On the train on the way home from the Society of Authors summer party. We had lots of interesting conversations and connections – it seems like you just have to say you write about spirituality and everyone’s dying to give you half their life story – well, the bits they regard as spiritual anyway. We are old enough to remember a time when mention of such a topic would either have been the end of the conversation, or people would have been eager to tell you which church they went to, either in real life or their imagination. Not a single one of today’s conversations went in either of those directions - nobody turned off, but plenty of stories about fairies, angels, inner search, etc. Some of them more believable than others but it seems like everybody who’s anybody needs to have at least one angelic encounter these days. In fact so many of them at this event that we’re thinking of proposing a spirituality writers group. Which could either come under fiction or non-fiction, but would certainly be fascinating. If any society members are reading this, let us know what you think.
Archive for August, 2009
An interesting statement of intention from the new bishop of Shrewsbury here about local clergy needing to be more episcopal, and bishops needing to be more apostolic. Of course, there will always be the McDonaldized systems to struggle with, but we’ll not be the only ones watching to see if he manages to put it into practice.
We haven’t done much blogging this month – not because we’ve been slacking on vacation, though. Actually we’ve been rather busy. John has just completed a major revision of his book, Introducing the New Testament – all 200,000 words of it (and then some). And started on its Old Testament counterpart (3 chapters done, 10 more to go). Olive has been working flat out with a church reassessing its mission activities in the community. And for fun, we’ve remodelled the garden, which is a sizeable enterprise in itself (the picture only shows less than half of it).
Finding piles of wonderfully flat stones on a local beach has provided a great supply of materials, but by the time we’ve filled one bag of them we’re both struggling with the weight – plenty of time to reflect on other weights we all carry around in life. And also to get rid of some of ours by throwing smaller stones into the sea with a ‘and that ones for him‘ sort of prayer (write your own script). It may sound mad, but it’s a great way to de-stress and put awkward people in perspective.
Oh, and on top of all that, we now have a hive full of honey bees buzzing round the garden – who of course need lots of tlc and who also provide a great deal of fascination and fun. And are amazingly docile – not a sting in sight, nor even an angry bee in fact. Nice to know that we must be in tune with nature.
This week we’re off for a 24 hour trip to the Edinburgh Book Festival, for a Society of Authors event hosting the great and the good of the worlds of books, politics, civic life, etc. More on that on our return. Well, if it’s as good as the publicity suggests, otherwise there’ll be nothing to report on.
In February 2007 we were teaching at Fuller Seminary, Pasadena, and a couple of students asked if they could create a website as their assessed work for a course on ‘Theology and Culture’. They did, and both got A’s for the course. Their intention was to research reasons why people leave church, by inviting such people to share their stories. What we (and quite likely they) did not begin to imagine was that the site would still be up and running more than two years later, and still going strong with responses and stories from people who were leaving church – but (and this is the interesting part) mostly were not giving up on faith. To learn more (and maybe share your own stories), go here.
It’s an interesting reflection to think that if we’d been inflexible about what assessed work in a graduate school should look like, a significant resource for wounded people would never have existed.