If you’re from a certain corner of the global harvest field that is the church, then Charles Haddon Spurgeon will be a familiar, if not revered, name. The ‘prince of preachers’ (as he was known) was perhaps the world’s first megapastor – but the wonderful thing about him was that it never went to his head, he wasn’t corrupt, he was a character of whom it could certainly be said that ‘what you see is what you get.’ A far cry, in other words, from the smooth-talking, chiseled and attractive megapastors of today. Read more
- Josh Byers over at Visual Theology has produced a GREAT infographic summarising all the arguments for the historicity of the Resurrection
- Cranmer rightly notes the increased levels of Christian engagement in the next UK General Election (see last month’s Q treasure). And here’s his great reflection on Andy Flannagan’s book Those Who Show Up.
- Ian Paul covers the ground on Stephen Fry and God
I was asked by the fab 40Acts team over at Stewardship to contribute a short piece for their Do Lent Generously campaign – which is a creatively positive twist on the standard give-up-something-for-Lent routine.
Am in the middle of a book which was recommended to me by a friend I hardly see for reasons of which I have no knowledge! Zack Eswine’s Sensing Jesus – Life and Ministry as a Human Being.
- Show up: a fantastic campaign endorsed by scores of different outfits – to encourage Christian involvement with politics generally, and May’s General Election specifically.
- It isn’t a battle; it’s a pilgrimage: helpful wisdom for anyone, not just those struggling with porn issues
- Michael Wenham is someone with Lou Gehrig disease and so uniquely qualified to consider the Stephen Hawking movie, Theory of Everything.
We could call them the ‘pastor’s power pitfalls.’ There are many. Too many. It’s actually scary how much power a pastor wields – for good… and ill. It’s one of the key issues that has preoccupied me a lot about in the last few years while writing my culture of suspicion book (out VERY soon at all GOOD bookshops!). And I’ve witnessed (and struggled) under power-trip pastors. The worst thing, though, is how blissfully unaware they are of it. As one friend said of a church boss he struggled under for several years, “he’s like a drunk driver who never looks in the rear-view mirror.” Read more
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Have a fab 2015
watch this space because there are some big changes afoot for Quaerentia in the coming months…!!
- AN Wilson on cracking form: it’s the Gospel truth – so take it or leave it
- Ministry through the dark night: very helpful consoling piece by someone (!?) about depression and despair in ministry
- Interesting piece in the Washington Post: Gay Christians choosing celibacy emerge from the shadows
Hurrah! Q Treasure Maps have reached a 3/4 Century!
- I know a number of the people involved in making this doc on Jesus’ claims to be the Son of God – made in Turkey for those from that part of the world. Looks great!
- The Pope draws in Tom Wright, Rick Warren, Michael Nazir-Ali and others to the discussion about family. Unprecedented?
- In particular, here is fmr UK Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks’ remarkable speech in full.
- Ros Clarke is an old friend who recently completed a PhD on the interpretation of the Song of Songs – she’s set up a great website to offer the fruit of all her labours more widely.
Q regulars will be aware that issues related to depression come up here from time to time. One or two have encouraged me to be a bit more open about such things and to pick up a few things that others might find helpful, or at least a resonance.
So here are a couple of extended quotations from Walter Brueggemann’s most recent book, Reality, Grief, Hope: Three Urgent Prophetic Tasks. These paragraphs jumped out at me from his middle section on the need for prophetic grief in the face of contemporary suffering, In this he echoes the mourning of Jeremiah and Lamentations in particular. Read more
- Emma Scrivener on form yet again her: lovely piece on the Both/Ands of the Christian life.
- She’s also got a great A-Z of Christianity – check it out!
- Nell Goddard writes beautifully and poignantly on When Christians cause the suffering
- The importance of plural leadership – yet another interesting thought from Chris Green
Here’s one of those infernal lists. It hopefully speaks for itself. Read more
- C S Lewis on Friendship
- Are the Apocryphal Gospels true? Ian Paul picks up Simon Gathercole’s address at the recent British NT conference
- If you missed it, this is an extraordinary episode of BBC’s Panorama about the Christians working in North Korea for Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (30 minutes – definitely worth watching in full).
At last year’s launch of veteran travel writer Dervla Murphy’s remarkable book, A Month by the Sea – Encounters in Gaza, she made a simple but telling point. “The Palestinians’ predicament is that they are the victims’ victims”. Of course, in Faith in the Face of Empire, an equally remarkable book by a Palestinian Christian pastor, victimhood (despite its postmodern attractions) is a dangerous mantle. Read more
So I’ve been pondering a lot on the fact that Bono has called Songs of Innocence a personal album. Here he is in Rolling Stone last week:
“We wanted to make a very personal album,” Bono told Rolling Stone‘s Gus Wenner the day before the press conference in an exclusive interview. “Let’s try to figure out why we wanted to be in a band, the relationships around the band, our friendships, our lovers, our family. The whole album is first journeys — first journeys geographically, spiritually, sexually. And that’s hard. But we went there.”
To be opaque is to be beguiling, provocative. You need to be hooked, of course. But once I’m hooked, I never want everything on a plate. I want to be made to work a little. It is one of the most compelling things about U2’s songs. Read more
- Cranmer has been on form: 1. None dare call it evil, except Justin Welby; 2. I have forgiven Islamic militants
- Interesting stuff here from Tyndale House on Simon Gathercole’s work on the Gospel of Thomas
- “Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here…” from the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul
- The stigma of being an atheist in the USA…
Rachel Kelly is spot on: “But in the end, depression doesn’t follow rules: it is a devil that comes in many guises.” (Black Rainbow, p231) So there is a sense in which her experiences of depression (two highly debilitating and bewildering attacks and the subsequent need to manage it) will inevitably be unique. But her new Black Rainbow is remarkable: for it is no misery memoir but an act of generosity. In making herself vulnerable through talking so openly about facing and working through deeply personal pains, she has offered nothing less than a gift of grace. For in the midst of the bleak, black, barrenness of depression, she has found a path through. For those of us perhaps further back along the road, this is a germ of hope.