Wednesday 31 January 2024

The Price of Education


If you think education is expensive, try the price of ignorance. 

It seems to me that, despite all the technological, scientific, medical and all other advancements society has made over the past few years, we seem to have more ignorance than at any other previous times in the world's history.

It would be fair to say that in the past, say the Middle Ages, or whatever age you wish to choose, people were "ignorant" in many ways. I use the word "ignorant" politely and in its true sense. People were ignorant in that they did not know then what we know now.They did not know about electricity, medicine, science and all the things we know now. You can't blame them for that. They were still learning.

But now things are different. We know so many things that our predecessors could not even dream of. Computers, robotics, AI, medicine, surgery, and so much more. Yet, despite all this knowledge, a lot so freely available on the Internet, in books and elsewhere, ignorance seems on the rise more than ever before. People seem to glorify ignorance. They seem averse to learning. Education is laughed at as unnecessary. So often you see celebrities on TV, entertainers or sports personalities, attending quiz show and boasting at how little they know on any subject and how badly they did when at school. They parade their lack of knowledge as something to be proud of. The subliminal message being "I'm not educated by I did well!" 

Whilst that may be true for them it is not so for everyone. For every successful singer, actor or sportsman there are millions who have failed. But the message permeates vulnerable young minds who believe that they too do not need education. And the danger is that you have a future generation unable to think for itself and easy prey to be manipulated by false news, views and opinions.

Reminds me a bit of the Old Testament. Read there how many times God spoke to the people of Israel through many prophets and they did not take notice, they did not listen, they did not obey, and they paid the price. 

Anyway: Change of subject. May I recommend a wonderful book that teaches the Bible, (both Old and New Testaments), in easy to read simple language.

It's called BIBLE SUMMARY For Adults and Students by Michael Kotch. LINK HERE

Tuesday 30 January 2024

The miracle we can all see


Consider this. There are just over 8 billion people in the world today. Not millions, but billions. That's 8 and nine zeros behind it - 8,000,000,000.

And here's the miracle. No two people are alike. Even twins. Everyone of us is different. We may look the same physically, but inside us, what really makes us tick, our soul, is different from anyone else's. 

Now some people do not believe in soul. They don't understand it. But as C S Lewis said: You don't have a soul. You are a soul; you have a body.

We are all souls living within a body. And when the body dies the soul lives on for eternity.

And every one of those 8 billion souls is different. God created us this way. Isn't He wonderful?

Let us not waste time and try to be someone else. To copy someone else's style and behaviour. We are all unique. Different. Perfect in our own way. There are no rejects from God's production line.

When I was young in my early twenties working as a manager in a large company; I had people working for me old enough to be my parents. It was a daunting task. Some did not accept me as their boss. Some were better qualified than me in their particular expertise and subject. Why should they work for a young man in charge of a whole section?

I tried to be someone else. I copied the style of other older managers and tried to be them. I spoke more slowly, in a softer voice, walked slowly and tried to look learned and pensive. I guess I tried to change my voice too, because someone said to me, "What's the matter with you? Have you got indigestion or trapped wind?"

So I relaxed and became myself once again. I relied on my sense of humour where appropriate. I may have told you this story before, if so, please read the next few lines with your eyes closed to avoid repetition.

We were at a Team Building Conference. I hated those and felt they were a waste of time taking me away from my work. The guy managing the event had us in small groups and said, "Imagine your SUV broke down in the desert. Do you move away on foot, and if so what three items do you take with you?"

My group started suggesting we take water with us, others suggested a torch, salt tablets, various tools, blankets and so on. I remained silent wishing I was back in my office finishing an important time-sensitive report. The instructor noticed me and asked, "How about you? What would you take with you from the vehicle if stranded in the desert?"

I just blurted out, "The car door!" He was confused, as well as the rest of the group, and he asked, "Why?"

I said, "Because I can open the window if it gets too hot!"

I survived. That Conference and a career thereafter. The point I'm making is we should be ourselves. Not copy others. We are all different. We all have unique different gifts given us by God when He created us. Let us use them for His glory.


Monday 29 January 2024

Unforgivable Sin


Every so often Fathers Ignatius and Donald held an “Any Questions” evening at Parish Hall for the parishioners to gather and ask anything whether relating to the running of Saint Vincent Church or any religious question on their minds.

One evening a parishioner asked, “We were talking about this at work. The unforgivable sin that God will never forgive. Why is that and what is this sin? How do I know I did not commit it and when I meet God He’ll remind me and send me down?”

Father Ignatius smiled and said, “The fact that you are asking, Tony, is proof that you have not committed this sin.

“Sin is to deliberately go against the will of God. To disobey Him and His Commandments. To commit a sin we must know that what we are doing is wrong, that it is against God’s rules and wishes for us, and that we still willingly do it without any coercion of pressure from anyone else. We willingly decide to do wrong. That is a sin.

“All sin is forgiveable as long as we recognise that we have sinned, we confess that sin and ask for forgiveness, and we repent and promise as best we can not to repeat that sin.

“And yet …” the priest paused for a while, “And yet, Jesus does talk about the unforgivable sin. There are two references in the Bible … let me read them …” He searched in his Bible and said, “here, in Mark 3:29 Jesus says that ‘whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.’

“And also in Matthew 12:31-32 He says ‘And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come’

“So what does all this mean?”

Father Ignatius waited a while and then added, “Let me give you some background to this story. It starts in Matthew 12:22 …

“A blind and mute man possessed by a demon was brought to Jesus and He healed him, He drove the demon out of him.

“When the Pharisees saw this, they said, ‘Only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, does this man drive out demons.’ In other words, they accused Jesus of being one of Satan’s demons.

“Jesus replied that a kingdom divided against itself would fall, and every city or house divided against itself would also fall, so how could it be possible that Satan would drive out demons out of a man? Surely his kingdom would also fall.

“Then Jesus adds, ‘If I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive out demons?”

Father Ignatius paused again as he closed his Bible. Then he added gently, “Jesus was driving out demons, and performing many miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit of God. This is very important. Jesus was, and is, the Son of God. Every miracle and driving out demons that He performed was by the power of God.

“In the book of Acts Chapter 3 we read that as Peter and John went into the Temple to pray they met a man at The Beautiful Gate who had been lame all his life. The beggar expected money from the two apostles. Peter turned to him and said, ‘I don’t have silver or gold. But what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth get up and walk!’ and the man was healed.

“The important thing to note here is that Peter said ‘in the name of Jesus Christ get up and walk.’

“It is God, through Christ, who performs miracles and not the disciples or the apostles or any of us. Even today, miracles happen in the name of God through Christ.

“In the story I’ve just told you Jesus adds, ‘He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.’

“This is significant. Jesus explains that any sin is forgivable except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Let us consider who those people were, the Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes. They were leaders of religion. They were not just common people, simple and ignorant. They were learned people.

“The printing press had not been invented, and the scribes were people who just copied and wrote down the old writings of the prophets in the Old Testament.

“These very people who had read and learnt from the old writings about God and the coming of Jesus, were actually denying that He was the Son of God and attributing His powers to the devil.

“And they did not do it once … it was not a one-off forgiveable mistake … it was a deliberate, well planned, well-thought out, intentional attempt to discredit Christ all the way to the Crucifixion on the Cross.

“That’s the unforgivable sin. To deliberately deny constantly that Jesus is the Son of God and that His power is from God through the Holy Spirit.

“And yes … I believe you can commit that very sin today. If you deliberately, every day, intentionally deny God and turn your back on Him; and deny Jesus as His Son, then at your death you will have wilfully committed the unforgivable sin … because you deliberately do not want to be forgiven.

“I think of a life as a tree. If a tree leans in one direction when it dies it will fall in that direction. It is not going to fall in the opposite direction. So, too, with our lives. If all the time we are leaning towards God, very likely, with God's grace we shall fall into His arms when we die. But if our lives never point to God, it is very likely that when we die we shall die in enmity with God.

"The only unpardonable sin is a persistent refusal to acknowledge the presence of God in Christ."

Sunday 28 January 2024

Understanding God's love


A thought has been swirling in my mind for a while. 

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

God decreed that Christ should visit the earth in human form, and His sacrifice will unite us once again with God ... provided we believe that He is the Son of God.

Jesus taught time and again that we should love one another ... even our enemies.

The devil is the enemy of God. Does this mean that God loves the devil?

“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” Luke 10:18

By referring to Satan’s fall from heaven, Jesus is most likely quoting Isaiah 14:12 - “How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!” 

Lucifer had lifted himself up to be like God. God cast him down out of his original place as an Angel. Jesus saw all this when He was a Spirit before He was born as a baby on earth. Jesus has always existed as a Spirit. He did not begin to exist when He was born on earth. This is when He took human form.  

The question still remains: Does God love the devil?

God could have destroyed Lucifer for ever. Can you imagine? No Satan, no demons, no evil. A perfect world as God intended.

But God gifted us, and the devil, free will. He allowed the devil to rebel against Him and let him go. Just like He allows us to disobey Him, turn our backs against Him and rebel.

This is true love. Reminiscent of John Chapter 6. When Jesus says He is "the Bread of life" and later when He says that unless people eat His flesh or drink His blood they will not have life.

As you can imagine, this was very upsetting to His listeners; even His followers and disciples. Some of them got up and left. So what did Jesus do?

He let them go. He didn't try to justify Himself or what He had just said. He forgave them and let them go.

Then He turned to His disciples and asked, "How about you? Do you want to go as well?"

Peter replied, "To whom shall we go?" Signifying that he trusted Jesus without question; albeit no doubt he had many questions in his mind.

So in a similar way, God let the devil go. He gave him the freedom to roam the world and cause havoc amongst many souls as he tries to lead them astray. God let him go; but still retains overall control.

And God continues to care for His lost Angels. Just like in Christ's parable of the Prodigal Son. In that story a son asks his father for his inheritance now. He did not want to wait until the father dies. The father gives him the money and sees him walk away and squander the fortune on good living. 

The father must have been very hurt at the action of his son. But he continued loving him and caring for his lost son. And when the son eventually returned, his father welcomed him back with open arms and joy.

I believe God is hurt at the rebellion of Lucifer. He let him go. But I believe God still cares and as a loving parent He still loves the one who went astray.

What do you think?

Saturday 27 January 2024

Don't Give Up



Friday 26 January 2024

Winter Cleaning


I like to do my Spring Cleaning early. I go round the house and find things that I have accumulated over the years and decide whether to keep them or throw them away. Things like souvenirs from holidays, old photos, books, that sort of thing. Usually, I make the decision to keep most of them anyway thus making the whole exercise pointless and a waste of time.

I've just come across this poster from years gone by. Many moons ago I wrote sketches and performed in several comedy variety shows on stage to raise money for various charities. 

This poster brought back memories of times gone by. I wondered where all those people named are now. I know that some have passed away. 

I smiled at the title. For weeks beforehand we posted notices saying "ERSA IS COMING". People wondered what it meant. Then eventually we revealed it meant "Elvira Riesling Stationary Armpit"; whatever that means.

I was intrigued by the photo chosen for the poster. I did not know what it was so I started researching. It is: Mort de Sardanapale - Eugène Delacroix - Musée du Louvre Peintures (The death of Sardanapale, whoever he is, by Delacroix).

Here's the whole painting below.

Do you have any old souvenirs you just can't throw away? Tell us about them!

Wednesday 24 January 2024

The Resurrection of Lazarus

John 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33-45

"So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was."

Note that Jesus does not go straightaway to heal Lazarus. He waits for two more days. He also says that this illness will not lead to death.

"When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days ... Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’"

Jesus arrives after Lazarus has been dead for four days. This is very significant. In those days some people believed that the soul does not leave the body until after three days. Jesus wanted to make sure that Lazarus was dead before performing His miracle. He did not want anyone to suggests that Lazarus was just sleeping or in a coma; as may well have happened in previous occasions when He raised someone from the dead. This time He wanted to make sure that the people understood that the power of God can raise people from the dead.

Notice also how Martha reprimands Jesus. "If you had been here, my brother would not have died."

Don't we too, kick back and blame God when something goes wrong in our lives? Note also the faith in that very sentence. She believes that Jesus could have saved Lazarus, had He been here. She reprimands Jesus. That in itself is an expression of faith. There is no point in reprimanding or getting angry with someone who can do nothing about it. But the very fact she reprimands Jesus shows that she knew He could do something about it had He been there.

When we are in great grief, or despair, we sometimes lash out at God. We blame Him for what has happened. This is only natural. It is our human nature speaking.

God knows that and He can take our anger. After all, He took all our anger and hatred when He hung there from the Cross.

Like in Martha's case, God forgives. We should in return hold on to our Faith and believe that everything is possible to God.

"Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’"

He re-iterates His message that He has the power to raise Lazarus. And Martha too, confirms that she believes Jesus is the Son of God.

"When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

This is also significant. Mary joins her sister to meet Jesus and she too says, "If you had been here Lazarus would not have died". The crowd murmur that Jesus healed many sick people why did He not come earlier to save Lazarus.

"Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’"

Let there be no doubt that Lazarus is dead.

"And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’"

Jesus re-affirms to His Father that this miracle is to make the people believe that He is the Son of God. This whole episode in Christ's life has one main purpose. To make the people believe.

Jesus deliberately arrived late to ensure that Lazarus was dead. Let there be no doubt about that. His sister and the crowd knew that. After four days, in the hot heat, the body would have decomposed and begin to smell.

In previous miracles, many sceptics and cynics would have said that the individual was probably not dead. He may have been in a deep sleep, or in a coma. Not much of a miracle.

This time Jesus waited for four days after death and burial to turn up and raise Lazarus. He wanted there to be no doubt that Lazarus is dead and that he has been raised back to life. No doubt that God's glory, through Him, will be seen by everyone.

Jesus says "unbind him, and let him go." Let that be a message to us when we are unbound from our sins and let go freely forgiven once again.

"Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him."

At last ... some ... of the Jews believed.

From the very beginning Jesus had said, "The final result of this illness will not be the death of Lazarus; this has happened in order to bring glory to God, and it will be the means by which the son of God will receive glory."

Our lesson is to learn that when things go wrong ... very ... very wrong; we need only believe that the end result will be that God is glorified, as is His will.

Sunday 21 January 2024

Big Win Quiz


Q1    Look at the photo above. Which one is the right eye?

Q2    You enjoy the writings of an author. Do you:

        A    Tell others about it?
        B    Have a sandwich?
        C    Go for a walk?

Q3    You have read a book that you like. Do you:

        A    Tell others about it?
        B    Buy another copy for a friend?
        C    Write a good review on AMAZON or other media?
        D    Tell everyone about it on FB, Twitter, X, Pinterest, and everywhere else?

Q4    You have read a Blog post you enjoyed, or agree with. Do you:

        A    Tell others about it?
        B    Share the link with others?
        C    Share the link on other social media you belong to?
        D    Buy a pair of shoes?

Q5    Someone falls off a cruise ship. Do you:

        A    Call for help immediately?
        B    Take photos with your cell phone?
        C    Use an SLR camera with automatic aperture and focus instead?


If you have answered all the questions correctly you are a winner. Now go and do as you have answered. Thank you.

Are you a part-timer?



A part-time Christian cannot defeat a full-time devil.

It is a fact that the devil works 24/7, over-time hours even, to derail us and to take us away from God. It is his job, and he does it well. He does it first of all by convincing people that he does not exist. That "devil" is just a euphemism for evil. A jovial word to use tongue in cheek when describing something or someone naughty. There is no such a thing as a man with horns and a tail holding a trident fork to push people into a fire with. It's all fun really.

Well, I have news for all those who hold such views.

The devil exists all-right. He is a spirit. He was an angel who rebelled against God; and instead of destroying him, God allowed him and his followers to leave Paradise and roam freely around the world.

It's written in the Bible and those who believe in God have no doubt read it there.

But those who do not believe in God, and who proudly proclaim their non-belief to anyone willing to hear, will also not believe in the devil either.

And Satan laughs silently.

We make his job easier by half-heartedly believing in him, or not believing at all. And this applies to Christians too.

How many Christians take the existence of the devil seriously and are wary of his temptations and threats to our eternity?

How often is the devil mentioned in the pulpit at Sunday sermons? He has every right to be there as God has. You would not go rushing in dangerous roads without safety signs warning you of dangers ahead. So why do our priests and pastors not put up safety signs in their sermons more often?

Christians should live their Christianity every day and not just wear it as a badge or identity card. Christianity is a full-time job and we live it in such a way that others may desire what we have and wish to be like us.

By being part-time Christians we are in effect working part-time for the devil.

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Matthew 6:24-26

Saturday 20 January 2024

Spirit in the Sky


Friday 19 January 2024

New Pastime and Hobby


I've just got a new hobby in my spare time. I am learning to be an animal motivational speaker and to teach them to meditate. My uncle loved animals too. His ambition was to be a lion whisperer. A wish he achieved moments before his untimely sudden death in a lion cage. Must have been something he whispered.

I started with something much smaller. At evening class at college they introduced me to a small dog.

I sat him on a table and approached him slowly soothingly whispering sweet things to calm him down. A bit like many priests do at Sunday sermons. They don't preach much needed warnings any more, do they?

Anyway, as I came near him, he suddenly snapped and bit my nose. Just as well he was not a lion. The pet instructor, (he instructs people not pets), cleaned the wound and put a plaster on my nose. This made things worse because the dog now growled every time I approached him. The instructor said my nose distracted him ... the dog, not the instructor.

Trying to teach animals to meditate proved more of a challenge. Have you ever tried getting cats to sit in a row and pay attention? They move and run all over the place. The idea is to have the animals relax and listen to your soft voice using words with smooth syllabus over and over again. Like honey ... honey ... honey ... or such like. There was no way those kittens would sit still, never mind listening to my soothing growls. 

Although I'll admit I had success with a tortoise. She just closed her eyes and meditated all winter.

Another task was teaching an agoraphobic tortoise self-confidence. This tortoise had an irrational fear of leaving its shell. It just stayed in there and would not come out. Even to eat or meet friends. It did not have any visitors because it was too crowded in her shell for anyone else. I crouched down to its level and encouraged her by waving a piece of lettuce at its opening. The instructor told me that was her tail. So I turned her round and tried again ... no success. I had a pain in the back leaning all the way down there on the floor. So the instructor suggested I put the tortoise on the table. No success either. The tortoise was also afraid of heights. Have you ever heard anything like it? Agoraphobic and afraid of heights.

To encourage her to overcome both problems I balanced her on my shoulder like a pirate would a parrot. She fell and was caught by the instructor before she crashed to the ground. Funny that, because it nearly worked with a parrot I was teaching to fly.

He bit my ear before flying off never to be seen again. The instructor put another piece of plaster on that as well.

I eventually gave up on all this teaching animals to meditate and unlock their hidden potential. All this motivational talk is nonsense and does not work in business corporations so why should it work with animals? Let people and animals be what they are and not try to change them and shape them to what you would want them to be. That's what I always say.

Anyway, I have now started another course at learning politics. My dog comes with me and is already showing progress.

NOTE: For entertainment purposes only. No animals have been harmed in the writing of this article. Only me! I got the plasters to prove it.

Thursday 18 January 2024

The culture of change


There's an increasing trend in modern society to sideline and airbrush away any belief in God. The foundation has long been laid by taking away any signs of Christianity from our schools, hospitals and other public buildings. Influencers and people in authority like politicians, celebrities and such like openly say that they do not believe in God.

But the trend is moving forwards in other directions. 

They are trying to change us, believers, by their behaviour towards us. By shaming us and by ridicule of our beliefs and behaviours. 

They are trying to change us by renaming us as weird, odd, simpletons, old-fashioned and un-enlightened.

They are trying to change us by making us worship someone or something else; like celebrities, materialism, power, influence careers and wealth.

The new culture is to eliminate belief in God, and you do this by shutting out and cancelling all those who believe.

A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another. 
John 13:34-35

Wednesday 17 January 2024

AI ... AI ... AI ...


Sometime ago, my good friend Mevely, (Blog HERE), wrote about an Artificial Intelligence (AI) program where you write four words and the program paints a picture for you. I lost the link to that program.

I wrote England, town, 1950s and poverty and got the picture above.

There's a lot of talk about AI right now and how it will shape the future and how computers will be able to "think" and do things which will put us out of work. So let's analyse this for a moment.

I don't believe a computer will ever be able to "think". What happens in the example I gave is that the computer has a large collection (database) of photos and combines the four words to make the photo above. It is reacting to how it has been programmed; it is not "thinking" like you and I do.

In a similar way predictive text can finish a sentence for you. You type "have you cleaned" and the computer will predict the ending by suggesting: "your room", "the car", "the fridge" and so on. It is not "thinking" but using it's database and linking possible endings to the beginning of your sentence.

The same applies when computers are programmed to buy and sell shares in certain commodities and companies. They are reacting to certain market conditions as pre-programmed.

True, with mechanisation and computers you can eliminate certain repetitive jobs like the cashier at the supermarket, or the packer when you buy something on-line. The computer can "read" what you have ordered on-line, and a robotic machine in the warehouse can collect the item, wrap it, and put it in the despatch tray. It does not mean that it can "think".

I believe what makes us human beings think is our soul. The body is just a complex machine, like a computer, which reacts to commands from our soul. The body consists of a mixture of water, chemicals and minerals. None of these on their own can write the works of Shakespeare or pour me a whisky and soda. But combined together, the body and the soul within it, can perform wonders.

When the Bible says we are created in God's image it does not necessarily mean that He is human-like in body and shape - as Jesus indeed was when born on earth. The old masters and painters depicted God as a human because they took their lead from this Bible saying. 

Created in God's image means we have a soul which is capable of love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, pity and all the other good attributes we associate with God. In His infinite goodness, He also allowed us to use these qualities or to choose to behave in our own sinful way.

Today many people do not believe in God or that we have a soul. We are considered as machines; and when we die that's it. No after-life, infinity, or Heaven and hell.

This leads to the conclusion that everything can be explained in chemical, electronic, or other scientific terms. The  body is a machine just like a sophisticated computer with advanced AI. 

And that's the danger about the way we think about AI and about the human body. 

Having accepted the notion that we are all a mixture of components, nerves, chemicals and so on, the next step is to explain human behaviour in similar scientific terms. 

Whatever our behaviour it is the result of our scientific make-up.

If someone is overweight it is not his fault it is a chemical imbalance in the brain or body. If someone is a kleptomaniac, it is not his fault it is a chemical imbalance also. Same for every other behaviour criminal or otherwise. It is not the person's fault but the way he is made-up - his neurons, or brain connectors, or deficiencies of this or that chemical, and so on. Do you see where this is going?

Move a stage further and lock people up because of such deficiencies in their make-up before they commit a crime.

MINORITY REPORT: Based on a story by famed science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, "Minority Report" is an action-detective thriller set in Washington D.C. in 2054, where police utilize a psychic technology to arrest and convict murderers before they commit their crime. Tom Cruise plays the head of this Precrime unit and is himself accused of the future murder of a man he hasn't even met.

Monday 15 January 2024

Be a Radio DJ


OK folks ... I'll need your help with this.

When I was a radio presenter, many years ago, I had a pop music program where I played various records for about two or three hours. It was different kinds of music. Sometimes a mixture of Pop, Classics, Country and Western and so on. And sometimes a theme like all love songs, or all groups as opposed to singleton singers, and so on.

One program I presented once featured a name place of an American State, or town or city for every song I played. Songs like New York New York, by Frank Sinatra, or I left my heart in San Francisco by Tony Bennett.

And this is where you come in.

Can you name as many songs as you know featuring an American name place?

I'll start you off: I'm Alabama bound, From Boulder to Birmingham, Do you know the way to San Hose? 24 hours from Tulsa, Is this the way to Amarillo?

Over to you ... ... ...

Sunday 14 January 2024

What kind of gift are you?


Pretty soon after Christmas, or perhaps after a birthday party or other function when we gather to celebrate, like a wedding or an engagement party, we start tidying up the gift wrappers after all the packages have been opened and all that's left around is the wrapping paper they came in.

As I was collecting all the wrappings, and the different presents that were given and received, a thought occurred to me. In a funny sort of way, we are all a gift to each other.

Think about it for a moment. We are all a gift to each other.

Whoever we are, the chances are that there is more than one person who needs us, relies on us, in their life. It could be a spouse, offspring, parents or siblings, friends, colleagues at work, acquaintances in church, Bible class, or just anyone. The chances are there is someone around that needs you, and relies on you. And also, the chances are that you need and rely on someone else.

You probably never thought about it this way. You took it for granted. But you are a gift to someone else. Yes, you.

Sometimes, even without knowing it, you could be the answer to someone's prayer. You could be somewhere and someone needs a helping hand, a cheery smile even, and you're there providing that much needed gift of your presence.

When someone sadly passes away, we mourn and grieve their absence. This is because their presence had a positive effect on our lives.

And that is how you will be remembered; as a gift and a positive presence to others. In so many ways. 

Just think about the many ways and the many people you have influenced by just being you. Even by just writing a Blog, or a comment on social media. You may think nothing of it at the time. It may even become a tedious job keeping up a Blog, or commenting on other people's posts, or frequenting other social media presence. But your very presence there could be a boost and a ray of sunshine to someone else. And you don't even know it.

In so many ways we are all a gift to each other. Especially you.

Thank you.

Friday 12 January 2024

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?


Have you been to Scarborough Fair? What a lovely and nice place it is. We had such a wonderful time. There were many attractions, market stalls, vendors, games, music and so much more.

The first thing I noticed is that there was a herbalist there called Doctor Pepper. He had all his packets of herbs displayed on his table in alphabetical order. I thought he was very patient to display them like that and I asked him where he found the time. He replied, "Just there next to the parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme!"

Amongst the many attractions there was a French magician called Too Loose Le Trick. He was short and played the xylophone on the audience knees whilst singing, "Le Nees Zee Up Mozer Brown!"

We enjoyed an Italian Pizza Parlour run by Al Fresco and his Scottish partner Mac Aroni.

It was an international event. Next to them was a barber's shop managed by a German called Herr Kutt. I asked him to cut my hair like that of Tony Curtis. Within seconds he shaved my head totally bald. I was livid. I told him, "I bet you don't know who Tony Curtis is. His hair is not like that!" He replied, "I know him. I've seen him in the 'King and I' three times, and also in 'The Magnificent Seven' twice."

We then visited the stall of a lady optician called Bee Focals. She sold sunglasses that had little mirrors on the side like a car so you can see behind you. I walked into a lamp post and a tree three times.

We loved the display of flowers at the Dutch florist called Two Lips from Amsterdam. Really lovely.

Then there was an open-air dentist called I Pullem, and next door was a French lady chiropodist called Madame Leggert. And further on a man selling perfumes and various scents called N Hale.

One of the attractions was a singing set of plastic dinosaurs led by their owner Tenor Saurus Rex.

And also a small enclosure displaying a variety of owls sitting there on their perch. One of them was particularly vicious and would hiss if you got too close. Their owner, Robin Hawk, explained that the bird had Irritable Owl Syndrome.

Further on there was a dermatologist named Ivan Itch and another medic called Ivor Rawbottom selling supposedly creams to make you feel better. 

And then there was a fishmonger called Rod Herring and a Fish and Chips shop called The Cod Father. 

It was a wonderful day. Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

Thursday 11 January 2024

At the medics


I went for my regular check-up at the medics recently. They check that my sense of humour is still intact. As I sat there in the waiting-room I read old magazines announcing the sinking of the Titanic and the raising of the iceberg. Why do they always have old magazines at the doctors, hospitals and dentists?

I then turned my attention to the many notices on the wall. Vaccines for this, injections for that, tests for this other problem, potential cures, help and assistance for certain conditions, and so many other illnesses and ailments. As I read I began to realise how fortunate I am, and how much worse things could be for me. There is always someone worse off than us in life, when we focus on what ails us. 

It's an amazing fact in human nature that we get some sort of comfort from the fact that someone else is worse off than us. If we're ill, we compare our illness to that of others to see if their problem is more serious than ours. If we're in a job we don't like, or poorly paid, we compare ourselves to someone unemployed. We always seem to want to be better than others in our misfortunes. 

It's true, whilst sitting there in the waiting-room, I realised how many other potential illnesses I could have by reading the various notices on the boards around me. In a way, I was grateful; I remember saying a thank you prayer at the time.

Then I began to think back on my life. Funny how your mind wonders when you have nothing to do. There have been many occasions when things did not go well for me. I call them milestones in my life. I can almost tell you the dates for each one when it happened. And at every milestone I am now certain that God was there for me. Things could have turned much worse for me. But they didn't; and now you have to suffer the agony of my sense of humour.

But that is life, I suppose. We should live it looking forwards but understanding it backwards.

Every so often we should look back at the milestones in our lives. I'm sure you'll see, with hindsight, that God was there for you too. 

Eventually I was called in at the doctor's insulting room. As I got in, a nun came out crying. I asked the doctor why she was crying. He said he'd told her she was pregnant. I asked him, "Is she really pregnant?" He replied, "No ... but it cured her hiccups!"

NOTE: I warned you about my sense of humour.

Wednesday 10 January 2024

God in adversity


Jack was a lovely man. Well loved by his wife, three children and four grand-children, as well as his wider family and friends.

When they all went to church together they filled the two front rows on the left of the Altar. But that wasn’t often, because they usually attended different Masses at St Vincent.

One day, out of the blue, Jack was taken severely ill and admitted to hospital. The whole family was devastated and it is fair to say that their Faith took quite a beating.

But not Jack. He remained calm and somehow, accepted the will of God. Of course, he was a little scared, but accepted what was happening to him willingly, trusting God that all would be well.

Father Ignatius visited him in the hospital often, and was greatly humbled by the man’s Faith and cheerfulness, despite the obvious pain he was in at times.

Jack remained in hospital for a while, receiving family visitors as well as his priest every now and then.

One day, whilst Father Ignatius was the only visitor Jack said to him:

“See that man over there Father, in the bed just opposite me?”

The priest nodded silently.

“He doesn’t believe in God Father …” continued Jack, “and he’s scared to death. He has the same symptoms and the same problems as me … and to be honest the doctors don’t hold much hope for either of us …”

Father Ignatius held Jack’s hand.

“Hey … I know what’s what Father. Both of us will have an operation soon and the chances are … well, I wouldn’t bet my shirt on it …”

Jack laughed weakly.

“You know what I did Father …”

The priest shook his head.

“Yesterday, I went over to that man. His name is Larry. And I said to Larry that Jesus will look after him. I told him that everything will be OK and he is not to worry about the operation.

“I don’t think he believed me, or in Jesus … but I think it calmed him down a bit.

“At least I’ve noticed that he’s stopped crying. He used to sit there and wipe his eyes and feel sorry for himself. He’s stopped that now. Maybe Jesus has started working on him … hein?”

Father Ignatius nodded weakly. He prayed silently for Jack and thanked the Lord for this man’s Faith in such adversity. Not only to believe in Christ’s healing power but to announce it boldly to someone who didn’t believe at all.

“Hey Father … you’d better give me Communion now; before the family turns up … you know how emotional they get … especially my wife ...” said Jack with a weak smile.

The priest prayed with Jack for a while after giving him Communion and waited until his family arrived before leaving the hospital.

A few days later Jack and Larry were operated on. Both operations were successful and after a period of recuperation in hospital and at home both fully recovered.

Jack and Larry became friends. Larry and his wife and daughter became Christian and attend church at St Vincent.

Jack’s severe illness and his stay in hospital were the channel for a family of un-believers to get to know and love Christ.

(Based on a true story).