Tuesday, 29 December 2009


  • Story – largely predictable, but somehow gripping.
  • Characters – often stereotypical.
  • Dialogue – functional, occasionally corny.
  • Cinematography – utterly entrancing.
  • 3D – the best yet, by far.
  • Filmic references – Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, Dances With Wolves, Alien, Apocalypse Now, Pocahontas, Lord of the Rings.
  • Spirituality – Gaia/popularised Native American/broadly “Eastern”
  • Message – pro environmentalism, pro-science, anti-big business, anti-industrial; anti-military.
  • (Not so) Hidden Message – the myth of redemptive violence.
  • Lasting impression – an utterly engrossing romp through a brilliantly imagined, stunningly rendered, completely believable exotic world.
  • Recommendation – see it, don’t wait for the DVD, see it in the cinema, see it in 3D.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Wishing You A Glorious Christmas

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came  into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

See the light.  Walk in the light.  Reflect the light.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Postmodern Christian Spirituality

This is advanced notice of a module I'm helping to deliver here at Luther King House this summer.

We'll be looking at such areas as: spirituality and film; the turn from religion to spirituality; feminism and spirituality; spirituality and the novel; the state of contemporary charismatic spirituality.

The model is acutally part of the University of Manchester MA in Contextual Theology that we at The Partnership for Theological Education deliver but it is open for applications from people interested in the topic as a stand alone, non-assesed study opportunity.  Would be suitable for, among others, ministers taking study leave.

To find out more call the number above.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Putting the Crass into Christmas

I like to think that I'm not easily offended; contrary to popular opinion the things you come across as a minister make less not more shockable.  However, I think I just have been rubbed up the wrong way by a Christmas ad from a church in New Zealand.  Not sure though if I'm offended or just exasperated by the inept stupidity, crassness and frankly pathetic desperation of some Christians.

To find out what it was that got to me and to read some typically sensible comments from my friend John (himself a communications professional) go here.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Review of Ministerial Training

I’m interested in your opinion.  Next week I’m at a meeting with the BUGB department of ministry and reps from the other Baptist colleges to take a reflective look at congregationally based training.  If you have any views on the pros and cons of this pattern of ministerial formation I’d love to hear them.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Preaching - A View From The Pew

In one of his books Fred Craddock, a biblical scholar by profession rather than a homiletician, claims that he writes "as one without authority."  A bit tongue in cheek this as Craddock is an experienced preacher who has clearly thought long and hard about the art of the sermon.

It does however prompt a question: does anyone know of a book on preaching that is in fact written by a none preacher, someone whose expertise on sermons comes from listening to 'em rather than delivering 'em?  I don't, do you?

Evangelical Alliance Ireland and Civil Parntership

This from the Evangelical Alliance Ireland’s report on the civil partnership bill.
As followers of a just and compassionate God we can recognise the justice and fairness of providing some legal protection for the reality of both same-sex and opposite-sex cohabiting relationships.
  • “just” - check
  • “compassionate” - check,
  • “justice” - check,
  • “fairness” - check,
  • “some” - ???????

(Click here to read the full statement)

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Music that made you stand still in wonder

Originally uploaded by kkozanecka

Geoff has tagged me with a music meme. The point is to write about moments when music just made you stand still in wonder, but not to write about your all-time-favourite music.

Aged 6 or 7 - sitting on the stairs hearing my Dad singing The Holy City. It was the first time I realised how well he could sing.

Aged 9 or 10 - on the last night of my holiday in Bridlington sitting on my own on the sea front listening to an electric guitar solo screaming out of the open windows of the caravan park social club. Somehow made me feel strangely grown up.

Aged about 12 - listening to the Karelia Suite at my uncle’s. He was the rich uncle – they had a garden. The sound the of majestically romantic music while staring at the greenery out of the window proved to me that I did like “classical” music after all.

Aged about 20 - late at night hearing a busker playing Rafael Ravenscroft’s famous alto sax solo from Baker Street somewhere round a distant corner at Kings Cross underground station. I think this was when I truly fell in love with the sax.

Aged 35 – standing in Pastor Elise’s yard in Macenta, Guinee for an hour or more almost literally entranced by the his a cappella West African choir.

Aged 36 – that bit in Brassed Off when the band play Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez.

Aged about 38 - hearing Lark Ascending for the first time in the parish church at Bolton Abbey while on retreat. It was as if God had pressed the pause button.

Aged 41 - me in the chapel practicing my new soprano saxophone (my first ever instrument) and actually getting it to sound good (to my ear anyway). Hardly great music, but it was the first time that I had made music myself; like discovering a new level of intimacy with an old friend.

Aged 43 - Billy Bragg at Greenbelt – the way one man with a guitar dominated the stage ten times more effectively than the manic, high-energy, multi-personnel Polyphonic Spree who had been on just before him.

Aged about 44 – a small ensemble form Grimethorpe Colliery Brass Band backing Kate Rusby on Underneath The Stars at Wakefield opera house. Kate’s voice and the mellowest of French horn playing – I melted.

Aged 49 - coming across Christian Forshaw’s rendition of Nunc Dimitis while looking for music for my mum’s funeral. ‘Nuff said.

I'm tagging John Griffiths, Dick Davis, Andy Amoss and Sean Winter

Contemporary Trends In Evangelism

I’m in the middle of shaping a new MA module on Evangelism. It would be great if anyone out there wanted to chip in.

What, in your opinion, are the major developments in the practice and theology of evangelism in past 50 years? What do you think are the most significant books on the subject written in recent times? What are the key issues with which students of evangelism in western culture ought to grapple?

What d’ya reckon?