Monthly Archives: December 2010

Tinsel, Santa and the Incarnation

Each Christmas, over the past few years, I’ve read through Karl Barth’s little book Christmas. The chapters are adapted from articles he wrote for publication in German newspapers between 1926-33. In the final chapter of the book, Revelation, Barth reminds us that although God is ‘eternal and invisible and spiritual’ he is also ‘temporal, visible and a physical person.’ He points out too, that it is no longer left to us to construct a God of our imagining; to attempt to ‘seek him somewhere in “infinity”’ and then come up with our clever theories about him. Rather ‘He has come to us (without ceasing to be infinite) in finiteness’ (emphasis mine). In other words, the revelation contained in the Christmas story sweeps away our preconceptions and makes the nature of God real as the ultimate mystery is revealed in time and space. Read more »

Are You Dreaming of a Secular Christmas?

I’ve been reading several comments on the National Secular Society’s website and come to the conclusion that atheistic and agnostic secularists are happy to celebrate festivals such as Christmas and Easter. However, it seems they wish to do this without admitting there may be any truth to the religious side of such celebrations. Rather, they see themselves as following ancient pagan tradition which pre-dates the ‘hijacking’ of such festivals by the Christian church. Read more »

Jane Austen and the Gospel

I was in Winchester briefly last week and was reminded of my last trip there when I visited the cathedral. There are some really ‘big names’ buried in Winchester; Kings Ethelwulff, Canute, Egbert, William II: Bishops Richard Fox, Steven Gardiner and others, along with various queens and other luminaries. There are some interesting non-royal, non-religious too; people such as Isaac Walton (author of ‘The Compleat Angler) and Jane Austen, the famous late 18th, early 19th century writer.

I was struck by the inscription on Jane’s tomb, which lies in the North aisle of the nave of the cathedral. This tells us that those closest to her, those who loved her, are ‘consoled by a firm though humble hope that her charity, devotion, faith and purity have rendered her soul acceptable in the sight of her Redeemer.’ Read more »