The biscuit was invented, in 1822, by the famed Georgian architect William Henry Jonathan Arthur Blanchard Biscuit. His invention was completely accidental.

In the early 1800s the population was booming, and more houses were needed as a result. Architects everywhere were desperately searching for ways to make the building process faster… Read the rest here.

Christians and the Conscience Clause

Originally posted on Faith and Pride:

Christian consciences have been a concern since the days of the New Testament. A long time ago, a wise man called Paul the Apostle gave advice to the Christians in Corinth about how to handle their consciences.

“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral … But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral… Do not even eat with such people.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).

In Paul’s view, your conscience regarding ‘sexually immoral’ people did not stop you interacting with them as normal. It was only when a fellow Christian was sexually immoral that you were supposed to invoke Paul’s conscience clause: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you…

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Equal marriage in Gibraltar

Originally posted on Faith and Pride:

10685496_738278972922937_6941628744041493341_nI have had a letter on equal marriage published in the Gibraltar Chronicle.

Although I have only lived in Gibraltar for a short time, I have been much struck by the diversity and tolerance shown here. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Bahá’í, people of other faiths, and people of no faith all live together in mutual respect. Gibraltar enjoys religious freedom to an extent that most of the world can only dream about.

This freedom does not come freely, and everyone who lives here must protect and promote this freedom that we all share. Supporting religious freedom means that we should support same-sex marriage. People from all parts of the religious spectrum support same-sex marriage, and there are churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples that would gladly perform same-sex weddings.

When we say that the law only recognises opposite-sex marriage, we are saying that the religious views of people like M. Bear (Letters, 21st November 2014) are more…

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The Biblical view on being gay and a Christian

Originally posted on Faith and Pride:

And another letter published in the Belfast Telegraph.

I take the Bible just as seriously as any other Christian from Northern Ireland. If there were really a single sound-bite verse that could prove that you cannot be gay and Christian, as Good News Messenger seems to think (Writeback, November 17), then I would listen to what it said, and close my organisation Faith and Pride.

As proof that you can’t be gay and Christian, Good News Messenger quoted the 2011 NIV translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. On the face of it, that translation does seem to be convincing, but only on the face of it. There are two Greek words (malakos and arsenokoites) that are translated together to become “men who have sex with men”. In other translations they become things like “effeminate”, “self-indulgent”, and “sexual perverts”. It seems that translators are not in agreement about what is meant.

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Remember, some of us are both gay and Christian

Originally posted on Faith and Pride:

I have had another letter on same-sex marriage published in the Belfast Telegraph.

IT seems that much of the coverage of the gay marriage cake affair has portrayed it as Christians on one side and gay people on the other. It is too easy for people to forget that some of us are both.

There are gay people who are Christians and there are Christians who support same-sex marriage. Indeed, there is a long Christian tradition of fully supporting same-sex relationships.

While this tradition has, arguably, always been in the minority, being in the minority does not mean that you are not Christian.

I am lucky enough to know the “gay activist” who ordered the cake in question. I am perplexed by that label. I think he is better described as a “community worker”. He is a man who goes out of his way to help people, particularly those…

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Love the sinner, hate the sin?

Originally posted on Faith and Pride:

The adage “love the sinner but hate the sin” is often used in discussions of Christianity and same-sex relationships, usually in a context where someone is saying “I love you, but I hate your sinful relationship”. This is problematic for two reasons, a secondary reason, and a fundamental reason.

The secondary reason is that it isn’t very loving, or if it is, it is using a definition of love that is so far removed from normal experience it is meaningless. My relationship with my husband is based on strong mutual love. If you are telling me that that love is something that should be hated, then that tells me your definition of love is nothing like my own.

You might say that you love your dog, even though it keeps you up all night with its barking. That might even be true. But when you say you ‘love’ me but…

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A Time to Embrace, and a Time to Refrain from Embracing

The SeekersAbout this time every year I tend to start thinking about my father. This is partly because it will soon be Fathers’ Day, but it is mainly because  it is coming up for the anniversary of his death. When my father was young, younger than I am now, he liked The Seekers, and at some point in the 80s or 90s he got one of my brothers to copy his collection of Seekers 45s onto audio cassette so he could listen to them in the car. I have many memories of being driven up and down Northern Irish motorways with The Carnival is Over, I’ll Never Find Another You, and Some Day One Day playing in the background, or sometimes in the foreground.

A couple of months ago, Michael and I moved from Belfast to Gibraltar. Moving a few kilometres across a city is stressful enough at the best of times. Moving 2,ooo km across a continent takes that to a whole new level. So far it seems like it has been worth it. We both love living here, and I am not even sure where my anti-SAD light box is any more. On the downside, the move has exposed some unexpected difficulties in relationships that I thought were very sound. People I thought were dear and valued friends perhaps seem to have valued me less than I valued them.

In work I have been listening to The Seekers to remind me of Dad. One of the songs on the playlist was Turn! Turn! Turn!, a song based on Ecclesasties 3. That has always been a difficult chapter for me to understand. It seems to be so negative and so positive at the same time.

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

Listening to The Seekers singing it one line jumped out at me, and suddenly I understood what The Preacher was writing about.

And a time you may embrace
a time to refrain from embracing

To everything turn turn turn
There is a season turn turn turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

There are people in my life who I have embraced in the past, and now it seems like it is time to refrain from embracing them. The message that I couldn’t understand is actually very simple. In Ecclesasties, The Preacher was telling us that life has ups and downs.  To every thing there is a season. Good times and no-so-good times, times to laugh and times to weep, are part of life. The time may come when old friendships will flourish again, but if they don’t, well, To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.