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Posts from the ‘Christians facing issues’ Category


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 »


Facing up to the UK Adoption crisis

For some reason, the British church has been very slow to take up the challenge of adoption. This is a tragedy. As things stand at the moment, there are apparently 5000 children awaiting adoption, and around 9000 needing fostering. The Evangelical Alliance’s Krish Kandiah is an old friend who has not only taken up the gauntlet with his wife Miriam by having several children share their home, but he is a passionate advocate of the need for others to do the same. This has led to the creation of Home 4 Good. Read more »


I Am The MOST IMPORTANT Person I’ve Ever Met

Which is a title sufficiently conceited to put anyone off reading this post. But let’s face it – it’s a not uncommon attitude. It lies at the heart of individualism, that pervasiveness western sickness that lies at the root of so many of our ills. It was the title I had in our current series, Great Lies of Our Time (I’m assured that the talks were not allotted because of some particular problem that needed addressing in each speaker – but who can say for sure?).

You can now download the talk here.

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Facing up to Depression: so now it gets personal

It seems that mental health issues have been making headlines. The House of Commons even debated it a week or so ago, and Michael Wenham responded with a great little piece on EA’s Friday Night Theology. “Tell it how it is”, he simply concluded. And bizarrely enough (without the slightest inkling it would coincide so much with public square events), we had  our next Christians Facing Issues service planned for last Sunday on the very issue. Having tackled all variety of things in the past (the Credit Crunch, Celebrity culture, Pornography, Euthanasia etc), this time our theme was Facing Up To Depression.

Read more »


John Wyatt’s Matters of Life and Death (2nd edition now out)

With impeccable timing (i.e. the week we had our Christians Facing Issues service on Assisted Suicide), one of the key people involved in the service (you can see him introducing the whole issue very helpfully in the first youtube clip I posted) has a book out. Prof John Wyatt originally wrote his Matters of Life and Death in 1998 (based on his 1997 London Lectures of the same name). This has been fully revised and updated to include a number of recent developments in start and end of life debates. It is an excellent book and he really knows what he’s talking about (he is Professor of Ethics and Perinatology at University College, London).

For some bizarre reason, IVP asked me to write an endorsement – quite why, I don’t fully understand for I am by no means an ethicist nor at all medical (though perhaps being married to a nurse-midwife is some sort of qualification – a stretch I realise) – but John is a faithful and long-standing member of All Souls, so here it is anyway!

The experience of shrill headlines and some scientists’ over-reaching claims can be bewildering at the best of times. But when that feeling is coupled with the vague unease that ethical boundaries have been crossed, it is a great relief to know that wise guides like John Wyatt are at hand. I am immensely grateful for the new edition of this book. Skilfully combining  the insights of a scholar, the compassion of a practising doctor and the nuanced convictions of a mature Christian, Wyatt is uniquely qualified to write it. His style is readable and fluent, but never superficial or sloganeering.

Because he takes care to tackle difficult ethical questions head-on, applying biblical wisdom and drawing on a wide range of case studies (some of which derive from his own professional experience), I cannot recommend this book enough, to medical professional and concerned onlooker alike.

So all I can say is check it out! Matters of Life and Death is the simply best thing I’ve read on these difficult issues and will certainly help to get you thinking.


Your Life, Your Death, Your Choice? (Christians Facing Issues 4: Assisted Suicide)

STOP PRESS: Note updated links for talks

This Sunday saw the 3rd in our occasional Christians Facing Issues services, and this time the topic was Assisted Suicide. It’s in the news a lot and one thing is certain – it seems it is impossible to have a careful rational discussion about it in the current climate. Christians too often are just as guilty of jumping onto hobby horses or launching into soundbites as anyone else – so this service gave a fantastic opportunity to avoid that by informing, challenging and offering a considered and constructive response.

Hugh Palmer’s 3 really helpful talks can be downloaded here…and then Hugh plus conversations with John Wyatt & Dimity Grant-Frost here and here

It was particularly helpful to hear from both professionals in the field and those for whom it is a very close and difficult subjects. Fortunately, these are available as videos on the langhammedia youtube page. Here is the introduction that the indomitable John Wyatt (Prof of Ethics and Perinatology at UCH) gave (an excellent production again by Simon Green and co)

Particularly striking were the interviews with Baroness Campbell, Sarah Meagher and our dear friends and members of the church, Alan & Sheila Toogood (go to langhammedia for the full interviews)

Finally, Dimity Grant-Frost did a really helpful explanation of Palliative Care:

And then Frances Whitehead lead the prayers, concluding with this wonderful prayer attributed to St Augustine of Hippo:

Watch, O Lord, with those who wake,
or watch, or weep tonight,
and give your angels charge over those who sleep.
Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ.
Rest your weary ones.
Bless your dying ones.
Soothe your suffering ones.
Pity your afflicted ones.
Shield your joyous ones.
And for all your love’s sake.  Amen.


Jesus and Celebrity: Celebrity Culture vox pops

As promised a few posts ago, here are the 2 other videos brilliantly produced by Simon Green for our Celebrity Culture sunday. Both are vox pops.

1st asks the simple question, WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE CELEBRITY?


Some FASCINATING answers! Jesus would be, like, MASSIVE!

Thanks guys for doing all this.


All Souls rolls out the red carpet for Celebrity Culture

One of the admin team actually had a spare red carpet up his sleeve (thanks, Dave) – and so this was put to good use and then wheeled out this Sunday for the latest in our Christians facing Issues series. Here is a paparazzo pic of the fab Dimity, (one of the team who slaved away to get things ready), getting into the celeb mood…

Because this time, the topic of concern was Celebrity Culture. Planned months ago, it couldn’t have been held at more appropriate time, coming at the end of the week in which Michael Jackson’s funeral took place. Regardless of how aware or consciously influenced by celebrity culture we are, it is a fact that the world of celebrities is part of the very oxygen we breathe. So there were many things today that got people thinking…

dimity red carpet

And being the BBC’s next door neighbour means that we see celebrities walking past our front door on an almost daily basis, putting us in a peculiarly good place for addressing it.

Tim & the gang came up with a brilliant and thought-provoking time:

Colin Paterson is Entertainment Reporter for the BBC and a church member. His two worlds couldn’t be more divided – epitomised by last Tuesday, when he went from Leicester Sq covering the Harry Porter premiere, and then rushing to get to his All Souls fellowship group immediately after.

He made this fantastic short film about the history of celebrity – having had special access to film in the British Museum (and so name-checking everyone from Rameses II, Alexander the Great, Cleopatra to the stars of today)…

There were two other films – vox pops from ASLP and Oxford St – will put those up when they become available.


Getting our heads round the credit crunch at All Souls

At All Souls last night, we had the latest in our occasional series of “Christians Facing Issues” – the topic this time was the Credit Crunch. It was a brilliant evening, having been devised by Tim Plyming, our workplace minister and BBC insider. He managed to get Hugh Pym and Justin Urquhart-Stewart from the Beeb to come and give us the inside info and economic background to it all – which was quite a coup. And then we had interviews with two people who had been personally affected by it all (one by redundancy, another through failed businesses). Pulling it all together, Hugh then gave 2 shorter talks (on Romans 1 & then Ephesians 1)bringing a biblical perspective to it all.

3 short films were shown during the course of the service and they are now available for all to see:

Here Tim interviews Justin U-S

Then Jane Barrett took the camera around the city and did a couple of vox pops: