Simon's blog

Five things I miss about institutional church

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There are plenty of “things you poor sad people in the institutional churches have to cope with that we enlightened bodies in the house churches are free from” articles out there. (oh, look, here’s another one, including the obligatory snipe at “Churchianity”. Urgh.) I’m not really a big fan of that; I love the Church, whatever model of church it may be; I think no part of the Church can say that it’s the best part of the Church; and I think we work best when we work together. Read more about Five things I miss about institutional church

My Lent challenge

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There are forty days in Lent. There are thirty-nine books in the Hebrew Bible. It’s almost too good to pass up. I’ve set myself the challenge of blogging through one passage of each book of the Hebrew Bible every day during Lent - writing an exegesis and simple reflection. I don’t know if I’m going to manage it, I might end up finishing Lent in September, but I’m certainly going to give it a shot. (And announcing it here makes me psychologically more likely to feel bound to it.) Read more about My Lent challenge

HNTRTB: Invisible moral compass

This post is the second in a very sporadic series on “How Not To Read The Bible”, my take on the attitudes we have when we come to read the Bible and how they can get us into trouble. It has also sat in my drafts folder for over a year.

The Bible, for the most part, is a storybook. We might think it’s a book of timeless truths, or doctrines, or rules for holy living, but actually, most of it is stories: stories of wanderers and kings, stories of a man called Jesus, stories of struggling young churches. Stories which make up one big story: the story, ultimately, of God. But as part of the stories, the Bible does contain one or two rules. For some strange reason, though, we often end up reading the stories as if they’re rules.

You’ve seen it many times yourself, I’m sure. Whether it’s snide commentaries on “Biblical marriage”, or the preacher who tells you that “if you take a survey of the Bible, you’ll find that it’s in favour of corporal punishment for children”, (No, I really did hear that) people just can’t seem to see the difference between what the Bible says from what the Bible approves.

And with good reason, too… it’s actually very difficult to do so. Read more about HNTRTB: Invisible moral compass


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Tonight our church had one of its regular celebrations, a meal for friends and family, to bless the city and prove that there is such a thing as a free lunch - or a free dinner at least. And it was good to see one or two of our friends there: I and Z, recently put out onto the streets again; J, a local boy who’s made his way into a hostel and seems to be doing well, who brought with him another lad from the hostel, B, an erudite Glaswegian, who at the last Feast seemed more at home with the cathedral’s sculpture collection than with the other guests. (“Is that a Damien Hirst?” he asked. It was.)

But this isn’t just a story of “us” doing our bit of charity for “them.” It’s much more interesting than that. Read more about Magnificat

Sovereignty and responsibility

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The same thought hit me from three different sources this morning. I’ll introduce the thought by the most oblique route, a quote from the Guardian this morning:

The administration has shifted from solidly supporting Mubarak, to suggesting he should go now, only to back him at the weekend to remain in office until the autumn – a decision that secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, reversed hours later when she threw US support behind Suleiman.

The US government is desperate to be right in Egypt. It is so desperate to be right that it is demanding a wide range of different outcomes, depending on whatever looks most likely at the time. Then when something finally happens, it can say “that’s what we wanted!”

My point is not a political one. It’s a theological one: so often we can cast God into this role. Read more about Sovereignty and responsibility

Typesetting with Perl, part ii

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%<b> cat cicero.cic </b>
[% fontsize = 24; bold; lead = 30 %]The Cicero document processing system

[% fontsize = 12; roman; color = "%00ff0044" %]Simon Cozens

[% color = "black"; lead = 14 %]This text is typeset by the Cicero
document processing system.

[% PERL %]
for (6..12) {
    Cicero::typeset("The square of $_ is ".$_*$_.".\n\n")
[% END %]
%<b> cicero cicero.cic</b>
Read more about Typesetting with Perl, part ii