In Memoriam Uncle John Stott – called home yesterday

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.

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A day in the life of The Hookses

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. (more…)

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The startling revelations of Alexa Meade’s art

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. (more…)

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I can’t help myself…? It’s time to deny the denial

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. (more…)

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A Song for Norway – a Czech protest song & the redemptive power of suffering

The news from Norway has defied words. Senseless, mindless, pointless; it is cruel, irrational evil. And supposedly in the name of Christ. Sickening.

I always resist to tweet or post about every event or topical twist and turn. I’m just not that kind of blogger, I guess. (more…)

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Friday Fun 9: Humbert Wolfe’s The British Journalist – #Hackgate The Poem

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… (more…)

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Dawkins, ‘Pragmamorphism’ and the scientific vandalism of executing Saddam

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). (more…)

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Studies inspired by Eat This Book

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. (more…)

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Means and Ends: when churches resort to bribery

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. (more…)

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Hackgate, Corruption and African perceptions of the West

During the 4 years we worked in Uganda, I would have this conversation with students all too often. They would despairingly deprecate African states for their oh-so predictable corruption, nepotism and despotism. It would be shrugged off and perhaps accompanied by a green-eyed comment about western political systems. And indeed, when chatting with friends back home, they would often enquire whether X or Y countries were doing ‘worse or better these days’ – shorthand for whether their respective rulers were now more, or less, openly corrupt and oppressive. Such is the caricature many outsiders have of Africa – and of course, there’s no smoke without fire, etc etc. (more…)

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Friday Fun 8: For all completing tax returns: DESK DUTY by Hugo Williams

I’m in the throes of that dreaded annual ordeal: the tax return. For some reason (best known to probably not very many people at all), CofE ministers seem to be regarded for tax purposes as self-employed (I suppose the thinking was that you can’t easily send an employer’s tax submission form to the Ancient of Days). As a result, we have to deal with all the claims and counter-claims ourselves. Fortunately, there are people around who have spotted the gap in the market and are dedicated full-time to making this marginally less daunting. I’ve my appointment next week. Hence the frenzied number-crunching and paper-clip management. (more…)

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