from Signs of the Times No. 47 - Oct 2012

As I plodded through your July 2012 editorial, I said to myself that if there are differences between men and women, one big difference is that women in general will not try to solve an issue through very long academic argument.

This simply moves our understanding of God – or lack of it – right out of the real life situation and sends it into the brain. It is women's experience that this simply allows the endless war of words to continue, and this can never be won – as proved by over a decade of Synod discussions about women. So I will add two un-wordy thoughts.

by Franklin Lee
from Signs of the Times No. 47 - Oct 2012

In this book, Adrian Alker challenges the many classical images of Christmas. While acknowledging the joy and the laughter children of all ages have during the time of Advent of Christmas, Alker also reminds his readers that Christmas has a much deeper meaning than carol-singing or the exchange of gifts.

The Christmas story speaks of the God who is love and God's will for the world to be a place of peace and love, mostly powerfully summarised in the Magnificat (Song of Mary) in the Gospel of Luke. Nevertheless, while Alker challenges the 'legendary' elements and the historical accuracy of the accounts of Christmas in the Bible, he rightly stresses that these stories need to be read within their own historical and cultural contexts. Throughout the book, Alker relates brilliantly the Gospel accounts of Christmas with the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament).

by Jane Fraser
from Signs of the Times No. 47 - Oct 2012

Anyone who has ever felt they needed to leave behind their intellectual understanding and experience of sex on entering the Church's portals will welcome this book, which enables the Christian to do what the title says it does.

As one would expect from Adrian Thatcher, he manages to present this thesis in a form that is both intellectually and theologically rigorous but which is so clearly written and presented that the intelligent lay person (or in my case, a not so academically minded cleric) can find it accessible and a pleasure to read. It also has the distinct advantage of being short (89 pages in all) and thus a boon to the busy.

by Jeyan Anketell
from Signs of the Times No. 47 - Oct 2012

The focus of this book is on the reasons why people believe in God. It is concerned with how to justify that belief, rather than to defend one account of God against others; although the author draws on Christian resources because he is most familiar with them. It is easy to read - eight chapters, each about thirteen pages long, plus an Introduction and Conclusion. It makes sense!

The first chapter describes how we got into our present situation where militant atheism and religious dogmatism have fed on each other, denouncing each other while dismissing more liberal religious traditions as watered-down inauthentic versions. The rest of the book is concerned with exploring the reasons why people do believe in God, and how well they can be justified.

by Audrey Bryant
from Signs of the Times No. 47 - Oct 2012

The Radio 4 programme, 'Frocks and the Church' on 1 July reminded me very powerfully of the Brixworth Deanery Synod debate on the Ordination of Women so long ago - when I was Co-lay Chairman.

The standing committee asked me to speak for the motion and one of the clergy spoke against it,  a single, celibate, scholar that I had not met beforehand. He said he thought  he could make short work of my argument which he assumed would be the standard one  of practical ability. In support of the motion, I said something which he admitted  he couldn't answer, and the motion was carried.