Archives January 2009

Alphabet of Faith

Again, with respect to Ken, I just had to share this with the Sunday’s Youth Group (on Facebook) and then with you…

A lthough things are not perfect
B ecause of trial or pain
C ontinue in thanksgiving
D o not begin to blame
E ven when the times are hard
F ierce winds are bound to blow
G od is forever able
H old on to what you know
I magine life without His love
J oy would cease to be
K eep thanking Him for all the things
L ove imparts to thee
M ove out of “Campfire Complaining”
N o weapon that is known
O n earth can yield the power
P raise can do alone
Q uit looking at the future
R edeem the time at hand
S tart every day with worship
T o “thank” is a command
U ntil we see Him coming
V ictorious in the sky
W e’ll run the race with gratitude
X alting God most high
Y es, there’ll be good times and yes some will be bad, but…
Z ion waits in glory…where none are ever sad!

Screensaver as Desktop – a wonderfully geeky waste of processor cycles!

I need film of the 3dmaze screen saver that was in (I think, Windows 95).

Someone very kindly has posted it, and as there is somewhere a disk on w95 lying around somewhere, I don’t feel bad about sharing it with you. You can download it from here.


At present, I havn’t been able to get it to run as a Windows Vista screensaver, but I am working on that bit of nostalga, but even as a screen saver it would be hard to screen capture.

Imagine my delight therefore to find this snippet:

This hidden setting works in all versions and editions of Windows Vista. All that needs to be done is to execute a single command to execute the screensaver as the Vista wallpaper. The best method is to test run the feature with the default screensavers that are shipped with Windows Vista and use custom ones after making sure that everything is still working properly.

Open a command prompt by pressing Windows R and typing in cmd. Now execute the command (for example)

 Mystify.scr /p65552


It can take a few seconds before the changes become apparent. What you should see is the screensaver as the new wallpaper in Windows Vista.

It takes quite a bit of processing power, so I don’t think I’d want it running all the time, but as the desktop it makes it easy to capture in CamStudio (my preferred screencap program). You kill the process by opening up task manager (right click on the menubar at the bottom and select it) and killing the process: a bit messy, but this is obviously an easter egg that was just there to delight and amuse Geeks like me.

Google broken by Malware warnings

Uh oh… the backbone of the Internet appears to have just snapped in half…

Every single search on from my many machines comes up with a malware warning (“This site may harm your computer”) and effectively blocks your activity, unless you take the link to the warning out of the address URL. There is obviously an issue at the Google end, all searches on and are showing the same error.


Click on the link and you get this:

Is this just me, or is everyone getting this? You probably won’t get this posting by searching for it, so I wonder why I am noting this down.

UPDATE: 15:04 GMT – Henry (probably in London, rather than Bath) has reported the same problem, so it’s not just me, or my choice of dodgy websites (BBC iplayer ‘might harm your computer’ – presumably if you watch Eastenders on it). Watching and waiting for a resolution.

No search on Yahoo (oh, the irony) yet shows any posting from Google on the matter, and nothing yet from Royal Pingdom, the usual gurus of website brokenness

UPDATE: 15:19 GMT – It would appear (from the comments below) that the world has this problem. If you have arrived on this small Church blog looking for the solution, then WELCOME. The immediate solution is to :

a) cut and paste the listed URL from the warning page into the address and effectively go direct to the page

b) edit the address, taking out

(not you might need to change the html converted codes to make the URL work)

c) Use Yahoo (if you havn’t used it for some time)

UPDATE 15:25 GMT – FIXED!!! Oh Praise the Lord!!!! Back to normal. Now, will they admit to anything or just pretend that never happened? Now I can get back on with my sermon preparation for Candlemas on Monday. Thank you for stopping by, this has been an exhilarating half-hour. God bless you.

Fr. S

Youth Club Talk: Uncommon Sense – 1 Corinthians 1:27

1 Corinthians 1:27 (and with Respect to Miz)

Common Sense

“Have a bit of common sense” – it’s what my Mum always used to shout at me, particularly after I’d done something stupid. It’s something Lou still says to me (and Liam) when we still do foolhardly or ill-thought out things.

It’s as though Common Sense is what we all have to achieve… But I want to tell you about a Man who embraced the Uncommon Sense, and who made such a difference to the world by swimming against that tide. Uncommon Sense is perhaps what will make such a difference.

As Einstein said “Common sense is but the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen”

Common Sense is toeing the line and falling in with everyone else, even when you have the sneaking suspicion it is wrong. Common Sense sends us into senseless wars and encourages us to turn our backs on those in need.

Common Sense tells us through the media that we are inadequate, ugly or style-less but the pain can be removed by this next purchase – a BMW or Olay’s wrinkle cream or the latest trainers

Common Sense propels people to sacrifice their homes, their families and their lives to work ridiculous hours to buy stuff to make them happy, and when the jobs aren’t there, this common sense concludes that you are worthless.

Common Sense is health and safety, people suing each other and the 4 page EULA that you have to agree to before you watch a DVD or install a game or (it would seem) be allowed to cross the road

This sense doesn’t seem very sensible to me. Maybe we need a different tack, a new view, an Uncommon Sense.

So what is Uncommon Sense?

Uncommon Sense is when you take the plunge and aim to work less in order to begin enjoying life more

Uncommon Sense is when a US soft drink company called Jones Soda aims to take on the largest brand in the world by launching drinks such as “Turkey & Gravy flavoured” sodapop.

Uncommon Sense challenges the selfish notions of money-grabbing and looking after number one and values what you can do the make the world and those who live in it a better place.

Uncommon Sense gave us John Lennon, Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King and many more individuals who had the bravery to make a decision, take the risk and stand up for what they believed in – the power of the creative individual

Uncommon Sense encouraged Radiohead to give away their album for free – or as much as the downloaders were willing to pay for it, and which earned them a fortune.

Uncommon Sense is at the heart of what the Man taught – the stand up not for what society craves: power, money and sex, but for values which place God at the heart of our lives – where others are valued, supported and loved; regardless of how they look, live or even behave.

The Man came amongst us not to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:17), through the transforming message of hope and love.

In a world polluted by “Common Sense” this seems weird, wrong, upside down. In a world that points to God, it is the only way.

Paul, a man who had to take a long hard look at his own life, told the people of Corinth:

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

1 Corinthians 1:27

Being a Christian is not an act of weakness. In the face of the world’s hostility, it requires an act of great strength. To withstand the mickey-takes and the snide remarks on the playground or the work place requires real inner strength. The world says one thing, faith calls for something more transformative, more subversive, more counter-cultural, more uncommon.

If you want to be really different, really uncommon, then follow Christ, and help make Uncommon Sense make a difference in this world.


The dangers of Bibliolatry…

From this website,

Before the ESV was available, I used another translation that was a little freer in its translation philosophy. There were two Sundays in a row where I had to correct its interpretation to make what I thought was the true point of the passage. After the service a new Christian came to me and asked, “Can I not trust my Bible?” Ouch! So here is one of the big no-noes from the pulpit. Do not correct the English Bible. Ever! Never say, “the translators got this wrong.” The damage you can do to a person’s trust in Scripture is unimaginable.

“Do not correct the English Bible. Ever!”

This is possibly one of the most dangerous statements I have ever heard.

The danger that such a statement engenders is that of Bibliolatry – the worship of the scripture more than the Logos of God itself.

Translations are translations. They are the work of humans. They are fallible as Romans 3:23 points out. Miss that and you miss the incarnational nature of Christ, and the danger is that you try and capture God between the pages of a book – this does not glorify Him.

The people of God surely need to be taught with a little more intelligence than a blind “don’t correct the bible” closed approach. If we open the minds of our congregations to the nuances of the actual Word rather than the words (remembering that a comma in a different place can make a world of theological difference to a text written without punctuation), then we serve God better.

For example (Luke 23:43):

“Truly I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise” (heaven soon – the doctrine of purgatory partially rests on this comma)


“Truly I say to you, today you willgreek_manuscript_p46_cad200_romans_hebrews be with me in Paradise” (heaven immediately)

Which one is right? We don’t know. We don’t know because SCRIPTUREWASWRITTENLIKETHISALLINCAPITALLETTERSWITHNOPUNCTUATION The Punctuation is the work of the translators, not of God.

If you don’t let people explore beauty, the poetry, the layers and the subtexts of Holy Scripture then surely the first time the People of God read it properly, they will feel that you have cheated them. For goodness sake, let the new faithful grow in faith and understanding and treat them like adults! Lie or obfuscate and they will catch you out! Honesty from the pulpit is surely the best policy.

From either an academic or a hermeneutical perspective, this is a dangerous statement, and it comes from someone with a doctorate. I agree that the use of the original languages should be used with caution, so as to avoid showing-off but not shied away from. The faithful should be encouraged to grow, and I would suggest this using multiple translations and interlinear works and not just the one the Bible-thumping Pastor chooses because it supports his argument.

Bibiolatory is a dangerous thing, it treats the faithful like less than children, it blunts our God-given intelligence and refuses to let us engage with the best work ever in the history of creation: the Holy Scriptures, where God is partly revealed, and can be glimpsed through the actual words on a page, but God did not stop his revelation to us after 120AD when the Revelation to S. John the Divine was completed. It is a significant part of the Revelation, but He continues to work through you, through me, through the Spirit inspiring us by prayer, interpretation of Scripture, meditation, worship and the sacraments. Let God free from the cage you try and put him in and for His sake, DO correct the English Bible (or the Welsh, or the French or the Romanian…) when it is necessary!!!

Sermon Notes: Candlemas 2009 – The Work of a Lifetime

Text: Luke 2:22-40

  • The faith of the Church, our faith, speaks of promise and hope.
  • The symbol of the candle is a symbol of hope: the light that shines in the darkness
  • The Gospel speaks of the promise of the child and begins the revelation of the word of God to us;
  • Action takes place at the very heart of the Jewish faith – the temple
  • From the temple the work of God will spread out to the whole world.
  • Nunc Dimittis- Song of Simeon “Lord now let your servant go in peace, your word has been fulfilled” and the possibilities of God come clear to them…
  • The words of Simeon and the prophecy of Anna come at the end of their life, they speak of completion, of fulfilment. The word made flesh completes the process of salvation, for both Jews and Gentiles alike.
  • The process of salvation is not an immediate act, but is the work of a lifetime – it took the lifetime of Simeon and Anna to see it and it will take us our lifetime.
  • There are many that will try and offer you a quick fix: a 12-step programme for salvation, a simple “say this prayer in your heart and you will be saved”, but Christ calls us to the work of a lifetime, and beginning the journey with Jesus means picking up your cross and daily following him, striving to be formed in the likeness of Christ
  • And formation takes a lifetime. Prayer. Discipline. Sacrament. Reconciliation. Study of God’s Word. Pilgrimage. No quick fix. No simple solution. Nothing that can easily be purchased in a Christian bookstore or downloaded from the internet.
  • We should like Simeon and Anna be prepared to prayerfully wait, to bide our time, to let these things come to maturity, to fruition.
  • As we do these things, we become slowly aware of the possibilities of God, and our lives are transformed, and the world in which we inhabit becomes transformed.
  • We hear of this incident, another when he is 12, and then… nothing until age 30. The time, the kairos had not yet come.
  • No accident that Nunc Dimitis is used in each evensong as we enter the dark before the dawn; no accident that I use it at each funeral I conduct as we look for the dawn of the resurrection
  • Let us take up that work, follow Christ on that long and arduous journey, so that at the end, we too may be able to say the words of the Nunc Dimittis in peace, hope and expectation that the wondrous possibilities of God may be visible in our lives.

When the pipe simply isn't big enough…

I have had an Internet account for quite some years. In fact, my first online access was pre-Internet as such accessing Bulletin Boards and the like with first of all a 300 baud (bits per second) modem, then I upgraded to a 1200/75 ‘Prestel’ Modem, which was slower on the upstream because you could only type at 75 baud absolute max, then through (oh, I can’t remember) 33k, 56k, 128k ISDN, 256k Broadband, 512k, and now 1.5Mb Broadband. Lots of modems, and lots of service providers.

I remember the excitement of downloading a 16k gif image (and not having the software to view it), and now a Word document containing a faculty application takes 31Mb!!!

With three children, a lovely wife training to be a primary school teacher and myself, 1.5Mb doesn’t go very far, in fact the tubes are pretty seriously clogged.


We live at some distance from the exchange, so although I could theoretically get up to 8Mb, 1.5Mb is the best I can get. I have also recently had flaky service from Pipex, with dropped connections and lots of retries. 🙁

This is why, somewhat reluctantly, I have thrown my lot in with a different technology, and will give 20Mb Cable a throw. Virgin Media get such a bad press, but both my Churchwardens have cable access and reasonable success with them. 20Mb is the maximum throughput, so we will have to see what it actually delivers: I will keep you posted after the 2nd when the man comes to put a fat pipe into our house.

The main disadvantage is the loss of my static IP address. This means that it will no longer be as easy or cost effective to keep my development web server visible to the outside world, and the inevitable loss of websites such as my bucket of videos for download. You will all just have to find other ways of getting hold of them or make do with YouTube. However, it will reduce my paranoia that has affected me since the webserver got infected by a hacker’s rootkit, and I was forced to reinstall. I will still have it for my development, but on the local network only. It was very slow for the outside world anyway. I could use a dynamic mapper like DynDNS, but it costs…

After Feb 2nd, agnusdei and my other playpen stuff will no longer be available. Download what you can now…


450 miles for mass

Up at Stupid-o’clock (okay, 5.30am) to drive to Beccles in Suffolk. The only church in the country with these:


Chandelier-mounted Infrared heaters, complete with lights. The journey was long and in appalling weather, but useful and interesting. The parish were welcoming and helpful to Tony and myself. A report will be into the PCC shortly, but I think they will work.

It was a long way for Mass, though.

Confirmation at the Cathedral – Full Immersion – the Works!

Last night, we gathered in the Cathedral for Baptism and Confirmation. One of our Sunday’s group, the lovely Becky had opted for full immersion baptism. There were four adult confirmands also: Charmaine, Dave, Charlotte and Vicky – all young, vibrant and filled with the spirit. God has done some marvelous things with all of these people and it has been a privilege to share the journey with them, on Monday evenings filled with wine, coffee, bible and modern cinema (the Journey of Faith course wot I wrote) and of course, the Pizza, Twister and Eucharistically centred Sunday’s Youth Group. Such fun. Such a privilege.

ports_fontThe font  in the Cathedral is deliberately coffin-like and the whole service is journey – from Nave to Baptistry to Altar, a journey of life. Here we die to our past. Becky was asked by the lovely Bishop Godfrey Ashby if this was her faith. She replied “yes” and climbed in to the font in her jeans and funky sweater. She was baptised and she rose from the water a new creation, dripping in water, soaked in the spirit. The sight of her (I was close by) was so moving; from death to life, life in all its fulness (yes, you know by now it’s John 10:10, isn’t it always John 10:10?). I was visibly caught in the emotion of it all.

A group from HMS Collingwood was then baptised, but just by sprinkling. Not as good, I thought, but joyous and no less special.

Thence to the altar, where we each brought our candidates in turn to kneel, have hands laid and annointed. I know they were nervous, but it all went without a hitch.

Prayers, baptism candles, and a procession out to applause. Very good. Very, very good. Lots of photos then, but I havn’t seen any yet. Maybe I can backload a few when people send them to me.

What made the evening especially lovely was seeing the group from Holy Spirit, led by Fr Phillip, my successor. Most of the young people being confirmed I knew really well, some from very small indeed. They flocked around me (one telling me off for leaving because the youth group at Holy Spirit had subsequently folded) and it was so rewarding to see many whom Lou and I had started Sunday School with now entering into the full life of the Church. Well done them. It was good to see Fr Philip and his wonderful (my) training incumbent, the Area Dean of Portsmouth. What I havn’t told Fr Michael yet is that in the chapter of the forthcoming book there is a footnote especially about him.

Canon Fr. Michael Lewis SSC, a deeply inspirational priest with the wisdom and conviction to simply let his curate get on with it unhindered. I remain forever in his debt.

I pray they don’t cut it out.

Confirmation is special because it is affirmation of faith by the confirmand and a response from God through the grace of annointing. The church says to the candidate “we value your faith”, especially to a young person. At S. Thomas, I am now deeply convinced that Confirmation is not the gateway to the sacraments, and that those desirous to participate should not be excluded from communion, whether baptised, confirmed or not. Most of these confirmands are therefore (but not universally) already communicants. This is not by whim or bloody-mindedness on my behalf, but a deep-seated theological conviction worked out with my Clergy colleague and my parish – our task is to administer God’s life-giving sacraments without hesitation and let God deal with that – let God do the healing and the reconciling through the power of the blessed sacraments. Jesus didn’t demand baptism certificates of the 5,000 on the mountain (Matthew 14:13-21) or the 4,000 on the plain Matthew 15:32-39. Even Judas shared the Last Supper.

This approach to administer the sacrament to all means that the role of Confirmation is changed: certainly not diminished, but re-emphasised as being about Commitment; a staging post on the journey, a sacramental act alongside their baptism, the eucharist and their growing reconciliation with God. I believe that this makes more pastoral sense, a better missionary opportunity and values the Confirmands as growing Christians, no longer secret initiates. I love what Confirmation stands for, and I am very, very, very proud of ‘my’ five and those from Holy Spirit I have journeyed with as well. Deo Gratias!

Blesséd Lenten Journey

jof_mainNEW FOR LENT!

Blesséd will be offering FREE a daily meditation and prayer in Lent direct to your mobile phone. Starting on Ash Weds 25th Feb, you will receive daily a free text with prayers, meditations, web links and other devotions to help you through your Lent journey.

There is no charge for receiving this text, it is a gift from Blesséd.

Some texts may contain meditations, prayer, scriptures or links to web pages to stimulate your faith and help your prayer in Lent.

The texts are not generated by an automated system but by a human being. All you have to do is sign up on the Blesséd webpage and texts will arrive from Ash Weds through to Easter Day!