Wednesday, September 02, 2015


Blogger tells me this is my 400th shiny ginger thought. It's nice that they keep track of these things. I'm moderately surprised that I've kept at it, especially during the years when I barely mentioned a couple of posts a month (I'm looking at you, 2013). But here we are: 101 months after we started. 400 posts. Reading back, I'm pleased to see that there's not ever so much I would un-write, given the chance, although there is plenty that I would write in a different way if I were doing it now. Glancing over the reading stats, I'm always surprised to find that posts which I think are both well written and profound, tackling important issues, often attract much less attention than things I rushed off one morning with very little reflection at all. Perhaps I just don't know what is really important. Perhaps I just haven't communicated it very well.

Anyway, by way of a review, here is a sort of summary of some of the big themes of the last 400 posts.

1. Karl Barth. I was just getting going with Barth, really, back in the day, but he made his first appearance on the blog in April 2007. Over the last 8 years he has gradually edged out John Owen as my go-to theologian - not that I don't still love a bit of Owen. It is just that Barth seems to speak into today with much more power. I explained the main reason I love him back in 2013 - "For Barth, God is not so much the One who is there as the One who comes. God comes to us in Christ, moves toward us in his Spirit, encounters us in the Scriptural witness. Barth's God is on the prowl..."

2.  Politics.  I've written more about politics than I originally envisaged.  One of the interesting things for me, reading back, is that I've definitely shifted - fairly recently - from a thorough-going conservatism to something more of a middling liberalism.  I am still basically an old-school Tory in my heart, but increasingly I feel that conservatism really requires a society with a shared value system and a common story, and we don't have either; moreover, the clumsy attempts to create and enforce a shared value system have terrified me.  For the society we are, rather than the society I would love us to be, I think liberalism is probably the only way we can avoid imploding.

3.  Anthropology and ethics.  Perhaps slightly less dominant themes, but still taking up more space than I would have predicted back in 2007.  Back then I imagined I was more 'into' theology proper.  Now I tend to think that the point at which Christian doctrine is most challenged - and most ill-equipped and poorly-prepared to meet the challenge - is at the point of discussing what a human being is and what they ought to do.  Sexuality is of course one big arena, but it's actually much wider than that.  I wonder if one of the big themes of gospel proclamation in the near future will need to be that the gospel, and only the gospel, makes us really and truly human - and therefore safeguards all our genuine human concerns.

4.  Church and worship.  I guess largely driven by my move away from parachurch being my primary sphere of ministry as I finished working with UCCF in 2009, and then by involvement as an elder in the church, I've been thinking a lot about what church is and how it ought to do the things it ought to do.  This is ongoing work in a big way, and I'm aware that less of it has gone into practice than I would like.

And there have been lots more.  I was trying to pick some favourite posts, but struggled.  The most read and most commented on post remains my review of a friend's book on Zionism - boy, that was a fun couple of days!  That's a post I would have written differently today - I think I would have been stronger and yet softer, if possible.

So anyway, 400.  At this rate it will be 2023 before we get 400 more...

1 comment: