The World’s Best Letter from a Tax Official

Via Chris Tilling:

Apparently, this is a real reply from the UK Inland Revenue. The Guardian newspaper had to ask for special permission to print it.  The funniest part of this is imagining the content of the letter sent to the Tax Office which prompted this reply!

Dear Mr Addison,

I am writing to you to express our thanks for your more than prompt reply to our latest communication, and also to answer some of the points you raise.   I will address them, as ever, in order.

Firstly, I must take issue with your description of our last as a “begging letter”.    It might perhaps more properly be referred to as a “tax demand”.    This is how we at the Inland Revenue have always,  for reasons of accuracy,  traditionally referred to such documents.

Secondly, your frustration at our adding to the “endless stream of crapulent whining and panhandling vomited daily through the letterbox on to the doormat” has been noted.    However, whilst I have naturally not seen the other letters to which you refer I would cautiously suggest that their being from “pauper councils, Lombardy pirate banking houses and pissant gas-mongerers”  might indicate that your decision to  “file them next to the toilet in case of emergencies”  is at best a little ill-advised.    In common with my own organisation,  it is unlikely that the senders of these letters do see you as a “lackwit bumpkin” or, come to that, a “sodding charity”.    More likely they see you as a citizen of Great Britain , with a responsibility to contribute to the upkeep of the nation as a whole.

Which brings me to my next point.   Whilst there may be some spirit of truth in your assertion that the taxes you pay  “go to shore up the canker-blighted, toppling folly that is the Public Services”,  a moment’s rudimentary calculation ought to disabuse you of the notion that the government in any way expects you to “stump up for the whole damned party”  yourself.    The estimates you provide for the Chancellor’s disbursement of the funds levied by taxation,  whilst colourful,  are,  in fairness,  a little off the mark.     Less than you seem to imagine is spent on “junkets for Bunterish lickspittles”  and  “dancing whores”  whilst far more than you have accounted for is allocated to,  for example,  “that box-ticking facade of a university system.”

A couple of technical points arising from direct queries:

1. The reason we don’t simply write  “Muggins” on the envelope has to do with the vagaries of the postal system;

2. You can rest assured that  “sucking the very marrow of those with nothing else to give”  has never been considered as a practice because even if the Personal Allowance didn’t render it irrelevant,  the sheer medical logistics involved would make it financially unviable.

I trust this has helped.   In the meantime,  whilst I would not in any way wish to influence your decision one way or the other,  I ought to point out that even if you did choose to  “give the whole foul jamboree up and go and live in India ”  you would still owe us the money.

Please send it to us by Friday.

Yours sincerely,

H J Lee
Customer Relations
Inland Revenue

So funny!  I’d love to see the man’s letter to them.

Following Up on the Legacy of W.G. Lambert

From Tony Watkins:

Dear former colleagues, students, friends, relatives, associates etc. of Wilfred G. Lambert.

I wish to repeat my thanks to everyone who contributed to Wilfred’s memorial fund and especially to Dr. Alasdair Livingstone of the University of Birmingham for suggesting & arranging the provision of the memorial bench which now stands in the university grounds.

I am also grateful to all those who helped with Wilfred’s funeral, provided information for obituaries or supported in other ways.

In particular I wish to record my thanks to Alasdair & Birgit for determining which of about 5,000 scholarly books should go under the terms of Wilfred’s will to the University of Cambridge and which to the University of Birmingham, and for delivering them!

I include 3 pictures which may be of interest to many of you. The picture of Wilfred at work in the old Students’ Room on the top floor of the British Museum was taken by Annie Seawright, a Near Eastern archaeologist. Those of the bench & plaque were taken by Graham Norrie of the University of Birmingham.
With kind regards,
Tony Watkins.

Via Viv Rowett

International Seminar on Bible Translation

Lydie Kucova and Alec Gilmore are planning an International Seminar on Bible Translation, with particular reference to Eastern Europe, in February 2013, at the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Prague. The main item on the agenda is the way in which the text (and certain texts in particular) are influenced by language and culture as well as by doctrine. They are therefore looking for specialists in text and canon, versions, linguistic skills and methods of translation.

They would like to hear from any scholars with these skills, preferably but not necessarily, living and working in Eastern Europe for linguistic reasons.

This is not a request for papers and does not necessarily imply subsequent participation in the seminar, but to identify sources of knowledge and experience would be useful and widely helpful in their planning and preparations.

Responses may be made either to Lydie (kucova@ibts.eu) or to Alec (a.gilmore@gilco.org.uk) or both.

Via Viv Rowett of SOTS.

Following Up on the Doctrine of Prayer

The previous post on the Archbishop’s call for children to be taught the Lord’s Prayer seemed to strike a chord- so, as a little followup, let me direct folk to the fullest treatment of the ‘theology’ of prayer in the Reformed tradition:  John Calvin’s Institutes, III.20.  In particular (though the entire section is stunning in its brilliance) do note III.20.4-

Engraved from the original oil painting in the...

Let the first rule of right prayer then be, to have our heart and mind framed as becomes those who are entering into converse with God. This we shall accomplish in regard to the mind, if, laying aside carnal thoughts and cares which might interfere with the direct and pure contemplation of God, it not only be wholly intent on prayer, but also, as far as possible, be borne and raised above itself. I do not here insist on a mind so disengaged as to feel none of the gnawings of anxiety; on the contrary, it is by much anxiety that the fervor of prayer is inflamed. Thus we see that the holy servants of God betray great anguish, not to say solicitude, when they cause the voice of complaint to ascend to the Lord from the deep abyss and the jaws of death. What I say is, that all foreign and extraneous cares must be dispelled by which the mind might be driven to and fro in vague suspense, be drawn down from heaven, and kept groveling on the earth. When I say it must be raised above itself, I mean that it must not bring into the presence of God any of those things which our blind and stupid reason is wont to devise, nor keep itself confined within the little measure of its own vanity, but rise to a purity worthy of God.

What’s he on about?  He wants readers to know that prayer must first and foremost be a purposeful engaging with the Divine.  Purposefulness, it has to be admitted, lies outside the grasp of those devoid of faith.  Faith is the first factor of prayer and without faith there is no prayer.  None.

Luther: On Clandestine and Illegitimate Preachers

What a fine model I imagine that would be, for anyone to have the right to interrupt the preacher and begin to argue with him! Soon another would join in and tell the other two to hush up. Perchance a drunk from the tavern would come in and join the trio calling on the third to be silent. At last the women too would claim the right of “sitting by,” telling the men to be silent [I Cor. 14:34]. Then one woman silencing the other—oh, what a beautiful holiday, auction, and carnival that would be! What pig sties could compare in goings-on with such churches? There the devil may have my place as preacher.   — Martin Luther

Racism is Vile

It doesn’t matter if the racist is a defender of George Zimmerman or a gang of 7 black kids beating a Latino boy senseless:  racism is vile.

Seven black teens have been arrested on suspicion that they committed a hate crime when they attacked a 15-year-old Hispanic boy while he was walking home from school in Southern California, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.  The March 14 beating in Palmdale was captured on video and posted on YouTube, but has since been removed from the site. The seven boys, ages 13 to 16, were arrested Wednesday for investigation of assault and committing a hate crime, Lt. Don Ford said.

Vile.

There Are Only a Few Hours Left…

Till the March edition of the Biblical Studies Carnival goes live (at 1 minute past midnight, April 1).

I’ve received a goodly number of fine suggestions and they’ve been included.  The not-so-good or irrelevant ones, not.  Come on people, pimping your cat video?  Really?

Anyway, take advantage of the opportunity to make suggestions.  Speak now or forever hold your peace.

No, Archbishop, They Don’t

The Archbishop of Canterbury thinks children should be taught the Lord’s Prayer.  No, Archbishop, they shouldn’t.  The Lord’s Prayer isn’t a magical talisman that will somehow or other lead children to live good and moral lives.  Teaching it to children won’t make them better citizens or happier human beings.  It won’t mean anything to their lives at all.

Unless, that is, they’re Christians.

To be sure, Christian parents should teach their Christian children to pray the Lord’s Prayer; to obey the 10 Commandments; to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and their neighbors as themselves.  Christian parents should be teaching their Christian children all of those things.

But non Christians?  No.  They don’t need to learn it because it isn’t a prayer they can honestly pray.  Only Christians can.  Only Christians can utter the words ‘Our Father…’ with any meaning or significance.  ‘Our Father’ is the core of the prayer and it indicates that those praying it have an intimate, familial, familiar relationship to the one to whom they pray.  Teaching persons to pray a prayer which shows a familial relationship to the One with whom they have no such relationship is the very definition of pointlessness.

Besides that, it’s a lie.  One who mutters the words ‘Our Father’ without having God as Father, without the familial relationship necessary, is one who lies.  And teaching children to lie is a very bad thing.  Teaching them that God is their Father when they ignore, dismiss, and live their lives completely apart from his Fatherly guidance is also a lie.

Archbishop, your interest is in ‘cultural christianity’ and not Christian faith.  Cultural christianity is meaningless- and in fact, a distortion of real faith.

Parents – if you wish to teach your children something meaningful teach them to love God and know his Son their Redeemer.  Then you can teach them to pray, with other believers, ‘Our Father…’  If you think, however, that teaching them a certain prayer will result in something wonderful you’re simply blind and mistaken.  You’ve turned prayer into magic.