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Q Combinations 4: Donne, Chagall and a possible prayer of Jacob’s

This is a complete mismatch chronologically – but there seems an undeniable synergy here (to me at least). For Jacob (the deceiver) is the one from whom the nation is named and the one privileged with extraordinary divine encounters.

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The Black Dog (10 years on) 8: SOME LITERARY COMPANIONS…

William Nicholson wrote Shadowlands, the play (which became the film) inspired by C.S.Lewis’s extraordinary testimony A Grief Observed. In it, he gave Lewis this lovely line, one he never actually uttered, but may as well have done.

We read to know we’re not alone

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The Black Dog (10 years on) 7: SOME TOP TIPS…

As I wrap this little sequence of ruthless self-exposure up, various omissions and oddities have occurred to me, so the easiest thing is probably to string them together in a miscellany that’s almost Pauline in its randomness (though naturally without his claims to authority).

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The Black Dog (10 years on) 6: SO YOU WANT TO HELP…

I’m glad. In fact, if you didn’t, I’d be quite concerned for you! But be warned. This isn’t for the faint-hearted. It will try your patience and frustrate your sympathies. You’ll definitely have days when you’ve had enough. Perhaps months. So you’ll shrug that you did everything you could but to no avail. [There are only so many hours in a day, and you’ve got your own issues.] So you’ll assume it needs someone else to take up the baton. If that’s the case, then may I make a gentle plea with you? Don’t get involved in the first place…

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The Black Dog (10 years on) 5: THE INSENSIBILITY OF FAITH…

It’s been very moving to have messages in the last few days about my black dog posts. Thank you! At least it shows that it’s been worth it. As I mentioned in the first post, I’m genuinely not motivated by the kind of confessional culture that is all around us; still less am I trying to elicit sympathy. And I’m definitely not seeking advice or support (kind though some offers have been!). It is only to help those who don’t quite have the words for this yet. But I do realise that it’s raised lots of questions for some…

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The Black Dog (10 years on) 4: THE END OF THE ROAD…?

So where does it all lead? Well, that’s precisely the problem. It can often feel like the road down has only one conclusion. Or perhaps terminus is the better description. Which is a terrifying thought. Not to mention taboo…

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Recent Articles

1
Sep
lucas-samaras-mirror-room-room-no-2-4

Q marks the spot – Treasure Map 84 (September 2015)

Sacred Treasure

Read more »

27
Aug
Q-Combinations--chagall-donne-portraits

Q Combinations 4: Donne, Chagall and a possible prayer of Jacob’s

This is a complete mismatch chronologically – but there seems an undeniable synergy here (to me at least). For Jacob (the deceiver) is the one from whom the nation is named and the one privileged with extraordinary divine encounters. Read more

22
Aug

The Black Dog (10 Years On): THE WEEK’S LINKS IN ONE PLACE

So here are all this week’s Black Dog posts linked in one place…
Read more »

21
Aug
van Gogh - Une liseuse banner

The Black Dog (10 years on) 8: SOME LITERARY COMPANIONS…

William Nicholson wrote Shadowlands, the play (which became the film) inspired by C.S.Lewis’s extraordinary testimony A Grief Observed. In it, he gave Lewis this lovely line, one he never actually uttered, but may as well have done.

We read to know we’re not alone

Read more

18
Aug
van Gogh - Cafe banner

The Black Dog (10 years on) 7: SOME TOP TIPS…

As I wrap this little sequence of ruthless self-exposure up, various omissions and oddities have occurred to me, so the easiest thing is probably to string them together in a miscellany that’s almost Pauline in its randomness (though naturally without his claims to authority). Read more

16
Aug
Van Gogh - Starry night banner

The Black Dog (10 years on) 6: SO YOU WANT TO HELP…

I’m glad. In fact, if you didn’t, I’d be quite concerned for you! But be warned. This isn’t for the faint-hearted. It will try your patience and frustrate your sympathies. You’ll definitely have days when you’ve had enough. Perhaps months. So you’ll shrug that you did everything you could but to no avail. [There are only so many hours in a day, and you’ve got your own issues.] So you’ll assume it needs someone else to take up the baton. If that’s the case, then may I make a gentle plea with you? Don’t get involved in the first place… Read more

16
Aug
Q-Combinations---Spencer-&-Thomas-portraits

Q Combinations 3: Thomas, Spencer and the Tangible Kingdom

So here’s the 3rd Q Combination. I don’t know how well known these two geniuses are beyond British shores – but they are true 20th Century greats. In their different ways, both articulate a deeply earthy, incarnated spirituality. Read more »

14
Aug
Van Gogh - paul-gauguin-banner

The Black Dog (10 years on) 5: THE INSENSIBILITY OF FAITH…

It’s been very moving to have messages in the last few days about my black dog posts. Thank you! At least it shows that it’s been worth it. As I mentioned in the first post, I’m genuinely not motivated by the kind of confessional culture that is all around us; still less am I trying to elicit sympathy. And I’m definitely not seeking advice or support (kind though some offers have been!). It is only to help those who don’t quite have the words for this yet. But I do realise that it’s raised lots of questions for some… Read more

13
Aug
van Gogh - Self Portrait banner

The Black Dog (10 years on) 4: THE END OF THE ROAD…?

So where does it all lead? Well, that’s precisely the problem. It can often feel like the road down has only one conclusion. Or perhaps terminus is the better description. Which is a terrifying thought. Not to mention taboo… Read more

11
Aug
Van Gogh - Patience Escalier banner

The Black Dog (10 years on) 3: THE DARKENED CAVE…

I touched on the surprisingly physical reality of the black dog yesterday. It’s surprising, because, of course, depression is as much about emotional pain and scars as anything else. But here’s the really weird thing: the emotional anguish actually feels physical at times. I think I really get now why people talk about feeling heart-sick. It is a piercing constant, perhaps a little like having emotional toothache. Read more »

11
Aug
Van Goch - Dr Gachet banner

The Black Dog (10 years on) 2: TECTONIC VULNERABILITY…

The thing about volcanoes is that they’re as immovable as mountains. Rock solid in fact. But of course that’s the deception of appearances. And in geological terms, they’re savage beasts, easily provoked to ire by invisible tectonic interference.

It probably seems a totally incongruous metaphor for the Black Dog – but probably only to those whom he’s never pursued. Because there is something so irrational, so mysterious, so dark even about so-called depression that it is as destabilising as a major geological event. Read more »

10
Aug
Van Gogh - Sorrowing Old Man - banner

The Black Dog (10 years on) 1: BEHIND THE MASK…

Poets and artists have had it. Leaders and teachers have had it. Normal and extraordinary people have had it. For all I know, even educated fleas have had it.

All kinds of stats get flung around about the black dog (1 in 4 so they say??) but who knows? What matters is not the exact numbers but how commonplace it is – and yet how extraordinarily varied. Read more »

9
Aug
Q-Combination---Angelou-&-Jyoti-Sahi

Q Combinations 2: Jyoti Art Ashram & Angelou

So here’s the 2nd Q Combination. This time much more contemporary. Maya Angelou was a truly remarkable, versatile writer, who died only last year. I’ve nowhere near read enough of her stuff, but everything I have has blown me away. Read more »

2
Aug
Herbert-Rembrandt-together

Q Combinations 1: Rembrandt & Herbert

Have been thinking of different things I can do on the blog, and one of them is to offer occasional juxtapositions of creativity that warm the heart, stretch the mind, quench the soul. So here is the first: a bringing together of two masters (to whom I’ve returned more than once on Q). Read more »

1
Aug
recycled-ocean-plastic-waste-road-plasticroad-volkerwessels-netherlands-1

Q marks the spot – Treasure Map 83 (August 2015)

Sacred Treasure

Read more »

21
Jul

Closing the gap: sitcoms, spin and suspicion

Paul Arnold, the coordinator of the Church and Media Network (MediaNet), kindly invited me to write a post this week to point to how Wilderness engages with media issues. So here is the result:

When Jeremy Paxman gave his MacTaggart lecture at the 2007 Edinburgh International Television Festival, he actually created his own headlines. After a spate of scandals at the time, he described how his employer, the BBC, had been left with “a catastrophic, collective loss of nerve,” with the bigger question of whether the corporation “itself has a future.” Those comments are even more relevant today, with many seeking to exploit its insecurity. The precariousness is indicated by the fact that big celebrity guns have been marshalled to speak out in its defence. Read more »

11
Jul
Binary computer code

The Unbearable Reductionism of a Binary World

There’s no escaping binaries these days. Every conceivable detail of modern life seems to be reduced to digital 1s and 0s. As computing technology encroaches ever further, it makes resisting binaries seem harder than ever. In/Out, Left/Right, Same/Different, Them/Us. Read more »

5
Jul
AWOM interview on 100Huntley

Broadcast of my Wilderness of Mirrors interview on 100 Huntley St

While I was in the US for the publication of A Wilderness of Mirrors back in May, I was asked to make a mildly crazy detour to Toronto for an interview on 100 Huntley St, a daily Christian TV talk show. Having not really done this kind of thing before, and certainly not knowing what kind of constituency the show serves, I was rather nervous about it all. Read more »

1
Jul
Deadvlei - NatGeo 2015 contest

Q marks the spot – Treasure Map 82 (July 2015)

Sacred Treasure

Read more »

24
Jun
Myriam Cawston - AWOM Launch Jun18 28

Double Whammy! Special GoodBookCo Deals on Wilderness and Humans!

Well, you work on one book for 5 years, and another one for 5 months, and whaddaya know – they appear on the same day! Well in the UK at least. Tim, the noble overlord of the Good Book Co had asked me to contribute to their little series, Questions Christians Ask a while back. But because a big annual conference in London had the issue of human nature as its main theme, the plan was to work on getting this out in time. Read more »

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