Monthly Archives: December 2006

Lack of hidden depth revealed

I have just had an invitation to a party from my "boss" (superintendent of the Nene Valley Circuit). In it he writes:

Can you bring a game, quiz or something really silly (not too silly, Dave) that all can share in?

Oop’s looks like my shallow personality has been fully discovered.

Still it does have it’s advantages, no need to pretend any more :-) Also I did meet Jane for the first time when I was organising silly games for MethSoc at Manchester University. I got the executive committee playing catch with raw eggs right across the room ;-) Maybe I won’t take that idea to this party.

A volunteers view of The Whitechapel Mission

When I needed a
neighbour were you there?

By a volunteer from Raunds Methodist Church.

On a damp miserable
foggy morning we set off from Raunds (at 3:30am!) to bring some brightness and
warmth to those on the streets of London.

We arrived at the Whitechapel Mission just after
5:25 and the reason we were there was immediately apparent with
someone curled up in a sleeping bag on the pavement outside.

Having got into the
mission and met Tony the resident manager we set about buttering
toast and bread and cooking an endless amount of bacon, sausages,
beans, tomatoes, hash browns, mushrooms and eggs (fried or
scrambled?)

The doors opened at 6am
and there was an immediate queue for endless teas and coffees as well
as towels, razors, toothbrushes and toothpaste. CCTV is present
throughout the building even in the washrooms/toilets due to problems
with self harming and drug abuse which I suppose highlight a lot of
the underlying issues with the homeless in any town/city.

Breakfast started at
8am and it was non-stop until 10am. Then there was an hour of giving
out clothes, hats, scarves, and shoes before it was time for them to
go back onto the streets and for us to clean up. As Tony pointed out
today is not so bad because Crisis at Christmas starts this afternoon
meaning there are alternatives to the streets but only over the
“festive” period.

The image that will
stay with me I suppose is of those that slept on the floor of the
hall and on the chairs with their heads on their arms whilst the
mission was open. This is because is some areas of London – such
as Westminster – by laws have been passed that prohibit people
sleeping on the streets and wardens actively move people on during
the night or they are arrested. They also feel safer sleeping at a
table than on the streets where they are at risk of muggings and
robbery.

Tony said the greatest
gift we gave today was not the food or the clothing but the smiles
and recognition that these are fellow human beings who are important.

Today we were there to
be a neighbour will you be able to say the same?

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Note from Dave.

See 42: Counted out and back again for more photos.

Counted out and back again

Just back from cooking breakfast at The Whitechapel Mission (see 42: Whitechapel again) counted 9 out from Raunds at 3:30am and 9 back to Raunds at 2pm. We cooked something like 190 sausages, I lost count of everything else. So we provided a welcome, a friendly smiling face, a good meal, clothing, toiletries and shelter to people who are homeless and rootless in London this Christmas.

Remember that the Whitechapel Mission is part of the work of the Methodist Church and is the only centre for homeless people in London open all year, including every day through Christmas and the New Year.

Here are some pictures of our team.

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With our certificate after we had finished clearing up.

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5 loaves of bread to butter and 5 to toast and then butter – all while the minister takes photos (and gets no respect for it)

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Me taking a picture of Tony taking a picture of me while Lucy actually does some work.

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See I knew I did some work!

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Scrambled Egg, Fried Egg, plus extra sausages, bacon, burgers, hash browns, mushrooms, beans all on the go at the same time plus non stop washing up.

Start at 5:45am finish at 12:30pm with 90 miles driving before and after.

Christian Protesting HowTo. Links to start the thinking process

Some links to start building up from this comment in the area of  "Christian Protesting. HowTo needed".

More examples of good practice sought. Plus I guess we should also have a collection of bad practice too. Post them in comments or trackbacks or by linking to this post or by email and I’ll include them in a series leading as part of exploring

Whitechapel again

We are off to the Whitechapel mission again in the morning. Last year I managed a blog entry before leaving: 42: Just got up and it is 3:25 am. No promises that I’ll manage the same again this year.

Like last year there are 9 of us going from Raunds, more than half have not been before. This year I had to turn another 5 or so down so I’ll try and sort out an extra date in the spring with Tony.

Just about managed to squeeze all the stuff people have collected into the 2 cars leaving enough space (ish) for the passengers.

A quick check on google reveals that I have mentioned Whitechapel quite a few times. Good thing too as it is such a critically important work. Notice that Whitechapel is still the only homeless centre open right through Christmas and the New Year (as well as the rest of the year).

Last year we drove through lots of snow and a blizzard. This year looks like being the year of Fog. If you are awake between 3:30am and 5:45am GMT why not pray for safe travel for us. Thanks!

PS: I suspect that actions like this are part of what I refer to in this discussion.

Trike update for 2007

More updates to the best trikes in the world from ICE at What’s New – New in 2007.

Definitely  something to drool over, especially when it is icy outside and you had another fall off a two wheeler.

PS Just realised after a quick search that I did not blog about my embarrassing fall on my Challenge Fujin when riding around Grafham Water a month or so ago. Trikes are nice as well as great fun to ride.

PPS I like this trike site InnerTuba. I fancy touring round the country after retirement. Maybe a challenge to preach in every Methodist Circuit travelling by human power – or something equally stupid.

Hermeneutics

Principles of Hermeneutics and Personal Bias » Strangers and Exiles raises some interesting questions:

My understanding of hermeneutics is that it refers to a process of scriptural interpretation and that, first and foremost, the goal is to
discover the truth. In other words, God intended to convey His
revelation in terms of that are specific and understandable

My position that I will attempt to demonstrate below is that 2e stretches the definition of hermeneutics too far and makes claims for it that do not hold. He then combines this with a neat demonstration of the  hermeneutic circle where his presuppositions lead him astray.

So why do I say the definition of hermeneutics is stretched too far. First you might like to see read some of Hermeneutics – Wikipedia (more expansion of this would be good). Anyway:

  • Hermeneutics itself is not just about scriptural interpretation (that is Biblical Hermeneutics which is a specialised subject). That is pedantry on my part as clearly 2e has in mind Biblical Hermeneutics rather than simply Hermeneutics.
  • My understanding is that making the claim that hermeneutics has a goal of discovering the truth goes beyond it’s scope and is too restrictive. Hermeneutics is more about seeking how to understand, how to interpret rather than about getting to a "correct interpretation" which is still a far cry from "discovering the truth". My IVP Dictionary of Theology says:

Indeed, whether we should speak of an interpretation as ‘correct’, ‘productive’, ‘valid’ or ‘responsible’ remains still a hermeneutical question.

We would need to go into the works of Schleiermacher, Heidegger, Childs and the like to really get at this definition.

  • Apparently Emilio Betti argues that hermeneutics is vital to the well being of society and that all interpretation is open to correction and revision which should promote greater tolerance between persons (from same IVP Theological dictionary).

We then have the neat demonstration of a hermeneutic circle that starts with two logical leaps. The first that hermeneutics si to discover truth. The second comes from jumping from hermeneutics is about discovering the truth to "God intended to convey His
revelation in terms of that are specific and understandable". That leap comes from 2e’s own preconceptions about the Bible, about God, about the nature of revelation etc. It does not come from any commonly held definition of hermeneutics. I do not claim that this makes it wrong as a statement. I do claim that it makes the claim relational.

In other words "God intended to convey His
revelation in terms of that are specific and understandable" becomes shorthand for "Everything in my life experience, my own core beliefs, what I already know of Scripture, of God, the world, of Wayne Grudem, Bible Translation and interpretation, of Suzanne means that I approach this discussion believing that God intended to convey His
revelation in terms of that are specific and understandable".

Thus I claim that we cannot say "God intended to convey His
revelation in terms of that are specific and understandable" is some kind of objective fact that will be true for all people at all times and places. Now I don’t believe that 2e is trying to say that. However, the danger of not actually and explicitly recognising some of these boundaries is that we jump to conclusions and generalities that are just not true.

So this is where we get the circle. 2e approaches a text/discussion with his own world view and that world view influences his interpretation which informs his world view, there is no end to the cycle in terms of start or finish. There is no problem with any of that, it is normal, natural and inescapable (but in this case unrecognised and undeclared).

The problem is if we go on to say that Suzanne approaches the text/discussion with a bias but fail to recognise that we have done exactly the same thing but with a different (and somewhat opposite bias)

What sort of problem? Well firstly, if you start with a bias towards Wayne Grudem then it is an easy mistake to see that Suzanne has criticised him in comments and that he responded and then to take another article and assume it is by Suzanne when in fact the link to a post in

In particular, Suzanne McCarthy of Better Bibles Blog repeatedly expresses criticism of  Grudem’s thesis in his book  Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism that egalitarianism presents a danger to the church which ultimately undermines the authority of scripture.

is actually a link to a post by Peter Kirk. I do suspect that there is an implicit tendency within someone who follows Wayne Gruden to assume that criticisms are by women who don’t like what Wayne Grudem has to say about their role and authority.

Secondly, when we start with a view on the authority of women and what the Bible says about it then we start preparing a petard on which to hoist ourselves:

If we impose some external belief system or biases on the task of
understanding scripture, the result is a predisposition to go to great
lengths in finding evidence to support or defend a bias (depending upon
the commitment to the bias). When I read McCarthy’s blog and her
critiques of Grudem, it quickly becomes apparent that the obvious
readings of Biblical texts regarding the roles of men and women in the
church are not to her liking and that she imposes a culturally informed
hermeneutic on her interpretation of such texts.

So the criticism is that Suzanne (well Peter and Suzanne) are taking their bias and due to that are not taking the obvious reading of a Biblical text. Oop’s there was the bear trap. Let us consider the text in question. Romans 16:7

The problem for 2e is that the Wayne Grudem view is not the obvious reading of this text. "Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who
are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me." (KJV) the obvious meaning is what Wayne Grudem with his own pre-conceptions cannot handle is that Junia is an apostle ergo women can have positions of authority in the Church.

The bear trap is that Wayne Grudem has spent so much time telling us to use plain and obvious readings of the text that when he does something completely different himself we are sucked along with him.

2e, all I want to say is, do not be so convinced that Suzanne and Peter present too many complicated issues as they approach Scripture and teaching in a rigorous way that you miss the point that in this case Wayne Grudem who talks a great deal about the plain and simple reading of scripture has done exactly the opposite.

Finally, I want to end with a challenge. If it is true that

God intended to convey His
revelation in terms of that are specific and understandable

then why did he do such a bad job of it? Why can’t we agree on issues that Jesus taught about such as pacifism, poverty, justice? Where is you evidence that this is what God intended to do? As you look through the history of Christian thought what supports this conclusion? Does this teaching of Jesus meet this claim (think parables)? How do you fit this with 2 Peter 3:16? What does this statement say about your understanding of who God is as creator of the universe and your place within it?

Of course all these questions are valid challenges to me, my position and thinking on these issues as well and I make no claim to have the exclusive truth.