Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Speaking My Mind

Tony Campolo

The increasingly strained relations between Muslims and Christians have huge implications for the entire world. Samuel P Huntington, in his book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, sets forth the thesis that conflicts between civilizations (which he defines as religions) and the cultures that they generate will dominate world politics in the twenty-first century. Henry Kissinger called Huntington’s book the most important to have emerged sine the end of the Cold War. Foreign Affairs, the most prestigious journal on international relations, says that Huntington’s thesis has generated more discussion than any other in the last sixty years. Zbigniew Brzezinski, one-time national US security advisor, says that this book ‘will revolutionise our understanding of international affairs.’

Assuming that Huntington is right, the years that lie ahead will be marked by armed warfare between followers of the Judeo-Christian religion and followers of Islam. This is already happening. In the Philippines, in Indonesia, in the Sudan and in Serbia, the battle lines already are drawn between Christian cultures and Islamic cultures. The only question remaining is whether evangelical Christianity will add fuel to the growing fires of this warfare or follow the admonition of Jesus, who called us to be peacemakers. Regardless of how the Muslim world positions itself in relationship to us, ought we not to reach out in love and take upon ourselves a ministry of reconciliation?

Think about how a war between Christian and Muslim civilisations would regenerate the ongoing struggles that have been evident since the Crusades. The bitter battles that marked those religious wars so marred the image of Christianity that missionary efforts to Muslim peoples have been dramatically thwarted even up to this present day. What I see happening, starting with September 11th, 2001, and our actions against Iraq, could set back another five hundred years any openness to the gospel in Islamic countries.

At just about every missionary conference I attend, the speakers talk about the need to evangelise those who live within the ’10/40 window.’ This is a reference to that part of the world between 10 degrees and 40 degrees north of the equator, which covers North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The window has in view the areas encompassing most of the world’s greatest physical and spiritual needs, most of the world’s least-reached peoples, and most of the governments that oppose Christianity.

What evangelicals have to recognise is that the majority of the people who live within that 10/40 window are Muslims. And if we really want to evangelise them, we had better find ways to show love to them rather than wage war against them. To that end, we must critique our rhetoric about Muslims, study who they are and what they believe, and seek out common ground for a creative dialogue in which we can tell them about Jesus and his salvation.

A survey reported in USA Today on September 16, 2003, showed frightening declines in favourable attitudes toward the United States in Islamic nations, primarily because of their perception of how we regard Muslim people. In Morocco, the percentage of people holding favourable attitudes toward America dropped from 77 percent in 2001 to 27 percent in 2003. In Jordan, it went form 27 percent to 1 percent; in Indonesia, from 75 percent to 15 percent; and in Turkey, from 52 percent to 15 percent. Americans invented the field of public relations, but it’s obvious that we’ve done a lousy job of it recently, despite the fact that our government spends more than a billion dollars a year on promoting a positive image of America.

From chapter 9 of Speaking My Mind – the radical evangelical prophet tackles the tough issues Christians are afraid to race, published by W Publishing 2004

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Great Giveaway

David E Fitch

Many evangelicals take comfort in the fact that their church preaches the Word because they have expository preaching. Because their preaching follows the text sentence for sentence, this somehow ensures them of a more faithful interpretation of the text. But no expository preaching can escape becoming interpretation no matter how close to the text the preacher follows. And faithful interpretation of the word requires that interpretation be confirmed or worked out over time among a faithful community. Surely expository preaching can be an important aid in leading a congregation further and deeper into the faithful interpretation of God’s Word. But the fact that the preacher follows the text word for word in and of itself does not guarantee that the church preaches the Word.

In fact, the danger exists in expository preaching that preachers, not seeing how their own social habits condition them to read a text in a certain way, dogmatize their own interpretive habits with no recourse to the community. Verse for verse, sentence by sentence, preachers read their own agenda into the text unaware that they even have an agenda, or worse, believing their personal agenda is directly from God. Confident of their expository method, preachers are delinquent in preaching with the necessary humility in submission to the testing of their words before the congregation. And so in the name of preaching the Word, the expository preacher inserts unawares habits of interpretation learned from other places. Expository preaching thereby hides the giveaway of the preaching of the Word.

Likewise, the same danger exists when the expository preacher is confronted with a new issue of interpretation in the church around which a consensus does not exist. Here again, relying on the expository method, the preacher does not preach in submission to the work of the Spirit in the community to lead that community to a further interpretation. Instead, living under the modernist assumption that the author’s intended meaning is there for all to see, expository preachers interpret selected texts to underwrite their own social agenda, believing that this one meaning of the text should be plain for all to see.

When disagreement occurs, the expository preacher digs in to defend the one meaning, doing harm or causing divisiveness in the congregation. And the congregation, living under the same modernist assumption, knows only how to accept that all they hear from the preacher is truly God’s Word or else it is heresy, and they must surely leave the church. Both preacher and congregation miss how preaching the Scriptures is necessarily the outworking of a politics that is always answering the question, How are we going to live? And so the church that is so confident that ‘our church preaches the Word’ may completely miss its own unfaithfulness because of its premature confidence in the modernist method of expository preaching.

From chapter 5 of The Great Giveaway, reclaiming the mission of the church from modern maladies, published by BakerBooks 2005

Friday, January 27, 2006


Colin Creel

[Relating to Boredom with the Spiritual Life]

Failure to see God’s blessings on a daily basis results in boredom with life, or belief that God is not as ‘real’ in society today. For many years I followed a practice, which I still occasionally repeat. Bill Hybels, in Too Busy Not to Pray, advocates a prayer method, which I’ve found is excellent in seeing God’s blessing in your life. Hybels writes out his prayers daily on one sheet of paper under the ACTS method - Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication; one page forces brevity and focus of thoughts. Systematically every few weeks, I would flip through the pages and place a star next to all the answered prayers. Oftentimes, we pray for one thing and then the next, without giving thanks for the prayers that have been answered.

Scripture memory is an excellent way to keep your mind focused on godly things: ‘I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.’ Our thought life can be extremely damaging to our relationship with God, thus, ‘We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’

Switch up your quiet times. Try something new and different. For those of you who know me or have lived with me, I love to sing. Singing praises to the Lord brings me extreme joy. Another friend of mine walks around in order to keep himself from falling asleep. Be creative. God wired each person differently for a reason.

Finally, I think boredom with life in general can creep in if you are not careful. A friend of mine talks about how too many young people are concerned with having ‘exciting’ jobs, when in reality they need to bring excitement to their jobs. Unfortunately, dashed dreams and unrealised expectations are a part of life, but over time dwelling on ‘what could have been’ leaves you lonely and depressed.

What do you do when you just don’t feel like spending time with God? Much like an athlete in training, you push through the pain: ‘No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.’

From chapter 12 of Perspectives – a spiritual life guide for twentysomethings, published by Relevant 2005

Thursday, January 26, 2006

By the Renewing of Your Minds

Ellen Chary

Anselm used love and discipline (in that order) as the instruments of choice in character-training. The point was to win the pupil’s trust and loyalty before imposing discipline. And he taught others to do so as well. Eadmer tells how Anselm corrected a brother abbot who misguidely preferred rigorous discipline to love. The abbot complained to Anselm that he was at the end of his tether with the ‘incorrigible ruffians, the stupid brutes’ entrusted to his care, because repeated beatings did nothing to cure them. Anselm observed that the abbot had succeeded in raising beasts instead of men and helped his peer to understand why through the use of analogy:

"’Now tell me, my lord abbot, if you plant a tree-shoot in your garden, and straightway shut it in on every side so that it has no space to put out its branches, what kind of tree will you have in years after when you let it out of its confinement?’

‘A useless one, certainly, with its branches all twisted and knotted.’

‘And whose fault would this be, except your own for shutting it in so unnaturally? Without doubt, this is what you do with your boys. At their oblation they are planted in the garden of the Church, to grow and bring forth fruit for God. But you so terrify them and hem them in on all sides with threats and blows that they are utterly deprived of their liberty. And being thus injudiciously oppressed, they harbour and welcome and nurse within themselves evil ad crooked thoughts like thorns, and cherish these thoughts so passionately that they doggedly reject everything which could minister to their correction. Hence, feeling no love or pity, good-will or tenderness in your attitude towards them, they have in future no faith in your goodness but believe that all your actions proceed from hatred and malice against them. The deplorable result is that as they grow in body so their hatred increases, together with their apprehension of evil, and they are forward in all crookedness and vice. They have been brought up in no true charity towards anyone, so they regard everyone with suspicion and jealousy.’"

Seeing that the abbot still did not grasp the point, Anselm spelled out his own educational philosophy: ‘the weak soul, which is still inexperienced in the service of God, needs milk – gentleness from others, kindness, compassion, cheerful encouragement, loving forbearance, and much else of the same kind.’

From chapter 7 of By the Renewing of Your Minds – the pastoral function of Christian Doctrine, published by Oxford 1997

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Through Painted Deserts

Donald Miller

I tend to think life is about security, that when you have a full year’s rent, you can rest. I worry about things too much, I worry about whether or not my ideas are right, I worry about whether or not people like me, I worry about whether or not I am going to get married, and then I worry about whether or not my girl will leave me if I do get married.

Lately I found myself worrying about whether or not my car was fashionable, whether I sounded like an idiot when I spoke in public, whether or not my hair was going to fall out, and all of it, perhaps because I bought into Houston, one thousand square miles of concrete and strip malls and megachurches and cineplexes, none of it real. I mean it is there, it is made of matter, but it is all hype. None of the messages are true or have anything to do with the fact we are spinning around on a planet in a galaxy set somewhere in a cosmos that doesn’t have any edges to it. There doesn’t seem to be any science saying any of this ‘stuff’ matters at all. But it feels like ‘it’ matters, whatever ‘it’ is; it feels like we are supposed to be panicking about things.

I remember driving down I-45 a few months ago and suddenly realising the number of signs that were screaming at me, signs wanting me to buy waterbeds, signs wanting me to watch girls take off their clothes, signs wanting me to eat Mexican food, to eat barbeque, backlit, scrolling signs wanting me to come to church, to join this gym, to see this movie, to finance a car, even if I have no money. And it hit me that amid the screaming noise, amid the messages that said buy this product and I will be made complete, I could hardly know the life that life was meant to be.

….We stood out in the desert this morning, and the chemicals in my brain poured soothingly through the grey matter, as if to massage with fingers the most tender part of my mind, as if to say, this is what a human is supposed to feel. This is what we were made for, to watch the beauty of light fill up the earth’s canvas, to make dirt come alive; like fairy dust, making trees and cacti and humans from the magic of its propulsion. It makes me wonder, now, how easily the brain can be tricked out of what it was supposed to feel, how easily the brain can be tricked by somebody who has a used car to sell, a new perfume, whatever. ‘You will feel what you were made to feel if you buy this thing I am selling.’

But could the thing you and I were supposed to feel, the thing you and I were supposed to be, cost nothing? Paul [my friend] seems to think so, or at least he acts as if this is true. He doesn’t want to stay in a hotel room and catch up on the news. He doesn’t want to rifle through the sports pages and make sure the team he has associated his ego with is doing well. I don’t think he is trying to win anything at all. I just think he is trying to feel what a human is supposed to feel when he stops believing lies.

And maybe when a person doesn’t buy the lies anymore, when a human stops long enough to realise the stuff people say to get us to part with our money often isn’t true, we can finally see the sunrise, smell the wetness in a Gulf breeze, stand in awe at a downpour no less magnificent than a twenty-thousand-foot waterfall, wonder at the physics of a duck paddling itself across the surface of a pond, enjoy the reflection of the sun on the face of the moon, and know ‘This is what I was made to do. This is who I was made to be,’ that life is being given to me as a gift, that light is a metaphor, and God is doing these things to dazzle us.

From chapter 7 of Through Painted Deserts – light, God and beauty on the open road, published by Nelson 2005 [This book is a slightly revised edition of Miller’s first book: Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance. ]

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Narnian

Alan Jacobs

Armed with this sound theology of pleasure, Lewis’s perpetual task both as a defender of Christianity and as an advocate of medieval literature is to call people to delight – and delight even in old books. Yes, those were written by people different than ourselves – but not radically different. They are still recognisably human; they inhabit a world that is sometimes strange to us but not wholly alien. In fact, they are just different enough to be valuable to us as instructors in virtues we have neglected. We cannot go back in time and teach them to be more compassionate, but if we read them with care and sympathy they can instruct us in courage and chastity. We will not, however, read them with care and sympathy unless there is some reward for us in it: it is for this reason that Lewis emphasises the delight that can come from them. He wants us to know that it is indeed possible for a twentieth-century man to enjoy reading four-hundred-year-old books just for the sheer pleasure of it. And any book that delights us may more readily teach us its wisdom.

In The Lord of the Rings, the wise and ancient Elf Celeborn counsels the Company, in response to a gibe from Boromir about "old wives’ tales," "Do not despise the lore that has come down from distant years; for oft it may chance that old wives keep in memory word of things that were once needful for the wise to know." Several of the plots of the Narnia books turn on the forgetting of the old lore by some and its remembering by others. In Prince Caspian, Doctor Cornelius, Caspian’s tutor, is primarily a historian, and his passionate remembrance of ‘Old Narnia’ – "my old heart has carried these secret memories so long that it aches with them" – is key to the return of the Talking Beasts and the restoration of the great kingdom that Caspian’s Telmarine ancestors ruined. The confusion and discord sown by Shift and Ape in The Last Battle is possible because Aslan is only a name to the people of Narnia: they know nothing of his history, or of his character, so they can easily be made to believe that he has commanded deeds (for instance, the destruction of the forest) that are incompatible with his care for Narnia.

Among the ‘old lore’ of our world there is one tradition that Lewis found especially fascinating, and that turns up repeatedly in his fiction. Most of us have heard the phrase ‘the music of the spheres’ - the spheres being, in medieval astronomy, the abodes of the planets. These spheres surround the earth, moving outward from us in concentric circles; beyond them is the Empyrean, the Heaven of Heavens, where God’s presence dwells most fully. But what is their ‘music?’ That music is made by the friction of their contact as they ceremoniously rotate at their various speeds: it is of extraordinary beauty, and the contrasting stillness of the Earth is ‘the point at which all the light, heat and movement descending from the nobler spheres finally died out into darkness, coldness and passivity.’ But what makes the spheres move? That is the task of their governing spirits: ‘Each sphere, or something resident in each sphere, is a conscious and intellectual being, moved by the ‘intellectual love of God…These lofty creatures are called Intelligences.’ It was usually thought that an Intelligence was a very particular kind of angel – a ‘creature,’ but not embodied, and with the single function of being the mover of the sphere.

These are the Oyarsa of Lewis’s space trilogy…

From chapter 8 of The Narnian – the life and imagination of C S Lewis, published by HarperSanFrancisco 2005

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Bible or the Axe

William O Levi

Shari’a came suddenly, though not unexpectedly. One day we had some illusion of freedom, and the next day we had none. It was almost funny how the new military leadership put a positive spin on the whole thing. They accused the Christian leaders from the free government of being ‘soft on crime.’ The Shari’a, they explained, would rid the people of the scourges of alcohol, prostitution, immorality, and all sorts of petty crimes. Christians, they insisted, were hypocrites who failed to enforce the moral code that they claimed to believe in.
The fundamental principle of Shari’a is that freedom disturbs the moral order and fosters crimes against Islam Therefore, freedom must be ended, along with the permissive Christian philosophy of government. And both were summarily eliminated.

It didn’t take long to see the results of Shari’a. There was a sudden rise in the number of amputees, as petty thievery was met with machete justice. A man’s hand for a loaf of bread seemed a price too high to pay. But who would dare to say so? The pain of the new law was felt by Muslims and Christians alike. Most of the Muslims [in the Sudan] were moderates who didn’t particularly welcome the religious police into their lives. But they were cowed by the pressure to conform to the Shari’a, because the edicts came from their own mosques. At least the Christians had some reason to expect that some of the laws would not apply to them.

Through the early days of the Shari’a, Pastor Ben kept up his evangelistic efforts. He had developed a program of street preaching that he took to down-town Juba’s business district. People from the congregation would accompany him to a street corner, singing songs in Arabic and attracting groups of onlookers. After the singing, Pastor Ben would deliver a gospel message and an invitation to attend the local church. It was a popular ministry, and I enjoyed going along and singing songs for the people who stopped to listen. But it soon became apparent that the military rulers were going to apply the law across the board, and we found that we were bound by the rules of the religious police just as our Muslim friends and neighbours were. We realised that we would be forced to protest the Shari’a if we hoped to retain some measure of our religious freedom

But protest was a dangerous thing.

From chapter 9 of The Bible or the Axe – one man’s dramatic escape from persecution in the Sudan, published by Moody Press 2005

Friday, January 20, 2006


Thomas G Long

We cannot live without trustworthy words, cannot be human without them. If at least some words cannot be relied on, we have no way of knowing who we are, cannot build relationships of love, and are unable to make even the most modest plans for how we shall live. So no matter how many times we get knocked over by half-truths and wholesale lies, we get right back up for the next round. If Christians commit to telling the truth, then, they are not just being nice people. They are using words in the way human beings most need to hear them.

Making the point that everyday life depends on the reliability and truthfulness of words, the philosopher C A J Coady imagines the he is travelling to a foreign city, say, Amsterdam. When his plane arrives, Coady believes he is in Amsterdam, not because he knows this for sure – he has never been to Amsterdam before – but because the pilot assures the passengers over the intercom that they are landing in Amsterdam. When he checks into his hotel, he fills out a form giving his name, date of birth, citizenship and so on. Not only is all of this accepted as true by the desk clerk simply because Coady says it is true, but also Coady himself believes it is true. He is sure that he is named C A J Coady, that he was born on such-and-such a date, and that he is so many years old not because of any concrete evidence but because others have told him that these things are true.

The next morning, when Coady wakes up, he calls the desk to get the local time, and he belies what the desk clerk says. Over breakfast, he reads a paperback about the amazing exploits of Napoleon more than 150 years before, and he believes that there was a Napoleon who was important in history, even though he has obviously not met Napoleon personally or experienced any of his exploits at first hand. The morning paper carries news of a military coup in Spain, and even though he has no way of verifying this for himself, he takes this news to be factual. After breakfast, Coady heads out of the hotel to do some sightseeing, tourist map in hand, once more trusting himself to the word of others. The point is clear. In a scientific age, we may think we base our knowledge and decision making on hard evidence, but in fact we live life mainly on the basis of testimony. Everyday life is dependent on people’s speaking truthful words to us.

No wonder we dream of a world where advertisers tell the truth [as in the film Crazy People]. No wonder we hunger for public discourse to be free of deception and spin. No wonder we yearn for people to be as good as their word. No wonder, then, that when Christians put breakfast dishes in the sink and head out into the workaday world, what they are called to do, and what the world most needs from them, is to go out there and in every area of life to tell the truth. It is startling, often breathtakingly refreshing, and, as Crazy People wryly reminds us, sometimes seemingly insane, but it is what Christian testimony is all about: telling the truth.

From chapter 5 of Testimony – talking ourselves into being Christian, published by Joessey Bass 2004

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Laughing Matters

Phil Callaway

It was an austere weekend. Dignitaries had gathered from around the world to witness the conferring of degrees upon worthy students. In the midst of it all, I was asked to present a humour award to a retiring faculty member known for his laughter amid tough times. I stood to my feet, wondering how the audience would respond.

‘It gives me no small degree of goose bumps to present an award to a man who is no stranger among us,’ I began, ‘although we sometimes wish he were…after some of the jokes he tells. Dr Gerald Wheatley stopped me the other day and said, ‘Did you hear the one about the two cannibals who were eating a clown? One says to the other, "Does this taste funny to you?" Dr Wheatley can tell cannibal jokes at the dinner table until your six-ounce steak doesn’t look so appealing. Jokes like, "What did the cannibal get when he was late for breakfast? The cold shoulder." Or "What is a cannibal’s favourite game? Swallow the leader." His favourite is about the cannibal who loved fast food. He ordered a pizza with everybody on it.’

Although the jokes were a little corny, everyone seemed to be smiling.

‘Dr Wheatley,’ I continued, ‘we are thankful for a man who takes God seriously, but who also believes that life is too serious not to spend a good deal of it laughing. To you I present two awards.’

‘First,’ I said, handing this distinguished professor a box of wheat crackers, ‘the Cracked Wheatley Award, for outstanding service, especially during coffee time in the faculty lounge. G K Chesterton once said that angels can fly because they take themselves so lightly. So, it seems, can you. Thanks for the jokes. Thanks for your example. Thanks for the reminder that those who laugh, last. And that Christians do not need to look like they were baptized in lemon juice.’

Then I took out a healthy bunch of bananas.

‘You once told me that politicians and bananas are alike. They are yellow, crooked and they hang out in bunches. So I would like to present you with the Ripe Banana Award. Dr Wheatley, may you live long enough to be older than your jokes.’

From chapter 7 of Laughing Matters – learning to laugh when life stinks, published by Multnomah 2005

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

God of the Whenua

Bill Bennett

The Judaeo-Christian tradition has deeply permeated Pakeha culture. For some, festivals such as Rogationtide (blessing the land for spring planting), Plough Sunday, and Harvest Thanksgiving, continue to remind them of a God who creates and sustains the earth, monitors the seasons and encourages a responsible work ethic. There is a strong cultural affirmation of a God who brings life out of dormancy, and provides for human need, who shapes the landscape and invites the farmer to participate in oversight of the land, the crops and the living creatures under his care. Many land owners affirm the biblical ideas of giftedness, especially those whose association with land is measured in generations. They honour and respect the primal creative forces which have shaped the land and the Creator God who has brought it into being. Land is precious and they are its stewards. Still others have experienced dispossession through financial loss associated with economic depression and climatic disaster.

However, there are many others whose relationship with the land is more utilitarian. It is something to be purchased and from which a living is made. In contrast to Maori, Pakeha accept the principle of individual title and ownership, a profitable rate of return and personal responsibility and personal rewards. This is a cultural rather than a biblical principle.

It is hard to determine where the biblical scenario finishes and where a distinctively Pakeha theology begins. As Neil Darragh comments: ‘The contemporary Pakeha Australasian Christian understanding of God and human life exists in a form of an overseas reality, the origins of our denominational traditions.’ Land, its management and care, its changing usage and profitability, its meaning for generations of farmers and those who gain their livelihood indirectly from it, are all part of the theological landscape. Land is a flexible tool.

For many Pakeha there tends to be a separation in heart and mind between occupation or ownership of land and that of identity. Unlike that of the Maori, this is a Pakeha cultural reality – identity is general not dependent on place. Yet, increasingly, there are people whose self-awareness is inextricably bound up with the land they have inherited or purchased.

Boyd Wilson’s reflective essay, ‘Malkuth: Parables from the Community of Land,’ superbly captures the vast canvas of time and creativity that enables recent generations to work the land. He teases out the sense of vocation and daily work that characterises those who work on and with it, and the succession of gain and loss that has transformed people’s lives.

From chapter 6 of God of the Whenua – rural ministry in Aotearoa New Zealand, published by Philip Garside 2005

Monday, January 16, 2006

Pints of View

Peter Howick-Jones and Nick Wills

How many obstacles do we want to put in the way of those we are seeking to reach out to? So often the venue, the cultural assumptions, the language used, the length of the event, the expectation to stay and join in and say things that might compromise someone’s integrity, all conspire to act as barriers. Pints of View [which is held in a pub] seems not only to eliminate possible barriers, but actively find points of connection. On one occasion we turned up half an hour before the event, and found that one of the tables right in the middle of our usual area was already taken, by a young man and two young women. In preparing the area, we began chatting with them, and explained what was about to happen, and asked if that was OK with them. They were fine, and said, ‘No, you carry on, we’re going soon.’

The event started, and the people at the table were chatting away, and sometimes listening in. Someone then asked a question about asylum seekers and illegal immigration, and particularly about new Government legislation placing the onus for ensuring that lorries were not carrying illegal immigrants, on the drivers. We responded to the question, and said that we felt it was unfair to punish lorry drivers for another individual’s illegal actions.

At this point the young bloke at the table turned around and joined in, telling us that he was a long-distance lorry driver who was just passing through. He engaged with the discussion with a lot of passion and then he and his friends continued to do so as we talked about other issues, and he raise genuine questions of faith.

Afterwards we chatted some more with him. He was amazed the clergy were doing something like this, and felt able to talk openly about his life and beliefs. All this happened because we had chatted with them, and then found a point of contact which nobody would have predicted beforehand.

From chapter 3 of Pints of View – encounters down the pub, published by Grove Books 2005

Daily Writer on Holiday

The Daily Writer is on holiday from mid-December to mid-January.