Friday, October 31, 2008

Our fence is broken

Or, has been vandalised, we think ...
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Thursday, October 30, 2008


Or rather, we're getting towards the end of the week, which is good, although you could accuse me of wishing my life away ...

Lothian Buses (presumably) have installed bus trackers at the stops along part of my usual route to work. I like them, although, of course, they don't make the bus come any sooner. It's intriguing, though, to watch them trying to cope when things go wrong. To-day, however, we got a pleasant surprise, being told that our bus was due in 9 minutes, when it appeared. My theory is that the company was being proactive, after a couple of no shows earlier this week, and had slotted in an extra bus.

A bit tired, these days, but doing what we can ...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lidl discipline

As Jan has observed, it is difficult to come out of Lidl with only what you intended to buy. Yesterday, though, I excelled myself, emerging with a popcorn maker (though no popping corn - having asked a helpful shelf stacker to direct me to the spices, I hadn't the nerve to go back for directions to popping corn, which I suspect they wouldn't stock, anyway). I consider it to have been an excellent buy, however - not expensive, and highly effective (having followed the instructions to the letter, I found myself running to cupboards for bowls to catch the overflowing generosity of the machine).

And I have long observed the practice of supermarkets of placing desirable items by the checkouts, in the hope of tempting a shopper to make an impulse purchase. On this occasion I was somewhat surprised to see a leek (probably abandoned by a previous customer), but my attention having been snared, I proceeded to buy a bag of mini marzipan butter stollen - another excellent purchase - and a considerable improvement on the sweets and chocolate usually on display elsewhere ...

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I'm seriously thinking of putting this blog on lithium - how do you get from "there's probably no god" to "our God is an Awesome God" in just three days?

I have a lot of time for Rich Mullins. I discovered him through the ragamuffin connection, from Brennan Manning's "Ragamuffin Gospel". I sense that he has an authentic voice - he speaks truth (whatever we mean by truth) ...

And then yesterday evening we went to see Hannah and Harvey (at the Brunton Theatre). We were expecting a fanciful, cuddly tale for children (to be fair, it was 'recommended for everyone over the age of 10'). We got a somewhat harrowing insight into childhood mental illness (for black bunny, read black dog). But it was OK - I'm pretty sure that our 8 year old son coped - and probably learned something ...

Friday, October 24, 2008


Since we came back from (summer) holiday, a song called "Our God is an awesome God" has been playing frequently in our living room. The hostess for our first week at Abbot Hall is an accomplished dancer, and taught the young people actions to go with the song (in a version sung by Kirk Franklin). For some reason I had an idea that the song was originally by Rich Mullins (who was tragically killed in a car accident), and I've been happy to have that hunch confirmed (and an iTunes purchase made) ...

Maybe the song is repetitive (depending, of course, on how it is sung), but an uplifting anthem doesn't go amiss, once in a while.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A step forward

Thanks, Jackie, for not blowing me out of the water - which I perhaps deserved ...

Knowing, as I do now, that I have Asperger's, I realise that my perspective may be different from many people's. I am not comfortable with the idea that someone else's truth may be different from my truth. I suppose that I can accept that we are all dealing with approximations to the truth, but that doesn't really resolve differences too well. One can still end up with the argument that my approximation is closer than your approximation. I'm still reckoning that 'out there' is something which we may or may not be right about ...

I'm thinking back to my youth (ages, perhaps, from 8 to 18), when I was well aware that I was having to deal with at least two quite different views of what Christians believe. I attended (with my parents) what was probably a fairly liberal church (of Scotland). At school, I belonged to the Scripture Union group, whose doctrine seemed to be much more sharp-edged than what I was encountering on a Sunday morning.

I am particularly reminded of when the two worlds collided (although that isn't quite a true description - truer to say that a third world, which probably had more in common with the second world, collided with the first world). For some reason, I attended an evangelistic meeting at another church in the town where I lived. I went forward (which is another story), which led to the evangelist contacting my minister, presumably to encourage him to follow up this new convert. Whereupon my minister approached me, somewhat distressed, to say that he didn't understand why I needed to be converted, since I'd grown up in his church, and was already a Christian.

I find, as I write this, that I am confronting layer upon layer of questions, which may be why, at a somewhat more advanced age, I find myself trying to unpick the curious mixture of ideas which continually bash into each other whenever I try to think through an issue related to my faith.

First principles

Does God exist? There must be, at least, the possibility that He doesn't. Since human beings all have different ideas of what God is like, then surely one explanation is that He isn't there at all - we've all made Him up.

If He does exist, what is He like? Again, we receive mixed messages. At the same time, He is kind, loving, and just, and eternally punishes some people simply for not knowing about Him.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


On Sunday morning, the bible reading was the passage where Jesus told his interrogators to "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." The children's address consisted of the story of Eric Liddell, who opted out of the 100 metres race at the Paris Olympics in 1924 because the heats were to take place on a Sunday morning. He went on to win the 400 metres - an inspiring story. But (but, but, but) would anybody (ministers of the Church of Scotland included) expect or support such behaviour to-day?

The moral of the story, as spelt out by the minister, was that if any of the children happened to be, say, in the school football team, and there was to be a practice session on a Sunday morning, they should say - sorry, I can't take part - on Sunday morning I go to church. What a burden to lay on young shoulders!

OK, but let's be consistent. I knew of an elder who was building his own house at week-ends. So he took a holiday from church - nobody batted an eyelid. What if a parishioner announced that he or she was going to run the Edinburgh Marathon? What if half the congregation goes straight from church to the supermarket, or the garden centre, or the diy store?

At a crisis point in my life, my parents had arranged for me to see a psychiatrist. The only time he had available was on a Sunday morning. Should I go and see this man, who is unlikely to support a religious view of life, or should I trust God, and attend church? If it is obvious to you that I should see the psychiatrist, then why do you support Eric Liddell's decision to put God before country?

And finally, another Christian sportsman, Bernhard Langer won a major tournament, which happened to finish on Easter Sunday. He played (of course), and won, and announced how proud he was to win this competition on the day that we remember Jesus Christ rising from the dead ...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Please ...

Dear Mr. Brewer

We are writing on behalf of 498 supporters of cartoonist and blogger Dave Walker, a group which includes bishops, national journalists in the UK and US, lawyers, clergy, and concerned members of the public.

We would like to ask you please to contact Dave Walker and withdraw the demands made in the 'Cease and Desist' letter which you sent him in July. Your letter, as far as we know, instructed Dave to remove all his posts about the recent history of SPCK bookshops or face action for libel. With the pressures of the impending Lambeth conference, and a very short deadline given by yourself, Dave complied. He commented at the time: “I have therefore removed all of the SPCK/SSG posts on this blog, as, although I believe I have not done anything wrong I do not have the money to face a legal battle. The removal of these posts is in no way an admission of guilt.”

Many of us have read the posts concerned, and are surprised, to say the least, that they could be called libelous. Indeed, the first three posts make no mention at all of yourself, the Society of St. Stephen the Great, or anyone associated with you. The 4th post reports your takeover of the bookshops with the comment “this is splendid news.” Another post is a simple link to your SSG video on YouTube. Other items include verbatim reports of your own statements, and in the simple post on the death of Steve Jeynes, dozens of people used the comments to expressed their grief and condolences to Steve’s family.

Dave is a reasonable man, and if all critics were as fair as he is the world would be a better place. If you were able to reconsider, and point out specific statements and claims you were unhappy with, we are sure Dave would be happy to correct them where appropriate. This is the normal process of debate on the internet, and in real life, and follows the strong tradition of free speech for which our countries stand and are rightly proud.

So this is a polite request from all of us: please contact Dave Walker, advise him that your ‘cease and desist’ communication no longer stands, and let him report freely.

Yours sincerely

8 signatories representing the ‘We Support Dave Walker’ group.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


We're back, after spending a few days in a caravan. It was a good holiday, helped by the relatively good weather we had. And we made some interesting visits, including Paxton House and Bamburgh Castle (on the beach neighbouring which the kite helicopter incident took place).

Home again - wife and daughter attending an amateur performance of "Summer Holiday" in Edinburgh, while son and I hold the fort at home ...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Kitus Interruptus

Sorry, couldn't resist ...

I was on the beach, flying my kite, as you do, when I realised that a helicopter was flying towards the beach at low level. I was frantically reeling in the kite, wondering whether the kite or the helicopter would come off worse if there was an entanglement. Thankfully, the helicopter roared overhead, a few metres to my right, without fouling the kite string.

Some time later, a gentleman approached me, introducing himself as the helicopter pilot. He said that they would be filming for an hour and a half, and could I 'be aware'. I said to him that I was happy to call it a day - indeed at that point I was trying to retrieve my kite without it ending up in the sea.

Not a hazard you expect ...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


This is Green Week. It is also likely to be remembered as the week I stopped taking public transport to work and started driving (again). Monday morning was the last straw - I arrived at my desk 45 minutes late, partly because one of my buses was 20 minutes late.

My daughter said to me this morning that this is Walk to School Week. I told her that as far as I am concerned, it is Get to Work on Time Week ...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Cold winds

Financially, and meteorologically. Brings a new attitude - greater realism ...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Yesterday evening I attended a meeting of our local after school club management committee. This morning, I shall be attending our regular team meeting at work. Obviously, the content of these meetings isn't blog fodder, but these days I am having to give a great deal of thought to the question of how my participation in these meetings is affected by my having Asperger's Syndrome. Of course, being diagnosed hasn't changed me. But I am now aware that there may be factors which affect my performance at meetings which previously I could not take into account. Essentially, I am operating under a disability.

Imagine a blind person running a race, unaware that the other competitors can see. It would be a mystery to him how they so easily find their way around the course. I am criticised for not contributing enough at meetings. The truth is that it takes me all of the effort I can muster just to keep up with what's happening - to follow. There is no way that I could ever take the lead.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Morning sunshine ...