Sunday, March 29, 2009

Resolved, Church Plant, Newtown

Tonight I took a couple of people to visit Resolved, a Church Plant in Newtown, which runs its Sunday services out of Newtown neighbourhood centre. Hans Kristensen is the leader of this Church Plant, and deserves, in my opinion, a measure of respect. Unlike many who are talking a lot about church planting, Hans is actually doing it. He's gathered a core, has theological training, is doing it without external support.

As we arrived Hans was texting outside the centre. I know Hans, so we had a brief chat, before heading inside and upstairs. The room was a fairly basic hall, set up with chairs, a screen, projector, and a decent sound system. There was some great themed artwork, which matched the church's branding, that had been set up, suitable portable for a rented space, but very effective. Each chair had a bible, suitably stylish but not overly 'hip', which Hans mentioned during the service that we could take home if we didn't have one.

Attendance was 16, including 3 of us. Hans mentioned this was quite down from usual, around 25-30, with a good 5-8 newcomer-turnover rate per week. As the service started we were encouraged to sit up near the front. We started with a bracket of 3 songs, including 'How Deep the Father's Love' and 'Mighty to Save'. The sound quality was excellent, and we were lead by a single female vocalist and a male vocal-guitarist. For a very small music set-up, they led excellently and it was a great time of praise.

This lead into Hans introducing things, mentioning the free bibles, and leading us in prayer. Like many aspects, he was clear to explain what prayer was for the newcomer/outsider. I was encouraged that he specifically prayed for the city, for Newtown, and for other churches in Newtown by name.

Next up was a bible reading. Hans started off by briefly interviewing the reader, a usual occurence by the sound of it, and then the reading from Luke 1:57-80. Hans has committed to preaching right through Luke, into next year.

The sermon was solid. I clocked the time at 35 minutes, and it felt slightly longer though not overly long. The lighting was a little dim. Hans spoke with a lapel mic, but the set-up was perfect so there was no noise. The sermon was good, continually bringing us back to personal application - do we realise our need for a saviour? do we trust God's word or reject it? Do we know God's faithfulness? What is our view of God today? It worked well with the text without being slavish. Hans was careful to explain specific 'religious' terminology, and hang everything on the Gospel. Jesus and his work on the cross was high on the agenda, and clearly proclaimed

The sermon lead into communion, with a reflective version of 'How great is our God' while communion was served individually at the back. This lead into a second singing bracket, including 'How great is our God' now sung by the congregation, and 'Indescribable', finishing with 'Mighty to Save'.

After the service was a tasty informal supper. Foods had been cooked by some of the church members, and they were tasty. I spoke to a number of members, and the impression I got was a strong committed core. Numbers were down from usual, so I can only say that that perception of ours was a little skewed.

Resolved is a small church-plant with some great things going for it. It reflects its setting, with a young, hip congregation. Like I said, kudos to Hans for giving things a go and doing what many others are saying. Pray for Resolved, and if you're in Newtown, 6pm at the Neighbourhood Centre (1 Bedford Rd, just across from Newtown train Station) is the place to check it out. [Edit]. The website is up:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Knowledge was made to be shared

Good for MIT, They've made it policy to release all faculty publications as open source material. The copyright tyranny of expensive journals and closed access needs to end. It's not helping anyone except the publishers.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Is a new Scottish Gaelic Bible Translation worth it?

It's a question that came up on Wednesday night, as I talked about trying to sponsor translation of the NT. I feel like what is holding back the Scottish Bible Society's efforts is a lack of heart for the project. Why is that?

2001 Census Data puts the number of speakers at 58,650. This is a drop from 1991 Census Data, listing 65,978 speakers. This post suggests the number may actually be higher, up to double the official figure! While double is, in my opinion, probably too high a suggestion, I do think there is real bite to the suspicion that some people don't list Gaelic because they don't think their Gaelic is 'up to scratch'. Further, 92,400 had 'some' ability in Gaelic. Outside the main Gaelic areas, Gaelic knowledge is about 1% of the population.

Gaelic remains in decline. Some fear that it is reaching the critical point where it will go into terminal decline. All, or nearly all, Gaelic speakers are bilingual with English. Nonetheless, Gaelic enjoys strong national sympathy in Scotland, even from many who do not speak a word of it. Furthermore, official attempts and funding are beginning to gain momentum, Bòrd na Gàidhlig as but one example. Gaelic-medium education is also beginning to take off. If Gaelic survives, it will be the result of intentional effort and resources poured into making it survive.

So, I come to the question of the SBS's new SG translation. Is it worth it?

The current translation of the Bible into Gaelic is around 300 years old. No one suggests that English speakers don't need contemporary translations (KJV issues aside. The KJV should be honoured for its historical and pivotal role, but a good working translation for contemporary English-speakers it ain't). Gaelic's survival depends mainly, at this stage, upon uptake of speakers. A new Gaelic translation forms a powerful way of affirming their cultural identity, an identity largely constructed and assumed. It is, I suggest, an evangelistic witness. Do other languages need translations? Desperately. But so does Gaelic. It may contribute not only to the conversion of Gaelic speakers, but to the preservation of that language into the future.

post-scriptum: Scottish Bible Society website is where you can sponsor a chapter of the NT for £35. I'm committed to getting all of John done first, in the hopes it might be published as a single gospel.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sen. Conroy on Q&A

Sen. Conroy made a technological argument based on Moore's Law, to basically sidelines the technical issues of the debate. That technology would quickly advance to a level that made the proposal viable. Surely any such argument is flawed by the fact that the same principle would relate to circumvention. Indeed, circumvention techniques already exist for the proposed filter, and most material of the type claimed to be censored is not trafficked on websites.

Sen. Conroy also mentioned a number of websites, 2 so far, that were classified by the ACMA, but then mis-classified by the technology onto the ACMA.

Sen. Conroy referred to the now famous blacklisting of a Queensland dentist. He explained that this was the result of hacking by the Russian mob and posting explicit content on their url. He failed to mention that the Dentistry had no idea, since the blacklist is secret, and no right of appeal. He claims he's all for fighting the Russian Mob (!).

Sen. Conroy says that political content is not, and never has been, and never will be, banned. For a secret, unreviewable blacklist, how is this defensible?

Sen. Conroy is defending the secrecy of the list, in light of the wikileaks leaking of the blacklist. If the list is secret, how can anyone be confident about its integrity.

Video comment by jeffrey wang, compared the censorship proposal to the People's Republic of China, from which country he comes. He also had a guy fawkes' mask.

"Don't you realise 1984 was meant to be a warning not an instruction manual?" - Audience question.

Sen. Conroy continues to articulate that it's not about political speech. He claims the list has existed for 9 years [true, but it was never used for censorship. It was a toothless tiger of classification for internet sites].

Andrew Bolt is 'shocked' by the lack of moral seriousness. His first comment lost all sympathy from me though.

What about the anti-abortion site? Surely that, despite graphic imagery, is a political issue?

Andrew Bolt has just come off as a total moralist. Susan Carland is asking whether it wouldn't be more productive to leave the sites as is, and watch the sites and catch the perpetrators and the viewers? Shouldn't we catch child pornographers?

Sen. Conroy accepts that this won't deal with P2P traffic, but claims that other technical approaches will. He's affirming that it's part of a broad package, a 'raft of solutions'.

That's the end of the debate. I'm not sure Sen. Conroy has convinced anyone.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What the Son knows, part II

I have been pondering this question for several weeks now, but I think I have found an (uneasy) resolution. Here's the crux of my question. Matthew 24:36 // Mark 13:32 speak of the Son not knowing the hour (of the second coming). What does the second person of the Trinity know, after he has taken a human nature to himself?

Francis X. Gumerlock provides Four Patristic Solutions to the problem. Here they are briefly summarised:

1. Basil of Caesarea argues that the verse in Mark should be read as "not the Son, if not the Father", thus a statement of Christ's unity with the Father and the basis for his knowing the time of his return.
2. Augustine argues from scriptural parallels that 'to know' can mean 'to reveal', and that this is the sense here. The Son does not reveal the hour.
3. Gregory of Tours argues that 'son' is metaphorical for the church (sons of God), and 'father' is metaphorical for Jesus.
4. Athanasius (and following him Gregory Nazianzus (who prompted this whole conundrum for me), and Rufinus) follow an anthropological solution. He knows as God, He knows not as Man.

Of these 4, Basil's runs aground on the Matthean passage. Augustine's position works from good scriptural warrant on the meaning of 'to know', but overstretches its meaning here. Gregory of Tours is, I believe, the weakest. Athanasius' is the strongest, but the danger is a veering towards Nestorianism.

The problem comes post-Chalcedon. In response to Nestorianism, it was held that the Son knew and was not deficient in knowledge in this regard, due to the unity of the two natures. This is, it seems, a reaction to the position that somehow the Divine Nature within Christ sometimes informed, sometimes withheld knowledge. It seems, however, an overreaction to say that the Human Nature was "fully enriched with the fullness of divine knowledge" (Gumerlock, supra.)

I pass now to Calvin, in his Commentaries on the Synoptics, particularly on this verse. Calvin argues that each nature retained its own properties (contra the Lutheran version of the communicatio idiomatum), and that at times the Divine nature 'reposed' within the incarnate Person, that the Son might act in his human nature, according to his mediatorial work.

The strength of Calvin's position is that he is sharp to articulate the two natures without confusion, and without suggesting that the Divine nature is circumscribed by the limitations of the Human. He is also right to refer this statement to the dispensation and mediatorial mission of the Son at that time.

Lastly, I consulted Grudem's Systematic Theology, which may seem a rather odd place to end up. Grudem does treat of this question in his exploration of Christology, and his answer I found immensely helpful.

Grudem reminds us that not only do we confess two wills in Christ, Human and Divine, but also two intellects. If that is so, then we may well say that the Son knew things in his Divine nature, which he did not know in his Human. I confess, I find it incredibly difficult to predicate of the same subject, the Person of the Son, both knowledge and ignorance in respect to the same object but with respect to distinct Natures. Nonetheless, I think Grudem has the right of it, in extending the line of thought of Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Calvin.

So, I think I am resting my case.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Come on K Rudd, come and read my blog!

News that the Labor government now wants to monitor blogs, with a special mention of, a forum site that has had particular criticism for Sen. Conroy and his foolhardy plan to censor the internets.

I particularly love the delicious irony of Conroy praising the end of blog-monitoring by the Singaporean government, only to be taking it up at home.

Yes, start monitoring the blogosphere. Maybe then you'll realise how stupid your whole censorship policy is. And feel free to read my blog, o government officials. Maybe you'll catch a glimpse of the glory of Christ while you're here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

5 ways Ruth points to Christ

It's rare that I get a chance to re-do a sermon. Tonight I had the chance to cover Ruth 4 again, and I was glad for it, as I didn't feel I did a tremendous job on it the first time. Anyway, here are 5 ways I think the book of Ruth points to Christ.

1. Boaz is a worthy man (2:1), and his godly and gracious character points to the God-revealing and gracious character of Jesus. As a godly believer Boaz provides an example to follow, as he points to Christ.

2. Boaz is a responsible man. He is not responsible for the tragedy of Naomi and Ruth's bereavement, but in his graciousness he steps in to bless and do good, and even to Redeem. In this, he takes responsibility for other people's problems and mess. Likewise, God is not the cause of our problems, our sin and its effects, nonetheless in Jesus he steps in and deals with it by his Redemption.

3. Ruth contributes nothing to her redemption. In chapter 3 she asks Boaz to redeem her, much as we cry out to God for salvation, though this too is a work of the Spirit in us. The whole process of redemption is the initiative and action of Boaz. Similarly, we contribute nothing to our salvation, Jesus takes the initiative and redeems us.

4. Ruth is not present at the moment of her redemption. Boaz conducts and concludes the legal aspect of the redeemer-marriage in chapter 4 while Ruth is at home, with Naomi, waiting to find out. There is a real, external, objective reality to the redemption. Similarly, the atoning death of Jesus on the cross occurs between the Father and the Son through the Spirit, before we were born, before the idea of our existence was even posited as a possibility except by God. Our sin was dealt with there, then, apart from us. It is the work of the Spirit that unites us to Christ and effectually involves us in the Redemptive death of Christ.

5. There is a wedding to come. In Ruth, the wedding seems to happen in 4:13, the celebration and consumation of the declarative act of Boaz. Both OT and NT speak of God's people as a bride and God, Jesus as the groom. Revelation 19:6-9 speaks of the wedding of the Lamb, a great celebratory feast where we will be reunited with Jesus at his return and live in intimate communion with Christ forever.

More on Australia Internet Censorship: Wikileaks and co.

Despite some media reports that Australian Government initiatives to impose mandatory ISP-level filtering were 'dead in the water', after Sen. Xenophon withdrew support for the initiative (it is still possible for the Government to pass legislation; there is also a live debate about whether they need any legislative change at all), the issue is very much still alive and troubling. Sen. Conroy remains entirely unswayed, and truly oblivious, to the general stupidity of his plans.

The latest information to light is that there is now the threat of $11,000/day in fines or 10 years imprisonment for linking to prohibited sites. This at the time that wikileaks, a wikipedia-like site devoted to publishing information about governments and other structures that would rather they didn't, for transparency and accountability, released firstly the Norwegian list of blacklisted sites, followed by the ACMA's blacklist. The ACMA proceeded to blacklist wikileaks in turn. This merely demonstrates how quickly censorship spirals beyond control - to discuss censorship is to become censurable oneself. The blacklist, unsurprisingly, contains a lot of sexual content (a quick peruse of domain names will tell you that), but a lot of material whose place on the list is highly dubious.

The fact is, we are talking about a technically inefficient and problematic scheme, run with no accountability and no review, by unelected officials. This proposal *is*, despite rhetorical blind-sides, akin to censorship regimes in China, Iran, and Thailand (a censorship list introduced to block child pornography but in fact used primarily to block anti-monarchy material).

The readiness of Christians to subscribe to such blatant moves towards censorship, to take Conroy's rhetoric at face-value (and he is not below cheap-shots at his opponents at all. It shows the state of contemporary debate that opponents need to start with 'Now, I'm not in favour of child pornography..."), I continue to find disturbing. We are talking about a system of information control that is very likely to tend towards corruption and abuse, is difficult to correct, will do little to nothing to deal with child pornography (except maybe make it harder to police by driving things more underground; the majority of such traffic does not occur over websites anyway), and is anti-democratic move in a western democratic nation.

[Edit]: Note that wikileaks has now posted the ACMA list from the 11th and 18th March, which contain respectively 2602 and 1172 URLs. The latter number match more closely matches the number of URLs the government has been claiming were on the list. Wonder why it changed...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sermon, John 3

John 3 leads us into the great doctrine of regeneration as well as the most succinct and clear summary of Jesus' rescue mission for the world.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sermon, John 2

John 2 contains 2 really popular stories - Jesus turning water into wine (way cool), and Jesus going incredible-hulk in the Jerusalem temple.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What does the Incarnate Son know?

This is a question I've been pondering a lot lately, and I have no good answers for you.

On the one hand, I feel fairly certain that a classical understanding of the Trinity leads to the position that what the Father knows, the Son knows, lest their be any division in the Godhead. The great problem then becomes the Incarnation - in what sense do we speak of the knowledge of the divine person of the Christ, in his divine and human natures?

Matthew 24:36 But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

That seems to me to be a pretty hard sticking-point. Especially for Cappadocian exegesis. They want to consistently refer limitations and humble characterisations to the human nature, which I think is generally quite correct. But then they want to say that when the Scriptures speak of 'the Son', without qualification, then it's referring to the divine nature. That won't wash here, and Cappadocian exegesis of this passage seems very confused, if not a kind of inverted contradiction.

Luke 2:52 seems to definitely give a picture of the incarnate Christ as a person who grows in knowledge and understanding. We must hold on to that if we are to affirm the full humanity.

So, any thoughts? How do we understand and articulate the knowledge of the incarnate Son in a way that affirms Nicaea and Chalcedon?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Learn to feed yourself

One of the helpful pieces of advice that has appeared in various places and various times over the last 6 months has been the need to 'feed oneself'. As I reflect on the shepherding paradigm from John's Gospel, and 1 Peter, a few thoughts come to me.

1. Shepherds need to feed their sheep.

As undershepherds of Jesus, the role of a pastor involves tending and caring for the flock, and providing good pasture. That really boils down to teaching people the Scriptures well and faithfully, praying for them and leading them in prayer, and caring for their needs. All this is good, and proper, and there does exist a good and wholesome servant-leader paradigm in which elders are more learned and teach out of their knowledge.

2. Shepherds need to feed themselves.

Though in a very valid sense, shepherds are also sheep, to stick with the metaphor pastors need to feed themselves. Just like a human shepherd doesn't expect someone else to prepare their supper, but does it themselves, the role of pastor means that you have a different configuration within the people of God. You may not regularly sit under the preaching and pastoring of others in the same way that your flock does. What does that mean? It means you need to be pro-active about your own spiritual needs - to seek out good and faithful bible teaching for yourself. It means to be disciplined in your own prayer life and actively seek out people who will pray faithfully for you. It means building authentic two-way relationships that will sustain and support you.

3. Sheep do well to learn to feed themselves.

I know the metaphor breaks at this point. But there's nothing wrong, and everything gained, when christians not in leadership roles take on the responsibility of feeding themselves, learning to be disciplined in studying the word, prayer, relationships of mutual discipleship, and the like. They move from being consumers to producers, they free up some kinds of resources, they enhance community life, they emerge as future shepherds, they support current shepherds, and they learn from their models what it means to live as a pro-active disciple on mission with Jesus.

Review: Simple Church

Last week I read through Simple Church by Rainer and Geiger. I picked it up because I'd heard it recommended in a few places around the traps and thought it was worth a read.

Simple Church is, thankfully, also a simple book. The authors' basis thesis is that there is a statistical correlation between growing churches and simple churches. What exactly 'simple' means is, understandably, a soft-sell question, but they make a good case. The book is driven by a break-down of the concept of simplicity with respect to churches, in 4 major concepts, and they work through them with 5 main sub-points for each - a nice, logical flowthrough for the book.

At every stage they provide statistical details. Statistics doesn't really do it for me, but maybe it does for you. I was pre-sold on simplicity so that wasn't my sticking point.

Rainer and Geiger take you through simplicity in terms of Concept, Movement, Alignment, and Focus. Basically, let me break down the fundamental point of the book: create a clear, 3-4 point process for making disciples, that is easily understandable, visually illustratable. Map single programs to single stages, articulate movement between them well, and refuse to add complexity to your process.

What I got out of the book was a real need to go back and rethink the structure of my congregation and what we're all about. My major struggle is to move my people from strong internal church relationships, to a missionary mindset and evangelistic engagement. Simple Church has given me a conceptual framework to tackle that problem, streamline a process of discipleship, and refuse a complicatory approach.

4 stars.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Gaelic Christian Resources

I've been doing some surfing and research for various Christian things in Gaelic. Here's a few to share:

1. Scottish Gaelic Bible: As far as I can tell, there are only 2 real purchasing options for those after a Gaelic Bible, one is a full Bible, the other a NT & Psalms with facing KJV volume. The ISBN for the full Bible is 9780901518101, for a NT/Psalms Gaelic-KJV the ISBN is 0901518271. These are the products of a translation made in the 18th century, with some revision.s throughout the year (so, I imagine, still in copyright).

2. Translation project: I'm very pleased to see that the Scottish Bible Society is undertaking a project to translate a fresh Gaelic version for today. You can read a few details here about the project, involving 3 translators. Using what I believe is a fairly good approach to financing, you can also sponsor a chapter for £35. I know I will (though with exchange rates, I am not sure I will be sponsoring many chapters.

UPDATE: The Gospel of John has now been translated, and is available from the Scottish Bible Society.

3. Highland Cathedral, St Columba (Church of Scotland) have a number of Gaelic resources. These include Ancient Creeds, the Westminster Catechism, Hymns, Psalms, and Prayers.

4. Gospel of Mark in Gaelic online. This shows up a few places on the Web. No accents, but great to have it available freely.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Is it worth it? Minority languages for which one has little use

Practically speaking, the mileage I can get out of learning Scottish Gaelic is marginal at best. It's a minority language, and I have few (self)-legitimate reasons, if any, to head off to the Scottish Highlands and Hebrides. Possibly, I will never get there in this life.

Despite that, and partly because of my genetic and cultural lineages, I spend a slightly inordinate amount of time on trying to acquire Scottish Gaelic as a language. It's far more culturally relevant than tartans and other rather late, suspicious, developments of 'highland' culture. I also find it about 300% more interesting and compelling than studying German, for which I at least have a motivating academic reason for learning (that leaves me fairly uninterested and easily motivated to let it slide).

Clearly, in the end, I am convinced it's worth it. Worth it to preserve one more speaker of a minority language, one more connection with an ancestral past, one more diaspora Scot who's prepared to invest time and effort into a worthwhile cultural endeavour, not some kitschy souvenirs.

The Coherent Meta-Narrative of the Christian Faith

Talking with my wife yesterday, in response to a non-Christian friend's abandonment of hope of getting answers on umpteen questions from the Bible, we talked through this idea. And, because I'm a read/write orientated thinker, here are my thoughts:

Leading with your best foot forward

One of the ways Christians do a poor job of explaining their faith to people on the outside (and, let's be frank, there is a rather large gap between the outside and the inside in terms of the way people think and process), is the tendency to atomise answers and fail to provide a coherent account of the Christian Faith as a meta-narrative.

To illustrate the difference, consider a parent trying to explain to their child why they cannot at this particular time eat ice-cream. One response is simply to invoke parental fiat, "No, because I have said so". Alternatively, the parent can provide an account of why it's not appropriate for their child to be eating ice-cream. Now, granted a slightly older more rational child, it's the second account that, I would argue, is both more compelling and intellectually honest.

The bible deserves at least the same. You're free to disagree with a coherent, full-orbed reading of it, but most outsiders never get that far. They come to a collection of ancient translated documents, and read it fairly disjointedly, without any of the tools they should use or a decent account of how the whole might be read as an integrated story of God, his world, and his redemptive plan.

This is the great strength of "biblical theology". That we even needed to use the adjective there shows, I think, how great a problem has developed! But, an ability to read the bible as an integrated whole with a simple major thread, yet a diverse and complex set of nuances, is really important. It's important in Christians being honest and not simplistic about their own scriptures, It's important for outsiders, to at least be able to argue with Christianity as a whole worldview, a package deal.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


The past few days I've been reminded, and incredibly saddened, by the enormous amount of brokenness in our world. People's lives are just messy, broken, painful, disastrous. Often it's the result of their own sinfulness, they've just poured themselves into chasing the lusts of the flesh and the world, and they got them. They caught up and feasted upon all the joys of indulging every sensual delight, and now they're pieces of cheap meat staggering from one degrading episode to the next.

Others have been holding up the façade for way too long, stitching up the little wounds and bearing it all and finally the whole edifice crumbles, the walls of pretension come crushing down and the unforgiveness and the hurts of a lifetime are raw, exposed, and debilitating.

Some carry on too long in the assurance of their success and ability, blind to the realities around them, they have walled themselves up and feel smug and self-satisfied in their so called 'righteousness'.

Others again are not hard-headed, but hard-hearted, and words of grace and truth fail to sink into their souls and foster real change.

And I too am broken. And I pray. And I long for Jesus to return.

Monday, March 02, 2009

do you have any linux-fu?

I'm in need of some help.

Running Ubuntu 8.10, when I boot up, the keyboard has decided to be Greek. Which means it types Greek into my login and password. But my login and password aren't in Greek. Furthermore, I can't seem to change the language. Worse, going straight into a terminal session seems to leave me in Greek as well. Why am I stuck in Greek? Upshot - I can't access my whole Ubuntu system. Which is putting a serious cramp on getting any work done.

I'm waiting for the linux-verse to give me an answer or workaround. The laptop is dual-boot with Vista. Is there a way to get Vista to mount the other hard-drive partition and hack into the xorg.conf or something?

If you're out there with some linux-fu, let me know.

[edit] I can boot-up into ubuntu from CD, and then mount the hard-drive partition. But I still don't know what files to alter. xorg.conf doesn't have anything about an Input Device Keyboard to mess with.

[edit] I seem to have fixed things, by adding some lines to the xorg.conf file. Pretty happy to have fixed it, now I can get on with doing some work.

This is how I fixed it:

I booted up from a CD, mounted the hard-drive, then ran through some options.
I tried running the console-setup package. But that didn't seem to have any effect - when I rebooted the problems were exactly the same.
I couldn't find enough understandable instructions to check my default locale and change that.
What I did do was add details to the xorg.conf, specifically I added:

Section "InputDevice"
Identifier "Generic Keyboard"
Driver "kbd"
Option "XkbRules" "xorg"
Option "XkbModel" "pc105"
Option "XkbLayout" "us"

This seems to have solved things.

Sermon, John 1

I preached my heart out on John 1. It's a great gospel, with great things to say to us.
John 1