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4 Fields of Listening: To God, to Others and to Self

Posted by on Aug 31, 2021 in Blog | 10 comments

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com Most of us prefer to be listened to than to listen. However, as is often noted, God made us with two ears and one mouth, perhaps indicating that we should listen twice as much as we talk. Are there ways to listen that are more rewarding and which might tempt us to lean in to what others are saying, rather than impatiently waiting for our turn to dominate the conversation? C. Otto Scharmer (of “Theory U” fame) suggests that there are four fields of listening, and in this post I’d like to very loosely interact with his ideas, applying them to how we...

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It says what! Making sense of impossibly difficult Bible passages…

Posted by on Aug 3, 2021 in Blog | 4 comments

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com In my recent post On Being a Progressive Conservative, I mentioned that I had drawn the short straw on our preaching team and had to speak on some impossibly difficult Bible passages from Deut 19-26. Several of you asked what I landed up saying, and so I thought I would post the notes from the message. Actually it went surprisingly well, and many people said they found it helpful. Most commonly cited was the insight that when we read scripture we should pay more attention to the concern behind a passage than to its specific instruction. What to do...

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Signs of a healthy relationship

Posted by on Jul 22, 2021 in Blog | 2 comments

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com I’ve been asked the question often enough, “How can we be sure our love will last? How can we know if our relationship is more than infatuation?”  Many decades ago I was helped to explore the question by Anthony Kosnik’s (ed) work Human Sexuality: New Directions in American Catholic Thought. It provoked more than a little debate when it was first published in 1977, which explains why the reviewers on Amazon who give it four or five stars, are countered by those who give it a scathing one star. As I say, many considered it extreme when it first came...

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On being a progressive conservative (or a conservative progressive)…

Posted by on Jun 30, 2021 in Blog | 26 comments

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels.com Is the world so simple that we can quickly attach a valid label to everyone? We often act as though it is – or certainly we do in the world of theology, where we try to separate between those who are theologically conservative and those who are progressive – although we might use slightly different language, and suggest someone is a liberal or a fundamentalist or an evangelical or whatever. Single descriptors (conservative or progressive) usually make the error of assuming a world without nuance, a world where things fit tidily into a box… but when...

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Original Goodness: Taking our First Creation Seriously

Posted by on May 28, 2021 in Blog | 6 comments

I often listen to the theology podcasts from Yale Divinity School. Their by line asks a question: “What is a life worthy of our humanity?” I love it. It reminds us that although we might talk about original sin, God’s first word after the creation of humans was that they were very good, and indeed, that they were made in God’s own image. To bear the image of the Creator is a lofty status and provides a hint at how much is involved in leading a life worthy of our humanity, a life blessed by original goodness. The reason why we strongly object to poverty, slavery and injustice of all forms is...

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A bit of an update…

Posted by on May 18, 2021 in Blog | 27 comments

Many of the people who read this blog do so because our paths have crossed – and this is a good way to keep in touch. So let me update you on some of the things that have been happening in my life. If it is old news for you, sorry, but others are reading it for the first time. At the end of 2020 Vose Seminary merged with Morling College to form one of the largest theological colleges in the Southern Hemisphere. This was a very sensible move, as both Vose and Morling are Baptist Theological Colleges and the merger has enabled the two colleges to offer a united online program, share staff,...

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Arguing for the sake of heaven: Why we need curious conversations…

Posted by on May 15, 2021 in Blog | 11 comments

I wonder if you, like me, are finding the polarising conversations taking place in the public square shrill, tiresome and destructive. We have lost the art of disagreeing with one another politely or constructively, and have forgotten than ad hominem attacks (attacks directed against a person rather than the position they hold) have traditionally been seen to weaken an argument, not strengthen it. It genuinely is a pity, because there are so many important discussions that need to take place, and take place well. No matter how angrily we screech against our opponents, the truth is that there...

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On Silence…

Posted by on Mar 7, 2021 in Blog | 7 comments

Photo by Nandor on Pexels.com At present I am recovering from a skin graft to my lower leg, and it has meant that my usual activity has been severely restricted. Apparently the lower leg has a poor blood supply and to prevent swelling and the risk of the graft being rejected I must spend most of the day lying down with my leg raised and doing nothing. While I understand some might view that as bliss – a medical invitation to do nothing but sleep and read – I have found it more than a little tedious. Though the day has been interrupted with the inevitable zoom meetings, these have been...

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The Case for Martha…

Posted by on Feb 14, 2021 in Blog | 4 comments

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com My last post explored the Luke 10 account of Jesus at the home of Mary and Martha – and noted that the interchange on Mary’s decision to sit listening to the teaching of Jesus rather than to help Martha in the kitchen, left Mary with a choice. Would she accept Jesus’ verdict of her decision (Mary has chosen what is better), or Martha’s implied view (Mary is a lazy, impractical leech)? Whose voice we listen to is indeed important. Some lively discussion of the post followed – both on Facebook and in the comment section on WordPress – and an...

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Mary’s choice…

Posted by on Feb 7, 2021 in Blog | 9 comments

Many people love the account of Jesus’ meal at the home of Mary and Martha. For those of a more contemplative disposition, it is the quick trump card justifying stepping away from the fast lane and spending time with Jesus. For those with a more activist bent, it’s a reminder to sometimes slow down and sit at the feet of Jesus.   Here’s a quick rehash of these 5 verses at the end of Luke 10. Jesus and his disciples arrive at a village (likely Bethany) and Jesus is invited to the home of one of the locals, Martha by name. While Martha prepares a meal (and it is not entirely...

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