Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Like father, like son

This is our youngest grandson, Reggie. He is the son of our first child Daniel and his wife Louise.

Reggie "went beserk" for this ukulele today, we're told. He didn't put it down for a whole hour. He got Mummy to play it and Daddy, too.

Our children all love Music as we do, and their children seem to be loving Music, too.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dawkins preaches to the deluded against the divine

I like this observation by Melanie Phillips:
For someone who has made a career out of telling everyone how much more tolerant the world would be if only religion were obliterated from the human psyche, Dawkins manages to appear remarkably intolerant towards anyone who disagrees with him.

She goes on to say that Dawkins has become
the apostle of scientism, the ideology that says everything in the universe has a materialist explanation and must answer to the rules of empirical scientific evidence; to believe anything else is irrational.

A second's thought tells one this is absurd. Love, law and philosophy are not scientific yet they are not irrational. So it is scientism that seems to be irrational.

As for Dawkins's claim that religion is responsible for the ills of the world, this is demonstrably a wild distortion. Some of the worst horrors in human history - the French revolutionary terror, Nazism, communism - have been atheist creeds. And although terrible things indeed have been done in the name of religion, the fact remains that Christianity and the Hebrew Bible form the foundation stone of Western civilisation and its great cause of human equality and freedom.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mini guide to faithful living

I like this comment from Tim Keller's blog, in which he says that Proverbs chapter 3, verses 3 to 12 is a kind of mini guide to faithful living.

He says
There are five things that comprise a wise, godly life. They function both as means to becoming wise and godly as well as signs that you are growing into such a life:
1. Put your heart's deepest trust in God and his grace. Every day remind yourself of his unconditioned, covenantal love for you. Do not instead put your hopes in idols or in your own performance.

2. Submit your whole mind to the Scripture. Don't think you know better than God's word. Bring it to bear on every area of life. Become a person under authority.

3. Be humble and teachable toward others. Be forgiving and understanding when you want to be critical of them; be ready to learn from others when they come to be critical of you.

4. Be generous with all your possessions, and passionate about justice. Share your time, talent, and treasure with those who have less.

5. Accept and learn from difficulties and suffering. Through the gospel, recognize them as not punishment, but a way of refining you.

He goes on to say that these characteristics are exemplified by Jesus himself:
a) he showed the ultimate trust and faithfulness to God and to us by going to the cross,
b) he was saturated with and shaped by Scripture,
c) he was meek and lowly in heart (Mt. 11:28-30),
d) he, though rich, became poor for us,
e) and he bore his suffering, for us, without complaint.

We can only grow in these five areas if you know you are saved by costly grace. That keeps you from idols, from self-sufficiency and pride, from selfishness with your things, and from crumbling under troubles. Jesus is wisdom personified, and believing his gospel brings these character qualities into your life.

How's your Hebrew?

I'm coming to the end of my project of reading through the ESV Study Bible. I've now read about 86% of Psalms, the OT and the NT. I try to keep it proportional as I read.

I've enjoyed George Somsel's Lenten Greek reading plan for reading through Luke and have even finished it early. I'm not sure if it is naughty to read the sections intended for Good Friday and Easter Sunday beforehand, but I did.

When I say "read," I am reading some with understanding, and other bits with considerably less.

It was so enjoyable doing this that I have embarked on a project to read through the New Testament in Greek and the Psalms in Hebrew.

My Hebrew is weak, which is immediately evident when I try to follow Abraham Schmuelof's wonderful readings in my Soncino Psalms. But I think I'm making a tiny amount of progress. I don't suppose there is anyone in Bathurst who would want to join in.

I notice that it is much easier to read 2 and 3 John than Luke. I wonder if this will always be the case? Is it too much to hoep that I may be able to complete this project by the end of this year, and the end of the first decade of the Twenty-First Century?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Trying to be happy is like trying to be taller, says Michael Duffy

Life's journey is a myth-busting affair, Michael Duffy's piece in today's Sydney Morning Herald, reports on the new book Fifty Great Myths of Popular Psychology, by Scott Lilienfeld, Steven Jay Lynn, John Ruscio and Barry Beyerstein.

Duffy argues that the idea that we can make ourselves happier is a myth. He also points out that being unhappy sometimes is a part of life, and is not necessarily a bad thing.

One of the myths the book deals with is the idea that men and women are extremely different. The authors suggest that John Gray's book title should be changed to Men Are From North Dakota, Women Are From South Dakota!

Here is the list of 50 ideas the authors claim are all myths, or at least, more untrue than they are true:
1 Brain Power
Myths about the Brain and Perception
#1 Most People Use Only 10% of Their Brain Power
#2 Some People Are Left-Brained, Others Are Right-Brained
#3 Extrasensory Perception Is a Well-Established Scientific Phenomenon
#4 Visual Perceptions Are Accompanied by Tiny Emissions from the Eyes
#5 Subliminal Messages Can Persuade People to Purchase Products

2 From Womb to Tomb
Myths about Development and Aging
#6 Playing Mozart’s Music to Infants Boosts Their Intelligence
#7 Adolescence Is Inevitably a Time of Psychological Turmoil
#8 Most People Experience a Midlife Crisis in Their 40s or Early 50s
#9 Old Age Is Typically Associated with Increased Dissatisfaction and Senility
#10 When Dying, People Pass through a Universal Series of Psychological Stages

3 A Remembrance of Things Past
Myths about Memory
#11 Human Memory Works like a Tape Recorder or Video Camera, and Accurately Records the Events
We’ve Experienced
#12 Hypnosis is Useful for Retrieving Memories of Forgotten Events
#13 Individuals Commonly Repress the Memories of Traumatic Experiences
#14 Most People with Amnesia Forget All Details of Their Earlier Lives

4 Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks
Myths about Intelligence and Learning
#15 Intelligence Tests Are Biased against Certain Groups of People
#16 If You’re Unsure of Your Answer When Taking a Test, It’s Best to Stick with Your Initial Hunch
#17 The Defining Feature of Dyslexia Is Reversing Letters
#18 Students Learn Best When Teaching Styles Are Matched to Their Learning Styles

5 Altered States
Myths about Consciousness
#19 Hypnosis Is a Unique “Trance” State that Differs in Kind from Wakefulness
#20 Researchers Have Demonstrated that Dreams Possess Symbolic Meaning
#21 Individuals Can Learn Information, like New anguages, while Asleep
#22 During “Out-of-Body” Experiences, People’s Consciousness Leaves Their Bodies

6 I’ve Got a Feeling
Myths about Emotion and Motivation
#23 The Polygraph (“Lie Detector”) Test Is an Accurate Means of Detecting Dishonesty
#24 Happiness Is Determined Mostly by Our External Circumstances
#25 Ulcers Are Caused Primarily or Entirely by Stress
#26 A Positive Attitude Can Stave off Cancer

7 The Social Animal
Myths about Interpersonal Behavior
#27 Opposites Attract: We Are Most Romantically Attracted to People Who Differ from Us
#28 There’s Safety in Numbers: The More People Present at an Emergency, the Greater the Chance that Someone Will Intervene
#29 Men and Women Communicate in Completely Different Ways
#30 It’s Better to Express Anger to Others than to Hold It in

8 Know Thyself
Myths about Personality
#31 Raising Children Similarly Leads to Similarities in Their Adult Personalities
#32 The Fact that a Trait Is Heritable Means We Can’t Change It
#33 Low Self-Esteem Is a Major Cause of Psychological Problems
#34 Most People Who Were Sexually Abused in Childhood Develop Severe Personality
Disturbances in Adulthood
#35 People’s Responses to Inkblots Tell Us a Great Deal about Their Personalities
#36 Our Handwriting Reveals Our Personality Traits

9 Sad, Mad, and Bad
Myths about Mental Illness
#37 Psychiatric Labels Cause Harm by Stigmatizing People
#38 Only Deeply Depressed People Commit Suicide
#39 People with Schizophrenia Have Multiple Personalities
#40 Adult Children of Alcoholics Display a Distinct Profile of Symptoms
#41 There’s Recently Been a Massive Epidemic of Infantile Autism
#42 Psychiatric Hospital Admissions and Crimes Increase during Full Moons

10 Disorder in the Court
Myths about Psychology and the Law
#43 Most Mentally Ill People Are Violent
#44 Criminal Profiling Is Helpful in Solving Cases
#45 A Large Proportion Of Criminals Successfully Use the Insanity Defense
#46 Virtually All People Who Confess to a Crime Are Guilty of It

11 Skills and Pills
Myths about Psychological Treatment
#47 Expert Judgment and Intuition Are the Best Means of Making Clinical Decisions
#48 Abstinence Is the Only Realistic Treatment Goal for Alcoholics
#49 All Effective Psychotherapies Force People to Confront the “Root” Causes of Their Problems in Childhood
#50 Electroconvulsive (“Shock”) Therapy Is a Physically Dangerous and Brutal Treatment

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A man, a plan, a cat, a ham, a yak, a yam, a hat, a canal – Panama!

Don't you love palindromes? Beats farce, anyday, Stephen!

Here are a few of my favourites:
Retteb, si flahd noces eht tub,
but the second half is better.

Doctor Reubenstein was shocked and dismayed when he answered the ringing telephone, only to hear a strange, metallic, alien voice say,
"Yasec iovn eilacilla temeg! Nartsa raehoty lnoenoh pelet gnig, nirehtde rewsnaehn ehw. Deya! Msid! Dnadek cohssaw nietsne buerro, tcod?"

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Ahhhhhhh ....yes!

This morning I read Psalm 121 in the ESV Study Bible. I don't ever remember being told previously the whole point of the passage!
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?

2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;

4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;

8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore. [TNIV ...aren't I naughty!]

We're en route to Jerusalem. This is one of the songs of ascent, which the Jews sang as they made their way to Jerusalem to worship.

It is not that God is going to help me fulfil all my plans or make me a rich person. He's not going to keep me safe so that I can continue to live a life in rebellion against him.

God is going to keep us and preserve us, so that we will arrive safely in the heavenly Jerusalem.

We can only get there by his grace, but we will certainly get there safely. Whoo hoo!

Reminds me of the great hymn about marching to Zion. This is close to the original version

Come, we that love the Lord,
And let our joys be known;
Join in a song with sweet accord,
Join in a song with sweet accord
And thus surround the throne,
And thus surround the throne.


We’re marching to Zion,
Beautiful, beautiful Zion;
We’re marching upward to Zion,
The beautiful city of God.

The sorrows of the mind
Be banished from the place;
Religion never was designed
Religion never was designed,
To make our pleasures less,
To make our pleasures less.


Let those refuse to sing,
Who never knew our God;
But favorites of the heavenly King,
But favorites of the heavenly King
May speak their joys abroad,
May speak their joys abroad.


The God that rules on high,
And thunders when He please,
Who rides upon the stormy sky,
Who rides upon the stormy sky,
And manages the seas,
And manages the seas.


This awful God is ours,
Our Father and our Love;
He will send down his heav’nly powers,
He will send down his heav’nly powers,
To carry us above,
To carry us above.


There we shall see His face,
And never, never sin!
There, from the rivers of His grace,
There, from the rivers of His grace,
Drink endless pleasures in,
Drink endless pleasures in.


Yea, and before we rise,
To that immortal state,
The thoughts of such amazing bliss,
The thoughts of such amazing bliss,
Should constant joys create,
Should constant joys create.


The men of grace have found,
Glory begun below.
Celestial fruits on earthly ground
Celestial fruits on earthly ground
From faith and hope may grow,
From faith and hope may grow.


The hill of Zion yields
A thousand sacred sweets
Before we reach the heav’nly fields,
Before we reach the heav’nly fields,
Or walk the golden streets,
Or walk the golden streets.


Then let our songs abound,
And every tear be dry;
We’re marching through Immanuel’s ground,
We’re marching through Immanuel’s ground,
To fairer worlds on high,
To fairer worlds on high.