Friday, March 31, 2006


Grey turning blue. Lots of evidence of yesterdays high tide - someone up river must have done a lot of grass cutting.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

TBTM 20060330

Actually, it was less morning and more early afternoon. Very strong winds and a high tide.

Life will be phat

Psalm 23 as adapted by Ryan Kearse
The Lord is all that, I need for nothing.
He allows me to chill.
He keeps me from being heated
and allows me to breathe easy.
He guides my life so that
I can represent and give
shouts out in his Name.
And even though I walk through
the Hood of death,
I don't back down
for you have my back.
The fact that you have me covered
allows me to chill.
He provides me with back-up
in front of my player-haters
and I know that I am a baller
and life will be phat.
I fall back in the Lord's crib
for the rest of my life.

Found this from following links at santa ignora.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Abolish the welfare state

Read this.

I'm sure Frank Field will sign up for it - it's not just for right wing nut jobs like me :o)

Spider Jerusalem

If you go here you'll be able to read an issue of Transmetropolitan, the journal of the future-journalist Spider Jerusalem, created by Warren Ellis. BE WARNED - MATURE CONTENT!!!

But it is mature content with a social conscience, and an important point. That's why Mr Jerusalem is my hero.

"Because you wouldn't have it any other way"


Finished the series yesterday. Enjoyed it greatly, although the formula is wearing a little thin - too many implausibilities, even allowing for suspension of disbelief, eg Almeida functioning anywhere near full effectiveness after being shot and undergoing throat surgery...

Lots of things remain in my mind from it. It seemed to be struggling too hard not to have a happy ending - hence the many sadnesses and sacrifices (Almeida must be pardoned!) - but most of all I am left reflecting on the portrait of 'hardness'. I say that rather than 'masculinity' because I'm not sure that what is being portrayed is male - but there seems to be a celebration of ruthlessness, undercut rather expertly by the negative consequences (this time) of such ruthlessness - in every case, I think.

Well worth watching - should you find yourself ill for a weekend with nothing else that you can cope with ;-)

Blade: Trinity

Mindless drivel that was partially redeemed because the script writer had an ironic sense of humour. Suited my mood perfectly.

A bible meme

I was pondering those questions which One Salient Oversight was putting to the President, particularly the one about familiarity with the Bible. And a meme occurred to me (this may have been done before but I haven't seen it).

1. How many bibles are in your home?
2. What rooms are they in?
3. What translations do you have?
4. Do you have a preference?
5. Nominate an interesting verse

So for me:
1. About 20
2. Most in my study, two in the bedroom, two or three in the main living room. Some abridged versions in the kids rooms as well (not included in the 20)
3. NRSV, RSV, NIV, KJV, Douay (on my LifeDrive, along with NIV), Good News. I use Bible Gateway to look at other versions when preparing sermons. I also have various versions of the New Testament in Greek.
4. RSV for accuracy; one of the modern ones for readability (Message or UK English equivalent)
5. "With you is my contention O priest" (Hosea 4.4)

It's not a meme without tagging, so I tag:

The Ranter
One Salient Oversight
and, to compare and contrast :)


Normal service is resumed! I was up before dawn this morning - a definite sign of coming back to health, although I'm now feeling the effect. Having given up caffeine for Lent, I'm really missing my morning cup of tea.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Got fed up being inside, so struggled out for a ten minute walk with Ollie - a strong wind today!

Mental ferment

One of the things that happens when you're lying in bed is that the normal constraints on mental processes get released - and lots of things that have been in the background come forward. One such was a long post that will come - probably after Easter - about 'the structure of culture', linking Wittgenstein, Girard and Pirsig. It'll require a fair bit of work. Another is a thread on 'am I wrong about Tesco?' - which I might write in a moment, if my energy is maintained.

However, this is a useful piece, which expresses something accurate. Psybertron is having an interesting conversation on this very subject at the moment.

Back at my desk...

...but not yet fully back at work. That cold/cough/flu bug thing which I have been fending off all last week descended with a vengeance on Friday morning, and I have spent much of the weekend either asleep or curled up on the sofa under a duvet watching series three of '24' (I've got about six episodes left!) I suspect I shouldn't have spent so long in the rain on Friday taking Ollie for the walk. Walking him is one of the things that I have really missed over the last few days - surprising how quickly it has become part of my routine. Poor him - he keeps on coming up to me wagging his tail expecting me to play, and I just don't have the energy. Still. Should get the collar back on tomorrow - both dog collars, that is.

Meanwhile, here's a piccie I took earlier, in lieu of TBTM:

Friday, March 24, 2006

Impact of sea level rise

Got this picture from the Daily Telegraph this morning. Ignore the inset, from what I understand the melting of the East Antarctic ice sheet is radically unlikely. But the main picture is highly plausible, from all the information coming through about Greenland etc. Parts of Mersea will still be OK, but a lot will not.

TBTM 20060324

This morning was a first - the first time it had rained whilst taking Ollie out in the morning, and it was really raining! So the poor dog had his walk cut a little short, I was already soaked through to the skin on my legs and I didn't want to set my cold/flu/buggy thing back from its gradual path of recovery.

It was glorious though. It always is.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ten books that have influenced me

You can tell it is my day off, and that I have relaxed a bit. I'm catching up on my blogroll, and Revd Dr Leander Harding has listed the ten books that have most influenced him. I thought I'd make a list - with the caveat that it may be revised in time. These are in date order of my reading them.

1. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, by Stephen Donaldson. Read this when I was about 14, and have continued to return to it over the years. Some amazing set pieces, and the second sequence in particular has some marvellous theology in it. The way in which 'poison' is overcome means quite a lot to me, as does the understanding of the 'unfettered'. I read quite a lot of fantasy/sf - honourable mentions should also be given to Dune and the Foundation sequence.

2. Relating, by Liz Greene. Actually a work of astrology, from when I was very interested in it, but written from the perspective of Jungian psychotherapy. I think I absorbed a lot of the therapeutic insights from her writing, even if I now see spiritual problems with the astrological side (it is antipathetic to prayer).

3. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig. Huge influence on the way that I think about the world, along with the sequel 'Lila'. Read this shortly before travelling around the United States for three months in my 'gap year', which gave me a lot of time to move my thinking forward. Probably did more than any other single book to undermine my atheism (which is rather ironic, really). Another book I return to on a regular basis.

4. The Road to Serfdom, by Friedrick Hayek. Another book I read either at the end of school or in my gap year, which crystallised a lot of my beliefs about politics. I've become more pragmatic over time, but this still expresses my gut instincts.

5. Honest to God, by John Robinson. Read in my first year at Oxford, and probably did as much as anything else to shift my understanding of Christianity away from fundamentalism. I would disagree with much in it now, but it opened a lot of doors for me (in concert with the tuition that I was then receiving!). Should also metnion The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer which Robinson led me to.

6. Theology after Wittgenstein, by Fergus Kerr. Read this in my last year at University, following a tip from Professor Keith Ward. Opened up philosophy for me again, when I had pretty much given up on it - a seam which I have continued to mine ever since. Should also mention After Virtue, by Alasdair MacIntyre.

7. The Sandman sequence, by Neil Gaiman. Catalysed a lot of thinking about narrative, and the role that narrative plays in the construction of our world. I read this when I was working in London in the mid to late nineties. I still re-read it every so often with great pleasure.

8. Power, Gender and Christian Mysticism, by Grace Jantzen. Read this in the late nineties when I was doing my MA at Heythrop. This stands for all that I learnt there, particularly the way in which Christian Mysticism has been profoundly misinterpreted by post-Enlightenment thinking. Should also mention Denys Turner's The Darkness of God.

9. Descartes' Error, by Antonio Damasio. Read this when I began my abortive PhD at Cambridge, which was exploring the Philosophy of Mind, and it opened up a fertile link between reason and emotion. Again, this book has to stand for a particular period of time. Should also mention Martha Nussbaum's The Fragility of Goodness.

10. Faith Beyond Resentment, James Alison. This has been the biggest influence of the last year or so, introducing me to Rene Girard and mimesis. I find his whole approach tremendously exciting and spiritually liberating, it challenges me to become a better Christian.


What's interesting about making a list like this is what gets left out. But this will do for now.

Pretending to be the president

One Salient Oversight is (hypothetically) questioning President Bush about whether he is an evangelical. I thought I'd answer the questions for myself:

1. Mr President, if you died tonight and stood before God, and he asked you "Why should I let you into heaven", what would you say to him? An evangelical would focus solely upon the death of Christ and his atonement on the cross for sin. If the president attempts to use his own works or deeds as the basis for entering heaven, then his faith is not in Christ to save, and he is not an evangelical.

Sam would say "You shouldn't, but I didn't think 'should' was the important thing. Isn't that Law not Grace?" Beneath the different vocabulary I suspect I'm pretty evo on this one.

2. Mr President, can you please give an example of how God has guided you during your time as president? This is a general question that would reveal how the president thinks God guides. The key is whether or not he mentions the Bible, since the Bible is considered at least a major way that God guides amongst evangelicals.

Sam would say: probably best example is getting the 9:30 service going. Lots of time thinking and praying through that, and it seems to have prospered. Didn't look at the Bible specifically though.

3. Mr President, do you think that sincere, devout and peaceful Muslims go to heaven when they die? This is a "gotcha" question that will force the president to either deny his faith or to sound arrogant. All evangelicals believe that the Christian faith is an exclusivist faith, which would mean that even devout Muslims are unable to reach heaven. If he thinks that devout Muslims go to heaven, he's not an evangelical.

Sam would say - it's not those who call on the name of the Lord who are saved, but those who do the will of his Father in Heaven. It is not for us to restrict the actions of God's grace. All will be judged by a merciful God, and that is His business.

4. Mr President, do you think that God could forgive someone as evil as Osama Bin Laden? How? This is a question that will further outline the president's understanding of how God forgives. For the evangelical, no sin is too big for God to not forgive, so long as the sinner puts his faith in Christ. The "how" question would expand this answer. If Bush says he does not know, or focuses on anything apart from Christ, his answer is not one an evangelical would give.

Sam would say: God forgives all those who truly repent.

5. Mr President, which is your favourite book of the Bible? If he reads the bible (as he says he does) then this should be answered easily, along with some explanation of why that book is his favourite. Vague answers or "it's all good" are not acceptable for an evangelical, who sees the Bible as being very important in his/her life. If Mr Bush can't give a good answer, the chances are that he doesn't read the Bible.

Sam would say: I prefer the New Testament to the Old, I prefer the Gospels to the Epistles, I prefer John to the Synoptics, and my favourite bits of John are the prologue, the second half of chapter 6 and the farewell discourse.

6. Mr President, when Jesus was on earth, do you think that he may have occasionally sinned? This is a question that would show up Bush's understanding of Jesus. If he believes that Jesus is God and is perfect, his answer would be a simple "no - Jesus did not sin". If he gives an "I don't know" or a "yes" in response then he has a deficient understanding of who Jesus is and is therefore not an evangelical.

Sam would say: before his baptism, I have no qualms about thinking that Jesus may have "sinned" in terms of doing something seen as wrong by his community (eg his mother) - that would simply be a part of normal human development and maturation. After his baptism he was sinless; furthermore he was 'made perfect by his suffering'.

7. Mr President, many sincere Christians think that Jesus didn't actually rise from the grave, what would you say to them? Similar to the last question, this is another "gotcha" that gives him little room to move. Evangelicals believe that Jesus physically rose from the dead and Christians who deny this are in grave error, no matter how sincere they are. If Bush is brave and says this, then chances are that he is an evangelical. If he talks about their sincerity of faith as being more improtant that the fact of the resurrection, then he aint an evangelical.

Sam would say: the resurrection is the horizon of Christian belief. Those who deny it have not entered fully into the truth of the Christian faith.

Probably means I don't qualify as an evangelical, but I'm closer than I would once have believed possible :-)

BTW have a look at the picture here. Wonderful stuff, which really speaks to me. Thomas doubts - yet he is also the one who gives voice to the climax of John's gospel: "My Lord and my God!" Doubt is not the enemy of faith, it is the siamese twin of faith. The opposite of faith is fear, not doubt.

V for Vendetta

Really enjoyed it, but want to ponder it a little bit more before writing something substantial (which will come, given time...) The graphic novel on which it is based is excellent, and there are some changes, although I'm not sure quite how profound they are. I'm going to go back and re-read.

TBTM 20060323

Beautifully clear skies this morning.

Garden State

Lovely film, slow paced, meditative, charming.


Orthodoxy means, literally, ‘right glory’.

In other words, it means to allocate glory appropriately. Not to give too much glory to those things which do not deserve the excess, and not to give too little glory to those things which deserve more.

It is one way of understanding the first commandment, to have no other gods than God. In other words, not to give too much glory to things which are created, and to give glory fittingly to the Creator. It means not to worship graven images, not to build golden calves.

Orthodoxy does not mean ‘right belief’ – although that is the understanding which, as the result of Protestant influence, Orthodoxy has been reduced to. Orthodoxy is principally about value, worth – Quality. It means that the world is seen as it truly is, without distortion.

The principal distortion from a Christian point of view is called sin. Sin can be understood as anything which interrupts the relationship between creature and Creator. In other words, sin is anything which means that the creature does not relate properly to the Creator – that causes the creature to give improper glory to the Creator.

Which brings us to worship. Worship is the right relationship between creature and Creator. Sin arises where worship is offered to that which is not the Creator; where value is seen through a distorting mirror, and the world becomes misshapen. Worship causes the worshipper to become worthy (higher Quality) – it does not cause the Creator to become worthy. So right worship is what enables the worshipper to enter into their inheritance, to become who they most truly are. Worship gives value and Quality to the worshipper. Only the holy can see truly.

Right worship is therefore the activity that gives right glory. As a result of sin, this activity cannot be inner-directed. It cannot be chosen or assessed on the basis of internal feelings or sentiment. It can only be on the basis of revelation. Right worship must ultimately come from outside – that which enables the legacy of sin to be overcome. Worship offered in accordance with revelation is that which gives right glory to the Creator, and right life to the creature. It gives life in abundance.

As worship is offered, as right glory is given, so the creature is changed, from glory to glory, in accordance with that which has been revealed. This is why doxology is the heart of worship.

Glory be to the Father,
And to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now,
And shall be forever. Amen.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Great article in Salon about Peak Oil

I particularly liked this: "I think that we can adapt, but our adapting may not be so much technological, as sociological, and maybe even spiritual," Robinson says. "It really comes down to the question of the place that we see for ourselves in the world and what we need in order to live a meaningful life. For quite a while now, a meaningful life in America has meant acquisition of things and cheap energy, and we associate that with freedom. We do not see that it's really a form of dependence and slavery."


Full article available here - you'll have to watch a short advertisement to read the whole thing.

TBTM 20060322

Oh what a beautiful morning.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Church of England Newspaper article

++Laurie of Bradwell mentions me in an article in the latest Church of England Newspaper, which I think expresses very well what is going on. Read it here


The British Ambassador to the United States discusses the energy crisis here.

"...the supplies of oil on which we depend are finite. Global oil production is apparently nearing its peak. Although there is intense debate about exactly when this will happen - something Daniel Yergin discusses in the Foreign Affairs article I referred to earlier - current estimates seem to be converging on some point between 2010 and 2020. Oil itself will never run out – as the saying goes, “the stone age did not end because of a lack of stones." But the unavoidable fact is that the economics of pumping it in future are uncertain. One of the most intriguing things about this debate is that it is happening at all. It is extraordinary that a century into the age of oil, with the global economy dependent on $3 trillion worth of this black liquid each year, we don’t even know how much is left.

The International Energy Agency predicts that, if we do nothing, global oil demand will reach 121 million barrels per day by 2030, up from 85 million barrels today. That will require increasing production by 37 million barrels per day over the next 25 years, of which 25 million barrels per day has yet to be discovered. That is, we’ll have to find four petroleum systems that are each the size of the North Sea.

Is this realistic? Production from existing fields is dropping at about 5% per year. Only one barrel of oil is now being discovered for every four consumed. Globally, the discovery rate of untapped oil peaked in the late 1960s. Over the past decade, oil production has been falling in 33 of the world’s 48 largest oil producing countries, including six of the 11 members of OPEC. How then will we meet the soaring demand that the growing global economy will require?"

If someone that well embedded in the political establishment is aware of the problem, you can be certain that the governing class as a whole knows what is coming.

Why aren't they doing their damnedest to make people wake up? Please tell me the conspiracy theories aren't true...

Strangely enough, I am feeling more and more optimistic about coping with the Peak. All the doomer analysis I read makes the mistake of ignoring what MoQers call 'Dynamic Quality', ie that which cannot be foreseen, including human responses to a crisis. I believe that we will pull through. It will be painful - at least a major recession in Europe, probably a major depression in the US, worse in the rest of the world - but we will get through it. The sooner we start to prepare, though, the better off we will be.

Feeling lousy

Before I begin - there's a good 9/11 article here.

I'm feeling lousy. Cancelled my afternoon appointments, might even have to bail out of tonight's, although that would be a real let down. My wife has just begun to emerge out of nearly two weeks illness, this cold/cough/buggy thing that never seems to go away. And guess who is now succumbing to the symptoms? I think I got it more than a week ago, but I have been fending it off as much as I could - too many annual meetings to have missed - but I am now feeling it claim me. And the APCMs were hard work - they didn't go well at all, with one exception, and I suspect the next month is going to be dominated by clearing up the mess. Still, it's all a good learning experience, and as I keep reminding myself, if the Lord is gracious then I've got another thirty years of this to get it right :)

Of course the other major factor is Ollie - I think I'm feeling the effect of a moderate increase in exercise! That's a good thing, though, even though I feel I could do with a lot more sleep. I'm going to try and get as much rest and relaxation as I can in the next 48 hours, see if that will sort me out.

There you go.

/end self-pitying whinge

TBTM 20060321

Picture uploaded on the fourth (separate) attempt...

Interview with ++Rowan

Read it all here. I particularly liked this bit: "creationism can end up reducing the doctrine of creation rather than enhancing it" - which is exactly what I was trying to put across in a recent Learning Church talk.

Which reminds me, I need to do some updating about the Learning Church stuff. I have had very little time recently, due to it being APCM season (despite the plethora of posts - they've all been short and sweet).

Monday, March 20, 2006

TBTM 20060320

Ollie had a play fight this morning. At first I was quite alarmed, because he had a recent very bad experience with a pit bull terrier, who tore his throat. But I could swiftly see that it was playful (it was with a beagle) and they ran around the beach for a few minutes chasing each other.

Lovely to see. Ollie is settling down.

And yes, he's staying.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Another MoQ blogger

Matt Kundert joins the blogosphere.

Are the elite beginning to panic?

See this.

I believe that the elites will try every possible solution before advocating conservation, they will all fail, and in the end we will be forced to make do with less.

Could you survive using only 40% of the energy you do now? (See this post for where that figure comes from.)

TBTM 20060319

Well, I got one photo up - but Blogger is still playing silly Bloggers.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Work for idle hands

I've discovered why there are holes appearing in front of some beach huts.

Some young men don't have anything to do, so they are digging a hole.

Well, that's what they told me :-)

Au revoir to the Duchess

Twenty years ago my late father picked up this 1946(?7) Riley. It has been in my garage for the last two years, and there is no way that either my brother or I will get round to restoring it. Now my mum's cousin has taken it on. I hope she gets the TLC she deserves.

Moses and the Shepherd (Rumi)

Moses heard a shepherd on the road praying,
where are you? I want to help You, to fix Your shoes
and comb your hair. I want to wash Your clothes
and pick the lice off. I want to bring You milk,
to kiss Your little hands and feet when it’s time
for You to go to bed. I want to sweep Your room
and keep it neat. God, my sheep and my goats
are Yours. All I can say, remembering You,
is ayyyyyyy and ahhhhhhhh.”

Moses could stand it no longer.
“Who are you talking to?”

“The one who made us,
and made the earth and made the sky.”
“Don’t talk about shoes and socks with God!
And what’s this with Your little hands and feet?
Such blasphemous familiarity sounds like
you’re chatting with your uncles.
Only something that grows needs milk.
Only someone with feet needs shoes. Not God!
Even if you meant God’s human representatives,
as when God said, ‘I was sick, and you did not visit me,’
even then this tone would be foolish and irreverent.

Use appropriate terms. Fatima is a fine name
for a woman, but if you call a man Fatima,
it’s an insult. Body-and-birth language
are right for us on this side of the river,
but not for addressing the Origin,
not for Allah.”

The shepherd repented and tore his clothes and sighed
and wandered out into the desert.

A sudden revelation
came then to Moses. God’s voice:
You have separated Me
from one of my own. Did you come as a prophet to unite,
or to sever?
I have given each being a separate and unique way
of seeing and knowing and saying that knowledge.
What seems wrong to you is right for him.
What is poison to one is honey to someone else.

Purity and impurity, sloth and diligence in worship,
these mean nothing to Me.
I am apart from all that.
Ways of worshipping are not to be ranked as better
or worse than one another.
Hindus do Hindu things.
The Dravidian Muslims in India do what they do.
It’s all praise, and it’s all right.

It’s not Me that’s glorified in acts of worship.
It’s the worshippers! I don’t hear the words
They say. I look inside at the humility.
That broken-open lowliness is the Reality,
not the language! Forget phraseology.
I want burning, burning.
Be friends
with your burning. Burn up your thinking
and your forms of expression!
those who pay attention to ways of behaving
and speaking are one sort.
Lovers who burn are another.”

Don’t impose a property tax
on a burned out village. Don’t scold the Lover.
The “wrong” way he talks is better than a hundred
“right” ways of others.
Inside the Kaaba
it doesn’t matter which direction you point
your prayer rug!
The ocean diver doesn’t need snowshoes!
The Love-Religion has no code or doctrine.
Only God.
So the ruby has nothing engraved on it!
It doesn’t need markings.
God began speaking
deeper mysteries to Moses. Vision and words,
which cannot be recorded here, poured into
and through him. He left himself and came back.
He went to eternity and came back here.
Many times this happened.
It’s foolish of me
to try and say this. If I did say it,
it would uproot our human intelligences.
It would shatter all writing pens.

Moses ran after the shepherd.
He followed the bewildered footprints,
in one place moving straight like a castle
across a chessboard. In another, sideways,
like a bishop.
Now surging like a wave cresting,
now sliding down like a fish,
with always his feet
making geomancy symbols in the sand,
recording his wandering state.

Moses finally caught up with him.
“I was wrong. God has revealed to me
that there are no rules for worship.
Say whatever
and however your loving tells you to. Your sweet blasphemy
is the truest devotion.
Through you a whole world is freed.
Loosen your tongue and don’t worry what comes out.
It’s all the light of the Spirit.”

The shepherd replied,
“Moses, Moses,
I’ve gone beyond even that.
You applied the whip and my horse shied and jumped
out of itself. The Divine Nature and my human nature
came together.
Bless your scolding hand and your arm.
I can’t say what has happened.
What I’m saying now
is not my real condition. It can’t be said.”

The shepherd grew quiet.

When you look in a mirror,
you see yourself, not the state of the mirror.
The fluteplayer puts breath into a flute,
and who makes the music? Not the flute.
The Fluteplayer!

Whenever you speak praise
or thanksgiving to God, it’s always like this
dear shepherd’s simplicity.
When you eventually see
through the veils to how things really are,
you will keep saying again
and again,
“This is certainly not like
we thought it was!”

TBTM 20060318

A fresher and brighter morning.

Friday, March 17, 2006

TBTM 20060317B

Not quite a gratuitous piccie. I was looking at the area around the top of the breakwater - you can see that the shoreline is quite eroded. I think much of this is transitory, but then I thought that, if I were to build a breakwater, I wouldn't build it so that the incoming sea could go beyond it... Which is, perhaps, a sign that the present tide is rising higher than the planners expected.

The heart and despair of Peak Oil

Have a look at this.

Lots of things resonated with me, especially "One of the things that make peak oil/peak energy so difficult to comprehend is the inability of most people to visualize a radically different existence" which resonated with my sense of Prophetic Imagination, and "Mr. Mayor, we do not imagine that we can take away the suffering of your people," I said. "That would be presumptuous on our part. But what we can do is look together at two main ways we respond to collective suffering. The suffering of a people can bring forth from them new strengths and solidarity. Or it can breed isolation and conflict, turning them against each other. There is always a choice" which resonates with what I understand the theological task to be.

TBTM 20060317

Another very grey morning.

I've been meaning to explain something about the pictures (for those who don't already know) - the black lines in the foreground are seaweed, and they mark the place of any particular high tide. So the line furthest to the left represents the highest tide mark of recent months.

I keep thinking about the news from Greenland (see this). I expect the left hand black line to progress in fits and starts over the coming years. In twenty years time most of Mersea will be under water.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

TBTM 20060316

It was very grey and grim this morning. Ollie appreciated it though: as it was my day off we had a much longer walk than usual - an hour and a half, including, as the tide was low, a walk way out into the estuary to walk on the sand banks and get muddy feet.

Also saw this - looked like a small explosive had gone off next to one of the beach huts. I'm sure there is a rational explanation.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A Canticle for Leibowitz

A Canticle for Liebowitz, by Walter Miller. There's a good Wikipedia page here if you want to discover a bit more about it.

I loved this. Hadn't read any sf for ages - must be at least six months - so it was great to plug back in. Lots of stimulating images, and, of course, it fitted so nicely with my 'After Virtue' interests. Lots of things will stay with me, but perhaps the final debate about euthanasia most of all. Very challenging, but I was grateful that the religious perspective wasn't implicitly ridiculed, in the way that much sf would do.

Ollie Swims!

I knew that Ollie swam, but he can actually swim really well. Totally fearless. Although stupid as well - yesterday he dived in to the water to try and fetch a buoy that he saw moving in the water....

It was gorgeous weather at lunch time, tho' a bit cold. Took the eldest out for the walk as well:

TBTM 20060315

Self image

You are an Independent Leader.
Your solid grounding in the practicalities of life, along with your self-assuredness and your willingness to appreciate new things make you a LEADER.

My Personal Dna Report

Hat-tip to my friend Psybertron.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

TBTM 20060314

TBTM = "The Beach This Morning", of course.
That's pretty much as low as the tide gets. When it gets this low in the morning, it means that it will likely cut the island off from the mainland around lunchtime.


Have a look at this post which is commenting on some astonishing (appalling) comments by Peter Akinola, inciting violence.

I actually agree with Stephen Bates, despite some of the fine-grained caveats I have about the direction the US Episcopalian church is going in. One side follows a non-violent Messiah, one doesn't. I don't think that this is a particularly difficult question to discern.


Monday, March 13, 2006


As well as the more ephemeral media tart appearances, I had the pleasure of being interviewed on a rather more serious basis at the weekend, by Paul Kingsnorth for a book that he is writing. If you read this article you'll understand why we were able to reach common ground fairly quickly. (At least, I think we did!)

I've just ordered his book from Amazon. I'll let you know how I get on with it.

Confessions of a media tart

Not really. Just wanted to say that, narcissist that I am, I watched my two minutes of fame on ITV and BBC tonight. On the whole I'm quite pleased, particularly with the ITV one, as it mentioned the roots of my perspective at the end, ie the context of Peak Oil and what it means for those who plan to ship apples from one side of the world to the other. Our future is local!

On the whole I've been quite impressed with the journalists, both TV and print, despite the experience of being 'used' to further their own story line. They have mostly been very direct and honest with me. Plus which, it turns out that the BBC camera man was an old friend of my father's (and the Daily Mail photographer and I had some mutual friends). Small world.


Wonderful. Remarkable use of music too. Better than the other two Wes Anderson films I've seen (much better than The Life Aquatic).

It got me thinking about a post I had once planned to write, linking Bruce Springsteen's paean's to ordinariness with Charles Taylor's 'Sources of the Self' argument about the sacralisation of ordinary life after the Reformation. That was what I took from this - the marvellous nature of an ordinary life.

The beach this morning

(Spot the dog)

I'm tempted to make a habit of this, if we get to keep Ollie. If I'm going to be on the beach anyway, it'd make quite a nice record of how things go, as the sea level rises...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Jack Bristow gets Peak Oil

"Well, considering the rapidly growing demand for fuel from nations like China and India, not to mention the world’s oil production is expected to peak in the next five years and then sharply plummet, I think it’s pretty clear we’re looking at an exponential rise in global conflicts along with an energy crisis of unfathomable proportions – so yes, I’d say, a hybrid’s an excellent idea."

Jack Bristow, Alias, Series Four, Episode 10: "The Index"

Something I would like to see

Why we fight.

I have been thinking about the Eisenhower comment on the military-industrial complex rather a lot recently, for obvious reasons.

Friday, March 10, 2006

For the record...

The Daily Mail article is published today, but it isn't on-line (pages 26 and 27 of the paper). Big picture of me superimposed upon a Tesco store...

This was an interesting and enlightening experience. The interview was extensive - over an hour - and the photography took almost as long. Out of that interview, however, there is almost no direct quotation, and, indeed, some elements 'created'. So, for the record...

The article runs two things together. First, a sermon where I suggested to the congregation that they should not shop at Tesco, if it opens on the island, mainly on fair trade grounds. Second, my Learning Church talk on Peak Oil, which suggests that the Tesco model will break down, and that we will have to use much more local food supplies.

I'm a little disappointed. I had hoped that - because I went into quite some depth about Peak Oil with the interviewer - that at least that phrase would be mentioned, but no such luck. They didn't mention the blog either! On the whole, though, I don't think I can complain too much.

Thing is, it has really made me ponder about my vocation and where I am supposed to be going with this. I said to a colleague the other day that it was forcing me to engage with the issues rather than just think about them (contemplate them, in my previously understood sense) - this will force me to 'walk the walk' much more than I have so far. Which seems a good reason for thinking that God is involved.

I just have this memory seared into me of wanting to go into a political career and being told by God in no uncertain terms that it wasn't right - and ever since I have been allergic to anything smacking of direct political involvement.

Yet - it's not "political" so much as - I trust - "prophetic", in the best sense. At least, that's where I think I'm headed. As I quoted in my 'Prophecy and Peak Oil' post: "The task of prophetic ministry is to nurture, nourish and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture" (Brueggemann). I am beginning to believe that this is a central part of what I am called to do. There seems to be an integrity about the choice, however cautious I am about it.

In any case, I'm pretty sure that if I go off the path of my vocation, the good Lord will let me know.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Inertia, theōria, blogging

I’m a very stable and fixed sort of person – you could call it mulish (or if you happened to be interested in astrology, you could say it was because I have a grand cross of major planets in the fixed signs ;) – but one way of thinking about it, which my wife uses every so often, is to say that I have a lot of inertia. Normally that means that her husband is accumulating too much lard on his backside through being inert, but I actually like the strictly physical definition, whereby a body at rest needs a lot of prompting to move, but also a body which is moving requires a lot of force to change course. For I have been known to move, on occasion.

This sequence of thoughts was prompted by the arrival of Ollie – not an expected arrival, but one which was nevertheless sought out, and is from God – for Ollie is dragging said husband off his backside onto the beach two or three times a day, and the pressure of a wagging tail and a wet nose is a sufficient force to cause the mass to enter into movement. I think this is a very good thing for me – I haven’t been getting enough exercise ever since I got married (and have accumulated nearly an extra three stone in weight) and this exercise is going to persist. So although I find it uncomfortable – my inertia is resisting this outside force – I can see it is a tremendous blessing for me.

Now yesterday I managed to read a review in the Times Literary Supplement which discussed theōria. Theōria is seen by Aristotle as the highest virtue, and it is normally translated as contemplation. My spiritual director once told me that I have a significant contemplative streak, and I think this is true – I like to ponder questions, and weigh them, sifting them for nuggets of truth. Think of Rodin and a part of my self-image is revealed. Yet I have always seen this as a principally sedentary and immobile activity. Now I read this in the review:

“In due course, Aristotle would assert that theōria, meaning philosophical contemplation of the nature of things, is the best, most enjoyable activity there can be; hence it is God’s sole occupation and the central purpose of the best possible human life.

“This is easy to misunderstand, in part because ‘contemplation’, the now conventional translation of Aristotle’s theōria, suggests a single, steady gaze held on a single impressive object, like a telescope focused on the peak of a high mountain… But the original theōros, engaged in “sacralized spectating” at the Olympic Games or watching a tragedy in the theatre at Athens, saw a complex multiplicity of events, which could only be properly understood in relation to one another. (Compare: the spectator’s experience of a modern cricket match is more like following a narrative than viewing a mountain peak.) There is no good reason to think that this complexity dropped away when Plato and Aristotle made the transition to abstract, philosophical theōria. Their theōria is not analagous to a single steady gaze at a single impressive object.”

(MF Burnyeat, reviewing Andrea Wilson Nightingale’s “Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy, TLS February 24 2006)

It seems to me that this sense of theōria has just a little in common with blogging – on going comments on those things which enter into the mental frame of reference of the blogger, which do not have to be fixed and stable like a mountain, but can be an ongoing drama like a greek tragedy, or like the fall of western civilisation as a result of Peak Oil (grin).

So theōria, contemplation, that which I enjoy – this is not a ‘single steady gaze’ – and to undertake contemplation I do not need to be passive, which is the psychosomatic hole in which I have placed myself. My inertia can be mobilised, I can indeed be a body in motion, and still I can pursue that highest, most divine of virtues – “sacralized spectating” – which is, I believe, what my blog should aim to be.

I’m not there yet, but I’ll keep going at it.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Meet Ollie

Ollie is a black labrador, just turned two. He didn't have a very happy first year and a half or so, and needed to be rescued. Now fully reconditioned he has decided to try out a new family for a week to see if he likes them. The family hope he does...

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Can I be Jesus and kill everyone? Please?

Left Behind video game launched - see here.

(Hat tip to Fors Clavigera)

The gravity of the question

The above picture shows one of the world trade center towers, with the top levels toppling across as it collapses.

The official report would have you believe that in the next moment, the fires within were sufficient enough to vaporise all the steel of the toppling part, so that the momentum of this vast mass of material is lost - for otherwise there would have been a very large chunk of building falling down to the ground - OUTSIDE the footprint of the twin towers.

Alternatively, the very well understood processes of demolition were applied, the falling top part of the building was collapsed from within, and so the disintegration did not fall outside the footprint.

Having thought about Peak Oil quite a lot recently, the question can be phrased in terms of energy. In order to vaporise that amount of material, and to do it in the mere seconds available, a certain amount of energy would need to be applied. So far as I'm aware, the only energy available within that falling top is gravity and the residue of the fire at its base.

One explanation is reasonable. One requires the suspension of disbelief.

Gravity is the gravamen.

Update: see this page for a more detailed analysis of the speed of descent.

Update 2: this is blackly amusing.

Update 3: this is a very good site which debunks a lot of the conspiracy theories. But even it says that the Pentagon wasn't hit by a 757....

Friday, March 03, 2006

Dukes of Hazzard

Mindless, but moderately enjoyable.

Lavender Hill Mob

This was good, but not quite as good as I had expected. In fact the most notable thing about it was the sense that Woody Allen had modelled himself on Alec Guinness' performance.

Neil Gaiman on comics and film

The genius opines here.

Like him, I'm looking forward to V for Vendetta being released. Especially given my last two posts...

A bit more on 9/11

After One Salient Oversight's request, I'll say a little bit more about what made me change my mind.

Firstly, the attack on the Pentagon has always struck me as odd - where is the plane? Where were the engines? How could a 767 cause such a small amount of damage? Why is there no footage of the plane striking the Pentagon? Thing is, this would be a trivial 'conspiracy theory' to refute - the footage taken from security cameras in the vicinity would show what happened, and they have been confiscated by the US government.

What has really persuaded me, though, is the analysis of the collapse of the two towers. I had seen a TV documentary about the collapse, which essentially told the 'pancake' story, ie the impact weakened the floors, causing a sequential collapse from the top down. This persuaded me at the time. What changed my mind are really simple physical points:

1) the steel would not have melted (the fire would not have been hot enough);
2) even if the steel had melted (or been weakened sufficiently), the towers would have fallen in the path of least resistance (ie fallen over, sideways), rather than the path of most resistance (ie straight down); and
3) the speed and comprehensiveness of the collapse - at effectively the same speed as a rock falling in air - shows that there was no resistance from the lower floors.

I'm really not prone to conspiracy theories. I'm sad enough to have read through the 9/11 commission report, and I was quite willing to accept that as the truth. Even now, if someone could persuade me that a plane could have caused the collapse, I'd much rather believe the official story. I no longer believe that the planes caused the towers to collapse - and therefore lots of other dominoes start to fall.

(NB the wikipedia article, and various links that I've chased up in the last ten minutes or so, don't go into detail about the 'fire' and how it could have caused what took place, especially point 3) above. That's the real kicker for me. I'll keep looking though.)

Update: this is the best article discussing the physics of the collapses that I have come across.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I'm annoyed

I'm annoyed because I have become persuaded, very reluctantly, and slowly and against my habitual will... I have become persuaded that the attacks on 9/11 were not perpetrated by Osama Bin Laden, but were instead perpetrated by actors on the inside of the US government.

And it's annoying because just writing that sentence makes me feel like an absolute lunatic. I feel I've just stepped outside of the acceptable bounds of social discourse; I'm no longer a reasonable person. Everything I now say and think will be tainted by a sense of 'oh yeah, he's that guy who thinks Dick Cheney blew up the twin towers...' - and thus my 'voice' is eclipsed.

And it's annoying because I supported the attack on Iraq, and now I wonder 'have I been had?'

Yet you have to pursue the truth, whatever the temper.

This line of thought was prompted by viewing this video, kindly linked for me by Sven, although it had been building for a while. Too many unanswered questions, which need answering....

UPDATE: for what it's worth, I no longer believe this :)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

New York Times says Peak Oil 'almost certainly correct'

Discussed at The Oil Drum, the best Peak Oil site on the web.

If you don't know what Peak Oil is, have a look here for a good introduction and overview. Or just type 'Peak Oil' into Google....