Piers Corbyn predicts mini ice age

Have you come across Piers Corbyn? He is reputed to be more accurate at long term weather forecasting than meteorologists, and accurately predicted the very cold weather in Europe at the end of 2010. For his forecasting he uses activity and cycles of the sun and moon, which he says dominate our weather patterns.

He claims that the famous “hockey stick” graph that “shows” that temperatures are increasing fast because of increases in carbon dioxide levels ignores temperatures in the middle ages that were higher than now. It also ignores the fact that despite rising carbon dioxide levels temperatures have been dropping over the last ten years.

There was a mini ice age a few hundred years ago when temperatures dropped by a few degrees Celsius and he predicts that the same will happen in 2035. There is some risk that this could trigger a full ice age, as we are overdue for one.

Interesting stuff! Why would (other) scientists falsify data? Take a look at Piers' Corbyn's Weatheraction website, his page on climate change which has some informative links, and an article summarising this from the Daily Telegraph of 19th December 2010.


Materialism, by John O’Donohue

John says: “All materialism – be it for money, power, possession, or people – has to do with an epistemology of quantity… the mistaken belief that, through an accumulation of quantity, you can settle the task of your own identity.

I'd like to write about what I like about this, but is seems that any attempt by me to to so would merely detract from the depth and insight of this statement. I've just been catching up on my reading of the Church Times (14/1/2011) which includes a never-before-published interview with John (who died three years ago) by Martin Wroe. That is where I found this quote and some other interesting ones.

I also like John's belief in blessing: the “speech-act” of one person speaking a blessing over another person. He sees this as something anyone can do, which “might be the coolest thing of all. It has a democracy and equality about it, a sense of well-wishing that is concerned more with the destiny of someone rather than their destination.”

Priest, poet, philosopher, speaker and author: his most famous book may be Anam Cara (Gaelic for soul friend) which was published in 2007. Full interview here.

Epistemology, noun, the branch of philosophy dealing with the study of knowledge.

Earlier article on this blog about John O'Donohue.

Does the Queen believe the Bible can still bring harmony to her kingdom, or is ‘sport’ the best she can offer?

Is it my imagination, or was the invisible ink glowing brightly in today's Queen's Speech? I'm not sure how good I am at 'reading between the lines' but it seemed to me that there was a kind of gulf between (1) the Queen's praise for the action of her prececessor King James in 1604 to commission a fresh translation of the Bible to bring “harmony” to his kingdom (which newly included England & Wales as well as Scotland) and (2) her examples of the way that sport is today “one of the most powerful ways” to bring harmony – because although there is opposition the opponents have to respect one another. (And it can help with the rehabilitation of our soldiers injured in places like Afghanistan too.)

I can see benefits of sport (like all good things, in moderation) but I find myself noticing that although the King James Bible was a momentous seven year scholarly project to bring harmony to the kingdom, the Queen did not mention the possiblity that a “most vivid translation of the scriptures” might bring harmony to our nation today. I find myself wondering whether this thought had not occurred to her, or whether it was 'between the lines': a hope that she had very much in her mind but did not speak for some reason.

I find myself admiring the way that King James had a vision of the Bible as a unifying text. Good leadership is about presenting people with a vision to aspire to and to work towards, and helping them to step towards it, and he sought to do that. I sometimes feel that the politicians who lead our country today see their role in a far to narrow way to do with juggling purse strings (taxes and how to spend them) and passing legislation – instead of presenting and building a unifying vision. I also wonder where in our de facto constitution – with its curious balance of power between government and monarch – the mantle of “visionary leader” rests.

Constitutionally the Queen uniquely holds together the Church (of England) and secular government because she is the head of both. Part of what is needed for effective national leadership is a common direction of religious and secular leadership (as demonstrated by King James) while government and church at the moment seem to be at each others' throats (at least in public if not in private).

The trouble with people for whom harmony is most important is that they are sometime not willing to say what needs to be said for fear of upsetting people!

The King James Bible, also known as the Authorised Version, was commissioned in 1604 and published in 1611. So it's 400th anniversary will be celebrated next year in 2011. I'm sure there are a lot of groups which will take an interest in this. One that I have noticed is Biblefresh which seeks to encourage a fresh interest in the Bible during this anniversary.

Full text of the Queen's speech care of the BBC here.

“To maintain cohesion, a nation must tell its own story over and over.”

This is a quote from author John Banville,* and it makes pretty good sense. Modern western society values fresh discovery and independent thought, but that needs to be balanced with a memory of truths already learned.

This is one of the difficulties that British society has right now, which are spoken of as a need to describe (or invent) what 'being British' is all about.  To what extent is being British about (say) a culture of discovery, tolerance, and openness to new ideas and cultural values; and to what extent is it to do with a common story?

I agree with John: building society is not about reinventing what it means to be British, but is about being able to tell our story – a story which is of course added to day by day.

The British story is in part a Christian story. One of the strengths of the Christian Bible as a religious text it is that it is largely story. Its narrative brings cohesion to those who see it as 'their book.' While all stories are told from the point of view of the story teller, the Bible has the integrity to convey its story 'warts and all.' It tells not only of success and good deeds but of mistakes and failure as well. We need to have the courage to do the same with our own (British) story.

*According to The Week 4th December 2010, quoting the Independent.

An excellent read – Sebastian Faulks “A Week in December”

You need to add this to your Christmas reading list. Sebastian Faulks is a skilled author and I have enjoyed most of the novels of his that I have read.

This one describes a collection of intersecting lives in London that paint a rich, intriguing, and insightful picture of the medley of personalities and cultures that make up our society today. These range from obsessive financiers to suicide bombers. Just read it…

The alien cat can’t get in!

There was a special moment last night as we saw a pair of yellow eyes, surrounded by black fur, peering through the cat flap into our kitchen. It can't get in anymore!

We've just replaced our cat flap with a SureFlap® cat flap which uses cats' microchips to decide which to allow in. The alien cat had been eating as much cat food as our other two cats combined – and that's just in our house! Relief!

Impressed by Pope’s speech

The Pope's recent visit to the UK seems to have captured the imagination of many people and surprised the British press who found that their negative take on the event was not in tune with all public feeling. So, although it's taken me a while, I wanted to check out what he actually said.

His speech to politicians at Westminster Hall is worth reading. I like it because he puts across the importance of the Christian faith as a contributor to political debate in a very reasonable and reasoned way which I think only people who are unreasonable could reject! Take a few minutes to read it yourself. I read it in the Church Times, or it's here at the BBC.

As my Christian faith develops I find myself increasingly expecting the faith to seem reasonable to others, not just impressive on the basis of (say) experience of miracles. Afer all, since Richard Hooker, the Anglican Church has sought to weave together the authority of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason.

I also found it interesting that during the Pope's visit those opposed to the “intolerance” of the Roman Catholic Church seem at times to have made themselves look intolerant. (See my earlier article.)

Danger at the roadside, or hoax email?

If you want to stop for people at the side of the road when you are driving, especially if you are a woman, is it safe?

There's an email doing the rounds at the moment. I'm not sure I want to live in a society where we distrust and never help everyone, yet common sense is needed. It's also useful to realise there are sites out there that try to work out whether such emails are hoaxes.

Take a look here at the email and the comment on it, and make your own judgement.