Those ancient Greeks didn’t mince their words. If you weren’t Greek, you were lumped together, not with the lumpenproletariat as Marx & Engels had it, but with the rest of the world, the vast hordes of the ignorant and uncivilised unwashed. They had a single, lump-all word for the lot of them: hoi barbaroi (βάρβαροι). Its etymological roots are assumed to derive from the apparent gibberish uttered by ‘Johnny Foreigner’ (as a previous generation of Brits might have put it). “Bar-bar-bar-bar”—it’s all a bunch of codswallop. No wonder they’re all barbarians when they talk like that.Read More ›
We all know about the classic Quest. It’s a literary staple from Homeric epic to contemporary fantasy. The hero must undertake a long and hazardous journey to rescue damsel/destroy artefact/carry message/save soul. From Odysseus to Aeneas, Mallory to Tolkien, Spielberg to Shrek, they’re all at it. These plots may or may not get advanced by a MacGuffin, a term popularised by Hitchcock for plot-driving objects such as rings, maps or antidotes. But whatever the ingredients, the reader/listener/viewer is gripped by the need to complete said quest in the face of great jeopardy. And if there’s no jeopardy, there’s no grip.Read More ›
Loiter, even briefly, near the Rabbit Room and you’ll surely hear the word. And even if you don’t hear it mentioned, you’ll surely sense its impact. There are two reasons, primarily. One, because it preoccupied the Inklings—the original Rabbit Room regulars—especially C. S. Lewis. Two, because it’s one of those aspects of life that seems to require another’s articulation of it before our own awareness of it.Read More ›
The book engrossed me so much that I found myself continuing to read it while going on a rollercoaster with my then young son. And I have the photographic evidence to prove it.Read More ›
“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”Read More ›
It is a real thrill to announce that Steve Turner will deliver the keynote address for the first ever Hutchmoot UK in July 2019. Steve has a wealth of experience to share and the chance pick his brain over a few summer days in Oxford is incentive enough to come along for the fun.Read More ›
For a long time in the early years of my Christian walk, I felt quite schizophrenic. I was generously discipled by older believers, which meant that I learned huge amounts and grew rapidly. As a result, I came to love the Gospel and the Bible deeply. This led in turn to ministry opportunities, Church of England ordination, and service in two UK churches and at a small seminary in Uganda. It was a fairly tried and tested evangelical (of a British kind) path. But something was always missing.
It was an idle conversation with an old friend in ministry, essentially. We both spend a fair amount of time at our desks and so we chat most days, mainly about triviality and absurdity. It keeps me going on the days when I don’t actually speak to a soul for hours on end, and I like to think it does him good, too.
Assuming that artists are to be visionary prophets, what might that look like? I think it means pursuing at least three separate (though not mutually exclusive) goals.
For nine years, I was on the senior staff of All Souls, Langham Place in London. Many in the USA will know it as the church where John Stott attended throughout his long life (he joined as a toddler and only at 86 moved to his retirement home). But in the UK, if people are aware of it at all, All Souls is more likely to be known as “the BBC church.” This is because Broadcasting House is our immediate neighbor, literally a few paces away, and for many years, it was the church from which BBC Radio’s Daily Service was broadcast every morning.
Just the mention in some Christian circles of Modern (capital M) Art (capital A) will guarantee glazed eyes, knowing smirks, and a handful on the edge ready to pounce.
Someone may well mention the infamous “pile of bricks” bought for a fortune by London’s Tate Modern and they’ll pour scorn with words like “even my five-year-old could do that.” It won’t cut much ice to argue that their five-year-old could not have done that (as Susie Hodge has argued in her intriguing if a little uneven book from 2012, Why Your Five-Year-Old Could Not Have Done That.) Neither will it help much to mention that the Tate Modern was the UK’s second most popular attraction in 2017, and that is despite being a decommissioned 1940s Power Station and containing only artworks made since 1900. Something about that place must be connecting with people! But let’s leave that to one side for now.