Emeli Sandé and romantic transcendence

Emeli Sandé’s Our Version of Events is, so far, the biggest-selling debut album of 2012 in the UK. Unusually for the holder of such a title, it is also actually rather good. Sandé is a young Scottish musician who already has an impressive list of songwriting credits (she’s written for Tinie Tempah, Professor Green, Cheryl Cole, The Saturdays, …); anyone who heard her sing ‘Abide with me’ unaccompanied during the Olympic opening ceremony will have spotted that she has a fine voice also. The album would not be difficult to mine for Christian themes: the opening song, ‘Heaven’ is a lament over personal weakness and failure – ‘O heaven, I wake with good intentions, but the day it always lasts too...

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Tim Bulkeley’s Not only a Father: an experiment in e-theology

Dr Tim Bulkeley, of Carey Baptist College, NZ, has recently published a monograph based on his doctoral work on naming God. Alongside the print publication, Tim has put the entire book up on a website, with the facility for comment and discussion attached to each paragraph. I am sure the web will change the way we engage with academic literature, but I haven’t seen a good example of that happening yet; Tim’s experiment is an interesting one which might help us explore one potential way forward. You can read the book and interact with it and other readers here - or buy it in a more traditional format here (Amazon.com – amazon.co.uk does not seem to have it listed...

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On discovering (again) the utility of theology

The last few days have included at least one gift of grace: a series of conversations in which I have been reminded that what I do with my life is actually useful from time to time. Such a statement already presumes an account of utility; I have to acknowledge that I don’t really accept a proper academic account of what it is to be useful. The hero of A.S. Byatt’s Biographer’s Tale (whose name, not inappropriately given the story, escapes me) comments at one point ‘I do exist on the earth, and would like to be of some use, and discover a meaning or two…’ That is the way an academic is supposed to think, regarding the finding of meanings as useful; I own that, whilst I’ve been around universities long enough to be...

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