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Hope’s Beautiful Daughters…

Posted by on Aug 1, 2019 in Blog | 4 comments

Hope’s Beautiful Daughters…

St Augustine suggested that hope has two beautiful daughters, anger and courage. Without these, Augustine argued, hope comes to nothing. Why these two daughters? (And although off the point, why daughters? Don’t we usually see anger and courage as male qualities? Clearly Augustine didn’t, and perhaps his 5th century wisdom should cause us to reflect on where we most often spot valid expressions of anger and courage).  Returning to our question – why these daughters? Take anger… Instinctively we default back to the status quo. While we might quietly wish that things were...

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Sorry, I’ve no time. Really?

Posted by on Jun 20, 2019 in Blog | 2 comments

It’s often said that while we are a wealthy society, we are time poor. Now the first claim is undoubtedly true, but the second should have a serious question mark placed alongside it. Time poor – in comparison to who and when? Certainly not the ancient Hebrews. They worked a six day week from sunrise to sunset – on average a 72 hour working week. Indeed, a 70 hour plus working week has been the norm for most of human history. Robert Whaples, professor of economics at Wake Forest University has demonstrated that in the 1800’s a work week of 70 or more hours was common in the US, while Robert...

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Towards a 21st Century Church (2): Time for the 500 year Rummage Sale?

Posted by on May 2, 2019 in Blog | 6 comments

In my earlier blog post “Towards a 21st Century Church”, I discussed four assumptions we should challenge if we are to make a constructive journey towards the future. In this post I explore Phyllis Tickle’s contested but thought provoking thesis that roughly every 500 years a “great emergence” occurs within Christianity during which a new and “more vital” form of faith emerges. Roughly stated, Tickle’s big idea is that every five hundred years the Church cleans out its attic and has a giant rummage sale. This enables the church to reevaluate and sometimes discard forms of faith she...

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Towards a 21st Century Church: Four Assumptions to Challenge

Posted by on Apr 23, 2019 in Blog | 11 comments

Now that we are almost a fifth of the way through the twenty first century, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the church can no longer act as though it is still the twentieth century. People give various reasons for why significant change is needed – some of the more common contenders being that we now live in post-Christendom (and the church therefore no longer operates from a platform of privilege, nor can it assume that people have a basic understanding of the Christian faith); or that the postmodern turn in society has rendered everything relative, making the truth claims of the...

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Counting our more complicated blessings…

Posted by on Apr 18, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

You’ve probably been taught to count your blessings. It’s good advice. When we count them we usually discover there are far more than we initially imagined, and it is certainly more refreshing to be in the presence of a grateful person than one who feels cheated and bitter. But what are we to make of what William Sloan Coffin has called “our more complicated blessings”? The expression is found in a challenging prayer from Riverside Church which Gil Rendle cites in his excellent new book on leadership, Quietly Courageous (2019) p11. Here is an excerpt from it: And, grant us to count our more...

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Beyond Tut Tut: Thinking Through the New Zealand Massacre…

Posted by on Mar 19, 2019 in Blog | 8 comments

Friday March 15, 2019 was indeed, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it, “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”, for on that day a gunman, (his name best left unspoken), killed 50 worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, and injured many others. It was an attack that represents so many things… for the families of victims, a long term journey with grief, sadness and probably rage – for many of them it will never ease; for New Zealand, the loss of innocence, for it has now not been spared the violence present in many parts of the world; for the world, a...

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When a Cardinal Sins: Reflections on the conviction of George Pell

Posted by on Mar 1, 2019 in Blog | 7 comments

For those not in the loop (and they must be a very small number), Cardinal George Pell has been found guilty of child sexual abuse, and is  being held in detention while his sentence is awaited. As he is the most senior cleric in the world to be convicted of this crime, it is deeply unsettling. He could have become the Pope – having been a serious contender (though not the front runner) when Pope Benedict resigned in 2013. Until stepping down from his role at the Vatican to face trial in Australia, he was the third most senior figure in the Roman Catholic Church (far and away the...

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Quotable: Marilynne Robinson – Gilead, take 2

Posted by on Feb 4, 2019 in Blog | 2 comments

Last week we looked at some quotes from Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer prize winning novel Gilead. The book is a fictional series of reflections by dying clergyman, John Ames, to his seven year old son. It is filled with wisdom, and is a celebration of life. Here are some more reflections from the book… I think the attempt to defend belief can unsettle it, in fact, because there is always an inadequacy in argument about ultimate things. Marilynne Robinson Any human face is a claim on you, because you can’t help but understand the singularity of it, the courage and loneliness...

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Quotable: Marilynne Robinson – Gilead

Posted by on Jan 28, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

American novelist Marilynne Robinson (1943- ) won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize (for fiction) with her novel Gilead. It is the fictional autobiography of aging Congregationalist minister John Ames, who, aware that his serious heart condition means  his death is imminent, wants to leave a memoir for his seven year old son to remember him by. The book is a wonderful celebration of life, and is filled with profound insights. Here are a few… Love is holy because it is like grace – the worthiness of the object is never what matters. Marilynne Robinson It’s not a man’s working...

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Quotable: With Frederick Buechner – Take 2

Posted by on Jan 21, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

This is a second take on Frederick Buechner (1926-), an ordained Presbyterian minister, who is a notable novelist, preacher and theologian. I recently read one of his memoirs, Telling Secrets, and it led me to track down some insights from his thirty plus published works. His novel, Godric, was a 1981 finalist for the Pulitzer prize. You might well be aware of the most famous of Buechner quotes: “God calls you to the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Here are some others… One life on this earth is all that we get, whether it is enough...

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