no means no

I’ve been planning to link to several of Cranmer’s recent posts, and never did, but I’m determined to tell you about today’s:

EU Constitution to be ‘presented’ differently.

Have a read and be (very) annoyed. The opinion of the general public in I think all of the EU’s member states is decidedly against a constitutional treaty – so, if we just think naively democratically for the moment, it makes sense for our political leaders who supposedly represent us not to want it either.

Completely separate issues, but also look at these if you’re in a particularly politico-religious and/or religio-political mood at the moment.


can’t have visitors

I spoke too soon.

Yes, the washing machine works, and yes, we can enjoy the civilisedness of a well brewed pot of tea, but regrettably, the cistern in the toilet has now sprung a leak. So to speak.

This being a room measuring all of three feet by four feet, approximately, the prospect of workmen needing access is not one to be relished. Indeed we are improvising with a jug to catch the drips, seeing as how neither a bucket nor basin would actually fit.

On the bright side, although the sitting room light fused when we came back home this evening, we were able to luxuriate in the fact that the electricians came round a couple of weeks ago and fitted a circuit breaker – so no more messing around with fuse wire. (The electricians did take an astounding six hours to complete this job, but since I dignifiedly refrained from moaning about it here at the time, I think we may as well let it slip now.)

As they say, it never rains . . .

the sinfulness of unbelief

What kind of a sin is unbelief? not an obvious outward one, like murder or blasphemy, but a sin nonetheless, John 16:9, and the sinfulness of it can be seen in various different ways.

For one thing, it is disobedience, 2 Thess 1:8. God says, Believe, and the sinner says, No. God now commands all people everywhere to repent, but sinners cling to their sins. God calls us to turn to him with all our hearts, but we would rather run away in the opposite direction.

For another thing, it makes out that God is a liar (1 John 5:10). We are presented in the gospel with a Saviour who proclaims his mercy and truth side by side, but every aspect of the salvation he provides is met with and challenged and resisted. God says, ‘I am,’ and sinners say, There is no God. God says, I am angry with sinners every day, and sinners say, Because sentence is deferred, therefore I will fully set my heart to do evil. God says, I will pardon your iniquities, and the sinner says, I don’t really have iniquities as such, and anyway, this method of pardoning is too complicated. In short, sinners implicitly give more credit to claims that God is not merciful, not gracious, not forgiving, not determined to punish sin, than to God’s own claims to the contrary.

Thirdly there is the fact that nothing more could be done to bring the Saviour closer to sinners, Rom 10:6-8. He became a man, to save human beings. He came under the law, to redeem those that were under the law. In that he suffered, he is able also to succour them that are tempted. He is the bread of life for hungry souls, the water of life for thirsty souls, a robe of righteousness for unrighteous souls, the pearl of great price for destitute souls, and a door to life for dead souls with no access to the tree of life. He is a teacher for the ignorant soul, a healer for the sick soul, a guide and ruler for wayward and rebelling souls, a friend of publicans and sinners, a shepherd who delights to seek and to save those that are lost. There is nothing that a sinner needs, in short, which the Saviour cannot provide. In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge – he is rich in mercy – he is made to us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption – and unbelief wants nothing to do with him.

What else can show the sinfulness of unbelief. Nothing more could be done to make sin more unattractive (Rom 3:10-18). It is wicked in itself, and it is dishonouring to God, and it is damaging and ruinous to us. The consequences of it are plainly set out, and the warnings are written large. The right response, the rational response, the required response, is to flee from it, and from the wrath which will inevitably come on us for it, but unbelief does the opposite, and lingers and loiters and trifles. Nothing more, meanwhile, could be done to make the benefits of salvation more appealing (Psa 103:8-13). A pardon so full and so free, so unexpected and undeserved, so glorious and God-glorifying, so beneficial to us. The response of faith would be to yearn for these things and plead with the Saviour to save us with this salvation, and unbelief does the opposite.

See how outrageous the excuses were in the parable in Luke 14, when the man sent out the invitation, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ They all with one consent began to make excuse, and that’s only a small picture of how unreasonable and disrespectful it is for sinners to forsake their own mercy by turning away from such a suitable Saviour as God has provided. But although it can’t be dealt with by ourselves, it’s a sin which can be pardoned by the Saviour – there is power in the blood of Jesus Christ God’s Son to cleanse us from all sin, and the antidote to unbelief is the faith which he gives as a gift. ‘Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.’

perennial voting dilemmas

Obviously I’m definitely planning to vote, I just haven’t decided whether or not to spoil my paper. Resources are available from CARE and the Christian Institute which aim to provide the kind of information on which an evangelical Christian might be inclined to base their choice – but the general principles are never that easy to implement in practice.

Especially when the official friendly guide from the Scottish Executive explains patiently that you should use the number “1” to indicate “the candidate you like best.” What if I don’t like any of them? What if, rather than focusing on their likeability, I would prefer to rate them on their trustworthiness and estimated chance of putting worthwhile policies into practice?

Ach, never mind.

samples of uk accents

A link to this site went round the Language List the other day – a mini selection of accents of English from different regions in the UK, made available by the British Library at:  Sounds familiar?

It’s perhaps slightly disappointing that the speaker representing Edinburgh’s Morningside accent is none other than Sir Malcolm Rifkind – who undoubtedly has an idiolect which is just as interesting and valuable as anyone else’s, but unlike the rest of the (couple of) recordings I’ve listened to, he’s obviously well used to speaking professionally and being recorded speaking. Somehow it’s not quite as authentic as an Aberdeenshire fisherman talking about the Great War and a Sgitheanach discussing shinty, or but that would be my only quibble.

In fact it looks like a brilliant resource – non-judgemental about language change through time, or about differences based on region, ethnicity, or age – you get a good five minutes of speech for each speaker, from what I’ve seen so far anyway, and the recording quality is excellent.

upon browsing through tags

Browsing through random blogs is best done when you’re in a mind-benumbed state of knowing you should log off and get some sleep but can’t quite prove to yourself you’ve done enough work to justify it. Nobody on any blog out there, ever, has written anything worth reading that’s just sitting there waiting for you to stumble across it by chance. If I’ve learned anything in the past few years of hard work and study, that is it (mangled syntax and all: my mind is too numb to make it make more sense right now).

But here is a glorious exception. (I have no idea who this person is or how I found her blog, but that just proves the rule.)

phonology’s biggest mystery

The deepest, darkest, most impenetrably infathomable question in the entire history of British, European, and American phonology all rolled into one squirming mass of intellectual energy: revealed.

  • What on earth was JR Firth talking about?

Prosodies, phonematic units, paradigms and syntagms, and far-reaching distrust of the phoneme. How I wish I understood this stuff.

sleepless nights

Got back to the flat last night at 9.30pm to discover traffic cones liberally strewn around the road, whirling amber lights adorning diggers, and lots of men in fluorescent jackets dotted around the place.

Great – late night roadworks just under the bedroom window, just as the weather gets too warm to keep the window shut.

Still, the last time this happened our woes were magnified by the lack of a functioning washing machine – so far our entire collection of domestic appliances seem to be in fine working order.

We even have a new teapot!


(Obligatory Mrs Doyle picture.)

more from Traill

“Miserable souls are they who love not Christ, and dull unobservant people are they that know not what or whom their souls love. Is the love of Christ a mere notion? Is it not a most sensible [perceptible], holy, and spiritual passion, or rather a heavenly grace! Can men love Christ, and not feel it? Should they feel it, and not avow it? Is there anything we should be ashamed of in the love of Christ but the shameful smallness of it? that our highest and hottest love is so unsuitable a return to his incomparable loveliness, and his wonderful love to us, and the dear demonstrations of it? All ye that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, look on him, and love him more; love him with all your souls, and blush with shame that ye love him no better. … You that doubt of your love to Christ, go to him, fall down before him; answer Peter’s question, according to the true sense of your souls, and it will be, ‘Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.’ Love Christ, and ye will quickly feel ye love him. A sight of Christ will beget love, and love will quickly speak for itself, 2 Cor 5: 14-15.”

From Volume 1 of Traill’s works published by the Banner of Truth (p108).
My previous quotes from Traill are here and here.

creative dessert punctuation

In his recipe for raspberry shortcake in the latest Good Food magazine, chef Jeremy Lee suggests that in order to fix down your shortcakes so they don’t slide around the plate, you should ‘apply a comma of cream’ to the middle of each plate. That way you have individual servings of little towers of shortcake plus cream plus raspberry layers, which aren’t going to collapse as soon as you try to serve them.

Is that not a splendid idea? and do you not agree that it is a hugely appealing wee metaphor? (Worlds removed from the annoyance of all that ‘X is a verb‘ stuff, I can’t help adding, which is typically just an embarrassing mistake.) Sadly there’s no chocolate in this dessert recipe, but I may yet attempt it nevertheless.