In the mid-1990s, I worked in a large hostel for 140 homeless people. One resident (lets call him Brian) had incredibly strong body odour. His lack of personal hygiene and reluctance to wash his clothes became a real issue. It led to snide comments from other residents and frustrations grew among those who shared the… Continue reading Head over heart: the case against emotional empathy
Vincent Donovan was a Catholic missionary who worked among the Masai tribes-people in Tanzania in the 1960s. He became increasingly concerned about the state of missionary work. After a 100 years of missionary activity in East Africa, the Catholic Church was very busy, running several schools, a major hospital and health outreach over a vast… Continue reading Is the Church just ‘an NGO with a pointy roof’?
In the 1990s, I used to buy just about every book I could find on Christian social action. Around the turn of the century though, I had to become more selective. One reason was because the number of books published on the subject increased so much. But also I had a nagging guilt about spending too… Continue reading ‘For Good: The Church and the Future of Welfare’ – Samuel Wells with Russell Rook & David Barclay [review]
The pastor and writer, Eugene Peterson, died this week. Tributes have poured in about the impact that this wise and humble man had on millions of people. Bono dedicated a song to him at U2's gig in London describing him as 'a beautiful spirit who opened up the Scriptures.' Peterson is most well-known for writing The Message version… Continue reading Eugene Peterson’s Subversive Spirituality
I grew up in a Christian home as the son of a vicar. In retrospect it gave me loads of things that I am grateful for, but in many ways I disliked being the ‘vicar’s son’ in a large church. People treated you differently: Sunday school teachers really did say things like ‘I would have expected… Continue reading Re-discovering Narnia and rinsing out stale thinking about Christianity
The ambition to 'form a movement' is one I have heard expressed by many leaders over the years. Movements are perceived as exciting, purposeful expressions of collective will and spiritual energy. They often stand in contrast to the more mundane task of managing an organisation. Pete Greig is one of the few contemporary Christian leaders who can legitimately… Continue reading Inspirational but OTT: review of ‘Dirty Glory’ by Pete Greig
A few years ago, I was on the south bank in London, near Waterloo station, and I got talking with a homeless man called Richard. He had approached me asking for money. He was in a bad state. He showed me the most terribly infected open wounds on both his arms and legs caused by… Continue reading I Believe in a Thing called Sin