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The Rebel Jesus
Was Jesus of Nazareth really a rebel? The singer Jackson Browne thought so, but many Christians take issue with that idea. So in this issue of Longform I apply Robert Merton’s Strain Theory to the character of Jesus to see what sort of label can be applied to him. January 2020.
Plants, politics & prayer
In September 2019 a Twitter storm blew up over whether you can, or should, ‘confess’ to plants. Yes, really. So what was it all about? Is it ok to confess to vegetables? Is there really a wood-wide web? And at its heart, is this really a question about politics and economics rather than spirituality and religion? December 2019.
The Unusual Suspects
In a world where 7% of self professed atheists say that they believe in angels, and where traditional churches can hardly hear the organist because of the rushing of feet out of the door, does it still matter what people believe? What if that happens to include Zombies? This is something that I wrote a couple of years ago, and looking back on it, I feel it seems as relevant now as it did then, perhaps more so. November 2019
The Axial Age
The so called ‘Axial Age’ was a period in history when a host of world changing ideas and philosophies were developed, from Greek Philosophy to Buddhism. It is generally thought to have been the middle centuries of the millennium before the common era, so what was it all about? And why does its impact continue to be felt? October 2019
Return to dust.
Are humans the only species to have been concerned with life after death? Am I destined for an eternity in the Summerlands? And is it true that British Telecom are developing technology that will allow us to live forever (albeit in a computer)? At least some of these questions will be answered here, via the earliest known ritual burial, and the very literal thought patterns of Sciurus carolinensis. September 2019
Dwellers on the threshold.
There are many times in our lives when we enter in to ‘liminal’ spaces, times in between times, when we are neither one thing nor another, neither child nor adult for instance. Many cultures use rituals to help us through these transitions, but there are some liminal spaces where such rites of passage are missing. August 2019
The Joy of Sects.
What do you know about the world in to which Jesus was born? We call that period of Jewish history, the late ‘second temple’ period, it was some time since Solomon’s temple had been rebuilt, but not long before the Romans would destroy it forever. This article tells the story of sly kings, implacable generals, died in the wool conservatives, and a very rash promise. July 2019
The Apostle’s screed.
The 45th President of the USA has amassed a core of vocal Christian supporters, among them are some of the most wealthy Church leaders in the country. This article takes a slightly sideways look at some of the contemporary proponents of Prosperity theology and one or two of their forebears, including the story of an extraordinary prayer duel – to the death. June 2019
The Devil wears a Parka.
Following on from my Lent email series ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, this is a slightly extended discussion of the idea of Satan, which takes an excursion to the seaside of 1964, and the battles between the Mods and the Rockers. May 2019
Ajani: he who overcomes in the battle.
This is part of the story of our son, who was born and died on April 20th, 2007, with some personal reflection on a few of the things he taught me. April 2019.
The Wilderness Temptations.
Some thoughts on how to read the classic story of Jesus in the wilderness, and what it might mean. Is it supposed to be a literal piece of history? Or was it made up by disciples keen to prove a point? How was Jesus tempted? And why? March 2019.
The Wheels Fell Off: The spiritual deconstruction of Charles Wesley.
The story of how one of the founders of Methodism went through a dark night of the soul, leading to a radical change in his religious outlook. Featuring the bicycle song, scaffolding poles, and the return of the Prodigal Son. February 2019.
Swine Flew: the curious case of the Gerasene Demoniac.
A political take on the well known Bible tale – featuring: The Book of Enoch; Hamilton (the musical); Caesar Augustus; The sea god Poseidon; and a whole load of pigs. January 2019.
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