Barefoot in the wilderness
in search of understanding


Public music

This article from the Washington Post is fascinating. They tried something out – what would happen if a world-class musician tried his hand at busking? Would he get a crowd? Would he make any money? Would anyone even notice? They ask, “If a great musician makes great music and no one hears, was he really any good?”

pax et bonum

iTunes in Norway

It might not sound like much from the title, but it could have ramifications. And, I believe, it’s a first step towards sensible rules governing downloaded music. The Register is reporting that the Norwegian consumer protection Ombudsman has found that iTunes is guilty of breaking Norwegian law. One part is that it’s unreasonable to make Norwegians sign an agreement that they’ll be governed by English law. Fair enough. But the other parts are, I think, worthy of wider note:

[The Ombudsman said that] iTunes must accept responsibility for damage its software may do, and said it is unreasonable to alter terms and conditions after a song has been sold.

Both of those are very common in the world of software, and both are utterly unreasonable. We wouldn’t accept it if car makers disclaimed all responsibility for damage that their cars might do, so why do we let software manufacturers get away with it? And as for altering terms and conditions after sale? That’s just plain silly. And yet most of the legal download services enforce such terms as this – they claim that, after you’ve paid for the music and at any time of their choosing, they can change how often, where or on what devices you can play it. It’s a strange world in which we let companies get away with such blatant abuse.

pax et bonum

The Pipettes

The Pipettes are a girl band with a difference. Watch the video on their front page! Good stuff :-)

(_Thanks to Eddie for the link._)

pax et bonum

Manchester Passion

I’ve just finished watching Manchester Passion – the BBC’s new version of the Passion story. For those who missed it (most people outside the UK, apart from anyone else!), it was a live, 1-hour programme taking Jesus through the City of Manchester from the Last Supper and Gethsemane to the crucifixion, accompanied by a Manchester soundtrack (music from New Order, James, Oasis etc.). OK, it was broadcast on Good Friday, but we only just got around to watching it :-)

Generally, I thought it was very good. Some of the music worked particularly well – for me, stand outs include Sit Down during the Gethsemane moment (“Those who feel the breath of sadness / Sit down next to me / Those who find they’re touched by madness / Sit down next to me / Those who find themselves ridiculous / Sit down next to me / In love, in fear, in hate, in tears / In love, in fear, in hate”) and Pilate duetting with Jesus to Wonderwall (“Maybe / You’re gonna be the one who saves me / Yeah maybe / You’re gonna be the one who saves me”). And the downbeat/upbeat switch at the end was handled excellently (the sudden appearance of Jesus at the top of the clock tower singing I am the resurrection by the Stone Roses!). Some of this music is, in this context, profoundly worshipful stuff! Writers of “worship songs” take note!

If you get the chance, I’d heartily recommend watching it for a refreshingly different and moving version of the story.

pax et bonum

Be careful what you listen to!

A man was dragged from a plane and interrogated because the taxi driver who took him to the airport didn’t like his taste in music. (From The Register .)


The importance of unity

Njongonkulu Ndungane, Archbishop of Cape Town and Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, has spoken about the ongoing debates in the Anglican Communion and their effects. In particular, he warns that the arguments (too often polarised and vitriolic) are harmful in themselves and do not reflect Christ. He also warns against the push to codify and legislate the Communion, and against the apparent drive to form a Curia for the Anglican Communion, transforming it into a rigid heirarchy.

Whatever the merits of the various positions on human sexuality, my greatest sadness is that we have allowed ourselves, within the Primates’ Meeting in particular, to lose sight of what it means to live in Communion…I fear we are in danger of setting up something akin to the Roman Curia – and I am especially worried that the Primates, gifted and blessed and called as they are in so many ways, are nonetheless so unrepresentative of the totality of the Body of Christ…
When we look back on the history of the Church, it has always been assailed with divisions to be overcome. The unity of Christ’s people is one of the prime targets of the devil…The devil’s purposes are far better served when people look at us and see us fighting and quarrelling, and doing so in ways that fail to reflect the spirit of charity, tolerance and gracious magnanimity that has always characterised the best of Anglicanism…
I suspect that future generations will see this as something of a storm in a teacup, and certainly not as central to the Christian life. For the centre of Christian life is Jesus Christ. As I said at the TEAM conference, God’s eternal Word did not come as a philosophical concept, nor as a political programme. Nor was the Word made text. But the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.

This is a wise and articulate man, and I’d urge anyone interested in this issue to read what he has to say. I hope and pray that the various Anglican churches, and especially their leaders, listen to him. Sadly, it seems as though he is to retire soon. We need voices like this.

pax et bonum

Hate the sin, love the sinner?

Tobias suggests that we stop using the old saw “hate the sin, love the sinner”. He does this because, he believes, it goes against the very nature of Christianity. First, he says, it’s not biblical – both because it’s not explicit anywhere in the Bible and because it actually goes against the teachings of the Bible. Sin is more than just something that we do. We are not told merely to avoid killing our brother but to avoid hating him, not merely to avoid adultery but to avoid lust. How, then, can we separate sin from sinner in the way that this aphorism requires?

How does one separate the two, if sin involves more than behavior, as both the Law and Jesus maintain? Jesus does not deal with sin apart from sinners. Without a word about hatred, Christ on the contrary tells us that we should love the sinner and forgive the sin…
It is impossible to “hate the sin” apart from the sinner, as if sin had some reality apart from the desires and actions of fallen human beings, as if you could somehow extract the sin from a person and vent your purifying fury upon it. Such a notion is very far from the Gospel.

pax et bonum

Are Neanderthals saved?

Our friend Ruth (not daughter Ruth!) asked a good question today, in the comments to a previous post, and I thought it deserved its own post. Her question was this:

Went to a dinosaur park today and saw models of neaderthal man. They got me thinking. They made tools and fires and things. But was God their God? I know that we didn’t evolve from them. But at what point in evolution did God become the God that he is for human-kind?

Good question! The first thing to say is that we don’t know the answer, and can’t this side of heaven. But I do have a few thoughts.

It’s usually been held by the Church that the thing setting humanity apart from the animals is the possession of a rational soul. That is, the power to think, speak and reason is what makes us human. If so, we would have to suggest that Neanderthals were also human in this sense. And so, yes, God would be their God, too. Of course, God is the God of the animals and the rocks and the stars, too, so in that sense it’s trivial. But, if the Neanderthals sought any God then the triune God would the One to whom they would be reaching. And I believe that God would reach back to them.

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Followup on price

In my previous post, Hammertime asked a cogent question. I’ve answered him in the comments there, but I thought it bore repeating as a higher-level article.

If you truly believe that the price has been paid, not to God but by God, who has it been paid to?

The first thing to say is that I don’t find a “price” model of the atonement particularly useful, partly for this reason. The idea that the crucifixion was a price paid to God has serious issues – Jeffrey John articulated some of them. But, for a starter, there’s a definite logical problem with God requiring payment and then, by legal sleight of hand, paying Himself and claiming that that makes everything alright. If He could sidestep payment by paying Himself, why require the payment in the first place? The alternative (which is the idea actually found in the NT) is that the price was paid to Satan – we were slaves to sin and Christ redeemed us (i.e. paid the price) from that slavery and set us free. But I don’t like this idea much, either, if taken too literally, because I don’t think that Satan has that much power.

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The price is paid

There’s been quite a fuss in the Press this week about a Lenten talk given by Dean Jeffrey John. The fuss comes, once again, because he addresses the idea of the Cross and how Jesus ‘paid the price’ for our sins. There have been the usual knee-jerk responses (sadly from bishops in the Church of England, too, this time!) that, because he rejects penal substitution, he is somehow heretical and rejects all substitutionary ideas. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you actually listen to what he said (or read the transcript), you’ll see that he’s very firmly still in the substutionary mould. It’s just that the focus is away from a God who is mostly wrathful and bent on punishment to a God who is all Love. And, I don’t know about you, but I know which God I meet in the Bible and, most particularly, in the Person who said “whoever has seen me has seen the Father”.

On the cross Jesus dies for our sins; the price of our sin is paid; but it is not paid to God but by God.

Not to God but by God.

pax et bonum