Give us this day our daily bread

These words from the Lord’s Prayer have gained a special poignancy to me over the last year. As commercially produced bread is increasingly adulterated with soya flour (often modified), it has been more and more difficult to find any wholesome options to buy. I started to make it myself, as a supplement to the bread available, but over the Christmas holiday we have only had the bread I have made.

I remember one of my favourite Sunday books as a very little child was called “Thank you for my loaf of bread”. The little boy thanks his parents, who say that they only bought it; he thanks the baker who only baked it; he thanks the farmer … and so on, until he thanks the Lord for his loaf of bread. The attitude of gratitude is certainly the right one.

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The Love of Christ, all the year round

‘Tis the season of make-believe and especially in the realm of Christmas letters. Through the door they come with the Christmas cards - letters fat with falsehood, exuding an air of superiority. It is the supercilious smile of English success as one by one, correspondents detail the perfection of their lives and cast an unwelcome shadow over already dark wintry days. It is not envy you feel at their happiness, but sheer disappointment that people you had thought of as friends have communicated nothing whatsoever of themselves. It is all externals and conformity, the sun ever shining on a catalogue of births and marriages, holidays and achievements. It produces the impression that anything real - from problems at work to sickness - would be construed as failure and so must not be shared.

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The Romantic: Someone who looks for spiritual truth in material things

Since most people are unaware of their own “Romantic” attitudes, the following definitions have been prepared to bring home the practical outworking of Romanticism in our lives today. Anyone who would like to understand the origins of Romanticism should read Tim Blanning’s rather uncritical work, The Romantic Revolution. In Music Mania I demonstrate how music became the exclusive domain of the Romantic movement.

This philosophy appears to be innocent and inoffensive but over time it perverts our perception of truth and destroys our ability to find truth outside of material things. For the Christian this engenders a change from living by faith through the Word of God, to trusting the Art of Man and therefore living by the senses.

If you had once walked in Christendom as “someone who expects to find spiritual truth in material things” you would have been deemed an idolater. After all, what does the idolater do that the Romantic does not? Either you make art or you purchase it from someone else, with the goal of gaining spiritual enlightenment outside of God’s appointed means. 

Not everyone will demonstrate every aspect here defined because people are never consistent. However, Romanticism is often stronger in women than in men, giving rise to a dislocation between the sexes that was unknown before the Enlightenment. Then the difference between the sexes was one of roles in the world - now we have communication problems based on a woman’s desire to live in a Romanticised bubble and a man’s inability to make it happen.

In broader terms, Romanticism encourages people to live selfishly and diminishes their capacity to judge other people’s needs. (The Romantic person will be moved by a television appeal for famine relief in Africa but will be unable to see the mum struggling to afford the weekly shop at the next checkout.) Therefore it has dulled our characters and left us as wraiths. We are sometimes awoken to reality by the magnitude of problems we cannot avoid (sickness, death, tragedy) and it is at such times that we realise the inadequacy of the Romanticised mind. If we cannot find a way to feel good, then who are we and what is left of our lives? Therefore Romanticism is nothing more than well-dressed Humanism, ivy climbing around the tree of our faith, to sap our hope in Christ and make us glad of the ivy’s supportive embrace. 

Life and Death: A Children's Guide

There are times when we are happy and there are times when we are sad. We don’t mind happiness. We don’t stop and worry what it means or whether it will end - we are simply happy. But it is different when we are sad: we want it to stop hurting; we want to feel better. But there is no magic wand. Some people drink too much and take drugs to stop themselves knowing they are sad. But they still feel sad next morning.

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Feel Good Christianity


In late 17th century Scotland, a young farmer waits to meet his fiancée. She is a maid in the nearby hall. Today she is late, so the young man takes out his Bible and leans against a wall to read.

A party of soldiers crosses the bridge, leading to the farm. They are paid by the Crown to hunt down Covenanters. Right now they are searching for the two sons of this farm. Their eyes land on the young farmhand. He looks about the right age to be one of the sons. And what is that in his hand? No one but a Covenanter would read a Bible! The soldiers approach the young man and shoot him dead.

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Compromise between systems of religion

You may as well think to blend the darkest shades of midnight with the blaze of the noon-day sun, without dissipating the gloom of the one or softening radiance of the other, as to attempt a compromise between systems of religion, one of which admits and the other rejects the great doctrine of redemption by the atoning blood and life-giving Spirit of Christ.

~ William B. Sprague

Do not take up with a vague, general, and undefined religion

Above all things then you should beware that your pupils do not take up with a vague, general, and undefined religion, but look to it that their Christianity be really the religion of Christ. Instead of slurring over the doctrines of the Cross, as disreputable appendages to our religion, which are to be disguised or got over as well as we can, but which are never to be dwelt upon, taken care to make these your grand fundamental articles. Do not dilute or explain away these doctrines, and by some elegant periphrasis hint at a Saviour, instead of making him the foundation-stone of your system. Do not convey primary, and plain, and awful, and indispensable truths elliptically, I mean as something that is to be understood without being expressed; nor study fashionable circumlocutions to avoid names and things on which our salvation hangs in order to prevent your discourse from being offensive.

~ Hannah More

The Music of Funerals

The antithesis is sharpening.

Funerals are now taking on a new complexion in England. Some are religious and some are humanist. And people are becoming so indifferent as to the distinction that, more often than not, they do not tell you it will be humanist until you are outside the door of the "Church".

The fact that a funeral is classed as humanistic does not remove religion. In my experience, humanists always need music. 

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Show - don't tell (The Wind and the Lion)

Christians in art say that they make films as they do in order to communicate the Gospel message. So they usually have a strongly "Christian" perspective in terms of characters, setting, even story. And because it has been regarded as a sine qua non of Christian film that there should be an absence of the real, dirty, sinful world (violence, language, sex, drugs, smoking, dancing ...) this has made sure that many Christian films are sanitised bubbles.

Watching The Wind and the Lion last night brought home an alternative view.

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