Friday Link List | 15th February 2019

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted a friday link list. As ever, I recommend you grab a cup of coffee and enjoy this miscellaneous list (or save it for a slow saturday morning!).

There are few people that would find everything here interesting, but hopefully there is a little something for everyone;


What I’ve written recently;


I’ve been more and more interested in the forms through which we read scriptures, screens, small text, illustrated text (and how they impact how we understand and draw from the text). Beauty creates a certain receptivity that we can’t deny. Transpositions posted a series on the first hand written in over 500 years, the Saint John’s bible.

In 1995, Donald Jackson, Senior Scribe to Queen Elizabeth II, presented his lifelong dream to handwrite and illuminate the Bible to the abbey and university. In 1998, they commissioned Jackson to begin the project, and on Ash Wednesday in 2000, he drew the first words: ‘In the beginning’. Eleven years later (2011), Donald and his wife, Mabel, presented the final page of The Saint John’s Bible to the abbey and university.”

Via Alan Jacobs Newsletter

Alan Jacob’s, who I mention again below, makes this claim;

“Those who say that the personal is the political are wrong, but the error is understandable, and it’s probably better to make the equation than deny the connection.”

in his review of the film Roma which I began watching in a recent feverish flu-ridden bed day. Needless to say it required more attention that I could muster, but the cinematography is truly beautiful.

Jacob comments:

“Iris Murdoch once wrote of the Gospels that “they are the kind of great art where we feel: It is so.” That’s how I felt watching Roma.”

The famously anonymous street artist Banksy has increasingly turned toward aspects of performance art as he continues his subversive career. When someone tried to auction a famous work of art it shredded itself upon the blow of the gammel. It’s hard to imagine this wasn’t somewhat staged. Here’s a video of how it was made..


I’ve more and more been gaining a laymans appreciation of classical and choral music. NPR tiny desk has been the way I discovered many musicians, here is a truly astounding performance by a russian pianist who is still in his 20’s and is already called

“without question the most astounding pianist of our age.”

by The Times of London.

Under the topic of sound, this is more like ‘sound advice’ (excus the pun!). Fernandos Gros comments on the productivity cult which argues for early rising. His almost too obvious to mention, but not obvious enough wisdom is “get enough sleep”…The whole article is worth reading here, if like me, you are sometimes tempted to ascend to the dizzy heights of productivity hacks.


Popular Etymology (0rigin of words) writer the Inky fool writes A Quick Guide to Decoding English Place Names.

It’s generally quite easy to guess the etymology of an English place name, and quite pleasant too, as you get to sound clever. The system is not in the slightest bit infallible, but it generally works

Truth, Theology and Thinking

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been enjoying reading Alan Jacob’s writing on and offline. He is a thoughtful christian voice, which is rarer than it should be. I’ve been reading his biography of the common book of prayer which is part of the ‘lives of great religious books series’. A book I haven’t read, but sounds fascinating, which he writes about here is “The Year of Our Lord 1943” which traces the similarities between simultaneous Christian thinkers, Jacques Maritain, T. S. Eliot, C. S. Lewis, W. H. Auden, and Simone Weil as they approach the end of the war and consider what it will take to rebuild the soul of the world, spoiler, it’s education.

The structure of the book is narrative which makes these thinkers and Jacob’s own argument centering around their coherence despite lack of interaction with one another much more readable.

Fascinating conversation between Glen Scrivener and Andrew Wilson. They are touching on some areas which have been very significant for me in the last few years at about 30mins into their conversation. Namely, as we seek charismatic gifts, Is the distinction between natural and supernatural helpful? As they discuss, I think the future breaking into the now, rather than the ‘up’ breaking into the ‘down’ is a far more biblical picture of what is happening when we experience when we experience what we’ve commonly referred to as the supernatural. They mention CS Lewis’ perspective which I had not heard before, which is that the inbreaking of God’s reality in the miraculous is not a suspension of the natural order of things but instead a restoration of the truest way things were created to be, which I couldn’t agree more with. Watch the video below if you are interested in hearing more of that…

The Theopolis Institute is about to embark on a course relating to Christian paths towards human maturity. Being in a context that is making it our business to consider this very question I was intrigued. I was even more intrigued to read David Field’s lengthy and opening article which proposed Reformed Christians should be paying attention to Freudian Psychology, Zen Buddhism, and the Desert Father. Not a common voice, but actually I think it was done in a very careful and accomadating way.

What follows simply presents a list of topics and propositions relating to psychoanalysis, the Desert Fathers, Zen Buddhism, the self, breathing, silence, the unconscious, discipleship, counseling, and our deep and unsatisfied desire to be like Christ.

It is intended, however, that the list also serves as an argument in support of the simple proposition: Reformed Christians would do well to take a look at the proposals and practices of psychoanalysis, the Desert Fathers, and Zen Buddhism because these supposed ‘paths to human maturity’, at the very least, generate some important challenges and questions for us.

David Fields – Paths to Human Maturity

Alistair Roberts adds his voice here too;

Wisdom moves us beyond the enclosed and domesticated realm of the garden and into the wider world, where we must deal with dangerous and untamed beasts with shrewdness and skill, not merely with the more binary categories of the Law that are most prominent in our childhood.

Another voice I’ve been appreciating (and who’s writing is keeping me in the loop with a number of happening in the UK Anglican world) is Ian Paul. He is a scholar in the book of Revelation, but seems to speak sense in many areas he covers. Here’s an excellent guide on how to read the endlessly misunderstood book of Revelation well.

I hadn’t heard of the recent controversy surrounding Liam Neeson’s, put briefly;

“He had heard that a friend had been raped by a black man, and confessed that he had, for a time, sought to vent his anger on any black man he could find—though he never actually enacted this.”

Liam Neeson Interview on the Independent

Ian Paul illuminatingly describes this as another situation where there is no grace or forgiveness within the public square even if someone’s admission is given as a confession;

The whole point of Neeson’s story is to show how horrible the attitude he held really was and (in reference to the revenge movie he is promoting) to highlight the hollowness of seeking revenge at all. Neeson was not painting himself as a hero here, he was pointedly casting himself as someone not to be emulated here.

Now, without diminishing what a horrible attitude and thing to do this really was (and Neeson made no bones about that fact), this highlights the problem with a new morality. There is no grace, forgiveness or restoration for those who transgress. It matter not whether it was a hidden attitude brought to light, or an action repented of long ago, what matters is that you broke the rules and there shall be no clemency.

Ian Paul – Is there Forgiveness for Liam Neesons Sin

These type of situations helpfully reveal that societies, maybe even especially secularised one’s, live religiously. The question as ever, is not if we will worship, but who do we worship, and further still, if we become like what you worship, what or who are we becoming?

That’s all for Today…

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