Friday, 31 October 2008

Finding ones roots

Last year when we travelled through Ireland, we visited Dungiven and found what was left of farm buildings on a farm that we believed might have belonged to my Thompson great-grandparents. I wrote to a historian of the Dungiven and Feeny area and received a letter back this week confirming that the farm had belonged to my great-grandparents. With my grandmother Thompson (nee McAteer) also originating from Northern Ireland (Port Glennone), I am feeling quite entitled to claim my Irish heritage.

The house should be here but it seems to have vanished long ago. The garden gate remains and across the road some farm sheds. However, the view to the local hill is really good.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Go forward

After months of drafting and redrafting, my PhD thesis is finally to be submitted. I now have all the sign offs and the thesis printed ready for examination. I will be delivering it on Wednesday on my way to the National Cycling Road Championships. Do I think it is a perfect thesis? I doubt whether there is such a thing. Could it be better? I suspect that it could be better but you can't go on revising for ever. After Wednesday, we wait for the examiners to read and comment on it.

Also on the positive news front, I signed a contract for a six month software development role. So after almost 10 months of dedication to the completion of the thesis, it is now a return to a software development role. We had decided to give up active job hunting until the thesis was completed but we were approached by an agency about three weeks ago to see whether I would be interested in this role. We decided that we would express interest but wouldn't place a lot of confidence in getting the position.

Both the completion of the thesis and finding employment have been major struggles over the last few months. At times, it would have been easier to walk away specially from the thesis but there always seemed to be the message to keep moving forward. We had come too far to turn back. There is still a lot of uncertainty on the path ahead but the message is clear that we keep moving forward and allow things to run their course.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Another Panorama

After a lot of experimentation and learning, we have created another 360 panorama. This one was taken in the Wellington Botanical Gardens. It is one of a sequence of three. However, the open source display tool that we are using seems to be difficult to configure so only one is available for view at present.

Click on the image to view the panorama.

Friday, 10 October 2008

What does God have to do to catch our attention?

Ellison's (1982) contends that the real victims of the plagues brought upon Egypt were Egypt's nature gods. They were increasingly shown to be powerless to protect their worshippers. They could not stand before Israel's God, Yahweh.

But why should God cause such destruction? Weren't there easier ways for him to show Israel that they were his people and that he would not back down on his promises?

I doubt whether I could answer that question satisfactorily but I can see that in our current times, God is having trouble catching our attention. Increasingly God or the notion of a god is being discarded in modern society. We are able to cope and build our own future but is that really true.

What did we learn from the 9/11 attack on the twin towers? Is there a message for us in the current collapse of the financial markets?

Surely the 9/11 attack shows us that we are not building harmony in the world. Some groups still feel disadvantaged and that their way of life is under threat. Groups which are called terrorists are able to recruit in western nations from people who feel oppressed or forgotten by the western systems. Is it possible that in the so called terrorist activity that there is a message for us about the need to hear and change? In arrogance, western leaders have stood up and condemned the attacks and sought to bring to judgement any who might be linked with the terrorist groups. Where is the desire to hear the pain and hurt of people who feel rejected and neglected? There is a hardening of the heart to stand against all that might threaten the western way of life.

Now there is the financial meltdown. This isn't an attack from outside but rather an attack from within. The western financial systems were superior to any other options. They brought wealth and independence. Now their foundations are shaking and the attempts to bail them out are struggling to make a difference. Governments speak of needing to support the system because our survival depends on these systems. If the financial systems collapse, the western style of life is under threat once more.

Are we seeing misplaced confidence in man made systems? Are we seeing just how much we need to be shaken? Is God trying to deliver us a message and are we not hearing?

Egypt depended on its nature gods. They were challenged and found wanting. Israel time and time again needed to be challenged to hear God as it became comfortable and took on the ways of the people that surrounded it.

God continues to try and get our attention but are we listening. What have we placed our confidence in instead of trusting in him and hearing the path that he would have us take? How many gods have we put in place that need to be shown as ineffective before we will turn again and listen to God's message?

The prophets may not be calling from the roof tops warning us of dangers of the path that we have chosen but the signs are there that we have misplaced our faith and that we need to hear again God's call for our lives.


Ellison, H. L. (1982). Exodus. Edinburgh: The Saint Andrews Press.

Saturday, 4 October 2008


Ellison (1982) translates the word as “I shall be that (what) I shall be.” This is quite different to the normal translation of “I am who I am.” “I am who I am” places an emphasis on here and now. God is who he is and we shouldn't question it. Ellison's translation presents an interesting challenge. “I shall be that (what) I shall be” is giving a future tense to God's name. It is looking forward to what God will do and accomplish for his people.

In the context of this passage (Exodus 6:2-27), it is this future hope that the people of Israel need to trust in. They and their forbearers have received promises that have remained unfulfilled. Now the people are forced labour under the Egyptians. This surely isn't the fulfilment of the promise of being God's people. There would seem to be valid reasons for disappointment in God and being called “I am who I am” wouldn't carry a great message of hope.

But “I shall be that (what) I shall be” is forward looking. It is raising the possibility that God will act and restore hope for his people.

As I write this, I am coming to the end of the writing of my PhD and although I have applied for positions, nothing has materialised as a job offer. It isn't the first time in my life that a change in direction in my career has occurred. Last time, it felt like all that I had worked for and done counted for nothing. Industry said that I could not change from being a mainframe programmer to programming PCs. This was despite having just moved into supporting IBM AS400s. Now, the message from industry is that I don't have enough current experience of the technologies and that I am over qualified for a position that would enable me to get up to speed with the technologies.

Trust in man give me no confidence but trust in a god who will be what he will be gives me hope. His plan and promise will be worked out even if I can't see it yet. I simply need to place my trust in him.


Ellison, H. L. (1982). Exodus. Edinburgh: The Saint Andrews Press.