St. Theresa’s Prayer

‘May today there be peace within.

May you trust God that you are exactly

where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received,

and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing you are a child of God.

Let this presence settle into your bones,

and allow your soul the freedom to sing,

dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.’


Crooked Healing: Disability, Vocation and the Theology of the Cross

Alastair's Adversaria

I am very excited to be able to host this guest post from Kelby Carlson on a theology of disability. This is such an important topic, but one which is seldom given the attention that it merits. Far from being an issue of limited relevance, I believe that Kelby’s article should alert us all to the deeper connection that questions surrounding disability have with some of the core themes of our Christian faith and practice, a connection that serves to bring greater light to truths that apply to each one of us. As such, it is not just an articulation of the character of the ministry of people with disabilities within the Church, but also a practice of that ministry. Please pass this on to others and leave your thoughts and interactions in the comments! – Alastair


“I want to pray for you.”

I raise my head, instantly alert…

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‘He Do the Police in Different Voices’: On Speech and Language Policing

Jeanne de Montbaston

“And I’ll tell you another thing about the way women don’t Talk Proper …”
Filippo Lippi, Man and Woman at a Casement. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to speak, as T. S. Eliot puts it, ‘in different voices’. We use language as an index of belonging. At the moment, there’s an idiolect, which I’d like to imagine would immediately tell me whether or not I’m in the presence of the sisterhood. ‘Silencing’ is the new favourite Participle Of Oppression for all parties. Fourth wavers talk about language as a form of literal violence. Radfems say unsisterly things about fourth wavers and bite our tongues. We all thank the goddess for Rebecca Solnit coining the term ‘mansplaining’, and Deborah Cameron writes brilliant critiques of all the idiotic pseudo-scientific arguments that all misogyny would disappear if only women would learn to Talk…

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Fearfully and Wonderfully made

Random Ramblings

I started this post a while ago. The recent conversations about the sale of foetal tissue have brought all of my thoughts into sharper focus.

Advances in technology mean that we can take more and more control of the reproductive process. Embryos can be created in vitro using eggs and sperm harvested from people who may or may not be a couple. 

Embryos can be tested by pre-implantation diagnosis for the absence or presence of life-limiting genetic disorders. Just one cell removed from the bundle of cells which makes up the early embryo, can be processed to reveal the genetic make-up of all of the cells. Each cell is genetically identical and at this stage is pluripotent – capable of developing into any tissue.

To overcome motility or low sperm counts, sperm nuclei can be directly injected into eggs

I have wondered for some time how long it would be before “advances”…

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Abortion and Personhood

I hope that this will receive a wider readership.

Alastair's Adversaria

Reframing the Question of Personhood

The question of personhood rightly lies at the centre of debates over the issue of abortion. However, the way that this question is posed is seldom either helpful or illuminating. The concept of personhood that is operative within the question is one that is generally heavily freighted with problematic assumptions, on both sides of the debate. Within this post I want to suggest the possibility that we could press the question in a very different and more enlightening direction.

The question of personhood is habitually framed purely in the form of the question ‘is the fetus a person?’ By examining the characteristics of the unborn infant we are expected to reach some determination of whether it matches up to our standard of personhood.

A crucial underlying assumption here seems to be that personhood is an intrinsic property of a being. Yet such an assumption is…

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Neil Postman – Bullshit and the Art of Crap-Detection

Critical Thinking Snippets

Neil Postman’s classic essay Bullshit and the Art of Crap-Detection. Contains a handy taxonomy of forms of bullshit, and some useful “laws” such as: Almost nothing is about what you think it is about–including you.”

I’ve copied it here in this post just to help ensure it remains easily available on the web.

“Bullshit and the Art of Crap-Detection”

by Neil Postman

(Delivered at the National Convention for the Teachers of English [NCTE], November 28, 1969, Washington, D.C.)

With a title like this, I think I ought to dispense with the rhetorical amenities and come straight to the point. For those of you who do not know, it may be worth saying that the phrase, “crap-detecting,” originated with Ernest Hemingway who when asked if there were one quality needed, above all others, to be a good writer, replied, “Yes, a built-in, shock-proof, crap detector.”

As I see it, the…

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I am OK with the church’s teaching about Christian marriage

I am still bewildered at times by the extent to which some people who are OK with the church’s teaching about Christian marriage have come under attack from some people who want the church to change its teaching on Christian marriage. Same-sex marriage is now legal but there are many who can see no good reason for the church to follow secular law and to change church doctrine in this respect.

I have shared in many discussions about this and I have read many articles and blogs on the subject. I am not a theologian, but I have followed the arguments of a number of theologians on this subject, and I am thankful for them. I have a number of gay friends who do not hold it against me that I am OK with the church’s teaching on marriage – in fact, some of them are also OK with the church’s teaching on marriage. No one on Twitter has attacked me personally for my position on this, yet I have seen some  ugly comments on Twitter against some other people, simply because they remain firm in their beliefs about marriage and are not putting the church under pressure to change its doctrine in this respect.

Whatever we believe, I don’t think that it is ever OK for us to bully and marginalize people simply because they hold different beliefs, and homophobic bullying grieves me. All bullying grieves me. When I see attempts on the part of some LGBT people and their supporters to pressure the church into changing its doctrine to accommodate their beliefs, this kind of pressure also comes over to me as a form of bullying. I am thankful for those LGBT people who are not putting the church under pressure to change its doctrine in this respect.

As I wrote at the start of this post, I see no good reason for the church to change its doctrine on marriage and those who have departed from this doctrine cannot reasonably, in my opinion, expect the church as a whole to follow them and depart from its own doctrine. I know that church leaders are holding conversations on this subject at this time and, as far as I know,  these conversations are being conducted graciously and respectfully. I pray for our Lord’s continued blessings on these conversations.

I will just add one personal detail. My own marriage ended in divorce before I became a Christian more than twenty years ago and this has had no adverse effect on my attitude to the church’s teaching on Christian marriage.

‘The voice of the majority is no proof of justice.’ [Friedrich Schiller]