OK Computer (Radiohead)

OK Computer (released on 21 May 1997) is an album by Radiohead that still inspires and takes my breath away. It’s a masterpiece, arguably the most significant album of the 1990s.

OK Computer has received widespread critical acclaim and has been cited by listeners, critics, and musicians as one of the greatest albums of all time. You could describe it as Radiohead’s Sgt. Pepper, released 30 years preciously in May 1967.

It’s their third studio album, and one in which they distanced themselves from their previous work, laying the groundwork for future, more experimental albums.

The album’s lyrics depict a world fraught with rampant consumerism, social alienation, emotional isolation and political malaise; in this capacity, OK Computer has been said to have prescient insight into the mood of 21st-century life. Source

If you’re not familiar with this influential album, do yourself a big favour and give it a listen today.

Would Jesus be called ‘woke’ today?

‘Woke’ has become a Marmite word, you either love it or hate it, embrace it or use it to insult.

It’s a word weapon in phoney political and cancel culture wars. It divides people and groups, yet it’s a word that speaks of thoughtfulness and empathy. A word to unite sadly divides.

So, before you use the word ‘woke’ in a pejorative sense, remember Jesus would probably be considered ‘woke’ today!

Jesus was thoughtful and empathic towards others. I follow Jesus and try to treat others thoughtfully and emphatically; be they white, black, male, female, straight, gay, transsexual, or whatever. That’s not something to be criticised using the word ‘woke’.

Jesus championed the disadvantaged and marginalised, and I try to do the same, because it’s the right thing to do as a human being, but also as a Christian. For me, it’s a double imperative, humanity and Christianity.

Let’s embrace the word and seek to understand others, helping to bring compassion and unity.

The Promise of Peace

I often use one or more Lectionary Bible readings in my Sunday devotionals, and this Sunday is no exception.

John 14:23-29 is the focus today as we move towards Ascension Day and Pentecost.

Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

‘All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

‘You heard me say, “I am going away and I am coming back to you.” If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.

In this passage Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit: But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. He also promised his peace: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

This greeting of peace captured the spirit of Jesus’ work on earth to restore our relationship with God. The Cross, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and Pentecost are instrumental in achieving his work of bringing peace.

We live in troubled times, but we can receive his Spirit and experience his peace.

Note: In 2022, Ascension Day is Thursday 26 May and Pentecost is Sunday 5 June.

The Antikythera Mechanism (1902)

On this day (17 May) in 1902, a small piece of bronze caught the eye of archaeologist Valerios Stais.. He was examining artefacts from a wrecked Roman cargo ship off the island of Antikythera in Greece.

It looked like a small wheel or cog, in fact he had just discovered what has come to be known as the Antikythera Mechanism, the world’s first analogical computer.

This extraordinary two-thousand-year-old computer system was used by the ancient Greeks as an astronomical calculator, able to chart the planets and make predictions. The extraordinary device is believed to have been made on the island of Rhodes around 150 BC, and classical literature of the time does allude to mechanisms similar to this one, meaning this was unlikely to be the only one of its kind. Well over a hundred years after its discovery, the Antikythera mechanism is still being extensively researched, in an attempt to fully unlock an ancient piece of human ingenuity. Source

The Antikythera Mechanism is also a 2020 album by my friend Jack Hertz.

Thinking Allowed 17/05/22

With all the problems surrounding Boris Johnson’s oven-ready Brexit deal (that he was aware of when he signed it) it’s such a shame there’s no system of free trade and movement within Europe that would save the UK £billions, support British businesses, reduce red tape, and avoid the need for the government to break International law. Oh, wait a minute…

Love One Another

A simple devotional today for the Fifth Sunday of Easter featuring one of the Lectionary Bible readings.

When he was gone, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.

‘My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: where I am going, you cannot come.

‘A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ John 13:31-35

The command to love one another was not a new commandment, but the disciples were expected to love one other with the kind of love shown by Jesus himself. His love for God was expressed in perfect obedience, so he wasn’t asking for anything he wasn’t prepared to demonstrate himself.

This kind of love was his command, that Christians express their love for Jesus and others in committed obedience.

Thinking Allowed 11/05/22

No wonder there’s a movement towards unity with the South in Northern Ireland. The people see a glorious future of free trade and free movement aligned with Ireland and the EU.

With the NI Protocol they’re already better off than the rest of the UK, so why would they throw away these benefits by remaining associated with a narrow-minded Brexit restricted UK?

How do I get an Irish passport?

Thinking Allowed 10/05/22

Corrupt politicians want you to believe they’re ALL as bad as them. Don’t fall for it!

Most politicians are people of integrity who uphold the best democratic principles of Britain. They don’t trash British institutions because it suits their blatant lies or narrow ambitions.

You might not like Sir Keir Starmer, that’s OK, but he’s putting integrity and trust before his political career.

Respect for ALL MPs who put democracy and integrity first.

The Letter of Joy (Republished)

No new Sunday devotional today, but I’d like to point you to a series I wrote and published in January 2021. There are links to the other posts in the series at the end of this one. The Letter of Paul to the Philippians in the Bible is characterised by joy, something often in short supply.

As well as being the letter of joy, Philippians contains one of the most profound passages in the New Testament (Philippians 2:5-11) which may be an early Christian hymn, although Paul uses it as an illustration. His purpose is not just to teach theology, but to call the church to unity on the basis of the humility and servanthood of Jesus.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!

Paul probably wrote the letter while under house arrest in Rome, with the likely year being 61-62. See Philippians 1:13-14: As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

Paul’s main reason for writing was to thank the Philippian church for the gift they sent when they learnt of his detention in Rome. He uses the opportunity to report on his own experiences, to encourage them to stand firm in the face of persecution and whatever their circumstances, and to develop humility and grow in unity (amongst other things).

The Letter of Joy (Chapter 1)

The Letter of Joy (Chapter 2)

The Letter of Joy (Chapter 3)

The Letter of Joy (Chapter 4)