The Geocentric Argument

 

This head shaking story appeared in my news feed recently (http://phys.org/news/2014-02-americans-unaware-earth-circles-sun.html). Like some of the commentators, I would like to know more detail about the nature of the questions and who was asked. Given the small numbers involved (only 2,200) it is possible to create such a set of questions and pick a demographic that skews the result to create whatever headline you wish. I’m not saying that is what happened, just that there is far too little information and the sample size far too small for this to be truly something that can be extrapolated out to cover the whole population of the USA.

However, if you do decide to do a search on geocentrism (the belief that the earth is the centre of our solar system) then some properly head scratching pages do come up; http://www.genesis-creation-proof.com/geocentricity.html being a good example. The beauty of this one is that it shows you precisely why biblical literalism is a bad idea (even dangerous?). The site rings all the same alarms for me that many conspiracy sites ring, that is the lone enthuse with little or no backing from a wider organisation. In other words, a fringe whacko who does not represent the wider majority who are biblical literalists. Another such site is http://www.evidencechart.com/charts/10.

The point that these sites help to make is that for those who wish to base their scientific claims on bible verses is that there will always be problem verses that simply cannot be taken as scientific fact but, equally so, there will also be some enthusiastic individuals who wish to make that claim and fly in the face of hard proof. Thus the blurry line between interpretation and literalism will always exist.

Geocentrism did seem obvious for a while. There was always a problem though; the retrograde motion of the visible planets (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retrograde_and_prograde_motion) throws a hefty spanner into the mix and to stick with a geocentric model of the solar system means one has to come up with some impressive adjustments and gymnastics to account. Seasons also cause a problem because it requires the path of the sun around the earth have a significant wobble; this needs an explanation. These two pieces of evidence are what I would have replied to this blog post had I known about it at the time (http://thonyc.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/we-live-in-a-geocentric-world/).

The kicker for geocentrism, of course, was the telescope. This earth changing invention allowed man to gaze at the stars and see so much more. The planets were shown to have moons of their own, something that clearly didn’t revolve around the earth. Even more amazing, Venus and Mercury showed changing crescents while Mars, Jupiter and Saturn were always full. That needed a very good explanation and really should be the last nail in the geocentric coffin for anyone who would stop and think and just five minutes.

Geocentrism Therefore Creationism.

Anyway, the news at the top of this post prompted me to dig a blog post out of my saved archives, http://thenewcreationism.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/well-evidenced-theories-can-be-wrong-poorly-evidenced-theories-can-be-right/. It is one I saved specifically because I consider it nonsense and wanted to keep it for when I felt the need to comment, that need is now.

The post above is short so won’t take much time to read, but makes an intriguing claim. Essentially it says that geocentrism was logical because that what the available evidence implied at the time. No matter how much the people believed it and wanted it to be true, it was always wrong and later, better evidence revealed that. The author then makes an analogy with evolution and attempts to put evolution in the place of geocentrism by admitting that it looks obvious. That doesn’t make it true aparently. He then goes a step too further and implies that the heroes of creationism are the Galileos of today. What an insult!

He’s wrong of course, very wrong.

Geocentrism wasn’t easy to overturn; there was an established worldview that required the earth to be the centre of everything and that philosophy would not be challenged. It was evidential weight that forced it into a minority view, one that really should be history by now. No one would ever seriously suggest that there is a controversy between geocentrism and heliocentrism and certainly no one would want both ideas to be taught in the classroom for students to make up their mind which one they want to adopt.

The true analogy with geocentrism is creationism; they are both idea born out religion and appear to make logical sense when looked at superficially. However, go deeper and the there is greater complexity that a simplistic worldview simply cannot explain and both idea crumble under evidence that is crushing.

No, the creationists of today are not Galilean heroes bravely fighting an established order trying to tell the world the truth; they are religious literalists cornered into a philosophy that has an ever shrinking platform and their worldview is so narrow they simply won’t accept what the evidence says because the consequences and cost are potentially enormous.

Book Review – Creation or Evolution: Do We Have To Choose?

Cover of "Creation or Evolution: Do We Ha...

Cover via Amazon

More than a year ago I was lent this book by the pastor and I have eventually finished it (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Creation-Evolution-Do-Have-Choose/dp/1854247468). The book is held up by some as a refreshing view on the relationship between Christianity and Evolution.

I found the book mixed and ultimately disappointing, but there are some good bits in it.

On first handling the book it is clear that the intent is going to be to show how acceptance of evolution does not have to be at the expense of religious belief, specifically Christianity. This aspect interested me, given my journey, so I started the book specifically looking for how it would answer that specific challenge.

Evolution

Most of the book is devoted to explanations of various bits of evolution. By necessity they have to contain a certain amount of technical language. However, I found on the whole that the passages on evolution are lay friendly and do a good job of explaining why evolution is not only a valid theory, but an accurate description of observed fact as best we know it.

The book explains well how evolution is a naturalised process and our knowledge of it has no pre-requisite of any god. The processes we understand are fully explained and there are no missing bits that require the invocation of the supernatural.

Creationism and ID

Creationism and ID are also dealt with effectively, albeit with far fewer pages. They are accurately shown to be scientifically deficient and their need to have a god directly be involved to ‘push the process along’ is shown to be a limiting factor for which there is nothing to show.

One good point that is made in the book is the argument for beauty. Many creationists will look at the world we see now and argue that the beauty there can only have been put there directly by god. I once made precisely those arguments. The book counters by saying that the processes that made us and all we see around us are no less beautiful and they too came from god. When a creationist views the world and sees beauty and says it must come from god, they are by implication saying that the long processes that made the beauty they see can not be beautiful because they don’t believe god did it that way.

This is a dangerous way of thinking because it creates a closed mind and stops that believer from fully appreciating the glory of their god’s creation.

The book explains well why creationism and ID are not valid.

Tying Evolution and Christianity

So the big question I wanted to book to answer was, given the above, how does the author, who professes his faith at several points throughout the book, demonstrate that belief in god is consistent with evolution and, more specifically, show that there is a logical reason to hold that view. Sadly, the answer just doesn’t come.

No matter how much I wanted to see an argument for god, it just didn’t happen.

Conclusion

The book successfully argues for the science of evolution and against the god of creationism. As a result it has confirmed my position as an atheist and done nothing at all to tempt me back to faith. I suspect the author would be disappointed, but he should not be surprised.

Conspiracy Against Creationism and Ken Ham’s Intollerance

The BBC have been running a series called Conspiracy Files. The basic premise is that half dozen people who subscribe to a conspiracy idea are taken on a bus trip across America to visit various experts who can counter the conspiracy claim. At the end of the programme each person gets a piece to camera to see if they have changed their views.

Its not an especially great programme to be honest, you can tell that there is an element of manufactured conflict in that the people picked to the bus trip often have conflicting views themselves.

I watch it because I have in interest in conspiracies, not because I believe them, quite the opposite. Its because I don’t believe them, but I am interested in the arguments that conspiracists use so that I can better understand the argument and how to counter it. Classic conspiracies like 9/11 and UFOs have been covered.

Creationism as a Conspiracy

I very intrigued when I saw there was to be a programme on Creationism. Not just because I wanted to see what the people believed and who would be rolled out against them, but because I wanted to see what came up as compared with my previously held version of Christianity and Creationism. I was also puzzled by the inclusion of Creationism in the series; I don’t especially object to its inclusion but I’m not actually convinced that Creationism is a conspiracy theory in the way that 9/11 and the existence of crashed alien craft are.

A conspiracy theory requires agents actively working against the idea in an effort to hide the truth. I don’t think this is really the case. I certainly never believed that people were trying to hide the truth of a literal Creation from the wider public. I believed that evolutionary theory was a misreading of the evidence. Surely if scientists knew of a literal creation they’d become Christians and there would be no need to hide the fact of creation from the rest of the world.

The idea of the government and scientists actively trying to teach evolution and hide the truth of a literal creation just doesn’t make sense to me. I also don’t think I’ve ever read of anyone claiming this to be the case.

On to the Trip

Conspiracy or not, the programme rolled out a handful of folks from Ol’ Blighty. One hardened Christian Creationist, one hardened Muslim Creationist and some other people who, as far as I could tell, were a bit more ‘woolly’ in their faith, one I suspected was more spiritual than religious. Their creationist credentials did seem more suspect, though if they had filled the bus with identical Christian Creationists its wouldn’t have been a very interesting programme because the same arguments would have rotated round everyone so I can see why diversity was desired.

Predictably, the Christian Creationist sounded very much like I must have in my early argumentative years. It was interesting see those arguments come out in the way that I would likely have put them. Hearing them made me laugh. They sounded weak, and when countered with the detail of the science from the relevant expert in the field, the creationist arguments really had no foundation. It was clear as day.

Towards the end of the programme, one of the girls did appear to show a softening towards evolution and I did have hope that she would continue that journey.

The biggest giggle came from the ending comments from the two hardened creationists. The Christian claiming that his beliefs were shown to have held up and that the Muslim was shown to be false. The Muslim claimed the reverse. It was a classic case of preconceived bias leading one to interpret an experience to their own advantage, ignoring what actually occurred. Despite it providing me entertainment, I did genuinely feel sadness for them both as they were clearly unable to see beyond their beliefs.

Ken Ham’s Intollerance

I see that Ken Ham has made a comment on the programme (http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2012/10/22/more-intolerance/).  He headlines it as intolerance against creationism, which is frankly baloney. There was no intolerance shown, simply evidence and argument. If evolutionists are intolerant because they attempt to explain to Creationists why they are wrong, then Ken Ham’s comments are equally intolerant for declaring evolutionists wrong.

That aside, Ken Ham makes a basic Creationist error, one that I have seen made many times.

 

His determination to deal only with “natural forces” eliminates God automatically. In other words, he started with the assumption that God and His Word have nothing to do with explaining reality. He started with a bias against anything to do with the God of the Bible. He did not start by looking objectively at the evidence.

 

This is a basic understanding failure. The fact that its made by a leading Creationist apologetic is damning and pathetic. He really should know better. Scientists who claim there is no god do so because of the evidence they see. Its this evidence that has lead them to the conclusion of evolution and its this evidence that falsifies the Biblical accounts of Adam and Eve and The Flood. Its not then unreasonable to conclude there is no god. Science looks at natural processes because that is all that we can see and gather evidence from. That evidence is explained by those natural processes only and therefore its an easy conclusion to make that no god was involved. There is no predetermining the non-existence of any god and then building a theory which excludes it, as Ken Ham would have people believe.

Scientists reach their conclusions from the evidence and if the evidence does not fit a hypothesis, then its abandoned and a new one is formed. The evidence always dictates the conclusion, not the other way round. It is the Creationist who starts from the end result and looks for the evidence that matches the result or comes up with a hypothesis for fitting the evidence into the end result. Ken Ham wrongly asserts that because his idea of science is all arse over tits, so must the scientists’.

 

Would you like to Operate the Projector?

Oh dear. I’ve been wondering when this question would come, and unfortunately it has come much sooner than I would have liked.

First Some Background

Like many churches in the UK, our current church and our last church have joined the revolution and now project the words to songs on a screen using a computer and digital projector. This has a distinct advantage over using acetate in that presentations, images and videos can also be projected using the same equipment.

In our last church I was one of the regular projector operators and being computer literate I had an advantage over the other people on the OHP rota in that the technology didn’t intimidate me and I knew exactly what I was doing and couldn’t (or wouldn’t) mess things up by guessing or doing random stuff for the sake of it. It also helped that my wife leads worship occasionally and so I have an understanding of the needs of the worship leader and what the projector operator should or shouldn’t do to make the worship leader’s life easier.

So with these two advantages, it is safe to say that I was pretty much the favoured projector operator in our last church. It wasn’t unusual for the pastor to beam widely when he saw that it was me on duty.

Back to the Present

I dropped off the rota several months before we moved because I didn’t want to do it anymore. With our move I am very happy not having the responsibility and still don’t want it. With our new church duly informed (by our last church as part of membership transfer) that my wife and I make a good worship leading and projector operating combo; I knew that the inevitable question would be asked. I just hoped it would not be this soon.

The reasons for me being asked are legitimate, two people have dropped off the rota in the last week. One because he turned 80 and had always said he would stop at that age, another due to a much more conservative stance and simply not liking some of the worship changes. Apparently a hymn should be sung as it is written and thou shalt not change it about. Who said that a hymn had the same importance as the biblical word? Anyway, that’s not the point of this post, so best not get distracted.

How can I say No?

I don’t think I can really. The church has a need and I am very much one of the best qualified people to do it. Its my gift if you like. The pastor knows my faith position (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/the-coming-out-begins/) and so he obviously has no issue with me doing the job, so he asked me if I would consider it.

I did tell him that in all honesty I was hoping not to have to get involved, but that I would think about it.

In discussing it with my wife later she suggested that I might like doing it because it would mean I could legitimately hide away from the rest of the congregation (the operator sits alone up in the balcony at the back of the church) and not have to worry about pretending anything or being uncomfortable. That was a genuinely thoughtful suggestion and I hadn’t considered it, however I didn’t really like that as a motive for doing it. It feels false an insincere to use that as a motive for operating the projector.

However, given my state of faith, how could any motive be pure and Christian? That’s probably a question best left alone I think.

So I think I’m going to have to do it.

I don’t see any way round it, the church has a need, and I am a very good fit. My doing it will have a positive impact on the worship in the church and since my wife is now getting involved in worship leading I will be directly helping her. Atheist objections aside, I just don’t see how I can refuse and saying “I really don’t want to” seems to be somehow weak and petty, even though I know I won’t be viewed negatively for not doing it.

Coming Out – part 2

Having started to admit that Christianity no longer meant anything to me (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/the-coming-out-begins/). I decided that I should be open with those who know me differently. That is the internet form of people I have known for most of the last decade and who view me as the tolerant Christian. I do my best to avoid discussions on religion with this group because it never goes especially well, and quite frankly, they have always been my world away from my religion (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/when-friends-are-unkind/).

So, about a week after the discussion with my wife detailed above I put a short post up that basically said it was official, there is no god. They all would know what I meant and if anyone wanted to know more they could ask.

The first responses were a mixture of surprise (the majority obviously did not expect it), interest in why and congratulations.

A few, who admitted to having been brought up in some form of Christian faith, wanted to know how I felt; was my world view shaken? Did I need someone to talk to? I was touched by this obvious care and concern, but it wasn’t needed. This was not a new thing to me; it was just new to them.

It was far easier to be fully open and honest with them than it was in my conversations earlier with my wife. Deep down I feel I am a cowardly let-down for not having been fully honest much earlier. I have tried to put into words my feelings and justifications for that but I have failed. I am simply unable to properly explain why.

Some of the friends asked for a reason for my apparent turnabout. I was succinct in my response, just saying that it was because of greater scientific understanding which removed the foundation of my faith. I hinted there was a fuller version of my story available but that I was not sure about making it open to them. No one objected to that, in fact they were very supportive of that stance and no one pushed further. It was enough for them to know, a debrief was not necessary.

So, for the moment this blog’s readership remains as those who are outside of the circle of those who know me. However, there is more than enough here for anyone who knows me to recognise me. If that happens and I am questioned that I shall admit it but I am currently holding off from actually telling anyone about it.

Actually, not quite true, I have told my brother it exists and he is interested in reading it, I’ve just not sent him the link yet. That aside, I have pondered on letting my atheist forum friends know about it, maybe I’ll let a couple of them know about it first. My hesitation is that doing so feels a bit like the boy trying to plug the leaking dyke with his finger. Once the water starts to seep through there is no stopping it.

The Coming Out Begins

I’ve mentioned that a conversation on membership at our new church will be had soon (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/two-things-that-happened-last-sunday/). Well, its happened.

My wife mentioned that she’d spoken to the pastor about prospective membership and that he was due to come round and have a preliminary chat with us. Well I couldn’t hold it off any longer, there was only one thing I could do and that was indicate my concerns.

So we had a discussion about how I was having doubts in my faith. That my increased scientific understanding had led me to doubt significant biblical events to the point where I now questioned the reliability of the bible.

We talked around a few things and my wife mentioned that at least I hadn’t rejected it all completely and gone atheist on her. Ouch. I guess that was my cue to fess up completely, but I couldn’t do it. She did confirm that she had strongly suspected the situation for a while.

My justification for not going the full confession with her is that, the news is still new to her and that to go straight to the end point would be a bit much. I know its dishonest, but I think its better than full disclosure at the moment. My journey to atheism was not short and I think exposing it as a short journey might not be that helpful. So there is more to discuss.

Membership won’t happen for me

So upshot of the discussion is that my wife suggested that I don’t go for membership of the church, but that she still will.

There were other things she said too. She expressed a desire for us to continue to have conversations on religion. She also said she wanted us to continue to go to church as a family and it was important to her that I supported what she wants to do within the church, especially as I do know what it is like to be committed to the church as a Christian. This is all fine with me. I can’t expect support for my position if I can’t support hers.

The next day, the pastor came round to chat about membership and before he chatted to my wife, I went for a short walk with him to explain my position. He understood and took it on board, he thanked me for my honesty and explained that given that information there is no way he could accept me into membership. The conversation ended positively and we continue to build what I think is going to be a good friendship.

The pastor has lent me a book called, “Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose?” I think its clear from the title that the conclusion will be acceptance of evolution, likely to be guided with a divine hand. I have started reading it and the opening chapter makes it clear that its primarily aimed at Christians who wish to answer further questions on evolution. Maybe this isn’t the right sort of book for me, but I’m going to read it anyway and see where it goes.

Where next?

Given the open and honest conversations we’ve had, I am positive for the future for my wife and I. I had built up a lot of fear in myself on how I could tell her and what would happen. It turns out that fear was unfounded.

Two Things that Happened last Sunday

There are two things that happened in church last Sunday that I would never have expected to happen in our last church and I think are a credit to our new church and the Pastor in residence.

Leavers being blessed

The first thing was during the service the Pastor mentioned by name a couple who had felt that they wanted to try another church in the town. The pastor mentioned this and said they’d been at tenders for about 7 years and that while he was sure they church would miss them, he wished them well and wanted to make it clear that they were welcome back any time they wished.

I think it is a good thing that a couple have a respect for their Pastor to the point that they can have that conversation with him and it shows grace that the Pastor points it out in church and the sensitive way he did and makes it clear that while he does not want them to leave he wishes them all the best.

This is something that I simply can’t imagine happening in our last church. I have seen many people leave the church in the past few years and they all disappeared silently.

An open atheist being made welcome

During coffee after the service my wife and I got talking to a couple of ladies of similar age to us. They both have children, some of which are similar in age to our daughter. One of the ladies is a Christian and had just come back from a Christian weekend away and was positively buzzing with enthusiasm as a result. The other lady was from a distinctly non-Christian household, her story of involvement with the church is that some of her children started coming to the Friday evening youth club at the church and eventually two of her daughters expressed a desire to attend church on Sundays. She and her husband agreed they would let them make their own decision and so she brings them to church on a Sunday morning but she sits in the church foyer and does not attend the service herself.

She admitted that at first it was awkward but the church lets her do that and is fine with it. She was quite happy and unembarrassed to profess her lack of faith and her Christian friend didn’t appear to let it affect the friendship that has obviously developed, although there was mention of some conversion attempts but I got the distinct impression it was not overt and was not a big issue.

I admire both the church’s stance in making this possible and in the lady in questions honesty in being in that situation. There was a level of acceptance and integrity there that I simply could not imagine occurring in my last church. There are definitely people at my last church that are capable of enabling this sort of situation to happen, however I just can’t see the church leadership making it a comfortable situation.

At one point in the conversation I told the lady that she was being more honest by expressing her position and sitting outside the service than someone who attended the service and pretended. It was meant as a compliment to her, but I was fully aware of the hypocrisy within myself as I was saying it. It was a challenge to me to be more honest about my state of faith, especially with those I love.

So what next for me?

Well, I don’t know yet. All I know is that at some point I’m going to have to stop avoiding the inevitable. Yet, I still can’t bring myself to say it straight because I am afraid of the hurt and upset that will result. I would feel immensely guilty about being the cause of that.

Sometime soon there is going to be a conversation about becoming members of the church. I know that when this church writes to our last church that there will be a glowing reference of us as a couple and a family. However, I don’t think its fair or right for me to make the same profession of faith that I did when we became members of our last church. To do so would be to lie and be dishonest.

I think what I will do is tell my wife that I am not sure I can make that same declaration and see what the conversation leads to. She knows I am having doubts as we have touched on the subject before (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/you-have-my-permission-to-be-controversial/).

Settling into a New Location

New Location Summary

At the end of August the family limey relocated to a seaside location. We’ve settled into our new home quickly and we are beginning to get our bearings in the town and meet some new people. We’ve moved to a small town, smaller than the town we used to live in, however, due to its location it’s a very popular holiday destination and there are two large static caravan parks north and south of the town; as a result the population swells considerably in the summer months. This brings its own benefits and challenges. For starters, it means that it’s a much more dynamic town and there is no shortage of visitor attractions in the area. There are also many events and activities in the town which are geared towards family’s and children. All of this is very good, because we’ve moved from a very nondescript magnolia town which was less than an hour’s train journey from centralLondon. Most residents wereLondoncommuters and people went out of town for their activities because there was no shortage of similar towns all a ten minute drive away. Now we can walk or cycle to many places, including the sea front.

We’ve moved into a brand new house, which is great in many respects, but also brings its own challenges and issues. For the next few months at least, we’re going to have to tolerate new houses being built 20 meters from our front door and all the dust and noise that comes with it. However, look out the back and we can see cows in fields and scrub land, which I hope never gets built on.

In short, we love our new location, there will be a time of settling required but we are already very happy here and are glad we’ve made the jump. I am currently working from home and my travel intoLondonwill be limited because the journey is not a practical daily commute.

Our phone and internet provider has been astonishingly slow in getting us connected and so I feel very out of touch with the blogs I follow and the other on-line communities I like to keep in touch with; which means when I do eventually get connected I’ll be overwhelmed with the volume I need to catch up on.

The New Church

As was previously predicted, the whole family has attended the Baptist church in our new town. It’s the longest run of consecutive services I’ve been to in a while. For the moment I am okay with going to church again so I we’ll see how things proceed.

Our last pastor is best described as intense and immature. He had a very black and white attitude to many things and his delivery was always shouty enthusiastic rather than considered intellect. In the last few years we’ve seen many mature Christians leave the church and the vast majority of the newcomers are new Christians or literal Christians. While I had much in common with our last pastor, including a love of cars and a very childish sense of humour, I had little respect for the way he ran the church.

The pastor of this new church is very different and carries a maturity that is immediately attractive; being ten years older than our last pastor probably helps with this. The pastor’s wife is actively involved the children’s work and when I’ve seen them both at the front doing a sketch together they were genuinely entertaining and very likeable. It’s the first time I’ve seen a Pastor’s wife so visibly involved in the ministry of the church.

The church itself has an older demographic than we are used to, and this is most obvious in the worship. The only musician is an elderly lady who plays the organ, a very lovely pipe organ that dominates the front of the church. Its quite surprising to see one in a building so small. In a way it reminds me of my Grandparents old Brethren Chapel

That’s not to say that all the worship is dowdy hymns though. There are many popular chorus’s sung and they are accompanied by a CD soundtrack. Its sounds immensely corny but its actually works quite well.

So far we’ve already managed to get a lunch invite to the Manse to get to know the Pastor and his family a little better. We had a lovely lunch and chat after wards. I can see that we’ll be getting to know them much better over the years.

Cause to Laugh and Chuckle

The biggest surprise came when I visited the local camera club in our second week here, only to find that the Pastor himself is a member. So it looks like I will be getting to know the Pastor on a social level regardless of whatever happens at church. This could be interesting; at least it gives the chance to have serious conversations casually so it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Nothing has changed, yet.

There is more that I want to say about the church but that demands its own blog post. What do need to acknowledge and clarify is that being happier with this church changes nothing in my state of belief; I am still an atheist. What will change is that I’ll no longer be able to hide behind our previous excuse of not being happy in the church. At some point I’ll have to stop wishing for a happy status quo and man up to the challenges that will come in answering questions on my spirituality. I don’t ever see myself professing faith again, so the issue of needing to tell the truth but not wanting to cause hurt and upset is still the big thing that is bubbling away in the back of my mind.

We Said goodbye to our Church on Sunday

This Sunday just gone, was the last time we attended a service at the Church that we’ve called home for the past 14 years.

Our pastor was on holiday so he wasn’t around, but I did get the chance to shake his hand and say farewell and best wishes the week before.

This means that, having not attended Church for several months, I have been the last two Sundays.

There are many dear friends who attend our former Church, most of whom know of and even share our concerns with the current leadership. Some know about the various events over the past couple of years that have upset either my wife or myself.

It is a little sad to be leaving under less than happy circumstances, but the move away is not at all related to the situation at church, it is a personal choice that will bring a very different quality of life to us and its for that reason we are moving. If everything at church was perfect, we’d still be moving, and it would be a more emotional wrench.

We are still leaving some very dear friends behind though. Friends who welcomed us to the church all those years ago and friends we’ve made a long the way. In those years I’ve seen people come to the church and I’ve seen people leave. Some have moved away, after many years of service, many more than the 14 years we’ve been around. Some have left the church because they’ve had enough.

Our last service was nothing special, with the pastor being away a church member preached. He’s a nice enough and genuine person but he’s not especially great at preaching. He doesn’t engage in his delivery and I don’t find him intellectually stimulating either. Some people don’t go when he preaches for those reasons.

Since we have dear friends in the church and those dear friends know how much my wife and I have committed to the church over the years, there was no way we were going to get away without it being made known to the rest of the church. So near the beginning of the service we were called to the front and interviewed about our move away. We were okay with this, though we would also have been happy to slip away unannounced. We’ve already arranged for many of our close friends to come and bid us farewell on our last night here in a local drinking establishment, so a farewell at the front of our home church is merely a formality.

However, that all being said, I had mentally prepared a small speech covering some of the things I wanted to say as a thank you to those who have been an extended family to us over the years. Unfortunately, the gentleman who was leading the service is a new joiner, an enthusiastic South African who is a biblical literalist and has his own way of doing things; he has also been the source of some of my wife’s upset over the past year. On his list of accomplishments seems to be the utter demise of the church music group. As a result, the farewell interview was a couple of obvious questions like, when do you move? are you packed? and where do you move? He didn’t probe to ask how long we’d been at our church or what we’d be doing church wise after we’d moved. Things we would also expect to be asked.

So the questions halted awkwardly and then we were prayed for. One of those praying for us is possibly the best friend we have at the church. A wonderful lady who has seen her own share of hurt, not just from this church, but from other churches too; gentleness, kindness and love simply ooze from her pores and we’ll miss seeing her on a regular basis. So I smiled knowingly when she made a point of listing all the things we’ve been involved with in the church over the years during her prayer of thanks for us.

I didn’t get to say my piece to the church, I’m a disappointed about that, but I’ll get over it. I have no idea, if we’ll ever set foot in it again. We may do, but we’ve currently no plans at all to return to this town, so I can’t say for certain.

We’ve waved goodbye to the church we gave much to and which supported us. We’ve waved goodbye to the frustrations and upsets too, hopefully they’ll not return to bother us again.

This week is now a week of looking forward, on Wednesday my wife takes our daughter to her parent’s house to stay for a few nights while we finish up the packing and on Friday we move to a brand new house in a town by the sea and a new life beckons.

I am sure it won’t be perfect and I am sure there will be challenges ahead, but there will also be good things to look forward too. For the last 14 years we’ve lived in a town we moved to because of my work and we’ve not been close to family for any of that time. From Friday, we’ll be a mile away from my wife’s parents, since they beat us to the hop and moved to the same seaside town a month before we did; after we announced our intent to move. We’ll also be less than an hour from my Aunts and cousins. This is a move for us. My wife is very excited about the move and simply can’t wait to settle in and start making friends with our new neighbours. I am a little more reserved about it as I’m not yet sure how this will affect my work so I’m taking it in my stride, enjoying the ride and will deal with whatever comes our way.

No doubt there will be a report from our new home Church and I expect I’ll be going to church more regularly from next week. I’m sure I will cope.

That Certainly is Convenient

My last post (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/you-have-my-permission-to-be-controversial/) had me thinking about coincidences and happening of convenience. When my wife and I move to the town that we currently live in; it was due to my job. In the months building up to the move several things combined to give us the distinct impression that God was guiding us.

In no particular order;

–         The minister of the Baptist Church in town was a friend of the Curate at the Church of England Church we’d been attending previously.

–         A friend of my brothers was dating a girl who attended that same Baptist Church

–         A girl who grew up at that Baptist Church had married my cousin inZambia, which helped me to get back in touch with that part of my family. (something we wouldn’t actually find out until after the move)

–         A girl who I knew, who attended my Mother’s Baptist Church had married someone who grew up in this same Baptist Church we would end up attending.

–         Despite resistance from my wife to moving to this town, attempts to buy a house in neighbouring towns failed. Either we couldn’t find a house we liked or we were outbid on the properties we did like.

–         When my wife eventually consented to looking at houses in this town, we found a flat that was new to the market, viewed it and made an offer all in one afternoon. Our offer was accepted.

There are probably a few other moments that could be added to this list, but the years have not been as kind to my memory as I would like them to be. The point is, that we interpreted all these things as evidence of God’s hand in the move and that it was most certainly His will.

We’re still in the early stages of our next big move, but the coincidences have already started.

–         Our house is being bought by a retiring Minister. It’s a cash purchase from his church organisation. This means there is no chain of people before him, to complicate the moving process

–         The house we are buying is a new build, not something we expected but the value compared to older houses is good and we won’t need to spend money redecorating. Also, buying a new house means no onward chain to complicate the move.

–         After an original concern over when the new house would be completed it turns out its going to be ready in August, which just so happens to be the month our purchasing minister retires and will need our house.

–         The father of one of the ladies at our current church used to be the minister at the Baptist Church in the town we are moving to.

–         When we visited the church a couple of weeks back, we found it a relaxed and less formal church than our own. There did appear to be a need for a worship group and it just so happens that my wife is gifted musically and on the occasions that she leads worship at our current church, she is always appreciated.

Of course we’ve discussed that there have been some rather fortunate moments in our plans to move. Neither of us has brought up the God at work assumption though. Certainly in years gone by I would have already been interpreting this as God’s will, but not now. Coincidences happen all the time.

Now I prefer to express it in the words of the great Tyrone from The Backyardigans; “That certainly is convenient”.