Why beauty matters


On Saturday 16 June, All Souls Langham Place hosted the Morphe Arts Group one-day conference, to explore the topic of Why Beauty Matters in the context of how faith relates to creativity.

It was a brilliant day, full of interesting discussions and a great opportunity to build community. The speakers imparted many helpful insights, some of which are quoted or slightly paraphrased below.

Roberta Green Ahmanson quoted her brother-in-law as saying: ‘Why does beauty matter? Because there’s so much ugly.’

She also suggested many other reasons for beauty. For instance: What beauty does is tell us who God is. Beauty is something that should point to our creator, rather than exert power over others.

Crosses in Lithuania show the beauty of indomitable faith made tangible. Beauty gives hope that another life is possible.

God didn’t merely make the world utilitarian, but with superabundance. Beauty points us to our ultimate home: the new heavens and the new earth.

Beauty is what we were born for, it is the source of all delight, and it is our eternal glory. ‘Perfect’ isn’t the most important thing. It’s about variety and superabundance.

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Enfield: What’s in a change of name

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‘A name change on its own doesn’t really mean much… but it’s a great opportunity for us to use this to talk to people in Enfield about Jesus!’ said pastor, Nathan Howard, to a room full of church members.

And so it was put to the church: a ‘relaunch’ as Enfield Evangelical Free Church became Enfield Town Community Church. There would be new signage, a new website and a timely excuse for a big invitation to all their community.

The church had been aware of the plans to change names for some time, as it had been put to the church members a year or so beforehand. Enfield Town Community Church is a simpler, more accessible way to describe who they are.

It pretty much says it on the tin: based in Enfield Town; a church; and ‘community’ speaks about what the church exists to be (a godly and distinctive community of believers) and who the church exist to benefit (everyone in the local community).

In addition to this, the church has been a sending church for four church plants in the last decade and the new name fits better with the names of these young partner churches.

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Keller at Westminster


On 19 June, 170 Members of Parliament , including the Prime Minister, came together for breakfast, prayer and a very clear address from Dr Tim Keller.

About 300 leaders of churches and Christian organisations also attended alongside Black Rod and the Speaker. Christian leaders were encouraged to invite their own MP to the breakfast. Ian Blackford MP, who chaired the event, said it was ‘very significant’ that the Prime Minister had attended.

Keller was asked to speak on ‘What can Christianity offer our society in the 21st century?’ He looked at Matthew 5.13 and showed what it meant for Christians to be salt in society. Salt both flavours and preserves and Keller’s call to followers of Jesus was to remain distinctive, so that they can flavour and preserve. His plea to the leaders of the country was to allow Christians to continue to remain true to their calling to be salt and to let them make their unique contribution to society.

He demonstrated from British history how Christians changed society from a shame culture to a self-sacrificing culture. He showed how those from a shame culture are more concerned for their own honour whereas Christians follow the self-sacrificing model of their Saviour.

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USA: Cake victory


The U.S. Supreme Court handed religious liberty advocates a major victory in June when the 7-2 ruling sided with a Christian baker who refused to design a wedding cake celebrating a same-sex marriage.

The Civil Rights group that brought the case to court was told it demonstrated hostility towards religion when it ordered Jack Phillips to design wedding cakes for same-sex couples.

‘The Civil Rights Commission’s treatment of his case has some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated his objection,’ said the judge. ‘The Commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion. Jack serves all customers; he simply declines to express messages or celebrate events that violate his deeply-held beliefs,’ said Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Kristen Waggoner, who defended Phillips before the Supreme Court. ‘Tolerance and respect for good-faith differences of opinion are essential in a society like ours.’…

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Nation gripped by trans


While primary school pupils in Cambridge take part in celebratory ‘transition’ assemblies, Welsh ‘boys’ share dorms with girls, and Scottish 12-year-olds are being encouraged to have their birth certificates altered, women on Twitter were banned, in May, from stating biological facts about men and women.

The social networking giant, Twitter, censored tweets which state what the women say are ‘basic, incontrovertible biological facts’, claiming the content goes against its ‘hateful conduct’ policy. The group, Fair Play for Women, wrote an open letter to Martha Lane Fox, a peer who also sits on the board of Twitter, asking her to help stop their views being silenced. She is yet to respond to them. The letter speaks out against a ‘concerted attack on women’s free speech’…

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Returning to North Korea


The strangest thing happened the other day: I got stuck in a traffic-jam in Pyongyang!

After eight years, it was time to return to North Korea along with a team of wonderful Christian medics from around the world.

For a Christian, travels in the country often raise more questions than answers. Add in a complicated round of geo-political talks and it is fair to ask, what is the Lord doing?

What has changed? Aside from the new cars, taxis and electric bikes that now clutter the capital’s wide avenues, the sight of solar panels clinging to the side of Pyongyang’s many apartment blocks was a indicator of progress.

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How to stay positive


The previous editor of en, Bob Horn, would tell me that whenever he was asked to preach away at a church he did not know, he would seek to preach a sermon which encouraged Christians. His philosophy was that there is so much in everyday life in a fallen world to depress God’s people that he felt it his duty to try to lift them up.

This book has the same outlook. If God’s people are to be the joyful examples of what God can do in a person’s life they need to continually feed their souls on the grace of God. The book is divided into three sections, related to what the author sees as three necessary paradigm shifts.

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EU ‘Christianophobia’


A warning was given to the EU Parliament on 5 June that religious freedom is one generation away from being lost.

Discrimination and intolerance of Christianity in Europe was debated for the first time in the European Parliament, in a meeting hosted by Nathan Gill, MEP. ‘Christianophobia in Europe: a case study’ called for vigilance from Europe’s leaders as discrimination against Christians was growing.

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Speaking truth and love into the sexual revolution


There was a time when Christians occupied the high moral ground.

People may not have lived by Christian moral standards, but many at least gave lip service to them. No more. ‘Why can’t I be who I want to be and love who I want to love and have a baby only if I want a baby, and die when I want to die. Who is it hurting? Why should some intolerant religious nut tell me what to do?’ We are losing the argument, losing the culture wars and losing the younger generation. The question in too many young minds is no longer whether Christianity is true, but why Christians are such bigots.

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