Less is more. But is it? And if so how to live it?

The assertion that ‘less is more’ is not new. Many will have discovered that contentment with little appears to bring a quality of life that the accumulation of stuff seems to mar. The challenge, I find, is how to conquer the instinct to acquire more.

Jesus warned about the danger of trusting in stuff when he declared the conflict between loving God or mammon.

Yes, but how to do it?!

As a child our family always seemed to be counting the pennies. It was years later that I discovered it was the spending habits of my father that caused this lifestyle. Perhaps that is one reason I was careful with money from childhood, with my pocket money, and as an adult with my earnings. Is this why I have to be careful about ‘bargains’?

I have a tendency to see something I know I will need at some time, and because it is at a bargain price now, feel that now is the best time to get it. I think someone who was more confident about their prosperity would be less likely to feel the need to seize what seems to be a bargain. I wonder if they can more easily see the shop or supplier as their store cupboard. I tend tend to think my home needs to be the store cupboard filled with the stuff I think I may need but had to get when I saw it because it was a bargain.

I read the following quote from Less is More, Spirituality for Busy Lives by Brain Draper (which I recommend).

Good advice! Courageous!

Draper also quotes from Fiona Reynolds, the director-general of the National Trust in the UK. In her foreword to a book called Simple Pleasures she says,

“It is one of the great delusions of our age that we can only find great delusions of our age that we can only find pleasure in ultra-sophisticated, expensive or pleasure in ultra-sophisticated, expensive or complex situations… It is so often found in little, usually unremarked things and the cherished places in our lives that evoke comfort, joy and memories…”

I created something today – a memory. My 13 month grandson is staying. He wore his new wellies as he and I walked through the snow in our garden to where our hens live. He carried a small bucket in his hand. We opened the hatch and loaded his bucket with the three eggs we found there, then walked back the three metres or so through the snow to the house.

I found pleasure in our little journey and he found a memory that will last a life-time. Perhaps that realisation from our small adventure will help me loosen my grip on stuff.

Papyrus a must-have App now optimised for Samsung Galaxy Note

Papyrus was already great but their recent update makes it even more suitable to the Galaxy Note, making good use of the power of the SPen.

The installed Smemo or Snote are good as far as they go but with Papyrus I love the ability to write on a huge piece of ‘paper’ that I can scroll across and zoom in and out of.

If you don’t have a Note (poor you) you can still use Papyrus for writing with your finger.

Papyrus – highly recommended.

SwiftKey Flow Beta is available for download

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A great thing about Android is the choice of different keyboards. I love the fact that they can be changed so easily, even mid document.

SwiftKey Flow is something special though. Like Samsung Swipe, text can be added at speed by sliding a finger across the keys, but with SwiftKey I get added features. I can type many words at once without lifting a finger (or Spen). But even better, it learns the individuals typing style and suggests the be next likely words. Often, a whole series of words can be found simply by touching the suggestions offered above the keyboard.

SwiftKey! Highly recommended.

Rubbish O2 business customer support. Phone line dead but only a phone contact no. available

What fun. Trying to contact O2 business support. We have a land line and broadband contract with them at the office.

Our land line phone can no longer make outgoing calls. Managed to contact the online chat service (slow) but eventually told they only deal with mobile phones so I must telephone the business broadband support number. I told them I could not do that as I can not make outgoing calls and was told I could call them from another number. Like I am going to ask a neighbour if I can use their phone? Unacceptable!

Ah but I could call from my mobile at 14p per minute. I tried that and I spent quite a bit of money getting through the automated options, then was put on hold. I gave up on that attempt before it emptied my wallet.

Bad O2

No email address for support either!

Roy Hattersley at York Ebor lecture. The Good Society and atheism

I went to the Ebor lecture last night to hear Roy Hattersley speak about the Good Society. Yes I know he is Lord Hattersley but we were told he does not like to be called that.

Roy Hattersley was keen to announce that he is an atheist and that all his comments should have been heard in that context. He may be an atheist but I welcome his contribution to this important question.

Listening to him I conclude:

  • He believes a good society is possible, one that cares for all and is as equal as possible.
  • He believes in a set of values concerning his fellow human beings but I don’t know how he can expect others to share his values if there is no God and therefore no cosmic values.
  • He pointed out that religious people seem to use the Bible to justify almost all variations of politics.

How to create a good society is a question we should all think about and all work towards. Jesus went about doing good and all Christians are told in their Bible to do the same, to go about doing good. Christians believe in the ‘good society’ but they call it the kingdom and pray about it every time they repeat the words of the ancient prayer: “Your kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” And in the meantime we should do good.

I think it is difficult for an atheist in our country to comment on moral questions as I think they will have been shaped by the norms of our Christian heritage more than they generally like to admit. Though Mr Hattersley did admit it when he said, “Because I am an atheist, I am obliged to make decisions on moral questions which – as far as two thousand years of history and municipal education allow – is based on my own conscience and judgement rather than holy writ.”

I still think an atheist has the problem of coming up with justification for his or her moral conclusions. After all, if all our thoughts are the result of random interaction of chemicals in our brains, because all existence is similarly the result of random interaction of chemicals and elements, the opinions of an atheist are therefore without any value whatsoever.

If all was at some time created by a thinking, conscious being, the opinions and preferences of that being (if they have been communicated to us) have to be taken into account.

Regarding much of what Roy Hattersley’s had to say, I agree with him that society should protect the vulnerable and care for the weak.

I liked his closing quote from John Bright: “I feel certain that the fort of selfishness and monopoly cannot be held for ever, that the walls of privilege cannot through all time resist the multitude that are gathering to the assault. I believe the powers of good are gaining steadily on the powers of evil and I think it eminently so in this country.”

Review: NB110 trail running shoe

New Balance NB110

These are excellent shoes. These are the shoes I should have been wearing when I turned my ankle on my aborted coast to coast when I was running from Rosthwaite to Grasmere. So light I carried them in my bag as spares. Should have been wearing them!

After a run from Grasmere to Patterdale this week I have come to the conclusion that my heavier GoreTex ones will only come out if it is icy or snow. I love these NB110.

The NB110 are very light for trail shoes at 185 grams. They are the descendant of the MT 101 and the Minimus Trail.

Instead of keeping water out they are full of holes in the upper so they let out water and dry quickly. Unlike my GoreTex shoes that may keep my feet dry for a while, but once wet will be wet for days before finally drying out. I ran through some streams this week and they dried off as I ran.

The studs on the sole offer great grip and they even go up at the from which gives good grip on steep inclines.

These are minimalist shoes so they suit someone like me who did years of running in plimsolls in my youth as I still have a ‘barefoot’ running gait.

If you are looking for a transition shoe to ‘barefoot’ running the NB110 is an excellent choice as the sole is flat, but with just enough cushioning to prevent it becoming harsh. I find these are great for road running too on my usual 10k as well as for the trail.

If you want to read more, try the review of the NB110 here.

God is nothing and Christian Atheism. New to me but I like it

I have just read an excellent post on runningheads.net recommended to me by my friend John B.

As a Pentecostal preacher I have been trying to declare recently that God is more than can be put into words, yet alone comprehend. I have been growing increasingly dissatisfied with the smallness of the God too often proclaimed by Christians and rejected by atheists. I too reject the God the atheists reject – too small!

I recommend you read the post for yourself here. To give you a taster this is how it starts:

I am reading a fascinating book on the otherness of God (The Otherness of God in Christian Theology by Barry D. Smith. Pickwick, forthcoming). It delves into the Hebrew Bible and Hellenistic roots of the classical Christian tradition that God is utterly unlike anything in creation.

God is literally nothing — no-thing. God is not an object in the world; not a being. God does not exist in a manner like anything else but in a fundamentally different, unique mode. Indeed, some orthodox strands of the Christian tradition went so far as to deny the category of existence to God because that would put God on the same level as creation. Etymologically “to exist” is it stand forth or to stand out (against some presupposed background) but such a category only applies to created things and not to the Creator. On this view

  • God is not a being
  • nor even The Supreme Being

For then God would be “like us but bigger.” But God is not simply a SUPER-super-hero.

But for the radicals God is not even “Being itself.” God is “beyond being,” and utterly transcendent. Literally nothing can be known of God-in-Godself.