Author

By In Culture, Family and Children, Wisdom

Teenagers and the smartphone beast

According to this recent article in The Atlantic, teenage promiscuity is decreasing. Apparently there is a general “decline in dating” which also “tracks with a decline in sexual activity.” The figures are startling:

The drop is the sharpest for ninth-graders, among whom the number of sexually active teens has been cut by almost 40 percent since 1991. The average teen now has had sex for the first time by the spring of 11th grade, a full year later than the average Gen Xer. Fewer teens having sex has contributed to what many see as one of the most positive youth trends in recent years: The teen birth rate hit an all-time low in 2016, down 67 percent since its modern peak, in 1991.

This might seem like good news. I mean, less sleeping around, fewer teenage pregnancies, fewer lives messed up by intimacy without commitment – sounds like a huge step in the right direction, doesn’t it?

Sadly not. In fact, once we understand the reasons for this decline, and the likely implications of it, it turns out that the drop in sexual promiscuity among teens reflects new patterns of behaviour that are very troubling indeed.

(more…)

Read more

By In Culture

Recipes and readings for Advent (4)

One of our members at Emmanuel in London, Lucie Brear, has compiled a fantastic collection of recipes and suggested Scripture readings for advent. If you want to discover a traditional English way to prepare for Christmas, then just read on! I’ll post them here one week at a time. Here’s the fourth:

Christopsomo (Christ’s bread)

The baking of Christopsomo (literally, “Christ’s Bread”, in Greek Χριστόψωμο, pronounced hree-STOHP-soh-moh) is a sacred tradition in many Greek Orthodox homes. On Christmas Eve, traditional recipes for plain or sweet spiced bread are prepared with great care and using only the highest quality ingredients.

(more…)

Read more

By In Culture

Recipes and readings for Advent (3)

One of our members at Emmanuel in London, Lucie Brear, has compiled a fantastic collection of recipes and suggested Scripture readings for advent. If you want to discover a traditional English way to prepare for Christmas, then just read on! I’ll post them here one week at a time. Here’s the third:

A Reformed Christmas – The Butter Letters

Given that we have just celebrated its 500th anniversary, it’s festively fitting that we explore the impact of the Reformation on Christmas, along with a traditional Advent recipe that is closely linked to this period.

It may surprise some to learn that the Reformation had a profound influence on the way we celebrate Christmas, in more ways than we might expect. Read on to discover how Luther and the Reformers shaped the Christmas traditions that many of us hold dear.

(more…)

Read more

By In Politics

Recipes and readings for Advent (2)

One of our members at Emmanuel in London, Lucie Brear, has compiled a fantastic collection of recipes and suggested Scripture readings for advent. If you want to discover a traditional English way to prepare for Christmas, then just read on! I’ll post them here one week at a time. Here’s the second:

A Medieval Christmas: Fast Days and Fish Days

Christmas conjures up images of a host of culinary delights. It is a time of feasting and merry-making, celebrating the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In Medieval times, feasting at Christmas was commonplace, though there are striking differences in what was eaten and served at Christmas time then as compared to now. There was a version of Christmas pudding (or ‘Christmas porridge’, as it was then known) but generally speaking, there were not as many Christmas-specific foods as there are now. The same sorts of things were eaten at Christmas as during the rest of the year, though in greater abundance.

Fast and Feast by Bridget Ann Henisch is filled with detailed and fascinating information on food and feasting in Medieval society. Here is what the author has to say on Christmas:

(more…)

Read more

By In Culture, Family and Children

Recipes and readings for Advent (1)

One of our members at Emmanuel in London, Lucie Brear, has compiled a fantastic collection of recipes and suggested Scripture readings for advent. If you want to discover a traditional English way to prepare for Christmas, then just read on! I’ll post them here one week at a time. Here’s the first:

Stir Up Sunday

The first Sunday before advent, which this year fell on November 26th, is traditionally known as Stir Up Sunday, when families gather together to mix and steam the Christmas pudding.

The term comes from the opening words of the collect for the day in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer:

“Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Christmas pudding would traditionally contain 13 ingredients to represent Jesus and his disciples. Practically, stirring the mixture is hard work, so as many family members as possible join in the task. The pudding mixture is stirred from East to West in honour of the Magi (three wise men) who visited the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. The customary garnish of holly represents the crown of thorns.

Most recipes for Christmas pudding require it to be cooked well in advance of Christmas and then reheated on Christmas day – but even though Stir Up Sunday has passed, there’s still plenty of time to prepare your pudding. You may even want to follow this traditional Victorian recipe, made with shredded beef suet.

(more…)

Read more

By In Family and Children, Theology

A word to sons… and therefore to all of us

I’d like to say a few words by way of challenge to young men as they’re growing up. It concerns how they relate to their parents, particularly (but not exclusively) their fathers.

This will be most obviously relevant to young men who are approaching adulthood. At the same time, it will also be relevant in various ways to the rest of us. For as Paul writes in Galatians 3:26, all of us are sons of our Heavenly Father through faith in Christ.One of the great temptations of young men as they grow older is the wrong kind of competitiveness.

As boys grow into men, they enter what we might call a different relational “space”. That is, they (rightly) start to relate as men to other people, such as their parents and siblings. They start exercising leadership, initiative, and a new kind of emotional strength. This is all good, but it brings some dangers. (more…)

Read more

By In Counseling/Piety, Family and Children, Theology, Wisdom

Like turning a container ship

One of the most striking and unexpected lessons I’ve learned over the last decade or so is that repentance is hard.

Very hard.

Initially this came as something of a surprise. Like most people, I used to cling to the instinctive idea that we’re basically in control of our lives, that we can make rational choices about which of our desires to follow and which should be resisted, and so on. But a few years of experience – both of helping other people to deal with their sinful, foolish and destructive habits, and in dealing with my own – have kicked that idea firmly into the long grass.

(more…)

Read more