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Author: James Woodward

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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Understanding Place, History and Soil

Understanding Place, History and Soil

Where do you come from? Where is home and where do you feel most alive? What places have shaped your growing, your choices and held the ups and downs of your journey? Do we really know where we live and what has shaped the soil, its history and buildings? These are some of the questions that this book has helped me to look at in a different light. They are ( I think ) my musings and certainly not the…

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Behind the Polished Door

Behind the Polished Door

I have been reading political biographies for longer than I care to remember––and although they are entertaining, sometimes psychologically fascinating– there persists in the world politics an extraordinary mixture of of light and darkness, of naked ambition and human vulnerability, of strength and weakness. How could it be otherwise? Politicians are after all flesh and blood. We may live behind a number of polished doors and what is revealed when they are opened especially by others can be both uncomfortable…

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Loss, grief and uncertainty – on knowing the power of Lament

Loss, grief and uncertainty – on knowing the power of Lament

I am listening to the BBC News as I share this post – and aware of how uncertain and fragile our life continues to be. Changes in infection rates, uncertainty in the jobs market and chaos with our holiday plans continue. Here are some thoughts on recent months: I wonder how you are and how the months of collectively experiencing a stripped-back version of our lives has felt? It has been perplexing and even illuminating for me. In these long…

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Let the music tell the story

Let the music tell the story

Beethoven : A Life in Nine Pieces by Laura Tunbridge Viking 2020 I have steered away from musical biography – often impenetrable, for insiders who know the language, the history and the details of the music. These 230 pages are quite different from the pen of the Oxford University Professor of Music. It is refreshing, readable, clever and delightful. After reading two chapters I decided (thanks to Spotify) to listen to the composer. Nine pieces of music provide the basis…

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David Sheppard : is leadership taught, caught or inherited ?

David Sheppard : is leadership taught, caught or inherited ?

I first met David Sheppard sometime in the early 80s just after my ordination. He was present with his wife Grace at an opening of an exhibition in Liverpool city centre. It was held at the Diocesan Church House – now a popular Tapas bar ! The artist had completed some of the pieces while we were at theological College in Cambridge. The pictures might have best been described as bold, colourful and adventurous ! What do I remember? First…

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Loneliness – friend or foe?

Loneliness – friend or foe?

So what is loneliness? Loneliness has been defined in different ways. A common definition is “A state of solitude or being alone”. The other definition is “Loneliness is not necessarily about being alone. Instead, “it is the perception of being alone and isolated that matters most” and is “a state of mind”. “Inability to find meaning in one’s life”, “Feeling of negative and unpleasant” and “A subjective, negative feeling related to the deficient social relations” “A feeling of disconnectedness or…

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Being Human: Embracing Vulnerability

Being Human: Embracing Vulnerability

As a young man in my early 20s I wanted to change the world!   Becoming a priest was part of a passion of aspiring to build a better world by nurturing communities and people where all flourish. That we should be happy and enjoy ourselves – is deep within God’s purpose for each of us.   In lockdown life big questions come more to the fore.  Who are we? What are we made for? What are the chances of catching this thing – what if…

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‘Its not about me’ : Reading Cottrell On Priesthood over a lockdown weekend

‘Its not about me’ : Reading Cottrell On Priesthood over a lockdown weekend

I wonder what you are finding absorbs your time and attention during these strange hours and days? My table at home is gathering some small (and neatly organised) piles of books. Some associated with work and lectures to prepare. Some for pleasure and others  (I hope) for self-improvement !  Stephen Cottrell’s book (On Priesthood : Hodder and Stoughton 2020) arrived last week. I read its 176 pages over two days. It has a deceptive lightness of touch but do not be…

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Sarum Pause for Reflection : Goodness

Sarum Pause for Reflection : Goodness

While the physical buildings of Sarum College have been closed for some few weeks our life and work goes on. We are continuing to teach and support ministry students in their formation. The work of our postgraduate theological study through our MA offer also continues online rather than in the physical space of the college. Like many others we are keen to put our learning to use. We want to nourish the human spirit and explore what that might mean…

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Sarum Pause for Reflection

Sarum Pause for Reflection

While the physical buildings of Sarum College have been closed for some few weeks our life and work goes on. We are continuing to teach and support ministry students in their formation. The work of our postgraduate theological study through our MA offer also continues online rather than in the physical space of the College. Like many others we are keen to put our learning to use. We want to nourish the human spirit and explore what that might mean in these unsettling…

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Picturing Easter

Picturing Easter

The forty days of Easter: 12th April (Easter Day) through 21st May (Ascension Day ) 2020 I don’t know about you but these early days of Covid 19 have been some of the busiest hours I can remember in recent years. Amidst the challenges of lockdown, working with colleagues and trustees to secure and develop our work at Sarum College, keeping in touch with friends and family, a number of things have disturbed and perturbed my human spirit. Keeping in touch is…

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To Sleep – perchance to Dream?

To Sleep – perchance to Dream?

How much sleep do you need? Do you instinctively know when you wake whether you have had a restful night? Perhaps you Fitbit reveals your patterns of sleep ( REM, Light, Deep) ? And for those who us who wake in the middle of the night – what races through our minds? Do we turn over in bed and hope for a return to our dreams or make tea or read one more chapter? Sleep — or the lack of…

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