About Me

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Robin Parry is the husband of but one wife (Carol) and the father of the two most beautiful girls in the universe (Hannah and Jessica). He also has a lovely cat called Monty (who has only three legs). Living in the city of Worcester, UK, he works as an Editor for Wipf and Stock — a US-based theological publisher. Robin was a Sixth Form College teacher for 11 years and has worked in publishing since 2001 (2001–2010 for Paternoster and 2010– for W&S).

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Scream

I recently restored a damaged copy of "The Scream" . . . I tried my best. Like the result

Friday, 24 August 2012

I hate this painting of God: time for mockery!


I do not warm to paintings of God the Father looking like an old man. Actually, I tend not to like paintings of God the Father, full stop (= period). I prefer a bit more aniconism — no images of God, thanks, except for those that God has authorized (i.e., living human beings and, obviously, Jesus the Second Adam).

So it goes without saying that I have never warmed to Michaelangelo's most famous God-painting.

So it is time to mock a little.

Not mockery of God (I have no time for that) but mockery of an in image

These images are from the magazine Paranoias.






Thursday, 23 August 2012

Mechanistic views of nature and the omnipresence of death: Insight from Schelling

The philosopher F. W. J. Schelling made an interesting observation in the early nineteenth century on the impact of Newtonian, mechanistic views of nature on the understanding of life:
Since men agreed that, in the beginning, matter was dead, it was decided that death was the principle governing all things, and that life was just a derivative phenomenon. And after matter had succumbed to death, nothing remained but to banish the last witness to its vitality, that is, to transform light, the universal spirit of nature, the form of forms, into an equally corporeal entity, to divide it up mechanistically just like everything else. Now since life was extinguished in all the members and organs of the universe, since even the living manifestations that connect bodies to one another were reduced to lifeless motions, there now remained only the final and grandest task, namely, to bring nature, already dead in its innermost parts, back to life again, mechanistically.
Bruno, 209–10.
But, as contemporary philosopher David C. Schindler notes, for Schelling, "if a connection to life were removed altogether from matter even at its most rudimentary level, it would never be able to be reintroduced later, and that the loss of life in nature would in turn evacuate the meaning of human existence."

Herbert McCabe on God's love

A friend of mine has sent me a quotation from Herbert McCabe (who was a Dominican theologian based in Oxford). It is worth repeating.
"The whole of our faith is the belief that God loves us; I mean there isn't anything else. Anything else we say we believe is just a way of saying that God loves us. Any proposition, any article of faith, is only an expression of faith if it is a way of saying that God loves us...The Christian notion of God is based on a belief in a love which simply can never fail."
Does anyone know the source for this quotation?

Monday, 20 August 2012

"The Passage": This is not a good book ...



I have just finished reading The Passage by Justin Cronin (with the superior UK cover — look left). It was much-hyped prior to publication. However, it is not a good book; it is an unspeakably GREAT book! Seriously! It ranks in the top three novels I have ever read.


The author is an English professor at Rice University who has a track record of writing literary fiction (as opposed to pulp fiction) and that is what lifts this work far above the majority of works in the genre (vampire/zombie apocalypse novels).

Yes, this is a book is about the aftermath of a vampire/zombie virus that gets out of a military lab and infects the vast majority of humanity. The enemy are "sort of" vampires but more like vampire/zombie hybrids (Vambies? Zompires?). It tells the tale of a small band of survivors in California almost a hundred years after "the event" as they try to stay alive but in reality probably only await the final end of the human race. It is also about a young enigmatic girl who was there at the beginning and is the only hope of their salvation.

I know. It sounds absolutely naff.

It is not. Trust me. From the first page to the last (and it is a LONG book) I was gripped. The characters, the plotting, the writing style, and the gradual revelation of the what is going on were enthralling. For what seems a silly idea — a piece of pulp fiction — Cronin has created a very believable set of characters (that the readers actually care about) living in a believable and terrifying post-apocalyptic America.

Don't be put off by the length (and it is only part 1 of a proposal trilogy — vol. 2 out later this year): you won't want it to end.

Mark: 10 out of 10.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Olympic Closing Ceremony: Not now John

I loved the Olympic opening ceremony — it was eccentric but it was entertaining and spectacular.

I was disappointed in the closing ceremony — it was eccentric ... Perhaps that's just me so I'll say no more about it (and I did think The Who were good).

But what really struck me as a choice in poor taste was the focus on John Lennon's song, "Imagine."

John Lennon - IMAGINE at the London 2012 Olympic Games closing ceremony. from Yoko Ono on Vimeo.

Please do not get me wrong: I like John Lennon, I loved the way that they performed the song at the ceremony (and the 3D Lennon jigsaw was cool), and I appreciate the good heart behind the lyrics.

But ... what an inappropriate song!

Here it is:

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one


Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will live as one


Lennon (quite rightly) dreams of a world at peace, without conflict. He invites us to join him in this dream because if we do then that dream will become a reality.

He identifies the things that create conflict — religious beliefs, religion, countries, and possessions — and sees the road to peace as the road to the disappearance of such things.

Of course, the dream of peace in a conflict-ridden world — especially when linked to such a moving tune — is very attractive. And I am sure that this was at the forefront of the selection of the song (plus the fact that it is a famous song by an iconic British songwriter) ...

But remember that religion in one form or another has been fundamental to the lives of almost all human societies for the entirety of human history; that religion remains central in the lives of the majority of the countries represented at the Olympics and for many of the athletes.

Remember too that the dream of peace is not simply the dream of nice secularists but has been the dream of religious visionaries from various traditions throughout history. (Recall, for instance, that the statue outside the UN building about beating swords into plowshares is inspired by the vision of Isaiah.)
Global peace was a religious vision long before it was ever a secular one.

So here we are at the Olympic Games celebrating the vast range of countries (and diversity of religions) united together in sport and we choose to focus on a song about how global peace will come about by the dissolution of religion. Apart from the fact that it is ridiculously naive (twentieth century history is ample testimony to the fact that a world "without religion" can be profoundly violent) it is also more than a tad insulting. It is a proselytizing message — come join us and dream with me of the world without religion or religious beliefs. No thanks John.

Only someone who simply does not "get" religious faith and the roles it plays in human life — i.e., a post-Christian Brit — would think such a song appropriate. Come and be secular like me and we'll all live in peace.

It is also a strange choice for the Olympics. Imagine no countries ... Really? At the Olympic Games which are all about countries competing with each other for gold? Imagine no Team GB? But that is what is so much fun about it.

Now nobody is denying that possessions, religion, and countries can lead to conflict. However, the solution is not their eradication. If the Olympics show us anything it is not that we get on better without countries (or whatever) but that we can get on fine with them if we abide by certain shared rules and values; if we are "sporting" about it.

So John, I share your dream of peace, but not the secular utopia you are recommending. That fills me with horror.



Saturday, 4 August 2012

Good article on the imprisonment of punk band Pussy Riot

An article by one of the members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot has been posted on the Free Pussy Riot website. You can read it here.

The band have been in prison for the past five months for performing a protest song entitled "Hail Mary, Expel Putin" in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. It was in protest at the Russian Patriarch (of the Russian Orthodox Church) calling on believers to vote for Putin.

They are charged with hate crimes against Christians.

This article explains their side of the story. It is very good.