Monthly Archives: July 2008

A Short Guide for Daily Prayer (3)

Some people have reported difficulty printing A Short Guide with printers that are capable of printing both sides of the booklet automatically—the odd and even pages come out upside down relative to each other. (I didn’t realise the problem earlier, as I have to feed the sheets into my printer twice, even pages first then odd.)

In the Printer settings, if you go to Duplex Printing and then click the short-side stapling radio button before you print, this seems to fix the problem if you want to print automatically. Happy to hear if this doesn’t work for you (or if it does!).

You can download it here.


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It’s (not) only words

Sermon for 27 July ’08


Sometimes, in the Walton household, an exasperated parent may be heard say to one of his offspring, “Did you hear me?” To which question the answer is always, “Yes, I heard you.” And this unnamed parent says, “Well, answer me then.”

Have you noticed that when a word is spoken, it usually requires a response? That’s what’s happening in our services of worship: a word is spoken, the Word is spoken, and a response is made. I’m reminded of the Book of James, which says:

Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. (ch. 1.22)

The Word of God is living and creating; it forms us as disciples of Jesus. So, if we truly hear the Word of God as the Scriptures are read and preached, we will encounter the living God. We will become doers of the Word.

Worship is an encounter with God. In any encounter, two things happen: we begin a two-way process of communication; and we are changed.

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Font conference: “This video wasn’t long enough, so we made it double-spaced”

Google ‘font’, and it’s not until page 8 that a direct reference to a baptismal font appears (here). But why worry, when hilarious videos are around like this! (Sorry, I can’t seem to embed it on the page.)

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“A travesty of justice”

This article comes from Ecumenical News International:

A Christian father in Pakistan is trying without success through the courts to gain custody of his two pre-teen daughters who were kidnapped and made to convert to Islam.

On 12 July, a judge in Pakistan’s Punjab province ignored pleas that Saba Younis, aged 12, and her 10 year old sister, Anila Younis, who went missing on 26 June from the small town of Chowk Munda, had been kidnapped while on their way to their uncle’s residence and ruled that their conversion to Islam was legal.

The kidnappers, who had married the girls, had also filed for custody of the girls at a local police station on 28 June, asserting that the sisters had converted to Islam and their father no longer had jurisdiction over them.

“We are shocked by this court order,” Anita Maria, a lawyer and a spokesperson for a Pakistani Christian group told Ecumenical News International on 14 July. “Poor Christians in remote areas have to live with that.” Maria said that in some cases young women who have been abducted are charged with adultery if they refuse to convert and marry their abductors.

The police had been unable to trace the girls, and members of the local Christian community were shocked when their abductors came forward to claim that the girls had converted to Islam and that they had married the girls.

The Muzaffargarh district court on 12 July said the disputed conversion of the girls was legal, and it was this ruling that left the local Christians stunned.

“We will move the [Lahore] high court to challenge this order,” said Maria, who works as the programme coordinator for Pakistan’s Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement.

The Pakistan Minorities Concern network said in a statement that Younis Masih, the father of the kidnapped girls, was threatened by the local police when he went to complain about the kidnapping of his daughters. The statement noted that the village has only a few Christian families living among 150 Muslim families, and said that police refused to support the Christian family. The network pointed out that in 2005, nearly 50 Hindu girls and 20 Christian girls were kidnapped and the majority had been forcibly converted to Islam.

“This is a travesty of justice. But unfortunately, this is the practice here,” lamented Victor Azariah, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Pakistan, which groups four Protestant churches. Azariah said, “The courts never help us.”

Christians account for only about two percent of Pakistan’s 168 million people, more than 90 percent of whom are Muslim.

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The three political answers

I first saw this at the redoubtable MetaCatholic’s site, but it must be given an airing for the two or three who read this blog too. It was written by Michael Gove in the (London) Times, and it’s just a hoot!


There are only three political answers. In no particular order they are:

1. My statistics are bigger than your statistics. Whenever challenged on the facts, simply come up with your own list of numbers and try to browbeat the listener into submission. For example: “Well, you may think its wrong of Lord Voldemort to use his third term to target the muggle-born Sarah, but since we established Death-Eater rule this country has won more Quidditch matches at international level than any other major EU nation, so I think that shows our Snitch Strategy is working.”

2. I may smell, but the other guy’s a skunk. Whenever challenged on your record, point out that your predecessors were worse and they would, if they ever returned, wreak havoc on our green and pleasant land. For example: “Yes, under Lord Saruman we haven’t been able to put as many uruk-hai on the beat as we would have wanted, and we’re working on that, but issues around orc welfare were completely neglected under the old Gandalf regime, and if he and the Fellowship of the Ring get their way we can expect massive cuts in orc provision and a return to the bad old days of two-tier public services with a sheep and goats, elves and orcs approach to policy.”

3. I refuse to recognise your premise and will say what I want anyway. Whenever presented with facts (or an argument) that are inconvenient and there are no bogus stats to hand and you can’t recall just why the other guys are worse, then just bulldoze. For example: “So, Lucifer, you said your rebel angels would create a new Jerusalem but instead you’ve built a pit of flames and suffering – why?” “What we’re seeing across creation is a massive upheaval of the kind I think no one predicted, but it’s important to bear in mind we’ve got policies for the long term, with nuclear furnaces replacing the old sulphur-fired ones, training for imps, demons and dark angels as well as a new hellfire to work strategy for the long-term unrepentant. So we’re focused on the issue that souls in torment really worry about.”

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Gather us in

Sermon for 20 July ’08


Week by week by week, something happens in this place that seems so mind-numbingly ordinary that we hardly ever give it any thought at all.

People gather here. What?, you may well say. Of course they do! How else can you go to church? And people gather for all sorts of purposes—for football matches, for parties, to buy the latest iPhone… So what can we say about our gathering? I’m glad you asked that question.

Firstly, we gather to be formed as the Church, here and now, in this place. We say we come to church; but more accurately, we come to be Church—the people of God, the body of Christ, the fellowship of the Spirit—right here and right now.

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Strength of US evangelicals is one of the big myths of our time

This rather wonderful week in Sydney reminds us of just how big the Catholic Church is. It’s a useful reminder, because those of us not in the church rarely hear about its size. The biggest media story about numbers of Christians over the past decade has actually been about the various evangelical churches, their booming numbers and their political influence. We have been told often that a quarter of all Americans are evangelicals, and that the support of this enormous number of ultra conservatives has kept George Bush in office.

A book recently published in America casts doubt on both claims, particularly the first, suggesting that they comprise one of the big myths of our time. It’s a myth that has flourished because it suits the interests of both evangelical leaders and those on the political left who have been so worried about evangelicalism.

Christine Wicker is a former religious reporter for the Dallas Morning News. She was “saved” at the age of nine in an Oklahoma City Southern Baptist Church, and these days she’s a Christian, but not an evangelical. In The Fall Of The Evangelical Nation (HarperOne), she set out to count America’s evangelicals. What she found surprised even her.

It didn’t surprise me; I’ve thought for a while that we were getting it all from a big publicity machine. Apparently, it suits the right and the left to inflate evangelical (in the US sense) figures. Read the rest here.

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