Thursday, February 25, 2016

Sentimental Creatures

I downloaded an album called Sentimental Creatures by Jess Ray from Noisetrade the other day (currently free!), because the one and only Sara Groves recommended it, and I'm absolutely loving some songs. Listen to this.

On the weekend I had some time to kill before church after some running around and so I ducked into my favourite second-hand bookshop near shop and picked up a nice little old booklet of Francis Thompson's The Hound of Heaven poem, so I am in this place at the moment.

This is also why I would like to be able to play the guitar (the fate of my guitar-playing is a whole other story). And I love finding Christians who can pull of a kind of Christian music like this.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Benefits of Baggage

A photo posted by Alison Payne (@thisfoggyday) on

I really like this article on The Benefits of Baggage over at The Gospel Coalition.

I also like this list of 23 Things That Love Is.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The saving influence of a noble nature

I finished Middlemarch, by George Eliot, last week, one of the grandest of books. Dorothea Brooke is truly a magnificent heroine. (After weeks reading it I miss Dorothea, Ladislaw, Lydgate, Mr Farebrother and the Garths. I love them all. I will not miss Rosamond though – the terror of marrying a person so shallow and inflexible and superior is real.) Some of the portions near the end on Dorothea that I like are these:
But it is given to us sometimes even in our everyday life to witness the saving influence of a noble nature, the divine efficacy of rescue that may lie in a self-subduing act of fellowship. If Dorothea, after her night’s anguish, had not taken that walk to Rosamond – why, she perhaps would have been a woman who gained a higher character for discretion, but it would certainly not have been as well for those three who were on one hearth in Lydgate’s house at half-past seven that evening.
And the closing paragraphs of the book:
Certainly those determining acts of her life were not ideally beautiful. They were the mixed result of a young and noble impulse struggling amidst the conditions of an imperfect social state, in which great feelings will often take the aspect of error, and great faith the aspect of illusion. For there is no creature whose inward being is so strong that it is not greatly determined by what lies outside it. A new Theresa will hardly have the opportunity of reforming a conventional life, any more than a new Antigone will spend her heroic piety in daring all for the sake of a brother’s burial: the medium in which their ardent deeds took shape is for ever gone. But we insignificant people with our daily words and acts are preparing the lives of many Dorotheas, some of which may present a far sadder sacrifice than that of the Dorothea whose story we know.

Her finely-touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday (and a little history of depression glass)

My latest Instagram. I've rather accidentally begun a little collection of depression glass vases, with the biggest one in the picture being purchased on Friday from The Green Shed (a shop that sells wares taken to the local rubbish tips), where I also found the smaller two. Only very recently was I made aware of the existence of depression glass; glass that was manufactured very cheaply during the depression and is often full of flaws (eg, the biggest one is all uneven around the rim), but is now somewhat collectible (and is probably recognisable from many a Grandma's house). Apparently you could buy a piece for the price of a loaf of bread (from here):
At a time when a loaf of bread cost about a nickel, frugal shoppers could also buy a piece of Depression glass for around the same price ...

Depression glass also made its way into American homes through the issuance of premiums. Sellers or manufacturers would offer a free gift with the purchase of a certain dollar amount of goods or a specific product, and penny-pinching ladies took full advantage of these offerings.

Glass was plucked from an oatmeal box one week, from a detergent box the next. Sometimes gas stations would throw in a punch bowl and cups with an oil change. Movie theaters got in on the action offering a piece of glass with a ticket to a Saturday matinee.
I'll try to halt this particular collection at this point, as I find the notion of "collecting" anything a serious trap for materialism, but The Green Shed donates all proceeds to charities so I justify a little random something every now and then.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home

Sometimes I write a post that seems a little personal or a little moody, then I think, that is rather embarrassing, I will just shuffle it down the page as quickly as possible with another post. So, here is that shuffling post.

We are working through the book of Romans at church at the moment. Once upon a time I did the evening lecture course at Moore Theological College on Romans, but it is astonishing how quickly one can forget. So I revisited my books on Romans and thought it would be a good opportunity to read something to delve a little deeper. I picked up a book I bought some years ago on Romans Chapter 8, called How The Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home, by Derek Thomas. It’s basically a commentary on this one chapter, one of my favourite chapters in the bible.

I haven’t finished it yet, but it’s good. Sometimes human love dramas can seem so frail and fraught, so thwarted by misunderstandings and failed expectations and lost opportunities or even other people’s actions, that we can feel that the whole business is all very tenuous and insecure. But here is something from the chapter on our Union with Christ (Romans 8:35-39):
Complete Security

The theme that Paul now reflects upon is our complete security: no one and nothing can sever us from the arms of God’s embrace. Peter reflected on it, too, affirming that Christians have an “inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven” (1 Peter 1:4).

How can we be sure of God’s keeping? Because He loves us—a love, as J.I. Packer writes in Knowing God, that “is a function of omnipotence, and has at its heart a almighty purpose to bless which cannot be thwarted.”

God’s love, then, is wedded to sovereign power and sovereign will. We say, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and when the will in question is God’s, the way is certain. God wills to save us, and bring us home, and nothing can stop Him.


So, it’s Valentine’s Day. A day which has been indistinguishable from every other day of the year for the duration of my existence, today being no exception.

I did, however, get my predictions for the year a little wrong, as last Sunday a fellow at church asked me if I wanted to see a movie and gave me his phone number. He has occasionally cornered me and mentioned coffee in the past and so on. The problem is that he is intellectually impaired and it is sadly not a real possibility. So I am still working out how to best manage it. Seriously though, in this case I was pleased with the arrangement as I didn’t want to give him my phone number, but why is it that men nowadays give me their number or tell me to call, rather than calling themselves? I’d have more respect for a man who made the call himself than for a man who told me to. And I wouldn’t call in any case. If a man wants to use the phone to bring about these things, he is going to have to use his own phone, because I don’t like calling and I don’t want to call a man who hasn’t called me first. The iron has entered my soul (do you know, apparently that phrase entered the English language through Coverdale’s sometimes erroneous translation of the Psalms? You can read it on this blog, though that blogger also writes “like most beauty it is utterly wrong”, which lessens my inclination to believe him) and I am not taking that sort of initiative, no matter whether the man has told me I can or not.

I guess I can always hope there’ll be a third time, coming from a mature Christian man I can actually accept. But, I didn’t come here to write about romance (and I should refrain lest a man think anything he does will find its way to this blog, the reality being that I’d be reluctant to show evidence of a relationship on social media till it was a very sure thing and that was mutually agreed upon, otherwise there is much to be removed or pained about if it doesn’t work out). I was actually just going to share a picture, which is a print from an old black and white glass plate slide that belonged to my Dad. We don’t actually know where he got it from. I took it in last weekend and asked for a 10” x 12” print, without thinking about how that would suit the dimensions of the slide, so they cropped it a little, which is a shame, but I still like it.

I really should get back to writing about books. I am currently plodding my way through a re-reading of George Eliot's Middlemarch, which is such a magnificent epic and I have marked many pages.

A photo posted by Alison Payne (@thisfoggyday) on

Monday, February 01, 2016

Second guessing

Not enough has been said here about Sara Groves’s latest album Floodplain, but I have it on rotation in my car and some of the songs are going deeper in.

One song that didn’t initially appeal to me, as the music style doesn’t altogether light my fire, and I am not sure whether it’s not a little incongruous with the lyrics, is Second Guess Girl. I like the lyrics though, and was thinking about them on the way home from church last night. It’s a song about how difficult it can sometimes be to do the right and good thing in trying to love our sisters and brothers.

There are times where what I thought was a loving action went very badly, and if you get that wrong once or twice, well it becomes easier to do nothing, and maybe nothing is the loving course. And sometimes for all our actions or our words, of various kinds, a situation is simply no closer to a resolution or change than it was years ago, so is there wisdom in any more words or actions. And you only have to glance at social media to see that what one Christian considers is the right response to a problem is what another Christian considers the wrong one.

And if you are an intuitive person who can’t not read in and around the words and the actions, it's only harder, because what people say they want or mean is not always what they want or mean. But how can you be sure? And even if you are sure, should you wait till it's said or done? Guessing is fraught.

The song doesn’t actually give an answer to the problem, but to say that sooner or later we’ll know more about it. Maybe that will be this side or heaven, maybe it will the other. In the meantime though it's worth asking the question, and asking for wisdom (James 1:5).

Picture snitched from here.

Second Guess Girl

is it time for a speech or for silence
are you calling for peace of defiance
is this darkening counsel or wisdom
are we all perpetrators or victims?

is this childlike simple rote history
or complex deciphering mystery
is this blessing or ill gotten wealth
am I speaking for God or myself?

it’s a hard world for a second guess girl
with one hand and another
i try to take it in but it leaves me spinning
trying to love my sister and brother

is this confidence born of a calling
is this ego and pride before falling
are we standing to fight for what’s right
are we angry and hopelessly blind?

are we companions of Job or prophets of God
are we not of this world or just painfully odd
is it time for free grace or tough love
or a little of all the above?

it’s a hard world for a second guess girl
with one hand and the other
i try to take it in and it leaves me spinning
trying to love my sister and brother

sooner or later we’ll know more about it
sooner or later we’ll understand why
we’ll understand why

it’s a hard world for a second guess girl
with one hand and another
i try to take it in and it leaves me spinning
trying to love my sister and brother

Sara Groves