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  • Walking the Great Glen

    Just a few words - I am pleasantly weary from five days of walking.  Mostly the weather was dry - and very warm - and for a flat walk there are a couple of significant uphill stretches, notably on the final day when you have to do 18/19 miles (depending which guide you believe) of which at least four are a single uphill climb.  It was fun and we enjoyed stunning scenery along the way as well as a little time in Fort Augustus, Invermorriston and Drumnadrochit.

    So, for your amusement a few of the photos...

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  • Phones 'n' Things

    I am not a lover of mobile phones, rarely send text messages and fail to understand the almost surgical attachment some people have to their phones.  Despite this, I own two pay-as-you-go phones and occasionally cause amusement by having one in each hand as I switch them off.  Two hands, two phones, what's the problem?  I have two because a long time ago when I ordered the first, online, the supplier sent me an email saying it was no longer available so I ordered another from a different supplier and on a different network.  When both arrived I decided to keep them, assigning one to 'work' and the other to 'personal'.  This actually works quite well: the 'work' number is on the church noticeboard and only family and friends have the other number.

    Trouble is, the 'personal' phone has never been very good - it eats battery charge like it's going out of fashion and gets very poor reception even with a good signal.  It was time to swap it.  So, off to the O2 store where a very helpful young man called Ross helped me select a suitable replacement - half the price and twice the whizzy gadgets of the old one.  He managed to avoid patronising this middle-aged idiot (at least where phones are concerned) and I now have a shiny new phone that should do the job for a while, and by the magic of SIM, still my old number and all my contacts.  Whilst I was there he sold me a 'half price special offer' pay and go mobile broadband dongle - so I now have three ISPs (ostensibly, I think they are all owned by the same parent) one way and another, ah well.

    As I drove home I was trying to deduce whether my risk assessor self or Jewish heredity self was more comforted by the degree of redundancy and diversity I now have in my phones and internet connections.  On the one hand I can pretty much always get connected, on the other there's nowhere to hide!  Yup, definitely a judaistic risk assessor.

    And despite all the above I will offline and not answering my phones for a full week from Monday!

  • The Hipporhinostracow and other animals

    I have a vague recollection of the little book called Milliganimals in which Spike Milligan poems described a whole range of weird hybrid animals.  Here is the said poem:

    Such a beast is the Hipporhinostricow
    How it got so mixed up we'll never know how
    It sleeps all day and whistles all night
    And it wears yellow socks which are far too tight.

    If you laugh at the Hipporhinostricow
    You're bound to get into an awful row
    The creature is protected you see
    From Silly people like you and me

    This has nothing to do with what I've been thinking about but it came to mind when I was thinking of a title for this post!

    In a few weeks we begin our 'Animally Theme' set of services, which will be a mix of approaches, some using some of the animal metaphors which abound in the Bible and some that look at ethics.  The first one will focus on creation and will be an exciting experiment as it'll be the first time we try a new approach to church whereby I start the service then leave with the Sunday School and someone else takes over the adult part.  After my holiday we will planning this service, but inevitably ideas swim around my subconscious and now and then float into consciousness.

    Genesis is a much misunderstood part of the Bible and it seems a lot of commentators get rather defensive in their approach to its early chapters.  The two creation stories - chapters 1 and 2 -  seem to cause a lot of squirming as people try to make one coherent whole rather than delighting in the differences.  I'm not about to get into a J/E/P debate but it was a concept I found freeing when I first discovered it.

    Anyway, this is rambling even by my standards. Genesis 2 is the story that floated into my mind in a way I find rather fascinating.  In this account God makes a lovely garden then fashions a man out of clay to live in it.  God then goes on creating, making from the clay all sorts of land creatures and then brings them to the man to give them names. I was really struck by this - the creator hands over this power and responsibility to the created.  God could have said 'look here's a hipporhinostracow' but God brought the creature to the man who said 'giraffe'; God could have said 'here is stripy creature like a horse' but man said 'zebra.'  Somehow the significance of this had never really struck me before (I can be slow sometimes)... in this amazing role reversal the creator brings new creations to the created, if not for approval, then at least in humility.

    In Genesis 1 we see a God who makes things and says 'wow, that's pretty amazing, I'm pleased with that.'  Now in Genesis 2 we see a God who, maybe even a little tentatively, comes to man with his new life-form and says 'look, I've made with this, what will you call it?'  I need to do a whole load more thinking (and non-thinking) about this before my ethics sermon scheduled for September but for now I will enjoy my image of a delighted God running up to Adam and saying 'look what I've made...'