July 31, 2003

The Western Isles on the Edge of Perdition

Isolated at the far reaches of northwestern Britain, and separated from it by a distance greater than from southeastern Britain to France (and a journey of more than twice the duration), the Western Isles have lived up the the biblical maxim to be in the world but not of the world. They are, after all, barely in the world to begin with.

However, things are beginning to change in Lewis, Harris, and North Uist. It started slowly. First, people were allowed to leave the Isles on a Sunday. Caledonian-MacBrayne faced great opposition, but they actually transported heathens on the Sabbath. One local minister nearly became a martyr by lying on the jetty when the first Sunday ferry to the Isle of Skye tried to leave.

As of this weekend things have deteriorated much further. For the first time, a shop was open on a Sunday. It was a service station. I know it seems small to most people, but you have to think about it. Who needs a service station? Motorists. Why would motorists need a service station? To travel on the Sabbath. So we have one sin facilitating another.

Something even more sinister is afoot. The son of the man who opened his service station applied to the local council for a license to operate his paintball enterprise on Sunday. The decline in morals is evident in that someone had the audacity to even apply. I would certainly think that the whole family has been excommunicated from the Wee Free Church of Scotland! It has happened over a lot less.

The Western Isles have also been reached by European human rights legislation. Apparently under Euro-law, you can't outlaw something on purely religious grounds like Sabbath breaking. The council received legal advice that they now have to phrase their decisions on such matters in terms of "local amenity".

In a decision that was no doubt published before the matter came up on the council agenda, the entertainment license for the paintball company was found to have adverse effect on local amenity.

Posted by david at 12:49 AM | Comments (0)

July 30, 2003

The Return of a Warrior

I am at best ambivalent about the war and ongoing operation in Iraq. I have friends who, while otherwise agreeing on most things political, are deeply divided over it. I see both sides. Many of you know this is a rare thing for me.

Nonetheless, I wanted to share a link to an article written by the Dean of the Liberty University School of Law, Bruce Green, about the homecoming of his son Caleb, an 18-year-old Marine with the 2nd Light Armored Recon Battalion, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

Because I was once acquainted with another member of the Green family, and they are friends of several different friends of mine, we prayed for Caleb during the intense days of the conflict. I'm glad to learn that a merciful God brought him safely home.

When I think of my little boy, I'm sure I would be very proud of him if he were called to serve one of his countries, but I pray -- I pray often -- that he will never have to go to war.

Posted by david at 11:44 PM | Comments (0)

Giving to the Lord

You may recall that a few days ago, Aidie had Peter Rabbit kiss St Aidan. He has advanced now to getting Jesus to drink milk.

He was carrying around our small Pantocrator icon as he went about the house getting into his usual mischief, chattering away in his usual gibberish. Gives a whole new meaning to "He walks with me and He talks with me..."

After ordering Aidan and Jesus out of the video drawer and away from the television, which must be thirsty work, they went over to the coffee table, where Aidie picked up his sippy cup and attempted to share it with the Lord. Rather than miraculous weeping, we had what looked more like a drooling icon.

Posted by david at 09:39 PM | Comments (0)

The Crowded Orthodox Blogosphere

I've just added Alana's Morning Coffee to my list of blogs .

Posted by david at 05:35 PM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2003

The Wait

I simply do not understand why medical professionals have no concept of time. Just yesterday and today I was in a doctor's surgery and a dentist's surgery. I had a 10:30 appointment with my doctor and didn't get to see him until after 11:00. Mrs Holford and child had a 4:00 appointment to see the dentist and actually saw him after 4:30.

Apparently the medical professional's time is worth much more than mine. I shouldn't mind just sitting there waiting in gleeful anticipation because they have actually agreed to see me and grace me with their knowledge and technical skills.

I might be more gleeful if I didn't have to sit there in utter boredom. The waiting room at my doctor's surgery is stocked with a small supply of cheap, non-glossy women's magazines. The dentist offers periodicals as exciting as "Country Homes", "Homes and Antiques". These are modestly entertaining to women who like to fantasize about furnishings they will never be able to afford for houses they will never live near, not to mention in. There were also copies of "Steam Railways" for the trainspotters. Nothing for normal people.

The dentist did also have a small selection of toys in the corner. Aidan was drawn to these immediately. Every unwashed child who has ever passed through the surgery must have been drawn to them as they were filthy. Keeping him away from them was pointless and after the half-hour wait, I was tempted to play with them as well.

Of course all of this -- the unreadable magazines, the grimy toys -- would be unnecessary if 10:30 meant 10:30 and 4:00 meant 4:00.

Posted by david at 11:41 PM | Comments (3)

July 28, 2003


We don't let Aidie have a lot of chocolate. The upside of this is that he doesn't get too used to lots of sweets and things that aren't good for him. The downside is that when he gets chocolate, he is very possessive.

He got chocolate today because it was vaccination day. Chocolate Buttons are a great distraction from big needles. While he was in the waiting room at the doctors' surgery an elderly man saw him enjoying his Buttons and said, "Oooh, what do you have there?" Aidie eyed him with suspicion. Then the man said, "Why don't you give your mummy one?" Aidie quickly closed the packet with his hand and pulled it close to his chest. He quickly went and sat in his pushchair to make sure they were out of reach of any possible poachers.

We have made progress when it comes to sharing most things. But as he has learned from his mother, chocolate isn't like most things.

Posted by david at 11:32 PM | Comments (0)

Tony Martin's Real Mistake

Tony Martin's big mistake was not shooting and killing an intruder in his house. Sure, that cost him two-thirds of a five-year sentence in prison for self-defence... er... I mean, manslaughter. No, Tony's big mistake was shooting a gypsy.

Gypsies, or "travellers" as they are often called, are a close-knit community, though they are scattered all over the UK. And they are all related. They don't all live in the horse-drawn wagons or car-pulled caravans in laybys, fields, and public car parks. Some live in houses, like the dead thief Fred Barras grew up in. (They are not to be confused with those traveller wannabees that are just throwback 70s hippies.)

The Gypsies have put a bounty on Tony Martin's head. Apparently they are all pitching in from their multiple dole accounts, profits from fenced goods, and other nefarious means of acquisition, and offering £60,000 to have him killed.

The police are obviously taking the threats seriously, as they have set up a mobile police unit near Martin's Norfolk farm.

A cousin of Barras said of Martin, "He will get it. Something will happen to him, it's got to. We've got hundreds of relations who aren't happy with it. And to those who say it's just talk, I'd say wait and see. The detectives can't be with him all the time, can they?"

Another cousin told a national newspaper, "He is a dead man. I don't know if it will be a traveller that will do it, but it will be a proper hitman, a professional job."

Martin will be unable to defend himself, because he has had his shotgun confiscated and his gun license revoked. I'm not sure how effective the police protecting him will be. If they see an armed gypo headed for Tony's house, they will probably challenge him. Since they are as unlikely as Martin to have guns, they will probably say, "Stop or I'll say 'stop' again."

If all this had happened in a civilized country, where property and personal safety are defensible by deadly force without fear of state retribution, things would be different. Tony Martin and his neighbours would be ready for anyone who tried to get revenge.

Posted by david at 10:30 PM | Comments (15)

July 27, 2003

Forced to Pimp or Lose Benefits

Job Centres run by the Department of Work and Pensions are very helpful places. In addition to determining eligibility for the dole - now known as Job Seekers Allowance - they can find you a job just about anywhere. Even as a pimp.

You may not know you are going to be a pimp. The job advert may call it something like Personal Assistant/Secretary. But if you get there and you find out that it actually entails setting up appointments for high-priced hookers, don't bother to tell the Job Centre about it. There's no complaints department - quit the job and you lose your benefits.

That's what happened at the Job Centre in south London.

Posted by david at 11:54 PM | Comments (0)

The Costs and Benefits of Immigration

In an effort to trim costs, the Health Department is going to cut out services to old age pensioners. Retirees who have moved to warmer climes will no longer be allowed "free" health care. After all, no health care is free. In the UK, it is being paid for by those involuntary pay packet extractions. If they live for more than six months of the year outside the country where they have paid a lifetime of taxes, they will have to pay again for health care, should they desire to return.

If they need to be hospitalised while living in Spain or France, rather than being able to come home to be near family, they will have to stay put if they don't want to be treated as a non-EU foreigner in the UK.

This is necessary for a number of reasons. Since citizens of any EU country can show up Britain and say they are living here, they are entitled to social security benefits and council housing, as well as the NHS. They need not actually work here - just become "habitually resident" (which for some seems to be a hard habit to break). So if we are going to have to pay for everyone that shows up from everywhere else, we can't very well be taking care of all our citizens.

It's going to get even worse next year when ten more countries join the EU. Much worse. There isn't a lot of motivation for mass migration to places like France, Spain, Germany and Italy. The new EU citizens won't be going there, because they have passed laws preventing Eastern European from working there for as long as seven years. The UK has done the opposite. From May 2004, citizens of Poland, Hungary, Lativia, Lithuania, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta will be just as free as any other EU citizens to drain the Government coffers. They don't even have to bother to marry a Brit.

I am sure that as soon as the reality of the situation hits the Exchequer, more and more Brits will be squeezed out to make sure that every Euro-migrant is integrated into the welfare state.

Posted by david at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2003

The Death of Hatred

My first P.E. teacher died Sunday. I just found out about it reading my hometown newspaper online. He was the first teacher I really hated. He was the first in an unbroken succession of P.E. teachers for whom I had nothing but antipathy.

I was a bit surprised at my reaction when reading his very brief obituary. I was quite sad. I was sad that he died so young -- he was only 59. Now that I'm 39, 59 doesn't seem very old at all. And I was very sad that the only other comment in the obit would seem to indicate that he died without Christ. His funeral was conducted by a Justice of the Peace. Usually if someone has even the slightest religious affiliation, their family finds a preacher to do the funeral.

It doesn't matter any more than he was a bully. I don't even know what he became over the next thirty years. When he was my P.E. teacher, he was ten years younger than I am now. As Mark Antony says in Julius Caesar, "The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft iterred with their bones." But even if he became a much nicer teacher, at the end of the day, and on that Great and Final Day, it really doesn't matter.

I can't say that I absolutely know his relationship to Christ and His Church. Perchance he was found in Christ, I will pray for his soul. It may do more good for me than for him. After all, Ronnie would not have remember me. I would have blended into the faceless past. The latent anger I have felt for thirty years was unknown to him. It never affected him in any way.

I think about all the people I have already known who are faceless to me now. I think of everyone with whom I will come into contact over the next years. How will I affect them and never know it? What damage will I do by my callous words? Will I repeatedly be a candidate for a millstone necklace?

In praying for Ronnie, I will pray for myself, that I will not be what he was, at least what he was to me when I knew him. You can pray for me, too.

Posted by david at 06:44 PM | Comments (0)

Another New Blogger

Another Orthodox blogger has moved beyond the comment boxes and into his own place. Welcome to Aaron and The Violent Munkee!

Posted by david at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2003

Growing in Soul and Body

Tonight at the end of our family devotional time, Aidie was excited as always to kiss the icons. He takes more time than he used to. As we get each one down for him, he looks intently, studying the person depicted before he kisses them.

After he venerated Christ and the Theotokos, we gave him St Aidan. He paused and looked at his namesake before kissing him. Then he did something totally unexpected. He went over to the shelf where his stuffed Peter Rabbit is, picked up Peter in one hand while holding St Aidan in the other, and kissed the icon with the rabbit. While this may seems strange or even funny at first, it demonstrated an new level of awareness of what he is doing as well as a new development in his imaginative ability. Not bad for a little boy who is 18 months old today.

Posted by david at 09:40 PM | Comments (1)

Taking Faith out of a Faith Perspective

Thanks to Serge at a conservative blog for peace for noticing an article in the Daily Telegraph that I missed.

If you can't get to it without registration, the gist of it is that the BBC is purging presenters from Radio 4's Thought for the Day programme for being too religious. Thought for the Day is, according to the BBC website, "a two minute reflection on the news from a faith perspective." The agnostic who is the Beeb's head of religion and ethics, Alan Bookbinder, said that religious voices often sounded "mundane and muted".

Of course they aren't getting rid of all the religious presenters. According to the Daily Telegraph, they have recently added "Abdal Hakim Murad, a leading commentator on Islamic issues, Jeevan Singh Deol, a fellow in Indian history at the university of Cambridge and a specialist in Sikh issues, and Shagufta Yaqub, the editor of the Muslim publication, Q News." There is also increasing pressure on Mr Bookbinder to include atheist views.

I suppose they will have to re-write their description of the programme to read something like: "Thought for the Day is a two minute reflection on the news from a non-Christian or lack of faith perspective." But then how is it any different from the rest of their programming?

Posted by david at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)

Dangerously Christian

Alarm bells are ringing. Ian Duncan Smith has done it now. Surely the Tory leader has become a puppet of the religious right. He has appointed a new chief political adviser who is a Christian. And not just any sort of Christian, mind you. Oh no, we are talking about the most dangerous kind. Tim Montgomerie is an evangelical Christian.

Montgomerie is the director of the Conservative Christian Fellowship, which is not an exclusively evangelical organization. He does however, apparently have "strong links" to University of Texas journalism professor Marvin Olasky. Maybe he's met with Marvin, maybe he's read some of Marvin's books - I don't know. But he's guilty by association, because Olasky has strong links to George W - in fact he taught W most of what he knows about "Compassionate Conservatism". If there is anything you don't want in this country it is any connection W.

After all, that's Tony Blair's biggest liability. It's not that he's let the country fall apart. It's that he gets along with a Republican US President. And now, horror of horrors, if Blair gets along with Bush on foreign policy and IDS gets along with Bush on domestic policy, who are "right-minded" heathen Britons to look to for leadership?

If someone doesn't stop all this crazy radicalism of the religious right, who knows what might happen. They might even put Christians back on Radio 4's Thought for the Day!

Posted by david at 10:02 AM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2003

Could See But Now I'm Blind

Bristol Eye Hospital is one of the leading opthamological centres in the country. Managers were so determined to meet Government targets for new outpatient appointments that they cancelled follow-up appointments for exisiting patients.

It would have been bad enough if they had cancelled just a few and inconvenienced a handful of people. That's not what they did. They cancelled more than 1,000 appointments each month. Patients, some with diabetes and glaucoma, had to wait as long as 20 months beyond their originally scheduled follow up.

As a result, at least 25 with conditions that would have otherwise been treatable have lost their sight. They are as blind as the Government, which cannot see that all of this playing politics with the health care service actually destroys the lives of the people they are allegedly governing.

Posted by david at 08:26 PM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2003

We Do Not Know Where They Have Laid Him

Thanks to James at Paradosis for bringing up this topic.

Living in the UK, I am proximate to where the relics of many saints should be undisturbed. Thanks first to Henry VIII and second to the mop-up operations of Oliver Cromwell, there is hardly a bone to be found anywhere.

On November 14th, when we go to Cardiff to venerate our family patron St Dyfrig (the father of Welsh monasticism, predecessor and chief consecrator of St David), I find myself angry, irritated, and frustrated that we have been left with nothing but an empty tomb.

It feels like the grave of a family member has been desecrated. That's because it is the grave of a family member that has been desecrated. Did those who scattered these bones not consider that these were the remains of a brother or sister in Christ, even if they did not recognise them as a holy father in the faith or appreciate the latent power of the earthly tabernacle left behind? (Perhaps they weren't familiar with II Kings 13:21.)

It is the same everywhere I go. Churches are now proud to display the tombs of various saints, and in most cases they don't even bother to tell you that these are empty, unless you ask someone.

The only exception is when we pilgrimage to St David's. There are bones in a reliquary, but the Anglicans who own his cathedral go to great lengths to explain why it is doubtful the bones are those of the patron of Wales, though they were certainly important enough to have been hidden from Bishop Barlow's attempt to confiscate them, only to be re-discovered centuries later.

The verger who interrupted our veneration did admit that other bones in the reliquary were very possibly those of St Justinian. He also told us that Orthodox hierarchs contributed an interior case in which the bones are held and participated in the service when the relics were re-enshrined in the cathedral.

We last went to St David's when Mrs Holford was great with child. One thing the shrine smashers couldn't do was plug up the miraculous spring which appeared at the birth of St David. We gathered water from St Non's Well for Aidan David's baptism. Even when those with a purely mental Christianity would attempt to quench the sacramental work of the Holy Spirit touching earth with heaven in the cause of preventing "superstitions", the Spirit finds ways to reach us.

I'm still angry that they have desecrated the graves of my family.

Posted by david at 11:38 PM | Comments (1)

Home Office turns to God

I always hate to mention when the Government does something right. Fortunately, I don't have to do this very often.

Without giving any credit to Christian developers and proponents of its plan, the Home Secretary has announced plans to implement a pilot programme in Restorative Justice. I'm not sure how this is going to work with Hazel Blears' plan to pay criminals £20,000 a year. Perhaps that is how they will afford to pay restitution to their victims.

The point of Restorative Justice is to bring the offender face to face with the offended. They have to apologise to their victims and compensate any loss. There is no biblical formulation of double, four- or five-fold restitution, but it is correct as far as it goes.

It is one of the key policies promoted by Justice Fellowship, the public policy arm of Prison Fellowship. The idea has been successful in the United States in reducing recidivism. A biblical idea actually works. Surprise, surprise!

Posted by david at 06:01 PM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2003

To the Junk Yard

It looks like the Holfordmobile has finally died. It had been making a bit of a funny sound lately, generally first thing in the morning but going away after a few minutes.

Today we were just going out to get out of the flat for part of the afternoon. Mrs Holford was driving and attempted to cross the main road turning right. We barely made it. She pulled over and I attempted to get us to the garage where we had recently had work done. We limped along, managing to hit every light wrong, so that every bit of momentum was lost. Finally, as we headed uphill where Commercial Road becomes Aylestone Hill, we again stopped at the light and that was as far it the car was going to go.

Mrs Holford and Aidie exited the car and walked the rest of the way to the garage to get help. I was able to borrow a couple of orange traffic cones from the kind manager of KFC, after cars kept pulling up behind the our little K-reg piece-o-junk oblivious to the hazard lights. Once the car and I got the to garage, we learned that this repair will cost at least half of what we paid for the car and it still needs at least two other major repairs we already knew about.

Time to go shopping for a new set of wheels. And the bits that go with them.

Posted by david at 07:30 PM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2003

PC - or is that WPC?

Are you a hard-working officer with the Metropolitan Police - aka Scotland Yard? Do you need a little time off, but you just can't afford it? How does a year of paid leave sound? All you have to do is turn in your tackle. No, not your police equipment.

Officers with the Met who have a sex change will get twelve months of paid leave, with six months of that at full pay. This is not some sort of means of easing them out of the police. Quite the contrary, the Metropolitan Police Service Policy on Employment of Transsexuals insists that those who choose "gender reassignment" from what God made them to what they really are inside must not be discriminated against in any way.

This new policy gives the police a chance to take advantage of their carefully honed skills at supressing evidence. Records must be “weeded”. “Nothing should remain on the file which would disclose to a third party that a change has occurred.” They are also entitled to be tranferred to another post.

This isn't a policy just for existing officers. It is also for “encouraging and supporting members of the transsexual community to join the police”.

This isn't an idle policy that is just for a show of political correctness. The Met has already had 10 serving officers who have done a chop-and-change. They have also taken on at least one new recruit this year, though there was no indication whether this "transperson" (as the Met refers to them in this document) had finished the job of self-mutilation.

Posted by david at 09:20 PM | Comments (1)

Crime Pays - Very Well, Actually

The Government has announced a great new scheme for increasing the earning power of young people. Currently 16-year-olds earn an average of £8,000 a year. Now they can receive as much as £20,000. For those of you on the western side of the Atlantic, that's the equivalent of $32,000. Getting this money couldn't be easier. All they have to do is become criminals.

As long as they are either first-time offenders, or multiple offenders with no violence was used in their crimes, they will be given the option of paid community work for what would otherwise be the length of their sentence in prison. They will be paid £384 ($615) a week.

This is another result of Tony Blair's reshuffle. Junior minister Hazel Blears moved from the Health Department to the Home Office as Minister of State for Crime Reduction, Policing & Community Safety. This is her idea.

It will behoove those out of work to commit crimes rather than go on Job Seeker's Allowance (the current name of the dole). A single man on JSA gets about £40 a week. This is better than most would get in the prevalent practice of the what I call "Dole Plus". Since it is not possible to actually survive on the dole, whether someone is on it willingly or as a last resort, many recepients of public funds have heretofore found it necessary to either work in the grey market with no paperwork, or find things that have fallen off the back of a lorry to sell on the black market. This is all an awful lot of trouble for what is inevitably a lot less than £384 a week.

Posted by david at 08:22 PM | Comments (0)

Seek and You Never Know What You'll Find

Inspired by a similar post this week by James Ferrenberg at Paradosis, I decided to look at the search terms that have been used this month to find this website. Here are a few examples:

council ephesus protestant
fawkes or cyclic or resistor or britons or buffeting
how to put on condoms
funny mealtime prayers
labradors melanoma
list of adult bouncy castles to hire in cambridge
lighter waving songs
mary is not the mother of god
medieval exorcism methods
romania superballs
skin cancer crotch
unblocked or adjourning or admire or grant or oppression
wwii beefeaters who served at the tower of london

For some reason, known only in the algorithm of search engines, my site comes up when people are looking for a variety of images, none of which can been found here:

crime photos dead people
evander holyfield's 2003 marriage pictures
hospital bed pictures
lorna stewart murder picture
picture of breast milk doner women in milk bank
pictures of john quincy adams at 15 years old
pictures of torture instruments
recent pictures of reece witherspoon
saudi beheading sword pictures

The only pictures to be found on this website are pictures of Aidan, though now I'm considering some of Reese Witherspoon.

Posted by david at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)

What a Friend We Have in Jeejee

We now know that Aidan recognises Jesus. This morning he stood in front of our bookcase, where a shelf houses our icons while we are in temporary accommodation, and reached up asking for Jeejee. Mrs Holford retrieved the icon of our Lord Jeejee and gave it to Aidie, who immediately kissed it, just like he does at the end of our family prayer time in the evening.

Then he carried it around the room in some sort of procession, kissing it periodically as he went along. When he was finished he handed it to me and pointed back up the empty space on the shelf. He watched to make sure I put Jeejee back where He goes.

Posted by david at 09:36 AM | Comments (1)

July 19, 2003

Just Able to See Over the Dashboard

On Wednesday in southern Gonzales County, Texas, where I went to college, a 6-year-old boy got in a car and drove 30 miles from his home to the town where his grandmother lives.

The boy was with a baby-sitter a said he was going see his grandfather, who lives next door. About 30 minutes later, the baby-sitter noticed that not only had the boy not returned, but the 1998 Mazda was also missing. She called the Sheriff's Department.

The sheriff confirmed that his department received a call about the incident at 1:20 p.m. However, by 1:30 p.m. the boy was found in a supermarket parking lot in Luling. In the words of the Luling Police Chief, "It was kind of a strange deal."

Apparently the 6-year-old was not a very good driver. By the time he got to the supermarket, the vehicle was damaged to the extent that he had very little control over it. Even though he was driving without a license and almost certainly without insurance, the boy is not being charged due to his age.

Posted by david at 04:36 PM | Comments (1)

Incompetent Government on a Personal Level

Today we went to see our Member of Parliament.

I have been having trouble with a certain Government department. They seem to be having trouble fulfilling a certain contractual obligation. When Government departments prove obstreperous, the usual course of action is to seek the assistance of one's MP.

It is always helpful if the MP can have all the documentation related to the trouble. That way, they know what they are talking about when they approach the department in question. Having been reminded of this by my MP's staff, I thought it would be a simple matter to request a copy of my file held locally. It's not a very big file. I've seen it. The whole thing could be photocopied in less than 60 seconds.

When I went into the local office of this government department, where they always have my file on the desk during my visits, I was refused a copy of any of it. I was told my request had to be in writing. They handed me a piece of paper and a pen and directed to a vacant desk.

In my best legalese, leaving no possible wiggle room for retaining any part, I requested a copy of my file. When I gave them the request in writing, I was then informed that it had to be sent off to the district office and that they had 40 days in which to respond. Until then, I'm not allowed copies of documents bearing my own signature.

We'll have to see if, without the paperwork, my MP makes any headway with getting them to fulfill their obligations.

Posted by david at 03:06 PM | Comments (2)

July 18, 2003

The Fullness of Intercessory Prayer

If I ring just about any television ministry, prayer partners are standing by. They will write down my need, pray with me on the phone, and put my need in with all the others from that day and someone will pray over it again. Yes, prayer is available for the price of a long-distance phone call.

Do I know anything about the person praying for me? No. Do I know where they stand with God? No. Do I know that they will actually pray for me? No.

In addition to 1/3 of the OT, one of the things I was deprived of as a Protestant was the fullness of intercessory prayer. Growing up, we talked a lot about intercessory prayer. We had prayer chains and all night prayer meetings. We had no trouble asking for the Church Militant to pray for us. Unfortunately, the gap between the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant was insurmountable.

I never knew what saints in heaven were doing. If you ask most Protestants, they don't either. They know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, but most discussion of heaven ends up as, "When I see Jesus, I have things I want to ask Him," or "I can't wait to see my mansion!" Heaven is like a giant playground where everyone has an eternal day off. Where did this idea come from?

They are so busy trying to interpret what St John saw in his revelation that they can't just pay attention to what he actually saw. They don't see the Church at prayer in a combination of adoration and intercession. Or if they see any of that, they see the adoration part like some sort of heavenly praise band (visions of Phil Keaggy's "What a Day") -- as if the saints are totally oblivious to what is going on with the Church on earth and really couldn't care less. We don't think of the great cloud of witnesses actually witnessing anything.

As a Protestant I was told that the invocation of saints in heaven is incompatable with the sole mediation of Christ, or if anything, second best. Why ask for the saints to pray for us when we can just pray directly to Jesus? Why would we ask anyone to pray for us? If that were the case, then why would St Paul instruct us that "all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men" in I Tim 2:1 if in verse 5 he is going to remind us that "there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus"? Somehow there is an assumption that if someone is on earth, they are interceding, but if they are in heaven they are mediating.

This is an assumption not made by St Paul, nor is it held by the Fathers. St Basil, St Gregory the Theologian, St Gregory of Nyssa, and St John Chrysostom are a few that I found quite comfortable with the intercession of the saints in heaven. I'm sure they are quite comfortable interceding now.

I think it is quite important for those of us on earth to pray for each other. But if there is power in prayer by the Church Militant, how much more power is there when it joins with the Church Triumphant? Prayer reports and newletters are all good, but if you want intercessors for America, how about St Innocent of Alaska, St John of Shanghai and San Francisco, or St Raphael of Brooklyn?

As our needs and crises arise, I have been known to send out an e-mail or make a phone call, though never to an anonymous voice at a teleministry. However, e-mail and the telephone are not my sole resource. I look over at our icon shelf and I'm reminded that prayer partners are standing by.

Posted by david at 10:28 PM | Comments (3)

More Scottish Oppression

Scotland is grossly over-represented in the UK Parliament. There are 72 Scottish MPs. In some cases Scottish constituencies include as few as 20,000 people, whereas English constituencies include as many as 100,000.

There have been plans reduce the number of Scottish seats to 59. This would not create actual parity with England, but would come closer. These plans may now be shelved until after the next General Election. The reason is simple. The largest number of seat are held by Labour and they would be the big losers. The Government wants to pad the next election in every way that it can to insure a third consecutive term in office.

I have already blogged recent about how the Scots enjoy a great deal of power over the English. They can vote in the UK Parliament on matters that affect the English, but have been devolved to Edinburgh for the Scots. Not only that, Transport and Health Secretaries in London, both Scots, determine policy for England but not for Scotland.

I think all the Scots MPs should go home. Perhaps there should be special days when policies affecting all the UK are dealt with, and then the Scots can send down a little group to take part in the debate. But when it's over, put them all on a bus and send them back north of the border.

Posted by david at 03:12 PM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2003

Constitutional Settlement

In a move that will surprise no one, the least democratic UK Government in recent memory has finally decided on the composition the House of Lords.

In the name of democracy, the Labour Government removed all but 92 of the hereditary peers in Phase One of their plan to reform the Lords. Of course at the time they didn't have a Phase Two. It wasn't important to have a comprehensive plan, but rather imperative to dismantle a functioning constitutional structure. The was one of Labour's clearest examples of the primacy of form over substance.

Now they will remove the last of the hereditaries and make the Lords an entirely appointed body. They are also looking at the possiblity of limiting terms for members of the Lords. This is the only way to give the Government as much leverage as possible. Under the present arrangement, Lords serve for life. This means that as soon as they take their seats, they are no longer subject to the pressures of political patronage. This means they don't always respond appropriately when the told to rubber stamp the abolition of the ancient rights of Englishmen (or Welshmen, or Scotsmen, or Irishmen for that matter).

Posted by david at 03:18 PM | Comments (3)

July 16, 2003

New Ortho-blogger

Thanks to Huw at Doxos for leading me to a new Orthodox blogger, T.E. Grey and the North Door.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Mr. Grey!

Posted by david at 06:09 PM | Comments (0)

All Suited Up and No Place to Go

Houston, we have a problem. Astronauts twiddling their thumbs, to be specific. Nasa currently has 144 highly-trained, well-paid space voyagers on its books. It has also put the manned spaceflight programme on hold in the wake of the Columbia incident, after already reducing the number of flights over the last couple of years.

There is no shuttle flight scheduled for another nine months. That is likely to be scrapped when the latest internal audit is published, showing just how dilapidated the shuttle fleet is. Nasa is trying to run spaceflights like the UK is trying to run trains.

Nasa's Inspector General has found that astronauts could be waiting up to ten years from recruitment until their first flight. They are recruited in their prime as the prime pilots and those years are completely lost -- to Nasa, to military from where most of them are drawn, and to themselves.

I have Meandered in the past about the space programme. It has been grossly underfunded and completely under-utilised. We went to the moon in 1969 with less technology than I have in my pocket calculator. Yet no human has left earth orbit since 1972.

This is beyond ridiculous. If the enthusiasm of the 1960s had been maintained, there is no telling where we would be. Estimating conservatively, we might have only gotten as far a permanent colonies on Mars. Still, that would be a start.

Posted by david at 02:10 AM | Comments (7)

July 15, 2003

The Verdict on Trial By Jury

Tonight the Government suffered a defeat in the House of Lords. Even though Tony Blair has stripped the chamber of the hereditaries and stuffed it with his own cronies, he has been unable to get a rubber stamp of approval on one of his key reforms to the legal system, the abolition of the automatic right to trial by jury.

Why does the Government want this? As the Minster of State for Criminal Justice System and Law Reform told the BBC tonight, “We are providing the guilty an opportunity to be found guilty”. As unbelievable as that seems, I can tell you that I typed those words even as I heard them and watched them come out of her mouth.

Even though peers voted 210 to 136 against the measure, the Government is determined to force it through. This was their third shot at it, but they will not be refused. The Government line on this has been that jurors are just too thick to understand fraud trials. This time, they have also tried to cast it as a move which will protect jurors, saying in a statement from the Home Office, "This is a bad day for jury members, who would continue to be intimidated by dangerous criminals if this vote were allowed to stand. We shall reverse this defeat in the House of Commons."

It makes more sense to me and to the Tories that more needs to be done to actually deal with the crime of jury intimidation rather than giving into to intimidators by taking away the jury trial for whomever the Government decides shouldn't have it. But as one Tory spokesman said, "The knobblers will go from knobbling juries to knobbling judges."

The real issue is control. The Government can control judges and make sure it gets acceptably high conviction rates. Because they are free of political pressure, juries have bad tendency to deal with the facts and arrive at less acceptable conclusions.

Posted by david at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)

A Clear Case of Suicide

Tonight our microwave killed itself.

We were in the kitchen eating our tea when the microwave suddenly came on. No one had been near it. As the plate in the base rotated as if it had been started normally, but an electrical burning smell filled the room. Mrs Holford opened the door to stop it. She shut it and it started up again. The buttons on the front were unresponsive, so she opened it again and it kept going. She quickly pulled the plug from the wall.

Perhaps it knew its time was up. I've known cats like that. They have either refused to eat or just left and not come back. The microwave was getting old. The interior coating was peeling and the plate no longer rotated smoothly. Maybe it was just too tired to carry on any longer.

Not to be callous about its sad demise, but it looks like tomorrow we shall have to go shopping for replacement.

Posted by david at 10:17 PM | Comments (0)

Residual Prayer

I think we have finally ejected one of the last residual bits of Protestantism. Even though we've been chrismated for over a year and a half, I have still tending to pray over our meals seated and using the same formula I have for years. Some of you might cringe at the word "formula" - I could have said "liturgy" or some other word. It is still the same. Protestant prayers, especially mealtime prayers, are rarely spontaneous.

It has taken a surprising amount of effort and some stop-start jerkiness, like a learner driver trying to ease out the clutch and move forward in first gear. Now it starting to become comfortable. It is comfortable for Aidie, too. He knows that when we stand in front of the icon he should stop eating (as he invariably starts as soon as the food is in front of him). He watches attentively and still knows to say "amen." He recognises that the cadence of "Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God have mercy on us" and that the sung "ä-men" is the same as the spoken "ā-men". After either one he says, "mā-men!"

Posted by david at 12:20 PM | Comments (1)

Plug in the Fan

It's another scorcher today in Hooterville. The forecast doesn't look as withering as the last couple of days, with temperatures on due to reach 30. That 86 for you folks playing the notes of the Fahrenheit scale. Yesterday it reached 93 degrees by that reckoning. Its like Texas, without the hurricanes of course.

Now this may not seem hot to some of you situated in various places between the Atlantic and the Pacific. It is quite uncomfortable here when everyone is adapted to cold and damp. The other disadvantage is that there is no air conditioning -- not in the house or the car or anywhere else.

Posted by david at 09:29 AM | Comments (2)

July 14, 2003

The Little Government that Couldn't

The Government has been trying to get everyone out of their cars and onto the trains. Their advertising slogan, "Pay through the nose, stand for hours, sweat like a pig, and miss your appointments" doesn't seem to be working.

Some of the train companies have as many as 40 percent of their trains running late. Complaints are up by 8 percent over last year. The Strategic Rail Authority, Network Rail, and the Transport Secretary have a plan.

To cut back on the number of late trains, they are going to cut back on the number of trains, starting with 180 services. It's a simply formula, really. If x equals the number of trains running now, and y equal x minus 180, then 40 percent of y must be less than 40 percent of x. The only difference is that already overcrowded carriages will become even more stuffed. People will be hanging out the windows and riding shotgun with the driver, like something out of the third world.

Nework Rail, which is responsible for the rail infrastructure, is also cutting back on the number of staff. Possibly more than 14 percent. If you have fewer trains, you need fewer staff. This will save nearly £13 billion.

Being squeezed out the window of one of the few trains left will also cost more than the occasional chance to sit down does now. The Transport Secretary has annouced that fares will be going up at above the rate of inflation.

Apparently if they charge a lot more and spend a lot less, they may even reach their goal of having something in the region of 10 percent tardy by 2009.

So to summarise the Government's rail plan: fares will rise now, the number of services will drop now, there will be fewer staff now, and fewer trains will be late within six years.

Posted by david at 10:45 PM | Comments (0)

Dave's Veterinary Ambulance Service

I thought yesterday was going to be a quiet, peaceful day. I thought we would have Typika and my mother-in-law would come over to help Kel with her genealogy.

Instead, because Mrs Holford needed to measure the charcoal-burned carpet at Welsh Newton, where we borrow the church for Liturgy, and Welsh Newton is just four miles from Monmouth, we decided to go see my mother-in-law instead. We spent most of a hot afternoon in her back garden. I also met one of Kelly's uncles for the first time.

We thought things were winding down and I thought I would be home soon when Kelly's brother rang. His dog had been in labour and delivered four live pups and a dead one over the previous 14 hours. There were more pups inside and she needed to get to a vet. Kelly's father's car wasn't working, so we volunteered to take the dog. We had to drive to Abergavenny, leave Aidie with his Uncle David, and take a boy and his dog to Newport.

After getting lost trying to get to the surgery, we finally found it. X-rays indicated that there were four more puppies unborn. After three injections to induce labour, one puppy was born with great assistance from the vet but stillborn nonetheless. After my little brother-in-law insisted that he wouldn't pay for a caesarian, and consistently insisted that he knew better than the vet, we (not he) paid the bill and took the dog back to Abergavenny.

After we arrived, it became clear that the mother wasn't going to have the rest of the litter. She had given up. Knowing it was the only chance of saving any remaining pups, we took her back to Newport for a c-section at 9:45 on a Sunday night. In the end there was only one more pup inside and it was dead. (The rest we had seen on the x-ray were undelievered placentas.) The puppy hadn't been dead long and would have been saved had she had the section on the first visit. We got back to Abergavenny at 11:30 and back home at 1:00 am.

We never got to Welsh Newton and we never had Typika.

Posted by david at 05:57 PM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2003

Infallabilty, Inerrancy, and Original Intent

Following on my entry about the translations wars, I have had some further thought thoughts on how my view of Holy Scripture has changed since becoming Orthodox.

As a Protestant, I was a great champion of Biblical inerrancy and infallability. It is certainly one of the great pillars of fundamental Protestantism of any colour and for Calvinists enshrined in the very first chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith.

As an Orthodox I believe the Holy Scripture -- even the huge chunk left out by the Protestants after Herr Luther ditched the OT that had been used by the Church for 1500 years, and the book of James he didn't care for either -- is the Word of God. But I do not believe this because I believe that somewhere or even at some point in time there is or was a perfect text or even combination of texts, in any language, be it Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Elizabethan English, or Urdu. What is infallable and inerrant is not the exact words that were written.

What is infallable and inerrant is what was said. By this, I don't mean what was spoken, as in the Dictation Theory. I mean what was meant. Words are not empty things that we fill with whatever meaning we believe them to have. This is why I have no used for textual criticism or even the whole Protestant approach to hermaneutics. God didn't say, "Here are My words; now you make sense out of them," or even, "Here are my words, and if you unlock the exact reason why I chose this particular Greek preposition, you will know the truth."

I used to teach that the theology of the New Testament hinges upon the use of preposition and verb tenses and once you understand these points of Greek grammar, the meaning becomes clear. [For which I believe Herr Luther's nemesis, the Brother of the Lord, says I can look forward to a stricter judgment.] Let me say now: no it doesn't. The theology of the New Testament hinges upon the Church. The Church taught what the NT teaches before the NT taught it.

The purpose of the Bible is not to convey the exact words of God -- it is to convey the exact message of God. This does not denigrate in any way the work of translation. It is easiest to study and expound upon the message when the best words are there to use.

The problem with most modern English translations of the Bible is not that they choose the wrong texts from which to work (though I think that most of them use inferior texts). It is that they aren't so much interested in translating what was said as they are conforming what was said into what they want to hear.

The latest craze of gender-neutral translations is wrong for two reasons. First there is the fact that the text simply can't be translated that way. The words aren't there. The second is that the meaning isn't there, because the Church has always said so. To emasculate the translation is an abuse of both the Bible and the Church.

As long as the Church holds to the faith of the Fathers, entrusted to them by the Holy Apostles and Prophets, upon whose foundation the Church rests, the Church will not be led astray by bad translations, bad translators, or even by variant readings in Greek or Hebrew texts.

Posted by david at 12:00 AM | Comments (1)

July 12, 2003

Busy Saturday

Today was Mrs Holford's second craft fair. Again we were in Abergavenny. This may not be the best venue for Holford Country Crafts, as she only sold two items and didn't break even on the table cost. This was after the table cost was rebated by £5. Lots of people visited the table and oohed and ahhed at the stuff. They just didn't want to fork out for it. Overall, it seems there are very few sales for any of the stalls at this craft fair.

One stall that made a few sales to the shock and awe of all the other exhibitors was the bloke next to us. He had the absolutely worst watercolour paintings I have seen from anyone who has gotten beyond primary school. Every crafter that saw them would wait until he had momentarily left for a beverage or the bathroom and return to comment at how horrible they were. But he actually sold a couple. Not only that, he actually got a commission from an old lady driving on of those motorised cripplemobiles.

While we were manning the stall, Aidie got to spend the day with his grampy and uncles. After trapsing around town for several hours, seeing his great-grampy, great-great-uncle and great-great-aunt, the carnival, and who knows whatelse, grampy bought him a wading pool and put it in his (grampy's, not Aidie's) back garden.

Aidie had a very exciting day. The only down side is that he got sunburned, had no nap, and after he got out of the pool had no nappy. Grampy and the uncles didn't seem to understand that a nappy is important at all times. Since we didn't bring a change of clothes, we had to quickly go out a buy a new pair of shorts and new t-shirt on the way back to grampy's house, as you can imagine what happens to clothes when there is no nappy underneath for an extended period f time.

Needless to say, we shall henceforth be issuing copies of Childcare for Dummies to the men of Mrs Holford's family. I was quite proud of myself in that I didn't get overought about the situation as I learned the details. At the end of the day, no harm, no foul. The sunburn will go away (it wasn't too severe and they did come get sunscreen from his bag at one point) and he got a new pool and new set of clothes.

Posted by david at 11:19 PM | Comments (1)

July 11, 2003

Freedom from the Translation Wars

While cruising through the blog-o-sphere today, I came across a King James Only discussion. It made me laugh and made me glad to be Orthodox. I used to be so well-versed in the nuances of the debates. Now it all seems a world away.

The discussion was based on a letter sent to a Michigan newspaper that closed with:

"if you are using any Bible other than the authorized King James 1611, then what you hold in your hands is the doctrine of devils. I encourage you to throw these modern perversions in the flames and run from your liberal church!”

Now being somewhat familiar with Bibles and translations, I will put money on it that the letter writer, one Rev. Tim Curtis-Dryden, doesn't even own a 1611 edition of the King James Version. I would put even more money on the fact that no one else in his conservative church does either.

Don't get me wrong - you can get ahold of one, or at least a facsimile of one. We used to special order them very occasionally at the Christian bookstore where I worked during law school. (I don't recall ever having an order for one at the Christian bookstore where I worked during grad school.) I suppose a 1611 facsimile is an interesting novelty item to have, but as everyone who ever bought one probably found out somewhere between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, it is virtually unreadable.

Most King James Bibles are based on the 1769 Oxford edition. This edition varied from the 1611 in a number of ways, besides using readable type. There were minor changes in the text and the spelling was regularised. But you never hear KJV-Only preachers (or their Charlie McCarthy parishoners) say "I believe the 1769 King James Version is the only true Word of God!"

The ensuing discussion on the blog included this comment:

"These people have to ask themselves why God would write two-thirds of His Book in Hebrew, one-third in Greek, have Christ speak in Aramaic, have the Latin Vulgate be the major Bible for 1500 years, but then authorize the English KJV to be the Pure, True Version." This quote is clearly from someone who doesn't realise that the Vulgate was the major Bible only in the West. Nonetheless, he makes a good point.

It will only fall on deaf ears with the KJV-Only crowd because of their two unspoken presuppostions. First, the Vulgate doesn't count because they believe the Church ceased to exist after the Apostles and reappeared sometime in the 17th century (these people are almost invariably Baptists or at least baptists, who can't even go back as far as the Reformation). Second, it is inconceivable to think that a white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant God use anything other than English as the definitive, authoritative Scriptures. These are the sort of people who declare that if it was good enough for St Paul, it is good enough for them, and actually mean it.

Working within the Protestant framework, there are real arguments to be had over which are the best texts. As a Protestant, I was a firm believer in the New King James as a good English translation, because in the NT it was derived from the textual family that had been used by the Church (which I didn't realise was the Orthodox Church) throughout the centuries. I still use the NKJ.

When everyone is their own Pope and free to interpret the Scriptures as they see fit, and fully believe that such an interpretation is the meaning of the Scriptures, it is very important to have the right text. After all, what you believe can hinge on the placement of a comma or the particular use of a preposition.

As an Orthodox, all the arguments about the best texts are moot. The Scriptures didn't just show up in a vacuum. The Church believed what the Scriptures teach before the Scriptures were put together.

Being a Protestant is a bit like getting the owner's manual without the car. You can sit around and discuss the theory of internal combustion, torque, gear ratios, and fuel injection. Then combining your reading of the manual with all your theories, you try to build a car.

As an Orthodox, you get the car with the manual. The car runs the way it was made regardless of whether you read the manual or not. It runs because that's the way the Manufacturer built it. You need the manual to learn all the functions of the car and how to maintain it, but the car doesn't care one bit about your theories, nor does it function better or worse without them. The manual wasn't provided with the option to interpret it in whatever way the spirit of the Manufacturer reveals it to you. And of course, the car was built before the manual was written.

Posted by david at 06:44 PM | Comments (7)

I Kid You Not

In a move that will no doubt be cheered by Bill Gothard and all the proponents of "courtship", young people under 16 who are caught kissing could be jailed for up to five years. I kid you not. Any sort of consensual sexual contact, which includes fondling, touching, and yes, kissing, will be criminalised.

Now before you get all excited about the Government enforcing high moral standards, you have to remember that this is the Government legalising cottaging (homosexual acts in public toilets).

Family Planning groups are particularly upset because preventing kids from making out could seriously cut into the abortion trade. They need not fear, however, because a government advisory body is going to recommend that sex education be compulsory from the age of five. They aren't suggesting formal lessons in sex, but rather during -- again, I kid you not -- Show and Tell.

And just to balance out for the police watching for those who are young and in love, according to The Times, "The Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy is also expected to call on the Government to stage a nationwide advertising campaign to reassure children under 16 that their parents will not automatically be told if they seek contraceptive advice."

Posted by david at 05:42 PM | Comments (2)

July 10, 2003

Watch What You Let Someone Else Say

As a Christian in Pakistan, you have to watch what you say. You especially have to watch what you write. You even have to watch what other people write.

Munawar Mohsin was a sub-editor at the English-language newspaper Frontier Post. A judge has determined that he was responsible for selecting a letter to the editor for publication. That was enough to merit a life sentence. In Pakistan, life means life. And believe it or not, Mohsin got off easy. The sentence is often death.

Mohsin was convicted of blasphemy. The letter that was published was determined to be derogatory toward Muhammad. Mohsin's crime was fairly easy to detect. Students from a seminary formed a mob and attacked the newspaper's office, destroying the printing press. They also damaged other nearby buildings. They probably just thought of it as a field trip. After graduation the ones that don't join the remnants of the Taleban or become suicide bombers for Hezbollah will immigrate to the UK as mosque spokesmen to tell us on the evening news that Islam is a peaceful religion. They may go to India to wait and see if another American Christian preacher says something about Muhammad, so they can gather a mob to kill some more Hindus.

It probably won't come as a surprise that most of the hundreds of people convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan are Christians. As a Christian, it pays to be a very good neighbour. All it takes is person going to the police and simply accusing someone. Before the investigation can start, the accused must be arrested. They can then languish in jail until their case comes to court. Mohsin was incarcerated for two years before his trial.

President/General Musharraf had intended to change this, but he had too much opposition. Radical groups protested. I wouldn't be surprised if this including those seminary students. It is enough that the accused might have blasphemed. It is easier to jail more Christians that way.

Of course they want to come to this country and be free to incite others to kill Christians. In fact, when anyone objects to this, they protest that they are being persecuted. That takes a lot of cheek. They are free to preach death to Christians and the overthrow of non-Islamic governments while living on the social welfare benefits of those governments.

In their countries of origin Christians are not free to preach the Gospel. Christians are prohibited from evangelising those who do not believe that Jesus is God. Christians are prohibited from saying that Allah is not God and Muhammad is not his prophet. Christians may not be forced to directly blaspheme the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, but they may not openly declare Him on pain of death.

The situation in Pakistan is proof that completely apart from terrorist attacks, Islam is not a peaceful religion. There may be Muslims who are themselves peaceful. I don't have any problem with that. But as long as the Muslim nations prohibit the preaching of the Gospel with the threat of criminal sanctions and even death, it couldn't be clearer that they are simply lying.

Posted by david at 11:41 PM | Comments (1)

July 09, 2003

The Other Holocaust

My new Meandering is out today. After you click over and read it, you may want to come back to try these links:

Campaign for Recognition of the Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Genocide: history does not fade away

Armenian National Institute

An Armenian Journey

Posted by david at 03:50 PM | Comments (0)

July 08, 2003

Vacant Protest

Because his choice for suffragan Bishop of Reading eventually withdrew under pressure, the Bishop of Oxford is considering leaving the position vacant in protest. He may not appoint another bishop until the C of E makes up its mind about gay sex. In the words of The Times, "the Right Rev Richard Harries, is considering whether, if the Church of England does not want a homosexual Bishop of Reading, it should have no bishop at all."

Clearly pastoral concern for the flock isn't the chief consideration. To Dr Harries, the episcopate is nothing more than another slogan on a placard. Even though I don't believe the C of E clergy are in apostolic succession -- physical succession, I mean, since any hint of spiritual succession has evaporated -- I am disgusted that someone who has been entrusted as the chief shepherd of the Diocese of Oxford and its people would treat this with such cavalier disregard.

Posted by david at 09:07 PM | Comments (0)

July 07, 2003

Last Fruits

Sunday afternoon we picked the last of the summer strawberries. It was hard work because they were almost gone. It is also extra hard work for me, with my inability to crouch. However, true to form, I kept reaching down and picking berries even as my back was spasming and Mrs Holford was repeating that it was time to get Aidie home for his nap.

I froze a lot of them. Tonight I'm eating the last few fresh ones. I discovered to my dismay that my double cream had gone off, so I'm eating them with just a little sugar on top. As Aidie would whisper, "Tasty!"

Posted by david at 09:48 PM | Comments (0)

Holding Together the Threadbare Fabric of Anglicanism

I suppose the took the threat seriously. Canon Jeffrey John, who had been appointed the suffragan Bishop of Reading, has announced today that he will not take up the position. The Anglican Primate of Nigeria and other leading bishops of Africa and various other points south of Europe had insisted they would break communion with the Church of England if John were to be consecrated. The mother province of Anglicanism would only have had their theological bedfellows in the US and Canada with whom to commune, whilst the vast majority of Anglicans would have declared them anathema.

In further revelations today, the evangelical former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey admitted that he participated in the consecration of two gay bishops, though he did it only with the assurances that they were celibate. Dr John has claims he is now celibate, though he insisted he would continue living with his partner.

I have no doubt this is a temporary patch on the frayed cloth of the C of E's big tent. With membership haemorrhaging as more and more evangelicals are tired of the church believing in nothing but feminism and homosexuality, eventually there won't be anyone left to fight. The restraining pressures from the outside can only be effective for so long. This is probably a good thing. I think it might as well be seen for what it is.

Posted by david at 12:06 AM | Comments (2)

July 06, 2003

Papers, Please

In a move reminiscent of the Third Reich and the former Soviet bloc, all British citizens will be required to have an identity card. Anyone challenged will have to produce it for the police. However, with technology that could have never been imagined by the Gestapo or the Stasi, these card will be very difficult to forge. The cards will contain biometric data, such as an image of the holder's iris.

Please note that I didn't say anything about being issued a card. It's not something that will just arrive by post. It's not going to be free, after all. No, that'll be £40, please.

It is not clear whether it will just be citizens that will be required to have the card. It could required of anyone living in Britain.

Posted by david at 11:47 PM | Comments (0)


Because our Eucharistic Community doesn't meet every week and we travelled to Shrewsbury last week, we prayed the Typika at home today. This is the substitute service for the Liturgy when no priest is present. Unfortunately, since I'm hopeless with the tones, we did everything in Tone One, even if it didn't fit exactly.

In place of the sermon, I first read the lives of three of the saints commemorated today, St Sisoes the Great, St Lucy, and St Sexburga.

St Sisoes was a disciple of St Antony the Great, the patron of our community. His icon shows how he visited the grave of Alexander the Great, who had been reduced to dust and bones. When St Sisoes was dying his face shined brightly and when he spirit left his body, a beautiful fragrance filled the room. It made me think of Psalm 116:15: "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." (I'm using the reference from the Hebrew text, as I don't know how the LXX is numbered here.)

St Lucy is the most famous of the trio. She is commemorated in the traditional Roman mass (pre-Vatican II and the current Eucharistic Prayer I). She suffered in the Diocletian persecution. When she refused to marry a pagan, the governor attempted to force her into a brothel, but the power of God kept them from taking her. She was then tortured for her faith.

St Sexburga is one of our home-grown British saints. She is also a representative of a holy family. Her four sisters were all glorified as saints, as were her two daughters. She was the daughter of the King of East Anglia and married to the King of Kent. Her two sons were successively Kings of Kent. Her sisters were all nuns (three were abbesses) and her daughters both became nuns, one having never married and the other like her mother, taking the veil after the death of her husband, the King of Mercia, and also like her mother becoming Abbess of Ely. Sexburga founded the Abbey of Minster in Sheppey, but after a few years she left there and place herself under the obedience of her sister Etheldreda at Ely. When her sister died, Sexburga was elected abbess. She died about the year 699 and was buried at Ely.

In thinking of names for a girl, should we ever have one, I have in the past suggested Etheldreda, but Mrs Holford is not too keen on it.

After the lives of the saints, we listened to a sermon from Fr John Braun.

Posted by david at 05:49 PM | Comments (4)

July 05, 2003

Learning Good Habits

I think Aidie is spending too much time with his mother. Today, he repeatedly went through the motions of washing the clothes. Since he could walk, he has always played with the knobs and pushed the buttons on the washing machine. Today he was pretending to put the clothes in the machine, close the door, get the powder out of the cabinet in the little measuring cup and pour it into the drawer, turn the knobs, and press the start button, all with expert precision.

After he finished pretending with the clothes, he swept the floor. Not just moving the big broom around as usual. This time, he got out the little dustpan and brush to finish the job.

He is paying attention to dad as well. He has started saying "Amen" at the end of mealtime prayers. Today at lunch, he had started eating his food but immediately stopped when I started praying and said "Amen" at the end before picking up his spoon again.

Posted by david at 09:16 PM | Comments (0)

Liturgical Presbyterians

I know that in one sense, every church is liturgical, even the Charismatic churches from whence I sprang. I spent eight years amongst the Presbyterians -- not the liberal pseudo-Presbyterians of course, but rather the ones that range from broadly evangelical to Truly Reformed metrical Psalm singers.

The traditional Presbyterian service is the hymn sandwich. I'm sure you are familiar with the format: Call to Worship, Hymn, Prayer, Hymn, Sermon, Hymn, Benediction. The hymns can be substituted. In the ones with "contemporary" services, substitute not-too-perky worship songs nicked from the Charismatics. The ones that see human-written hymns as the tool of the Devil, substitute metrical Psalms. But at the end of the day, it's like saying you want salami instead of bologna.

Several years ago, some friends visited St Paul's Presbyterian in Orlando, FL and came back with the weekly bulletin. They were all amazed at how great the liturgical (in the traditional sense of the word) service was. Since then I hadn't heard much more about this sort of thing. Recently, however, I stumbled upon the website of St Peter Presbyterian in Bristol, TN because one of the pastors is the very Presbyterian R C Sproul, Jr. (or "Little RC", as he is known by some in the business).

Except for the recitation from the Heidelberg Catechism, their sample order of worship looks like something out of the Book of Common Prayer. This includes a rather Anglican canon of the mass. Are these guys Reformed Episcopal wannabes?

The problem with liturgical Presbyterians is that they seem to miss the point. They want a connection with the past, with the historic Church. That is good as far as it goes. However, it is all form and no substance. They don't see that the shape of the Liturgy (as Gregory Dix called it) only holds and conveys that which is inside it. It is all fine and good to have a Eucharistic Prayer but if you change some of what it says and change the meaning of the bits you keep, what do you have left?

Part of the problem is that Presbyterians don't know what to do with the Sacraments. Of course the first thing they did was toss aside five of them, declaring that there is nothing special about Marriage, Ordination, Anointing the Sick, Chrismation, and by all means Confession. With the two they have left, they are stuck with a sort of half-way covenant. They don't want to go as far as the Baptists (and their progeny), saying they are "ordinances" and have no actual spiritual substance whatsoever. If they give them too much significance they are afraid of magical Popery. (For most of these are folks, Orthodoxy isn't even on the theological radar - after all, Roman theology is what they Reformed and what they are Protesting against.) What to do? What to do?

In eight years and three churches I have to say that I never knew a Presbyterian pastor or elder or layperson who was comfortable discussing the Sacraments beyond the most cursory details - usually a reference to the relevant part of the Westminster Confession (Chapters 27-29, for those keeping score at home) and that was it.

The only ones I've otherwise come across who are happy to discuss them are the small group of paedo-communionists. Since Presbyterians believe that baptised infants are Christians, but not really Christians (since baptism is effective but not that effective), I suppose it is a legitimate point of contention as to whether they have been adopted into the family and are entitled to eat the family meal.

I dearly love my Presbyterian friends, but I'm glad I don't have to go through all these theological gyrations anymore. Rather I trust the Holy Spirit that the shape and substance of the Liturgy and of the Sacraments has been faithfully handed by the Holy Apostles to their protégés the Apostolic Fathers, then to next generation of the Fathers and so on. Avoiding much earlier accretions and erosions by Rome than the Reformers ever bothered about, it has been preserved in Holy Orthodoxy.

Posted by david at 06:17 PM | Comments (4)

Where to Build Cair Paravel

Thanks again to Lord of the Rings fanatic and Little Geneva blogger Harry Seabrook for another link. The Oscar winning co-director of the animated Shrek is hoping to shoot a live-action version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in New Zealand.

Andrew Adamson is waiting on the Kiwi Government to agree to support the project with tax breaks or some other sorts of incentives. The other problem seems to be that Peter Jackson already turned all the best locations into Middle Earth.

But back to LOTR, I wonder if anyone has told the quite throroughly Reformed Harry that JRR Tolkein was actually a (shhh) Roman Catholic?

Posted by david at 04:01 PM | Comments (1)


Eastern European gangs are stealing from the Queen. Sounds like a storyline for a film script? Well, not exactly. They aren't breaking into palaces, nicking painting or jewellery. They killing and roasting swans.

All of the swans in the UK belong to the Crown. It has been that way for a long time. Killing, or even injuring, a swan carries a £5,000 fine or six months in jail.

Now these gangs comprised principally of asylum seekers are poaching the birds by luring them into baited traps. We are not talking about the odd swan here and there. The Metropolitan Police and local communities have noted a serious drop in numbers. They are being taken from parks and rivers all over the London and Southeast England -- even from such high-profile places as Hyde Park.

I have to agree with editorial comments in The Sun (which carried this as a full front page article), "If people want to come here from other nations, then let them respect our way of life. If they want to behave like savages, let them get back where they came from."

Posted by david at 03:22 PM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2003

First Haircut

Today was Aidie's first haircut. He seemed to enjoy it -- he always enjoys attention. He started to wriggle toward the end, because it is hard for him to stay in the same place for very long.

We took pictures of the event.

It seems we lost the vestiges of babyhood. He looks even more like a little boy now.

Afterward we discovered that there was a French market being held in High Town. All the vendors were real French people. I bought some raspberry shortbread bicuits and a bit of roulé. I love roulé on sesame and poppy seed crackers. In fact, I think I'll have some now.

Posted by david at 03:42 PM | Comments (0)

Give and it shall be given...

...to John Hagee, televangelist and pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio.

Thanks to Harry Seabrook for the link to an article about the kind of money Hagee's raking in. His personal compensation package is $1.25 million on an annual basis. This doesn't include his irrevocable trust which includes "a $2.1 million 7,696-acre ranch outside Brackettville [Texas], with five lodges, including a 'main lodge' and a gun locker. It also includes a manager's house, a smokehouse, a skeet range and three barns."

It almost makes you feel sorry for poor old Paul and Jan Crouch of TBN, who have to live on a combined income of only $751,200.

It sure beats living like those preachers who only have enough faith and "anointing" to get by making tents. That Saul bloke from Tarsus was always upsetting people, too. It's hard to have a successful ministry if they keep running you out of town.

Posted by david at 12:34 AM | Comments (3)

July 03, 2003

Hot off the Press!

The new Meandering is out.

Have a click and a read.

Posted by david at 09:23 PM | Comments (0)

Peace and Quiet

This morning Mrs Holford and child went shopping in Worcester. It was the first time I had been alone in the flat for about two weeks. I could actually hear myself think. I was able to get some substantial work done on the Meandering due out shortly.

When they returned this afternoon, it was back to normal. Mrs Holford was on the computer in her eternal quest for cheap buttons and Aidie was racing around from danger to danger, only stopping in the middle long enough to demand that I read Farm Animals three times in a row. At one point the noise and frenetic activity was so overwhelming that I sat back in the chair just closed my eyes.

Aidie is now briefly corralled behind the baby gate while Kelly works on more things for her craft stall. This just means that he can play with all the electronic toys simultaneously, which will soon be partly drowned out the automatic weapon sounds of the sewing machine.

Now to finish that Meandering...

Posted by david at 04:42 PM | Comments (0)

How Not to Convert the Orthodox

Karl has a great piece about a Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary approved doctoral project on how to convert the Orthodox to Protestantism, particularly in Russia.

I have been looking through the document in question and I am truly amazed at how a doctoral student could refer to so many Orthodox sources and yet be complete clueless about what we Orthodox believe. Where he does grasp what we believe, he juxtaposes it to modern evangelical theological innovations, but often ends up comparing apples to oranges.

For example, he contrasts the Evangelical view that grace is unmerited and free with the Orthodox view that grace is received through the Sacraments. He admits that Orthodox theologians deny grace is merited, but says this doesn't matter because Orthodox "person on the street" often comprehends it as something else. It appears to me that this "person on the street" has two qualities: first, he is a man, and second, he is made of straw. If you get my meaning...

Enough for now. These whole idea of converting Orthodox Christians is something I've been wanted to rant about for a while, but for now, click over to Karl's blog if you want more on this.

Posted by david at 12:47 PM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2003


Being Orthodox, I'm not supposed to believe in Purgatory. Now I'm convinced the Catholics were right after all. The only bit they got wrong was the time and place. It doesn't occur after death and it is located on this housing estate.

Last night while I was trying to get Aidie to sleep, some boys who should be old enough to know that they have no future in professional football were either using his wall as goal or had a very difficult time keeping the ball in bounds. Every time he would start to drift off, the ball would slam against the wall and he would wake up again.

Fortunately he didn't wake up a couple of hours later when somebody decided to let off firecrackers. It sounded like gunfire. It may have been gunfire, but I'm just going to assume for my own peace of mind that it was firecrackers.

Then our upstairs neighbours were entertaining until the wee hours. As I was laying in bed, I could hear almost every word they were saying when the music was between tracks. After their friends left, they were stomping through the flat in their usual manner. In fact, we've never learned the name of the woman. We've always just called her Stompy.

Other neighbours were going in and out of building, letting the doors slam over and over. At one point several of them were outside slamming car doors racing their engines.

It finally got quiet sometime before 4:00 am.

It's not hell, because it didn't go on forever -- it just seemed like it.

Posted by david at 09:43 PM | Comments (2)

The Resistance

It appears that the countryside is not going to go down without a fight. The more militant pro-hunt activists have held their fire while the Countryside Alliance negotiated with the Government. As normally quiet, law-abiding citizens, they would much prefer to see things properly sorted out. That is not to say they have trusted the Government. No one would be so foolish as to do that.

In plans that have been developed for months, this more militant wing will be disrupting traffic in the major cities. There are also threats to electricity supplies and telecommunications networks. The Government will have a lot more than al Qaeda to worry them, though I'm sure hunt supporters will not endanger human lives.

No doubt MI5 will develop a profile of suspected countryside saboteurs. Police will have to be on the lookout for white, middle-aged women wearing Barbour jackets and wellies, driving 20-year-old Landrovers covered in mud.

Posted by david at 04:30 PM | Comments (0)

Killing the Dogs to Save the Foxes

An estimate in The Times indicates that at least 17,000 hounds will have to be destroyed when the hunting ban is finally forced through. This is because the owners of the dogs will not have the means to keep them. "Breeders dismissed the notion that more than a handful could be rehoused, as their pack-animal instincts and prodigious need for exercise make them unsuitable pets."

They ought to make each of the MPs who voted for the ban go out and do the deed. Since 362 were numbered amongst the "ayes to the right", that means each MP would have to shoot at least 47 dogs.

A collapse in the horse market is also anticipated. The British Equestrian Trades Association estimates that there would be a £50 million loss in just the first four years.

Posted by david at 03:42 PM | Comments (0)

Work til You Drop

The Government has released proposals today to fight age discrimination in the workplace. It will theoretically make it more difficult advertise jobs as only for young people. It will also try to prevent employers from refusing to promote or give training opportunities to older employees, or giving them disadvanatageous pensions and other benefits.

Of course you have to give a little to get a little, so the trade off is that companies will be able to refuse full entitlement to company pensions until age 70. State pensions would still be available from 65 for now.

This is just one step away from the inevitable. The state pension (the equivalent of Social Security benefits in the US) will have to eventually be raised to age 70 as well. Otherwise the money is simply going to dry up. Older people are living longer and younger people are not having babies. The Government's proposal points out that within seven years, 40% of British workers will be over 45 and only 17% under 24. Soon there simply won't be a workforce to pay for benefits. The way things are going, I may have to work until I'm 80.

Posted by david at 03:21 PM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2003

Double Dealing

In a move that should surprise no one, the Government last night betrayed the countryside, the rural economy, and of course the long-standing traditions of this nation. Because of the continuing urbanisation of the electorate, the vast majority in the House of Commons hail from the towns and cities. They have no understanding of, or care for, the livelihood of those who can still breathe fresh air. This Government has engaged in a systematic destruction of countryside than makes Sherman’s march to the sea look like an afternoon stroll.

The loony left wants to outlaw fox hunting. They always have. They are perfectly happy to permit the killing of baby humans, but foxes are a whole other matter. What it comes down to is pest control.

For those caught up in the spirit of this age, babies are a pest. They interfere with the core values of hedonism. They keep women from fulfilling their potential as pseudo-men. And after all, killing babies creates jobs for doctors and nurses and other medical staff. It is good for the urban economy.

For farmers, foxes are a pest. They kill livestock. They destroy the farmer’s ability to feed himself and his family. They are by no means an endangered species, but rather are increasing in population, even in the towns and cities. Other the other hand, fox hunting creates thousands of jobs. What really chaps the hides of the anti-hunt lobby is that farmers have taken this pest control as a cultural expression of community spirit. If farmers just went out quietly and shot foxes that were getting in their hen houses, the anti-hunt lobby probably wouldn’t have a lot of ammunition. But urban loonies hate that the farmers seem to enjoy the hunt and make a spectacle of it.

But back to the Government... They had agreed to support the licensing of hunting instead of an outright ban. This would make sure there was no hunting during the cubbing season, so there would be no danger to the little foxes. However, because the Government has faced increasing rebellions from its own backbenchers, it needed to give them a little to get a little on parts of its legislative agenda. So the Rural Affairs minister dropped his legislation in the middle of the debate and let the House run riot.

The Government may have agreed to licensure, but at heart it was for a ban. To be fair, one of the four Government ministers who voted against the outright ban was the Rural Affairs Minister, Alun Michael. Of course in true Labour fashion, he doesn’t represent a rural constituency, being the member for Cardiff South and Penarth. Perhaps he has gone native after having to spend so much time with the backward country folk.

The odd one in this whole thing has been the normally quite sane Ann Widdecombe. She a Christian and ardently is pro-life. The problem is that she is pro-anything-that-is-living. Where the left generally cuddle foxes and kill babies, she see no distinction between Man created in the image of God and foxes made in the image of, well, foxes.

Posted by david at 04:53 PM | Comments (0)

The Big Move

If you are a regular reader, you will notice that we have moved from Blogger to Movable Type.

I'm still working out all the bugs in the archive and have to create a new template, so please bear with me.

I'm afraid that I lost all the previous comments. There seems to be no way around this. Fortunately, there haven't been a lot of comments so far.

Posted by david at 12:33 AM | Comments (0)