I promise not to preach 1

New readers start here:  People suspect the Church preaches at them, and they don’t like it. It’s a good point, because a Vicar’s main job is to listen – to God and to the people. So this is a list of possible topics in the conversation between People, Church and God. Theology for everyone.

Topics for the new Theology
Theology from Cumbria

Next to some topic titles, there are clickable links which download a short essay on that topic


  1. dieting, fitness, and self-image

    1. numbers joining fitness clubs, health clubs etc

    2. why do (especially) young women get anorexia bulimia etc

    3. Irenaeus : “He displayed the true image by himself becoming what his image was; and he made the likeness secure by uniting manhood to the likeness of his unseen Father.”

  2. truth : three sorts

    1. objective truth – what is real   ch2a

      1. subjective and objective

      2. obsession with how I feel contrasted with the objective nature of sacrament/worship

      3. do bad motives undo reality of good deed?

      4. when you pray, pray in secret – has it really happened if it hasn’t been in the media?

    2. personal truth – what is acted upon and believed – loyalty and duty   ch2b

      1. permanence of marriage – romantic ideas of relationships

      2. employers and employees

      3. paying taxes

    3. responsibility – what is helpful for occasion v inconsequentiality – fear of taking responsibility  ch2c

      1. doctors / social workers / counsellors – and confidentiality – eg of 16 year old – maybe with AIDS or depression/suicide

      2. BSE – cattle feed and business – public pay

      3. newspaper decisions on stories which sell

      4. unions – best interests of one v those of whole workforce

      5. parents and police database – good for police but not for my children

      6. parents and schools single sex good for girls, mixed for boys

  3. what are we waiting for? what is success?   Ch3a

    1. are we waiting for a lottery win which is never going to come ?

    2. could God want us to be unsuccessful ?

    3. failure is gate of salvation (Keble)

    4. should we be indifferent (Fr Brown going through world, accepting it as his friend not as his judge); or aim obliquely (success comes from God because we do what he wants – so aim to do that) or very obliquely (God lifts up the poor so we should be poor); or be pleased (God has made us successful and that’s fine); or aim directly (use of God-given talents) or feel guilty – eg about people we’ve overtaken.

    5. escape and desire v contentment and commitment

    6. the importance of the routine / bread and butter : media reaction to some stories “we’ve already done it”

    7. celebrity culture

      1. Church buys into this too – Bishops; evangelicals: J John, Billy Graham John Stott, Nicky Gumble; Catholics: saints, the Pope

      2. Princess Diana, and relationships with celebrities – why do we think their lives matter to us ?

  4. flowers at the roadside  Ch12

    1. difficulty of facing death

    2. the popularity of the hospice – and remembrance and flowers by the roadside – is it like ancestor worship?

  5. chaos and debt and fear   ch5a     ch5b

    1. story of Peter going to Jesus on the water

    2. insecurity

    3. me getting cross with my wife when house untidy

    4. tramps – one step away from domestic disintegration

    5. God cannot and will not let people go beyond Himself. There is nothing beyond Himself. The wrath of God is still God. All of the most iron laws of cause and effect – physical and moral – still reflect and are part of God’s love.
      I create the light and form the darkness

    6. Yet we are risk averse – is this because of the breakdown of networks which support us and enable us to cope with some of this chaos and insecurity?

  6. crowds: moral man and immoral society

    1. nations / companies / even the church – being forced into acting less well than they would have wanted

  7. choice and shopping

    1. we are defined by our choices – Dumbledore and Harry Potter

    2. choosing to have a baby?  Ch7b
    3. we need to make choices to be who we are

    4. are we what we buy?

    5. comfort shopping;

    6. skills involved in shopping

    7. choice culture in politics

    8. yet then we are limited by our choices – it’s a poor way to be ourselves

    9. first rule of shopping – know what you want – yet what about what you find

    10. we don’t have choice about the most important things – relationships – they have to be negotiated with others…

  8. environment – act as if dying tomorrow and living 1000 years: eschatology

  9. trust   Ch9a   Ch9b

    1. destructiveness of no trust eg Conf Class cancelled because of Safeguarding policy

    2. Church has lost people’s trust – not entitled to lecture them about trust – only attempt to earn their trust

    3. Diocese trusting parishes to spend their own money wisely

    4. parishes trusting each other

    5. God’s trust of us

  10. racism – distrust? boundaries –

    1. spiritual roots – see Sept 200 parish magazine

  11. change

    1. if you don’t like change look out for your job

    2. looking back to past

    3. process theology

  12. Church offers doctrines: Trinity, Creation, Incarnation, Resurrection etc; but suburbia is interested in: Home, School, children, Bowls…. Could Fesitvals be a halfway house?   Ch12

  13. cheapness v cost : neighbourhood watch without true neighbourliness  ch13

    1. three temptations in wilderness

    2. complex questions don’t have simple or quick answers

  14. waiting    ch14a   ch14b   ch14c   ch14d   ch14f   ch14g

  15. symbols, signs, and icons : a poor or a rich culture?

    1. door open or shut for eucharist – find symbols in smaller things

  16. Christian attribution of transcendent importance to contingent facts – eg the cross – but what if Jesus had died of old age or been stoned to death?
  17. the sacred, and its technicians – including: why get married/have your baby christened?