Sunday 31 December 2023


 A visit to Cheshire

Lord, Thy praise exceedeth tongue or pen:
From our hearts an anthem swelleth
To the One whose grace excelleth  
Thou art fairer than the sons of men!

Thou art First and Last and the Amen:
Thou art throned in perfect fitness
Who wast here the faithful Witness  
Thou art fairer than the sons of men!

All Thou art transcendeth human ken
Thus Thy grace and glory raises
Worship, adoration, praises  
Thou art fairer than the sons of men!

Sing this to the tune of "God be with you till we meet again".

Sunday 17 December 2023


Seahouses Harbour 

From the sky loom
Asteroids and shooting stars,
Comets: the Lord
Is in control.

Beneath magma
Rises, lava bursts,
Feel worldly shudders:
The Lord is in control.

Within bacteria
Of leprosy, viruses,
Parasites: the Lord is
In control.

The pastures are green;
The waters are still;
The soul within me restored:
The Lord is in control.

Sunday 10 December 2023


Between Bamburgh and Seahouses, and in Seahouses, Northumberland

My land was barren, and my sheep had fled,
My barn was ruined, and my wealth was spent,
My fences shattered, and my sheepdog dead:
The Landlord faithfully required his rent.
How could I pay a penny of my debt
From land my wandering sheep had churned to mud?
The Landlord's writ forbad me to forget
And showed the rental must be paid in blood.

And so I asked for Mercy. Mercy came
To help me plead, with her resplendent face.
And we were heard, although I had no claim,
While all my pleas evoked the help of Grace.

The Landlord gave me wealth that would suffice
For life, and told me He had paid the price.

Sunday 3 December 2023


This needs some explanation.  I'm doing an online module of study on economic development, part of which is internet discussion with my fellow-students.  And part of the marking is to provide personal reflections on the discussions.  These make up the first seven sonnets; but economists don't have real answers; so I went on afterwards to the eighth sonnet.   

On The Advantages of the Developed Nations

First movers in industrialisation

Gained a first step towards imperialism,

And while most states have outward liberation

They’re held in thrall to neoliberalism;

Resources were available, which first

Allowed the wealth the north can now attain,

But all development entails a thirst

For energy which Earth cannot sustain.

We thought of inequalities in nations,

And India and China’s new advance.

And current change in women’s situations,

Though I had doubts about its relevance.

I wondered how advances in technology

Impinged on nations’ ruling ideology.

On Developing and Measuring Development

While we could all accept that GDP

Is not a useful measure of advancement

We found it rather harder to agree

Alternatives: each measure needs enhancement.

It was proposed each nation should decide

Which let me tell my comrade in Bhutan

They measure happiness – which won’t provide

An answer to the woes the north began.

We thought of global warming to produce

Grief in the south, which cannot be denied;

And rightwing thinking which will not reduce

Our inequalities – and never tried.

While I was sad that if you plant a tree

It has no impact on your GDP.

On Traditional Theories of Development

Economists have their creation myth:

That markets, through a hand that is invisible

Work best for all, or so thought Adam Smith,

Which most think true , but which Marx thought was risible.

Using competitive advantages we all thus

Ricardo thought, live where world trading boomed,

But all was limited thought Thomas Malthus

Since population growth means we're all doomed.


It's all old hat, thinks Sean, while Hannah's found

Positives lacking. Kayley thinks that Keynes

Is useful still, and Neo-Keynesianism sound

When government in wisdom intervenes.  


The way I'd set things out seemed satisfying

To David Skene, which I found gratifying.

On Dependency Theory

Next week we were confronted with a query

And I must squeeze thought on it in a minute,

About the value of dependency theory

And I concluded – yeah, there’s something in it.

Although the nations of the south are free

They’re bound to give the north its interest,

While I would ask us all to what degree

They have internalised, ‘the west is best’.

Colonialism stole the south’s resources

And keeps them still as primary producers;

Was this designed? I asked, and, What recourses

Extracted Asia from its seducers?

As metaphor Pat showed a trafficker

Has dumped our useless clothes on Africa.

On the Role of International Institutions

The role of international institutions

Which were set up at Bretton Woods

Is marred, I showed, because their constitutions,

While set up maybe for our common goods,

Lacked in legitimate democracy.

The US has a veto on decisions,

And with its prevalent hypocrisy

Is likely to resist the south’s revisions.

To whom, asked Clare, are they accountable?

Examples of corruption have been found.

Is their attacks on human rights surmountable?

Will they let fossil fuels stay in the ground?

And for how long will the world bank be loath

To think there is another way than growth?

On Endogenous Growth Theory

Endogenous Growth Theory foxed us next,

Perhaps because parts were too obvious.

With thought about it we were less perplexed:

Some institutions may be noxious;

By sorting that, enhancing education,

And using new technology growth grows.

Yet much harks back to Smith’s specialisation:

How much has man advanced in what he know?

But what if growth is not what we desire?

Kayley suggests our turbines might be taller

As our advanced technologies require

Less land and thus their footprint will be smaller.

Tharoor hails, in one book he has compiled,

“The education of the female child”.

On The Role of the State

We started with the British constitution,

Sean designated as “uncodified”,

Which came through parliamentary evolution.

Ros thought codification should be tried

So that all know responsibilities and rights.

The fact one could hold governments in check

Is a development which Lindy cites,

Though changes may become a bottleneck.

Most liked the one I showed from Ecuador,

Especially the section about food;

But courts are one thing we must reckon for

If aims of constitutions are not good.

So Swiss may readily change the agenda

In one of their persistent referenda.

On the Answer to It All

Searching the world for principles and laws

Economists have scanned economies

But their conclusions were unsure because

They only reached to externalities.

Sometimes they helped external human need

But could not solve the need that is within;

They could not cure the root of human greed,

Because the root of human greed is sin.

God came in Christ to deal with sin and sins,

And in His grace to souls the Saviour died;

The only hope for human hearts begins

Because God’s Christ is raised and glorified.

The present worries, and the future’s grim

Unless we have our faith and hope in Him.