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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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08 January 2008


Richard Sudworth

Tom: excellent observations; helpful and wise. Thankyou


Thank you for your questions which I think are pertinent to a wider question of how the Church "sees" other faiths in the UK - your previous post on Church schools and the advantages to Anglicans and Roman Catholics is in many ways related. For me as a Muslim married to an Anglican (with the full support of my family I must add!)the real issues is not whether the Church of England should be established - but what the Church does with being "established" - does it use it to offer faith and justice or does it use it to feather its own nest and live on a diet of its own importance? Thank you for your post, and bless you in your new role.


As you chose to back link to my blog (as some sort of extreme example of xenophobic views), I feel free to openly comment on your posting.

Firstly, what makes you an authority on what opinions, other than your own, are “informed” or come across “with real authority.”? From what heights of arrogance do you feel able to impugn the motives of a Bishop of your church, or any other of the thousands of people who don’t agree with you?

I ask because, although my take on the world is not yours, and certainly not “Christian”, as you apparently define the term, at least I accept that my views are not infallible and are solely my own. When you bandy about the term ‘xenophobic’ as a term of insult, are you maybe suggesting that I am against all ‘foreigners’, or would you accept that personally I have nothing against Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Catholics, Orthodox, Atheists, Poles, and other East Europeans, and yes even some C of E? Nor do I discriminate on colour.

Oops that’s not very xenophobic is it, so maybe I should qualify this statement to ensure I fit your idea of the “Mail and its Rightwing competitors readership” profile? So in short, what I dislike is groups who refuse to integrate or offer any accommodation, those who insist that their world view is the only world view, those who would see my hard won freedoms altered to fit their opinion of the superiority of their creed, in short Islam and its radical exponents.

You seem happy to co-operate with a religion that considers yours to be nothing more than idolatry, "The God will say: 'Jesus, son of Mary, did you ever say to mankind 'Worship me and my mother as gods besides God?' 'Glory to You, 'he will answer, 'how could I ever say that to which I have no right?" (Surah 5:114), and that should be destroyed “The only true faith in God's sight is Islam." (Surah 3:19), but happy to denounce a Bishop of your creed, and of course those daily mail readers (and their fellow travellers in the rest of the UK’s right wing press), who agree with him.

The Bishop is, from my own and others experiences correct in his assertion there are pockets of Islamic separatism in the sea of our society, where they offer a threat to the non believer. This in practical terms, may not be much different from our other violent estates, except that it’s often expressly done on racial / religious pretext, rather than just the Chav thuggery that sadly we a have had to grow used to. These pockets don’t just exist in some very small block of localised streets, local neighbourhoods; ward sized areas in Bradford or Oldham etc, but also in the minds.

The parallel ‘multicultural’ worlds that now exist in the UK, where an entire culture is lived tucked with in our own, neither acknowledging nor accepting our value system, is not healthy for us as a wider society, nor for them as group. The news today, included the story about the inquest on yet another Muslim Asian girl who had been found murdered, after apparently resisting an arranged marriage. As good an example of the non integration of Islam, as any I could make up in my xenophobia.

My experiences of the phenomena of Islam in the Inner Cities may be somewhat different from yours, but I lived in inner city Manchester for twenty years, so your experiences in Bradford can’t be so much more “Informed” than mine, just interpreted differently.

Secondly, I don’t find it so surprising that you choose to categorise everyone whose experience doesn’t conform to your world view as, ‘xenophobic’, and ‘rightwing’, because the very terms used indicate that you equate Left wing (Socialist) and Christian as the only acceptable viewpoint.

But by completely dismissing the many first hand accounts, illustrating the problems many non Muslims have experienced in Muslim majority areas, are you saying that they are invalid because you don’t approve of them? You’re a clergy man working in areas where the BNP have influence, why, could it be because people like you, refused to treat non Muslims concerns over some issues as invalid because they were just ‘xenophobic’ or ‘rightwing’ ?

Still as an active representative of a church that’s both in physical and numeric decline, presumably you held many fruitful meetings with the Imams in Bradford, and you have asked about the killings of your Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East, Pakistan and other areas, where they are killed simply for being “Crusaders”. Or maybe you asked about the fairly open sale in the Islamic book shops of the Bradford and Leeds area, of books, DVD’s and tapes promoting, extolling and showing Jihadi suicide attacks on non Muslims across the globe? Or maybe not.

Although all religions have violent passages, there is not one other religion that exhorts its followers to armed struggle in the House of war, or one where the interpretations of these violent passages made in the 12th century, are cast in stone, and thus still valid when used to justify suicide bombings, murder, lying, rape and even slavery.

Possibly you asked your scholarly friend about the many Sura in the Koran that mention Jews, and Christians, and not in a positive manner. For example, the Koran dictates: “O (Muslim) believers! Don't make friends with the Jews or Christians! They (the Jews and Christians) are friends of each other. Whoever makes friends with them is one of them (Maida, Verse 51).”

Finally you posed the question “What does his (the Bishop of Rochester’s) Christian Britain of the future really look like - does it have any place for people of other faiths and their contribution to the good of society?”

This about sums up all that’s wrong with your approach to the Bishops comments, or anyone who agrees with him. His article is clearly aimed at certain Islamic groups, not even all Muslims, and certainly not any other religions or faiths. For you to drag all other faiths and beliefs into the debate, and then question whether they have a future here in the Bishops Britain, is just a cheap debating trick, worthy only of any ten cent lawyer.

Tom Allen

I chose the noPCthoughts link at random from several that appeared in a google search - the subsequent comment above rather endorses the point of the choice in its anecdotal illustrations, repeated overuse of vague adjectives such as "many" and the un-persuasive link between New Labour and the Muslim no-go areas.

Other readers will have noted that:

I do not refer to the link as xenophobic that is reference in the previous sentence to the Daily Mail and its competitors. For something to be xenophobic it not only has to be ill-informed (which applies to the link) but also have the power to influence others.(which I would question)

I specifically say that I accept that the Bishop writes sincerely - ie I absolutely don't question his motives.

I ask for some definition of what he means by "no-go" areas. The link is an illustration of the consequences of this failure since this ill-defined phrase can then be used to make vague statements such as that there are "many" no-go areas or facilitate a long list of places were they exist - but what are they?

I don't dismiss first hand accounts - I do I admit tend to be a little sceptical of second hand stories from barstaff etc.

Are the current Bishop' loosing their way - well ironically it was one of Bishop Michaels predecessors Bishop Claughton in the late 19th century who (far from condemning Islam as a heathen religion) was one of the first to call for productive dialogue with the sailors of Muslim faith in the Medway ports

I know little first hand about the views of Bradfords imams since I have never lived or worked there.Through the work of the Barnabas Trust and many other groups I am of aware of persecution of Christian in other countries. My Muslim friends and colleagues would share my condemnation of it and are embarrassed by it.

I live in the constituency of those dreadful stereotypical Labour MPs - the problems for the stereotype is that she often challenges Muslim views or has campaigned against the unacceptable practices of the different community groups and particularly about rights for young women.

A December survey of Muslim bookshops in West Yorkshire (following the widely discredited C4 survey) was unable to find any text or DVD which advocated Jihad (other than in the historic texts)nor they were provided with any on request.

My friend Ahaz would of course be familiar with the highly selective passages routinely quoted and repeated in the link - and could (if was not a wise and forgiving man) respond with quotes from the Bible - he would prefer to explain again with great patience Muslim practice of contemporary interpretation - and the social cultural context of the originals.

Does the appropriateness of the link in the context of my post appears to stand some validity - readers will form their own opinion I am sure.


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