Jeremiah the Man of Faith

See the short video on The Fuel Cast, filmed at Torre Abbey ruins, Torquay.

JEREMIAH

Jeremiah is a towering figure in the Old Testament at the time of the 7th and 6th  centuries BC.

 

In many ways, he is the nearest a man can get to chasing after God’s own heart.

A phrase commonly associated with King David.

But without his particular “weaknesses.”

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Book Review ‘Be Afraid’ exploring Horror, Culture and Theology

Below is my review of ‘Be Afraid – How Horror and Faith Can Change the World’ by my friend and fellow Baptist pastor Joe Haward, which was recently published in the Baptist Times.  Given a very limited word count, it was not possible to dig deeper into my comments about the theological method which relies heavily on the work of Rene Girard.  This brings an interpretive framework that can draw out different conclusions than one might expect, but is a conversation/debate that is well worth having, as it could stretch the reader beyond their theological comfort zone, which is never a bad thing in and of itself but a reference point worth remembering.  My commendation for the back cover has been edited, but here is my full version: 

IMG_0386“The bold plan in this book is to bring together the horror genre of popular culture and Christian theology, in such a way as to draw out an insightful conversation between the two. We live in a complex, violent and confused world that swings between extremes of multiple and competing ideologies, and thus continues to make the same mistakes. Using a wide range of contemporary film, writers, thinkers and ancient texts, Haward interprets “horror” theologically and shows therefore, how this genre is indeed rich pickings for discovering theological insight to “see beyond” the cultural impasse. The irony is that the “alternative vision” is a very, very old vision located in the peaceable Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The book is well worth a read, here’s the review:

“Rare is a conversation with horror, which is why I welcome this book. Joe Haward helps Christians to make the links with theology and the horror genre of popular culture. He draws out key characteristics and then makes one direct comparison after another with biblical themes as they relate to zombies (resurrection), vampires that eat flesh and drink blood (Eucharist), violence and sacrifice (atonement), and so on.

Be Afraid Joseph Haward

It is interesting for a reader like me, because I don’t like the horror genre; but even so, many in our churches do, which means there is a preaching opportunity to be had here.

Haward’s theological method draws on the work of Rene Girard. As such, he regularly alludes to the scapegoating mechanism and mimetic rivalry, and shows how these ideas are put forth in horror and ancient religions. Sometimes this method can be at odds with biblical reception-history, yet the insights offered can prove fruitful. Reading his interpretive conclusions alongside two or three good commentaries on the subject will be a great way to interact with Girardian theory.

Haward is good at interpreting contemporary Western culture, and he is relentless in exposing consumerism, violence, trafficking, the worst excesses of social media and the human obsession with an utterly godless dystopian future. Throughout, he shines the light on the Person and work of Jesus Christ, who He is, what He has done and what it all means. If anything else, this is a master-class in helping anyone interested in the art of interpreting film through a Gospel lens.”

Isaac the Man of Faith

See the short video on The Fuel Cast here, filmed at Torre Abbey ruins, Torquay

ISAAC

Genesis (17), 21-35 (Hebrews 11)

Isaac, the miracle son of Abraham and Sarah was named after the seeming joke, that God would provide them a son in their exceedingly old age!

 

So the OAP’s laughed.  But when Isaac was born, he became the living embodiment of this great divine joke-promise.

 

I’ve not really got on that well with Isaac.

Between you and me, I’ve always found him a bit boring.

And he seems to like digging wells.

References to digging wells and drinking water litter Isaac’s story.

And this might tell us something else of his character.

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Can Science Explain Everything – a review

This review in the Baptist Times of ‘Can Science Explain Everything?’ by John Lennox, is written by my former tutor, the Revd Dr Ernest C. Lucas, who is Vice-Principle Emeritus of Bristol Baptist College and a former research biochemist:

“John Lennox is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University. He is a well-known speaker and writer on Christian apologetics, especially in the area of science and faith. This book is intended to be an introduction to the “Science and God Debate”. It is especially written for those who think that “God and science don’t mix”.

Can Science Explain Everything

In response to the claim that it is not possible to be a scientist and believe in God he points out that many of the outstanding pioneers of modern science were convinced believers in God, and that more than 60 percent of the Nobel Prize winners from 1901-2000 identified Christianity as their religious preference.

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Barak the Man of Faith

See the short video on The Fuel Cast here, filmed at Torre Abbey ruins, Torquay.

BARAK

Judges 4 & 5 (1 Sam 12:11 & Heb 11:32)

 

The story of Barak is intertwined with Deborah, the incredible Judge and Prophetess of pre-Monarchy Israel.  

 

When Hebrews 11:32 names Barak, the author is recalling Judges 4 & 5.

 

The Book of Judges operates in repeating cycles:

  1. The people forget God
  2. The people fall into the sin of idolatry
  3. Their regional enemies oppress and enslave them
  4. They cry out to God for help and he sends a judge, a saviour.

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The Donkey

A great little poem from the perspective of the donkey by the gentle giant that was G. K. Chesterton.  Just right for Palm Sunday!

The Donkey

When fishes flew and forests walked
   And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
   Then surely I was born.
*
With monstrous head and sickening cry
   And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
   On all four-footed things.
*
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
   Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
   I keep my secret still.
*
Fools! For I also had my hour;
   One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
   And palms before my feet.
*
By G. K. Chesterton
The Collected Poems of G. K. Chesterton (Dodd, Mead & Company, 1927)
I really love this poem.
It is a dark, pre-historical apocalyptic, self-aware observation of “The Donkey”.
The origins are Genesis-like, poet, intentionally non-scientific, that force the reader into a primitive age of beginnings and blood moons.
The self-understanding of the Donkey is as a devilish monster striding the earth, the ugliest, most pointless of all the creatures, “the devil’s parody” – no worse epithet could ever be used!  And if the donkey is the devil’s parody, then he bloody well won’t be doing what human beings tell him to do, that’s for sure!
Suddenly, at the end, rising from the Satanic melancholic doom and gloom, emerges a great secret.   And a great joke, and the joke is on us!
This beast knows he was chosen to carry the King of Kings as he rode into Jerusalem, as though enthroned.
It is no accident that the firstborn donkey, like the firstborn child, was to be redeemed with a lamb (Ex. 13:11-16).
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The Last Laugh

Source:  donkeyheaven.org

When Introverts Speak

Book Review:  ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain

A few years ago I was in a bookshop and stumbled upon this book as I was browsing.  I picked it up and was hooked immediately.  I think I read the first chapter before paying for it.  What follows is my review that I’ve recently rediscovered, and I offer it here.

The sub-title of the book reads: ‘The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking’.  And although this book is secular, the author not only accesses her biblically Jewish roots, but what she says is as relevant to Christian ministry as it is to industry chiefs and educators.  

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Cain refers to the introvert/extrovert divide as the most “fundamental dimension of personality”, arguing further that in a world of extroverted pomp, introverts make up over a third of the human race!  It is not the pomp of extrovertedness that she critiques per se, but rather the inevitable downside view that the sensitive and serious are seen as undesirable, in both the popular mind of culture and business.

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