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The Church of England Living in Love and Faith

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‘Before we ever are the object of our own gaze, or the gaze of those around us, we are the objects of God’s gaze. God’s gaze is deeply loving, but it is also perfectly truthful. To know ourselves as God knows us is to know ourselves as deeply loved, but also to face up to our scars and sinfulness. God affirms us, but God also challenges us to discover and inhabit our identity differently. God sometimes challenges us to let go of things we thought were core to who we are, and sometimes to take on things we had not considered before. But those challenges are never an imposition on our true selves; they are always about being freed from the narrow confines of lives turned in on themselves in order to find our true flourishing with others, and pre-eminently with God’. Such words give a taster of a rich Christian document as it sets forth the transformative good news of Jesus and its relevance to identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage in a context where many are looking to the chur

Andrew Mayes Gateways to the Divine

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  ‘The Via Dolorosa … is crossed by Jewish Orthodox hurrying down to prayer at the Western Wall, and at the same time it witnesses Muslim men kneeling on their mats at the time of prayer in their shops. It passes a place for the rehabilitation of blind refugees and others with disabilities. Along its route today are found soldiers, beggars, pilgrims, and tourists; street sellers, laughing children, and disabled elderly. This river of prayer and passion flows in the broken heart of the city, as a potential source of healing and forgiveness’. In such words Andrew Mayes takes us to the Jerusalem he is familiar with, its prayer and passion, opening up testimonies across faiths using the city gates as a device to frame a book on transformative spirituality. It works at different levels, guide book of Jerusalem, chronicle of salvation history, study of interfaith relations and celebration of missionary spirituality.  Each chapter links to a gate of Jerusalem - Golden, Southern, Zion, New, He

Christy Lefteri The Beekeeper of Aleppo

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  UN statistics inform us of 80 million displaced people worldwide in 2019. The problems surrounding such a flood of refugees are depicted daily on our media. It is an overwhelming phenomenon and hard to grasp with all the associated politics. ‘The Beekeeper of Aleppo’ is a fictional story based on well known facts about the tumult in Syria which succeeds in putting faces on what it is to be a 21st century refugee from a war zone. The author Christy Lefteri, a lecturer in creative writing at Brunel University, is the daughter of Cypriot refugees and her book was inspired through her work as a volunteer at a Unicef supported refugee centre in Athens. Beekeeper Nuri and his artist wife Afra live in Aleppo. Their peaceful life in that beautiful city is destroyed in the Syrian conflict, an unspeakable loss which includes that of a family member and for Afra, now blind, her sight. The book chronicles the couple’s flight to the UK via Turkey and Greece. Nuri’s cousin and fellow beekeeper, Mu

Daniel O’Leary An astonishing secret

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Lockdown brought me a blessing through engaging with this second to last book of the late Fr Daniel O’Leary which had been awaiting my attention for a year. Reading the book became a timely blessing impacting my thinking and praying and hopefully my action. In a way there was nothing new in it, simply a reminder to see God in all things and all things in God. In another way it was full of newness, the perpetual newness of Jesus captured in the writings of Teilhard de Chardin as a bridge from Christianity towards the progress and evolution of the world. Yes, the book rattled my pride as orthodox Christian with calls for dismissing original sin, dualism in historic faith and over prioritising sexual ethics. Yet I felt compelled by its thesis of God’s invincible love being allied to the evolution of the world today. Daniel O’Leary has infectious magnanimity so this traditionalist was disarmed by his appeal, putting some issues on hold whilst reading it. Such putting on hold is aided by th

Benjamin Kwashi - Archbishop on the Front Line (Andrew Boyd Neither Bomb nor Bullet)

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‘Why should the church be any less passionate than Islam? Why is the church not preaching the gospel of holiness, righteousness, and justice? The Muslims have their loudspeakers everywhere, waking people at 4am to pray. Meanwhile, the Christians are sleeping! What’s stopping us from praying? What’s keeping us from our devotional life to God? Before a Muslim can lead a mosque, he must be able to recite at least sixty chapters of the Koran. But we Christians are ordaining people who cannot recite a single chapter of the Bible. We should learn from them.’ So writes Nigerian Archbishop Ben Kwashi quoted in Andrew Boyd’s biography that reads autobiographically to capture the passion of a great contemporary servant of God currently General Secretary of GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference). It was my privilege to work with him briefly during the 1998 Lambeth Conference when hundreds gathered to hear him speak at an evangelistic service outside Holy Trinity, Tottenham presided ov

Richard Rohr The Universal Christ

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‘Your religion is not the church you belong to, but the cosmos you live inside’ wrote GK Chesterton, big picture Christian of the last century. Where are the big picture Christians of today with the ear not just of the church but the world? Franciscan monk Richard Rohr is one of them though on the fringe on account of his occasional sparring with church authority. Like Merton he writes with a depth that appeals beyond religion blessing unhappy relativists and materialists as well as over cerebral believers. ‘The Universal Christ’ is his magnum opus and it thrills with the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. Rohr builds like Teilhard de Chardin from the first chapters of John, Ephesians, Colossians and Hebrews which point to the cosmic pre-existent Christ, to how the incarnation is anticipated at creation and how love holds everything together. ‘Christ is both the Divine Radiance at the Beginning Big Bang and the Divine Allure drawing us into a positive future. We are thus book

Stephen Hawking Brief Answers to the Big Questions

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‘Newton gave us answers. Hawking gave us questions. And Hawking’s questions themselves keep on giving, generating breakthroughs decades later. When ultimately we master the quantum gravity laws, and comprehend fully the birth of our universe, it may largely be by standing on the shoulders of Hawking.’ So said Professor Kip Thorne in 2018 at the interment of Stephen Hawking’s ashes between Newton and Darwin in Westminster Abbey under a stone engraved with Hawking’s equation linking for calculating the temperature of a black hole. The final work of cosmologist and disability campaigner Stephen Hawking, more penetrable than his earlier popular work ‘Brief History of Time’, addresses these questions: Is there a God? How did it all begin? Can we predict the future? What is inside a black hole? Is time travel possible? How do we shape the future? Will we survive on Earth? Is there other intelligent life in the universe? Should we colonise space? Will artificial intelligence outsmart