Q Marks the Spot 137 (March 2020)

Sacred Treasure There has been much heat and hurt recently about power abuse and church ministry. It is something that I've been working on and engaging with for the last 10 years or so. Here are some of the better…

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2019: Reading Highlights

These are in no particular order and I've picked them out as the ones I gave 5* to on my Goodreads page - you can see the rest here. The observant may well be able to discern themes and current…

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On MLK, #MeToo, and the possibility of Pride in the Flawed

Does the legacy of a heroic struggle for justice cover over a multitude of sins? Or does the iconic hero’s fatal flaw render him and, perhaps even his legacy, leprous? Is it 'one strike and you're out' or might the twitteratti just possibly permit nuance and, dare I say it, complexity?

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Time in the company of an artful hymn writer

A few hours in Timothy Dudley-Smith’s company, through the medium of his recent A Functional Art: Reflections of a Hymn Writer, is extremely well spent. Now in his 90s, it is wonderful to find that his acuity, humanity and insight are…

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The Black Dog (10 years on) 6: SO YOU WANT TO HELP…

I’m glad. In fact, if you didn’t, I’d be quite concerned for you! But be warned. This isn’t for the faint-hearted. It will try your patience and frustrate your sympathies. You’ll definitely have days when you’ve had enough. Perhaps months. So you’ll shrug that you did everything you could but to no avail. [There are only so many hours in a day, and you’ve got your own issues.] So you’ll assume it needs someone else to take up the baton. If that’s the case, then may I make a gentle plea with you? Don’t get involved in the first place… (more…)

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The Black Dog (10 years on) 3: THE DARKENED CAVE…

I touched on the surprisingly physical reality of the black dog yesterday. It’s surprising, because, of course, depression is as much about emotional pain and scars as anything else. But here’s the really weird thing: the emotional anguish actually feels physical at times. I think I really get now why people talk about feeling heart-sick. It is a piercing constant, perhaps a little like having emotional toothache. (more…)

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Q Combinations 1: Rembrandt & Herbert

Have been thinking of different things I can do on the blog, and one of them is to offer occasional juxtapositions of creativity that warm the heart, stretch the mind, quench the soul. So here is the first: a bringing together of two masters (to whom I’ve returned more than once on Q). (more…)

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Spurgeon’s Sorrows: a book I never realised I was desperate for

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. (more…)

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There but for the grace… pastors escaping the power-trip pitfalls

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.” (more…)

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