Ten years ago today (see date on the left), I became a registered member of this community.
A couple of weeks later, I introduced myself in the following terms;
“Perhaps I should have done this before, instead of trying to slip into the group unnoticed. Anyway, the quiet guy sitting at the back now comes
forward for formal introduction.
I named myself after a Conservative politician, which warns you what kind of politics to expect.
I'm the son of two schoolteachers and the grandson of another one (does this count as a "bloodline"?), which probably explains why I get a kick when
somebody says "now I understand".
I was born with a wide-ranging sense of curiosity, which soon focussed on history. This was what originally brought me to ATS, which is a fascinating
place for anyone interested in history. Where else can you get the chance to study the growth of so many new religions at first hand?
I am now a Christian, but I was once an atheist. This means that, up to a point, I can see both sides of the argument. I certainly won't be wading
into unbelievers and trying to beat them up, because I still remember that it doesn't work.
I'm contemplating making a few threads on Revelation, which will make some people groan. I do promise you, though, that my recipe for interpreting
Revelation includes no dates. If you're allergic to dates, this will be good news.
This seems to be a reasonably friendly place, and I'm expecting to enjoy myself.”
Somebody advised me to acquire an avatar. My technology was never up to that, but I chose to invest in this very soothing new background colour. Only
cost me 200 ATS points, worth every penny.
P.S. For those wanting to know what I look like;
Ten years later, I am now (when last checked) at least 0.2 % of the site’s weekly output in new threads. I have seventy-odd threads in the
“Predictions and prophecies forum.” Five times that number in the Theology forum (“Discuss all things spiritual, and share your own faith-based
experiences”). Also, incidentally, ten threads in the History forum, which I strongly recommend.
How else to celebrate except with the mother of all Index threads? In a couple of pages just below, you will find links to every “faith-based”
thread that I’ve placed on ATS. Many threads were part of a series on some particular topic; in those cases, the link is to the Index thread
belonging to the series (marked out in capital letters). Individual threads in a series are not listed, except accidentally.
I have some good news and some bad news, incidentally, though individuals must decide for themselves which is which.
On the one hand, these threads have already covered so much ground in the Bible that I’m gradually running out of projects for ATS. It gets harder
to find fresh themes, though I don’t plan to give up writing any time soon.
On the other hand, I’ve already begun recasting some of the older projects in book format, with a view to e-publication, if nothing else. I expect
to be writing under a name which includes “Disraeli”, for the sake of continuity. They can be my legacy.
What brought me into the gradual unfolding of this long project? How did I arrive in ATS in the first place? Those questions are as much
“theology” as they are “history”. I’ve always been fascinated by the premise that most of God’s work in the world is done indirectly, not
evading but working through the normal sequence of cause and effect. I once did a thread on the different factors and side-effects of history
that took Paul to Rome in response to his prayer. Perhaps all of us are “steered” in this way more than we can possibly realise.
In applying this theory to my own life, it helps that I’ve got the kind of retentive memory that holds on to events long enough to recognise
connections with later events. “I didn’t get where I am today, Reggie” without being nudged in various ways, and I can pick out some of the
links in the chain.
edit on 9-3-2020 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)
My discovery of ATS was by an indirect route, arising from comments made on a completely different subject. Talking to my brother and his wife about
my move to a new location, I remarked on a news item about the town, claiming that a “funnel U.F.O.” had been seen. Her response, which puzzled
me, was that it was a good thing- we would need them soon, because people were expecting the end of the world in 2012. I couldn’t see the connection
between the two halves of the statement, and knew nothing about the “2012” expectations. So I googled, and of course the results included material
from ATS. The “What’s happening at Yellowstone?” thread kept me visiting ATS to read all the strange material, until I signed up to contribute
things in my own right.
I’m convinced that God speaks to all of us through our unconscious minds, so does he speak through dreams? Perhaps occasionally, at least. I’ve
only ever had one dream that I was willing to count in that category. As part of a dream which was probably about school life, one of my old teachers
remarked to me “You can do something before you go.”
Since this was a British dream, “you can” seemed to be recognisable as a euphemistic instruction. In which case “do something” was
unhelpfully vague. “Before you go?” I left that town in a couple of years, but could not identify a satisfactory “something” to do first.
There was a clue in my school life which I did not remember at the time. I had once written a sketch for a revue, a classical parody in which members
of the teaching staff were represented under the names of different gods. For example, Mr. Tabraham the deputy Head and “Careers Master” appeared
as the god Apollo. When Ulysses was introduced as a candidate for heaven, Apollo told him “You will have to fill in this application form before you
die”. The cast of that sketch were very sloppy about learning their lines, and that line was delivered on the day as “before you go”, which
killed the meaning and annoyed me intensely.
Only much later did I realise that I could reverse this switch and understand the dream statement as a promise. Those were frustrating years, because
I wasn’t getting proper opportunities for the kind of service I thought I was being trained for. Those opportunities would not arrive until the
internet had been invented, but there was no way of telling me this in advance. If the dream statement was a promise, it seems to have been fulfilled.
In my work on ATS and what may follow later, I am “doing something before I go”.
About half-way through my time in college, a small group of students who had opted to learn about “France and Burgundy in the Fifteenth Century”
gathered in the study of the Professor who would be teaching the course. He gave us the title of our first essay, about the economic background. How I
hate economic history- customs duties, the privileges of the Hanse, the rental value of assarts and what that says about population levels. Then we
arranged weekly appointments with him and went our separate ways.
Soon afterwards, in my room, I was visited by a fellow-student who found his appointment-time inconvenient. Would I be willing to take his Wednesday
afternoon slot in exchange for my Tuesday afternoons? I agreed without much thought. Only later did I realise that my easy acquiescence had done me a
great favour. There was an extended lunchtime meeting on Tuesdays which was becoming the highlight of my social life (there were girls involved). The
original appointment-time, including the last-minute essay writing, would have kept me away and broken the connection. I was pleased to have escaped
But there were deeper currents which I did not know about. Six months later, through a course of events which began at those meetings, I had become a
Christian. If my fellow-student had gone elsewhere, back in January, this would probably not have happened (or it must have been arranged in some
other way). This was another piece in the jigsaw.
I believe I count as a Baby Boomer, but I wasn’t among the earliest post-war batches. As each childless year passed.my mother was beginning to get
impatient. At the first sign that there might be a baby coming, she went into church to pray (as she told me much later, after the events of Stage
Two). The gist of the prayer was apparently “Please let it be true. If it is, he could work for you.” Oh, great! Gee, thanks, Mum. I’m still not
sure what I feel about this Hannah-like prayer, and the possibility that it could have been taken at its word. Who knows, I might have had an ordinary
life and a proper career.
Stage Minus One?
Early in the Second World War, a young soldier was on sentry duty at the docks of Barry in south Wales. He wasn’t a Welshman, as it happened, but he
was a recent graduate of Trinity College, Carmarthen (which is where he must have been registered for war service). The date on his Teacher’s
Certificate was only three days later than the telegram from the Welch Regiment calling him in to camp.
So there he was, on duty as a night sentry. At least he was there one moment, walking his beat, to the extent that one can walk under a compulsory
nationwide blackout. The next moment, there he was, lying in a hospital bed. He had been found in the morning, concussed at the bottom of the dock. I
assume it was a dry dock, or the tide was out. Of course he had no memory of the immediate cause of the fall, but there were no other medical
So the only consequence of the event was that he got separated from his unit. By the time he left the ward, they had been moved elsewhere. The
military mind did the sensible thing and transferred him to their replacements. As the war progressed, he moved around as part of his new unit, until
they arrived in that part of the country where he met my mother.
My father had the kind of retentive memory that holds on to events long enough to recognise connections with later events. He always regarded that
fall in Barry docks as one of the key points of his life. It is also, when you think about it, one of the key points of mine. It’s all part of the
massive, complicated sequence that has brought about what I’m doing today. God works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.
a reply to: Raggedyman
It's very hard to identify theological influences, since so much of it will have been unconscious. I've done a lot of reading on church history in my
time, but my approach here has been based on going to the texts directly and ploughing my own furrow.
Unconscious influences will certainly include Cranmer, who wrote the Book of Common Prayer on which I was brought up, as an Anglican. The assumption
that the Pope and the extreme Protestants have both got it wrong in different ways, the definition of the church as "the blessed company of all
faithful people", the definition of a sacrament as "the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace", all come from him.
There is also a story which got left out of the second post on this thread, because it didn't fit into the way I introduced the series;
I’m not one to claim that God talks to me, though I think it may have happened once. One evening a few years back, I was sitting on my bed
and remarked out loud “Silly boy, it’s all about trust”. This came out of the blue, without any warning. It wasn’t coming from my conscious
mind. It wasn’t even a response to anything in my current train of thought. That was why the implied rebuke “silly boy” seemed out of place
(apart from the fact that I was in my forties at the time). The sentiment could have been personal advice, but “It’s all about trust” is
gradually becoming one of the key themes of my theology, with results that will be noticeable in some of these threads.
edit on 9-3-2020 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)
a reply to: GBP/JPY
Yes, that's what the text says. I believe the key insight is that the concept "throwing everything on God in trust" explains why faith is
righteousness. Not an arbitrary command, but the essential factor on our side of the relationship.
Of course that is why there is so much heat on the Conspiracy in Reiigions forum, sometimes spilling over into this one. The whole point of conspiracy
theory is not trusting in anyone (except when they are explaining why someone else should not be trusted).
This is a doodle of a C.S. Lewis talk that might partially address why it's hard to have faith and trust and love in God. I watched it today, and it
reminds me I need to revisit Mere Christianity sometime.
At any rate, it's hard because the world isn't perfect and God allows it to be that way.
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