“No place for terrorists to hide”

Home Secretary Amber Rudd is reported today to be in favour of giving intelligence services access to encrypted communications so there will be “no place for terrorists to hide”. This proposal demonstrates deep ignorance both about how modern encryption algorithms work and about how best to respond to terrorism. One would expect an MP to be better informed. That, at least, is the charitable interpretation of Ms Rudd’s comments. The uncharitable interpretation is rather dark and sinister.

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Keep Calm and Carry On

My heart goes out to the family and friends of those killed yesterday in London and to those injured. And when I think, especially, that my own son was right there in Westminster just last week on a school trip, the depth and awfulness of the tragic, meaningless, senseless loss of life is simply too much to bear. By any reckoning, the personal situation here is just too bad for words and even our prayers can be nothing other than groans deeper than words.

The personal situation is awful. But I want to comment, also, on the national situation. Nationally, tragedy happens all the time. Tragedy happens so often that the vast majority of it is not reported in the press – it is just too normal. Car accidents, heart attacks, suicides and, even, silly-seeming things like falling down the stairs claim thousands of people every year (just the latter claiming an average of almost 2 a day in 2011, according the the Guardian).

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The language of Christian giving

I wish to register a complaint. It’s about how we, the church, talk about giving1The word “giving” in this context can be ambiguous. I am using it in this article to refer specifically the contributions made by church members to the common funds of the church.. I don’t mean them, the big stage TV millionaire prosperity doctrine teachers or the shady con men who ride on the back of honest Christianity. I mean us, the well-meaning local church which never has quite enough funds or willing hands for the work before us. The church which loves God, loves its members, loves its community, loves the wider world. The church which is not looking for a quick buck and will use well the money people offer. We, this church, are rubbish at talking about giving. Continue reading

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1. The word “giving” in this context can be ambiguous. I am using it in this article to refer specifically the contributions made by church members to the common funds of the church.

Dear Mr Trump

I’m not certain “congratulations” is the right word to say to you. You are now set to hold one of the most difficult and dangerous jobs in the entire world. Not dangerous from a personal perspective (although, there is that) but from the perspective of everyone. You will have the power to start world war three and also the power to bless the world beyond imagining.

I didn’t pray for you to win. I didn’t pray for Mrs Clinton to win either. My prayer has been that whoever wins will be filled with love, wisdom, humility, kindness, grace and courage. My prayer now is that you will confound all our worst expectations by being one of the greatest presidents America has ever seen. My prayer is that you will actually approach the title “leader of the free world” which your country(wo)men like to appropriate for their leader. My prayer is that you will be way, way bigger than your own dreams. Continue reading

New Monasticism Conference Reflections

Last weekend, I attended a new monasticism conference in London. My interest in new monasticism primarily concerns how parish church might be influenced and, in some way, become “new monastic” in character. These are my reflections, then, from a parish church perspective.

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Parish rule of life ideas

This is the third in a series of posts about new monasticism in parish church. Here, I begin to ponder what items might appear in a rule of life for a parish-based expression of new monasticism. I’ve been preaching on these things so, where appropriate, I’ll include links to sermon recordings/transcripts. We’ll start with just two or I’ll never get round to publishing…

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Solved: temperature control

I am very pleased. For years, now, I have striven to develop a clean and simple temperature control algorithm for my coffee machine which gets it to a stable temperature in the minimum possible time. This weekend, I cracked it: two minutes to a stable 95°C on my Gaggia Baby Class with no oscillations at all1That’s not quite all that is needed – the brew head needs bringing up to temperature as well. But that’s a different topic and I’m still working on it. Two minutes is also not an absolute minimum because the boiler power can be increased. Also a topic for another day. For the purposes of this post, we’ll use the stock 1350W the machine shipped with..

This is how I did it…

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1. That’s not quite all that is needed – the brew head needs bringing up to temperature as well. But that’s a different topic and I’m still working on it. Two minutes is also not an absolute minimum because the boiler power can be increased. Also a topic for another day. For the purposes of this post, we’ll use the stock 1350W the machine shipped with.

See how these Christians love each other

I would hope that anyone who has experienced any significant measure of the grace of God would be able to agree that the phrase “fight fire with fire” isn’t really the sort of thing we hear Jesus saying. I would hope that we’d be more inclined to fight fire with fire extinguishers. To pour oil on troubled water. But, I wonder, is this enough? Might it be that one person’s “fire extinguisher” is another’s “fire” or, at the very least, the other’s “water cannon”? Might one person’s oil on “troubled waters” be another’s oil on a “raging blaze”. Recent escalations in the disagreement between a number of prominent (on social media) Christians seem to suggest so.

Want to know what I’m talking about? Have a look at what Adrian Hilton is saying about Jayne Ozanne and vice versa. But, for goodness sake, don’t join the fray!

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