Christianity, Cameron, and Rev

David Cameron’s several interventions during Easter week concerning his own faith and his perception of the UK as a ‘Christian country’ aroused much interest, and more derision; by contrast, in it’s third series, the BBC2 sitcom Rev has apparently reached that level of popularity which requires newspaper columnists to take pot-shots at it (see Tim Stanley in the Telegraph and, much more interestingly in my estimation, James Mumford in the Guardian). Unravelling the various lines of a media and social media feeding frenzy like the one that surrounded the Prime Minister’s comments is not easy. His narrative of his own faith journey, which has clearly deepened in recent years following the death of his son Ivan, deserved much more...

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Two Gods, Three Faces: An Easter Poem

Two Gods, Three Faces: An Easter poem     The statue of the god who guards the turning of the year Has two stone faces carved. One looks toward the future yet to be One back to all that was. Blame sculptor for the flaw perhaps, but Each face is blank. Unmoved by what is gone, Aloof to what will come.   Olympus’ peak is famous for its cold But still, Could even an olympian god look thus? Gaze on time now gone with just Indifference? No tears? No sadness? No mourning for what might have been? No joy? No triumph? No little smile for real though modest gain? And could his other face be samely flat As it surveys the future? No hope? No fear? No trepidation in those cold blank eyes?   Not even calm, serene. Unable, not unwilling, to feel joy, Or...

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On patience: some reflections on the ethics of argument

The all-too familiar morality of strong opinions which we let off all-too easily and which accomplish nothing at all. I discovered yesterday morning, in the introduction to a seminar he was giving here in St Andrews, that Oliver O’Donovan, the leading moral theologian of his generation, is a colleague; apparently he took an honorary chair with us on his retirement from Edinburgh (which I probably should have known…). The above line is a quotation, as near as I could get it down, from early in a scintillating presentation on ‘Ethics and the Future’; Oliver reflected on time and action, hope and patience, as proper modes of Christian ethical life; it was, as we expect from him, beautifully crafted and extraordinarily tightly argued. The...

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