Tuesday, 27 May 2008


You may have noticed that I've signed up with Adsense. Just thought I'd try it out for a while. Sadly I perceive a flaw in the 'only ads relating to your blog' theory. So far I have ads for random Christian sects who believe things that are light years away from my faith and for SATs revision techniques and download-able test papers. I am therefore advertising two products which I would dearly love to see disappear into a particularly large dustbin: dodgy theology and pointless exams. Sigh.

Monday, 26 May 2008

'Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel...'

Some days I feel compelled to throw rocks at the Church of England. Today is such a day.

According to The Daily Telegraph's front page report a row has broken out within the Church regarding evangelism to Muslims. The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali has voiced concerns that not enough is being done to bring people of other faiths to Christianity. In response, other church leaders have criticised him for failing to show sensitivity to those following non-Christian religions.

This whole debacle has left me pretty gob-smacked. Follow my logic: Christians believe that the bible is God's true and complete word (don't get me started on 'Christians' who don't believe that!). Within that Word is what is known as The Great Commission, given by Jesus to his disciples following his death and resurrection and just before he ascended into heaven.

'Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshipped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."' Matthew 28: 16-20

'Go and make disciples of all nations'. Not 'go and make disciples of the nations that haven't got their own religion. Please don't step on any toes.' All nations. I think that's pretty clear!
And why are Christians supposed to do this? Because 'whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned'. Mark 16: 16. Christians are called to spread the gospel out of love. Because of our longing for everyone to be saved from God's righteous judgement that is surely coming. I find it crazy that someone would be offended by my telling them about Jesus Christ because I am concerned for their eternal destiny. If someone of another faith evangelised to me in such a way - "I'm telling you this because I care about you and as such have a duty to tell you what I believe" - then I wouldn't be aghast at their arrogance. I would listen and thank them for their concern. I know that it wouldn't change my beliefs but neither would I have a paddy about their intolerance for my religion.

The largest misconception (clearly present in the Telegraph's report) appears to be that the idea that Christians want to evangelise to Musims because we see Islam as a threat to culture and religion. I can't speak for all Christians but I for one want to evangelise to all people (Muslims, Hindus, Jehovah's Witnesses, atheists, agnostics and everyone in between) in order that they might be saved by Jesus Christ and have assurance of a wonderful and eternal life with the Lord after our time on this earth is over.

There is no problem with debate over religion. It is natural and necessary. For some reason this country in particular has become afraid of such discussion. Why can't Christians be bold and tell the world of the amazing sacrifice made for us and of the limitless grace and mercy that God has for his children?

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Slopes and SATs

I hate hills. Or to be more specific; I hate slopes. Hills I just don't bother with. There's no point in trying. Slopes are deceptive. They don't look all that different from friendly flat ground. They lie! The difference they make is ridiculous. I genuinely think that it is at least 10 times more difficult for me to walk a slope than a stretch of bog standard, lovingly tarmacked pavement. I went to the library today; parked me car; walked down the small slope; did my library thang and walked back up said slope. Gah. It's hardly a steep incline but it was enough for my legs to scream and the rest of my body to give up on me for a few minutes. When I rule the world, I shall make everything flat. Well, maybe we can keep some pretty mountains but I'll need to get escalators installed. Although thinking about it, standing up for a long time will still be a problem. Darn it! My amazing plan has failed at the first hurdle.

No matter, I have a new project: the abolition of Sats. For any Americans reading I should clarify that British SATs are not the same as US SATs. I'm not entirely sure what American SATs are (I only have TV and films to go by - they seem to be some sort of test taken before you go to college or university) but they are most definitely different from the British version. SATs are tests taken by kids in England and Wales at the ages of 7, 11 and 14. They are taken in Science, Maths and English and are in theory designed to assess the level of attainment that each child has reached. In practice SATs have become less and less about the children and more and more about each school's position in the national league tables.

I agree that children should be continually assessed and tested up to a point. However, I don't believe that SATs are the way to do that and I certainly have problems with the pressure that schools put on pupils in order to reach their targets. My biggest quibble is with the Key Stage 3 exams taken at the age of 14. They appear to be utterly pointless. Once a child gets to secondary school he or she is given exams in almost every subject at the end of every single year. That is important and necessary; examinations from within the school help teachers to identify problem areas and individuals that are struggling. SATs are useless for this. The teachers don't set the questions nor do they mark the papers. I do not know if the papers are made available to teachers after marking but either way the SATs tests do nothing to improve the teachers' awareness of each child's standard of work.

The SATs system does also include teacher assessments. That's great, but it still doesn't give a real argument for the tests. GCSE and A level results can be used to distinguish the good schools from the bad. SATs results are unnecessary. Teachers end up teaching their pupils how to do well in the exams rather than using that time to inspire young minds. Children are given the impression that these exams are incredibly important when in actual fact they are insanely trivial.

This has all been brought to my mind by the reports in the media that MPs from the Commons School Select Committee are calling for the tests for 11 and 14 year-olds to be scrapped. Hurrah! Sad to say it will probably be a long time before anything is actually done about it, but at least someone has started to take notice. SATs are a waste of time, money and teachers.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

A cut above the rest

I had a haircut today. Not usually a blog worthy event, but the last time I took a trip to see the hairdresser was in September! It occurs to me that the length of my hair can give you a rough idea of what state I'm in health-wise. Here's a handy cut out and keep guide*:

If it's exceptionally long then this is either indicative of a good period of health or of a horrific relapse. Bear with me here! If I'm doing well then I tend to fill my time with things more important/more fun than a haircut - hence the length. However the excess hair can also be a result of being too ill to get to a salon (N.B. I know that salon sounds absurdly over the top but I've already said hairdresser's one too many times).

If my hair is mid-length (i.e. just cut) you can be pretty sure it's because I'm in the process of recovering from a relapse. I'm well enough to get a haircut (which I desperately need because it's exhausting to wash long hair) but not up to doing anything more fun!

Should you struggle to work out which type of long hair you are faced with then simply take a brief look at my skin tone. If I look like Dracula's ailing sister then you can be pretty sure it's the relapse enforced type.

*guide may not actually be cut out and kept.