Worcestershire Multifaith picnic

I make no great claims for my ability with video, but since yesterday I was filling in, in the absence of professional colleagues, I thought I’d use the opportunity of a very enjoyable afternoon to start learning some new skills.

The event was Holland House’s Interfaith Picnic (co-organised with Worcestershire Interfaith Forum) which included a fantastic vegan buffet meaning everyone could share the same food. The skills I was trying out for the first time were editing in Final Cut Pro X, and recording sound (for the interviews) separately on a Zoom (with a cheap lapel mike) and synchronising it in post.

This is what I made of it:

2017 Worcestershire Interfaith Picnic on Vimeo.

Geeky academic tech advice needed

Here’s hoping one or two of you blog readers, Twitter followers or Facebook friends might help out with this.

I’m coming up to that new computer purchase time again, and I’m facing that Mac or Windows question once more. Purchase price aside (for the sake of argument), what is the best choice for someone considering whether to start a fairly big academic writing project? Continue reading “Geeky academic tech advice needed”

On Dover’s Hill

Yesterday, thanks to some friends, I discovered Dover’s Hill. Far from the long, withdrawing, melancholy roar of Dover Beach, walking on Dover’s Hill was full of the more energising sights of spring. Here are a few:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“His blood be upon us”

The reading of the whole story of Jesus’ last night and day of his ministry, the last supper, trial, crucifixion and burial, is an important part of Christian liturgy on this Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (Palm Sunday). It poses a particular problem when, as this year, it is the turn of Matthew’s gospel.

High up on the list of verses that we might wish had never made it into the Bible is this part of the story: Continue reading ““His blood be upon us””

Paradise Lost

I don’t normally take photographs of rough sleepers, but the irony of this one takes it into social comment when you consider the vast sums being spent on the remodelling of Paradise Circus – between the seat of municipal government and the upmarket areas for concerts, clubbing and dining.

Desert song: hymning the temptation

With Lent just about to arrive, it’s time to offer a retrieval from a past blog. Here is a hymn on the theme of the temptations of Christ. The tune I had in mind when I wrote it was Picardy. But I was seriously flattered when Kathryn Rose (@artsyhonker) wrote a tune for it: her recording of Harringey is here.

Just in case you’re still struggling to find hymns (and indeed ideas) for Lent this year: here is a slightly edited version of my earlier work. A couple of months back I also had the experience of reading it aloud as a poem, during a time of reflection in the Judaean desert (pictured), which helped me rethink my own words, as well as reaffirming my hope that there’s some helpful theology in it.

From the Jordan to the desert,
from the crowd to barren place,
Spirit-driven, devil-tempted,
Lord, you sought the Father’s grace
show us now your pow’r, in weakness,
presence in the empty space.

Out of Egypt with God’s people,
freedom brings its testing stress:
what is right and what is truthful,
how the name of God confess?
Jesus, lead us on our journey,
guide us through the wilderness.

Lack of food for empty stomach,
offered only cold hard stone;
scripture used to tempt and strengthen;
easy route to grasp the throne:
Bread of life, and Word incarnate
help us worship God alone.

In the search for loving justice,
in the quest for truth and right,
Jesus walk beside, before us,
hold your Cross of love in sight;
keep us in your Father’s presence,
guide us to your risen light.

Creative Commons License(This hymn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence, so you can use it freely in your liturgy and worship)

Mr Sanders’ Pharisees – and Paul’s (reviewing Sanders on Paul)

I’m still not entirely sure what I think of E. P. Sanders’ Paul: The Apostle’s Life, Letters and Thought. Most scholars who have written extensively on Paul want to write their “big book on Paul”. Examples include James D. G. Dunn’s Theology of Paul the Apostle, a little over a decade ago or Tom Wright’s comprehensive version of his apostle in Paul and the Faithfulness of God.

At one level, Sanders’ book belongs in such company: the older statesman rehearsing his views at the end of his career. At another level, this is a different kind of book. It is written, quite clearly, for undergraduates. Little is assumed, and scholarly methodology is exposed to view in a pedagogically helpful way. Sanders is, it seems, committing to paper his Paul for undergraduates. It is, above all else, clear. The reader knows what Sanders thinks, and what Sanders thinks is that he can offer a relatively Rankean delineation of early Christian history. He claims to prescind from theology, and write as an historian. Continue reading “Mr Sanders’ Pharisees – and Paul’s (reviewing Sanders on Paul)”