Feeling out of your depth…?
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.
Q marks the spot – Treasure Map 77 (February 2015)
- 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.
There but for the grace… pastors escaping the power-trip pitfalls
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
Maintaining a mixed diet of reading
I was recently speaking at the UCCF staff conference which was a real privilege and joy – and in one of the talks, I gave some tips on reading books, and a number asked for them to be reproduced (as they weren’t on the handout). So I will now oblige here (such is Q’s generosity of spirit). Read more
The Paradoxes of Loneliness from Jean Vanier’s Becoming Human
Depression isolates and introverts. It’s a brutally vicious circle. And so when one occasionally gets swept up by outbreaks of energy, they are often focused on desperately trying to make connections beyond oneself. It might be music; it might be a conversation with someone who gets it with minimal explanation; it might be words on a page. I love that line from Shadowlands, William Nicholson’s TV play (turned into a stage play and then feature film) about C. S. Lewis’s grief for his late wife Joy (though bear in mind that the film really misses a lot of the theological nuance of the play, inevitably): Read more
Q marks the spot – Treasure Map 76 (January 2015)
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
Q marks the spot – Treasure Map 75 (December 2014)
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.
Deep (?but not stuck) in the frozen wastes of winter faith: Brueggemann on Beck on Freud & James
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
Q marks the spot – Treasure Map 74 (November 2014)
- 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
Transports of delight: 5 great Books about reading other Books
It wasn’t a plan particularly, but then that’s part of the joy of books – I never have a plan for what I’m going to sink my teeth into next. It is usually just a matter of wanting something different from the one before.
But a couple of books recently have done that self-referential thing: they’re books about books (a bit like U2’s recent self-referential album, I suppose). And it got me thinking about the other books I’ve loved that have done this. Read more
What’s to like? 5 things to detest about depression
Here’s one of those infernal lists. It hopefully speaks for itself. Read more
U2’s Songs of Innocence (4): No longer alone with tectonic forces? VOLCANO
There’s a surprising amount of the natural world on Songs of Innocence, just as there was in fact in No Line on the Horizon (the title kind of gives that away, I suppose). Nature has always provided poetic inspiration, but perhaps it’s not the most common imagery for rock ‘n roll. (Though having said that, you can no doubt think of countless counter-examples. Please don’t all write at once.)
So here’s just a quick thumbnail sketch of some of the key nature metaphors: Read more
Q marks the spot – Treasure Map 73 (October 2014)
- 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).
Faith under fire in Bethlehem: Mitri Raheb’s FAITH IN THE FACE OF EMPIRE
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
On Human Transience and Mortality: Clive James’ JAPANESE MAPLE
Have been playing catch up with a few New Yorker back issues in the last couple of days – like buses, you get none, and then suddenly several arrive in the post in a pile. So I was stopped in my tracks by Japanese Maple, a new poem by Clive James. He’s a remarkable writer and commentator – his is a sizzling combination of high intelligence, unsnobbish cultural magpie-ism (if that’s not a thing, it jolly well should be) and laugh-out-loud-wit.
But he now has terminal cancer. As a result he knows he’ll never make it back to his native Australia before he dies. (Here is an interview he gave back in 2013) He is confined to Cambridge and the UK. So here he writes of the tree planted by his daughter in their garden. Read more
Beware the conspiracy theorist’s ‘fact’: THE UMBRELLA MAN
This is superb and completely speaks for itself.
It subverts the natural, but risky, human desire to connect all the dots on the basis of a few curiosities and anomalies.
Errol Morris’ short film asks why it was that ‘The Umbrella Man watched the JFK motorcade in November 1963 with his umbrella up. Whenever someone is articulating a conspiracy theory like this one, it is always worth keep an ear out for ‘facts’ like this one… Read more
U2’s Songs of Innocence (2): Enigmatic Personal Variations and Iris
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.”
U2’s Songs of Innocence (1): Opaquely Specific: SONG FOR SOMEONE…
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
Q marks the spot – Treasure Map 72 (September 2014)
- 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…
Heartsongs from the Shepherd-King Poet: Psalms from King David’s life
Friday saw the end of our annual All Souls church week away, during which I was speaking on a series of psalms from David’s life. The result is now online on iTunes, for general amusement, delectation and/or edification. Read more