July 15, 2005

Today I travelled through Kings Cross twice. Both times I felt the same mournful atmosphere overwhelmed me.

This morning Police and senior underground officials were guarding the still closed underground entrance on the main concorse. This evening the entrance was open once again and the police seemed slightly more relaxed at this new step towards normality though still vigilant.

I visited the memorial flower garden which was nothing like as extensive as that which arrose after Diana’s death a few years ago. The perfume of flowers nonetheless filled the air and simple messages of condolence could be read, a number of them from muslims. Three messages impressed themselves on me more than the others I saw.

The first was written on a simple card which was signed “Rt Hon David Blunkett MP” and said:

In sorrow that I was not able to do more to save you

The second was anonymous but spoke volumes:

Where you have sought to spread fear, you will see only greater resolve

Where you have tried to spread division and hatred, you will only see
greater love

Where you wanted to see weakness, we will triumph in unbowed strength

That will be our answer to you, in loving memory of all those who have
suffered from your hatefulness

The third was written by a child:

Dear God, Help everyone to be kind to each other and to be friends

July 9, 2005

As the evening continues many people like us will hear from friends and relatives that they had been mildly concerned about. Friends will check in with each other. I know that at least one of my readers is still trying to trace family in London.

If you are reading this, live in London and havent rung your friends or family since the bombings please ring them- they might be worrying even though you live nowhere near the sites of these bombs. If you need to get ahold of someones phone number, then the BT has an online phone book for the UK

If calling your loved ones doesnt work, then there is a helpline to trace your missing family from Scotland Yard on 0870 156 6344 This has so far had 100,000 calls. Please use it only after trying other means to contact friends or family.

The Police have also issued an anti-terrorism number and ask people to call 0800 789 321 if they have any suspcions about lodgers, neighbours, people who have hired lock-ups, or any other information that may help.

As a family we think that all our friends and family are safe, although we havent spoken to everyone we know in london yet. One friend we’d been unable to reach has now reported she is safe but that she had a friend who was on a train with a bomb and had to walk past bodies. But, already there are those who have gone a step further and traced their loved ones as not just uncontactable but missing and believed to have been in the area.

Families are desparate to hear from these people. Perhaps blogs can help. Credible lists have been published on news websites. If you know any of these people are safe, please let the authorities know.

The following list is from The Times, which has full details of why relatives are concerned about these people: Philip Russell, Neetu Jain, Miriam Hyman, Laura Webb, Jamie Gordon, Michael Matsushita, Monika Suchocka, Anthony Fataji Williams, James Mayes, Richard Ellery, Michelle Outto, Phil Beer

The Guardian also has many of these names and adds the following- Shahera Akther Islam, Rachelle Yuen, Slimane Ihab

The BBC and CNN both also list some of these names. The ITN site has a blank page that they say will have photos of the missing added. If you have information on any of these people you pass it on to the helpline I mentioned earlier. Please do not use this on any blog as a means of reaching the relatives of these people- they will almost certainly not be reading it.

Update 10/7/05
There is another list of missing online which I cannot verify the accuracy of. It remains the case that the best source of information is the helpline number. As far as I can tell none of the people in this list have so far subsequently been found.

The ITN page now has photos of the missing- if you have seen any of them do let the authorities know.

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July 7, 2005

I was struck today with a thought from the bible where we are urged to be “giving thanks always” (Eph 5:20) This evening, I asked myself what can we give thanks for today in the midst of the shock that terrorism brings to the city so close to my heart? Many of these things that I will list seem small, and for those who are suffering the pain of loosing loved ones will not take such pain away, but I will list them nonetheless

On a personal note I am thankful that my family survived intact. I am so glad to have been able to get safely to work on public transport, and in a borrowed car home again around the M25 in a little over three hours- many have been walking all day and are not yet home.

I also give thanks for the fact that this tragedy did not happen on a much larger scale. The death toll, currently 37 with 700 injured will sadly probably rise, but it is absolutely amazing that more did not die given the crowded state of rush hour trains. I give thanks for two remarkable coincidences which seem likely to have contributed to the survival of victims because these circumstances facilitated medical care getting to the victims quicker: Firstly, the bomb on a bus went off outside the headquarters of the British Medical Association where doctors were attending meetings and were able to attend victims immediately. Secondly, a meeting of trauma doctors just happened to be occuring at the Royal London Hospital which meant that 18 top trauma doctors could quickly be airlifted to the scenes of these disasters to treat patients who remained trapped.

I am grateful for the internet which enabled messages to reach loved ones when the phones werent working, and also facilitated a remarkable outporing of love and concern from my blogging buddies. I am especially grateful for the way the internet brings me together with people like PyroManiac with whom I shared some sweet fellowship just minutes before this terror struck. Our conversation was wide ranging and included our gratitude for the way blogging allows us to appreciate the strengths of people like the Internet Monk with whom we might not agree on everything. Indeed, whilst we did not dwell on it, I know that there are issues that Phil and I would disagree on, and the divisions of the church are such that there is no doubt in my mind we would not have met were it not for the web.

I am grateful for the fortitude of the emergency services. One little spoken of aspect of all this is the suspect packages which were being found all afternoon. Whilst every instinct must say get as far away as possible these people were putting their lives on the line. I was amazed and grateful for the quiet bravery of the BBC who continued to broadcast during a partial evacuation of their own building due to a bomb scare. The anouncer I was listening to quietly said that he was about to hand over the programme to another presenter who had moved to another studio further away from the windows. Indeed London as a whole quietly tried as best it could to get home, walking instead of the tube and patiently driving in terrible traffic for once just glad to be alive. I was also grateful for the leadership of the world community shown by Tony Blair. I felt proud as he read the statement on behalf of the G8 leaders, flanked by the most powerful men in the world. Somehow he seemed to have been born for such a moment. You might disagree with his policies, or even feel they have put us at more risk, but I have no doubt in my mind that right now he is doing the very best that he knows how for our nation, and in his roll of chair of G8 and the EU, the rest of the world.

Today should have been a day of great jubilation for London following the news of the olympics. It was not. But Londoners have been through this kind of thing before- I remember previous bombings only too well. We will persevere, nay flourish in the face of this latest opposition. As Tony Blair put it

It is important… that those engaged in terrorism realise that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire impose extremism on the world.

Whatever they do it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilised nations throughout the world.

I will give the last words to blogger Clagnut

So thanks then, terrorists. You’ve just succeeded in bringing the families of millions of Londoners that bit closer together, giving them an increased love of their city and an enhanced appreciation of their way of life. You might have destroyed the lives of several hundred people, but and this is stating the xxx obvious you xxxx you’ve achieved nothing.

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July 9, 2005

In another example of the confusion that is still only being ironed out it has now been reported on the BBC that the Tube bombs were ‘almost simultaneous’ and actually went off within 50 seconds of each other.

They still dont know how many bodies they will find underground. I hope my gratitude that it wasnt worse wasnt premature.

If you are missing family I have a page with links that may help. Life remains far from normal in London but many more of us will be back at work on Monday, mark my word.

TAGS: London Bombing

July 7, 2005

Turn on your radio or TV for more news about this. There have been at least six bombs today in london. I and my family are all well, although my brother narrowly missed one of the explosions.

If you have any more news or personal accounts you are most welcome to use my comment box or trackbacks on this post. Also, there is a UK blogs aggregator available as well as Newsnow. Posibly the best source of breaking news is the BBC reporters blog where reporters are filing text reports from around london.

Tony Blair is due to make a statement at noon british time

My thoughts on the events of the day can be found in a post entitled giving thanks in the middle of a disaster

TAG: London bombing

March 30, 2004

Eight men arrested, half a ton of ammmonium nitrate seized (this chemical has been used in many terrorist bombings) and the BBC report on “intelligence suggestions a plot to bomb civilians may have been foiled.” Wait my slides are splitting with laughter! And no we didnt use a helicopter gunship to hunt these people down, and right now they are being questioned by police rather than being in several pieces.

Of course it could only be a typical British response to state that there is now a “mood of ‘restrained jubilation’ among security services who believed they had stopped a plot at an early stage.”

Well stuff the restraint- this calls for jubilation! The stuff they seized could have killed a lot of londoners- one of the suspects even worked at Gatwick Airport so I am told. What I like most about this is that we haven’t given these people the dignity of being considered soldiers and being shot at- they are holed up as common criminals having been arrested by the good old English Bobby. They will also have the chance to explain what they were doing with so much of this chemical, and given a fair trial if that is appropriate.

Maybe finally people will stop saying that the threat is not real, that it is hyped up by Bush and Blair. This was perhaps a close shave, and we must ALL be vigilant.

July 26, 2005

Guardian Unlimited reports :

“Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have thought about leaving Britain after the London bombings, according to a new Guardian/ICM poll.

The figure illustrates how widespread fears are of an anti-Muslim backlash following the July 7 bombings which were carried out by British born suicide bombers.

The poll also shows that tens of thousands of Muslims have suffered from increased Islamophobia, with one in five saying they or a family member have faced abuse or hostility since the attacks.

Police have recorded more than 1,200 suspected Islamophobic incidents across the country ranging from verbal abuse to one murder in the past three weeks. The poll suggests the headline figure is a large underestimate.one in five saying they or a family member have faced abuse or hostility since the attacks……..

Britain’s Muslim population is estimated at 1.6million, with 1.1million over 18, meaning more than half a million may have considered the possibility of leaving………..

The poll finds a huge rejection of violence by Muslims with nine in 10 believing it has no place in a political struggle. Nearly nine out of 10 said they should help the police tackle extremists in the Islamic communities in Britain.

A small rump, potentially running into thousands, told ICM of their support for the attacks on July 7 which killed 56 and left hundreds wounded – and 5% said that more attacks would be justified. Those findings are troubling for those urgently trying to assess the pool of potential suicide bombers.

One in five polled said Muslim communities had integrated with society too much already, while 40% said more was needed and a third said the level was about right.

More than half wanted foreign Muslim clerics barred or thrown out of Britain, but a very sizeable minority, 38%, opposed that.

Half of Muslims thought that they needed to do more to prevent extremists infiltrating their community.”

I am absolutely astonished that this reporting sees 5% as a “small rump”. Eighty thousand muslims who believe more attacks are justified is a major, major security concern. Does this mean that Blairs new anti-incitement legistlation will see thousands upon thousands of Muslims deported? Will the media continue to reassure us that the “vast majority” of Muslims are anti-violence? What will the Muslim community do to either root out this 80,000 or pursuade them that living in a peaceful tolerant society is in their own interests?

Osama Bin Laden wants to ignite a religious war, and as a result I can understand why governments and newspapers are eager to paint the majority of Muslims as peaceful law abiding citizens. We need the average Muslim to remain committed to peaceful co-operation. As many as 5% of British Muslims being supportive of violence is a serious problem for us- we MUST find ways of winning the hearts and minds of our Muslim fellow-citizens.

July 8, 2005

London is recovering. The Underground website even lists a “normal service” on some lines this morning. Londoners are curiously underwhelmed. Most of the folks in my office didnt down tools and watch the coverage but quietly carried on their work and left a little early to try and get home. We have lived with the very real threat of this kind of thing for decades. Most of us have felt explosions more than once. As I explained in a post last night, one of my most overwhelming feelings is of gratitude that it wasnt worse.

Baratron speaks for many:

I imagine it’s worse for you because of 9/11 flashbacks, but we’re ok. Seriously. London has been dealing with bombs since the Blitz in WWII. We had the IRA blowing up parts of London and SE England for 25 years, forgodsake. Even despite their ceasefire, we still have reinforced post boxes and litter bins on the streets, and no litter bins on public transport. (This was the thing that amazed me most about recent travels in the US – the authorities claiming they were afraid of attack, yet there were bins everywhere – even in the airports!)

Questions are emerging on some blogs about why initial coverage was so confused. It may even be that the very first comments about “power surges” were deliberate misinformation to prevent panic. If that is part of the plan of managing an event like yesterday then fair enough. A disadvantage of such an approach would have been that the absense of clear and dependable information does not inspire confidence that the response is co-ordinated as well as we hope. To be honest though, I suspect that the confusion that reigned through much of yesterday merely reflected the services being more concerned about saving lives than being sure exactly what had happened and exactly how many explosions there were.

It did seem somewhat strange that early reports were of more explosions than were since confirmed, but the most likely explanation of that is that the bombs occured underground in between stations and victims emerged at both. Maybe some of the reports were about controlled explosions- I think we need to know how more about if any unexploded devices were found. Rumours still fly around without general confirmation- was there a suicide bomber shot at Canary Wharf as some bloggers report? We dont know if the report is true any more than reports I saw on only one main stream media site which spoke of unexploded bombs being discovered.

One blogger even cites apparent eye-witness testimony that suggests there were further explosions. One of the problems of course is that we simply do not know who to trust. But then nor does the mainstream media. How can we be sure that eyewitness testimony given on blogs or live on TV is actually genuine? In time no doubt blogging will play a major role in news reporting as blogs are all about reputation built up over time. If a well-known blogger was to report that they had been caught up in the bombs then no doubt those who trusted them would have no problem believing what they said. I doubt though that yesterday there were many people who made up stories.

One survivor who has a harrowing report of what it was like to be stuck underground wants to know why all the Tube stations werent closed immediately. My gut reaction to that is to say that they could not make such a decision in minutes when no one new that more than one bomb was involved, and it is genuinely possible no one realised it was a bomb at first.

There have been official denials by mobile phone companies that the mobile phone network was shut down. Personally I wonder why it wasnt- we know that bombs can be triggered by mobile phones so I would have thought that would be the first thing the authorities would have done. But I am quite sure that the authorities new exactly what they were doing in this as other matters.

Hopefully today, we will begin to understand more about what actually happened. We need to stand together as indeed we are. The Americans are identifying with us- adding union jacks to their blogs and even flying one at the state department

Police officers raise a British flag in front of the State Department in Washington, D.C., Thursday, July 7, 2005, in remembrance of those killed in the London bombings. It was the first time a foreign flag has been raised at the State Department.

As usual instapundit has some of the best coverage, passing on links to others articles. Tim Blair also has some good links.

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November 8, 2014

Poppies at the TowerTomorrow is Remembrance Sunday. We find it hard to imagine the devastation caused by two World Wars separated by just two decades. But we must remember. We must appreciate the horrors of war and be thankful for the relative peace in our time.
And we must think of those who do not know peace. Small tokens like buying a poppy, or placing the symbol ن on our social media profiles may seem insignificant, but such acts make us think.  They should make us feel some solidarity with those who suffer now, and those who suffered before for us.

Earlier this week I had a business meeting in London. I took the opportunity in the middle of the afternoon on a working day to stop and get out of the train I was on to view the poppy exhibition at the Tower of London. I was not prepared for what I found. Getting off the train was a crowd of people so great that they had to be specially controlled or directed. It was like attending a real event. When I got close enough to see the crowds and the ceramic flowers, I realized it was a big event.

You couldn’t get close enough to the display because of a very large, but quiet and contemplative crowd. Each person, united with their peers, stood motionless looking at the sea of red, each poppy representing a British life lost in World War I. At that time death struck almost every town and village in the land. There were only a tiny handful of small hamlets that escaped.
Today similar horrors of war are continuing, especially in the Middle East, where a holocaust of our Christian brothers and sisters who have lived there for 2000 years continues unabated by a few Allied bombing raids.
We are incredibly fortunate that such atrocious acts are so geographically removed from us and seem so long ago now in our own land. But peace is a fragile thing and can be so easily broken. And we should feel pain at the thought of others going through experiences so many in our civilization died to prevent others from experiencing. Nazi Europe no longer has the monopoly on attempted genocide of a religious group.
Today, let’s pray for peace to continue for us and that it will come to the Middle East and other areas of conflict. Let’s take symbolic steps to help us remember, and think, “Is there anything else we can do to promote peace this Remembrance Sunday?”
I hope this embedded video will give you a sense of what Tower Hill is like with its poppies, but I urge you to go and look for yourself over the next few days if you can get close to it. I’m told it will be floodlight until midnight every day to help more people get to see it. I would recommend approaching from the Monument station rather than Tower Hill, as that station was overloaded when I was there, and has had to be closed at times for safety because of being swamped by those wanting to see this phenomenal display.
December 20, 2013

I am continuing my trip down memory lane. So far I have posted my personal blogging highlights from the years 2006200720082009, 20102011, and 2012.

Today we reach 2005.

At the beginning of the year I was still at the height of what was a really defining dialogue for the early days of this blog, with a gentleman who longtime Christian blog readers will be familiar with as the Jollyblogger.  David hasn’t been active on the Internet in recent times, since 5 years ago this December he was diagnosed with cancer.  Having said that, he is still preaching over at the church he pastors. I enjoyed listening to a recent sermon of his: The Gift while writing this post.

David is a Presbyterian and yet I found he and I agreed on far more than we disagreed.  So much so that some people thought we were the same person in the early days!  So, come January 2005 I was looking for things to disagree with him about to prove that we were two people!

In February, I shared a Simple Gospel summary which led to a lot of criticism at the time. Interestingly, given the fact that I would later write Raised With Christ, as far as I can remember nobody complained at the time that there was a glaring hole in that summary: the resurrection of Jesus!

March 2005 saw me mentioning our forthcoming move as a church into the cinema.  At the time we were  around 100 adults, but I spoke of how we were convinced God was calling us to build a large church in North London.  I thank God that  the work has been so blessed of God in recent years. It was really like he pressed the fast forward button.

Over the year I also wrote a few posts on preaching including:

The Toronto blessing was  a time when some believed the church was going mad.  At the time I wrote a substantial article responding to the phenomena. It was the first substantial Christian article I ever wrote. To mark the 11 year anniversary of the events I posted it on my blog.  It is hard to believe that it will be 20 years next May! As I said back then, “Some of my reformed friends are uncomfortable with the fact that I am willing to see good in what happened. No doubt some of my charismatic friends will be unhappy with the fact that I accept that unhelpful excesses also occurred in some places.”  I commend the article as it includes some suggestions about how to respond to unusual phenomena.

I took a moment to pause and ask why bother blogging,  and my rather bold views of what blogging could accomplish do remain valid today.

A major series of 2005 was my interview with the translators of the ESV.  I think it still makes interesting reading today but I apologize for the formatting errors that have somehow crept in due to the various hosting moves over the years.  I really could use a blogging intern to help me tidy some of those older posts up.  Any volunteers?

I used the blog to put forward a couple of controversial ideas.  The first was that Galatians was written before the Jerusalem council, and the second Did Paul meet Jesus?  I also posted on the New Perspectives on Paul.

Another major series was based on a sermon I preached Churches that Change the World this includes some posts on a fascinating way of looking at personality in a team, Social Styles.

I posted the results of a conversation with my then 8 year old, on the question What is Love? and preached a sermon inspired by this.

2005 will forever be remembered as the year of the London Tube bombings which was a moment of real merciful deliverance for us as a nation from what could have been so much worse.

All in all, I think 2005 was a vintage blogging year, and I commend some of these old blog posts for your interest.

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