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National Forest Way: Rangemore to Rosliston

I covered Stages 10 and 9 of the National Forest Way in three Monday morning walks. We've had some beautiful weather lately, so it's been lovely to get out. Walk One I approached the first walk with some trepidation. The route took me through Tatenhill Woods, which has become known in our family as a place where anything could happen. The first time we went there, the paths were ankle-deep in mud; the second, we got caught in a summer thunderstorm and soaked to the skin! Fortunately this time the weather stayed calm and clear, and there wasn't as much mud as I expected. view towards Tatenhill Woods Heading out of Rangemore, the Way took me over rolling fields with views north to the cooling towers at Willington. The bluebells were out in full force, and lambs were bouncing across the grass. Having successfully navigated the woods, I stopped for a snack on Battlestead Hill, then dropped down to walk alongside quarry workings and streams.  view from Battlestead Hill If I'
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God is Not a White Man: Spiritual Formation Book 8

"I studied Theology... Despite the fact that most of the world's religious people are not white, we learnt very little about the theological thinking and experiences of Black and brown people." Chine McDonald is director of Theos, an organisation which provides research and opinion on the place of religion in society. She moved to the UK from Nigeria at the age of four. McDonald has been involved with the Evangelical Alliance, Christian Aid, and Greenbelt, as well as working as a journalist, so she has some wide-ranging experiences within the Christian and secular culture. This book uses stories from her own life, and historical examples, to illustrate the problem of racism in the church. She focuses on the British church in particular, although she refers to American events too. What are the main themes of this book? McDonald's argument is that white people - men in particular - have been assumed to be superior. They are regarded as more intelligent, more authoritati

Springtime walks: Croxden Abbey and Shining Cliff Woods

It seems to be taking a long time to get properly warm, this spring. But suddenly there are flowers everywhere and the world has turned green. We had to go and see it all. Croxden Abbey 800 years ago, there was a community of 70 monks at Croxden Abbey, hidden away in a beautiful nook of Staffordshire. Now there are peaceful ruins, carpeted with soft green grass. It was hard to imagine the space filled with busy worship and work. Croxden abbey cloisters the west door of the church We had parked at the village of Hollington and walked down the hill, playing a game of spot-the-animal. In just a few short fields we had seen sheep, cattle, horses, alpacas, rabbits, a dog, and even a donkey. We decided we only needed pigs to make our farm animal collection complete! It wasn't a long hike - we probably spent just as long eating snacks and playing hide and seek in the abbey ruins, as we did walking. Our return journey took us past a few horses, but sadly no pigs. We followed an old Roman r

Walking the National Forest Way (with a two year break)

Remember when it was lockdown and we were all stuck in our houses for months on end? Well, way back then I hatched a plan of walking the National Forest Way as a family project. I ordered the map, downloaded the route guides, and we did the first section in 2021: Yoxall to the National Memorial Arboretum (Stage 12). The photos tell me it was a beautiful April day - I was wearing shorts! The 5-mile route was pleasant, across fields and through scraps of woodland, then hopping over the Trent and Mersey Canal into the village of Alrewas. After that we had a hair-raising walk along a pavement right next to the A38 dual carriageway, with cars zipping past at 70mph, but fortunately that was a very short section before we turned off towards the National Memorial Arboretum. Of course we had to celebrate with an ice cream - why else would we finish at the Arboretum instead of starting there?  Smaller boys! Lockdown haircuts! At the finishing point A well-deserved treat There followed a very. l

Most understated resurrection ever

"Suddenly Jesus met them and said, 'Hello'." Hello? Hello? OK, my Bible translates it as, "Greetings!" which sounds marginally more impressive, but really - you've been dead for several days and that's the best comeback line you can manage? That's not an isolated instance, either. He looks so understated that Mary takes him to be the gardener. He walks along with a couple of travellers on the road as if he's any old stranger. He stands among his frightened friends, and the first word out of his mouth is, "Peace". It made me think how we totally take for granted that Jesus didn't rise from the dead and say, "Right! Now you're all really going to find out who's boss!" He didn't even say, "Well, that showed me who my real friends are, didn't it?" He didn't hunt down Pilate and Caiaphas and the others who condemned him to death. None of those. As the Lectio 365 reflection for Easter Sunday pu

Models of Contextual Theology: Spiritual Formation Book 7

"A theology that neither issues forth in action nor takes account of the way one lives one's life can hardly be theology that is worth very much." Models of Contextual Theology looks like the most boring book in the world. Dry academic title, weird geometric cover design - you'd definitely only pick this up if you were required to write an essay on it, wouldn't you? Well, I wish the outside did it justice, because the contents are much more exciting than the cover. It asks some very interesting and important questions about how our faith relates to the world around us. Is culture mostly good or bad? Is there such a thing as the "naked gospel", free of context? Do you have to be a trained academic to theologize, or can anyone do it? How much does theology from one culture transfer to a different culture? Bevans describes six models of theology which offer different answers to these questions. All are valid, he says, but they all understand the gospel an

A birthday weekend in York

We were surprised to discover that York is only a 90 minute drive from our house. It's somewhere we'd been thinking of going for a few years, but I'd assumed it was much further away. So when we wanted to go away for the weekend to celebrate my birthday in January, York was the obvious choice. The city did not disappoint us. I'd been to York years ago, and my only clear memory was of a tower on top of a grassy mound. That was Clifford's Tower, owned by English Heritage, and recently updated with a rather snazzy series of platforms and staircases inside. We saw a 13th century toilet which had been inaccessible for 400 years (I think I was more excited about this than the boys) and got a great view of York from the rooftop viewing platform. View from the top of Clifford's Tower Most people's memories of York probably involve the Shambles - an ancient street of shops - and York Minster. Apparently there isn't a clear difference between a minster and a cathe