Recommended books & reviews, Social action

Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help

The scale and profile of church-based social action projects has grown significantly over the last 20 years. There has been a particular rise in projects which distribute practical resources, with food banks being the most high profile example. Critical reflection The growth of such activity raises questions which need to be reflected on. Is this… Continue reading Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help

Reflections & Poetry, Wellbeing

Showing love online on Valentine’s Day

If I blog with sparkling wit and powerful prose, but do not have love, I am just a blaring horn or a screech on a blackboard .  If I tell great stories, show brilliant intellect and can shine light on the mysteries of life, but do not have love, I am nothing.   If I make myself look… Continue reading Showing love online on Valentine’s Day

Homelessness, Theology

The book which has most influenced how we respond to homeless people

This article is based on my lecture at a British Academy conference at Lincoln University on ‘Representing Homelessness’ where I spoke on ‘theological representation’. It is a matter of historical fact that a huge number of the charities established to address homelessness were set up by committed Christians. Some retain a strong link to their… Continue reading The book which has most influenced how we respond to homeless people

Homelessness

‘Everyone else was nice…but she told me the truth I needed to hear’

Ten years ago I was leading a seminar at the Greenbelt festival on homelessness with Housing Justice. We had arranged for an actor to interrupt the start of the session, pretending to be homeless and appeal to the 300-odd people in the venue for cash. We wanted to recreate something of the dilemma and tension… Continue reading ‘Everyone else was nice…but she told me the truth I needed to hear’

Social commentary

‘We read to know we are not alone’: Two ingredients of a great blog

Blogs are a hyper-democratic form of journalism. Almost anyone can now publish their views and propagate them globally on social media. This has created a deluge of opinion: the world more packed with people’s written thoughts than ever before. I see blogs as a little like fast-food. They are quick, convenient to consume and can… Continue reading ‘We read to know we are not alone’: Two ingredients of a great blog

Ethics & Christian living, Films & music

A prayer in dark times

The Netflix satire Don’t Look Up is about an impending apocalypse caused by a massive meteor heading for earth. Inevitably, there are references to faith and two prayers are said in the film. The first is by the President's Chief of Staff, played by Jonah Hill: 'I’ve been noticing a lot of prayers recently for… Continue reading A prayer in dark times

Recommended books & reviews, Theology

Contradictions, errors & moral offence: how the Bible’s problems enhance its authority

Review of Inspired Imperfection: how the Bible’s problems enhance its divine authority by Gregory A Boyd …………………… I love reading the Bible. No other book comes close to consistently inspiring and challenging me. I read it every morning and, especially when reading the gospels, I often feel a tingle of excited joy about the depth… Continue reading Contradictions, errors & moral offence: how the Bible’s problems enhance its authority

Ethics & Christian living

The grace and truth of Desmond Tutu

This week the world said goodbye to one of its most attractive personalities.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu became a globally-recognised figure in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.  His faith, passion, bravery and humour inspired the world. I remember reading Tutu’s 1999 book No Future Without Forgiveness on… Continue reading The grace and truth of Desmond Tutu

Films & music, Social commentary

‘Christmas Eve Life Evaluation films’ and what they tell us

Story #1: The Last Train to Christmas Last night, I watched the new festive film The Last Train to Christmas. It focuses on a troubled nightclub owner, Tony Towers (Michael Sheen), who takes a train from London to Nottingham on Christmas Eve with his fiancé. On route, they are joined by his brother and his… Continue reading ‘Christmas Eve Life Evaluation films’ and what they tell us

Ethics & Christian living, Films & music

‘Looking in the rubble for the finger-prints of God’

In the final scene of The Crucible, the flawed hero, John Procter, is hanged along with two innocent women. They are executed at the order of the Church authorities because they refuse to admit guilt in the witch trials in their town of Salem, Massachusetts. As the nooses are put around their necks, the three… Continue reading ‘Looking in the rubble for the finger-prints of God’