28 July 2009

Alain de Botton: A kinder, gentler philosophy of success

Here is another of these TED lectures, this time from a secular philosopher called Alain de Botton. In it he talks rapidly about success and failure and different approaches to it. What interested me was how he had to draw on theistic themes to drive home his points, namely:
1) We shouldn't judge other people too harshly. (8 min 27 sec)
De Botton quotes Augustine's The City of God, talking about folly of judging people and how we should leave that up to God.
2) We have lost any sense of transcendence. (11 min 23 sec)
De Botton says "The other thing about modern society and why it causes us anxiety, is that we have nothing at its centre that is non-human." He goes on to say that we need something beyond ourselves to worship.

De Botton is a secularist (he says so in his talk) but it is astonishing how theistic his secular philosophising is. Now clearly this is a million miles away from being even a theist, or more to the point, a Christian - but I just thought it was worthy of note. Along the way he mentions Tragic art, snobbery and a whole host of other stuff.

De Botton seems like and interesting guy and has his own personal website. He is an author of numerous books on an eclectic mix of topics (reaching polymathic proportions). One of his projects is The School of Life, which "...is a new social enterprise offering good ideas for everyday living." It is refreshing to find people willing to engage in thinking deeply about life.

07 July 2009


Here's another one of those TED talks. This guy does some crazy calculations in his head. I wish I could impress my students with this kind of skill.

02 July 2009


Yesterday I spent the day at a maths teachers conference at the University of Birmingham. There were two lectures on applications of maths. These were basically trying to get us to encourage our students to study maths (at Birmingham) by showing us the cutting edge of maths. All very interesting (there was some fascinating stuff) but there was nothing I could really use in the classroom.

The best bit of the day was experimenting with a free piece of software called Geogebra This session was a basic introduction to this software which from a mathematical point of view is AMAZING. I will probably blog more about this in the future but here are some of the sketches I have made. I have used Geogebra quite a lot so found this session a bit basic - but it was great to pick up a few new tips.

25 June 2009

EMA 2009

Today I went to my first EMA. It was quite good. The four talks were:

1) Psalm 86 - David Jackman
I've not really enjoyed David Jackman's preaching (I'm sure this says more about me than him) - on the few times I've heard him, it has been too easy for me to tune out because it is just so dull and not punchy. So I was pleasantly surprised by this session - it skipped along at quite a place (unfortunately all intoned in a very measured way). According to David Jackman, the pivoting verse of the Psalm is v11 "...give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name." He talked about how suffering will throw into sharp relief the divided nature of our hearts. I found this talk helpful and heart warming.

2) Prayer and Mission - Don Carson
This was a Don Carson special. I really enjoyed it: 5 points contrasting different types of praying:
  1. Sustained prayer verses brief prayer
  2. Desperate prayer verses steady prayer
  3. Private prayer verses public prayer
  4. Corporate covenant renewal prayer verses special request prayer
  5. Unacceptable prayer verses acceptable prayer
He illustrated each type of prayer from different bits of the bible. It was stretching and challenging. I love to hear stuff on prayer because I'm so bad at it. He finished with "Much praying is not done because we don't plan to pray" which I think he writes about in A Call To Spiritual Reformation.

3) Don Carson interview by Richard Cunningham
At first I thought this may be a rehash of other interviews about Carson's parents, but in fact it ranged much wider. It was fascinating stuff. They discussed Carson's parents, Carson's ministry and various controversies among other things. I really enjoyed it.

4) Promoting the Gospel in the Local Church - John Dickson
Dickson talked about different ways of getting the gospel out: evangelists, evangelistic worship and everyone giving an answer. It is always good to be motivated to get the gospel out (and I really need a kick up the backside) but left me a bit unmoved.

Reflections on EMA?
Well, culturally it seems quite different to me... London, Anglican, plummey accents, very measured - though Carson and Dickson are obviously not from that set. It was fun going, but if Carson hadn't been there, it would have been really very dull. It was great bumping into some people from my past: Simon Dyke and Matt Fuller.

24 June 2009

New Blog Template

Here's my new blog template based on the blogger template Denim. I have modified it quite alot:
Its been fun experimenting with it all, and I'm learning loads about web-stuff like html and css etc.

23 June 2009

Technology, Entertainment, Design

Stumbled across this really cool website called TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) where thinkers have to talk about their ideas in about 15mins. Some of the talks are amazing. Here was one I found fascinating.

I wander what the implications of his ideas are for:
  • spreading the good news about Jesus
  • education in general and maths in particular

13 June 2009

Gospel Community

I've really enjoyed these talks from Steve Timmis from the Crowded House network of Church. They are great and a real challenge to live as we should - in gospel community. Check them out:

12 June 2009

Blogging Again

Thought I'd start trying to blog again. Who will read this? Probably no one. So why do it? Well there's probably lots of reasons but two will do for now:
  1. I actually enjoy reading other people's blogs - you get a snap shot into their life
  2. I figure that writing about stuff means that one is likely to be more deliberate about life and hopefully not waste so much time on autopilot.