‘Forgive me Lord, for I pray in paragraphs’

I think it is Peter Wimsey who somewhere apologises for the fact that he speaks in paragraphs; his thoughts are so ordered, he seems to suggest, his mind so clear, that whole chunks of connected logic fall from his mouth when he opens it; he realises that this might be irritating to those less blessed with intellectual clarity, and so he says sorry. It struck me with force last week during a church leaders’ meeting that I pray in paragraphs. Not because my relationship with God is so ordered, but because I have become professional about praying, at least in public; I wish that were not so. One of our pastors introduced an issue that was on his heart, asked us to pray; it was something I cared about deeply in the life of our church, and I began; I managed a...

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iPray: reviewing prayer apps for iOS

For anyone who ever travels, though, a daily office is a really natural thing to look for on your smartphone; I’ve tried quite a number of prayer apps – I think all the ones currently available for iOS, at least – and have come to some views on what’s good, what’s bad, and what someone really ought to do better soon. Here are some app reviews…

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Reflections on Spring Harvest 2012

We’re recently back from Spring Harvest in Skegness, where I worked with Norman Ivison of Fresh Expressions each morning, and had my usual mixed set of lectures and seminars in the afternoons – this year discussing ecclesiology (SH’s theme this year), women and men in leadership, using social media, and dealing with divorce. I was also, for the first time, on the Event Leadership Team – a role which involved ‘early morning’ (7.45, but in SH terms…) prayer meetings, which turned out to be really good times, as wonderful stories were shared of what had happened around the site the previous day. The event was excellent; Ness Wilson, pastor of Open Heaven Church in Loughborough, gave the morning Bible readings and was, by...

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The spirituality of doctrine?

Renovaré, the organisation founded by Richard Foster (Celebration of Discipline, et al.), have recently published a book entitled 25 Books Every Christian Should Read: A Guide to the Definitive Spiritual Classics. The list can be seen here (you’ll need to scroll down a little). I’ve read most of them, and at least some of almost all of them (as it happens, the only one I’ve never opened is Nouwen’s Return of the Prodigal Son; I know it’s wonderful; there’s even a copy in the house, as Heather’s homegroup worked through it a few years back; other things just keep getting in the way). The title is, I take it, deliberately provocative; such lists always generate argument, and an argument that leads to people being exposed to...

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The objectivity of theology

This post passed largely unremarked for some while, then Shiva added a comment suggesting that if the claim that theology was necessarily built on a discipline of prayer, and submissive to exegesis, it was ‘not very objective’. This struck me as interesting enough to warrant some reflection, not least because it captures something that is a persistent worry for most of us who study theology in a university, a worry that expresses itself in two distinct directions. On the one hand, we worry that, because of its nature, theology is not a ‘proper’ university subject – not adequately wissenschaftlich. On the other, we worry that we compromise something of the true nature of theology if we conform to broader standards of what it is to be...

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