Monthly Archives: January 2012

Why The American SOPA Controversy Affects Us All

Did you join in yesterday’s protests against SOPA? I didn’t, because I thought I couldn’t legitimately protest against proposals in American law, but the more I think about it, the more I consider I should in some way have joined the voices rising up against it. As this BBC article puts it, we are talking about something that would mean the USA deploying similar tactics to those used by China and Iran.

If anyone understands the effect of the Internet and social media on our society and the world, it’s Clay Shirky. Watch this video to hear why the proposed SOPA and PIPA legislation in the USA is dangerous for us all:

Here are the problems. There is a media industry that only wants us all to be passive consumers (how bad is that, anyway?). It does not want mere mortals to produce and to share content. This isn’t merely about copyright piracy, this is about enthusiastically saying to our friends, “Look what I’ve found” – something you would think they would be keen to promote. Already we are in a situation where bakeries cannot reproduce children’s drawings of cartoon characters onto cakes, because it’s illegal to copy an image of Mickey Mouse.

Thus, the industry wants to obliterate all established distinctions between legal and illegal sharing. It wants to make ordinary citizens criminals, alongside the pirates.

Furthermore, the proposed legislation reverses the historic burden of proof so that we are guilty until proved innocent, and if that’s not dangerous, I don’t know what is.

None of this is to condone piracy. As a Christian, I do not support theft of items for profit any more than I support burglars who raid a house and sell the items in the pub. But most of what ordinary people share on the Internet is not comparable to that. There is no financial motive.

In any case, there is ample legislation already on copyright piracy. The original Napster was brought to trial. So too was Limewire. What’s the problem? Shirky says the problem is effort. The media companies don’t want to bother with tedious matters like gathering evidence.

Neither am I completely against censorship. I am not a libertarian. As a parent, I have concerns about material my children could accidentally find on the Internet. But these bills are not about that.

And this affects us all, because the Internet by definition cannot be confined to one nation. If this legislation were to pass, the US Congress would be further codifying that terrifying concept of American exceptionalism, effectively allowing a digital American invasion anywhere and at any time.

I ask my American friends if they would lobby their elected representatives. For the rest of us, we need to find ways of legitimate and ethical protest, raising our voices in opposition to legislation that only has the interests of wealthy corporations at its heart.

You are welcome to try persuading me otherwise, but this sounds like laws bought by the millions of dollars of corporate lobbying, to favour its clients against ordinary people. Surely that’s wrong?

Mark Driscoll: The Christianity Magazine Interview Is Published

I received my subscription copy of Christianity magazine yesterday, complete with the now infamous interview with Mark Driscoll, about which I wrote on Friday. In addition to the well-publicised insults to British Christian ministers, a couple more things took my breath away.

Justin Brierley pushes Driscoll about some of his more controversial statements, including the one where he said he couldn’t worship a Jesus he could beat up. Brierley points out that Jesus was beaten up – namely his suffering and death on the Cross. But that’s actually OK and manly for Driscoll, because that was like the valour of a soldier. (He forgets that a soldier would have been trying to dish out pain and suffering on his enemies, which I guess he might like, but there’s not exactly any evidence for Jesus doing that.)

But more, he then goes on to the Second Coming and says that the purpose of Jesus coming again is precisely so that he can ‘give a beating’. Well – yes, Jesus will judge and condemn sin, there will be eternal punishment for the unrepentant (although I disagree with him that it is an eternal, conscious torment – that doesn’t take apocalyptic language seriously). But to frame it in terms of Jesus coming to give people a beating is not going to put the right kind of fear of God into people, is it?

The second observation I had is where Driscoll refers to those who do not believe in penal substitution. Now let me make it clear that I believe in substitutionary atonement, but I am aware of the dangers in how it is framed and explained. I want nothing to do with those in the ‘Young, Restless and Reformed’ camp who explicitly talk of the Cross as a place where God killed Jesus. That says it all about the worst of this teaching.

However, what made my jaw head for the Southern Hemisphere was Driscoll’s supposed reason for why people reject penal substitution. Is it about concepts of justice or love? No! People reject it because – wait for it – it’s too … masculine.

So now you know.


The Adventures Of Tim Tebow: Christianity And The Famous Sportsman

Lately, my American friends on Facebook have been rather exercised by the adventures of one Tim Tebow. “Who he?” thought I, but quickly realised he plays that staged impersonation of rugby that our friends west of the Pond call football. (No ‘American’ to prefix it for the same reason that their baseball has a World Series.)

Furthermore, young Mr Tebow is rather good at the sport, having engineered some remarkable comebacks for his team the Denver Broncos – although they came unstuck against the New England Patriots 45-10 and won’t make the Super Bowl as a result.

Not only that, my American friends are excited because he is a Christian. Born to Baptist missionaries in the Philippines, he has appeared in an advertisement for Focus on the Family, and is overt in owning his faith.

Given some of the hysteria generated by Tebow Time, perhaps it’s actually time to nail some of the Christian myths about famous believing sporting heroes.

Number one
 (in no particular order) is about prayer. My American Football loving friend Will Grady retweeted the comedian Paula Poundstone, who said,

If football players on opposing teams each pray to win does God choose who wins or does he just watch the game?

Prayer doesn’t make a Christian win, or even a better athlete. There is no spiritual gift of sporting ability, and Christians have the same mix of natural talents that the rest of the population has. The place of prayer for the sporting Christian is in the request to glorify God in the way they participate. Winning isn’t guaranteed, nor is performance.

Number two, and very dangerous, is the whole notion of celebrity. Tebow is in the public eye, and I hope his Christian supporters are praying for him. But there is nothing of intrinsically greater worth about the testimony of a famous Christian than that of you or me. It plays into the hands of all the unhealthy contemporary obsession with celebrity. And isn’t that a matter of idolatry, and broken idols at that? We build up these people in some kind of false worship, then watch their images smash.

What’s more, your non-Christian friends who like American Football may well watch Tim Tebow with interest. But they will be watching your life more closely and more regularly. Rather than trumpeting a famous Christian, we should be considering our own witness, however quiet and humble it is.

Number three
 is about priorities. British sport fans thinking about this kind of issue will probably remember the words of Bill Shankly, the late great manager of Liverpool FC, who once remarked,

Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.

In a way, this ties into the idolatry issue. Were Shankly being serious, his words would be appalling. I like to think they were satirical. I love it when my team wins. I hate it when they lose. My son is worse. But what matters in the end?

Thankfully, Tebow has a sense of real priorities, and what his fame can and cannot achieve. The Boston Globe reported his reaction to yesterday’s defeat:

“It still wasn’t a bad day,” Tebow said after the game. “It still was a good day, because I got to spend some time before the game with Zack McLeod [a 20-year-old Cambridge native who suffered a traumatic brain injury playing football] and make him smile, and overall when you get to do that, it’s still a positive day. Sometimes that’s hard to see, but it depends what lens you’re looking through. I choose to look through those lenses, and I got to make a kid’s day, that’s more important than winning the game. So, I am proud of that.”

Tebow was asked if the glare of the spotlight this season ever became too much.

“There are pros and cons with everything,” Tebow said. “Sometimes, you don’t want it all. You just like to be able to go to dinner, hang out with friends, be a normal 24-year-old. So that makes it sometimes hard. But I wouldn’t change it for the world, because by having that, I have the platform to walk into a hospital to walk into the hospital and share with kids, I have the opportunity to hang out with Zack before a game, I have the opportunity to go build a hospital in the Philippines or to do a lot more important things than football.”

That sounds like a guy who has got his head screwed on. The rest of us need to do the same.

Over-35s And ‘The Green Thing’

A blog post entitled ‘Anyone over the age of 35 should read this, as I copied this from a friends status..‘ is trending on Facebook. (Ignore the grammatical error, it appears to be a Scandinavian writing in the foreign tongue of English.)
The gist is this: the author fails to bring some reusable shopping bags to the supermarket and is told off for this by the checkout cashier. The author apologises, not having had ‘the green thing’ when younger. The article then goes on to recount practices from past generations that are actually greener than today’s habits: bottles were recycled for the deposit, they walked up stairs rather than took escalators, they washed and reused cotton nappies, a house had but one small television, they used more public transport for journeys and homes had fewer electrical sockets. Ergo, why should younger generations have a go at older ones on environmental issues?

All the examples quoted are true, and yes, they are greener. The problem is this: things were that way due to lesser economic wealth and greater thrift. Once more prosperity came along, then it carried with it technologies that created more convenient and allegedly labour-saving approaches and devices. When these appeared, they were – ahem – hoovered up.

Economics and technology create these opportunities and more. One of the major issues about sin is opportunity and availability. Moving beyond green issues, are more people prone to slip into pornography because it is more readily available on the Internet and with web browsers that offer ‘private’ or ‘incognito’ browsing modes?

And perhaps another observation worth making about this post is that is true but simplistic. Isn’t that something that many of us have to watch? We want to keep things simple, which is laudable on one level, but we also don’t want to think too hard – or we don’t want others to make us think hard.

Can We Love Jesus And Hate Religion?

You may have seen this video doing the rounds in certain circles:

Is it a fair distinction? The broad sweep of someone who wants to affirm the grace of God and the idea of faith as a relationship with Christ, as opposed to the idea of emphasising an institution with a dubious track record is commendable. Coming out of certain contexts – say, The Troubles in Ireland, such a sentiment is powerful, for example in this song by the Belfast Christian singer Brian Houston:

And as someone who finds being a ‘professional Christian’ who is expected to uphold and serve the institution frustrating and tiresome at times, I certainly sympathise, too. Sometimes it feels as if I am being asked to be a flag-waver for Methodism or worse, an enforcer, rather than a witness to God’s redeeming love. I want a faith that emphasises grace, mercy, love and faith rather than dull rule-keeping. I too am embarrassed by the history of the Church. That’s not difficult.

But the poem, laudable as it is, needs probing. To me, it is framed as if I’m on the side of grace and ‘they’ are on the side of wrong. That’s always dangerous. It risks lapsing into self-righteousness, ironically, the very thing the author finds distasteful (and rightly so).

Rather than just using ‘religion’ as the label for all the bad stuff associated with belief in God, wouldn’t it be better to join in the confession of the Church’s sin? Remember Daniel, exiled in Babylon, praying, “We have sinned?” It wasn’t his personal sin that had carried Israel into exile, but he identified with God’s people. Humility like that is necessary. It is more likely to touch and transform the ‘religious’ than shouting at them at a distance.

And is it honest just to use ‘religion’ as the label in the way I’ve just suggested? It’s too convenient. Instead of saying that the Church should feed the poor and criticising her for not doing so, let’s do it ourselves! I’m delighted that one of my churches will be hosting a food bank, with personnel provided by another church that had the vision for it, from next month.

Let’s get our hands dirty. That’s one of the best witnesses to grace.

Mark Driscoll And Jeremy Clarkson: A Blog From The Brits

Mark Driscoll
. Jeremy Clarkson. Separated at birth? By the evidence of Driscoll’s latest rant, maybe. If they ever make an American religious version of Top Gear, he’s your man. And I mean ‘man’.

His response to the furore is fascinating. You can’t comment on the blog post. What’s the matter, Mark? Are you afraid those cowardly Brits will beat you up online?

He didn’t like the aggressive line of questioning from the journalist. Can I just say the words ‘pot, ‘kettle’ and ‘black’, Mr Driscoll? I thought you liked men to be aggressive.

And he accuses the journalist of being liberal, because – amongst other things – he doesn’t believe in hell as a place of conscious, eternal torment. So, would you have been man enough to call John Stott a liberal to his face in his lifetime for his annihilationist views, pal?

As for bemoaning the lack of famous young British Bible teachers, please don’t get sucked into celebrity culture: a preacher can choose in ambition between making Jesus famous and making themselves famous. You can’t go for both. If God raises you up to prominence, fine. But that’s God’s business, not yours or mine.

Some wonder whether we should take Mark Driscoll seriously. Part of me would like to think of him as Christian comedy, the same way I laugh at Jeremy Clarkson, but not with him. However, ask in any school playground whether you should take bullies seriously. Because this kind of accusation amounts to bullying.

Most of all, what sticks in my throat is the way I see the word ‘Pastor’ in front of his name all the time. It’s Pastor Mark this, it’s, and so on. What exactly is pastoral about this behaviour? We all slip. I do. But Driscoll has been called out as a bully before, and his elders have taken him to task. I think it’s time for a repeat. And a look at why this kind of behaviour keeps recurring.

Sermon: Ruth Part 2, The Compassion Of Boaz

Ruth 2:1-23
“Is the Gospel against Surrey?”

That was my colleague Bob Sneddon’s question at my first staff meeting in this circuit.

Is the Gospel against Surrey? We are the wealthiest county in the country, filled with butchers and bakers and movers and shakers. It is natural that when we pledge allegiance to a Jesus who upturns the moneychangers’ tables and the values of wealth and power that we ask hard questions about discipleship in this particular culture.

This may make you think, “Oh no, I’ve heard it before. Someone has just assumed that everyone in Surrey is rich and the streets are paved with stocks and shares. Doesn’t he know that several in this congregation are on limited incomes? Not another preacher here to condemn us, surely?”

No, I’m not here to condemn – although we must acknowledge that the message of Jesus poses uncomfortable challenges for his followers.

Rather, if we are to face the facts that Jesus challenges his disciples radically in the area of lifestyle, we need not simply to be hectored but to be offered a positive rôle model.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Boaz.

What would the Gospel life look like if, like some of our neighbours, you could spend Christmas on a cruise ship, or going to Australia, or merely going skiing? I think Boaz gives us some clues.
The narrator introduces Boaz to us as ‘a man of standing’ (verse 1). Because of his wealth – we shall soon hear that he owns land and servants – he has a position of influence in his society. This man could fit into Surrey.

But what kind of man? Plenty of people with standing in their communities prove to be uigly characters. This expression, though, can also mean that he is noble in character. As we shall find out, that is true of Boaz. If we want to know how influential and powerful people might live the life of faith, Boaz is worth our attention.

For certainly he is a man of faith. Note how he greets his workers: ‘The LORD be with you!’ he says, and they reply, ‘The LORD bless you!’ (verse 4).

Is this just some liturgical exchange? If so, a harvest field is a curious location for it. Is it simply the routine pleasantries of the day? It could be, but what we pick up from the rest of this episode is a man who has a good relationship with his workers and with others. So I believe his greeting, ‘The LORD be with you’ is genuine.
This, then, is a man who carries his faith into everyday life. One executive once said that at home his order of priorities was God, family and then work. However, when he got to the office, he reversed those priorities: work, family, God. Not Boaz. Putting his faith as his top priority influences everything about him. It shapes the way he conducts his business. This is more than someone whose faith means that he doesn’t swear and he doesn’t steal the paperclips.

A favourite story of mine about this concerns a man who was an elderly Local Preacher in my home circuit. No-one – but no-one – preached like John Evill. He had been born in Swansea and was a toddler at the time of the Welsh Revival. He preached like the Revival was still happening.

In his working life he had been the Secretary of the Enfield Highway Co-Operative Society. He used to tell a story about his interview for that job. “Mister Evill, if we give you this job, will you put the Co-Operative Society first?” he was asked.

“No!” he replied. “The Church of Jesus Christ comes first in my life!”

And he didn’t mean that he would huddle away in the church and not give due time to his work. Jesus was number one. That affected how he did everything. He took the Lordship of Christ into work every day.

Boaz does the Old Testament equivalent. But how does it manifest itself? There are several ways we see in this passage. One of them comes in that simple warm exchange of greetings with his labourers. This is a man who works on having positive relationships with his workers. They are not cogs in the machine, they are not merely the recipients of his orders, they are made in the image of God, and so they are treated with dignity.

When we were considering whether to move our children from Bisley School to Knaphill School, one of the things that impressed us about Kevin Davies, the Head at Knaphill, was the rapport he had with his staff. Yes, he was in charge, but there was a warm relationship evidenced by an easy humour between them. If someone who to my knowledge has no explicit faith can do that, how much more can the Christian manager?

A Christian friend of mine called Dan Collins is an entrepreneur and the founder of a company in Hertfordshire called Fresh Tracks. One of the things his outfit does is lay on innovative team-building events for organisations. Starting in their early days with quad biking, they now run a chocolate challenge that has featured on the TV show The Apprentice, and other events where teams have to make sculptures, wooden toys and films. The company has five core values:

Relationships matter
Ideas are our life blood
Waste is wrong
Wealth creation for distribution.

These may not be overtly religious values, but then Fresh Tracks is not a specifically Christian company. However, it is clear to me that Dan has taken his faith to work as an influencer. Certainly others recognise what he is doing: he also tutors for the Cranfield School of Management.

So if I am a Christian in a senior position, am I thinking: how can I so take the Lordship of Christ into my daily work that I am known as a boss or a manager who blesses their staff?

But Boaz goes further. He crosses boundaries and seeks justice for the poor. What does he do when he learns that the unfamiliar young woman is a Moabitess, that is, a foreigner from an enemy country, and that her story is known as one of tragedy and suffering (verses 5-6)? Not only does he underscore his foreman’s decision to let her work in the field (verse 7), he especially protects her. He puts her with his own female servants (verse 8) and issues orders that the men are not to touch her (verse 9).
That command is quite significant for Ruth, if it is true as I argued when I preached on chapter 1 last week that when Naomi’s son ‘took’ her in marriage, that most likely indicated a forced abduction, and that she is therefore a woman who has been the victim of domestic violence at the hands of a man. In the words of one commentator,

Boaz is hereby instituting the first anti-sexual-harassment policy in the workplace recorded in the Bible.[1]

Also, she can drink the water the men have drawn – in a culture where foreigners would draw for Israelites and women for men, this is extraordinary[2].

What has Boaz done? For him, it’s not all about the bottom line. It’s about compassionate justice.

How can all this play out today for Christians who have power and influence? It surely makes the case for being counter-cultural. It cannot only be about maximising the return for shareholders. Yes, profits may be needed to sustain a business and for people to flourish in employment, but the kingdom of God is about a righteousness that incorporates justice and faithfulness. It may well involve going against social convention. It may mean leading a team in which we say that we will neither practise nor tolerate bullying or oppression.

And remember, Boaz follows through on this. It isn’t a one-off gesture. He invites Ruth to join his workers at mealtime, something that she wouldn’t have expected. The text suggests that as a stranger, a foreigner, she had kept her distance until the invitation.

But not only that, Boaz, the big boss, serves her the roasted grain himself (verse 14). He leads by example in humbly serving the stranger. No wonder, then, that his words soon after that to his men to ensure that she has plenty to glean (verses 15-16) carry extra power. For Boaz, even in a culture where the word of the boss was law, his attitude is, ‘Do as I do, not simply as I say.’ Christians in leadership cannot require of their subordinates what they are unwilling to do themselves. Everywhere in Scripture healthy leadership is by example. That is why the Apostle Paul tells people to copy him. It isn’t arrogance: it’s a principle. That is why Jesus said he had set an example for us to follow. Same thing.
And in giving that order to his men, Boaz demonstrates one more thing I want to highlight about how he uses his power and authority. It’s a justice matter again. Not for him the idea that he can look good by letting Ruth glean a little, his instructions are designed to ensure that she has plenty for her needs and for Naomi’s. In fact, Ruth takes home so much (verse 17) it’s hard to imagine how she transported it all! So he doesn’t opt for the minimum effect he can have on the payroll, the least damage to the balance sheet. If he is going to do something right, it will have the potential to have a cost for his business, so that people may receive what they need in order to participate in society.

All this is all very well, but much of it could have been said in one form or another by someone giving a talk on how to run a business ethically without necessarily referring all of it to the life of faith. Which is why I want to draw this to a close by highlighting how God is the seam running through the story.

Some parts are obvious, whether it is Boaz saying, ‘The LORD be with you!’ (verse 4) or his recognition that Ruth has ‘come to take refuge’ under the wings of ‘the LORD, the God of Israel’ (verse 12). In the light of his godly behaviour, Naomi says, ‘The LORD bless him!’ (verse 20). In all these ways, God is explicitly acknowledged in the story.

But there is another hint, too. There is a comment I take to be ironic when Ruth first goes off to work in the field:

So she went out and began to glean in the fields behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech. (Verse 3, italics mine)

‘As it turned out.’ Is this luck? Are you kidding? Jews didn’t believe in luck, and nor should Christians. Later, someone would write in the Book of Proverbs,

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD. (Proverbs 16:33)
For the Jew, nothing happened by sheer chance. There were no coincidences, only what some Christians call God-incidences. Ruth’s arrival in the field of Boaz is of a piece with the cause of the famine and the bringing of Naomi back to Bethlehem with Ruth. This is the hand of God. This is providence.

Now I don’t know how you see providence. I certainly don’t see it as the Christian version of ‘fate’ but as God using his free will, which is greater in power than ours. But on any account, God has silently brought Ruth and Boaz into the same orbit.

And this is something to remember. However much power or authority we might seem to exercise in this life (at least in comparison to others), we are not in charge of our destinies, or the destinies of others. He is bringing people across our paths all the time for us to bless in his name. Indeed, that is also true for those who do not have the wealth and influence that others have.

Is it a coincidence that we are in certain networks, neighbourhoods and friendships? Of course not. God has either placed us there or allowed us to be there.

Now we are in those places, it is our responsibility in his name to say, how can I exercise my faith by engaging in positive relationships? How can I put my faith into practice by a concern for the kingdom of God that manifests itself in faithfulness and in justice for the poor and the unpopular? How can I cross boundaries in Jesus’ name? How can my example match my beliefs?

In this week’s episode, we see only the beginnings of Boaz’ influence for good. Much more will come, as those who know the whole story will testify. How much of a difference can we make for Christ in the world by being attentive to how we use the power we have been given for good and for justice?

[1] Daniel I Block, Judges, Ruth (The New American Commentary), p 660.

[2] Ibid.

The National Health Service: My Daughter’s Keeper

It’s Monday, just gone, the day after New Year’s Day, and a Bank Holiday here in the UK. The Faulkner family is relaxing and preparing for the visit of friends from Sussex. All our other Christmas season get-togethers have failed to happen due to family illness, but this one will happen.

So Debbie is upstairs sorting out some household matters, Mark is in the conservatory playing, Rebekah is writing her thank-you letters for her Christmas presents in the dining room and I am in the study, catching up on news of friends via Facebook.

That’s when we hear the scream. A scream like nothing we have heard before. A scream so loud it reverberates around the house, such that I can’t tell where it’s coming from. I rush to the front door. I double back. There is Rebekah, on the laminate floor of the dining room, in terror and agony. She is screaming. Mark is with her, screaming too at what has happened. I scream, too.
Debbie rushes down the stairs like an Olympic steeplechase champion. She sees the scene, and she – the practical one – screams as well. Something awful has happened to Rebekah’s left elbow.

“She’s fractured it!” shouts Debbie. “Ring for an ambulance!”

“It might be a dislocation,” I observe, as I press 9, followed by 9, then another 9, and the green ‘call’ button.

While I’m on the phone to the emergency services, Debbie changes her mind. Her practical mind is kicking in. “It’ll be quicker to drive her to the hospital,” she says, so I say we don’t want the ambulance at all and we scramble as quickly and as delicately as we can into my small car. O that Debbie’s people carrier wasn’t off the road with an indicator fault.

I drive as fast and as safely as I can the seven miles to the nearest A and E unit. I don’t speed and I don’t take chances, but I am frustrated by the two cars ahead of me doing only 40 in a 60 limit for three of those miles.

At the hospital, I drop Debbie and Rebekah off outside A and E, while Mark stays with me as I find a car parking space. By the time we walk back to A and E, the girls are nowhere to be seen inside.

“Are you looking for Rebekah?” asks a woman sitting with her crutches, just inside the door. She points to double doors underneath a sign that reads, ‘Paediatric A and E’. “She’s in there.”

It turns out that the clerk had entered Rebekah’s details on the computer, instantly forwarded them to Paediatric A and E, where they would be waiting for her immediately.

A nurse administers diamorphine nasally. We are near the nurses’ station and we can hear them ringing Radiography to get Rebekah’s X-rays prioritised. We don’t wait long. In X-Ray, a senior radiographer dons a lead jacket and helps hold Becky in position for a difficult second picture.
I was behind the screen, and saw the first picture come up on the monitor. I am  no medic, but my untutored eyes saw two detached bones, neither apparently broken.

Back at A and E, the nurses are now phoning the orthopaedic surgeon to get him down quickly. He soon tells us that yes, it is a dislocation, not a fracture. Whatever we had seen of sportsmen having dislocations put in quickly and painfully, a child would have the bones relocated under general anaesthetic. We would have to wait until Becky’s breakfast was sufficiently out of her system for her to receive an anaesthetic safely, but that would be the course of action.

The nurses keep the phones hot. Now they are nagging the anaesthetist to come sooner than expected, so that a little girl not be kept waiting any longer than necessary. He confirms the surgeon’s proposed course of action. It was only a case of the waiting time to anaesthetise.

By 3 pm Becky is being wheeled into theatre for the relocation and a plaster cast. The accident had happened around 11:15 am.

Half an hour later, I help collect her from the recovery room. All has gone well, no fracture occurred when the bones were relocated, and she can consider starting the new term at school. She will wear the cast for a fortnight until it is reviewed at the Fracture Clinic.

We take Becky to a children’s ward where she is monitored regularly by a staff nurse for the after-effects of the anaesthetic. Although we are told around 5 pm that it will be another four to six hours before she can be discharged, at 7 pm the nurse pronounces herself satisfied that she is ready to go home.

And the nurse tells Rebekah, “You have made my day.” We think that was a reference to the teenage girl in another bed on the same bay, whose every adjective begins with ‘F’ and whose family is equally delightful.

Does anybody wonder why I love the National Health Service? It is an institutional way of putting into practice the mandate to be my brother’s keeper (or my daughter’s keeper, in this case). Quote the horror stories if you must, but the fundamental principle is sound and important. Think of those who work in it under great stress and who only hear feedback when something has gone wrong. I for one am glad we have it, and I cannot understand those Christians in certain other countries who seem to think the State should not provide these services.

FOOTNOTE: Please note the top picture above is not our Rebekah, nor is the second photo her x-ray. These have been used for illustrative purposes only.

2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 47,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 17 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Music For 2012

Bill Withers plus Terry Callier plus Richie Havens plus Nick Drake plus early John Martyn equals … Michael Kiwanuka. He’s appearing on many lists of those tipped for popularity this year, and deservedly so. He’s on the same record label as Mumford and Sons, but I prefer him.

His album Home Again is due for release in March, conveniently the month of my birthday, and I can’t wait. Here’s why:

A word, too, for torch singer Ren Harvieu. Recently heard singing the Rolling Stones’ Sister Morphine on a Mojo magazine cover CD, a song she relates to after major hospital treatment, she is a wonderful interpreter of song.

Her own stuff is pretty powerful, too:

Vodpod videos no longer available.