But still it didn’t sink in. Not immediately. And it wouldn’t, would it. After all, dead men simply don’t rise. They just DON’T. OK? Read more
- Emma describes how she and her husband Phil found themselves planting a church in Stockholm
- Cranmer has a bold but perceptive take on the Phobia culture that we find ourselves in
- Google CFO retires with an important challenge about work/life balance
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
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
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
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
As ever slow on the uptake, but I finally got round to reading Azar Nafisi’s beautifully written 2004 book, Reading Lolita in Tehran. It is a rich, highly thoughtful and thought-provoking memoir from an Iranian English literature professor about her life and students (in particular the small but diverse group of women in her reading group). She meditates deeply on her culture, on their favourite authors and their books, on the simple wonders of reading. She makes extraordinary, unexpected connections – which aid understanding of both the literature and life in Tehran.
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
- 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
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
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.”