William Cowper by Lemuel Francis Abbott (1792) Q regulars will know that William Cowper has been a personal favourite for years. He had to navigate the storms of mental illness throughout his adult life, without any of the understanding, support…
Q regulars know that Turkey is a country close to my heart. I have just returned from my 15th (!) trip and so naturally it preoccupies my thoughts a great deal at the moment. During my previous trip, I'd heard…
Moving to a new town means having to discover convenient new dog-walking areas. There's a great little park near us - but there's a limit to the route variations one can take in it, so it is already getting a…
This post is not exactly in the heat of the moment. But because the site for which I wrote the article is no longer in action, I presumed that the world needed the benefit of its insights (hoho) and so thought I’d repost, albeit with the notes from the talk I’ve given a few times based on it. (more…)
If the last Q combo was a chronological mismatch of artist and poet, this one is seasonal. Today’s still been pretty warm for a British September day, so it’s perhaps rather incongruous to be thinking about winter. But a dear friend and colleague, Jennifer, sent me this all too brief poem last week, and so I felt it was a perfect combo contender.
So here’s the 3rd Q Combination. I don’t know how well known these two geniuses are beyond British shores – but they are true 20th Century greats. In their different ways, both articulate a deeply earthy, incarnated spirituality. (more…)
I was in Cambridge for a few days speaking for some events that took place far too late at night for me (carol services at 10pm!!). So naturally, my mind wandered from time to time while the shepherds were watching. And my gaze settled on this memorial which was just above my head. It looks like any other, and is quite wordy. But those words definitely bear close reading. For this particular plaque testified to something far greater than the usual pieties of such things. (more…)
I came across this remarkable, inspiring story at the end of David Smith’s excellent The Kindness of God, a plea for a new missiology appropriate to these troubled times. It comes a professor friend of his who has ministered for many years in Jos, Plateau State in northern Nigeria. Jos sits on Africa’s great faultline between the Muslim north and Christian south – and thus has faced terrible things in recent years. (more…)
Iain Banks (known as Iain M Banks when he’s writing science fiction) had the most extraordinarily fertile imagination. It was one of the reasons his books have been so loved and respected. His last SF book before he died of cancer in June at only 59 was The Hydrogen Sonata, in his Culture series. I’d not read any of his books before but was very struck by the way people talked about him over the summer, and so decided to make amends. Well, I certainly dived into the deep end.
For me, though, the standout of Francis Spufford’s reading memoir The Child That Books Built is the chapter entitled The Island. For it is here that he waxes lyrical about Narnia. It is not just because he chimes with the countless numbers who loved C S Lewis’ books (despite the likes of Philip Pullman and Polly Toynbee). It is the fact that he grasps something of their theological wonder (which will come as no surprise perhaps to those who have enjoyed his Unapologetic). (more…)