Reading the Bible like a Bluth

Arrested Development was one of my favourite comedy shows (until it entirely lost the plot in seasons 4 and 5!) It follows the wealthy, but incredibly dysfunctional Bluth family, and is full of absurd situations, and some wonderful catchphrases and running jokes. One of the rare moments from season 5 that still makes me chuckle…

PRH: An Interactive Mystery

During the first lockdown of 2020, I decided to create a game for my family to play online. A kinda murder mystery, escape room thing, all done through Google Forms. It was horribly time-consuming and geeky to put together, but I sent it to a few family and friends, and they loved it so much I decided…

We own each other’s teeth

My wife has an impressive track record when it comes to misheard song lyrics. A personal favourite is Elton John’s Tiny Dancer which she sings as, “Hold me close and tie me down, Sir!” I dread to think what she reckons that song is about! Last year, an advert for Chanel No5 came on the…

Tracing the ripples from fallen pastors

It seems that hardly a month goes by without another scandal from a ‘Celebrity Pastor’. Abuse of power, sexual sin, financial irregularities, cover-ups. Each one a crushing blow; another straw heaped on the back of an already-straining camel, namely the public credibility of Christianity. I was talking to a friend the other day, and I…

NASA, Nigella and the power of the table

I’ve recently spoken and written on loneliness and the idea of church as family. In summary, I’ve argued that we have a deep need for human connection, and when we lack it, we experience loneliness like a deep aching hunger. One of the central symbols of the church is a table around which we gather,…

Church for a lonely city

On Sunday I spoke on the subject of church as family, and I argued that the church is God’s means for meeting one of humanity’s greatest needs – strong, deep relational connection. It is to be the place where, as Psalm 68:6 says, ‘God sets the lonely in families.’ This should be great news for our…

Toby Ziegler on Counting the Commandments

…and one other thing that amused me about the use of the Ten Commandments in The West Wing. I’ve watched this episode so many times and can’t believe I never noticed it before! In the Pilot, there’s a scene where Toby, Josh and CJ are meeting with representatives of the religious right, who are angry…

The West Wing and the conundrum of unenforceable laws

I am currently rewatching The West Wing, whilst also reading Bearing God’s Name by Carmen Joy Imes, which, it turns out, is a pretty good pairing! In Take Out the Trash Day (Season 1, Episode 13), Sam Seaborn has heard about a town in Alabama that proposed to abolish all laws except the Ten Commandments….

The Crown: A Parable of the Parables

Whenever I teach on Jesus’ parables, people ask whether they are intended to reveal his true message or conceal it? If I’m feeling in a sensible mood, I give a detailed answer. If I’m feeling more playful, I give this one… The question arises from the seemingly contradictory explanations in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and…

Limbering Up

This week someone posted in a WhatsApp group I’m part of, asking if anybody knew of a gym that would be shut over lockdown, and might be willing to let him borrow their equipment. I was kinda amused, picturing this chap lugging an industrial sized treadmill up a few flights of stairs and having it…