Sunday, 30 January 2011

Bible in a year

Last August I decided to embark on a 52 week bible reading plan that should see me read all 66 books over the course of a year.

I looked around at a number of different plans and in the end opted for one by Michael Coley (  I liked the way he had split the task down based on the different sorts of books that make up the bible.   Sunday is spent on Epistles, Monday covers The Law, Tuesday looks at History, Wednesday is devoted to Psalms, Thursday brings poetry, Friday is for Prophecy and Saturday brings the week to a close with the Gospels.   This does result in a slightly uneven split of reading volume through the week from a couple of psalms on Wednesday to typically 5 chapters of History or Prophecy on Tuesday/Friday.  The upside though is that you get a variety of style and content during the week.

Yesterday marked the end of week 26 and hence the half way point on the journey.   So how am I doing?  Well, I am a few days behind schedule but pleased with the progress.  I've completed 20 books (Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, Ezra, Job,  Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Daniel, Matthew and Mark.   The biblical scholars amongst you will no doubt have immediately spotted that Ezra and Daniel are out of sequence and shouldn't have been covered yet - these were covered by some normal daily reading notes I was following in addition to the bible in a year plan.

I like the way that the discipline of working steadily through the books is ensuring that I read all of them rather than just the more familiar passages.   I'm confident come August I'll have completed the remaining 46 books.

Today's passage from Philippians beckons so I'd best click on "publish" and go complete book number 21.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Death, love, courage and hope

This afternoon I attended the funeral of a lady that I have known through church for many years.

The love and respect in which Anne is held is well illustrated by the fact that this was the 2nd of 3 planned services.  There had already been a cremation service last week.  Today's funeral/interment service was held in St Catherine's church which she had attended for many years.  In a few weeks the 3rd service, a celebration of her life, will be held in Winchester Cathedral - the fact that it is being held in the cathedral again speaks to the number of people whose lives she has touched.

I always knew that she did a lot but it is still a surprise when you hear everything talked about at once in the address.  As someone put it - she was the epitome of the saying that if you want something done you should give it to a busy person.  Be it in the church, choirs, school or community Anne could be found taking an active role and making a difference.

She certainly fitted a lot into her life and was a blessing to many people.  One of the speakers at the service suggested that all of the congregation should find something we could do to help others - as he put it this would be more "pay forward" than "pay back" for all we had received from Anne over the years.  He certainly felt this would be a legacy she'd be pleased with.  We may already be busy doing things but in a way that would make it all the more apt for us to do something else.

Having just completed the annual appraisal process at work, with its focus on just 12 short months of impact, today's service has reminded me of the importance of stepping back and looking at the longer term and considering what our own legacy will be.   I was also reminded of a film I saw some years ago ( might have been "Death becomes Her") where 2 of the characters are seeking to live forever by taking a magical elixir.   The husband however refuses to take the potion - arguing that even though his mortal life will finish he will live forever though his family and through the impact that he has had on people's lives.

Over the years I've read a lot of articles/books/etc which talk about the importance and power of a positive attitude.  This is another area where Anne provided us with a great example to follow.  She has spent that last few years battling with cancer but though it all retained a positive outlook and a focus on what she could achieve.

There will be rejoicing in heaven but she will be sadly missed by those she leaves behind.  On earth she will live on through her powerful and wide reaching legacy that was encapsulated today in a eulogy to be proud of.  RIP Anne.

Monday, 17 January 2011

IBM Prize for Mathematics

This evening it was my privilege to present the inaugural IBM Prize for Mathematics at Oxford University which is awarded for the top performance in the Honour Moderations exams at the end of 1st year.

The evening started with a talk on the mathematics of bell ringing (think church rather than door or hand) from the retired head of mathematics at GCHQ.   I followed this with a short overview of IBM and why we are interested in mathematics graduates before presenting the winners with their certificates.

Sitting in the lecture room was an interesting reminder of attending lectures over 20 years ago when I was doing my own degree.  The room was much the same but I did notice the seats had been reupholstered and the blackboards have been replaced by whiteboards.

After the talks the other speaker and I were taken to Christ Church College for dinner which was very good.  Hall is impressive even without the floating candles I was sure it had when I saw it a film a while back....

Over coffee after dinner the conversation ranged over sculpture, ancient Greek manuscripts (Epic and poetry), Greek mathematicians, trisecting angles, Euclid, von Neuman, and all points in between :-)