Wulf's Webden

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Tuesday 22 September 2020
by Wulf
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Sitopia

There was an interesting episode of Radio 4’s The Food Programme a few weeks ago… or ten years in the future. It was called Sitopia and based on a recently released book of the same name by Carolyn Steel, drawn from the Ancient Greek σῖτος (grain, bread or food in general) and τόπος (place). The conceit of the programme is that Steel has become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 2020’s, bringing healing to a nation scarred by Brexit, COVID-19 and other issues by promoting strategies aimed at providing good food and a healthy relationship to its means of production for all.

It is a utopian idea but the programme does a good job of presenting it. Worth a listen.

Monday 21 September 2020
by Wulf
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Social Dilemma

I’m watching The Social Dilemma (2020), a documentary that explores the threat created to modern society by increasingly pervasive social networking systems that are driven by profit and powered by manipulating the users of these networks. Our attention – and thus our time and our lives – are being mined.

It is thought-provoking, scary and well put together. Key people – mainly previous players in the social networking companies who have become aware of the ethical issues created by the way these systems are developing – are mixed with a fictional story of a family being damaged by online addiction.

Worth a watch – although also worth thinking about the fact that it was produced and is being presented by Netflix, a company that relies on capturing attention and lives on binge viewing. For more, see the accompanying website.

Sunday 20 September 2020
by Wulf
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Slab

This weekend, I’ve mainly been slabbing. No, not the illegal stimulant for trolls in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld – I’ve a suspicion that would be lethal for other races, even if it existed. I’ve been relaying part of the patio outside, which is made up of 40cm square slabs.

I’m not doing this for fun or because I have run out of other jobs that need attention. However, we are hoping to get a new shed delivered soon and it needs a firm base to go on. There was previously a shed on that bit of the patio but apparently it was in poor condition and started to fall apart as the owners began taking stuff out of it. The space underneath was covered with a variety of slabs – some 3′ x 2′ concrete monsters and some much small offcuts and, as far as I can tell from my excavating, they were on loose sand or occasionally fitted using dabs of mortar.

I’m going for a thorough job. There was hardcore underneath and I’m using the sand to level that off but taking the time to compact it using a punner (a flat-based square of metal attached to a long handle). I’ve also calculated a drop that will avoid the risk of puddling. A lot of sources said 1 in 60, which seemed quite steep; I’m a little closer to 1:70 but it should still be sufficient. On top of the sand, I’m adding a mortar mix (4:1:1 sharp sand / builders sand / cement) and applying that as a full bed rather than just using separate dots.

Along the way, I’m learning a few tricks, like tamping down enough sand for a row of slabs in one batch, mixing the mortar relatively wet (although not to the point of becoming a slurry) and levelling it to only just above the final height needed before lower the slab and tapping it into place. It is still hard work though and relatively slow.

I’ve now replaced a good number of the slabs I took up, although I’m going to have to lift a few more so that the groundwork is good underneath the entire footprint of the shed. I also need to finish off round the edges, which will require a bit of cutting slabs too. Hopefully I’ll get it finished early this week, before the drier, sunnier, warmer weather goes away and then I can chase up and see what the news is on the shed.

Saturday 19 September 2020
by Wulf
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Oh ye of just about enough faith

I don’t like to waste paper so printing handouts for a meeting is not my favourite task. If you know how many people are coming, it’s easy. If you don’t, you have to guess and risk running out or having lots of paper left over.

For yesterday evening’s ‘soaking worship’ event at Thorpe Acre Church, I thought back to the first in the series, which was last month. I’d produced 25 handout sheets, which was almost enough for each seat we then had available but six times the normal weekly attendance of the first couple of events in the Parish Prayers series (four). In the end, eight people came along, so I was on the waste side.

We have since rejigged the seating and could fit in about 70 people, even with good distancing between the seats (although that does include a few pairs of seats and a couple of clusters of three, to accommodate couples and families). I decided to print twelve and – guess what – twelve people turned up. Not every took a copy (which I’d laid out on twelve distanced chairs at the back for safe, individual collection). Good guess (and delightful to share with a slightly wider group).

If we repeat it next month, I’ll have to give some thought to whether my faith stretches further when I’m preparing at the photocopier.

Friday 18 September 2020
by Wulf
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Romans – Chapter by Chapter

Following on from yesterday’s summary, here is my chapter by chapter run down of this valuable book. For most chapters, I’ve focused on a particular verse although, for a couple, I resorted to a more general precis.

1:17 – The righteous shall live by faith

2:12 – All who have sinned will perish…

3:23 – and all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God!

4:3 – Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness

5:1 – Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

6:23 – The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord

7:24 – Who will free me from this body of death? (still sinning despite knowing what is the right way to act)

8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus

9:32 – Israel failed because it pursued righteousness by works, not faith

10:9 – Confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead and you will be saved

11 – Grafted into the olive (and, from v. 33, an amazing doxology or song of praise)

12:1 – Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice

13:8 – Love your neighbour (this chapter also has a lot about proper respect for secular authorities)

14:21 – Do not do anything to make your brother stumble

15:13 – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit

16 – Goodbye, I love you! (Paul weaves his connections with the church in this city he has not yet visited)

And that’s just the summary, where I’ve had to miss out a lot more than I included. What would you focus on if you tried the same exercise of reducing each chapter to a key phrase or verse?

Thursday 17 September 2020
by Wulf
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Romans Run-down

Romans is the longest of the “Pauline Epistles” (letters written by St Paul to young churches) in the Bible but none of it is padding. For the cluster group meeting I attended tonight, we were going to study chapter 16 following on from having done the previous chapters before the summer break, so I offered to give a quick summary.

You could condense it down the single word, “righteous” but perhaps it is more helpful to break it into three main sections. Chapters 1-8 give a doctrine of salvation, explaining how we get from sin to sanctification through Jesus. Chapters 9-11 could then be seen as moving to examine a doctrine of God’s sovereignty, particularly the past election, present rejection and future restoration of the Jewish people. Finally, chapters 12-16 move to application – the responsibilities and liberty of Christian believers.

When studying chapter by chapter, I found the middle section hardest to work through but, looking back, I can see how integral it is to the whole. For example, chapter 4 is also all about Jewish heritage (Abraham) while chapter 11 explores the idea of being grafted into Christ, which is a potent image of what it means to be “in Christ” (another essential theme of Paul’s message).

Anyway, that is my potted summary. Tomorrow, I will type up my chapter by chapter run through, picking out a key verse or theme from each chapter of the letter.

Wednesday 16 September 2020
by Wulf
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Recording My Week

Back in March, I launched into recording a lot of music. Right at the beginning of lockdown, I was intending to produce two live worship sessions a day, which swiftly became two songs a day, then one video a day, not all of them song based – in other words starting high but coasting down to a more sustainable level of output. However, the process of moving house was very disruptive to the creative process. Since July, I’ve still been turning out over half an hour of video material each week but new songs have been gratefully received from others and I have been doing some recycling of earlier productions of my own.

Therefore, this week I’ve been delighted to record two songs from scratch – one was in today’s Toddlers’ Church service and one will debut on Sunday morning (standalone videos will come up on the church’s worship playlist).

For the Toddlers’, the traditional song He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands had been requested. I did that build around a main take with vocals and resonator guitar (in drop D tuning, for the record) and added a couple of lines of harmony. Pretty quick and easy to do but it turned out okay.

For Sunday, the talk is on the parable about labourers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16), which brought my mind to a line in the contemporary worship song Days of Elijah. I practised it a bit but started my recording by mapping out the structure I wanted and using Logic’s drummer tool to give me a beat to work to. I layered up ‘acoustic guitar’ (actually one of the models on my Variax), vocals (lead and two backing parts) and bass. The reason I wanted this one to fit to a tight recording grid though was that, inspired by a line in the chorus, I also wanted to add a trumpet.

I used a software trumpet, playing in via a midi keyboard and then adjusting. I am looking forward to getting feedback from our real trumpeter about whether it sounds like a feasible part.

Anyway, the news is that Studio Wulf is back in production for music!