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Starting points for evangelism that few seem to use
Mary and I had three days in London last week, as a lovely Christmas gift from our grownup children. Thanks guys! Included were tickets to Oliver! the musical, of which more below. First though, we went to the Babylon exhibition in the British Museum, where among the exhibits were the beautiful blue glazed bricks from the Ishtar Gate and processional way. The original has been reconstructed at the Pergamum Museum in Berlin (which also houses the reconstructed market gate from Miletus and the temple from Pergamum. Daniel would doubtless have walked or ridden through the Ishtar Gate many times. Oliver! (based on Dickens’ Oliver Twist novel) starred Rowan Atkinson, and was a great experience. I was reminded yet again that most stories are based on the archetypal ‘hero’s journey’ and contain echoes from eternity – the universal themes of searching, finding, sacrifice and redemption, which reflect elements of The Story – God’s plan and purpose for us.


YouTube embedded video - prevent related video options being displayed when video has finished
You can actually link to a small portion of a video clip, rather than the whole thing. And a major potential problem for sites embedding a clip using YouTube’s generic copy-and-paste coding: when the clip has finished, YouTube by default inserts a range of thumbnail links to other video clips it believes are related to the topic. Problem is, they may not be, and at worst, can be very very inappropriate. But there is an easy way to stop these appearing, so that all that displays when the clip has finished is a ‘replay’ button. Just add &rel=0 to the end of both Youtube video URLs within the embedded code. This easy but little-known tip is so important that it deserves very wide circulation in the web world.


Book review: The Seven Basic Plots, Why we tell stories, by Christopher Booker
Readers of Middlemarch by George Eliot may recall the dry old scholar Rev Casaubon’s failed attempt to create a unifying ‘Key to all Mythologies’. (You may have briefly felt in passing, that Casaubon’s plan was irrelevant and futile.) But Booker has succeeded in doing this and much more – a quite remarkable analysis of the nature of story, in a project which took him 34 years. But do not be misled into thinking that this is a sterile academic book – it is highly readable! And for its 700 pages, remarkably cheap.


Book reviews: Don Richardson books - understanding redemptive analogies
Don Richardson defined the concept of redemptive analogy in his books Peace Child and Eternity in Their Hearts. He explained how, embedded in any culture, there is usually some practice or understanding which can be used to demonstrate the Gospel. Findings these sometimes unexpected keys is has been called a gorilla moment.