Spinning an unspinnable message – why bother? A message under Parliament

One or two have asked for this, so here it is: the first of 3 talks given in the gaudy riot of Pugin-inspired colour that is Parliament’s Undercroft Chapel. This is a group that meets mostly weekly under Christians in Parliament. The next two are on 15th and 29th November. We’d decided to do 3 sessions from the opening chapters of Paul’s extraordinary and thoroughly contemporary first letter to the Corinthian church. (more…)

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Three blind-spots of the Western Church from Vinoth Ramachandra

Vinoth Ramachandra has had links with All Souls for quarter of a century – and he and his wife Karin have been mission partners for many years. So it was a joy to have them join our staff meeting last week, while they were passing through en route between two conferences before heading home to Sri Lanka. One of the things that was often said of John Stott by those from the ‘majority world’ (including Vinoth) was that he was very good at genuinely listening to their perspectives and concerns, rather than following a paternalistic, one-directional relationship.

So in that spirit, Hugh asked Vinoth to speak about what he perceived as the blind-spots of the western church. (more…)

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Friday Fun 15: Some New Yorker gems

I don’t just read the New Yorker for the cartoons… honest.

Well… they are a big part of its joy… So here are a few recent gems… I especially liked the guy who always manages to get a train-seat. I’d only add that if you want a whole carriage to yourself (even during rush hour on the London underground) just wear a dog-collar.

That’ll get them fleeing for their lives. (more…)

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“Whatever…” – a mission statement or a social condition?

It’s not every day that one gets to sit around the same table as representatives of Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Christian and Humanist networks with the chance to pick brains and question of the most senior leaders of the BBC. But that is exactly what happened today, as I’d been invited to attend a small group that meets twice a year on Religion and Belief in broadcasting. I certainly felt both out of my depth and a fishout of water (if that’s possible) – still, it was very interesting indeed (not least because the BBC is our next door neighbour) and a privilege to be present. (more…)

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Q marks the spot – Treasure Map 38 (November 2011)

Sacred Treasure

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A few days in Paris

Having taken my son Joshua to Rome for 3 nights when he was 10, my daughter decided she wanted to go to Paris for her 10th year Dad & Daughter time. So off we toddled last week for a few days to see the sights. And a fab time was had by all. (more…)

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Q’s Espionage Festival: 3. Soviet Spies, John Stott and fleeting encounters

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. (more…)

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The intrusion of musical grace and Steven Galloway’s “The Cellist of Sarajevo”

I don’t cry in movies. Sometimes I’d quite like to. But that’s a different story. I just don’t. Usually. But one of the greatest films of recent years (and that is no hyperbole) made me weep: The Lives of Others. The scene in question is one that affected many other friends similarly. It is the moment when the Stasi agent, Gerd Wiesler, eavesdrops on the playwright Georg Dreyman playing a piano piece given to him by an old friend driven to suicide by being blackballed by the East German officialdom. (more…)

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Q’s Espionage Festival: 2. A review of Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

I was in fear and trembling before watching this movie. Not because of any potential hide-behind-the-sofa moments – but because I so wanted the film to succeed, but feared it would fail spectacularly. For the BBC series with Alec Guinness as George Smiley is one that i’ve watched countless times. And it never ceases to surprise and thrill. Even though cinematically the look and feel seems very dated, the production doesn’t age. So when I heard about the new film, my heart groaned slightly. But fortunately, I really shouldn’t have worried. This film is a triumph. (more…)

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So did Sherlock Holmes (HonFRSC) REALLY live round here?

Sherlock Holmes is always with us. Every time I walk down Baker St (which is often because we live just behind it), the point is driven home. We love Benedict Cumberbatch’s contemporary take on Sherlock, but that’s not what I’m getting at. For a bit further up the street from us, there is in fact a “Sherlock Holmes Hotel”, believe it or not. But let’s be clear about this. There is no famous London Blue Plaque at 221B, because, of course, he DIDN’T exist. (more…)

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