Friday, December 10, 2004
A mini-review of a training course.
Along with a sizeable group of colleagues from Philips Semiconductors, I have just attended a two day off-site training course on Personal Excellence given by Nicholas Bate of Strategic Edge. My overall impression of the course was positive and valuable. The material was a a good distillation of the various strands of wisdom collated from a wide variety of sources. It was well presented and there was a good mix of listening to presentation and taking part in activities with other course members. It was not doctrinaire - it did not focus on the teachings of the latest fashion in management gurus. We learned to manage our time and state more effectively, to accelerate our reading and learning, and to use assertiveness as a productive behaviour mode. Course distinctives included the idea of setting a 'personal compass' and having a 'master list' to ensure overall balance in your life, including both work and personal goals.
Why should I BLOG this under Engineering and Theology?
Just three observations, which could be classed as a friendly critique.
1. The notion of beliefs as being highly flexible and readily changed. This should be challenged. The given example of 'Father Christmas' and young children was a rather facile analogy, in my opinion. The presenter gave no acknowledgement that many people have strongly held convictions as beliefs, which should never be abandoned lightly without adequate reasons. Even so, in the immediate context of how people's behaviour is often held back by irrational limiting beliefs about themselves or their situation, there is considerable validity in the proposition.
2. The practice of meditation as several minutes relaxation in which the mind is just focussed on the breathing rhythm. This draws on the now 'all too common' Eastern usage of the word meditation. Though it is fair to say that the speaker was not promoting any religious view as bound up [for example] in Transcendental Meditation. Even so, the fact is that a few sources of the course wisdom did seem to stem from the East, such as [for example] his choice of the Sanskrit word dharma to mean life purpose, on the grounds that there is no single equivalent word in the English language.
3. The principle of self-reference as opposed to external-reference, in the context of being true to our chosen principles of action. Fair enough in the context of not letting what other people might think determine our behaviour, but ultimately futile if the self is our sole reference point for predication and action. For the Christian believer, this should never be so. Our ultimate reference point should be how we stand in relation to the Creator, who is over all and blessed for ever.
Most of us thoroughly enjoyed the course, and all of us were challenged in various degrees by the questions it raised and the ideas and techniques that were taught. It was certainly much better than any other courses I've attended during my engineering career. I'd definitely give it 19/20 as a score.
Saturday, October 02, 2004
Such is life! But then, an engineer like me will not be beaten by the problem.
This page is the abstract of a thesis at the University of Durham, City of Durham, England, UK.
The following Reformed doctrines are investigated in relation to man's role working in a business enterprise:
- man as the image of God and work as a vocation from God
- covenanting in the context of human relations within the firm
- the sovereignty of God in relation to the structure of the economic system
- stewardship in the context of the rewards of work
Without having read the full thesis, any comments of mine would be superfluous at this stage, except to say that it gives the impression that a useful piece of work has been done, one which merits the attention of Christians working in a business enterprise, a situation in which [like myself] many engineers find themselves.
The page does not indicate who the researcher was, but I found the page from a link posted on the site of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham.
Saturday, September 25, 2004
Here are the section headings:
THE CONSTANT NECESSITY FOR DEFINITION
RECENT HISTORY AND CHANGES
RE-EXAMINING OUR NAME
THE DANGER OF WRONG DIVISIONS
SUCCUMBING TO THE ECUMENICAL SPIRIT
'THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOT DOCTRINE'
NON-EVANGELICAL OPPOSITION TO ECUMENISM
GUIDING PRINCIPLES : (1) THE PRESERVATION OF THE GOSPEL
GUIDING PRINCIPLES : (2) LEARNING FROM HISTORY
GUIDING PRINCIPLES : (3) MAINTAINING NEGATIVES
GUIDING PRINCIPLES : (4) NO SUBTRACTIONS OR ADDITIONS
DISTRUST OF REASON
THE PLACE OF REASON
OTHER MARKS OF AN EVANGELICAL
FOUNDATIONAL AND SECONDARY TRUTHS
JUSTIFYING A VITAL DISTINCTION
THE NECESSITY OF OPPOSITION TO DOCTRINAL INDIFFERENTISM
SCRIPTURE: THE ONLY AND FULL AUTHORITY
CREATION, NOT EVOLUTION
THE FALL AND EVIL
ONE WAY OF SALVATION
THE CHURCH: CONTEMPORARY ISSUES
SECONDARY TRUTHS NOT ESSENTIAL TO UNITY
This is a painting that I did at school circa 1963. It was loosely based on recollections of my childhood visits (with my mother) to the market in Longsight, Manchester UK. The painting was displayed briefly at an exhibition of school art in the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester.
You might wonder what this has to do with either Engineering or Theology?
Not much, actually! I'm just exploring the technology of blogging, and there seemed nothing more appropriate to upload than a picture which included the word "Bloggs".
Thursday, September 23, 2004
I've been working in the semiconductor industry since 1973. My theological position is that of a Reformed Evangelical. I also have my own web-site, which has been on-line since 1997. I live in the United Kingdom.
That is the subject that was explored at some depth in a book by Henry R. van Til, first published in 1959. In the book The Calvinistic Concept of Culture, he presented the vital issue of the relationship between religion and culture. The author used the term culture to designate "that activity of man, the image-bearer of God, by which he fulfills the creation mandate to cultivate the earth, to have dominion over it, and to subdue it." Culture, therefore, is removed from a totally secular context, and is placed instead in the arena of Christian activity and influence, constructively viewed from a biblical perspective. The book unfolded both the historical development and the [then] contemporary implications of the Calvinistic framework of culture and theology. Though written 45 years ago, the lessons in it are just as relevant today as they were in 1959.
I read this book during the mid 1970s, and looking back over the past 30 years, I suppose it considerably influenced my own thinking about work during the development of my career as an engineer.
Additional information: (added 2005-05-22)
The Calvinistic Concept of Culture is now available as a free download (3.5 MB) in Acrobat .pdf format from the Contra Mundum web-site.