Feb 192010

I was having a chat the other day with Nikki about life, the universe and blogging. I had, in the back of my mind, Scott’s challenge to define my theology and I was throwing around the idea that I am a bit of a ‘bungee-theologian’. That doesn’t mean I keep changing my mind and bounce uncontrollably from one idea to another. Rather, it describes the constant theological tension I seem to have to live with. Just when I think I have something fairly sorted, I am reminded that its polar opposite can also be justified, so I have to attempt to accommodate that point of view as well.

However, even someone tied to bungee cords will find a point of equilibrium and that doesn’t seem to be true for me. Nikki threw a phrase into the pot which seemed to be a pretty accurate ‘label’ – Restless Theology. I rather liked that, so with due credit to Nikki for coming up with the name, I lay claim to it as a label for describing my own theology. I will post some restless thoughts in due course.

Dec 222009

Stewart has challenged me to:

Summarize the Bible in five statements, the first one word long, the second two, the third three, the fourth four and the last five words long. Or possibly you could do this in descending order. Tag five people.

So… here goes…


God’s Love

Humanity turns away

Jesus died for everyone

Live in forgiveness and faith

I tag:

Mrs Gerbil





Dec 182009

This blog forms part of my ongoing journalling and reflection on my training process into ministry. I generally blog about particular theological issues I’m wrestling with and those discussions are open to all as I seek to understand different viewpoints. Sometimes the topic is about particualr situations or events that have been part of my placement. Whilst I try to keep descriptions suitably vague and avoid naming names or otherwise make people/places/events as anonymous as possible, there is the strong probability that someone associated with what I am writing will know exactly who and what I mean. And sometimes there’s a back history to things that I am unaware of and so inadvertently move the can opener closer to the can of worms. The blog entry “2 school services” has been put under ‘lock and key’ just now for this reason. I hope anyone reading will understand why I have to do this at times. Where I can extract a ‘discussion point’ from such an entry, I will attempt to do so.

Oct 012009

It occurred to me that I hadn’t blogged for a while and indeed the last one was over a week ago. But that last blog post contains the root of the lack of blogging – the usual step change in activity when a new semester starts.

I’m also conscious that, in previous years, my semester-time blogging is often dominated by whatever theologian is occupying my thoughts at the time. Usually this is simply a way of getting their ideas straight in my own head – the by-product being that I inflict my ramblings on the wider world (well, those who choose to read them anyway). So, in keeping with tradition, it looks like it’ll be Barth this semseter. And that’s where the catch-up comes in. We had approximately 40 pages ‘left over’ from last week’s class. That meant that we had 110 pages to do for this week. Amazingly I got through it (more or less – to within a few pages anyway) and feel as though I have actually ‘caught up’. The slightly bizarre aspect to this week’s reading though was the language. I could actually hear it being spoken! You can’t spend four years studying Divinity at New College and not be exposed to Barth and so as I read I could hear echoes of the words Barth uses from past lectures (and all delivered in an Irish accent).

The side-effect of having churned through so much reading is that I feel my brain is back in gear again (to a degree) and so future reading assignments don’t feel just so daunting. It’s also helped by starting to get the measure of the ‘Death’ course and realising that it’s not going to be onerous.

There has been catch-up in another sense as well. At the beginning of the week I got an email from Andrew, my supervisor in Brussels. He was popping over for a training course and we managed to get together for an hour or so as he passed through Edinburgh. As is often the case we ended speaking about people and realised that the old adage that “it’s a small world” is so very true. It also made me realise (upon reflection) that the links we make at university, on placement and just generally through the church, will stay with us and that that ‘small world’ can often be our source of support and encouragement. It provides the breadth of experience that we can bounce ideas off; it is a source of ‘corrective’ voices when we get too carried away with our own ideas and lose sight of the bigger picture; it is the community that provides the sense of being part of a bigger plan, a bigger ‘work’.

So, duty done – blogging caught up with – but, as always, in the ‘duties’, the opportunity to keep reflecting.

Sep 042009

Intrigued by the title, I followed a link in my WordPress dashboard to the article “How to write with a knife“. It is aimed primarily at bloggers but I couldn’t help but notice its applicability to sermon or reflection writing. I encourage you to read the article – in keeping with its teaching aims it’s short and to the point and will only take a minute of your time.

Now, to put it into practice.

May 272009

The minutes of Monday’s GA session are available online and the wording of the so-called ‘gagging clause’ read as follows:

Instruct all Courts, Councils and Committees of the Church not to issue press statements or otherwise talk to the media or to make decisions in relation to contentious matters of human sexuality, with respect to Ordination and Induction to the Ministry of the Church of Scotland, until 31 May 2011;

There were, of course, some get-out clauses for some projects and councils. It seems to me that this is aimed primarily at the official bodies of the Kirk and not at individuals. In other words, there cannot be an ‘official response’ to the discussion, but personal opinion should be allowed.


I just caught, on the webcast, a statement about the moratorium. It is, as yet, a draft but it states that individuals are also expected to comply with the spirit of the agreed motion.

So, whilst not a hard and fast ruling on individuals, there is an expectation that individuals won’t make statements to the press. It still leaves a bit of wriggle-room to allow public discussion.

May 262009

Does anyone have the definitive version of Dr McPake’s motion (as amended) from Saturday night at GA?

I’ve seen so many variants of who can comment and who can’t and under what circumstances that I’d really like to see the actual words. My impression is that the ‘gagging order’ is aimed at the councils and committees of the church, but I’d like to know if it extends to all who are under the discipline of church courts.

Apr 222009

At the recent Candidates’ Conference, Ministries Council outlined their revised plans for the ongoing assessment part of the training. Candidates are now encouraged to continue journalling to record their thoughts on situations and challenges encountered during training. Many will continue using diaries and the like, and I will continue to blog my thoughts (nobody forces you to read them).

But, I decided to have a bit of a play so I set up a new website – Eutychus – for Candidates to start blogging on. It uses WordPress (because it’s excellent) in it’s multi-user (MU) guise. But it also adds some rather nifty social-networking facilities as well, along the lines of Facebook or Bebo.

I’d be interested in suggestions for improvements or ideas for other features. Or, if you’r interested in something like it for a group or organisation you’re part of, get in touch and I might be able to help.

Jan 142009

I know I said I wasn’t going to change the theme for a while, but hey!

I couldn’t resist this one when I saw it even though it’s only a 2-column theme and I generally prefer 3-column themes. The background and general theme is ‘visitor selectable’ and it should remember your selection if you have cookies enabled. Click on the icon at the bottom-left corner to access theme options and other tools.

And yes I know it’s a bit ‘Windows-ish’ but I still like it. Hope you do too.

Nov 092008

Once again it is the time to remember those who have fallen in conflicts both in recent memory and only open to us through the memories of others.


Lest we forget,

we will speak their names and hold them in our hearts.

Lest we forget,

we will pray with those who remember.

Lest we forget,

we will seek peace and bring hope.