Of the Monarch, her Bishops, and the press

The Christmas tradition of the Monarch making a direct address to the nation is not one I object to, but nor, I confess, is it one I generally notice. All that I know of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II leads me to suppose that she is a person of wisdom, true Christian faith, and an unwavering commitment to the public duty that was thrust on her by accident of birth; none of that means that in an otherwise busy season I find sufficient reason to pause to take notice when she offers a brief narrative of her own understanding of the state of the nation. My Facebook and Twitter feeds this year, however, were full of Christian admiration for her speech, often coupled with unflattering comparisons to the sermons preached by the bishops who serve under her in one of the...

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Gloria in Profundis

There has fallen on earth for a token A god too great for the sky. He has burst out of all things and broken The bounds of eternity: Into time and the terminal land He has strayed like a thief or a lover, For the wine of the world brims over, Its splendour is spilt on the sand. Who is proud when the heavens are humble, Who mounts if the mountains fall, If the fixed stars topple and tumble And a deluge of love drowns all– Who rears up his head for a crown, Who holds up his will for a warrant, Who strives with the starry torrent, When all that is good goes down? For in dread of such falling and failing The fallen angels fell Inverted in insolence, scaling The hanging mountains of hell: But unmeasured of plummet and rod Too deep for their sight to scan,...

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David Cameron ‘doing God’

Alastair Campbell’s intervention has become famous. Asked, in the course of an interview with Vanity Fair, something that touched on his personal faith, the then-Prime Minister Tony Blair hesitated, and Campbell lent across to refuse the question with the line ‘We don’t do God.’ Blair’s faith was clearly genuine, if kept quiet; the same was true of his successor Gordon Brown. David Cameron’s announcement in a speech yesterday that he is a ‘committed … Church of England Christian’ makes him (at least – I know nothing either way of John Major) the third premier in a row to find some importance in a personal Christian faith; that seems remarkable enough to bear some analysis, but that is not my point here....

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‘Vanity requires no response’

Just after midnight (GMT) last night, it seems, the view counter on this blog ticked from five figures to six. I have no idea, and not much interest, how 100 000 views compares to the average for a blog, or for a theoblog, or whatever. It suggests that there are a certain number of folk who find the stuff I post here from time to time interesting enough to come back, however, and for that I am grateful. (I noticed too a couple of weeks back the number of comments hit 1000, although over a quarter are mine; I am particularly grateful for friends who help me to refine and test ideas through that mechanism and others.) I’ve been blogging a little over four years, with two lengthy layoffs. Over the time, I’ve reflected more than once on what blogging is...

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Catholic Bishops, Baptist pastors, and same-sex marriage

It seems fairly likely that we in Scotland will see the extension of marriage to same-sex couples before the rest of the UK, probably in the next 2-3 years. The government has proposed this, and a consultation on the proposal has just closed. How should a Christian commentator respond to this idea? The theology here is actually quite interesting, if we can catch enough breath to step back from the polemics. The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has gone on the offensive, suggesting that same-sex marriage is, roughly, a logical impossibility. Oddly enough, supporters of the government proposal have found this suggestion both offensive and unhappy, but it was both predictable and inevitable to anyone who understands Roman Catholic theology....

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