Tag Archives: premier christianity

Why Ashes? Why Wednesday?

22 Feb

I’ve just had a wee explainer piece published on Premier Christianity all about Ash Wednesday. As its origins lie in early church history (which is ancient history), it’s very much my field.

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Reducing your misery footprint

9 Jun

It seems quite appropriate that, just after the statue of a man who profited from the slave trade is pulled down, my article on modern-day slavery comes out. I started writing it way before the incident that kicked off the recent protests, of course, and even before lockdown (although it’s been edited to reflect the new situation) but the problem has not gone away.

There are more slaves now than there have ever been.

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Fulvia and Florence, a Formidable Pair

8 Apr

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that when I announce that I’ve got an article in a magazine, I usually provide a tasteful, cropped photo of the article – an image that shows enough to help you find it in the magazine and hopefully want to read more, but not enough to upset the people at the magazine who deal with copyright and fair usage.

This time is a bit unusual because, although I currently have an article in two magazines, I don’t have a copy of either of them. I moved home almost a year ago, but while I thought I had updated my address with all my contacts while I was still having my post forwarded, in fact I obviously didn’t, and the magazines are probably confusing the person at my old house, or sitting in a forlorn corner of a sorting office. It makes me wonder what else I may be missing…😕 Continue reading

Thérèse of Lisieux: No credit where it’s due

27 Jul

The latest edition of Premier Christianity magazine features my article on Thérèse of Lisieux, a French nun who had the quickest canonisation of anyone in the Catholic Church up to that date. (Canonisation is being declared a saint, in case you’re not up on the lingo.)

This the article that I mentioned was bumped from the magazine because of Billy Graham’s death, and then leapfrogged by my later article on Richard Wurmbrand. But Thérèse would have loved that. She was self-effacing to the point of being completely self-negating. Her ‘little way’, as she called her philosophy, was about denying every self-focussed impulse, however justified it seemed, and instead living a life of sacrificial love for others, to the greater glory of God.

I found the story of Thérèse of Lisieux challenging. The first challenge was learning how to spell her name, of course. But more seriously, her absolute denial of self makes you question your own ‘reasonable’ level of selfishness. When she was dying of a painful illness, those who didn’t know her well thought that she couldn’t be seriously unwell, because she was so uncomplaining. I am not that uncomplaining, to put it mildly.

I didn’t agree with Thérèse on everything. I think she took self-negation too far, to the extent that she thought it might be wrong for her to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation (specifically the scent of flowers). But there is undeniably something to strive towards in her determination “to appear happy, and especially to be so”, despite the worst of personal circumstances.

You can get a copy of Christianity magazine for free, but if you subscribe at the moment you get the first year at half price (making it less than twenty quid for the whole year), and you’ll be entered into a draw to win £200-worth of Christian books!

Of course, if you want to follow Thérèse’s example, you’d better hope that you don’t win the books. But don’t worry, if you do win them, you can just give them away. 😉

Church ministers? Bunch of slackers! 

18 Oct

I’ve just done a blog post for Premier Christianity about why church ministers have the easiest job in the world. Before you start fuming, I should say that it’s not an entirely serious argument, to put it mildly.

It was commissioned because it’s Thank Your Vicar Week. So if you have a vicar (/pastor/minister) why don’t you give the article a read and then maybe send them a nice email? Although I can’t promise they will have time to read it.

O For 6,000 Hymns to Sing! 

30 May

I just got my copy of the June edition Christianity magazine through the post this morning, because I have an article on the Wesleys in it.

John and Charles Wesley had very interesting and effective lives – especially the indefatigable John, although I get the feeling that I would have much preferred Charles, if I had known them. 

Charles wrote a bucketload of hymns, of course, including O! For a Thousand Tongues to Sing (as you probably gathered from the title), and the one currently on repeat in my brain, Love Divine All Loves Excelling. If I have managed to get one of his hymns stuck in your head, too, do comment and let me know which one 😉 

Anyway, the magazine should soon be in sale in larger newsagents, if it’s not already, or you can subscribe online. You can even get a copy free, if you’re not a subscriber yet. There’s an interesting-looking article on purgatory (I haven’t read it yet) as well as my own work and usually lots of other good stuff, so you may as well. 


Rio’s Hug

10 Aug

This blog post is simply going to direct you to another blog post, on Premier Christianity‘s website. But no, I’m not being lazy, because I wrote that post too.

If you have seen the statue of Christ the Redeemer on your TV during the Olympics, and want to hear my musings about its significance, and how it connects to the Games, please do have a wee read:

Christ the Redeemer: Why Rio’s statue is the true God of the Olympics


Photo: Paul Mannix

The compassionate embrace includes everyone, from Olympic athletes to drug dealers, from top politicians to favela kids.

Julian of Norwich – not called Julian, probably not from Norwich

18 Jun

Juliana_of_NorwichMy Ten-Minute Guide to Julian of Norwich (the medieval mystic) is available in the July edition of Premier Christianity magazine, available at larger newsagents and online.

Obviously I couldn’t cover every aspect of her theology in a short article – although I could cover every known aspect of her life, since there are precious few of them. Anyway, if you want to learn more about the first (known) female English writer, and why she believed”all shall be well”, you could read her Revelations of Divine Love – or you could just cheat and read my article 😉

UPDATE: Now that I have received my copy, I see that my article on adult colouring books is also in the July edition. This means that I have written about 10% of the magazine this month, a fact that tickles me quite a bit 🙂

Why Geneva was a Claude-free zone

17 Feb

Apologies for the lifeless nature of my blog recently. I could blame it on the weather, since the various storms seem to have disrupted everything else, but you probably wouldn’t believe that. The truth is I’ve just been too busy to even think up any pearls of wisdom, let alone write them down. I hope you are coping without them 😉

Anyway, there are a couple of pieces of news I ought to share:

  1. My article on John Calvin is out now in (Premier) Christianity magazine. Find out why it was a crime to call your child Claude in Calvin’s Geneva, and what predestination has to do with the birth of western capitalism, and all in under ten minutes. You can get Christianity magazine in Christian bookshops, online, and probably in larger newsagents. There’s also a readers’ survey in this edition, so if you’ve been enjoying the Ten-Minute Guide series (which I have written a few of), please vote for it as one of your favourites!
  2. I’ll be appearing at the Glasgow St Patrick’s Festival (yes, we do have one) on Friday 18th March at 7pm in the Govanhill Neighbourhood Centre. I’m talking about who St Patrick actually was, what he did, and how we know. Very ancient historian-y. Perhaps I should dig out my old university gown…? The talk is free, so just turn up on the night.

Hopefully I’ll find the time to write a new blog post at some point in the next month, but if not, you could try reading something I prepared earlier. With two biographies, one novel and several short stories, you should manage to find something to keep you going!

The Ten Minute Guide to Augustine

22 Jun

If you pick up a copy of the July edition of Premier Christianity Magazine, and flick towards the back, you will find my ten-minute guide to St Augustine, entitled “The Restless Heart“. With a book (currently on offer at three for a tenner at 10ofthose.com) and an article on Augustine, I now appear to be a world authority 😉

Christianity Magazine is usually a good read, even when it doesn’t feature my wonderful work, and I would recommend it. Below is a graphic from their article on Christian jargon, also in the July edition. It made me laugh, and I hope it does you, too.