Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
It's 1988 and I have driven a missionary friend to speak at a Bible study in Mississippii. Before leaving, the owner of the house and leader of the group told me that he was taking his Bible study group over to England in a few months to stay at his Father's country home there. He asked if Alan and I would like to join them for a holiday. Having consulted with Alan on the telephone we said yes.
A few months later we had the priviledge of having the group at our home for a day while they were in London seeing
Les Miserables. The following day we were meeting up with them again at the country house in The Cotswolds.
Come Monday we were driving West wondering what this house would be like and assuming it was a reasonable size as there were going to be 14 of us. When we arrived we were surprised to say the least. This is what we found.
Sherborne House from the air
The front of the house with it's church to the left ( beautiful acoustics I might add when we sang in there)
The house had been turned into 19 apartments, some large and some smaller where 'my friend' let's call him John for ease of writing was able to entertain and offer English holidays to his friends and family.We had a wonderful week with our daughter and friend joining us for the last few days.
Alan on the right in the stable courtyard which was now John's Fathers personal holiday retreat.
The back yard, the Rolls Royce on the right was used to take us ladies out to dinner at a private restaurant.
The bikes we used to tour the local Cotswolds
A swim and a sauna before bed was much enjoyed
Afternoon tea in the apartment of the other owner (who actually had one wing of the house)
Real English afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches, cakes and biscuits and tea served in a silver teapot.
The owners wife was a concert pianist and here she is playing for us
Another of the apartments with Jane and her friend (Jane on the left). They were actually staying with us in our apartment but visiting with the couple allocated this apartment. As a result of getting to know the couple during the week, Jane spent the following Summer (while on her university break) working as a Nanny for them in Mississippi.
The other end of the room
The sitting room of our apartment. When we arrived the maid had been in and stocked the fridge with all sorts of goodies including a cooked chicken and a bottle of wine.
Our dining room
A book on the history of Sherborne given to us by John's Father as a parting gift.
There were empty pages where we all wrote messages to each other before leaving
And now I want to say what a small world it is. All this was 21 years ago and in that time John's parents had to sell the place due to ill health and it is now a very smart and expensive hotel/holiday complex. I was amazed a year ago to find out that one of my regular bloggers Linda had recently stayed here in an apartment that at the time belonged to a friend of hers. Linda is an American living in France who posts on some beautiful places in France, particularly Provence. Certainly a small world.
Saturday, 14 November 2009
This got me to thinking of the many homes that I have stayed in over the years here in England, Europe and the USA. As it happens I am at present going through my old photo albums in order to compile a slideshow to present at our upcoming 50th wedding anniversary, so thought it would make a fun post to show some of the homes of friends that I have stayed in in America.
How I would love to show you inside some of these beautiful homes but would not dream of invading the owners privacy.
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
I know that it has been posted on many blogs over the months but I want to share here a review by Brian, a friend of mine from Kentucky. I personally think this is the best review I have read so find no need to add to it further. I hope that someone finds it helpful as this book is so steeped in controversy.
Review of The Shack
by Brian Coatney
Last year I noticed that occasionally a friend would ask me, “Have you read The Shack?” Acknowledging that I hadn’t, the next response was, “ I’m eager to hear what you think of it when you do. " My reasons for not picking it up sooner have to do with the fact that I watch old movies instead of read fiction. Just now still recovering from two glaucoma surgeries and limited in my usual reading, my wife, Tandy, began reading the book aloud, a chapter or two a day. Knowing absolutely nothing about the book, not even the central story line, I might as well have been living on a desert island, for which I’m thankful since the storm of controversy surrounding the book has just begun to filter into my awareness now that I’ve read the book.
From the beginning, both the story and the bursts of literary delight drew me in, and a cord of tension settled in that only got wound more tightly, with ever increasing intensity. I began to think, “I want to put this book down and run as far away from it as I can. ” Why? The reasons are no different from what life is: life is a series of losses and the grief we feel over them, which only mount as we awaken to the desperation everywhere around us. The book, then, though a work of fiction, does not provide the hoped for respite from life that movies and fiction can thankfully give us at times. However, to shrink back from the dire aspects of The Shack also cuts one off from its divine ecstasies. As usual, the very nerves in our makeup that register pain also register pleasure, “and at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore ” (Psa. 16:11).
The book’s approach is unconventional to say the least for a Christian work of art. The presentation of the Godhead is so unexpectedly wild and outrageous that it forces the reader to decide if such a presentation is an attack against the scripture or a creative opening up of scripture’s innermost purity and desire by God to speak to us where we are. Nothing in the book seemed to me anything more than a simple bubbling fountain of God’s very heart, so I jumped in and went with the characters.
When a reader does this, all kinds of theological warning flags might get overlooked; longstanding doctrines might even seem challenged, and I say seem. Careful inspection might turn up all kinds of knotty difficulties for debate: “ Why did the author say this?” or “ Why didn’t the author say that, or make such and such clear or clearer? ” Pretty soon, we’d have a demand for a comprehensive, doctrinal work.
This is not a slam on doctrine; doctrine is essential, and correct doctrine at that. But when experiencing The Shack, I picked up a more important consideration, that of an overwhelming beauty and truth that offers itself in such a way that the only ones who find it are those who see past what my old Bible teacher, Norman Grubb, called warts or the appearance of flesh level manifestations. Readers of the book who see through and let the suffering and the ecstasy of this book envelop them will not let it be reduced to its weaknesses or errors, either real or perceived. I’m just mischievous enough not to go into that further.
The overwhelming aspect of the book is God’s love, His forgiveness through the cross, His desire to live in us and relate to us in union with Him, and the lengths to which He will go to open up our hearts and minds to His nature and patient processes with us. These are not new themes, and the author wouldn’t even claim such. The presentation in The Shack is unique and riveting, full of rapture and poetry to recue our deepest sadness and alienation from a God who invites us into the radical outward boundaries of His limitless freedom.
Thanks to William P. Young and his fellow writers for a monumental contribution to our generation. Many vivid pictures of sublime truth have made a home in my mind and imagination forever.
Thursday, 5 November 2009
We are visiting Cressing Temple, the Medieval Manor and Barns of the Knights Templar. Those that have read the book
The Da Vinci Code will remember that the Templars were featured throughout the book.
Cressing Temple was granted to the Knights Templar - the mysterious warrior monks - by Queen Matilda in 1137.Cressing was the Knights' first grant of rural land in England and they farmed its 2000 acres until 1312, when their lands passed to the Knights Hospitaller.
The Granary dates from 1623
To establish the settlement in the 12th century, the Knights built a stone-lined well, perfectly preserved to this day.
The two vast barns , built in the early 1200s, are masterpieces of carpentry. Vast timbers give the barns an awe-inspiring cathedral-like quality.
The Templar Knight stands outside a chapel where a man is being received into the Order. The man is interrogated about his past life, and then kneeling and holding the Bible takes a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience. Rumours about the rites performed at Templar initiation ceremonies figured amongst the charges against the Templars at the time of their supress in 1312.