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Showing posts from September, 2013

Francis Spufford - Unapologetic

Don't miss these 80mins of Francis Spufford at the Theos Think Tank on September 26th 2013 reflecting on his outstanding book Unapologetic: Why despite everything Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense. I've also enjoyed his book The child that books built.

Spufford finds a rare angle of appealing for the emotional sensibility of Christianity and recognises that many of our conventional answers miss the mark, not least the way we talk about sin. His answers may not be exhaustively satisfying but the answers we have already fail in many ways too.
#theosspufford says particular semantic problem with sin, has come to mean naughty, indulgent, chocolate and lingerie. Not what xians mean— Elizabeth Oldfield (@TheosElizabeth) September 26, 2013
See also Francis Spufford and Philip Pullman on Justin Brierley's radio show.

Halloween: Trick or Treat

A cracking bit of poetry on video from Glen Scrivener on the meaning of Halloween (yes it's not for six weeks yet but worth thinking about things ahead of time...)

Halloween: Trick or Treat? from on Vimeo.

For more see: Pete Dray speaking at Durham University in 2011 on Why God Loves Halloween (pdf)

5 ways to do social media better

Facebook,Twitter, Blogs etc. Social media is a catch all for ways in which the internet allows people to connect and generate content to share, with varying degrees of commitment and privacy and possibility.

1. Accept that Social Media is real.
Social media isn't something to be pitted against "the real world" but is a part of how real people can connect with other real people. It might not be the same as face to face communication but it is real.
I've been a relatively early adopter when it comes to using these new media and feel like I've benefitted from that. But, it's easy to miss out on the opportunities that are available.Technology can have its pitfalls and can expose problems in us, but there are good things here. Don't feel weird about it.

2. Connect with people.
a) People you know - let the tools of the 21st Century add value to existing relationships.

b) People who like what you like - the internet allows you to find other people who are into t…

Oliver Barclay (1919-2013)

Oliver Barclay died yesterday. A giant of whom the world was not worthy, now cheering us on in death as he did in life. Oliver was one of the leading lights of the UCCF movement over the past century, and a man whose fingerprints are left all over churches and individuals in the UK and far beyond.

I had the privilege of meeting Oliver one January evening in 2002 as a quirk of an accomodation plan that had landing myself and my good friend  and fellow UCCF intern Rich staying with Oliver and Daisy for a week. When you sign your name in the guest book on the line under John Stott you realised you're a minnow in a giant's house.

Truth be told, aged 22 I had never heard of Oliver when we were given his name in the dark corridor of UCCF's old Leicester office (a centre he had established). Little did I know how much my Christian life - formed over the previous four years in the air of UCCF - had already been shaped by Oliver's ministry. What we found behind their front doo…

9 ways to nail the first CU meeting of the year

Christian Unions will have their first meeting of term in the next week or so. In the South West we're welcoming over 25,000 undergraduates to University and they're all welcome at our meetings...

How can you nail that first CU meetinng?

1. This is a gathering of human beings. 
This isn't "them and us". Our experience of reality is that we have a lot in common with one another. We breath the same air and share many of the same questions and concerns. At the start of the year no-one really knows anyone, every encounter with other people feels risky, people are likely to be guarded. Appreciate this and set the tone as giving people space. Avoid ice-breakers - they make people uncomfortable and do almost nothing to help people come out of hiding.
(There are questions to ask here about all our communication and social media - are we speaking publicly but 'in house' or are we speaking to the University as a whole...)

2. We're keen to be good for University l…

Learning to walk

"There is something intoxicating in the oldness of it, the strangeness and magic of the legends. It holds both joy and sadness. As we walk about the world, we tread on layers of accumulated culture; the earth is alive with stories. We in turn are ‘story-formed’. We, like our forebears are storytellers, and makers of culture."
James Watts, Shropshire Lore(see also Maximum-Life)

 "Walking upright, or bipedalism, is considered the threshold of being human, the skill that most distinguishes us from our ancestors. It's also immune to improvement. Walking can be a source of meaning. As long as humans have worshiped gods, they have walked to get closer to them. In the Bible, the greatest spiritual breakthroughs occur when the heroes are on journeys; Abraham going forth to the Promised Land; the Israelites crossing the Red Sea; Israel being dispatched to Babylon. From the Haj to the Stations of the Cross, the greatest pilgrimages contain walking."
Bruce Feiler, via Jon …

You can't say that! Hard questions and real people and offensive Bible verses

Christians in University halls meet to read the Bible and pray. They form witnessing communities who invite those around them to investigate the claims of Jesus. An invitation is offered to join them on the journey of exploring their shared questions.

Recently, a colleague and I wrestled with this senario with our Bible's and a whiteboard and lots of questions...

Last year these students read the Bible books of  Luke, Hosea, Esther and Ruth. This year they've decided to work through Paul's letter to the church in Rome (Romans). Very mainstream. And given it was written to show that the good news of Jesus is for everyone and to motivate people to share that message it fits with who they are. It's no ivory tower document, it's from a pioneering leader who works with unceasing anguish and tears.

So far so good. In week 1 they'll read Romans 1:1-5 with a dash of chapter 15 to catch the purpose and theme of the letter. Everyone is new and so a message about how the …