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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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24 February 2006


Simon Sarmiento

In fact the Church Times first carried a column about blogging, by John Davies, back in August 2003.

And my monthly indigestible :-) column has written several times about blogging in the past.

The main article to which you take exception links to four CofE bloggers (not counting TA) and 3 Scottish ones.

Yours in comic ineptitude


Yes, I thought Simon must have been nodding too: but he obviously reads your blog!

Tom Allen

Sorry Simon your comments simply confirm that I don't read the Church Times as often or as carefully as I should and was unware that it had covered blogging before.

I didn't take any exception to the article - I just thought it poor for those who do not know what blogging is (the majority of Church Times readers?)

Your article has as a key element of its argument that there are too few "British" clerical bloggers - that it seems more "popular" in Scotland and that British Methodists "seem" keener than Anglicans I just wondered where the "facts" are to support these assumptions - I always believed facts to be basis of good journalism.

As for "indigestible" your write-up on "How to Blog" is a case in point. What would paragraphs two and three mean to a newcomer? Rather than mentioning "servers" amd "free-hosting" would it not have made more sense (ie to encourage others to start blogging) to have said that you can run it on any computer linked to the interent and that there is no risk involved. (the two most common questions I receive from clergy are: "do I have a good enough computer" and "is there any risk of viruses". Then without any explanation of what a "comment" is you proceed to explain how to stop them.

The fact that it is "so easy" is obscured by a description which contradicts the very facility.

Father John

Not sure that I agree Tom with your general critque of the Church Times, but the computer slot is very poor - often leading to more questions that answers. I tried to follow the recent RSS article and became totally confused. It reads like something for computer experts - and when it obscures something as creative and accessible as blogging then that is a great dis-service to the Church. I have written to CT to say so but doubt they will listen.

Dave Walker

Tom - I think you're being a little harsh here. Condidering how much effort CofE clergy go to to write their sermon material every week anyway it does surprise me that more don't blog it as well (Although in some case we are blessed that they don't).

As for the Methodist bloggers: I think that they have made more of an effort to link together with each other online what with and the Methodist blogroll / web ring etc. You'll usually only find most of the CofE clergy bloggers by chance clicking on sidebars.

Tom Allen

hmmmm not sure of the connection with sermons - i have never blogged a sermon and not sure that I ever will - two completely different mediums and I rarely preached from a script anyway.

The point about the Methodist blog-roll only goes to show how few there are compared with Anglicans and that was my critique of the CT article.


One slight difference is that is not primarily for clergy (although we do have a number of them). Also is not at all official, just Richard and I as friends running it.

Our goal was/is precisely to make it easy and risk free for all Methodists to try out blogging among friends.


I continue to be impressed by the Church Times' robust and intelligent journalism. I look forward to it every week, and to reading important items of world news left out of the mainstream media, not to mention some of the cartoons. :0)

Dave Walker

Tom - my point about sermons is that clergy have to think of something vaguely intelligent to stand up and talk about for 7 / 45 minutes (delete as appropriate) every week, so why not use the work that has already been done to connect with people locally (or wherever) rather than just the 3 / 300 (delete as appropriate) people who turn up on a Sunday morning. Though yes, I accept that a sermon 'as is' doesn't always make the best reading.

Methodist blogroll that may prove my point or Toms, I'm not sure ( ). But there do seem to be quite a good number.

Tom Allen

hmmmm just had a look at Methodist blogroll - and spotted some familiar and excellent British blogs ( 4 in total) - so I randomly clicked on 8 others and have yet to find a British one - all the ones I found were North American which does not really support the CT article's thesis.

Karin delighted to hear that the Church Times has an "impressed" reader - and even more someone who looks forward to the cartoons!

Paul Roberts

A bit harsh Tom: I find Simon's column always worth a scan. There have been times when he's alerted me to something I didn't know, and when it comes to techy vicars I come out on the high side. I think for the context, it's doing a good job in the wordlimit available.

Of course, since CT featured my blog, my life has been on fast-forward, I've enjoyed fame beyond my wildest imaginings, and Hollywood are expected to produce the film of the blog sometime next year, starting Tom Cruise in the role of me.... err....

Tom Allen

Paul I guess as a techy vicar the column will be really useful - but I wonder whether that's the problem in that it assumes too much knowledge and might leave the bulk of Anglican clergy readers with the impression that computers are only for the techy. For me the whole point of blogs is its very ease of use which should encourage clergy to use a wonderful tool - that's what I meant by "indigestible" - as for the article I still think that it could have been better researched, and more accurately headed. There was nothing personal about I had no idea who Simon was when I wrote the post in five minutes.I want to encourage clergy to use blogs - not give the impression that its hard to use and full of pitfalls and that there are only a few techy Anglicans doing it.


I wish my blog was as well discussed and debated as this one!


Tough words Tom but as usual close to the bone. I read my Dad's Church Times each week - but really as a way of keeping up with the "stuffy church" and making some sense of what happens in our parish. As a professional I would agree that it is poor journalism- and the computer column is a classic of not being clear who it is writing for - like Paul I think I am fairly computer savvy - but it often confuses me. My question to the Editor would be - who is aimed at "clerics" or "geeks" - at the moment the latter and it ought to be the former. But it is not the only column with problems - I thought the Wormingwold thing was a spoof!


Life having been on the busy side of late, I've yet to read last week's CT and the column in question, but if I, about the least technically "ept" person in the entire UK, can manage a blog then surely anyone can!
I agree with Tom that blogging my sermons feels odd(though I did create a sermon blog for the parish in the hope that this might encourage discussion from the pews...but so far though Wonderful Vicar is keen in theory neither he nor the Reader have posted anything, so I've not publicised it at all...definitely don't want it to appear an exercise in self promotion) but often things that I'm mulling over on the blog will inform my sermon reflections, and occasionally vice versa. I was asked today why I blog...mainly, I guess, because it satisfies a need to write and to think aloud....and the blogging community has replaced the group with whom I used to discuss Big Questions over a glass of wine during training.


Good to have the perspective of another of the supposed "not as many other" English clergy bloggers. It also suggests that clergy bloggers blog for a variety of reasons. My own being (very naively I now realise) to offer something which would cut down on the number of people asking for comment and advice and only later did I go public at the inital group of 40 readers suggestion.

Of course what happens once a public blog becomes well-known is that a whole new group start to read it and to email - I used the software which locates readers across the world and was quite staggered.

My blog is more "personal" than "vicar" so I blog about things (particularly music) which have nothing to do with my role as a Vicar and conversely rarely comment on parish events. Few church members read the blog, and it is not aimed at them.

I hope after Easter to start a Parish Blog and have found that "Richards Blog" has given me lots of ideas for the particular angles of a parish blog.

Simon Sarmiento

If "Fr John" who commented above, but whose email address as given here does not exist, apparently, would like to get in touch with me, I should be glad to get his further comments on why the RSS article in particular was so hard to understand.

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