on 4 August 2011
I cannot recommend this book too strongly, it would be a wonderful addition to any library; and oh! that it could be on the bedside of every clergy and ordinand.
It holds a perspective - based on the extraordinary position of St Martin-in-the-Fields - of the church as open to all people at all hours. That all people, tired, lost, despairing, might come in from the hurrying world, and find something of God to carry back into that world - and that the world itself can bring its own gifts in through the open doors.
The style is readable, and full of depth: much to relish in the directness of approach, the ideas, and their expression.
If we find we agree that the Church's emphasis on Mission has 'been too inward-looking' then we can also find a different perspective, with a very clear new voice. Taking inspiration from the approach of the National Gallery, whose exhibitions are directed at different groups of people, those who can only visit at certain times of day [with evening openings, for instance] and varied interests, making a wide appeal to a far larger 'audience' than might previously have enjoyed looking at paintings - so the church too can bring this message entrusted to it, into different contexts, among different people, and cease to be dominated by old [and failing?] patterns.
One of the most exciting elements of this book is that the author is about to become Bishop of Salisbury - with some very wide opportunities to spread these ideas - so perhaps the last words should be "watch this space"...
on 16 February 2016
The first chapter sets out a vision for any local church which needs to be rooted in context; inclusive and welcoming: Eucharistic, prayerful, a community of service and learning and a place for the creative arts.
St Martin’s has a very successful crypt restaurant as well as a bookshop, and a short section justifies commercial endeavour.
St. Martin’s is famous for its work among the homeless and the poor. The chapter about this is politically alert, well researched and passionate.
Then there’s two chapters about the nature of good religion and its place among the other religions of the world.
A chapter on sin comes from the author’s days of teaching ethics at Lincoln Theological College.
By this stage, it looks as if the author had finished talking about his parish and has thrown in a few other pieces originally written for different audiences at different times. He makes the usual mistake of saying that the priest and the levite who passed by the injured man on the road to Jericho were afraid of being unclean before going up to Jerusalem. The story makes it clear, by contrast, that they were travelling in the opposite direction. However, he is right, later, in saying that Jesus’s arguments with the Pharisees were Jewish and rabbinical.
A later chapter includes devotions for Holy Week and a sermon.