Getting into the spirit of things

Art, G.A. Studdert Kennedy, Photography, poetry, Politics, st andrews, The Unutterable Beauty, Theology


I was at my second Residential Study Week at the University of St Andrews for my PGDip/MLitt. in ‘Bible and the Contemporary World‘ this week. This module is entitled ‘Theology, Art and Politics’, which is essentially studying how these three fields are interconnected – how theology affects which paintings are painted, the interplay between faith and the state, how political ideas are expressed in art, etc. I’m quite excited about what I’m going to learn. Although I’ve never really been that interested in politics, I think I have an aesthetic eye and a discerning ear and the ability to apply theology to various contexts.

Quite coincidentally, I found that during the week I managed to immerse myself in the topic extremely well – in two ways.

First, I finally put the generous voucher I received when leaving OCC to good use in purchasing an Olympus E410 digital camera. (I also managed to wangle a free £30 memory card too). As you can see from my Facebook photo album here I found the worlds of art, theology and politics mix very nicely. (I aim to open a Flickr account or similar soon.)

Second, I happened to notice a bunch of books that the university library was selling off cheap and picked up a treasure trove of 2 books on the relation of church and state (which will be excellent for my first essay), both for £1, and my new favourite book of poetry, The Rhymes of G.A. Studdert Kennedy.

If you’ve never heard of Kennedy, he was a Rev., a Padre serving in the First World War. Many of his poems have a war context, but all combine the expression of a genuine searching, wrestling, questioning Christian faith with the realities of human life. This is surely where Kennedy’s real genius lay during the war – his poems would have helped his fellow soldiers to reflect on the horrors they were facing whilst allowing them to contemplate Christ’s sympathising with their situation.

If you’ve never read his stuff, an online copy of the book I bought (and have already finished), published under the title The Unutterable Beauty, can be found here.

I recommend these for some of his best work (click on the titles:

Faith / Indifference /A Sermon / The Sorrow of God / Thy Will be Done


Travelling without moving

edinburgh, manchester, Masters, morden, mordor, rugby, st andrews, travelling

Travelling without moving

Since I started my new job I’ve visited a few places – here’s a quick sum-up of where I’ve been and some of the highlights.

St. Andrews // I was in this lovely old town for my Residential Study Week of my distance learning course in Bible and the Contemporary World. (The rest of each module is completed at home with online discussion between students and tutors). I’m actually on the Postgraduate Diploma but hope to upgrade to the M.Litt. (Masters) degree if I keep a good standard on my essays. Anyway, if you click here you’ll see a map of the town. My Bed and Breakfast was just above the Tourist Information place ([i] on the map) and my college was to the right of the [i] across South Street. St. Andrews is a little bit like Norwich, in that it has poor infrastructure and takes ages to get to, but luckily an elderly couple gave me a lift from the train station in their taxi. As soon as I got out the cab, a well-dressed middle-aged man said “Welcome to St Andrews!” and I thought “Wow, this is what Heaven must be like”, until he then gave me a tract spouting King James and invited me to the Gospel Hall. There was also a genuine sandwich-board Christian walking around the streets that I saw one lunchtime, with one of my favourite messages emblazoned across one side: “Repent or perish”. I did resist the urge to punch him.

Edinburgh // My first hour involved getting laughed at by various hotels and hostels as I asked whether any of them had space for 6 that evening. It was game weekend and 6 of us lads that used to hang around together when we were teenagers were up to watch New Zealand thrash Scotland, but someone had forgotten (or not bothered) to book a place to stay. Granton Sally Army did us proud (thanks Ali + Hannah!) and it was a very enjoyable weekend, particularly catching up with a certain James Webb who I’d not seen for at least ten years. Good fun. The coach journey back home wasn’t so fun…

Manchester // How I love this city. If you’ve never visited it, there can only be one of three explanations:

  1. You can’t drive. If this is because you’re self-reliant, have never been able to afford lessons, or don’t wish to increase your carbon footprint, great. If this is because you wantonly scav off other people, or are just very lazy, be ashamed. I hope you offer petrol money to the heroes that drive your royal backside round.
  2. You are lazy. You are probably also from London. You can’t be bothered to go and visit other cities because you believe the world revolves around London, and probably you too.
  3. You are stupid. You think Manchester has nothing to offer. You are wrong.

East End Park // Even though the middle-class, the council etc might disown this part of the city, it IS part of Leeds. Some of my mates who moved there about a year ago are, I would say, doing three things shamelessly: (1) living there, (2) loving Jesus, each other and their community, and (3) looking for the Kingdom of God. And I think that’s excellent.

This week I go to the Midlands and the Isle of Wight.

I’ve been living with my aunt and uncle in Sutton, which has been great, but should be moving to the Alove Shack in Mordor/Morden fairly soon. Hence, travelling without moving…