Sunday, 28 September 2008

The Parry Family

My mother was a Parry from Garndolbenmaen in north Wales. Yesterday, Marie and I went to the family reunion in Blaenau Ffestiniog. The journey was long. It was all the longer because I had not made it for a little while.

My cousin John from Nottingham had found out that our Uncle William had most probably been the victim of friendly fire during World War I. I knew he had been killed just before the time my mother had been born.

For years, apparently, my grandmother had taken the telegram at its word: he was only 'missing and presumed dead'. Her first language of course was not English. I wondered what it all meant to her. Poor woman!

'Friendly fire' just makes a waste a greater waste. It also makes the story very, very sad. I thought a lot about them all today as I lead worship in Efail Isaf Chapel. It's always a joy to be there.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

The Presidential Debate I

I have just watched the first presidential debate. Overall, I'm relieved that those who wish to be President can stand up to such an ordeal. Both held their own in terms of debate. As CNN put it, there was some sparring but no body blows.

If this was a draw I think Obama was the overall winner. This was the debate at which McCain should have done well with all his experience.

One thing I did notice. McCain could hardly look at Obama. That worries me a little.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Hope Eternal

Last night I went to Chapter in Cardiff to see Karl Francis' film Hope Eternal.

I have already sent my Welsh language review to BBC Cymru'r Byd. The film showed all the cruelty, contrasts and hope of those who have lived through the horrific experiences of the Congo and Zimbabwe.

What I really liked was the honest underling of the Christian faith both from the perspective of African Christians and a Welsh Chapel going doctor, Evan. Brilliant film, but be prepared to see God kissing a very ugly world in love.

You can also see Shane Williams playing Shane Williams at the end.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Gorilla of Greed

This morning I got a Daily Mirror. On the front page it ran a piece on Dick Fuld which it claims earned £22 million last year and who allegedly rejected several bids to save his ailing Wall Street bank giant because he wanted to force the sale price up.

Whatever the truth of the allegation, most of us will suffer as a consequence of the Lehman Brothers' demise. Today was not a good day for the world's economies. It was all about paying the price for bad debts.
It was a discussion point this morning when some of Wales' key faith communities met at the offices of the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Cardiff. The world's leading faith communities are not comfortable with benefiting from debt and gambling. Barack Obama said it well of America today:

'It happened in the 1980s, when we loosened restrictions on Savings and Loans and appointed regulators who ignored even these weaker rules. Too many S&Ls took advantage of the lax rules set by Washington to gamble that they could make big money in speculative real estate. Confident of their clout in Washington, they made hundreds of billions in bad loans, knowing that if they lost money, the government would bail them out. And they were right. The gambles did not pay off, our economy went into recession, and the taxpayers ended up footing the bill. '
According to one poll tonight (Hotline/FD Tracking), Obama has a lead of 4% over McCain. I think it was Clinton who said: "It's the economy stupid".

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Congratulations Scarlets

Scarlets are no longer the Llanelli Scarlets but they did well tonight to beat Connacht 45:3. It's about time they became a genuine Welsh rugby region.

I have to say congratulations to Liverpool for beating my beloved Manchester United 2:1. It hurts so much though. I burnt off some 500 calories in the gym watching them play today so some good came of it.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Well Done Wales

I have been away for two days in Lampeter and Carmarthen with the Presbyterians and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and its Wales Committee.

I listened to a lecture on John Calvin that was delivered very well by a much loved colleague from Liverpool, the Revd Dr D Ben Rees. I wish him well for the future and will hold him in my prayers as he receives some serious medical treatment. I'm still not keen on Calvin 'though! Just sometimes, I'm reminded of why I am an Anglican.

In between the two events I went swimming. Lord, it was cold in that swimming pool.

Wales deserved a draw tonight but went down 2:1 to Russia. Our Under 21's did brilliantly last night beating Roumania 3:0 away from home. Things look good for Welsh football.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Sunday, Sunday.

Today, I preached to two congregations that were less than twenty in number. That was more than OK.

Carmel Chapel in Penrhywceiber was a bilingual joy as usual and the Evening Praise service in Saint Catherine' Pontypridd set me to thinking. Dan played a sweet hymn I had never heard before and it impressed me deeply. It spoke of falling face down as God shines around.

On some days, when faith is difficult, that's all we can do - fall face down as God shines around. I have a feeling that it's out of days like this that God will do great things. Today had a feeling of unfinished business about it! Thankfully, the God I worship is full of surprises. I'll wait and see.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Palin: the real scandal

On the way home from work last night I noticed people in some of the terraced houses along the old Merthyr Road in Cilfynydd, where I live, clearing after the flash floods. I felt terribly sorry for them.

I know that the weather comes and goes and that I'm no scientist but only fools now believe that we aren't beginning to reap the bitter harvest of global warming. The UK simply hasn't had a summer this year.

I got rather scared today reading Leonard Doyle's article on Sarah Palin in The Independent. I don't usually get scared especially when I think journalists are trying to make me scared.

Writing from Anchorage Doyle claims that: 'the woman who could soon be a 72 year-old's heartbeat away from the US presidency has an environmental policy so toxic it would make the current incumbent, George Bush, blush.' I don't know about that and I have yet to read in detail what Barack Obama has to offer on the environment. I'll get on to that in greater detail but Al Gore's endorsement would not be given lightly I'm sure.

Beyond that, Obama's plans to re-engage with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) -- the main international forum dedicated to addressing the climate problem seems good to me as does his intention to create a Global Energy Forum of the world’s largest emitters to focus exclusively on global energy and environmental issues. He also has some specific targets: one is implementing an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. I'll check with those who really know what all that means.

As everyone who knows anything about American politics expected, the slump in Obama's post Convention hike was entirely predictable. As things stand tonight, he is still slightly in the lead. That may change over the next couple of days. The campaign will now move on to a greater intensity around the economy and negative adds. The major TV debates, I suspect, will also be deal breakers during the build up to election day.

I know that only Americans will be voting in that election. As for the bit about it being nobody else's business - try telling it to the rain. Some have the right to vote: all of us have a right to be concerned. Perhaps, if The Independent is right, we may even have a right to be scared. I hope not.
P.S. I'm relieved that Wales beat Azerbaijan 1:0! I was there.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Flat Battery Day

This lunchtime, my car battery went flat. It was all my own fault really.

I went to work very early this morning and hit a tired wall at about midday - if you know what I mean. Knowing that I had an important but pleasant afternoon meeting - all about Welsh politics - with some friends, I thought that I would take a little rest after lunch in my car.

I switched the radio on, reclined backwards, held my head with my hands, and rested. Three quarters of an hour later I ascertained that I have a very heavy head. Because I had left the car radio on, I also had a very flat battery. The football thing from last night caught up with me. I'm so stiff today and tired.

The AA man who came to my rescue was very kind. I'm thinking of buying a "Do Not Disturb" sign for when I fall to sleep in my little car. Except of course, if I leave the radio on. If you pass by, just tap the windscreen.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

10:10 Tonight in Wales

I really enjoy Wales and living in it. Today, life was just good to me and I got to pretend for an hour or so tonight that I was playing for Wales once again. I used to play for Wales a lot when I was a boy - just in my imagination of course.

In the morning, I tied some important things up at work and my car passed its MOT test in the afternoon. There isn't a great deal of my little car to fail really. I have also almost finished doing my tax returns. May the good Lord have mercy on me.

Tonight, we restarted our Thursday night football matches. It was huge fun and I think that the score was tied at 10:10. I scored two goals, didn't foul anyone and only swore a few times - but not badly this week.
I really will have to stop that bad habit - not fouling people! It will ruin my reputation as "chopper". I have just got to remember that I'm not playing for Wales in the World Cup Final against England and that not getting a solid tackle in doesn't really matter. I know that I shouldn't be so competitive but I can't do football any other way.

Seriously 'though, its just great fun being able to kick a football with a whole field's worth of Welsh speaking men who haven't quite grown up yet and have no intention of doing so in the near future. I'm now ready to face Wales and Azerbaijan on Saturday with courage.

I think I have also found someone to find some rugby tickets for me now that my other source has dried up. That was really bothering me. Oh, life is good tonight in Wales even 'though the score was just 10:10! "Diolch boys".

Wednesday, 3 September 2008


I noticed that a clergy friend of mine has just admitted that he's procrastinating on Facebook. I'm sure that the Church in Wales has some sort of Code of Practice that bans that sort of thing. I just do whatever I do on Facebook quickly.

It's much better that way!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

A Good Day in Politics

Most of today was spent working with my colleagues on the Executive of the All Wales Convention. We did a lot of work and I enjoy being so actively involved in politics.

Data seems to suggest that the Welsh are warming to devolution. How far we have come since 1997 was made clear today. The UK BBC News covered the radical way in which we intend to teach our 3-7 year olds. There are still issues around funding and I'll keep a close eye on the development of children with special education needs. Today however, I was proud of something I had helped to make in 1997.

As usual, I kept an eye on the polls from the US and was pleased with what I saw. There's a long way to go between now and November but I am getting slowly convinced that the Democrats are on track. The Republicans seem to be in disarray.

Whatever the polls say however: no one knows how people will act when they are all alone in a small space on election day.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Richard Schiff

I have always liked Richard Schiff. I know he's only an actor to most people, but he's a really good actor. He also played my favourite character in The West Wing. He's also a political activist.

I have plagiarised so many of his lines from the show during sermons and talks, you just won't believe it. Those of you who know me, know that I have.

In the Independent today he writes a clever article on how divided America is concerning the election. He's gone for Obama but his wife Sheila was impressed by him but not convinced. She's still considering McCain.

I was hoping that my hero could explain why his wife Sheila is still considering McCain. After all, she's not the only one. He's stumped but hopes that roses and champagne do their magic on election day. I don't think he's convinced.

The other political story of the day was the news that Sarah Palin's young daughter, Bristol, is going to have a baby. The blogs are as divides as the Schiff home. I just wish Bristol and her baby well. They have lives of their own to lead.

I have always worked on the principle that in public life, if you don't tell other people how to live their lives, you have the right to total privacy regarding your own. If you do tell others how to live their lives - look out for glass houses and stones! Regardless, Bristol's life is her own.