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When someone else says it better

I follow the latest news reports about the latest Christian fostering controversy with some incredulity. I am not going to repeat a long argument when others have said it far better but, if you’ve followed the Johns’ case with interest and confusion, then can I point you to, variously:

I guess I would like to reverse the field and see what it looks like then. For example, imagine a gay couple wanted to foster. Would they be asked whether they would be happy to promote an evangelical Christian lifestyle to a child who wished to pursue such a thing and, if they refused, would they be considered unsuitable to foster?

 

Merry Christmas Egypt, our prayers are with you

An Egyptian Coptic Christian wrapped in a sheet on which a cross has been painted in blood
(Photo: Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

At the start of last year, I blogged about my experiences in Egypt and how Coptic Christians there had been such a profound influence on me, particularly in seeing the daily suffering they endure as a minority… often a persecuted minority.

I had made a note in my diary after Christmas to highlight an article, dated 23 December, from the Guardian website that was entitled ‘Egypt’s Coptic Christians struggle against institutionalised prejudice’. Sadly, events have overtaken me with news of the bombing in Alexandria.

The slightly grisly photo on the left is of a man with a sheet outside St Marks (the bombed church). The Christian cross is marked out in the blood of one of those injured.

The Guardian article is worth a read but it talks about Read more

I’m sorry, Tony. You’re spot on.

BBC Nativity, Image of Mary and Joseph

This Christmas week has been given a rhythm for me by the BBC’s new production of the Nativity story. Written and produced by Tony Jordan, who has a very long list of impressive credits, he was (one might have thought) an unusual choice to do the job for the Beeb but what a job he has done.

I have really enjoyed the story as portrayed by Jordan and, particularly, how he has picked up and understood how rejected Mary and Joseph would have been for the scandal of being pregnant before the engagement had become marriage.

Plenty of people are reviewing the TV programmes and that’s fine. I don’t really want to talk about that though. What has struck me is an interview he gave to Aled Jones on Radio Two last week. What follows is Tony speaking:

“I still have a hasty distrust of organised religion. I generally do and that’s the thing that hasn’t changed at all. My faith has changed and I have changed as a person because of the nativity, Read more

making your brain ache

Image of woman's legs and feet, backlit, wearing high heels

Some time ago, I marked out an article from a fellow Curate and fellow blogger for further reflection. The problem is that each time I sit down with it, I’m just left with my brain dribbling out my ears. As Rob says at the conclusion of the article… ‘sometimes, I just don’t know what to think … ‘

So rather than wait for a day that never seems to come, I’m just going to point you in Rob’s direction and say go read for yourself. The article in question concerns pioneer minister, Rob Ryan, and his conversation with a lap-dancing Christian who was passing through town. It’s a fascinating and heart-rending story.

why hawking doesn’t get it

Photos of Rowan Williams and Stephen Hawking side-by-side

The recent headlines surrounding Stephen Hawking’s conclusion that there is no need for God to explain the origins of the universe made me chuckle. Rather I should qualify that – what made me chuckle was atheist or agnostic friends, parishioners or neighbours assuming that this must have been a serious knock to my faith. Because Stephen Hawking has said so, surely I was about to chuck in my vestments and go do a milk-round… or something.

Err, funnily enough – no. It hasn’t knocked my faith at all.

Rowan Williams was, of course, asked for a response by the media and (I thought) he hit the nail on the head when he responded that this was never about belief in a God of the Gaps in the first place. Read more

Fresh Expressions?

A photo of cat litter called 'Fresh Expressions'

Some friends of mine in the USA sent this photo to me a few months ago and I’ve only just got around to sharing it with the world.

I presume this is well-known in the USA, but it certainly brings a new slant on the phrase ‘Fresh Expressions’ for those of us in the UK.

(and no, this is not a comment on what I think of the ‘Fresh Expressions’ church movement in the Church of England.)

The Rev-iew

A still image from the first episode of Rev

Last night saw the debut of BBC2’s new comedy drama ‘Rev’ with Tom Hollander. Tom plays Rev Adam Smallbone, a new Vicar in an inner-city parish, with a standard array of peculiar characters orbiting Hollander’s star. In rev-iewing it now (oho, see what I did there?), I guess I give it a cautious thumbs-up. 6.5 to 7 out of 10.

To deal with the criticisms first, it kind of annoyed me that they had to start the series off by him waking up with a hangover, then proceeding to swear regularly and smoke at every opportunity. It’s too easy and too fatuous a laugh to portray the sort of Father Jack (from Father Ted) school of priesthood, burnt-out and only able to smoke, drink and swear. On another level, however, I am not sure if my annoyance is with the programme or with my fellow clergy who I know behave just like that. Long before Rev Smallbone was seen on my screen, I’ve felt my hackles rising Read more

The World Cup and the Church

A photo of Bobby Moore, England captain in 1966

On a personal level, I am about to embark on my once-every-four-years month-long trial of both tortuous nervousness, mixed with moments of sheer joy and hope, culminating in bleak disappointment and despair. Yes, the FIFA World Cup is here again.

As regular readers will know, I’m a football fan. In fact, for once, I have more reason to be cheerful about football than usual given that my beloved Tottenham Hotspur have actually managed to achieve something and qualified for the Champions League next season.

Even more important to me, however, than Spurs’ impending European adventure is the hope that I will one day live to see England win their second World Cup. I wasn’t around for the first one and the thought that I might never see my compatriots lift the most-hallowed trophy in football fills me with dread. So I will be watching the games, an anxious knot in my stomach, knowing that the chances of failure are more real than the chances of success. I’ll be watching knowing that if we foul it up, it’s another four years until we get another chance. However, I will also be watching hoping and praying that England actually play to their potential and beyond and conquer the world.

All that aside, however, this World Cup represents the first opportunity for me to actually influence church activity during the tournament. I’m intrigued and fascinated by the way our nation changes once every couple of years for a month or so. England flags appear everywhere, people actually talk to each other in the street, enormous crowds gather to share good-natured community, the stock-market goes up and generally the feel-good factor is enormous. It’s also, I think, a great opportunity for the Church to engage with our nation, to share a common passion and to show that some of us at least are actually normal people… just people who happen to believe and trust in God. Read more

is the iPad a liturgical game-changer?

iPad promotional image from apple.com

Nearly a year ago, I finally made a move to the dark side (or the light depending on your perspective) and bought an Apple Macintosh computer.

After years and years and years of being a Windows user, I basically got fed up with the viruses, the clunky way Windows operated. I needed a new machine and I knew that if I bought a PC that meant Vista (at the time) and I had heard so much negative stuff about that.

So I bought a Mac. I also signed up for an iPhone and I have been loving my conversion ever since.

Now this post is not about my Mac conversion. This post is about the new iPad which is shortly to make its way into shops.

As a relatively new Mac convert, I was interested Read more

Book of Eli

Photo of Denzel Washington in The Book of Eli

Late last week, I visited our local cinema with a small but growing group of men from our church to check out one of the latest releases. In this instance, we found ourselves watching The Book of Eli starring Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman, written by Gary Whitta and directed by the Hughes brothers (who have been a bit MIA since Dead Presidents in 1995).

I was quietly impressed by this movie and would encourage you to go and see it.

Denzel is the eponymous Eli, a traveller walking across a post-apocalyptic America, trying to survive and (as we learn) carrying a rather special book. With, no doubt, a nod to one of the names of God in Hebrew (El or Eli), Eli is carrying the last known copy of the Bible.

We are not given a totally worked out back history (which I liked). We are told there was a war, a ‘big flash’ some thirty odd years ago, and nobody seems to know very much of what actually happened. The younger characters born post-flash are intrigued by Denzel’s knowledge, as an older man, of the world before it turned into the hell-hole that they know. Their world is one where barren roads are patrolled by gangs of killers who will Read more