Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Black Ice (Michael Connelly)

Hurray! A different plot structure. And I'm really starting to get interested in Harry Bosch as a character. Good stuff.

Death Race

Not a patch on the original. 3/5

Never Back Down

Formulaic, but told with sufficient originality to make it watchable. 3/5

See here for an interesting and related article.

On Pride

Found at OCICBW:

"Humility is the opposite of pride and I think we'll get a better grasp of what humility is by thinking about its opposite. Pride is a hub sin a sin that spawns a host of other sins: jealousy, envy, slander, a critical spirit, ingratitude to name several. Pride is the impulse and desire to be first, to be adored, admired, and ultimately worshiped. It is grounded in a deep idolatrous love for the self that not only supersedes love for God but produces a desire to be God. When a proud person is not given the honor, admiration, adoration that he believe is due, his response is rage and division. Satan understood that so long as he was in fellowship with God he could never be God, so he rebelled, he divided. Adam and Eve wanted to be gods themselves so they rebelled and divided. That's the pattern. If you're a proud person you need the space to be your own little god. That's why you're always leaving things and people. Other people make it hard for little gods to fully live into their little god-selves.

Here are 5 things that pride does.

1. Pride takes offense (Cain): Because the primary focus of a proud person is on himself and whether or not he's being given the deference, respect, gratitude and admiration he deserves, it's really easy to offend a proud person. If you're proud, you turn all of your conversations into reasons to talk about yourself, your feelings, your deeds, your opinions, and your looking for the same kind of focus in others. What does he or she think of me? And so when someone forgets to say thank you. Or someone else's accomplishments are recognized, if your work is unnoticed, your great sacrifices and sufferings not sympathized with, your name not mentioned--you get angry, offended. You take it personally. Because you are always thinking about you, you think everyone else is always thinking about you and so what people say and do is always in some way aimed at you.

2. Pride is envious (Saul). The proud person is sad/angry when others are recognized, promoted, admired, congratulated or praised. If you're proud, when people speak well of another person's work or performance, or character, you might play along, but in your heart your thinking of all the ways that the person being praised is inadequate, not quite as good as everyone thinks. You're thinking about ways that you are better and how blind and stupid everyone is for not noticing. You're also probably thinking about way's to make the praised person's failures more widely known—because its just not fair that he gets so much undeserved attention.

3. Proud people hate to be criticized even constructively but love playing the critic (pharisees). Now, it is true that nobody loves criticism. I don't like it one bit. But if you're proud you simply cannot handle it. You're not just defensive, you are unable to process the criticism as anything but an attack. When you're criticized, you immediately generate a thousand reasons why the critic is wrong, doesn't understand, isn't looking at the facts. Sometimes critics are wrong, especially if the critic is another proud person, but because you're proud, you can't assess honestly whether the critic is ever right.

But you're really good at spotting imperfections in other people, you've honed that skill. You have a critique in your head for every member of your family, your coworkers, friends, and you can call up that list at a moment's notice. The humble person, by contrast, can generally take criticism well and is able to discern good constructive criticism from false and destructive criticism primarily because the humble person is already aware of his own faults and is very honest with himself about them. When the humble person senses the need to confront someone in a critical way about that person's behavior, he'll always check himself first. Am I being fare, am I criticizing this person legitimately?

4. Proud people complain when things are not as they would have it. Since they are the center of their own universes, when things are not as they would have it things are not right. If you're proud you're always thinking about why you don't like your present circumstances and usually trying to figure out who to blame for it. Humble people are generally surprised at and thankful for what they have.

5. Proud people are naturally prone to tear down leaders. If you're proud, the decisions of your leaders, bosses, parents, anyone over you in any way are always flawed, their assessments always wrong, their motives always sinful. Everything would work a lot better if you were in charge and so your bosses, leaders, parents, teachers, whoever, are always less capable of doing their jobs than you. Nothing angers you more than a leader who will not listen to your wise counsel. Humble people are certainly aware of flaws in leaders and willing to call them on it but the idea of being under the authority of others is not a problem. He can appreciate good leadership because it is not a threat to him.

I believe that most of the conflicts right now in this church have their root in pride."

No comment needed.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Black Echo (Michael Connelly)

Some lovely people gave me a Waterstone's token, so I thought I'd spend it on a couple more Michael Connelly books, as I'd enjoyed The Poet so much.

Taken on its own this is a fine crime novel, with an excellently irascible and intriguing lead character in Harry Bosch. However, the great drawback was that structurally it is extremely similar to The Poet. I've bought another one - Black Ice, next in the sequence - and if Connelly uses the same structure for that then he will drop down several levels in my estimation.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Brave New War (John Robb)

I've been reading John Robb's two blogs for quite some time, so the material wasn't as startling as it might have been (summary: nation states can't win against 4th generation warfare; have to shift to more resilient forms of community). Very readable, and interesting for those who follow foreign affairs, but it was hampered by a very time-bound judgement on the Iraq war. I might do a follow-up post on the relevance of this for running a church.

The Savages

Just what I needed after Tarantino: a real story with real people and something of a message, although I'll need to ponder it further to work out exactly what was being said. Excellent. 4.5/5

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Inglorious Basterds

Hmm. I want to do one of those graphs that you can occasionally find in movie magazines that track your interest during the course of the film: an excellently dramatic, verging on the profound, opening chapter, then a disconcertingly zig-zagging subsequent experience as it lurched from pathos to pathetic cartoonery, via pointless bloodthirstiness, until it abandoned all pretence at being a serious film at the conclusion. Still, I guess that was Tarantino's intention, he's still basically a geek playing with his new Millenium Falcon. Thing is, I caught a discussion of his on 'There Will Be Blood' the other night, and how Paul Anderson had made him try to raise his game. Despite the film's last line, he's failed on that score; the first scene above all shows that he has the technique mastered, what's missing is something else, perhaps something more soulful. He's managed it with some films (Pulp Fiction has it) but he seems to be making more misses than hits these days.
Oh, should have said: some excellent acting in it, and memorable characters.


This, I learned, is what the NHS is about -- common decency. It is about the shared belief that all the people who live in the United Kingdom constitute a society, and a decent society provides certain necessities for its members. Freedom from hunger is one. Police protection is another. Free healthcare from the cradle to the grave is simply one more item on this list.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Caster Semenya and the difference between Wanda and Lord Fanny

One of the interesting things about the Caster Semenya kerfuffle is how it brings out the inadequacies of essentialist thinking. Sporting discrimination between male and female is predicated on their being an ineradicable difference between the two genders. Contestants have to be placed in one of two boxes 'male' and 'female'. What happens if someone doesn't qualify under either heading (I have no idea if this lady doesn't; it just raises the issue)? It brings the classification system itself into question.

This thinking is a key part of what underlies the teaching in Leviticus 18 & 20 that it is an "abomination" for a man to lie with a man. The understanding is (and I'm drawing on Gareth Moore here) that there is a right way for sexual relations to be ordered, and it involves the two parties being members of particular and opposite categories (with male superior to female of course); the boundaries must not be transgressed. Human beings have to fit into the different categories ('male and female he created them') and, again, if there are people who don't fit, it brings the classification system itself into question. Which is why there is the language about 'the authority of Scripture' - even if we leave aside questions of consistency, this issue does threaten that authority.

Two of my favourite graphic novel series deal with issues of transvestitism/transsexuality (forgive me if I don't use the terminology properly), in differing ways. In the Sandman sequence there is a pre-op male to female transsexual called Wanda, who lives as a woman but who, at a key moment in the plot is rejected as a woman (by the Moon) because she has a Y chromosome: she is not acceptable as a female on essentialist grounds. In contrast to this, in The Invisibles, one of the key characters is Lord Fanny, who was born a boy but raised as a girl, and who, in a climactic engagement with the God Mictlantecuhtli is accepted as a witch because she made the God laugh.

What I want to ask is: where are Christians called to stand? Are we with the moon in saying that there is something essential that needs to be safeguarded and preserved - the boundaries are absolute? Or are we with Mictlantecuhtli and prepared to be flexible, allowing our categories to be bent?

For me the answer is pretty clear. We are called to recognise and relate to all people as individuals, not as members of one class or another. In particular, there is such an absence of genuine love in so many places in our world that it seems bizarre not to celebrate love when it can be found.

I see this as a development rooted in Christian understandings - not so much in Scripture as the unfolding of a tradition from that Scripture, specifically the teaching that in Christ there is no male or female etc - in other words, in Christ all the old essentials have been dissolved. Our identity now rests in our relationship with Him and all the other categories can get lost.

In other words:

UPDATE: an interesting article, via AKMA.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Not very good. Just about 3/5

On spiritual songs and such things

(Via Banksyboy)


A conversation on environmental matters between Paul Kingsnorth and George Monbiot. I'm mostly with Paul; the difference is that I don't rule out divine "intervention". (Yes, I am being serious).

NB Do check out the Dark Mountain Project. I have great sympathy with it - I even managed to be a founding subscriber!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Psycho (Gus van Sant)

Wasn't planning to watch this, but caught the Tarantino introduction that Sky Movies prefaced it with, and found it (with QT's help) surprisingly watchable. One day, in a different lifetime, it would be interesting to study the differences and the choices that van Sant made. 3/5

The Poet (Michael Connelly)

Absorbing and satisfying. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy crime fiction.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bears killing children

David Ker asks me how I would preach on 2 Kings 2:23-24, which is the passage where Elisha is insulted by some children, so he calls down some bears to kill and eat them. I'd recommend going to David's original post and clicking on the links there as I'm not sure I've got anything significant to add to some excellent answers already provided. Best answers so far seem to be "I wouldn't" and "only Jesus is perfect". So this is a bit of a cop-out, sorry.

Football predictions

In the form of a table (and some bits I'm more confident of than others):

ManU [1]
ManCity [2]
Arsenal [3]
WHam [4]
Sunderland [5]

[1] I think the title will be fought out between ManU and Chelsea, I don't think Liverpool will get as many points off those two this coming season. I think ManU are a weaker side than last year (lost some Portugeezer, Tevez, plus injuries to Hargreaves etc, although I think Owen will be a good signing, and Valencia) whereas Chelsea will be significantly stronger (return of Carvalho, Joe Cole and Michael Essien, plus Zhirkov looks very useful). All depends on whether Ancelotti can flourish in the Premiership of course, but if he does then I think Chelsea will win it by the end of April.
[2] Man City now have the squad (especially if they get another good centreback), they have no European distractions, I rate Mark Hughes as a manager - all they need is a little luck.
[3] Flip side of [2] and involving a lot of luck. Could be that Arsenal and Liverpool swap places.
[4] Held up by an excellent coaching staff, who I'm sure will one day return to take over at Chelsea.
[5] Sunderland is the last of the upwardly mobile on the list. Below them there isn't much to choose between the teams, although I'm fairly confident that my bottom two will be relegated, barring something dramatic happening on the South Coast.

Supersense and the porpoises

Bernard Moitessier:
"I hear familiar whistlings and hurry out, as always when porpoises are around. I don't think I've ever seen so many at once. The water is white with their splashing, furrowed in all directions by the knives of their dorsal fins. There must be close to a hundred. I would like to shoot some film, but it is too dark; the shots would not turn out, and I have not film to waste. An hour ago they would have given me the most beautiful pictures of the trip, with the sun all around. A tight line of 25 porpoises swimming abreast goes from stern to stem on the starboard side, in three breaths, then the whole group veers right and rushes off at right angles, all the fins cutting the water together and in the same breath taken on the fly.
I watch, wonderstruck. More than ten times they repeat the same thing. Even if the sun were to return, I could not tear myself away from all this joy, all this life, to get out the [camera]. I have never seen such a perfect ballet. And each time, it is to the right that they rush off, whipping the sea white for thirty yards. They are obeying a precise command, that is for sure... They seem nervous...
Something pulls me, something pushes me. I look at the compass. Joshua is running downwind at 7 knots straight for Stewart Island, hidden in the stratus. The steady west wind had shifted around to the south without my realizing it... I drop the mizzen staysail, then trim the sheets and set the wind vane for a beat...
I go back on deck after just a few drags on my cigarette. There are as many porpoises as before. But now they play with Joshua, fanned out ahead, in single file alongside, with the very lithe, very gay movements I have always known. And then something wonderful happens: a big black and white porpoise jumps ten or twelve feet in the air in a fantastic somersault, with two complete rolls. And he lands flat, tail forward. Three times he does his double roll, bursting with tremendous joy, as if he were shouting to me and all the other porpoises: 'The man understood that we were trying to tell him to sail to the right... you understood.... you understood... keep on like that, it's all clear ahead!'"


Bruce Hood (Supersense):
"Every religion has a supernatural component, but not all supernaturalism is religious. I could be an atheist and still think I have abilities that go beyond nature but without the need to believe in God. This is important because while all religions come from culture, that is not true for all supernatural beliefs."

"...our intuitions from an early age provide a fertile soil for creationism, whether we stumble on it ourselves or are led to it through religious doctrines. These include:
  1. There are no random events or patterns in the world.
  2. Things are caused by intention.
  3. Complexity cannot happen spontaneously but must be a product of someone's plan to design them for a purpose.
  4. All living things are essentially different because of some invisible property inside them."

"We all know what it is to be irrational. Humans are destined to make mistakes of rationality. This irrationality reflects supernatural assumptions that appeal to patterns, forces, and energies categorically denied by science. We don't have our rational radar on all the time. Sometimes our behaviour and decisions are based on inferring the presence of things that science tells us do not exist. That's because the idea of there being something more to reality is such a common ingredient in so much of our human behaviour, irrespective of whether we are religious or not."


Robin Knox-Johnston:
"The sea and ships are great levellers... I am always amazed when looking over the Victory in Portsmouth that a thousand men could be jammed into that small space for years at a time. A harsh discipline (to our modern eyes), teamwork, self-reliance, trust in their officers and each other, formed the pattern of their lives, but they were also brought face to face with the colossal natural forces that one meets at sea. Their whole existence depended upon their ability to come to terms with the wind and sea, and to use these forces to drive their ship.

It is not surprising that most of them thought more than their counterparts ashore about the cause of these forces, and not in the least surprising to me that so many were strongly superstitious or developed unshakeable religious beliefs, and sometimes both. I have found myself thinking deeply on the matter when out in rough weather in a small boat. It is all very well for someone sitting in an office to explain logically how the waves can build up before the wind, for we have discovered the natural laws that control this, but to a seaman, the explanation of these laws does not always seem to be sufficient. However practical you like to think you are, the feeling comes that there is more to it all than just natural laws, and if you have been brought up in a society that bases its philosophy upon the existence of a Superior Being, you come to consider that this Being is responsible, and to accept that he exists...
On my own in Suhaili, dealing with the elements in a straightforward manner and with only the basic rules of the sea to go by, things appeared in a far less complicated light than they do when surrounded by the diversions of civilization. The answers I came up with then seemed both simple and honest. I stored them for future reference in the private corners of my mind; right or wrong they will always be there."


From Psalm 107:
" 23 Others went out on the sea in ships;
they were merchants on the mighty waters.

24 They saw the works of the LORD,
his wonderful deeds in the deep.

25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves.

26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.

27 They reeled and staggered like drunken men;
they were at their wits' end.

28 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.

29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.

30 They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.

31 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men.

32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
and praise him in the council of the elders."

A world of my own (Robin Knox-Johnston)

Finished this last month but forgot to put something up on the blog. After reading Moitessier I remembered that I had this on my bookshelf, inherited from my father (and it is a signed first edition no less). Again, a very interesting story, but the national stereotypes were out in full - where Moitessier was romantic and philosophical Knox-Johnston is pragmatic and dutiful. A good read though, and it does make me want to do a long journey like that one day.

The Ugly Truth

Pretty funny. 3.5/5

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Reasonable Atheism (33): Moral generativity

Just pursuing a theme from the previous post (and it links in with bls's comment): one of the ways in which I see the humourless atheist position as deficient is that I believe it is severely lacking in moral generativity. I need to explain what I mean by that.

Pursuing the good life involves rules, but it's not ultimately a matter of following rules. There needs to be some awareness of the good that is sought by the following of rules; in other words, over time, what is most needed is an awareness of when the rules need to be broken in order to preserve what the rules were there for in the first place! This is the Christian debate about Law and Grace, but you don't have to use theological language to understand the point.

Any creative or craftsman-like endeavour involves an awareness of learning the rules, then learning when to break the rules. There is an aphorism that goes something like: the student follows the rules, the rebel breaks the rules, the master transcends the rules (because both the rebel and the student are equally bound into rule following).

Now, when we are talking about how to navigate our lives, how to determine what is valuable and what is trivial, what sort of shape of life to pursue - Christians have recourse not just to a two-thousand year history of rules and rule development; they also have access to the founding narratives which provide a context within which to argue about whether the rules are right or not. This allows for something new to develop within the understanding of the faith. There is a space within which new forms of rules, and new understandings of the rules, and new understandings of how to assess the rules (ie to look at the rules from above) can come. In other words, there are resources here with which to build a life creatively, not just from an assembly line. This is what I mean by moral generativity.

This is important because whilst human nature remains more or less constant, the cultural situations within which humans find themselves change all the time, and thus the moral discernment needed has to develop over time too. Consider: what is the morality of using a car? We are in a new situation, we need to develop new thinking. Christianity has the resources required to meet this sort of question, as do other wisdom traditions.

I want to know what the moral resources are for a humourless atheist? What are the guiding narratives and structures from which the integrity of a life can be built, which allow a space within which to pursue the good life? Humourless atheism, just does not seem to have this. It is parasitic on other wisdom traditions - principally, but not exclusively, Christianity.

(Of course, as soon as a positive answer is given to this line of questioning, the humourless atheist is no longer such - now there is a positive hook on which to hang identity. More on that another time.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Reasonable Atheism (32): How do you navigate your life?

Christianity - or, more precisely, Jesus himself, as LOGOS - provides the context through which I understand the meaning of my life. It expresses the framework by which I assess what is valuable and what is trivial, what counts as good and evil. It's not simply that I download a Christian operating system and then run it on my wetware; there is a discussion and argument and interrogation and self-analysis and slowly, over time, I own more and more of the Christian world-view. It becomes a central part of who I am. There are some exceptions, some grey areas, some bits where I suspect I will one day understand, some bits where I think I will always resist. But Christianity is the framework; it is, in a real sense, how I navigate my life. It tells me (expresses for me) what way is up.

One way of distinguishing between a reasonable and a humourless atheist is that the former understands this and, indeed, can offer an answer to the question 'How do you navigate your life?' There will then be an offering of their own navigation system, whether that be a different faith or something like humanism or Stoicism. Whereas a humourless atheist will normally try and avoid the question, often trying to argue that is makes no sense - in other words, they don't 'get it' (hence, they are humourless).

Whereas I find that the most interesting of conversations come when we find out what it is that people most value, and how they are then able to talk about them, and to establish common ground and areas of difference. It is the sort of thing that can enable those of different faiths (or different varieties of the same faith, or those of no faith) to come together on common projects.

Humourless atheists can't take part in this conversation. I think they miss out on something essentially human as a result. Of course, I also think that such a position is incoherent and unjustifiable - but that's the point of distinguishing one atheism from another.

Is this a strawman? Are there any humourless atheists? Sam Harris would appear to be one.

Other posts on atheism here.

Honest Scrap

Peter Kirk tagged me with this, "I’m supposed to tell you 10 HONEST things about myself and then nominate 7 other blogs that I think deserve to receive the Honest Scrap Award."

Hey, everything I write on here is honest! (Some of it is scrap without the s too ;) And I've done this sort of thing before... So this'll be brief, and I'm not going to tag anyone else.

1. I'm completely deaf in my left ear since birth.
2. I'm learning to sail.
3. I'm going on sabbatical this autumn, hoping to finish my LUBH book, and do some more sailing.
4. I grew up on a houseboat about ten miles up river from where I am now.
5. I'm married with three kids, a dog and a parrot.
6. I'm in therapy, which is a good thing.
7. I'm really enjoying learning to ride a motorbike.
8. I have permission from my Bishop to stop doing some of the things that I have been doing, because even he now thinks I've been doing too much!!!
9. I haven't blogged properly (or sung the Eucharistic prayer) since early May (let the reader understand). I expect this psychological blockage to ease during the sabbatical.
10. I am writing this using a new computer but my old (and very mucky) keyboard, because the shape of the keys on the new keyboard is slightly and annoyingly different. Time to invest in a keyboard cleaner.


Fabulous, wonderful and a new contender for one of my top ten films. It would have been perfect without the last 90 seconds or so, which I feel spoiled it a little. It would be interesting to read an analysis of this film as compared with It's a Wonderful Life (which IS one of my all-time favourites), especially the shift from a more social sense of worth to the contemporary psychological/self-help sense of worth. If I can't find the article I might end up writing it myself!

Four and three-quarters out of five.

3:10 to Yuma

Finely crafted rather than greatly artistic, but a great Western all the same. 4/5

Saturday, August 08, 2009

On missing John Hughes

I must have seen Breakfast Club more than thirty times when I was a teenager. I even bought the soundtrack album (which I still have somewhere). That might qualify as too much information :)

"Their deaths make me feel old, but more than that, they make me aware of belonging to a generation that has yet to figure out adulthood, for whom life can feel like a long John Hughes movie. You know the one. That Spandau Ballet song is playing at the big dance. You remember the lyrics, even if it’s been years since you heard them last. This is the sound of my soul. I bought a ticket to the world, but now I’ve come back again. Why do I find it hard to write the next line?"

Lots of other things around, like this one.

Our best days lie ahead

Via Grandmere Mimi:

"The battle isn't about God. It's about fear, control and property.

The anti-change minority wants to reclaim a world that no longer exists.

They want to seize property that doesn't belong to them. Archbishop, you are being used.

If it's any consolation, Archbishop, I don't like some of the changes in my church, either. I think we have rewarded institutional tinkering and stopped dreaming. We depend on style and not substance. We worry about inherited property and not about the world outside our doors. We fuss about who is ordained when we should be nurturing healthy congregations.

Fear abounds. Fear of offending longtime members and deep-pocket givers. Fear of speaking freely and dreaming grandly. Fear of trying hard and maybe failing. Fear of preaching a Gospel more radical than anything we've said.

But many are determined to get beyond fear -- by taking one brave step at a time, learning to be nimble and to listen, learning from our failures, taking risks.

The dilemma facing Episcopalians is that "soon, and very soon we are going to see the King." Our buildings may crumble, our endowments may tumble, and all we have left is each other and our faith.

Will we have any song to sing when the great pipe organs are stilled? Will we have any prayer to say when comfortable pews are gone?

Will we sit in circles of love when nice parlors are sold? Will we love our neighbors when we cannot hire staff to do it for us?

I think we will have that faith. I think we already have it. It's just hard to see when so much energy goes into institutionalism and fighting.

I think our best days lie ahead."

Not just about the current shenanigans, and rather a timely read for me.


No one should ever work.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


A thought for the feast today: if James, Peter and John had been Muslim, would they have seen Mohammed rather than Moses on Mount Tabor?

Today's link: Be lucky (also the name of one of my favourite Show of Hands songs.)

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Enjoyable escapist nonsense, though I found the replacement of Rachel Weisz with Maria Bello surprisingly distracting. 3/5

Ice Age 3

Fun. 3/5

Against the Covenant

I've been more and more troubled the longer I reflect on Rowan's recent letter (and it seems I'm not the only one). I thought Tim made a very good point, and there are many other useful discussions.

The thing is, my every instinct wants to continue to be loyal to Rowan. I've tried to defend him in previous years, even when his actions (eg over the Jeffrey John affair) have seemed questionable. Now, though, I don't think I can do it any more.

What I most struggle with in Rowan's letter is this paragraph (7): "In the light of the way in which the Church has consistently read the Bible for the last two thousand years, it is clear that a positive answer to this question would have to be based on the most painstaking biblical exegesis and on a wide acceptance of the results within the Communion, with due account taken of the teachings of ecumenical partners also. A major change naturally needs a strong level of consensus and solid theological grounding."

This seems not just misleading (the exegesis has been done) but hypocritical. For example, Rowan's own domestic circumstances are not such as to receive approval according to 'the teachings of ecumenical partners', nor are his orders, which are 'null and void'. If this understanding were to be adopted as normative for our church - and let us be absolutely clear that this understanding is not and has not been normative before (from the establishment of the church itself all the way through to the ordination of women) - then we are finally abandoning historic Anglican ecclesiology. There would, in fact, be no point in continuing as a separate church; we would have given away all power of autonomy and self-direction under God.

I feel that Rowan has become captured by the powers, whether those powers are seen as 'establishment' or 'ecumenical concerns' or something else. He has raised up the principle of catholicity and unity too far above those of truth and justice and the reality of Anglican church autonomy and existing structures. The principles of catholicity and unity are good principles, but like all good principles they can be taken too far - and I believe they have now become idols: they will give what is requested, but take human life in exchange. For all sorts of reasons I believe the centralisation of power to be wrong and remarkably ill-timed in a context where a post-Peak Oil world will soon be shrinking again.

What is most saddening is how the Jeffrey John affair seems in retrospect. I could just about get my head around it if it was about timing, ie that the kairos was wrong. Yet Rowan's position now is that - in contrast to his previous teaching and practice - there will never be a kairos moment for such as Jeffrey John. I no longer have any sense of where Rowan's integrity lies in all this. I'm sure it's there somewhere; but then, Caiaphas was probably a good and prayerful man too.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Lie to Me

I'm really enjoying this series - I'm a few episodes behind but should catch up in time for the series finale this week - but this is a good article on the people and science that the show is based on. Fascinating stuff.

The Thing (1982)

Holds up really well. 4/5

Sweeney Todd

Excellent. 4/5
Once upon a time I played Beaujolais Pickle in a school production of Sweeney Todd, though I can't find out from Google what the relationship is between that and the Sondheim version which Burton adapted.

Me, Myself and Irene

Amusing; Carrey is so gifted at physical comedy. 3/5


Is SF bigger than religion?