Blog

When heaven is now…

Posted by on Sep 30, 2019 in Blog | 9 comments

I’m greatly enjoying Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, All the Light we cannot See – a moving exploration of life set against the Second World War. One chapter is entitled “Heaven” and in it Marie-Laure, blind since aged six, is picnicking with the ailing Madame Manec. It is a rare and brief respite from the war that is raging around them, and they begin to discuss whether heaven is real, and what it will be like. One poignant insight follows another, and the chapter ends: The grasses toss and shimmy. The horses nicker. Madame Manec says, almost whispering, “Now that I...

Read More

Cultivating a spacious heart…

Posted by on Sep 19, 2019 in Blog | 3 comments

I don’t know if you can remember a time when your heart was filled with love. Perhaps you thought, “I don’t think I could ever love more than I do now.” It might have been on your wedding day, or on the birth of a child – or even when you first met your puppy! For me it was certainly on my wedding day. As Rosemary glided down the aisle, I knew this was a forever thing. My heart was bursting with love, and I was intensely grateful. That love has never left – actually, 39 years later, it continues to grow. Five years after we married, our first child was...

Read More

When you say “Pastor”: What Images of Clergy tell us…

Posted by on Sep 13, 2019 in Blog | 1 comment

Don’t know if you have ever thought about the collective nouns for various professions. Some are perceptive, others tongue in cheek. Apparently one should speak of a “rash of dermatologists”, a “shower of meteorologists”, and a “boast of barristers”. When it comes to clergy the best I could find was “a rumble of clergy” – most were less flattering. What do you think of when you hear the word “pastor”, or “priest”, or “minister”, or “clergy”? The images that spring to mind are likely to...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More