Yesterday at 3.15, Uncle John died peacefully at his retirement home. We mourn his loss and rejoice with him. It is very poignant to be writing this today, as we're all at the Hookses, Uncle John's retreat in Wales (see yesterday's post). The place is full of memories of him - he restored it, oversaw its extension, wrote many of his wonderful books here and above all loved it. And so the news of his death is bitter-sweet.
While studying and writing talks for our All Souls week away next month, I've been getting up out of my chair every 5-10 minutes taking photos of exactly the same view. All day. Slightly bonkers you might think - and some will wonder how I get anything done. Well, fair question I suppose. But actually I've got the sort of will-o'-the-wisp mind that constantly needs interaction with different things. So bizarre as it may seem, I work best when juggling different things.
This is a bit of an experimental departure for me. But whether it's successful or not, I had fun doing it. Anna Blanch asked me to offer a short piece to put on Transpositions, the fab Arts & Theology blog she's involved in. So I had a stab by reflecting on the extraordinary art of Alexa Meade.
It's an ambiguous title. It can mean two very different things. Either I can't stop myself (e.g.I have little self-control when it comes to resisting temptation, whatever that might be) or I can't rescue myself (and I'm stuck). It seems to me that western culture is in denial about both. Control and autonomy are our post-Enlightenment mantras (in the name of personal freedom of course). And much to our frustration, neither are truly attainable.
In the light of recent events, it seems only appropriate to bring this back to the forefront of public attention. You've seen the trailer for Hackgate The Movie - now read Hackgate The Poem. Written by Humbert Wolfe in the 1920s, it shows that little has changed over the last century or so...
When a fellow-scientist brands Richard Dawkins naïve you sit up and notice. But that's exactly what Emanuel Derman has done. I didn't know anything about Derman before, but it seems that he has rather an intimidating CV: he is a theoretical physicist, economist AND successful businessman originally from South Africa. All of which gives him a rather unique angle on a topic to which I've frequently returned on Q: the nature of being human (e.g.see Fritz Kahn's Industrial Palace or the Nothing Buttery Rant).
Just received this news from Langham Colleagues - worth spreading the news far and wide, as this is one worthy way of recognising and celebrating the extraordinary legacy of Uncle John.
As Q regulars will know, Eugene Peterson's Eat This Book - The Art of Spiritual Reading is a favourite. As part of BibleFresh (the 400th Anniversarycelebrations of the King James), we decided to devote the summer term's studies for our Fellowship Groups to looking at passages inspired by the book. Each passage looks at how the Bible itself describes its impact on the believer's life.
It came as a shock when this was first pointed out to me. Or rather, to be more accurate, it was a shock when I first realised how true it was of me. For a pastor friend was pointing out how perfectly capable we all are of justifying any action to ourselves; and worse, how perfectly capable we all are of justifying any action in specifically spiritual terms.