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Saturday Review 4 – Our Culture, What’s Left Of It; Graham Norton; Brexit- A Love Story; Leonard Cohen; The Newport..

Book- Our Culture What’s Left Of It, the Mandarins and the Masses – Theodore Dalrymple

41WgXFK16NL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_This is a stunning book.  A delight.  “Dalrymple is a writer of genius: lucid, unsentimental, and profoundly honest…..He is one of the great essayists of our age” (Denis Dutton).  I have no idea how I missed this book (which came out in 2005) but I am so glad I found it now.  It is one of the best books in terms of understanding our contemporary society.    Dalrymple is a doctor and writer.  His experience, intelligence and breadth of knowledge make his observations astute, witty and insightful.  I will do a fuller review of the book later.  The fact that he is not a Christian makes his comments even more astounding, because in so many places he comes up with a biblical analysis (if he does not quite get the solution).

“Princess Diana was useful both alive and dead to British liberals, who habitually measure their own moral standing and worth by their degree of theoretical hatred for and opposition to whatever exists”


TV- Graham Norton Show

I don’t watch a lot of TV but there are some shows that I watch (usually on catch up) for either light entertainment or just to keep tabs on the culture.  The Graham Norton show is one such.  He is a superb interviewer, witty, intelligent and personable.  He is also a window to the liberal zeitgeist of our celebrity culture (because it is only celebrities he interviews).    He often starts off with some political jibe (usually about Brexit) and his values reflect all the values of our contemporary culture – something he will never challenge.  At times it is crude and lewd – at other times revealing and fascinating. Mostly I find myself feeling saddened and depressed during and after it – what shallow and sad lives most of our celebrities seem to lead.  Would love to see Norton becoming a Christian….of course it would be the end of his show – but he would make a great apologist!


Podcast – Brexit – A Love Story

If you are fed up hearing about Brexit but still want to understand what it is all about – Brexit – a Love Story from the BBC is the best resource.  Mark Mardell is a brilliant narrator and interviewer.  It is entertaining, balanced and informative.  The BBC at its best.


Album – Popular Problems – Leonard Cohen –

Cohen is my favourite poet – every album contains masterpieces!   Popular Problems is one of my favourite albums ever.  Born in Chains is such a great Gospel presentation!


I was born in chains but I was taken out of Egypt
I was bound to a burden, but the burden it was raised
Lord I can no longer keep this secret
Blessed is the name, the name be praised
I fled to the edge of a mighty sea of sorrow
Pursued by the riders of a cruel and dark regime
But the waters parted and my soul crossed over
Out of Egypt, out of Pharaoh’s dream
Word of words and the measure of all measures
Blessed is the name, the name be blessed
Written on my heart in burning letters
That’s all I know, I cannot read the rest


Restaurant – The Newport

Screenshot 2019-02-08 at 15.40.28I have a real problem with the concept of ‘fine dining’.  It seems extravagant, wasteful and somewhat over indulgent.  At times it becomes really pretentious.  But there are other times when it is just beautiful and extraordinary food.  I don’t think its wrong to enjoy the Lord’s creation in that way – did He not after all give us taste buds, creativity and the ability to appreciate beauty?  This week was Mrs R’s birthday so we went to one such fine dining establishment – I believe it won the award as Scotland’s best restaurant.  It’s The Newport in Newport.  Because of a great voucher deal we were able to enjoy a superb tasting menu….all of it was delicious – a delight.  We gave thanks before the meal and we gave thanks afterwards.  The only problem is -don’t be in a hurry….the service was incredibly slow….I got hungry in between courses!    But the Newport is special – and it has a great view across the Tay to Bonnie Dundee.

Saturday Review 3 – Endeavour; Mary Queen of Scots; John Owen; Brendan O’Neill Podcast; The Bothy Band; Berties


  1. Dare I share this here, in the illustrious company of Leonard Cohen?

    A song that was prompted by my seeing a house named Chains as I drove to a dental appointment on Tuesday. I pass this house regularly but had never looked at the name before. It prompted the old Ray Charles hit to turn over in my mind. As in a couple of other parodies I’ve done of sombre songs I started substituting words of hope…that I knew by yesterday I had to type out…


    You took the chains from my heart and set me free
    It was just part of the love you have for me
    All my faith/hope in you was gone, I was just not hanging on
    You took the chains from my heart and set me free

    You took the tears from my eyes and let me see
    It’s the depth of the love you have for me
    For no-one else would die for sinners (a sinner) such as I
    Jesus gave his life so I (we) could be set free

    Your love’s so much more than sympathy
    You took the blame that should have been for me
    When you died and rose again, you made a way, forgave my shame
    You took the chains from my heart and set me free
    Set me free/set me free

    Copyright Jude Meritus 8 February 2019
    With apologies to Ray Charles, Hank Williams and Lee Roy Parnell

    (Additional verse that came later)
    Now I know you give eternal life, set us free from the pain of sin and strife
    For you came to make us new, give us eyes to see what’s true
    You take the (took the) chains from our hearts and set us free
    Set us free/set us free

    I have now written seven Bible inspired songs but, if you or someone reading this see sufficient merit in this, please let me know through this forum or a pm.

  2. Let’s go back to Christendom then where most people were serfs or slaves; families were split up and sold; torture for heresy was seen as God’s will; the churches got rich exploiting the poor, women died in childbirth; people died of disease because prayer was seen as better than medicine; all Jews were considered killers of God; the blood libel; democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, rights for women didn’t exist. Reject the Enlightenment and we would have something worse than Nazi Germany.

    1. Alex, the ‘Enlightenment’ was not a ‘thing’. It is a retrospective term we use to describe a particular historical period which stretches from the late 17th C to the beginning of the 19th. The ‘enlightenment’ comprised extreme versions – the kind that brought you Madame Guillotine, and the butchery of thousands in the name of secularism, and the more moderate kind that we experienced here, in Britain.

      You should be thankful that our ‘enlightenment’ was of a more moderate nature – and that was largely due to the reflections of Christian theologians and philosophers.

  3. Graham Norton’s biography makes for very interesting reading. I laughed and cried. He made a Christian commitment – of sorts – as a child.

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