Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Midweek Meeting July 19 2017

We were a small company last night but we had a good session looking at the subject of heaven and then in prayer. Always plenty to pray about. Being so few we were finished not long after nine.


We finally got to see the film Hampstead last night. Knowing it is based in our neighbourhood we were curious to see. I remember seeing them filming it from time to time a year or two back. We went to see the film in the JW3 Centre, which we had not been to before. It's a cultural centre with restaurant, cinema, etc. It currently features a large sanded area with deckchairs and a Tel Aviv backdrop. There are security guards on the gates but it has a nice voluntary Israeli feel. Anyway the film is a nice gentle romance featuring two older people not convinced about the rat race. It is nice to be reminded of what a lovely area we live in (as ever in such films the geography is fictional and you know where things really are). It is sad that the only only alternatives offered in this set up are rat race, moan at the race or drop out. There are other alternatives. We managed to exit the cinema just as it was about to rain. I've rarely seen such a storm.

Gail and Paul

We had the invite to my sister's wedding today.
It reminded my wife of two bakers in nearby Hampstead.
My sister will be giving up being a Baker (in joke).

Lord's Day July 16 2017

We were not many Sunday evening, about 12, but in the morning we were packed out - eventually - even with many away. There were some new comers - two lots of two Africans. I didn't get to speak to the one pair but I did meet two South African ladies (one is from Botswana). The most encouraging thing today is that a lady who came for the first time during our mission came again for the first time in a while. I was sorry not to ahve seen her and thought perhaps she wasn't so interested but in fact she has been unwell all this while and was very glad to be back. I preached in the morning on Romans 6:23. It was so encouraging to be preaching on such a verse with such a person present. In the evening we looked at another aspect of Christian living and at union with Christ.

Another Idris Davies poem

I thought I might just throw in another Idris Davies poem at this point.

High summer on the mountains
And on the clover leas,
And on the local sidings,
And on the rhubarb leaves.

Brass bands in all the valleys
Blaring defiant tunes,
Crowds, acclaiming carnival,
Prize pigs and wooden spoons.

Dust on shabby hedgerows
Behind the colliery wall,
Dust on rail and girder
And tram and prop and all.

High summer on the slag heaps
And on polluted streams,
And old men in the morning
Telling the town their dreams.

Midweek meeting July 12 2017

Leviticus 15 is all about bodily discharges and I thought it might be difficult to handle but it was not really as with a bit of help from Philip Eveson I was able t make some good points without embarrassment. We'll have another little break now having looked at the while section on being clean or unclean. Only another 12 chapters and it will practically be just 1 and II Chronicles and Lamentations left. We had a good number out and a good time of prayer.

10 Panics

1. 1819 First major peacetime financial crisis in USA followed by a general collapse of the US economy that persisting until 1821. It announced the transition of the nation from its colonial commercial status with Europe toward an independent economy, increasingly characterised by the financial and industrial imperatives of central bank monetary policy, making it susceptible to boom and bust cycles. Driven by global market adjustments in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, the severity of the downturn was compounded by excessive speculation in public lands, fuelled by the unrestrained issue of paper money from banks and business concerns.
2. 1825 Stock market crash that started in the Bank of England. It arose in part out of speculative investments in Latin America, including the imaginary country of Poyais. It was felt most acutely in England where it precipitated the closing of six London banks and 60 country banks but was also manifest in the markets of Europe, Latin America and the USA. An infusion of gold reserves from the Banque de France saved the Bank of England from complete collapse. It has been referred to as the first modern economic crisis not attributable to an external event, such as war, and thus the start of modern economic cycles.
3. 1837 Financial crisis in the USA that touched off a major recession that lasted until the mid-1840s. Profits, prices and wages went down; unemployment went up. Pessimism abounded. It had both domestic and foreign origins. Speculative lending practices in western states, a sharp decline in cotton prices, a collapsing land bubble, international specie flows, and restrictive lending policies in the UK were all to blame. On May 10 banks in New York suspended specie payments, meaning that they would no longer redeem commercial paper in specie at full face value. Despite a brief recovery in 1838, the recession persisted approximately seven years. 
4. 1847 Minor British banking crisis associated with the end of the 1840s railway industry boom and the failure of many non-banks.
5. 1857 Financial panic in the USA caused by the declining international economy and over-expansion of the domestic economy. Because of the interconnectedness of the world economy by the 1850s, the financial crisis that began in late 1857 was the first worldwide economic crisis. In the UK, Palmerston's government circumvented the requirements of the Peel Banking Act, 1844, which required gold and silver reserves to back up the amount of money in circulation. Surfacing news of this circumvention set off the Panic in the UK.
6. 1873 Triggered a depression in Europe and USA that lasted until 1879, and even longer in some countries (France, UK). In the UK it started two decades of stagnation known as the "Long Depression" that weakened the country's economic leadership. It was known as the "Great Depression" until the events in the early 1930s set a new standard.
7. 1893 Serious economic depression in the USA that ended in 1897. It deeply affected every sector of the economy and produced political upheaval that led to the realigning election of 1896 and the presidency of McKinley.
8. 1901 First stock market crash on the New York Stock Exchange, caused in part by struggles between E H Harriman, Jacob Schiff and J P Morgan/James J Hill for financial control of Northern Pacific Railway. The stock cornering was orchestrated by James Stillman and William Rockefeller's First National City Bank financed with Standard Oil money. After reaching a compromise, the moguls formed the Northern Securities Company. As a result of the panic thousands of small investors were ruined.
9. 1907 Also known as the 1907 Bankers' Panic or Knickerbocker Crisis, a US financial crisis that took place over a three-week period starting mid-October, when the New York Stock Exchange fell almost 50% from its 1906 peak. Panic occurred, as this was during a time of economic recession, and there were numerous runs on banks and trust companies. It eventually spread throughout the USA when many state and local banks and businesses entered bankruptcy.
10. 1911 A slight economic depression that followed the enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. It mostly affected the stock market and business traders who were smarting from the activities of trust busters, especially with the breakup of the Standard Oil Company.

Lord's Day July 9 2017

We had quite large congregations (for us) morning and evening last Lord's Day. Three Iranians were present so it wasencouraging to see that link has not entirely gone. Our two Korean friends were back and there were lots of Nigerians, as is often the case. We ended up with seven children for the talk and Sunday School. I am going through the klife of Peter and we are almost through. I hope to tackle Luther mext. We had our communion before the morning service and tea before the evening, an unusual combination. I preached a text in the morning Romans 5:1, 2 and starteda lttle series in the evening on Christian living, beginning with  the fear of God  - something I don't think I've ever preached on or possibly heard preached on.

Gwalia Deserta by Idris Davies

One further feature of PSB's Every Valley is part of a poem by the Monmuthshire poet Idris Davies (1905-1953) sung by James Dean Bradfield (also from Monmouthshire or Gwent, like myself). I have mentioned him here before and how I discovered him studying Anglo-Welsh poetry in university. The piece is from Davies's Gwalia Deserta, which includes the part made famous by Pete Seeger, the Byrds, the Alarm, etc - The Bells of Rhymney.

In the places of my boyhood
The pit-wheels turn no more
Nor any furnace lightens
The midnight as of yore.

The slopes of slag and cinder
Are sulking in the rain
And in derelict valleys
The hope of youth is slain.

And yet I love to wander
The early ways I went
And watch from doors and bridges
The hills and skies of Gwent.

In Gwalia, my Gwalia,
The vandals out of hell
Ransacked and marred forever
The wooded hill and dale.

They grabbed and bruised and plundered
Because their greed was great
And slunk away and purchased
The medals of the state.

And yet I love to wander
The early ways I went
And watch from doors and bridges
The hills and skies of Gwent.

Though blighted be the valleys
Where man meets man with pain
The things by boyhood cherished
Stand firm and shall remain.
(Repeated several times)

Every Valley PSB

Unusual experience yesterday. I read a review of four new albums in the pop section and knew what they were talking about. I'd not heard of Broken Social Service, but I am aware of Arcade Fire and War on Drugs who apparently followed in their pioneering wake.
Then there was Calvin Harris whose name rang a bell (as did those of Pharell Williams and Arian Grande who are involved on this album I think).
There was also Haim who I've got (rightly or wrongly) next to the Staves in my galaxy of bands I don't know much about.
Anyway, I'm only aware of these becasue I have or have had teenage sons. The fourth album reviewed was a new one by Public Broadcasting Service. I became aware of them when I heard the track Go on Radio 2 one Saturday afternoon. I consequently purchased most of the album The race for space. The other items didn't quite grab me. This new album Every Valley however is about the rise and fall of the South Wales coal field and was recorded in my home county. Having grown up on the eastern edge of the coal field (one of my uncles was a miner as was a great grandfather in Cwmbran itself) I was drawn by this offering and after a listen through on itunes downloaded it in digital form.
Some potential cliches are there (a song in the Welsh language, the final track is done by Beaufort Male Voice) but plenty of others are avoided - a song about Aberfan and references to Margaret Thatcher, Scargill, etc. Rather, the whole thing is done in a more general way in my opinion comes together very well.
Worth checking out. Start here.
This is also well worth looking at.

Met Tab Summer School 2017

I've not been to the Metropolitan Tabernacle in a little while but this year looked an attractive programme so I decided to go and was there for most though not of it.
I was a little disappointed with Ibrahim ag Mohammed's first session on the vast and vital subject of Priesthood of all believers (OT) but the second from the New Testament (4 beauties and 8 duties) was fine. I only caught one of Roland Burrows' set of anecdotes from the Reformation period but that was a lovely session to be in on.
Dr Masters began with Reformations in the Bible but by the time I heard him he had given up on that theme and so we had messages on sincerity (Ephesians 6) and on John 17. Dr Masters has a way of presenting his material that slates half of evangelicalism and usually most of the Reformed constituency too. It has its strengths and you certainly can't listen in a complacent way.
I was surprised to know Vishal Mangalwadi was going to be speaking. It is unusual to see someone in the Met Tab pulpit without a tie but he carried it off in his attractive and apparently meandering conversational style. I must read his Schaeffer style book which has sat on my shelves too long.
Several found him the highlight but I would have to opt for the three messages from Dr Nick Needham on the Reformation, first on the two kingdoms then on Reformation seeds (giving more credit to Erasmus than is usually the case) and finally on the seeds that got lost, pointing out how Baptistic Zwingli, Luther and others were, early on.
Interesting things seen - Chris Cooper approaching a man at the front who didn't get the memo and so raised his hands in worship during the first hymn. It's good to have a clear policy. Also, poor Nick Needham being harassed by some poor man who had quite a shock when Nick suggested that Anabaptists were not Protestants.
I felt slightly more at home here than in the Barbican. The bookshop seemed to be in a slight time warp. I couldn't find anything to buy - always disappointing. The depth and breadth and consistency of the work at the Met Tab is stunning. As at the EMA most of the hundreds of faces were unknown to me although there were a few familiar faces, including that of my father-in-law who made a flying visit and kindly treated me to lunch at the nearby Imperial War Museum.

Historic Corbyn type win for the Lions

It's good to hear that the Lions, despite predictions, have held the mighty All Blacks to a series draw in their own back garden. I managed to see the second half of the final match somehow and a thrilling festival of rugby it was. The final score was 15-15. A final (correct) refreeing decision (scrum not a penalty) made a difference). 

Midweek Meeting July 5 2017

Continuing to catch up. We were the usual sort of number on Wednesday. We looked at parts of Chapters 13 and 14 of Leviticus and the instructions on moulds in fabrics and houses. We will do one more chapter befor takinga  break I think. It is not too difficult to see appplications but the whole way of thinking found in these chapters is so alien that it is hard to connect. As ever there was a time of prayer, Lots to pray for.

Lord's Day July 2 2017

It's been a busy week and I have not done a report on last Lord's Day yet. It may seem like ancient history by now but numbers were quite low last week I recall, with many away on holiday or travelling and one or two not well. We were down to ten in the evening. Not knowing who would be there quite I thought it best to go for texts. I preached in the morning on John 15:4, 5 and in the evening on John 14:13, 14. They are such vital verses, it was good to revisit them.
(We held over our normal morning communion to next week).

More on Baby Driver

I went to see Baby Driver this week. Not to be recommended - violent, lots of swearing, etc. I did enjoy the storyline and the soundtrack though, especially Debora, Focus and Egyptian Reggae and Unsquare Dance too. (Radar Love is too brief). here's a blogfrom my Focus blog

The Focus track Hocus Pocus features alongside a host of other tracks in the new film Baby Driver. Most of the track is played and becomees integral to the shoot out taking place among police adn rival gang members. This is not the first time the track has been used in this sort of way. It also features in a shoot out scene in the 2014 version of Robocop. (It wa also used for  aNike advert remixed some years back).
This time round one especially notes the way at one point gunshots and guiter chords are synchronised. Hopefully it will be a means of introducing younger people to the work of one of the greatest bands ever.
In an interview for Variety director Edgar Wright is asked
Is there an evangelistic element for you, that you might be introducing millennials or even younger people to some classic rock and soul and jazz they wouldn’t otherwise hear? Who wouldn’t want to be introduced to Focus and “Hocus Pocus”?
He answers
I keep saying to people, “If you love the song, watch them performing it on YouTube. It’s astonishing.” I mean, that’s how I know that song, is because there used to be a British music show called “The Old Grey Whistle Test,” which is slightly before my time, but there’s a great DVD of that, and the clip of Focus is amazing.
They go on
“Hocus Pocus” was famous in the ‘70s but hasn’t been kept alive much since then, so it’s hard to explain to people that it’s one of the most exciting rock songs ever recorded… and it has both yodeling and flute.
He adds
Yes. And accordion!
I speak no Dutch but I also liked this comment on one Dutch website.
De 46 jaar oude hit Hocus Pocus van de Nederlandse rockgroep Focus is prominent aanwezig in de actiefilm Baby Driver.
Wright says that the Hocus Pocuus part was his favvourite part - mine too. He also claims the studio was not going to use the track but he was so keen to use it that he paid himself for two extra days of filming. Good call.
Check out this video from 8 minutes to get a tiny taste of the scene.