Build your own Rainbow

Lately I've been meeting people whose jobs are coming to an end prematurely through redundancy or retirement. They are looking for new work, and are wanting to work through what their skills and interests are and what work they might do instead of just looking for “more of the same.”

I'd like to recommend the one workbook that I've found to be most helpful. It guides the reader through analysis of their interests, skills, values, and the kind of work they enjoy; helps them to map these to possible job choices; and provides support for problems along the way. It is also great for young people starting work for the first time.

Some people are happy working through such a process on their own, other people prefer accompaniment on the journey. As a coach I can provide that.

Now in its 4th edition (2009), it is Build Your Own Rainbow – a workbook for career and life management – by Barrie Hopson and Mike Scally and published by Lifeskills international. There are other books out there too: this is my favourite. You are welcome to add your suggestions as comments to this blog! You may want to support your local bookshop, however here's the Amazon link.

Oil spills: there’s more to be done

Perhaps we should be thanking God that, after the enormous spill of oil, scientists seem to be saying that less damage has been done than they expected to the marine ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico. Perhaps this is because the sea and its wildlife is more resilient than is generally appreciated.

Today's news is that BP have finally capped that leak in the Gulf, but in my mind is still John Vidal's article of a few months back. He speaks of how “more oil is spilled in the Nigerian delta every year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico spill.”

Is firms' duty of care dependent on how loud the local people shout, or how rich they are?

(Facebook users can find John's article on Facebook too.)

Chile, the Pope, and British Atheism

During his state visit to Britain just now, the Pope has expressed concern that British values and way of life could be eroded harmfully by increasing aggressive atheism. His comments are informed both by his religious beliefs and by his formative childhood experiences in atheist Nazi Germany. So he has authority in what he says. It behoves any host to listen politely to their invited guest, so I wonder what we construe in the vitriolic opposition to his visit by Britons who like to be identified by their membership of humanist organisations. (Are they atheist?). They criticise the behaviour of the Pope, but are we to discern their values from their behaviour also?

I read a moving article* today of the plight of the miners trapped underground long-term in Chile. They see themselves as being on a long shift (much longer than the half-day shift they expected). They've appointed people to particular tasks. One of the miners is now pastor, and part of his responsibility is to lead daily prayers and to prepare sermons. It appears that these are recorded, and published, although I haven't found them online. I presume that the miners are Roman Catholic, as about 90% of the country are, and so part of the Pope's extended flock.

This leads me to my test of whether Britain is aggressively atheist and whether that is harmful to society.

If there were a similar disaster in Britain, would the victims appoint a pastor from among themselves? How do you feel about that? Do you think that any atheists in the group would oppose such an appointment aggressively? If the atheists did act in this way, do you think it would be harmful?

(Comments welcome, as always!) 

* The Week, quoting an article in The Guardian newspaper.

Do physicists exist?

Do physicists exist? It could be old college rivalry between engineers and physicists that makes me ask this, or it could just make a change from tired questions such as “does Stephen Hawking believe in God?” or “does God exist?”

Professor Hawking's latest book (The Grand Design, published by Bantam Press) makes people ask such questions, and wonder whether he, or science, seeks to or can ever prove the existence (or non-existence) of God.

I'm very impressed by an article by Revd Dr Keith Ward in the Church Times (10th September 2010). I'll attempt to summarise it, but you'd be better off just reading it!

He laments Hawking's naive portrayal of the views of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish theologians about creation. Hawking portrays them, Ward writes, as believing that God “lights the blue touch paper” to get the universe started, and that the universe was created just for the sake of human beings. Thus Ward sees that Hawking misses the similarities between traditional theology and modern cosmology.

He writes, “The Christian doctrine of creation is not that God sat about for ages wondering whether or not to create a universe, then one day decided that he would, and started it off. The doctrine of creation, as it is found in Augustine and virtually all other significant theologians, is that the whole of space-time is dependent upon a non-spatio-temporal reality. If God brings time into being, God does not do so in time; for time does not exist until God brings it about. The timeless reality of God timelessly generates the whole of time and space. God can generate many different space-times, and Augustine mentioned this possibility in The City of God.

I like this: God (as far as creation is concerned) is outside time, so limiting God to acting inside time with a “blue touch paper” idea is naive, and also (Ward writes) it doesn't make sense to conceive of Him thinking, wondering, or deciding, and there is much in common therefore between theology and what Hawking writes. In the rest of his article he points out our belief that the universe was brought about intentionally by God – we are not an accident – and that God creates and explains physics (and physicists) and not the other way around!

Revd Dr Keith Ward is a former Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford. Read his article here.

Rest from Terror

A while ago I picked up the book Terror-rest by Ed Morris. I finally got round to reading it, and it's worth it. He wrote it in the aftermath of the Lockerbie plane crash, 9/11, and 7/7 terror attacks to seek to defuse some of the fear following on from these events. How can people find safety in a world where they fear violence?

The book draws on Psalm 91 in the Bible, seeing its words as an invitation not just to people who would normally read the book, but to all those who would draw protection from God. The book is full of real life examples of people who have found an antidote to fear or violence, including some from the Armed Forces. (Psalm 91 is sometimes described as the Soldier's Psalm.) He looks in depth at each verse of the poem, so technically this is a commentary on Psalm 91 and a very readable one, and he encourages his readers to travel with him through the short book in small bites over a month. He's also set up a web site for comments from readers and more background at

I haven't finished reading the book yet, so I may add to this article. However I'm already impressed by a sense of God's care and presence, and experiencing greater calm!

More details. Buy from Amazon UK.

Thames and Severn Canal walk

Toni and I did a walk near Stroud and Cirencester today. It was 11 miles, which was longer than usual for us – perhaps in training for our upcoming trip to Nepal! It's been a dry sunny day, which was great for walking, and part of our route was along the derelict Thames and Severn Canal which I'd never heard of before. It opened in 1789 and closed in 1911 as costs of maintenance outweighed income. We started our walk in Sapperton, where the canal enters a 3109 metre tunnel – one of the longest in the country.

Steph Hovey Clifford Village Band

Over the August Bank holiday we enjoyed a trip to the Limetree Festival (of music) near Leeds, where the highlight was Steph performing with the Clifford Village Band.

They expected to perform one set, but were asked to perform another. I recorded five videos of the band and here's one of them (it's on Facebook too).

To see them all, go to my YouTube site (Look at my uploads, or the Clifford Village Band playlist.)