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Author: James Woodward

People who changed the course of Covid 19

People who changed the course of Covid 19

More than 80 years ago, in Greece, 60 thousand Jews lived peacefully in Thessaloniki. It was a vibrant and valuable community, with most of these Jews working in the port. So much so that the port of Thessaloniki was even closed on Saturday, Shabbat. There also lived and studied great rabbis emeritus. Everyone hung out and liked each other. But on September 2, 1939, on the eve of the outbreak of World War II, it was in this glorious community…

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Priests in Secular Work -Participating in the Missio Dei by Jenny Gage

Priests in Secular Work -Participating in the Missio Dei by Jenny Gage

 Sacristy Press 2020 (207 pages) 978-1-78959-142-2 £14.99 Sacristy Press has established itself as an innovative publishing house with a diverse, engaging and ground breaking list. Natalie Watson, Richard Hilton, Eric Sharman and Thomas Ball are a strong team. This book is an example of the good judgement and outward facing learning ecology of its the Press and its witness and work. This book is masterful. It is well written and carefully organised. Its origins lie in the authors doctoral research….

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Listening and Learning from the journey of Jonathan Herbert : Accompaniment,Community and Nature (JKP 2020)

Listening and Learning from the journey of Jonathan Herbert : Accompaniment,Community and Nature (JKP 2020)

This is a book that has taken a long time in the reading. Why? It is so rich, so searching, so challenging that I had to keep putting it down to ingest the questions, stories and wisdom that is captured so simply in these eight chapters. A phrase here, a question there, an idea or theme sent me to my journal for reflection. More often in the last lockdown it catapulted me our of the door for some air and…

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Lessons in Ministry : Reflections on fifty years of Ministry, Paul Beasley- Murray DLT 2020

Lessons in Ministry : Reflections on fifty years of Ministry, Paul Beasley- Murray DLT 2020

Nothing much stands still these days except perhaps weekends in Lockdown. I have been to Church (online of course) and my usual catch up with friends or trip out of Salisbury have been properly curtailed. The opportunity to catch up on some reading before my mandatory exercise. Walking requires some decisions. Where am I now and where do I want to get to? Shall I venture into a new pathway and destination – if so, what map will give me…

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Being Reverend – A Diary Matt Woodcock CHP 2020

Being Reverend – A Diary Matt Woodcock CHP 2020

At Sarum College a significant part of our work is in the formation of women and men for lay and ordained ministry ( see a little of our work here https://www.sarum.ac.uk/ministry-training). I enjoyed Matts last book (Becoming Reverend) which charts his progress, survival and flourishing amidst the ups and downs of theological College in Durham. So I came to this volume of dairies expecting to be stimulated and heartened – and was not disappointed! However, I also opened up the…

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On writing Autobiography

On writing Autobiography

Lessons from the 44th President of the United States of America I have spent far too much time with my head buried in the pages of political memoir for good and less good reasons! As a genre they are complex, contradictory and (on the whole ) much given to short term judgments that seek to defend and justify. Understandable perhaps – politics is a bruising game even for the winners. One feature stands out in these books – leaders are…

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Thinking Again Jan Morris Faber & Faber 2019

Thinking Again Jan Morris Faber & Faber 2019

An observant friend taking note of the small pile of ‘books being read or (being attempted) to be read’ saw a copy of Jan Morris’ earlier volume In My Minds Eye A Thought Dairy on my table and thoughtfully produced this book for a Christmas present. So those days between Christmas and New Year were absorbed in these 130 ( more or less) daily entries. They cover from 2018 to early 2019. Jan Morris puts her nonagenarian life and house…

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Spirit of Place Susan Owens Thames & Hudson 2020

Spirit of Place Susan Owens Thames & Hudson 2020

As adventures in reading go this wonderful volume is a sheer delight. Skilfully researched and lucidly written the author inhabits the space with creative care. The passion and love of the subject matter shine through the text as each chapter inhabits history, place, art and writers across the centuries. These past months have imposed upon most of us many limitations especially for travel. We all have spaces and places that we return to. These landscapes have shaped us, inspired, consoled,…

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In Praise of the Oak Tree

In Praise of the Oak Tree

The Glorious Life of the Oak John Lewis-Stempel Doubleday 2018 As the ‘hibernation’ ( see my post 22 December) continues helped by persistent rain I turned my attention to this book recommended by the sister of a friend and colleague. It followed my use of the image of the Oak Tree( In Windsor Great Park) in a sermon – as a symbol in these Covid months of endurance, stability and patience. Farmer and Naturalist Lewis-Stempel examines the significance of oak…

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In My Minds Eye : A Thought Diary by Jan Morris (Faber & Faber 2018)

In My Minds Eye : A Thought Diary by Jan Morris (Faber & Faber 2018)

Pre Christmas hibernation has started with a necessary limitation of Covid 19 travel. So being nourished by some good writing seems a pre requisite of survival and even a little flourishing. This collection of random, reflective, thoughts written over 188 days are delightful. They are honest, skilfully crafted pieces form a writer who knows herself, her views, her experiences and the world around her. They are easy to read, sometimes a little repetitive, often humorous but always sympathetic. Morris takes…

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Gratitude

Gratitude

‘The trouble with you is that you are never grateful,’ was the heartfelt challenge from parent to child.  It made me wonder :  Are we grateful? In these dark days of winter and with all the anxieties of the pandemic let us remind ourselves about gratitude. Gratitude, thankfulness, or appreciation is an acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive. We express it when we receive help from others: time listening to our concerns.   So – how…

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The Gift of a Good Teacher

The Gift of a Good Teacher

Many years ago, I was asked by one of my teachers to look after his papers. I am working through a number of boxes. Each box ( carefully organised) contains dated collections of papers. They are lectures, draft book proposals, book reviews, talks and sermons. They are an extraordinary collection of a lifetime’s work committed to scholarship and, above all, to week by week teaching. I was blessed by his careful support and encouragement. These papers are being sorted in…

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On Waiting with Hope

On Waiting with Hope

A sermon for Advent Sunday 29th November 2020 Windsor Great Park It is very good to be with you this morning. I am recording this  homily in Salisbury (Cathedral). I moved from Windsor some five years ago to be Principal of Sarum College in the Cathedral Close. From the windows of the college, I look out on the astonishing cathedral and its remarkable spire, celebrating its 8ooth anniversary this year. Friends jest that I must have done something very good in…

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The storied self: a narrative approach to the spiritual care of the aged

The storied self: a narrative approach to the spiritual care of the aged

by Bruce A. Stevens, London, Lexington/Fortress, 2019. This volume stands in a tradition that has had an international influence on our understanding of the nature and practice of spiritual care in older age. The author succeeded Elizabeth MacKinlay as the second Wicking Professor of Ageing and Practical Theology and director of the Colloquium for Ageing Perspectives and Spirituality (CAPS) at Charles Sturt University, Canberra. It is carefully written and meticulously researched drawing on the author’s background in clinical and forensic…

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The Gospel of Eve Rachel Mann (DLT 2020)

The Gospel of Eve Rachel Mann (DLT 2020)

So the rain pours (and pours) in Salisbury and what better escape than to read the fabulous writer Rachel Mann. Two declared spoilers as I offer this review – first I am a great admirer of Rachel. She is a wonderful writer and teacher and at Sarum College we are delighted that she is one of our Visiting Scholars. Second I didn’t devour the book in one go but rather like a luscious box of chocolates took a bite at…

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Now close your eyes and imagine what Utopia might look like ……

Now close your eyes and imagine what Utopia might look like ……

In lockdown 2 work at Sarum College continues with online teaching and preparing for the coming months of recovery but I am determined to catch up on some reading. Do you have a pile of books by your bedside that you have dipped into, put down and picked up again? Perhaps you are a one at a time person – focused and determined not to allow the distraction of an ‘odd’ chapter get in the way of being a completer/finisher?…

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Writing history ? Elizabethans by Andrew Marr ( Collins 2020)

Writing history ? Elizabethans by Andrew Marr ( Collins 2020)

So – tasked with the opportunity of exploring and writing history – which period would most capture your imagination ? In the execution of this (perhaps labour of love) what would your choice be – broad and long or short and deep? The mastery of primary and secondary information requires skill and stamina. Analysis and judgement demands tenacity and intelligence and a preparedness for some risk. The pen of the reviewer can be fatal. Andrew Marr is a much respected…

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Rachel Waterhouse

Rachel Waterhouse

We are touched by many lives that enrich, challenge and enlarge us. My own time in Birmingham (1990 through to 2008) with the privilege of ministries across the conurbation brought me into contact with many and varied people. Rachel Waterhouse was a towering spirit – a person of substance, learning and an independence of spirit. She was a faithful Anglican. I got to know both her and husband John in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital where he was being cared for…

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Stonehenge – Story & Power

Stonehenge – Story & Power

The happy appearance of uninterrupted Sun last Sunday took me off to Stonehenge. It was my first visit – despite living here since 2015 – though I had glimpsed the stones on car journeys. An early ticket and an intriguing walk through woods  and fields was a reminder of the glory of Salisbury Plain and the gift of horizons in Wiltshire. I was not disappointed. Bathed in sunshine the scale of these stones and their context was awesome. Slowly the…

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Ernest Bevin – a democrat, a collectivist and a socialist who left a radical legacy.

Ernest Bevin – a democrat, a collectivist and a socialist who left a radical legacy.

What makes for a good politician ? What might the history of politics and politicians show those seek power? Andrew Adonis has produced masterful biography of Ernest Bevin who he describes as Labour’s Churchill. I was glad to be reminded of both the man, the story and the legacy having spent much time in my postgraduate research looking at another working class entrepreneur, Aneurin Bevan and the early history of the establishment of the NHS. Bevin founded the Transport & General…

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