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Sabbatical, Day 60: April Fools, Online Photos And Music, Tim Keller, Sojourners

This morning before school, we tried to explain April Fool’s Day to the children. They got the hang of it to a certain extent, and much enjoyed the collective prank played on all the pupils at their school today when staff told them they had to hop everywhere. 

Elsewhere, The Guardian claimed it was giving up ink and instead would entirely be published in sub-140 character messages on Twitter. Some might be concerned about dumbing down, I’d be concerned for the spelling – anyone remember the days of the Grauniad? I also received a Facebook message from the We’re Related application, claiming that one Barack Obama of Washington, DC had added me as his fourth cousin, once removed. I’ve never heard of him, so it can’t be true.

Meanwhile, Miss Universe described Guantanamo Bay as ‘fun’ and Alan Shearer became manager of Newcastle United. Oh no, those two are true.

Staying in the realm of truth, it’s been a bit of a techie day. I finally uploaded the Lee Abbey photos to my Flickr account today. I’ve organised them into three sets, all under one collection.

I’ve also been looking at some of the popular online music services in the last twenty-four hours. Yesterday, I downloaded the software for Spotify, but have been hampered by slow connection speeds. Some artists also had far fewer tracks available than I had hoped. I have also signed up for a free trial of emusic. I thought the offer of fifty free MP3 downloads was generous, but soon realised it would be easy to exceed that.

However, the emusic download manager has crashed tonight – whether that’s due to our slow connection as well, I don’t know. Certainly the problem isn’t limited to Spotify: YouTube videos only play a bit at a time, and the Flickr upload I mentioned in the previous paragraph took three attempts to complete. I’ve tried the usual tricks of rebooting and disconnecting the router for thirty seconds, but so far to no avail.

But if all the above sounds like trivial fluff, I have done some serious things today. Most notably, I have read three chapters of Tim Keller‘s ‘The Reason for God‘. To date, I’m impressed with the way he graciously exposes the weaknesses in contemporary objections to faith, especially Christianity. He manages to do so intelligently, without coming on like an intellectual warmonger. The book is definitely for people of a certain academic ability, and while I have the odd query about what he thinks everyone can agree on (immediately after he has exposed fundamental differences), I think this looks like one of the best works of apologetics I have read in years.

And here is a great article from Sojourners, about the increasing involvement in social justice issues by American Christian musicians.

Finally, just to say that Debbie is getting better today. Still washed out, but the fever has subsided and she has not been in bed. I’m relieved she’s improving.

Sabbatical, Day 59: Google Hoaxes, Tim Keller And A Poorly Wife

Given that tomorrow is April Fool’s Day, here is a record of Google hoaxes in past years.

I find it a useful practice to read an evangelistic book every now and again. However, it’s a long time since I read one. Last week at Lee Abbey, I noticed they had cheap copies of Tim Keller‘s books ‘The Reason for God‘ and ‘The Prodigal God‘. I haven’t yet read the former, which is a book of apologetics, but I have completed the latter this morning.

It is a winsome and powerful meditation on what Keller calls ‘The parable of the two lost sons’, for both the younger and elder brothers in the famous parable are are lost. The younger is lost in devotion to selfish pleasure, and the elder is lost in self-righteousness. God is the true Prodigal, being reckless with generous love and grace. Only that unconditional grace changes people, and only that gives a healthy motivation for sacrificial service and a life of justice. I warmly recommend it.

Since finishing it today, I have begun to read ‘The Reason for God’ in between clearing down some of last week’s accumulated four hundred plus emails and – more seriously – a poorly wife. Last night, Debbie struggled with a vicious headache. This morning, she was washed out and has spent much of the day in bed. Tonight, she took her temperature at 39.5°C, so we’ll hit that with Paracetamol and keep an eye on it. At bedtime this evening, Rebekah said to her, “I wish I had a wish, because I would wish you back to normal.”