus for “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: justify; text-indent: 25.0px; font: 15.0px Arial; color: #001220; -webkit-text-stroke: #001220} span.s1 {font: 11.0px Arial; font-kerning: none; color: #0092f2; -webkit-text-stroke: 0px #0092f2} span.s2 {font-kerning: none} p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px Arial; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px Arial; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000; min-height: 16.0px} p.p3 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000; min-height: 14.0px} p.p4 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px Arial; -webkit-text-stroke: #001220} p.p5 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px Arial; -webkit-text-stroke: #0092f2} span.s1 {font-kerning: none} span.s2 {font-kerning: none; -webkit-text-stroke: 0px #000000} p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 16.0px Arial; color: #232220; -webkit-text-stroke: #232220} span.s1 {font-kerning: none} p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 13.0px Arial; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 13.0px Arial; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000; min-height: 15.0px} p.p3 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000; min-height: 14.0px} p.p4 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 13.0px Arial; -webkit-text-stroke: #001220} p.p5 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 13.0px Arial; -webkit-text-stroke: #0092f2} span.s1 {font-kerning: none} span.s2 {font-kerning: none; -webkit-text-stroke: 0px #000000}
Categories: Friends

"Everyone on FB absolutely certain of election result..."

Fri, 21/04/2017 - 22:49
Wednesday 19 April 2017 by Tommy WolderDaily ThumpEveryone on Facebook absolutely certain of election result

With the announcement of the snap General Election barely a day past, literally everyone on Facebook is completely certain of the result.Within ten minutes of the announcement, everyone’s entire Facebook feed was full of people who appeared to have developed an in-depth understanding of the entire nation’s voting habits, and had consequently declared the results of the election.It is either a racing certainty for ‘the Tories, there’s just no opposition,’ or ‘Labour, people are sick of this lot,’ or even in one case, ‘the Lib-Dems, Tim Farron is really speaking to people,’ although it is assumed that particular person had been drinking heavily.Polling companies, who faced criticism for their predictions in the last elections in the UK and USA as well as the referendum, are thought to be planning on searching Facebook for ‘Labour,’ ‘Tories,’ and ‘Lib-dems’ and just releasing the number of results as official predictions every couple of days.With Facebook’s new-found political expertise, it is understood that the Electoral Commission is to investigate whether it’s worth actually bothering with the election, or whether they should just take your brother-in-law’s word for it that ‘the Tories haven’t got the support for a majority, no chance. Hung Parliament and she’ll quit.’

From todays "Guardian"

Dear Sir
A woman who always keeps her promises has called an election she promised not to, in order to obtain a mandate she says she already has, for a policy she said was a bad idea. 

David Robjant

Cople, Bedfordshire
Enough jokes! 
Most readers of my blog are outside the UK so I thought I should try and explain from first principles why we are having yet another election and what will likely happen. But, as noted, predictions are difficult. with apologies to all UK readers, especially my sister Debs Macaulay, who will have expected a bit more originality! 
Historically the UK had a system with no fixed election dates, other than that they had to be held at least every five years. So any government with a majority could call an election when they liked. In fact, within living memory there were two general elections in one year - 1974. In February of that year,  Ted Heath the Conservative Prime Minister ('PM') was locked in a bitter struggle with the trade unions, so called an election on the question "Who governs Britain?". To which the electorate replied "We are not sure but not you" and there was no clear result. It was only after a second election in October 1974 that Harold Wilson won a small majority for the Labour Party. 
However, In 2011 the Conservative- Lib Dem governing coalition introduced a Fixed Term Act which in theory set a precise date for the next election. May 2020 since you ask. In practice however as we have just seen it's not really fixed at all: a 2/3rds majority iof Members of Parliament ('MP's) all that is required and it's very hard for opposition parties to resist a vote for an election as it looks like they are running scared. 
Next, it should be noted that we don't actually elect a Prime Minister but rather 650 Members of Parliament who each have won a "first past the post" vote for their constituency: these have an average number of voters of 70600. There were plans to reduce the overall number of MPs to 600 but those have been shelved. This first past the post system is deeply engrained in the U.K. But can result in some strange outcomes. For example at the last election the Scottish National Party 'SNP' had one MP for every 25600 votes while the United Kingdom Independence Party ("UKIP' - anti EU) had one MP for 3.8 million votes. 
The party with the most MPs ( or in coalition with others) then form a government, normally with their leader as Prime Minister. But the PM can be defenestrated by their own party - as has happened repeatedly such as most famously recently when Mrs Thatcher was ousted. So in American terms MPs form an electoral college who then choose the PM
Enough background. Why did the PM call an election when she said repeatedly that she wouldn't and when it is less than two years since the last one? Mrs May said it was because the opposition was blocking Brexit. This is ludicrous. We don't actually have a proper opposition, at least not in England and Wales, because the main opposition to the Conservatives, Labour, are in complete disarray. Their leader, Jeremy Corbin is a man of high principle - unfortunately most of his principles make him unelectable. Many of his own MPs despise him, one in the last few days went so far as to reassure his electorate that in the unlikely event that Labour won he would personally ensure that Jeremy Corbin was not elected as PM. The only effective opposition to the Conservatives is the Scottish National Party (SNP) who hold 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland but by definition don't exist elsewhere. Finally, UKIP who had the third highest share in the 2015 election - but as we have seen only one MP - are equally in complete chaos, beset by squabbling with their only MP resigning and urging his constituents to vote Tory (i.e. Conservative ). Their charismatic if divisive leader Nigel Farage has resigned and UKIPs whole "raison d'etre" has seemingly vanished with the decision to leave the EU. 
Mrs May really went for a so called "snap" election to try and crush the Labour Party, as well as securing her own position within her own party. It seems inevitable that the Conservatives will win, it's just a question of by how many seats. In the latest opinion polls they have a 24% lead over Labour. Today they have an overall majority of 17, some pundits predict this will be as many as 150. Personally, I would be much more cautious and I predict a conservative majority of 80. Also we have learned from Brexit and Trump that opinion polls are often wrong so there could be some surprises. Notably this is because of the impact of the Brexit vote. There may be some tactical voting, notably where a Remain MP is in a Leave constituency or vice- versa. So low is Labours expectation that we have the bizarre situation that the Conservatives are trying to talk up Labour's prospects, to avoid too many people voting tactically (e.g. for the Lib Dems) to try and avoid too strong a Tory victory. All very strange. 
Although the overall outcome of a Tory victory seems inevitable there are some interesting sub plots. Firstly the traditional third, centrist party the  Lib Dems have a clear policy against Brexit (Tories are pretty much all in favour, even those like Theresa May who were in favour of remaining, while what Labours policy on Brexit actually is now is anyone's guess). The LibDems who were crushed last time because they were in a coalition government  may therefore pick up some tactical voting and irate Remainers especially in university towns and places like London. 
Then Scotland. My correspondent North of the Border tells me that the result there is very hard to predict. The SNP last time took 56 of the 59 seats and one might expect given that Scotland voted to remain in the EU that they would repeat this. However, on the other hand, the Scottish Conservatives have staged a recovery from a low base, unlike Scottish Labour who continue to haemorrhage supporters. There is also a general feeling of negativity in Scotland towards endless votes. For each of the last few years, every year, there have been major votes in Scotland, particularly the independence referendum in 2014. Now the SNP wants another one ( despite having said this vote was "for a generation") and people are complaining about "neverendums". So the result in Scotland  will be closely watched. If the SNP get a similar result to last time it will be hard to stop a second referendum, but if they drop significantly - even though they will likely remain the largest Scottish party at Westminster - then their movement will be checked. 
Finally, what of all this for Brexit? As I mentioned, Mrs May's main motivation is to give her a stronger negotiating position with the EU - by this I mean stronger in her own party. With a majority of only 17 she is at the mercy of the far right of the Conservative party, MPs who don't mind or actually prefer a hard Brexit. By this I mean leaving with no trade deal at all and reverting to the basic World Trade Organisation tariffs. An outcome in my view which would be disastrous. With a much bigger majority she can override objections from these MPs - and to a lesser extent the same is true on the left of the Tory party who are pro Remain. In summary therefore the likely increased Tory majority means the U.K will be able to negotiate a softer more sensible Brexit. In theory if the Lib  Dems won, we could even reverse Brexit completely, but this is rather unlikely. Today they have 9 MPs! 
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Having said all of this, who knows what the results will be. Throughout the West, electorates are delivering surprises and a good kicking to the status quo in the last few years. They have thought us in the famous words of Yogi Berra "it's dangerous to make predictions, especially about the future"
Categories: Friends

Happy Easter! With input from King David and Voltaire...

Fri, 14/04/2017 - 16:22

The last verse of Psalm 22 can be translated as "it is finished" or "He has done it". Psalm 22 was written about 1000 years before Jesus's death by King David. It predicts with great accuracy many details of Jesus' death, such as the soldiers dividing up his clothes and casting lots for them. Yet, David had no idea what crucifixion was like, for it was not in common use then. Christians would understand this as God's spirit working through David to point to what was to come. There are many other examples of this prediction of Jesus suffering and death and resurrection in the Hebrew bible (the Old Testament to Christians). Isaiah 53 is perhaps the best known. 
Both meanings of the last verse of Psalm 22 shed light on Jesus death and resurrection. 
"It is finished."
Gods plan to rescue human beings from their miserable lost condition, separated from Him, was determined by God before the beginning of the universe. God purposed to rescue us by coming into the world as a human being, born in obscurity as a tiny baby, living for 33 years, teaching and healing and raising the dead and most of all by dying on a cross and returning to life 3 days later. The cross was not a terrible mistake, but a deliberate decision and plan by God. Jesus as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, could see the lights of the soldiers and temple guards sent to arrest him as they wended their way across the Kidron brook and began to climb up the hill to his place of prayer. Yet he waited for his executioners, because his mission would only be accomplished by his death. He came to save. 
In fact, His very name means "Saviour" or "God saves". It was necessary for him to finish the rescue mission by dying. Only thereby can be we forgiven. Now the French philosopher Voltaire famously said "God will forgive, for that's his business". But in one sense that is not true. God cannot just sweep all the things each of us have done wrong "under the carpet". Gods intrinsic character and nature and indeed the very structure of the universe he made demands justice. Imagine a judge who turned to a mass murderer and said "you deserve life, but i am feeling forgiving today, so I will let you off". Forgiveness is not therefore, as Voltaire said, easy. But in another sense the great thinker was more correct than he knew. Because forgiveness is in another much deeper sense indeed "Gods business". It is the purpose of his rescue mission, that through Jesus's atoning death on the cross, we could be forgiven. And that through that the door back to God which we had bolted shut by our sins could be reopened and that once again we can know and relate to God 
"It is finished" also reminds us that "Jesus did it all". We must come to Jesus to receive forgiveness as we are, sins and all. Not only do we not need to bring anything with us, in fact we precisely can't bring anything with us. The Christian faith is NOT for good moral people but for bad immoral people, people like me. If you are feeling well you don't go to the doctor. You go to the doctor when you are ill. Only when we realise that we are ill will we go to the great eternal doctor of the universe, Jesus. 
Whether apocryphal or not, there is a  story about the Swiss theologian Karl Barth that illustrates the point. It is reported that Barth was once asked what he would say to Hitler if he ever had the chance to meet the monstrous man who was destroying Europe and who would ruin the whole world if he were not stopped. Barth’s interlocutor assumed that he would offer a scorching prophetic judgment against the miscreant’s awful politics of destruction. Barth replied, instead, that he would do nothing other than quote Romans 5:8 to Hitler: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” I quote this to illustrate the radical nature of Gods forgiveness and grace. Hitler never repented and died unrepentant, but take instead John Newton who participated in terrible atrocities whilst in the slave trade, yet was able to write the wonderful words "amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me". Forgiveness is available to all through the cross. 
Finally "he has done it". This points us to the other "side of the Easter coin" - the resurrection. The empty tomb is as important as the cross. Resurrection with no cross would be non sensical but a cross without resurrection would be a dead end. Jesus defeated death on the cross and triumphed over evil and the devil. He demonstrated that triumph.  The devil hates humanity and wants to destroy us. God loves us and wants to free us from the devils grip. Death in that sense is the devils' agent. Death is so horrible for us and makes us so sad because it is an uninvited interloper. We were not designed to die but to live. Death came due to our disobedience. We have no chance of evading it. But Jesus defeated death and proved that he was stronger than death by returning from the grave. almost the last words in the bible (see bold below) mirror this wonderful hope that "he has done it". Revelation 21 says"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne (ie Jesus) said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”. He said to me: It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children."
This is the wonderful hope of Easter. If you are thirsty for eternal life, come and drink, for it is finished and he has done it.p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px Arial; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px Arial; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000; min-height: 16.0px} p.p3 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px Arial; color: #292527; -webkit-text-stroke: #292527} span.s1 {font-kerning: none}
Categories: Friends

Freedom Movement by Michael Reeves (10 of those, April 2017)

Sat, 08/04/2017 - 18:21

Many of you may remember from last year "The Servant Queen" which was an attractively produced book about the Christian faith of HM the Queen, which was designed to give away to our friends. Over a million copies were sold, which is an absolutely stupendous achievement. 
Now the same team has got together and written another book based on the same model as "The Servant Queen" and I predict it will be equally appealing. Its about the Reformation and its impact over the next 500 years (In case you missed it the Reformation was in 1517!) Its written in an engaging style by one of the UK's leading theologians, Mike Reeves who has authored many best selling Christian books. Superbly designed by Ben Virgo who runs the innovative Christian Heritage Centre in London, its very modern in look and feel and easy on the eye. The contents are equally easy to read and cover not only the Reformation but also its effects in the centuries to come. 
Books like these are very useful as they will appeal to friends who would not be interested in reading an evangelistic book. They also are particularly important because they have a solid message and an attractive feel - sadly Christian books can sometimes tend to be one or the other. This is both and nobody would feel in the least embarrassed to give copies away. Of course, it could be read with pleasure by the Christian but the "raison d'etre" is to give it away. 
As with the previous volume, which was probably not ideal for republican friends, this might not necessarily be one to give to our Roman Catholic contacts, though there is nothing in any way offensive or sectarian in the content. Various issues around the Reformation  are covered in a fair minded way and although of course it's pitched in a popular fashion its also historically accurate. It's particularly good at bringing out the "human interest" side of the Reformation, with for example a moving section on Luther's wife and family. Luther had to endure the death of two daughters, one of whom died in his arms. 
It also makes the critical point that the effects of the Reformation are still being felt to this day and it looks at the Reformations continuing impact on literature, education and culture. Not many people are aware for example of the zeal of the Reformers to further female education or indeed in general to promote what (perhaps anachronistically) might be called "women's rights" . The role of reformation thinking in the abolition of the slave trade is equally striking. 500 years on we still live in a Reformation shaped world. 
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Finally, not to forget, it's priced attractively the estimable 10 of those at only £1 a copy if you order 25 copies. In all sense of the word then "its a give away"! . 
You can order it here. Incidentally the publisher pledges in general to match the price of Amazon UK, which is a very attractive offer.
Categories: Friends
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