In praise of …….

In praise of …….


The sun is high in the sky and doing its work without any hindrance from the clouds. I think that the temperature must be somewhere in the early 80’s and I buy some sun cream as a precaution. I will sit in and worship (the sun) a little later when it is less harsh on my fair skin.

The President and Dean of VTS, Dr Ian Markham and his wife Leslie hosted a faculty dinner for me last night. It was a relaxed affair and I especially enjoyed the crab cake and (of course) the wine! The group then retired to the lounge to listen to me reflect on my work and especially on my book Befriending Death (available via the Leveson Centre – for those of you without a copy of this now international text!!).

Well we authors are a vain lot – I remember the story of two academics who loved passing onto each other copies of their books by way of competition. One day the author picked up the book from the parcel and turned immediately to the index. He was looking for his own name in that index !! His friend had marked in that index next to his name : I thought you would look here first…… !!

Faced with this formidable group and their carefully annotated copies of my book was a little nerve wracking. I need not have been overly worried. They were generous in their praise but also ready to open up  the gaps and unanswered questions:

  • Is the Christian Tradition (especially Paul) always a helpful guide in our looking at death?
  • Why choose not to discuss life after death?
  •  Why leave the theology till towards the end
  • What are the cultural difference between the USA and UK in how death is handled?

We had a good conversation about something which we all should care about.  I am immensely grateful to Ian and Leslie and the faculty for their generous hospitality and careful attention the book. And the encouragement was great – akin to the person who has taken time and effort to listen to a sermon and wants to agree or take issue with something in the narrative.

So in praise of books and writers and readers and libraries and bookshelves and all those volumes waiting for us to discover untold delights and new horizons. How about a book group at Temple Balsall ? What are you reading at the moment – (the answer The Daily Telegraph is not allowed – sorry!!!)

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