‘Hooded hoardes swarming…’

Not quite four years ago, when I began this blog, I put a blogroll in the right gutter; it seemed the thing to do back then. I have been conscious for most of those four years that the blogroll was out of date, but unsure how to reform it. Recently, I deleted some dead links, but otherwise I have not changed it since the initial creation of the blog. My problem has been knowing what a blogroll is for. Two traditions are visible out in the blogosphere. The first is to list all the blogs one reads. That makes very good sense if your blog is somehow a record of your life. This site, for me, however, has never been a personal diary; there are important parts of my life never mentioned here (trivially, my love for cricket; centrally, my children). (That sentence is now no longer true. Oh well.) I have chosen on this site – my Facebook/Twitter feed is rather different, and I have had another, private, blog – to focus narrowly on theological themes. Of course, the themes are the ones I happen to find interesting, and so you will find much here about Baptist and Evangelical life, and pretty much nothing about radical orthodoxy or scriptural reasoning, but this is still a very limited record of one part of my intellectual life, not a personal chronicle. The 60-odd blogs that feature on my RSS reader are much more eclectic; some represent leisure interests; others are user blogs for software packages I use regularly; most are blogs of personal friends, some of which intersect with my subjects here to some extent, but which I read because of personal relationship with the author(s), not because of the subject. I have several friends who are, simply, much better bloggers than I am. Catriona, a fellow-minister within the Baptist Union of Scotland, blogs movingly, honestly, perceptively, and daily about her own life and ministry. Jim’s blog is a series of thoughtful, often profound, explorations of personal spirituality, and again is updated pretty much every day; I suspect in either case, however, interest in the blog will generally be the result of some level of personal relationship with the blogger; other than a degree of public acknowledgement (which is not to be dismissed, of course), I am not sure what including either in a blogroll on a site like this would achieve. The second live tradition is (to attempt) to maintain a list of, either all blogs on a topic, or all worthwhile blogs on a topic. This is difficult, commendable, and useful. Andy Goodliff does a great job for British Baptist blogs; Ben Myers a remarkably good job for theological blogs on a world scale. I’d never thought of trying to do similar, but recently Andrew Wilson, who maintains the excellent New Frontiers theology blog, asked me (in a lunch queue, as I recall) where to look for British theo-blogging. It struck me at once as a good question – online theology, at least in the Evangelical tradition, circles around American debates, and our ways of thinking and doing are different in significant ways from those on the other side of the Atlantic. It also struck me that there was no good place to go for an answer. So, this is what I want to start doing with my blogroll on this site: a list of active blogs, offering worthwhile theological discussion, from a British – actually, I’ll expand it to European – perspective. I’ll put up another post, lacking all the meandering justification, asking for nominations, and start to construct the list. Two of us, at least, will find it...

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Mike Higton on Dawkins

Over nearly twenty years (I’m feeling old…), my friend Mike Higton has taught me, by precept and example, more about how to do theology than all but two, perhaps three, others. One of the lessons I regret never having quite learned from him, despite seeing it modeled repeatedly in his life, writing and conversation, is a truly respectful and patient listening to those with whom I disagree profoundly. On his blog, Mike has been giving just such respectful and patient listening to Richard Dawkins’s God Delusion. Does the book deserve such attention? Perhaps not, but an ethic of loving our enemies might demand that we give such a book that which it does not deserve. And Mike’s generosity is amply repaid with an endlessly fascinating series of reflections, which wander across almost every issue in Christian doctrine. There are times in my life, I think when I am simply exhausted, when I find it very easy to envy the abilities of others. Sometimes I live better, and exercise with gratitude the particular abilities, such as they are, that God has been pleased to grant to me. Someone like Mike is very easy to envy,...

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