Orioles get off to a good start

I was please to see my chosen people (grin) the Baltimore Orioles make a good start this weekend. Even nicer, watching the highlights on the MLB website (which is all I can see here in the UK), was to see Manny Machado making the sign of the cross and thanking God for his run.

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I was also pleased to see here in the UK that Mr Wayne Rooney (Captain of Manchester United Football Club) did not make an illuminati triangle sign (as far as I could see) upon winning the FA (Football Association) Cup, so that was an improvement I suppose.

The mystery of the Trinity

People continually pose the Trinity as being an unfathomable mystery. At first it is easy to go along with this collective confusion that adds a bit of extra mysticism and atmosphere to the Christian religion. However, I suggest that even a rudimentary understanding of psychology will demystify the Trinity and give us a better understanding of the God who made us. That is surely a much better thing to have than a cloudy consensus of unnecessary ignorance which seems to be there only for the sake of dramatic effect and wriggle room when difficult questions are asked. I don’t feel that the God who created the whole universe really needs such shoddy scenery – He is not the Wizard of Oz and He does not need flimsy curtains to hide behind. The God I know tells it like it is and has laid out most of the answers you are likely to need already in writing in His Bible.

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The fundamental thing that I am getting at is given right at the beginning of the Bible. Because it is from the Bible you can be sure of the underlying premise. We are made in God’s image. If God is a Trinity then it is reasonable to suppose that within us you will also find that triune nature reflected.

Genesis 1:26  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Genesis 1:27  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  (KJV)

There is an awful lot in the two passages above. I have highlighted the parts relevant to this blog article that show the man created in Genesis 1:27 is multiple in nature and is in the image of God who is also multiple in nature. Before however I continue with my main theme, which is the triune nature of mankind, I would like to just mention one of the very important other things contained in the passages above. The next time someone suggests that God might be a woman you can point them to Genesis 1:27. Clearly within God are both male and female because as creations made in the image of God, we also have as a species those aspects. God is male, the Spirit, The Son and the Father, yes male, but within them they have the female, and in that image we were created both males and females.

Richard A. Posner has said:

“Some people hate themselves. But if I say, “I hate myself,” who is this “I” that stands apart from “myself”? And notice how in the expression “I am not myself today,” the “I” and “myself” change places. Now it is “myself” who is the authentic, the authoritative, the judgmental “I,” and it is “I” who is the self that is judged and found wanting. Some people talk to themselves; when they do, who is speaking and who is listening?”

So, there you have an educated but non-psychologist’s view of the multiple nature of each of us that probably most people would recognise.

Sigmund Freud was roundly attacked for many years by much of mainstream psychology, especially in the very left-wing universities such as the one where I studied. Freud is now left by mainstream psychology in a backwater of history by most university teaching. When I was studying psychology many years ago the attack on him was in full swing, perpetrated by left-wing liberals, anti-racists and feminists who disliked him because of the attitudes he held. His attitudes were of course completely normal and acceptable in the times and culture – Vienna the late 1880’s – when he did his work. It is nowadays we find objection. His detractors however were so strident and aggressive in their demands for the expulsion of anything that did not fit their ultra-egalitarian view of politics, they chose to throw out the baby with the bathwater rather than recognise that just because a person comes with attitudes we would no longer agree with, they can nevertheless tell some truths. It is as if an evil dictator were to point to a clear blue sky and say the sky is blue and we were to say no the sky is green because we did not like his politics. To do so is arrant nonsense.

Freud posited the Ego, ID and Super-Ego as being the  three aspects of mind of which we are comprised. He also posited different drives or motivations such as Libido (sexual) and Thanatos (the death wish) that incline us to different behaviours. In a nutshell, Freud was saying it is as if we have several different minds or personalities, chiefly three. Freud also recognised that the relationships we have with those closest to us have significant effect upon our behaviour. Freud posited syndromes such as the Oedipus complex in his attempt to categorise and explain some of the more prevalent types of unhealthy relationships that may influence us. One can readily accept that Freud’s more developed theories are in many cases probably erroneous or at least very over-stated. However as I have said we should not throw out the baby with the bathwater and lose site of the underlying insights that Freud had.

Notwithstanding the internecine conflicts of psychological endeavour, there are more recent scientific advances that claim to undermine the whole realm of modern talking psychology. The neuropsychology of neuroscience, using machines such as various forms of tomography (eg functional magnetic resonance imaging) can show that different regions of the brain, sometimes different regions simultaneously, are active during different mental states and tasks. Far from supplanting psychology however, I think a more honest appraisal of neuro-psychology is that it validates psychology, and politically annoyingly for many modern thinkers, also validates somewhat the theories of Freud.

It is not unknown that early scientist’s theories are thrown out and ridiculed, only for later science to show they were quite close to the truth, but science does not like to admit its mistakes. In the murky and highly contestable world of evolution we find examples such as Lamarck – look what we now know about epigenetics but no-one is saying “Oh dear sorry” to Lamarck. Then there is Immanuel Velikovsky who said that planets had collided and was poo-pooed. Now we say the moon was a result of a big collision and there are lots of other planetary collisions that are suggested as well, by the same mainstream astronomy that lambasted Velikovsky, called him fraud and sent him into the margins of history from where I doubt you have ever heard of him. Dare we speak of Tesla? The AC current you are using today is his contribution, but you know the name of Edison much better eh? All I am saying here is DO NOT TRUST ORTHODOX SCIENCE – it is as a dishonest and political and hypocritical endeavour as any other. Science will tel you there is no God, but it will sacrifice truth even in its own ranks for less noble ideals, and it will not admit when it is wrong. When I was a kid we were told that Pandas were NOT Bears. Now they are Bears. Whaaaat?!

My original purpose in studying psychology was to understand the nature of consciousness. In that endeavour I felt that I had gone as far as I could at the time when I was studying. I was confident then and still am that consciousness is an emergent process and as such has many components that you might describe as mini–minds. That was some decades ago and science has moved on. Nevertheless all that the march of progress has contributed to understanding the nature all the human mind still points to a very triune nature, annoyingly to some, very much like that which Freud described.

That triune nature of man, unsurprisingly to a Christian, reflects the fact that as Genesis 1:26 reports, we are indeed made in the image of God – a Trinity created and loves us. We are so like God in that aspect, it really should not be hard to understand the Trinity at all.

Grate idea

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Followers will know I am on an experiment to eliminate modern chemicals from my bathing routine. This means I am using old-fashioned soap bars rather than modern bottles of shampoo detergents.

I wanted a nice soap dish, and came across an item that is not intended as a soap dish but it makes a very good one. Ceramic ginger graters are the perfect size and shape for soap bars, and the spikes mean the soap sticks on the dish once it has dried so you can pick up the whole dish and soap. Take care you don’t drop and break it of course as the ceramic shards would be sharp. You can also use the grater to grate off flakes of soap if you want soapflakes. I purchased mine in John Lewis in the UK, but the link above shows they are easy to find.

 

NOTICE: I have not been paid any money or given any inducements by any product manufacturer or store to mention the products or stores featured in this blog article.

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Disappearing Cambridge

Mill Road is changing. We have lost the incredibly historic CB1 Internet Cafe with the very old computers on display, we have lost the atmospheric and odd Jaffa Net Cafe with its Hookah Pipe tent, and today I noticed the iconic Cambridge Resale is no more as a physical shop. They are, according to the notice on the old shop door, a website only now (their website needs updating as it says they have a shop, which apparently now, they don’t). At least they have kept their typeface, which they have had as long as I can remember.

I appreciate that change is inevitable, but what I miss is the informality that makes a place interesting. If property prices mean a place just becomes gentrified housing and clone chain coffeeshops, then have not all the things than made the area unique, interesting and desirable (and so property prices high) not been driven out? I don’t want run-down “interesting” slums, but nor do I want empty soul-less endless gated communities that separate people as that is deeply un-Christian, and unsurprisingly therefore, not nice. Does gentrification have within it the seeds of its own destruction? Signs of the (end) times maybe…

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Jesus keeps giving

You may have read about a sofa and the Grace of Jesus that made this very expensive item affordable for us in my blog article What’s Going On?

So here is the sofa – it arrived today. Whoopee! It took several hours fiddling and struggling to assemble from the many boxes that were delivered. It was very exciting and I was really pleased to see my wife enjoying the process. It made me feel a bit like newly-weds – young people just getting new things in their home together. The sofa really was a sort of “anniversary” present from Jesus, so having those feelings was an extra nice thing He did.

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But Jesus just keeps on giving! We ordered a green cover. But the shop didn’t have a green one so they gave us a free red one and will send a green one next week. They also gave us a free protector cover. Those are worth £113 UKP (about $80 USD).

I feel very aware that we are blessed and that many people do not have all the things they want or even the things they need, they don’t have a job or a home or good health or a loving relationship or even food and safety. So thank you Jesus, we do know how blessed we are, and so we are reminded that we need to help others all we can.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV) – In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

 

A wee miracle

What is a miracle. Is it walking on water? Yes. However my minor miracle although water-related, was smaller than that, it was wee.

(Wee is a Scottish-English slang word meaning small and an English slang word meaning urine.)

I was in London. It was 6:30 AM. I had driven 80 miles. I needed to use the bathroom. All the places that might have toilets were closed. But Lo! In yonder side street – urinary salvation!

There in the street for no reason I could fathom other than that I needed it to be there, was a portaloo portable toilet, fully stocked, clean and open. Not associated with any construction-site, event or function.

Perhaps it has materialised like the TARDIS (Dr Who time-machine police call box reference), a sort of Turdis. Whatever, I was grateful and thanked Jesus.

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Missing in Asda

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It looks nice, there is a car park. How inviting…

That Asda store is handy I can buy a soft drink on this sunny day…

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I am not superstitious being a Christian, but I do recognise irony and it was Friday 13th.

I wish to stress that the performance of Asda at Anchor Retail Park I experienced is no reflection on the Anchor Retail Park itself or any other businesses based there. I have been with a friend to another shop on the park in the past (to Currys) and we were fully satisfied.

Asda you have given me an appalling impression of your store and organisation. Not that I have shopped much at Asda’s for decades, because compared to  the supermarkets that I do use, I find Asda stores INCREDIBLY DULL and their prices not special at all, but you have definitely encouraged me to continue going elsewhere.

I called in at the store in London to buy a soft drink on my way by because I was working in London that day. The drink was on offer at £1 (UKP) according to the sign on the shelf. As queues were long I went to the service till to pay. The till operator went away and left a queue of us waiting until we began to comment and talk (cheerfully) among ourselves, and then eventually give up and approach other tills. Another till closed as we approached despite it being busy. The spare member of staff manning the security desk just sat there watching the problems. A robot till user was calling for help but no-one went to help him. Finally I got to the till and was told my drink was not on offer. I took the till assistant  to the shelf (she insisted that the shelf she went to was where the product was, but I then took her to the different shelf where the product actually was) and showed her. She angrily pulled the price ticket off and said that should not be there. I said well your store put it there and I want the goods at the price your store has posted. She grumbled and finally agreed to sell me the item at the posted price. Robot till guy was still calling for help, now in an angry raised voice. Static security assistant guy was still statically observing the chaos. Missing assistants one and two were still missing. I think it took me about 25 minutes to get one carton of drink at the posted price, and to have a customer experience that was about as enjoyable as falling into a thorn bush.

I filled out their online feedback, you can imagine eh?

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The store manager’s name makes a pun – selling. Irony huh.

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NOTICE: I have not been paid any money or given any inducements by any product manufacturer or store to mention the products or stores featured in this blog article. By completing the Asda customer feedback as I did, I do stand to win £1000 (UKP) in their feedback competition draw (or whatever it is) which would be nice but that’s not why I filled it in, but I would accept the money if I won as hey why not they made my hard day of work feel a tiny bit worse so some money to cheer me up would not be turned away. I hope if I do win however, I can spend it at some other stores than Asda.

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Mining tango

Those who know tango’s history, dance, culture and music will know why this music IS utterly and completely tango in many ways despite it not sounding much like what most people think is a tango. Piazzolla is tango’s greatest classical orchestra list, the flute is one of tango’s earliest instruments now seldom used in tango, and the tango owes something to flamenco too. Just enjoy, and if you can dance this, whatever kind of tango you do, then do!

The next video has some tango flamenco crossover, but is more here to show some very well-danced classic tango because it is beautiful to do or just watch.

“What’s going on?”

I’ve had a rough few weeks. I am not writing this to pour out my woes to my small, somewhat unknown to me audience who doubtless don’t read my blog to be made miserable. This is leading somewhere nice so stick with it!

In the last few weeks I have been involved in far more that I would like of very stressful relationships and interactions with people that frankly and plainly are neither easy to get along with, change, or avoid. It has been badly affecting my work life, my church life, my self-esteem, mental health and morale, making me thoroughly miserable, and this has been spilling over into the most important part of my life, which aside from actually knowing the creator of this universe, is my marriage.

The short version of the story of my marriage is that the first girl I met and kissed when I was 17 lasted just one day back then. That one day left me broken-hearted for 38 years wishing I had done differently and married her. I kept the birthday card she gave me when I was 17, I’m in my mid 50’s now. For decades I could not forget her. I went off into a life of several sins that I am not describing today. 38 years on from that a Jesus I didn’t yet know crept up on me unbidden and changed my life. He then arranged to put me on that girl’s doorstep knocking on her door and asking to take her out to a tango dance. All I could do was hope and put my whole life in the hands of the Lord who had saved me and changed me. I did not fall, Jesus did not have to catch me. One thing led to another and I went on to marry the girl I had loved and missed all my life.

Last week I received a completely unexpected payment of some money from somewhere I could not have had imagined I would. It was utterly unpredictable. It was not one of those compensation things that here in the UK everyone knows about. There is no way I could ever have imagined I would be sent this money.

Having the money will quickly solve problem that has been a longstanding annoyance to all concerned and will cause a pleasant surprise for someone when they see money  in their bank that they had not expected. It will also help to resolve in some measure one of the issues that have indirectly been part of the unpleasant mess of the last few weeks. There is also some left for my wife and me once that other matter has been dealt with.

Then later last week I received an email saying that a certain very expensive item of furniture that we need for our house and I have been saving hard for was on offer at a very large discount.

Wow, great! But… I’m asking myself… what’s going on? Life was being horrible and all of a sudden there is unexpected money that is solving problems and then the thing I’m saving for is suddenly within reach. Then I was watching Joyce Meyer and somehow something she said popped the first part of the answer to my “What’s going on?’ question into my head. Grace. Joyce wasn’t talking about Grace, but somehow her words about something else just triggered the answer in my head.

The thing is, and I think I may speak for a lot of people here, one doesn’t think of Grace as being why something nice happened. When the Lord saved and changed me I had no understanding at first that there was a real living Jesus that had come along for no reason I knew of and changed my life in a way (without me having asked Him to) that most people believe is not a possible thing. It took me a long while to figure it out. It was Grace. Now Jesus has come along with some money and a discount on some furniture and I was asking why. Turns out is was Grace.

I, and I suspect most you you dear readers, don’t immediately think of Grace as the explanation when wondering why good things happen, it seems to me because we are not accustomed to being Grace-full people. We do not do many acts of kindness, especially we don’t do many random ones. Jesus however does them again and again all over the planet millions of times to the most unlikely and undeserving people. Because we don’t think and act like Him we don’t ascribe such a motive as to us it is a rarely exercised motive.

God of course solves problems like a Rubik Cube. With one twist several things are answered and pieces you didn’t imagine would be affected or line up suddenly are resolved into good order. He is clever that way. INFINITELY clever. He WILL surprise you. He WILL delight and astound you. He also is generous giving you not only more that you could or would expect, He gives you things you did not imagine or know you wanted until you get them and realise it is the completely perfect gift that was beyond your capacity to dream up. Like when He gave me my wife, the girl I would not have consciously dared dream ever actually could be.

But (He keeps on giving) there’s more. Today is exactly the third anniversary of the day I re-met my wife and asked her to the dance. Today I will be taking my wife to the bank to cause the pleasant surprise for someone else, and then to the furniture shop to buy the item that she has been looking at and hoping to eventually have for several months. This is possible because of the Grace of Jesus. However. like a Rubik Cube He has also arranged it as a gift for us on this important anniversary. The relationship with Jesus is full of Grace which we so easily forget because we simply don’t (sadly) think like Him and be nice to others for no specific reason other than that we should, nearly as much as we should. The relationship is however also personal. Jesus isn’t just a beneficent glow in the sky. He is not a belly buddha you rub for money. Jesus knows you, He knows your life, He knows those you love and He loves them too. He knows how you feel, He knows your secret deepest most hidden hopes and fears. He will help, sometimes with help you need but didn’t ask for, and sometimes He will also give you a personal PERFECT present for an anniversary or special occasion, like the perfect Brother He is, who knows how to make you smile big time.

Thank you Jesus for the perfect anniversary present for my wife and me. Thank you also for what it teaches.

There is another teaching that Jesus wants me to pass on. Just as when good things happen we forget Grace as an explanation, when bad things go on we forget the devil as an explanation. Just as Jesus is personal and real and is behind things that happen, so is the bad guy. When bad things happen, STOP and think about who might be motivating things in others and in yourself, REBUKE Satan, TRUST and ASK Jesus to get you through it, not in the way you think Jesus should, but in the altogether better solving a Rubik’s Cube way that He has planned (which may seem impossible, be hard on you for a long while, and require lots of fortitude and faith).

I waited 38 years to stand terrified of rejection on the doorstep of the girl who became my wife. Jesus did it that way for reasons I am still learning. Today He has arranged the furniture we want as a present and He has sprinkled some goodness for others as wrapping for the present.

Take hope, remember Grace, practice Grace, remember and rebuke Satan when things go wrong. Trust in the Lord who is also your loving brother, build your relationship with the real living Jesus. He is the loveliest person you can have in your life and He is there for you even when you don’t know Him at all, because that is His Grace.

Here is the birthday card my wife gave me when I was 17 years old almost 40 years ago. She still likes being with me, and we like being with Jesus. And here is a picture of the furniture we are buying. Jesus does humour – he just said a dreadful pun – Sofa so good. Nice one J!

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Click the sofa pic to go to the Futon Company furniture shop that make them if you’d like to see more – this blog also deserves filing under the design label as they are really really nice sofas.

By the way, as I stood on that doorstep 3 years ago I said to Jesus “Catch me if I fall.” What do you see in the picture on that card eh? It’s all about trust and faith isn’t it.

I went looking for a nice Rubik Cube vid to illustrate my blog. I found a perfect one, but what’s that I see on her tee shirt – “I am”? Ha Ha Jesus I think that has your name all over it. Yeah I get how clever it was of you to arrange that – like solving a Rubik Cube. What a beautiful guy you are Jesus. Click the vid below to watch, it is lovely. God is great!