John Stott was scrupulous in attempting to do this. It was a key element of the respect that he garnered amongst those he debated or disagreed. He would unfailingly attempt to honour an opposing position by seeking to understand it from…
IVP has been running a blog series on John Stott's thought - they've produced a number of short videos about it, accompanied by relevant posts. So I was delighted to contribute, writing the article to accompany the great David Turner.…
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).
You may not have heard of Frances Whitehead - but if you have read any of John Stott's books, you will have witnessed her extraordinary handiwork: transforming his handwritten scrawl into immaculate typescript ready for the publishers. For more than 50 years, she worked very closely with him and her perspective on his life and work is unique and valuable. So it was a total joy for me to spend the best part of a day with her at home in Bourne End, on the Thames, to the west of London, during which our conversation ranged over all kinds of things.
Having spent a few days weeding out stuff from my bursting filing cabinet, I came across a real gem previously forgotten. Back in October 2005, John Stott, then aged 85 and just a year or two off his formal retirement from public ministry, addressed a small group of ministers, invited for the occasion. We'd only recently come back from Uganda and moved to All Souls, so it was a lovely way to start our time here. It wasn't recorded, and was fairly informal.
What makes a good archive or library? Well, as I've written elsewhere, I think there are at least 3 key ingredients.
- Excellent, unique and desirable content
- Well ordered and easily retrievable resources
- Intuitive and straightforward search processes.
It's not every day that you find a newspaper column quoting Calvin, C S Lewis and G K Chesterton without odium or censure. But that is exactly what happened in a New York Times Op. Ed. on Monday. It's even more surprising when you realise that its writer is a Jewish American social commentator, David Brooks. He is a thoughtful writer who seems genuinely concerned to understand what makes people tick, without prejudice or name-calling. Some will only know him for the fact that he was the one who wrote the piece on John Stott back in 2004 (which was arguably the principle catalyst for him becoming one of the 2005 Time 100).
It is a great sadness to me that the word 'pund' does not exist. This is no doubt because the English 'pundit' is actually a corruption of an ancient Sanskrit work 'pandit' which meant 'learned scholar, master, teacher' (don't worry - I didn't know that until I looked it up in the OED). But I recommend using it - because I've noticed that there is an increasing amount of punding going on. And I'm not sure the sight is all that pretty.
I've been thinking about this for a while - and was spurred finally to do something about it after the inspiring Memorial Service at St Paul's Cathedral on Friday. It was a great service - the most affecting were the tributes from Frances Whitehead and Ruth Padilla DeBorst as they felt the most personal. But it was good to have input from Africa and Asia as well as Latin America, and a very apt sermon from Bishop Tim Dudley-Smith.
This is a mildly unserious combination of Q's Espionage festival and Friday Fun. But London W1 is a spy-historian's paradise - there are so many spots around here that saw Cold War duty (and the KGB certainly knew their way around). For a start, the formal gardens of Regent's Park were regular rendezvous points for Cambridge Spies Kim Philby and Donald Maclean with their KGB handlers. But there's another couple of connections that are even closer to home.