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All articles in category Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Article

December 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

This year has been dark, yet after darkness comes light

The year 2020 has been lived in ‘darkness and the shadow of death’. The whole world has been plunged into gloom by the coronavirus pandemic. Many lives have been lost. Many more people live in fear: fear of Covid-19, or fear of its effects on their families and their finances. A second spike always…

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Article

December 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

A question of trust

The year 2020 has raised many issues of trust. Can we trust the government? What’s their strategy? Haven’t they flip-flopped numerous times? And scientists? Have they really been objective in presenting data about coronavirus? We know MPs, scientists, and other advisers have broken lockdown rules themselves. We are also aware of the rise of…

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Article

December 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Scrooge’s Christmas conversion: A psychiatrist reflects on its credibility

Ebenezer Scrooge is one of the most famous names in English literature. Scrooge has become a synonym for miser as a result of his brilliant characterisation in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, a family film favourite each Christmas. In this short novel Dickens commits many errors about the afterlife, if we take his description…

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Article

December 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

To drink or not to drink: the Christian’s dilemma

Christmas is coming. This Christmas will certainly be different from other Christmases. Covid has made sure of that. We may be unable to hold carol services (and what sort of carol service will it be if we’re all wearing masks, and we’re told we shouldn’t sing?). There will be fewer family get-togethers. There will…

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Article

November 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

When sleep her balm denies…

The Covid-19 epidemic and the changes it has brought have affected us all in many ways. Some of them were immediately obvious, some less so. Some of us have been more directly impacted than others. But I suspect that most of us would say that our lifestyle has changed significantly. During the early days…

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Article

November 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

The problem of answered prayer

Last month we reflected on the absurd approach of ‘prayer experiments’ which assume a kind of slot machine view of how prayer is supposed to work, with God as the Great Provider, jumping to do our bidding. But let us approach this from a different direction and ask: ‘why should God answer prayer at…

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Article

November 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Profanity is worse than you think

Growing up, ‘phooey’ was my U-rated response when disappointed with circumstances. If I was mad at a person, I’d go ‘PG’ once in a while (when my parents weren’t around) by hurling a few ‘stupids’ at my verbal victims. That’s about as rough as it got. My childhood home-life was pretty strict that way.…

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Article

November 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Train hard, fight easy

A good friend of mine spent part of his career as an elite infantryman. Despite attaining a place among the ranks of his regiment, he is self-effacing and devoid of arrogance. His military background gave him a wealth of attitudes and axioms which cross over into everyday life. My favourite of his aphorisms is,…

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Article

November 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

The blessing of ‘No Men’

I still recall as a small boy learning in Sunday school about Rehoboam’s great folly. Perhaps you remember the history. Solomon had died and his son Rehoboam became king. The people of Israel came to him and asked that he lighten the burden that Solomon had placed on them. At that point, Rehoboam had…

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Article

November 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Lockdown lessons: Have we learnt anything at all?

The coronavirus lockdown, when it was imposed in March, came so swiftly upon churches that we barely had to think through the implications. Nightingale hospitals were being set up with the help of the military, and the government was desperately calling for ventilators to be manufactured as a matter of urgency. At that stage,…

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Article

October 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Copyrights and wrongs

Let me tell you a cautionary tale. It concerns a pastor – we’ll call him Simon – who found an envelope in the church mailbox. He opened it and read the contents with a mixture of surprise and alarm. The letter was from an agency based in France which handles copyright claims on behalf…

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Article

October 2020
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Inspiration in isolation: Learning from the letters of Samuel Rutherford

For many years now my go-to author in times of difficulty has been Samuel Rutherford. My thoughts have been turning to him again recently because almost 400 years ago he experienced exile under house arrest – confined indoors and allowed no contact with his loved ones. This was all long before the days of…

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