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  • Harry Potter and...

    ... the predictable ending?

    I don't want to spoil it for anyone who is yet to read it but the ending was as I'd anticipated - even the twist regarding one of the main characters was, to me, evident from book 1.  Lots of death and destruction occur along the way to an ending that has clear echoes of Lewis and Tolkien, not that there is anything wrong with that.  The final chapter was, for me, a little twee, but then the primary audience is a quarter my age...

    I'm glad I read it to complete the set but not in my view the highlight of the series. 

    Wonder how many people spotted the very short biblical quote hidden in the middle of the story? 

    Back to grown-up books now...

  • Music Wanted... (UPDATED)

    This is cheeky and a bit of a long shot, but does anyone who reads this have access to the music for Robert J Stamp's beautiful (if linguistically dated) song 'God and Man at Table are Sat Down'?  I have the word in a words edition of the RC Hymns Old & New on permanent loan from the church where I spent a year working, but I knew it long before that.  It seems not to be in any of the newer worship song books.  As the cheapest copy of the music book I've seen is £15 I'm quite keen to find a "loan" of this one page...


    Welcome all ye noble Saints of old

    As now before your very eyes unfold

    The wonders all so long ago foretold.


    Elders, martyrs, all are falling down

    Prophets, patriachs are gathering round

    What angels longed to see, now man has found.


    Who is this who spreads the victory feast

    Who is this who makes our warring cease

    Jesus Risen, Saviour, Prince of Peace.


    Beggars, lame, and harlots also here

    Repentant publicans are drawing near

    Wayward sons come home without a fear.


    Worship in the presence of the Lord

    With Joyful songs, and hearts in one accord

    And let our Host at table be adored.


    When at last this earth shall pass away

    When Jesus and His Bride are one to stay

    The Feast of Love is just begun that day.



    I can easily enough tweak the non-inclusive bits and keep acceptable theology ("God with us at table is sat down")


    *** UPDATED *** Thanks to "Mystery Man" Andy (P) I now have the music for this

  • An Experimental Sermon

    Every now and then I decide I need a change!  Most of my sermons are pretty straight forward explorations of a text or a theme.  Now and then I try my hand at something more creative.

    For our glimpse at Luke's portrait of Jesus I decided on the 'friend of sinners' motif, and eventually landed on the account in Luke 14 of the Shabbat dinner at the home of a Prominent Pharisee.  I did my background reading, wrote my nice straight forward sermon but felt a strong lure towards telling it as a story.  So I did, deciding that as I was writing as an unnamed first person, the 'I' had to be female.  Only as I was writing the sum up at the end did the Luke 5 connection come to mind (so I assume that was the God-given bit).

    I tell this story not to you, but to myself, for it is I who need to hear, if I have ears to hear...

    Responding to Luke 14.pdf

  • Something a little lighter...

    DPT residential, evening 1.  Most of us gathered in the bar (which closed at 9 p.m.!) to chat after dinner.  Two simultnaeous conversations overlapped to give this delightful effect....

    "I sometimes wonder what God's doing"

    "He's in Louden working on his PowerPoint" 

    So, my brain connected these and came up with the line, "God is working his PowerPoint out as year succeeds to year" but, alas, we were unable to finish the new verse for this old hymn.  Any offers?

    For those who do not know/have forgotten it, the original runs thus...

    God is working his purpose out as year succeeeds to year

    God is working his purpose out, and the time is drawing near

    Nearer and nearer draws the time, the time that shall surely be

    When the earth shall be filled with the glory of God, as the waters cover the sea.

  • Reflections on One Year of DPT

    ff7f8fdee13e9fdb37fbb39751662be0.jpgI typed 'perichorsis' into Google images and this is the picture that came up most often.  It is a fascinating icon, beloved of many, and whilst I'm not sure how it relates to one year of DPT, I am happy to use it, if only because the concept of perichoresis is one I have come to value greatly.

    I have just written a reflection on the year for my journal - it begins

    "Much as I get hacked off with having to write all these reflection thingies, and much as this is my own precious free time, I do need to record some thoughts now, because in two year’s time when I have to write them up I won’t remember them!"

    In thinking what to share with world, I have deliberately not simply reproduced what I wrote because it is personal, instead this is a new piece that I will print and keep. 

    It has been a mixed year - parts of it have hacked me off big time, other parts have been great fun, and I have enjoyed the reading, researching and meeting new people.  Sitting down and reflecting on it all - what has annoyed me, what has inspired me, what I have (or have not) learned has been a useful experience.

    One of the thoughts that strikes me today relates to what David Lyall said about perichoresis - and what he didn't say - and why my project is so immensely difficult for anyone to supervise.  In yesterday's stuff I mentioned my own lack of knowledge of systematic theology, the sense of inferiority it gives me, and the fact that I see strength in being aware of one's weaknesses.  I think that today I have realised the significance of the fact that my research project lies at an interface between 'traditional' theology (church history) and practical theology (church health).  I think there does need to be some sort of 'perichoresis' of the two (and also, by someone, some time with systematics/dogmatics, Biblical studies, spirituality, etc etc) not just a face to face dialogue.  But this fact of it itself is problematical - how do I ensure that my work does not simply fall into the gap that currently exists between the two fields?  My dad used to have a favourite saying 'he who sits on two stools will surely fall between' - so how do I 'engineer' some perichoresis (or at least bridge the gap) so that this doesn't happen?  I begin to realise the unfair task my supervisors face!

    My guess is that there must be other people who are trying to play their part in this theological grand chain, seeing how the whole is so much greater than the sum of the parts. 

    As I begin to look ahead to next year's work, I have one or two ideas that I'd like to explore in a kind of empirical-textual way.  James Hopewell in his book Congregations: Stories and Structures does a delightful slagging off of congregational histories as boring.  I'm sure he is right, and I also think his assertion that they are lists of names and dates makes them of minimal use as a resource for change.  But to argue this, I need to be able to subtantiate it - reading a whole pile of boring histories could, perversely, be quite interesting, as well as supporting my thesis that denomionational level is the right place to find the resources, even of they originate in discrete congregations.  However, I think I'd also need to do more work with denominational histories not only to identify more clearly their trajectories and aims, but to see what their limitations are in terms of seeking evidence of process rather than detailed description of outcome.

    Of course, time will tell what I end up doing, and I will need to keep at least one eye on the congregational studies side of it all.

    So, at times it has been a going round in circles, at times it has been walking up blind alleys, and at times it has been the fun of a dance with the mystery of an icon.  It has been an expensive year, costing around 2k if I include books, software, travel and so on but overall, yes, I 'm glad to have come this far...