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Equality is Biblical: Spiritual Formation Book 6

"To our reading of the Scriptures we bring our reason, experience, and the traditions of our faith, feeling down into the truth we trust is there waiting for us." Equality is Biblical is the only book I've read where the questions have been as good as the main text. Usually study questions range from mediocre to dire, with a distinct feeling that they are only there because someone suggested it at the last minute. Penelope Wilcock, on the other hand, provides questions like surgical tools, probing deeply into what you believe and why. The book's main topic is the place of women in the church, but the questions cover everything from how we visualise God to the power of shame in society. What are the main themes of this book? The subtitle of Equality is Biblical is Lifting the Curse of Eve , and a large chunk of the book focuses on Genesis, analysing how the story has traditionally been interpreted, and offering alternative readings of the text. Then there is a look at
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Advent 2022

It's the first Sunday of Advent coming up, and for once I feel fairly well prepared! Of course, the proof is in the (Christmas) pudding - whether I actually do all this remains to be seen. If you haven't even thought about Advent yet, do grab an idea to join in with. None of them require any advance preparation except for downloading, printing or book ordering - and one of them doesn't even start until 20 December. Something to do I recently went to a Mindful Advent workshop, run by the lovely Stacey and Ella from Create and Connect . We spent a happy couple of hours folding origami envelopes to make our own Advent calendars, with a few mince pies to nibble as the November rain poured down outside. I'm filling my envelopes with a short activity for each day, a Bible verse from the Christmas story, and a tiny treat for each of us. Thinking of 24 different activities was harder than folding 24 origami envelopes! Mine range from "listen to your favourite Christmas car

Concerning the Inner Life: Spiritual Formation Book 5

"They [Christian saints] do not stand aside wrapped in delightful prayers and feeling pure and agreeable to God. They go right down into the mess; and there, right down in the mess, they are able to radiate God because they possess Him." As a long-standing Christian, I thought I had the definitions of things like faith, hope, love and prayer pretty well understood - in principle if not in practice. Evelyn Underhill manages to describe them in ways I'd never come across before. She writes with imagination, clarity, and a fearsomely large knowledge of her subject. She also opens up wide vistas across the spiritual life, but gives very concrete and practical steps in how to achieve the same view. Concerning the Inner Life contains three chapters written to parish priests, to encourage them to build up their prayer life and connection with God. The House of the Soul is for a more general readership. It uses the metaphor of a house to explore the ways in which Christians can

A summer of new things: 2022

Yes, it's October, which I know is really late to be blogging about the summer. How does  September disappear so fast? We fitted in a holiday to Cornwall as well as all the stuff I've told you about here. That was another new thing - first time we've been to Cornwall as a family - but it definitely deserves its own post. Just one picture to give you a flavour of the trip... New hobbies The boys and I have discovered we like life on eight wheels! We went to Rollerworld for the first time at the beginning of the summer, and since then we have spent quite a lot of time there. And bought roller skates.  The rink also offers lessons, which are useful for practising things other than skating around in a large circle. We learned how to stop (key skill!) Toby and Theo have got good at going backwards, while I'm still working out how to turn around. When they're not whizzing around a skating rink with me, the boys have been firing pointy things through the air with Graham. H

Reckoning with righteousness

  'Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.' The preacher was reading from the book of James. It was a passage all about how faith is useless if it isn't accompanied by good works - actually feeding the hungry instead of just saying you'll pray that they'll have food! And James used Abraham, that patriarch of the Jewish faith, as an example of someone whose faith showed up in action. 'Hang on,' I thought. 'I'm sure I've seen that quote in one of Paul's letters, too.' I flicked back a few pages and found it in Romans 4.   'Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.' But in this passage, Paul is arguing exactly the opposite thing! The whole chapter is about how we can't  earn righteousness through works, but only by faith. And Paul uses Abraham as an example of this, too. Abraham was righteous because he trusted God, not because he followed the law. So the exact same quote is use

Reading for Spiritual Formation 2022-23

It's the summer holidays, and I have finished my spiritual formation reading list for the year! I've really enjoyed the process of reading and reflecting, even though I haven't found every book helpful. Of course, one book leads to another, so I was barely halfway through this year before I'd started making a list of what to read next. I've ended up with five books, but last year I managed to fit Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations in as an extra, so I think it will be doable.   Interestingly, my list this year has skewed towards British women (Evelyn Underhill, Penelope Wilcock, Chine McDonald) and Catholics (Stephen Bevans, Oscar Romero, Evelyn Underhill). They are also all 20th-21st century authors - Underhill, who was born in 1875, is the earliest. None of that was intentional. So it's not quite as balanced a list as my previous one. But I'm looking forward to reading them so much that I had a hard time deciding which order to put them in. I wante

Ffabulous Ffestiniog

As I stood on the metal platform in my harness, I reminded myself that this wasn't the really  big one. That was the one where you swooped for a kilometre over the cluttered heaps of grey slate, possibly with a parachute fluttering behind you to slow your speedy descent.  This one was - I risked a look down - really quite small. I glanced at Theo, next to me, as the man behind us counted down. Three...two...one... And we jumped. The boys said the zip wire at Zip World Llechwedd was the highlight of the holiday in Wales. Of course, they now want to go back and try out the massive Titan one. "Big Red" was quite big enough for me! I have to admit that was a good day all round. After our zip wire experience in the morning, we headed over to Criccieth in the afternoon, which was surprisingly hot and sunny. Criccieth has a beautiful big sweep of bay with a castle perched at one end, and the kind of beach where you can spend a long time hopping over rocks and paddling through li