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Great texts

  • John V. Taylor: The Christlike God (Scm Classics)

    John V. Taylor: The Christlike God (Scm Classics)
    A serious theological book which is the companion to JVT's classic work "The Go-between God". Anyone who is frustrated by (fellow) Christians that choose to define God so tightly that faith seems impossible, or seem to align faith with "happiness" despite the evidence to the contrary should read how faith is really a mix of " wonder and comprehension, illumination and darkness, loss and possession, abasement and bliss". If you want to stop to "think" about God then this is a book to read thoughtfully in the company of one of great Christians of the 20th Century

  • Jean Vanier: Community and Growth: Our Pilgrimage Together Revised Edition

    Jean Vanier: Community and Growth: Our Pilgrimage Together Revised Edition
    A revised collection of the thoughts and ideas of the founder of the L'arche Community - "faith without boundaries". This is a classic book - for everyone seeking faith and to grow in their faith

  • Rowan  Williams: Anglican Identities

    Rowan Williams: Anglican Identities
    As someone who is both a passionate but frustrated Anglican - glimpsing sometimes all that Anglican could be and seeing on a daily basis all that it isn't, this book was a wonderful account of what liberal Anglicanism - tolerant, inclusive, supportive, intelligent and profoundly spiritual, just might be. Of course it is not an easy read - it takes time and effort to grasp what RW is saying but the effort is worthwhile

  • John Drane         : Do Christians Know How to Be Spiritual?

    John Drane : Do Christians Know How to Be Spiritual?
    If you are a committed member of a local Church and wonder why others do not see the point - or wonder whether it might be possible to be more spiritual outside the confines then you could read this book which is a thoughtful introduction to what is meant by a post-christian society.

  • Tom Wright: Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

    Tom Wright: Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
    This is a detailed read from Tom Wright which makes the case for the Christian faith in contemporary society. Its thoughtful, challenging, and gentle.

  • W.H. Vanstone: Farewell in Christ

    W.H. Vanstone: Farewell in Christ
    Vanstone's final work, which explores the mystery of existence, the mystery of my soul, the mystery of meaning, - and none of this becomes possible without intellectual doubt. Is this what Dawkins et al will never understand?

  • John Pritchard: The Life and Work of a Priest

    John Pritchard: The Life and Work of a Priest
    This book should be compulsory reading for all enquirers, ordinands, and current clergy - perhaps adding in all elders and churchwardens for good measure. It charts in a profoundly hopeful way the joys and pressures of contemporary priesthood, and avoids the pitfalls of theological bias or the bland functional understandings of leadership.

  • Timothy Radcliffe: What Is the Point of Being a Christian?

    Timothy Radcliffe: What Is the Point of Being a Christian?
    A prophetic introduction to the Christian faith for those who struggle to find God amid the complexities of life

  • Robert Dimery: 1001 Albums you must hear before you die

    Robert Dimery: 1001 Albums you must hear before you die
    Just a great read - extensive intelligent reviews which bring back memories, stimulate to seek out, and inspire to add to the wish list.

All time Top Ten albums

  • Bob Dylan -

    Bob Dylan: Blood on the Tracks
    Probably the best single collection of orginal songs - performed by Bob with his inimitable non-music style - the best produced Dylan album into the bargain

  • Miles Davis -

    Miles Davis: Kind of Blue
    I remember the first time I heard this - on a loaned Walkman on a very turbulent flight to Belfast - it has rightly been described as a milestone in 20th century jazz. I remember playing to a group of spell-bound 9/10 year olds in a Primary school music workshop

  • Portishead -

    Portishead: Dummy
    Every once in while I listen to an album whose orginality leaves me instinctively knowing that music will never be the same - that the goalposts of repetoire have been changed for ever. Dummy is just one of those rare treats

  • Prefab Sprout -

    Prefab Sprout: Andromeda Heights
    In 1997 I escaped for the afternoon from the madhouse of an ordination training residential to the comparative sanity of my friend Tony's studio. During a tea break in a session, Tony said these imortal words " I've just found this amazing album" and my love affair with Andromeda Heights began - sanity was restored and I completed the residental and training.

  • Moloko -

    Moloko: Things to make and do
    Brilliant music within the scope of the dance music genre. Crisp instrumentation, meets cool beats, and the voice of Roisin - how I love Moloko

  • Craig Armstrong -

    Craig Armstrong: Piano Works
    If I were not Tom Allen ( artistically and musically speaking) I would be Craig Armstrong - from my discovery of him through Massive Attack I have loved and admired his work - and Piano Works covers his repetoire in stunning style

  • Joe Cocker -

    Joe Cocker: Sheffield Steel
    The greatest album from the greatest rock intrepreter of them all - genius production meets some of the best songs of all time sung by that voice - I've confess that I have sampled the album to oblivion

  • Paul Simon -

    Paul Simon: Graceland
    Had to be a Paul Simon album and it had to be Graceland. A epoch making album which opened African music to the world but seamlessly combined that music with western rock and pop with songs to die for.

  • Cosmic Rough Riders -

    Cosmic Rough Riders: Enjoy the melodic sunshine
    Glasgow's finest produce the ultimate guitar-song album of pure delight and of a quality that puts Athlete et al in the shade - shame it was two years too early and the lead singer left after this debut album

  • Massive Attack -

    Massive Attack: Blue Lines
    OK so Bristol has launched Portishead, Tricky and Roni Size, but it was the staggering impact of this debut which created a genre in trip-hop and a collective approach to song-writing, band membership which has influenced a generation and spawned so many other deriratives. From the low-fi paranoia of "Five Man Army" and the unrepeatable melancholic splendour of "Unfinished Sympathy", this is a 20th century classic.

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15 August 2005



Thanks for the post. Like you, I think that protestants generally, and evangelicals in particular, have lost much by removing Mary from their mental map.

However, something odd seems to have happened to the formatting of this post. There are strings of non-breaking spaces every so often in the main body, which cause the text to break up. (e.g. "The'''''''''great prayer to Mary in the Catholic tradition is the Hail Mary. The''''''''first part of the prayer...", using ' to represent the errant spaces because Typepad comments won't let me use the actual entity!).

pax et bonum


You'll have to help me a little more with Mary. Sometimes it isn't just prejudice that leaves evangelly babies like me not valuing Mary.

The Hail Mary prayer assumes that Mary is currently active and making a difference in Heaven. But do we have the evidence to believe that? Isn't Mary's humanity central to here greatness as she submitted to God's will? I freely acknowledge the possibility that I limit my understanding of Mary, but doesn't that vision of Mary as "assuring the divinity of her son" detract from her humanity, which was surely her contribution to the man-god Jesus?

I'm missing something here, and I'll be delighted to learn more

Tom Allen

Sorry about the format problems, not sure why - since the recent "upgrade" text in the continuing section sometimes goes haywire when it is written and predated?

Will respond to the theology when I am back at home



It comes from the same theology as praying to saints in general. The idea isn't of ascending a heirarchy in order to reach God but of talking to friends in much the same way as we would when they are alive. The Catholic and (even more) Orthodox view is of the community of saints as very much still part of the Body of Christ, rather than the Protestant and (even more) evangelical idea of "dead and gone". If the dead are alive in heaven and, like God, outside time, then they can presumably see what's going on in Creation and can obviously talk about it. Why not, then, talk to them ourselves? Just as we would ask our friends to pray for us on earth, it seems logical to ask the dead also to pray for us.

Of course, there's a second aspect to the Hail Mary, in particular, which is as a devotional device for the person saying it. Just like all hymns and religious poetry, it aims to focus our minds on the things of God. So, here, we are focused on the Incarnation - the humanity of Christ, born of Mary. We are also focused on our own frailty and mortality ("pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death"). All of these are valuable parts of our spiritual life.

At least, that's the idea, or something like that :-)

pax et bonum


Thanks John, I appreciate the time you took. I see the logic. Isn't there something somewhere that suggests that we're asleep in Christ between our death and the final resurrection of the dead? might that make a difference? I guess it might become a 'nice' debate about angels on the head of a needle ...

A Celtic understanding of saints is of a group of "good people of old" from whom we can learn and whose example we can follow. I guess that I feel more at home with that.

The value of a devotional device to aid us in our frail approach to our God is something that I've only recently started to learn to enjoy and to benefit from.

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