by Dick Martin
from Signs of the Times No. 44 - Jan 2012
[NW region conferences]

26 people from the North West gathered to hear Prof. Paul Badham give an energetic exposition of the nature of the scriptures which are concerned with this vital subject.

Paul Badham had made it his specialist doctorate study, so he is an expert on the subject - and this showed from what he said.

He of course referred a great deal to scriptural verses, but also made many allusions to the early church fathers and to modern philosophers and theologians.

by Alan Wolfe
from Signs of the Times No. 44 - Jan 2012

The author is Bishop of Chelmsford, who has provided the basis for a Lent study course for groups, but which could also be used by individuals at any time as basis for meditation.

It is subtitled 'Being part of the Passion', and has been based on a dramatic liturgy he developed for Good Friday, whereby a large wooden Cross was brought into Church, nails were banged in and one large nail left spare. Members of the congregation were asked to come forward, pick up the nail, and take the role of one of the participants (a Roman soldier, Caiaphas, Pilate, Judas). They gave their personal feelings about the event they would have been participating in, and reflected on the theologically 'crucial' question: who was really responsible for the killing of Christ?. It appeared that almost all would pass the blame to others (upwards, downwards or sideways) for what seemed to be good reasons: being under orders, keeping the peace, pleasing the crowd, forcing Jesus' hand.

by Jonathan Clatworthy
from Signs of the Times No. 44 - Jan 2012

In the July 2010 issue of Signs of the Times I compared ancient Babylonian theology with the alternative found in some parts of the bible, notably Genesis 1.

Near eastern polytheism described reality in terms of a permanent threat of chaos, the need for continual sacrifices to appease the gods, expert priestly knowledge about which sacrifices to burn to which gods, and a social hierarchy with the priests at the top. Genesis, by denying the permanent threat of chaos, removes the sense of continual crisis, expects our problems to be solved politically and ethically (by obeying God's laws) rather than through technical expertise, and thereby gives reasons for a more democratic and egalitarian society.

by Averil Stedeford
from Signs of the Times No. 44 - Jan 2012

Mary brought a pound of very costly perfume, anointed Jesus' feet and wiped them  with her hair... Judas protested 'Could not this perfume have been sold and the money  given to the poor? Jesus said 'The poor you have always among you...'
John 12 v3-5 (and also from Mark 14 v 3-9)

Impulsive, full of love, how did Mary feel
hearing her precious gift condemned as waste?
Had she made a terrible mistake,
embarrassed him by pouring it all out?
Should she be ashamed?
Judas might be right.

by Richard Truss
from Signs of the Times No. 44 - Jan 2012

In 1998, the Queen asked some of the assembled economists at the London conference on the banking crisis, why none of them saw it coming?

An ironic reversal of the story of the emperor who had no clothes! Of course some economists had indeed seen  a crisis looming in that all good things have to come to an end, and sooner or later  the debt bubble had to burst, but they were the eccentric few who still held  to economics' role as the "dismal science". Most had long since moved beyond that  to a far more upbeat view that capitalism was now universally acknowledged and proven  as the instrument of continuous enrichment. Things could only get better.