Archive for May, 2005

Rubbish

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

My blogging ability has become a bit rubbish, I’m afraid: I put it down to “First day back at work after the bank holiday” syndrome, plus a touch of “Period end paperwork” disease, and the debilitating effects of “How-do-they-expect-us-to-work-with-such-a-rubbish-network” palsy.

Still, I’ve had an e-mail from the owners of the geocache I failed to find on Sunday: Looks like I tried to be a bit too clever in solving the clues, and it’s a way away from where I was looking. I’m meant to be back down that way in a couple of weeks, so hopefully I’ll have a chance to try again. My chum Mark the Buddhist has sent me a copy of the poem he wants me to read at his wedding in a few weeks time – it’s a bit complicated, with loads of commas and things, but it’s just so right for Mark and June. I’ll have to start practising.

Ooh, and a big “up” to my other mate Gary – we heard today that he’s in hospital having something done to his leg. Get well soon mate, my Ickle Godson wants his daddy back!

Bank Holiday

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

I moved loads of furniture, did some computery stuff, and sorted out the Bluetooth in the car. Then I went to the gym and to Hospital Radio. And now I’m back at work.

More later.

Quandary

Sunday, May 29th, 2005

Oh dear – I’m in a quandary now. The lovely JG, who knows more about dogs than anyone else I could think to ask, has said “Boo! for the sonic anti-dog wotsits. They’re excellent if you want to create fear and pain and increase the likelihood of attack“.

I don’t want to hurt doggies, be they big, little or in between – I don’t even particularly want to hurt the big slavering beasties like the one I saw on Friday, all I want is for them to go away and leave me alone. I’d sort of pinned my hopes on the ultrasonic dog repellant thingy, but it seems that all they do is increase the chances of attack. I know the only really effective method of stopping dogs acting aggressively is to train them properly, but since I’m not the dog owner, that option isn’t open to me. All of the methods recommended for driving off threatening dogs seem sure to cause them some kind of distress, but if one ever does bite me it’ll suffer a lot more pain and distress from my efforts to persuade it to let go.

Most people know that running away isn’t the answer – it just makes the dog think you’re playing and want to join in – and the best response is to stand still with your hands in your pockets until the beast gets bored and goes away. My instinct is to rebel and say “Why the hell should I be inconvenienced just because some twunt hasn’t got their dog under proper control“, but I’m realistic enough to know that that argument won’t cut any ice with the dog. It probably wouldn’t cut any ice with the owner either, since by definition we’re either talking about someone who thinks that a big aggressive dog is a sign of their masculinity, or someone who’s simply too lazy to look after their pet properly.

The jury is still out on the ultrasonic doo-dah: As I said, I don’t want to cause pain and distress to any dog, but a dog that’s determined to bite me is going to suffer pain and distress anyway, either from whatever repellant method I use, or when I start kicking it after it’s bitten me, to make it let go.

Anyway, no doggie badness during this afternoon’s caching, so that was OK. I drove over to the Ringwood area, and started with River Avon Calling, a great walk through some rhododendron-stuffed woods. Before going back to the car, I diverted to The Pirates Treasure Chest, a good multi where I managed to bag a trig point on the way round as well! Then back to the car and up to Watchmoor Wood – which I failed to find – and Moorish, which I DID find! A quick visit to Ringwood’s fabbest pub and another trig point on the way, and it was time to head for home.

Indoors

Saturday, May 28th, 2005

Such a nice day out there, and I’m stuck indoors. You’ll remember last November, caching activities were curtailed by the need to make temporary repairs to a damp problem in the living room. Well, at long last the Proper Man is coming next Wednesday, so today has been devoted to moving furniture and lifting carpets.

It’s going to be busy here on Wednesday – another Proper Man is coming to fit the new shower.

Still, it’s all ready now – if it’s nice tomorrow afternoon I just might go caching ;-)

Fat Boy Slim

Friday, May 27th, 2005


What a difference a year makes, eh?

In other news, it’s been the hottest day of the year so far – 25° this afternoon – so guess what I did when I left work? The first cache for the evening was Baron Munchausen’s Epic Cache. There’s an interesting twist to this one which I won’t reveal here, as many local cachers who haven’t done it yet read my blog! Suffice to say it’s a really good cache and should be on every cacher’s “to do” list.

Then it was on to Time for Tea!. This is a really lovely walk, which could have been spoiled by some aggressive scumbags and their nasty alsatian dog – that’s them in the picture. Yes, I know I usually obscure registration numbers in blog photos, but not for them. The evening was rescued a few minutes later by a lady whose first reaction on spotting me was to ask if I was OK with dogs, and offer to put her dalmation on the lead – luckily this doggy was really nice and not at all scary, so there was no need. Regular readers will know that I’ve always said that although I don’t like dogs, I’d never hurt one unless I felt threatened – tonight I came closer to hurting a dog than ever before.
I’ve heard about an ultrasonic thing that posties carry for making big doggies run away whimpering – I’m just off to see if I can find one for sale on the intermaweb.

Keys

Thursday, May 26th, 2005

Thanks as usual to the Dragon Lady for leading me to this one.

The Keys to Your Heart

You are attracted to good manners and elegance.
In love, you feel the most alive when your lover is creative and never lets you feel bored.
You’d like to your lover to think you are stylish and alluring.
You would be forced to break up with someone who was emotional, moody, and difficult to please.
Your ideal relationship is comforting. You crave a relationship where you always feel warmth and love.
Your risk of cheating is zero. You care about society and morality. You would never break a commitment.
You think of marriage as something precious. You’ll treasure marriage and treat it as sacred.
What Are The Keys To Your Heart?

So there.

Shiny

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005

A couple of new features on the fabbo website:

Over in My Gallery there’s a new section called “Caching Pics” – basically pictures taken when I’ve been out caching, but caching isn’t the theme, it’s just nice pics of town and country.

The Gruntmobile Tracker, Who’s Who, Favourite Pubs and Holiday Blog have all moved into a new section, My Bits ‘n Bobs, where they’ve been joined by “Gruntmobile Trace”. This is like Gruntmobile Tracker, except that where Tracker just shows my last beaconed location, Trace shows everywhere I’ve been in the last 72 hours. The maps on Trace are a bit rubbish so far I’m afraid – getting non-copyright UK maps is a bit of a fiddle, but I’m working on it.

There is other news, but it isn’t good – I’ve had two bits of bad news about friends of mine, so just go and look at the shiny new features and tell me what you think :-)

Missed

Tuesday, May 24th, 2005

Sorry about yesterday’s lack of bloggy goodness: As some of you will have heard, I had a bloke from Head Orifice visiting me at work, and his visit took rather longer than expected – caused mainly by the consequences of his laptop crashing just after we stopped for lunch, which meant that we had to do the morning’s work all over again. Then in the evening it was Hospital Radio, so there wasn’t a free moment for blogging.

More disappointing was that there was also a lack of a free moment to help out a chum. The excellent Elly has been having some car problems, and needed to get from the car repair place to Southampton railway station yesterday evening: Now in addition to my natural wont for helping out chums, you’ll remember that Elly was the guy who took a day off work to drive me to hospital and back the day I had my arms chopped off, so I’d really have liked to have been able to help him. Unfortunately, I left work so late yesterday (i.e. on time rather than horrendously early) that it would have been quicker for him to walk to the station – which in fact is what he did.

Rather better news in that my Mum has got two more hospital dates – she’s having an assessment followed by a day of keyhole surgery to whip out something that shouldn’t be there, and for once the NHS seem to have got themselves in gear and decided not to make her wait about fifteen years. Unfortunately this all takes place at the Royal South Hants hospital, a place where the parking is so bad that it’s easier to sell your car to a passer-by, and buy a new one when you come out, but you can’t have everything. Of course, synchronicity – or more accurately, the opposite of synchronicity – means that the day she comes out will be the day that I’ve got to work sixteen hours in Portsmouth. Ah well.

Ooh, and there’s a couple of new bits on the website that some of you may not have seen: My Caching Pages now has a page of caching resources, linking to various information and mail order websites that I’ve found useful. It also has a page of the photographs from the cache camera in my “Test Way 1″ cache. Enjoy!

Zooooom…

Sunday, May 22nd, 2005

That, my chums, is the sound of a weekend flying past…I can’t believe it’s Sunday evening already. So much I’d planned to do and haven’t – fixing the shower, for example. Still, this weekend I have:

  1. Taken my Mum out for lunch, on account of it being her birthday. She had some nice presents, and some “silly” ones, which she also liked. Ooh, and she was dead chuffed with her handmade birthday card which I bought from a super on-line handmade crafts lady.
  2. Helped out at a youth event at church, featuring a concert by a group called TBC – they were sort of Christian Spice Girls, except they could sing. And dance. And were pretty. Not like the Spice Girls at all in fact. During the gig I was appointed first aid person, and had thankfully nothing to do. After the gig I was one of the crew taking the stage etc apart and putting the church back together, where there was sadly loads to do.
  3. Collected from Tescos, scanned and posted online, the pictures from the camera in my cache “Test Way 1″. You can see them by going to “My Caching Pages” and clicking on the linky “Pics” next to “Test Way 1″.
  4. Went to a Hospital Radio regional meeting in Gosport, where lots of things happened.
  5. While in Gosport, did 1½ geocaches: The one I did properly was Birdies and Mashie Niblicks; I also picked up the clues for a multi-cache, I’ll go and do the final bit another day.
  6. Weighed myself and discovered that I’ve lost 2 whole stones since I started this healthy eating nonsense. That means I”m halfway to my provisional target. Had a two-finger KitKat to celebrate.
  7. Had an e-mail from a chum I’d not heard from for ages. It was addressed “Dear Jonathon”, but it still counts. Replied asking if she’d meant to send it to me.
  8. Not had an e-mail from another chum whom I’m now getting a bit concerned about…I could ring his girlfriend and find out what’s up, but I’m a bit frightened of what i might find out, if I’m honest

And that’s the story of my weekend. I think I’ll go for a snooze now.

Friday Again

Friday, May 20th, 2005

A couple of pictures I took on Wednesday and didn’t get the chance to upload…
These were both taken from the passenger lounge of the Isle of Wight ferry, coming back from a meeting at our depot there. Any imperfections in the pictures are caused by the fact that the pictures were taken through a not-very-clean window. The first is a lifeboat, needless to say, which came out of Portsmouth Harbour just before the ferry went in: Intermaweb research seems to suggest that it’s one of the RNLI’s spare boats, which goes and covers lifeboat stations when the permanent boat is out for maintenance or whatever. The second is Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower, the city’s milennium project – which is due to be finished in time to open in July of this year.
There was much banter between us about the idea that Southampton should have had the tower – on the grounds that they might have had it finished in time – and Portsmouth should have had the new football ground – on the grounds that they’d get a few Premiership teams playing there next season.
Of course, if Southampton had got the tower, they’d have built it right next to a closed railway station, then refused to reopen the station, making visitors walk miles through the town centre instead.

Anyway, needless to say I went caching after work today, not letting the weather put me off. I made an interesting discovery on the way back to the car from Three Ways to Five: A sheep snoring sounds exactly like a cat purring very loudly. Or maybe there was a huge cat purring just the other side of the sleeping sheep…

The second for the evening was Windy Miller Versus the Not So Magic Roundabout, an interesting experience! I’d like to say more, but I know some of my local cachers who haven’t yet done it are reading this!
Supplement
Mega-hurrahs and congrats to Chris, who got the job and will therefore be moving to Nottingham soon!

:-(

Friday, May 20th, 2005

Gah!

It’s Friday: The day of leaving work early and going geocaching – and in defiance of the weather forecast it’s pissistently raining. AND I have to walk into Eastleigh at lunchtime to pick up the new shower (the original suppliers took three weeks to tell me they weren’t going to deliver).

Still – good luck to my mate who has a long drive followed by a job interview today. Hope it works out – I’ll phone during the cup final tomorrow afternoon and see how it went, OK? ;-)

Puzzled. And not a donkey in sight.

Thursday, May 19th, 2005

Those of you who read the Dragon Lady’s LiveJournal will know that she wrote about this subject some months ago, but many of my readers aren’t hers, so I thought I’d get away with repeating it.

Most people will have come across Su Doku by now – it’s a strangely addictive puzzle game which looks so simple, yet rarely is. Su Doku puzzles are now appearing in the Mail, Times, Mirror, Sun and Express, and probably in other newspapers that I haven’t looked at. TV’s mathematical genius Carol Vorderman has declared herself addicted, although she’s also publicly said that butter substitutes containing polyoleunsaturatedolefins make her look younger, and I’ve seen no evidence of that. More to the point, I too admit that I can’t pass a Su Doku puzzle by without having a go. I try to be first into the canteen in the mornings, so that I can grab all the free papers and photocopy the puzzle pages before anyone starts to fill in the numbers. I even do a couple of Su Doki (?) before I even look at the crossword, and anyone who knows me will be as surprised at that as I was.

Anyway, what I’m leading up to, is that I can’t see where to go next with this morning’s Daily Express Su Doku. Any ideas?

After the Lord Mayor’s Show

Wednesday, May 18th, 2005

Sadly I haven’t got anything as interesting/controversial as yesterday to blog about. Although I should say, if you haven’t already done so, you should read SimonG’s rather impressive response. It wasn’t specifically a challenge as JG seems to think – I posted something that’s been floating in my mind for ages, and Simon presented the Atheist response.

I still think he was a bit unkind to make me a donkey in his story, though – at least in mine I promoted him to human ;-)

Helena and the Ants – a Modern Parable
or
Creationism vs Darwinism

Tuesday, May 17th, 2005

Once upon a time there was a man called Roger.1

Roger had a model railway layout of which he was rather proud. This wasn’t a “train set???, this was a model railway, with scale buildings, and roads, and cars, and little model people. It had little model trees, which Roger had painstakingly made himself. As his skills developed, he rooted out some of his earlier efforts and replaced them with better, newer versions. It wasn’t a toy, it was a work-in-progress, a work of art.

Every so often, Roger would run some of his model trains around the railway – it seemed a bit pointless if he didn’t. But all the time the trains were running, his thoughts were focused on the next extension to the track, or a half-finished engine shed awaiting his attention. He couldn’t wait to put the trains back in the siding, turn the power off, and get back to construction.

Roger had a sister called Helena2. Helena was an electronics boffin, but at the time of this part of our story she’d taken the Devil’s Shilling, crossed to the dark side, and started to work as a software engineer. When she saw Roger’s hobby, and heard about his train running vs. construction dilemma, this combination of skills made her ideally placed to help him. Soon, there was a computer running in the corner of the hobby room: A train was running round the tracks, with the points switching automatically as it approached: The train stopped at stations, slowed down at bends, and hooted its horn at level crossings, all by itself, and Roger was free to build and improve.

As Helena’s programming skills grew, so more trains were able to run automatically: Each train knew its place in the hierarchy, and would give way to trains above it, and take priority over those below it. A timetable was introduced, with slow and fast passenger services serving the stations. Roger built a fantastically detailed goods yard, which Helena promptly automated: Cement trains stopped at the cement factory, container trains stopped at the docks (which Roger had also built) and occasionally a football special ran: Roger especially enjoyed the challenge of making the little beer cans, and the mechanism to hurl them from the carriage windows as they passed beauty spots alongside the line. The fame of Roger’s model railway grew, and it attracted visitors from all over. One day Helena’s friend Simon visited: He was interested, although somewhat disappointed by the lack of little model donkeys, and in his enthusiasm he completely forgot the Veg-a-Roma pizza he’d brought with him, which fell down behind a box of model engine spare parts out of sight3. It went manky, festered, and soon a host of new life forms appeared. In a rather improbable way, in the space of a few weeks, a species of super-intelligent ants had evolved in the dark space between the computer terminal and Roger’s model of Radcliffe-on-Soar power station (three coal trains a day, at 8, 12 and 4).

These ants began to take an interest in the world around them, and soon noticed the trains: They observed that the trains seemed to stop and start without outside influence: They gave way to each other, they never collided4, and all the cargos seemed to end up in the right place. Since there were no ants involved in the control of the trains, they deduced that there must be some hyper-intelligent being controlling the working of the trains. In a third improbable coincidence, they decided to name the hyper-intelligent being “Helena???. Before long debate raged about the nature of Helena, about why Helena had decided to meddle in the affairs of trains, and for no reason the ants could really justify, how many Milk Monsters could dance on the head of a pin. They didn’t actually know what a Milk Monster was, but like theologians everywhere, they didn’t let that stop them.

One day, an ant with a better capacity for logical thought than the others realised that the trains were obeying a set of describable rules: Goods trains always gave way to passenger trains, big trains gave way to small trains and so on. Soon, this ant drew up a table of simple rules which, he realised, were the total set of instructions governing the operation of the trains. Cock-a-hoop, he ran to tell all the other ants about his discovery: The trains weren’t controlled by a Helena at all, they were simply following a set of rules which anyone could understand. In fact, the very existence of Helena was in doubt.

It was a long time before any ant realised that, just because they could explain how Helena had done it, didn’t mean that Helena hadn’t done it. In reality, of course, the fact that all the trains followed such a simple set of rules pointed to the existence of an author for those rules…

Simon didn’t starve for lack of pizza. Roger never finished building his layout – there was always one more thing he wanted to do. It made no difference to Helena whether the ants believed in her or not5. And of course Milk Monsters don’t dance on the heads of pins – they’re too busy watching “Bear in the Big Blue House???

1 I actually know two people called Roger, either of whom could have been the one in this story. But they aren’t.
2 She was originally going to be his girlfriend. But I don’t think Roger would have a girlfriend, somehow.
3 I know the real Simon wouldn’t forget a Veg-a-Roma. It’s only a story, for goodness’ sake.
4 Roger and Helena had decided not to be that realistic.
5 To get it completely right, Helena would be sad that the ants didn’t want to be her friend. But there’s only so much you can do with a parable involving ants, even super-intelligent ones.

Risky Business

Monday, May 16th, 2005

The discussion last night in the world’s fabbest chatroom became a bit heated.

Someone made the statement that “if you hang around with drug dealers and thugs, you’re asking for trouble???, which was somehow interpreted as “Girls who wear short skirts deserve to be raped???. I’ve misquoted there for brevity, but you get the general idea. Of course the world would be a lovely place if we could all go where we liked and do what we liked without fear – but the world isn’t a lovely place, and it won’t become one by us pretending that it is.

Of course, no-one deserves to be raped, murdered, mugged, or even treated a bit unpleasantly, and make no mistake – when these things happen, the offender is the one to blame. But we all have a responsibility to take sensible precautions for our own safety. If I went into “The Brightwater???1 wearing my Pompey shirt, I wouldn’t deserve to be smacked in the mouth, but I wouldn’t be entitled to feel surprised if it happened. No-one deserves to be run over by a bus, but if you walk out in the road without looking, it’s going to happen one day.

There’s a well-known bit of case law in Health and Safety circles2 in which a judge told someone who’d been injured in an accident at work, “You are a particularly stupid individual and you have contributed significantly to your own misfortune???. No-one deserves to get hurt, but acting like a particularly stupid individual is inviting trouble.

1 Local pub popular with Southampton supporters of a more…um…demonstrative disposition
2 Uddin v Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers Ltd (1965), if you’re interested

Tagging

Sunday, May 15th, 2005

Wooh! I’ve been tagged. Sadly this is probably going to be the most boring tag response ever – that’ll teach you!

1. Total number of films I own on DVD/video: Um…2. Both recorded off the telly, so it’s debatable whether I “own” them. “Who Dares Wins” and “Local Hero”.

2. The last film I bought: Bought?

3. The last film I watched: In the cinema – “Johnny English”. On the telly: The last half of “For Your Eyes Only”. On telly all the way through: Goodness knows.

4. Five films that I watch a lot:

I used to rewatch “Local Hero” and “Who Dares Wins” quite often…

Tag five people to put this in their journal:
SarahJT, Rockin’ Rob, LorryWorryWoo, Andy T. Bear, Hutter the Cad.

Those of you who’ve been perusing my webcam this afternoon will have had a rare treat, the sight of Gottlegog with his shirt off. It was such a nice day that I decided to wash the caravan, and I’m easier to clean than my shirt is. For some reason the caravan gets absolutely filthy parked on the back driveway – next door’s cat sleeping on might be part of the reason – so I dug out the jetwash and gave it a good scrub.

I thought of jetwashing myself as well – the shower is still mongoosed – but I think I’ll go and abuse the facilities at the gym instead.

Sparsholt

Saturday, May 14th, 2005

I’d never before thought of going to the Open Day at Sparsholt Agricultural College.

I knew it was there of course – I’d just never thought of going to the open day. But one of my caching chums raised the idea and said it was a really nice thing to go to, so after my haircut this morning I tootled along. The lovely Lorry had offered me a lift, but there was a chance I’d get called in to work so rather than inconvenience her, I went under my own steam – lucky really, as she didn’t go! Anyway, several other cachers did, and during the day I met up with the Gavotteers (Mel and Barbara), Mr and Mrs Hedgehog (Peter and Susan), Tim and June, Paul and Judith, Dave and Debbie Brambler, and Geoff sans Bonnie or Jack.

Of course on the way there I had to do a nearby geocache, and I’d been saving Up Somborne Way for the occasion, a nice easy find. It was a really nice day out, the only low point being the parking: A local voluntary organisation had been called in to provide traffic marshals, and I’d suggest they stick to what the do best, it was a flippin’ shambles and they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Rant over. I had a nice day and they ain’t gonna spoil it!

Late Night

Friday, May 13th, 2005

Well, what an exciting evening! Sorry to all those of you who don’t like geocaching blogs – there is some Hospital Radio stuff in here as well! After work I headed for the hallowed ground of Portsmouth, stopping on the way into the city for the geocache A Canny Cache & Dash, a nice quick one to do and pretty easy to find. Then down to the seafront, where I first looked for Stone Moat, which is in a really nice area, but I think it’s in a section that’s been fenced off by some road workers tarting the place up for the Trafalgar 200 celebrations. Anyway, not downhearted, I strolled round the old city walls to SHOPPING, which IS still there and accessible, and was a nice easy find.

The next Hospital Radio conference in October is going to be in Portsmouth, so while I was in the area I scouted around to find where the hotel was, check minibus access to railway stations and stuff. The bottom line seems to be that both of the nearest railway station will be really rubbish for getting a minibus in and out of, luckily my superior driving skills will prevail (see this blog :-) ) so that’ll be alright. I’m a bit concerned at the size of the hotel car park, though…

I stopped off on the way home to do Jolly Roger, a lovely walk around Bursledon, passing very close to a church where the vicar is a friend of mine! Finally, I stopped near my own cache A Walk in the Park to replace the log book, which is full. So now I must scan the pages of the full one and post them on the cache page.

So much to do…

Dollar

Thursday, May 12th, 2005

I had a strange international-purchasing experience last night.

I wanted to buy a new gadget – this won’t surprise anyone who knows me, but this was a specific gadget, rather than just generic new-gadget-wantingness. The thing I wanted was only available from Americaland, so I ordered it from their website, the all-inclusive price being £30.60. I don’t know why an American website is quoting prices in British Quids, but there you go. Anyway, they offered me the chance to pay either with my credit card, in which case I’d be billed in quids, or through Paypal, in which case they’d bill me in dollars at the current rate of exchange. Since my credit cards were downstairs, whereas I could use Paypal without moving from my comfy seat, I chose the latter.

So, they billed me for the appropriate number of Yankee Dollars, Paypal paid up, and then Paypal invoiced my credit card in English, for £29.50. Obviously some strangeness in the rate of exchanges they use worked in my favour, but it still seems a bit odd. The best thing is that the stuff is actually being despatched to me from their UK agent, so there’s a good chance I’ll have it to play with by the weekend.

I always thought making a profit on the international currency exchange was difficult, but obviously not.

Meaning

Wednesday, May 11th, 2005

Scrummy Texan actress Renee Zellweger has married some country singer bloke. Having been previously abandoned by both Cameron Diaz and Gwyneth Paltrow, my life has lost what little meaning it had left :-( .

And on a more serious note, my posting of yesterday got a few of you going: Firstly to reply to Mort’s point, he WAS invited to speak to the senate: If you invite a Christian preacher to speak, you can’t really complain when they preach Christianity. As for “talking to the people, asking them to think on something or question things“, I think that’s exactly what he was doing – if he’d wanted to address his words only to God, he could have done it silently in the privacy of his own personal daily prayers. Make no mistake, those words were addressed to the legislators who heard them.

Nick the Greek describes the Rev Wright’s Christianity as a “lifestyle choice”. I don’t believe it is, or can be – I didn’t choose to become a Christian: Once I realised the truth of the Word of the Bible (and that didn’t happen to me until I was 28, I wasn’t brainwashed as a kid), it was the only possible way forward for me. I didn’t choose to believe what I believe, any more than I choose to believe that Tony Blair is the Prime Minister – it’s just a fact, and I have to plan my life’s actions around it. Don’t get me wrong, I know that many people live good lives, helping others and hurting no-one, without believing in Christianity, but I don’t think you can truly believe in Christianity without adopting the lifestyle that comes with it.

Nick’s other point is right, though – a lot of evil has been done in the name of “religion” – the Inquisition, the treatment of single mothers by the Catholic churches in past years, the Twin Towers – none of you really need me to make a list. I can’t speak for other faiths, because I don’t know enough about them, but I think most people could point to some of the acts of the Christian churches and say “Jesus wouldn’t have wanted that to happen”. But in saying that we have to study the true Jesus: Yes, he was a man who prevented the stoning of an adultress; a man who openly welcomed sinners into his inner circle, a man who befriended the outcasts of society (and the world would be a better place if a few more of us were prepared to do that, me included). But he was also the man who told the adultress “Go and sin no more”, he was the man who turned the moneychangers out of the temple, the man who wasn’t afraid to tell world leaders where they were failing to follow the will of God.

My praise of yesterday was for a man who wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he believes in: A man who wasn’t prepared to compromise in the name of popularity. I pray that if I’m ever tested I prove to be as strong.

Controversial

Tuesday, May 10th, 2005

My friend Gordon emailed this to me this morning…

When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard:

“Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good,’ but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and call it Pluralism.

We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.

We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.

We have killed our unborn and called it choice.

We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.

We have abused power and called it politics.

We have coveted our neighbour’s possessions and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.

We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.

Amen!”

The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest..

In 6 short weeks, Central Christian Church, where Rev. Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively. The church is now receiving international requests for copies of this prayer from India, Africa and Korea.

Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on his radio program, “The Rest of the Story,” and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired.

Many of my readers won’t have made it this far – they’ll have responded in the same way that those legislators did, and walked out partway through. But whether or not you agree with the points he made, the Christian church needs – now more than ever before – leaders with the courage to stand up and stand firm for what they believe to be right. There’s an expression commonly used in the churches – “To be a fool for Christ”. That doesn’t mean to not mind looking stupid. It means not being afraid to be unpopular, reviled and persecuted, for standing up for the truth of Christ’s teachings.

I don’t necessarily agree with everything the Rev. Wright says – for a start I don’t think the abortion issue is as clear-cut as he seems to. But I wish I were as certain of my beliefs, and I wish I had the courage to do what he did in the promotion of them.