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How Jewish was St Paul?

I’ve made it so far to page 759, that’s 1¾ inches. For the past five years, I now realise, I have been ploughing my way through N.T. Wright’s magnum opus, Paul and the faithfulness of God, with the emphasis on the magnum. 1658 pages (including the indexes) no less, split into two volumes. No pictures, just 800,000 words. Just a few pages each weekday morning (but thanks to you, not on Fridays). Not that it is difficult to read – his style is relaxed and sometimes even humorous. It is just very dense, a favourite word of his when describing the apostle Paul's style. Sometime I have to pause and think over each sentence. Where Wright is at his best is his recognition that Paul, inde

A passion for justice in Catalonia

“If you had asked me why I had joined the militia I should have answered: 'To fight against Fascism,' and if you had asked me what I was fighting for, I should have answered: 'Common decency.’” This last week I’ve been reading the 1938 classic, “Homage to Catalonia”, by George Orwell who was to give us “Animal Farm” and “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” both of which were strongly influenced by his time as a volunteer fighter during the Spanish civil war. With all that’s going on in Spain following its fourth general election this month in as many years along with the ongoing crisis in Catalonia, I thought it about time I read this Orwellian classic. The Spanish Civil War was a particularly bloody con

When the wind of God blows

“Conversion for me was not a Damascus Road experience,” reflected American novelist Madeleine L'Engle. “I slowly moved into an intellectual acceptance of what my intuition had always known.” On the eve of our Alpha Holy Spirit day at St Mark’s, I’ve been reflecting on why do people become Christians in the first place, what motivates this momentous moment? And why do we want to grow as Christians even though we will inevitably experience hassle and sometimes hardship? Jesus promises no less. C S Lewis taught becoming a disciple of Jesus was an essentially a decision of our mind. You simply line up the evidence, present the various proofs for the resurrection of Jesus – and so work

When God speaks with a Northern accent

Some thoughts from Percy Bysshe Shelley: You are now In London, that great sea, whose ebb and flow At once is deaf and loud, and on the shore Vomits its wrecks, and still howls on for more Yet in its depth what treasures! Well, that’s us. For here we are this weekend on full-on grandparent duty, in Walworth near the Elephant and Castle, in the Borough of Southwark; the alleged birth place of Charlie Chaplin no less. I’m not sure I could live here but certainly we always enjoy treasuring its depths, discovering little gems in this vast megalopolis which is - according to the Institute for Urban Strategies in Tokyo - #1 in the Global Power City ranking system. Certainly London is d

How God can use our passion

Terrible news of a former colleague in this morning’s Times: “Three British charity workers were killed in South Africa when their car crashed over the side of a bridge and plunged more than 75ft into a river. Chris Naylor, 58, and his wife, Susanna, 54, died on Monday along with Miranda Harris, 66. Ms Harris’s husband, Peter, 67, and the local driver, Thando Kalipa, suffered serious injuries. Two of Mr Harris’s four adult children have flown to South Africa to be with him.” The article goes on to explain: “Mr and Mrs Harris founded A Rocha, a Christian environmental charity, in 1983. Mr Naylor, a former science teacher from Oxford, was the executive director of A Rocha International

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