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11 ways the Bible is like the Tube


London Underground is a major part of British culture – so I was bound to write a silly analogy post at some point! As there are 11 lines, here are 11 ways in which the Bible is like the Tube.


Photo: Elliott Brown, re-used under CC license

1. Some stations have better accessibility than others. Some have more stairs than others to struggle up and down – especially if you’re carrying luggage. But just because you struggled at one point does not mean you cannot take the Tube as a whole! And stations are slowly being made accessible – be on the lookout for study guides!

2. Some stations are less used, and less famous than others. Nearly everybody knows of Monument, far fewer will know of Roding Valley. This does not mean that Roding Valley is useless – or even that it is generally less useful than Monument. To the person who lives or works in the vicinity of Roding Valley, on the contrary, it will be the most useful station.

3. It is the cause for far more anger and resentment than it deserves (link contains rude language) – because we tend to forget the times it’s been useful every time that it seems to make us stumble.

4. It is deeply embedded in the culture of all, even those who do not use it – and in ways that promote self-sacrifice too.

5. Its users make up a very cosmopolitan, and extremely friendly communitywhich has its own codes and jokes, which might be lost on non-users.

6. There are interconnections. Many of them. So a map – or instructions – can be helpful to navigate it at first, but you soon get so used to it you don’t even look at the map.

7. Some lines are really, extremely short (I’m looking at you, Waterloo & City). Others are so long that people have argued they should be considered as separate lines.

8. You can try to move about in the real, above-ground world without using the Tube, but chances are you’ll get lost, especially in those parts you’re not too familiar to! So if you want to find yourself again, best seek a Tube station!

9. Equally, there is no point simply sticking to the Tube, or just going around in circles and leaving the network at the exact same station. Taking the Tube is supposed to move you from one point to another.

10. Individual stations have their own organisation and feel – some of them are even decorated according to a theme (for instance, Baker Street has Sherlock Holmes) – which does not detract from their overall unity, or from their belonging to a single structure.

11. There is some debate as to whether the Overground line should be considered part of the Underground network or not. Now, nobody tries to argue that the Overground is the same as the Underground; it’s just a question of whether they should stand side by side on underground maps or not.

15 ways cricket is like Christianity

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Ah, the Ashes. One of the best times of the year for a cricket fan. And an apt occasion for a post about cricket…


Photo: Andy, reused under CC license

1. It has become associated with a standard of behaviour. Particularly when it has nothing to do with that behaviour. “It’s just not cricket” may not be used quite as much as “That’s not very Christian”, but also conveys an expectation of overall uprightness of behaviour and the following of unspoken rules.

2. It is full of tales of miracles. Such as a window breaking after a cricket bat was simply leaning against it. Or a 19-year-old trumping cricket giants in his first international game.

3. It is English at heart. (kudos if you can guess where the link will take you before clicking it)

4. Its expansion to overseas countries has a lot to do with colonialism. But that doesn’t make it an intrinsically bad thing.

5. It comes with its codes, which make it somewhat impenetrable to an outsider. But these codes also give the fans a common language and (for better or for worse) an identifying mark which facilitates immediate mutual clicking.

6. The Laws that come with it are generally considered dull and in most cases irrelevant; but there is still something exciting in them. It isn’t the silly things such as the fact that a batsman can be timed out, but what it points towards (a pure game where the players aren’t even thinking of playing for time) that makes them exciting.

7. The Laws aren’t what define the play of cricket. As was, ahem, made clear on Friday by Stuart Broad.

8. There are many forms of cricket. Twenty-twenty, county cricket, one day international, and my personal favourite, test cricket. They all have their different flavours, with the former being quicker, more prone to exciting batting; and the latter more prone to careful deliberation and safe batting. None of them are not cricket, but some may identify with one particular form.

9. There’s an American version of it, which has barely anything to do with the original.

10. To the outsider, it looks like an incomprehensible waste of time.

11. When explaining cricket, it may be better not to start with the Duckworth-Lewis method. When a friend tried to explain cricket to me (a long time ago), he started listing the ten ways to dismiss a batsman. I didn’t understand that there was a fielding team and a batting team. In the same way, if you start looking at Christianity by reading Revelation, or by talking about predestination, you won’t be able to understand (and live!) it quite as easily.

12. If you’re doing it properly, you should wear whites.

13. The hats give you information about the role of some players. They aren’t magically conferring higher powers. And it doesn’t mean that the hat-less people are any less important!

14. Even if you’re not in the England side, nothing is stopping you from playing cricket. Even if you don’t have a cricket ball – a tennis ball would do the trick.

15. Tea has a very important part to play in it.

Add your own!

10 myths about the Bible


The Bible is, together with prayer, the way to learn about God and connect with Him. But its role is sometimes misunderstood. Here’s a short list of things I’ve heard about the Bible which quite frankly upset me – some because I think they don’t do justice to the Bible; others because I think they stop people from accessing it.


1. The Bible is just a reference book. One that we might look at if we want to decide whether getting a tattoo is wrong, or to find out about the life of Christ. If that’s the only way in which the Bible were to be read – simply as an authority – then a rulebook might have served better. Talking of which: isn’t that the Old Covenant approach? The Bible is the living word of God. It inspires us, it teaches us, it moves us and, essentially, transforms us.

2. There’s only one way to read the Bible. Of course not! There’s many ways to read the Bible. I’m not talking here about literal vs figurative interpretation; nor about how to take the cultural context into account. These debates are important, yes – but better left to others; and taking sides in this debate, to me, feels like turning the Bible into just a reference book. What I’m talking about is ways to let the Bible transform you. And for that, there’s plenty of ways. Tease out the general meaning of a passage – its direction, its structure, its rhythm; when it’s a story, identify with different persons in turn (yes, including Jesus) and feel what they’re feeling; etc. etc.

3. The Bible is boring. If you really think that, you haven’t read the whole Bible. Seriously, there’s bits of 2 Chronicles which are far more gripping, even from a storytelling perspective alone, than Game of Thrones’s most gripping. And these bits aren’t an exception – most of the Bible is just as gripping.

4. The Bible is exciting throughout; this myth can be followed with: “and if you don’t agree, you’re missing the point of whatever you don’t find exciting.” I personally don’t find the whole Bible exciting. Sometimes, it’s a drag because it’s boring. Sometimes it’s a drag because it’s depressing. Seriously, though, if you manage to get the first ten chapters of 1 Chronicles to look as exciting as John 15, then (a) you really have a heart for genealogies and (b) please share that excitement with us in the comments. Yes, most, if not all the Bible, points to Christ and is exciting for that reason. But just like any other book, there are bits that are a drag to read.

5. Bible verses can be used as ammunition to shut down an argument. This myth is also known as “Cos the Bible says so”, a phrase which has become one of my pet hates. If the Bible is the living word, then let’s treat it as such. Imagine you have an argument about the theory of relativity, and somehow you have Einstein or Eddington at your disposal. Do you simply get them to come and stand behind you, or do you let them speak? The Bible, as the living word, opens up conversations – it does NOT shut them down.

6. Reading the Bible is an easy habit to take on. This is not true. Like I said before, it can be a drag. And if on top of that, you live in an environment that only considers the reference book aspects of the Bible, you lack the motivation to do so – after all, not many people just take up a textbook regularly. Being reminded that it is a book that transforms us is far, far better a motivation to read it! But there are ways to help: I personally find reading plans extremely helpful; but I also find that once I have the dynamic going, it’s a pleasure. And yes, sometimes I lose that dynamic and it’s a drag again to get back into it. I’ll admit – I’m currently about a week behind on my plan and it’s not the easiest to get back into the daily reading habit.

7. If you don’t have a reading plan, you’ll burn in hell. Also known as “read your Bible every day or perish”. Folks, don’t read the Bible out of a sense of ought-ness, that’ll get you nowhere. Get started out of a sense of ought-ness, maybe – because otherwise you might never start. But don’t let that be your sole motivation:

8. Only the KJV is valid for reproof, teaching etc. Yes, some people do believe that. I remember reading on a forum a while back someone claiming that Hallelujah was an English word that had been stolen by the Hebraic language. So, to clarify: the KJV is not the original text. It’s not even the earliest English-language version! Yes, I’m being flippant here; but have you ever looked down on others for the translation they use? Why would “KJV+NIV+ESV+NRSV” be the only valid set of translations?

9. Protestants know the Bible off by heart. We don’t. We know some verses, but definitely not all of them.

10. Catholics don’t read their Bible. Seriously, I’ve heard that a few times, and it annoys me to no end; so let’s make it clear: Catholics read their Bible just as much as Protestants do. And kudos to them for that – after all, they do have more to read ;-)

9 lessons from 3-foot grass


I dislike gardening. I don’t even really enjoy having a garden. Somehow, we left our garden fairly (read: completely) unattended. The grass was about hip high a few weeks ago; when we finally got around to doing something about it. But the grass was too tall to use a mower on, and too wet to use a strimmer on (not that we have one anyway). So I went at it with shears and a rake. It was slow, not very pleasant, but little by little, the garden looked nicer. Yesterday, after a dry spell (finally!), the landlords came with strimmers and finished the job. Here’s what I got from the whole experience:

Picture of tall grass

1. You can’t do anything without tools. If you don’t have anything sharp (ish), there is no way you can do anything. Equip yourself: read, listen, seek wisdom. But don’t do it on your own, because you won’t be able to be discerning enough. Without tools, all you’ll do is uproot handfuls of grass and end up with a patchy garden. Without spiritual tools, you’ll end up with disconnected islets of knowledge which won’t help you and quite frankly don’t look good at all.

2. There is no magic tool. I had never used a strimmer myself, but somehow, I imagined that it was just a matter of quickly moving the tool over the grass, and that it would be done in next to no time with strimmers. The landlords took over a full day to do it. Surrounding yourself with books that just sit on the shelves is useless. Reading a ton of blogs (this one included) without allowing them to affect you is useless. Butterflying between leaders is useless. Going to three different churches (something I used to do) is not helpful if you’re just listening. When you decide to use a tool, you need to know that you’re going to commit to it, and allow it to affect you.

3. “Not having the right tool” can be an excuse; as can the specific circumstances. Oh yes, it was too wet, and we did not have a strimmer. But that never meant we couldn’t use shears. I may not find myself in a place with the most helpful structures around me… but it does not mean that it allows me to just sit on my arse and do nothing. Wherever you are, make sure you’re not using lack of ressources as an excuse. Don’t even do it to talk about your past, lest you give people the impression that your excuses are valid excuses and use them themselves.

4. Tasks generally look daunting until you put yourself to them. This has been repeatedly true: when I started cutting the grass with the shears, it looked better, and a lot of groundwork could be achieved quickly. It was slow, yes, but I could see the progress, square foot by square foot. When I had to write a disseration, I did not know where to start and had empty page syndrome for a long time… until I just decided to give a go at writing. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but little by little, the word count was reached, and then improvements were made upon what was there. So when you have a vision but do not feel it’s possible – still, give it a try. Little by little, you will get there.

5. If your work is not perfect, it can still be useful. Using shears to cut grass will never get it to a perfect green, but it did allow the landlords to use the mower directly onto this patch rather than using the strimmer. We live in communities. What you do will generally benefit someone – but you have to let other people pick it up. When you’re growing spiritually, you’re also helping others bounce off your growth. So keep on growing!

6. It wouldn’t have got to that stage if I had taken more care of it throughout the “summer” months (inverted commas necessary: this is, after all, England). Discipline is important as a frequent practice. Depending on the activity, different frequences are appropriate: I wouldn’t expect to mow the lawn daily; but finding the appropriate rhythm is key. For this blog, I’ve settled on weekly updates – and it does make writing easier to tackle. Reading the Bible can be a daily or a weekly activity – but once you found your rhythm, don’t slack, or you will find it harder to get back to it.

7. Cutting clutter allows more light to come through. Or maybe that’s just the sun that’s finally come out. But our living room is brighter. Similarly, with spiritual growth: you can’t just keep everything you believe.

8. Sometimes, the inspiration comes where you least expect it. I had the idea to use the shears whilst biking past people who were doing that to their own front lawn. Blog ideas can come from snippets of everyday life, as can spiritual growth. The important part is not to let that inspiration go unattended.

9. Boy, grass does grow quickly when there’s lots of rain and lots of sun! I could probably wrangle a way to tie that in with spiritual growth, but I’ll leave that to you: comment away!