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Year of the Dog

It’s not going to happen. Even in this Year of the Dog. Even though my daughter drags me again past the ‘little doggies’ in the window at the local pet shop. You know, the ones with the eyes that are big, brown, and hypnotic. (The secret of resistance, I found, is to avoid eye contact…

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Given the boot

You know you’re old when you go to a museum and see in a display case something you used to wear. I had the unfortunate experience last week while showing a new colleague around our local house of hallmarks. There it was. In all its former glory. A football boot. The black leather type, boot…

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Sculpted by whom?

I never get it. I’m reading this terrific book called Touch by David Linden that explores the incredible microworld of the skin. And after detailing some exquisite biology, he says that ‘we have an array of many types of touch sensors in the skin, each a beautiful, specialized micromachine sculpted by evolution to extract different…

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Hark! The herald angles!

I’ve lost count of the number of times at Christmas that I’ve sung the mathematical version of the famous carol, ‘Hark! The herald angels sing’. Proof-reading is a notoriously difficult discipline, but inevitably the angels turn into angles, and the spell-check can’t spot the difference between a cute cherub and an acute angle. But what…

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A Book of Remembrance

What a comfort to know that God hears the groans of the saints when they see His laws voted against and trampled upon. And what a double consolation to know that He writes their names in His Book of Remembrance, not because He is in any danger of forgetting them, but because He ‘honours those…

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Picture perfect

I made sure when I planted my blueberry tree, that I planted the little plastic picture right beside it in the pot, so that the bush could see what it was meant to look like and what sort of big, luscious, plentiful fruit that it was meant to bear. (I just wish that the boys…

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The Guy with the Fist

Tough guy! William Farel. The Rocky of the Reformation. He’s the one on the Geneva Wall whom the sculptors decided to depict with a Bible in one hand and a clenched fist in the other. Says that respected church historian Philip Schaff: “Farel’s work was destructive rather than constructive. He could pull down, but not…

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The Cone of Silence

I always thought that the famous Cone of Silence was one of the goofy inventions devised by the creators of Get Smart. But having just finished a spy book on the Penkovsky case, (a Russian working for both the CIA and MI6 during the Cold War), I now realise that the American Embassy in Moscow…

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Stumbling in the light

John Newton (1725 – 1807) wrote many things, that many Christians have found pastorally helpful. He is certainly best remembered for his classic hymn Amazing Grace, and also for his long sermon series that employed the Biblical texts used in the composition of Handel’s Messiah. But his parish letters are also full of godly wisdom…

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Plato casts his vote

Imagine if you could start a city from scratch – not just its physical structures and engineering, but its social forms and paradigms . Many have tried and have created all sorts of utopic visions. Plato once tried it too. In his Laws, he articulated the creation of a new city on Crete called Magnesia….

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