Things I’ve Written

September 3, 2013 § 3 Comments

books21After signing copies of Rules for Reverends at Greenbelt, I bought some volumes by Walter Breuggemann, Barbara Brown Taylor and Kenneth Bailey (respectively on grace, incarnation, and the middle eastern culture in which Jesus lived and through whose eyes his ministry takes on different meanings).  Rules is meant to be light and funny. But it was still a surprise when the person at the till said: ‘But these are serious books.’ The downside of having an amusing exterior is that people can think that’s all you have and all you do.

Later someone else asked if there was a list of anything else I’ve written – so I’m posting what I think is a definitive list here. My long term interest has been in liturgy and worship. I did a 50,000 word MA thesis at Durham in 1995 on the way words work in worship. As a member of the Liturgical Commission I was well placed to write on the new services in Common Worship. Early on I wanted to reflect on the role of the Holy Spirit in ‘liturgical’ worship, and was pleased to be able to do this with Chris Cocksworth, now Bishop of Coventry. I worked in a cathedral for seven years, and contributed an essay on cathedral worship to a volume about cathedral ministry. There’s other stuff on ritual, and my first proper book was as part of a team offering pastoral resources for crisis situations.

Perhaps the greatest privilege is in crafting prayers for use in public worship. Some prayers in Common Worship started life in my head. I’m not telling you which they are.

So here’s the list, for what it’s worth.

Rules for Reverends, (illustrated by Dave Walker), Bible Reading Fellowship, 2013

‘A Service of the Word’ in God’s Transforming Work, ed Papadopulos, SPCK, 2011

‘Liturgy at the Frontiers: Laboratories for the Soul’ in Dreaming Spires: Cathedrals in a New Age, ed. Platten and Lewis, SPCK, 2006

’Text, Authority and Ritual in the Church of England’ in The Rite Stuff, ed Ward, BRF, 2004.

Using Common Worship: Daily Prayer, CHP, 2002, with Burnham and Myers.

Common Worship Daily Prayer, An Introduction, Grove, 2001, with Chris Cocksworth.

Articles in Common Worship Today, ed Myers and Earey, Harper Collins, 2001.

Communion in Common Worship, Grove, 2001.

The Spirit and Liturgy, Grove, 1998, with Chris Cocksworth.

Pastoral Prayers, Mowbray, 1996, contributing editor with Stephen Oliver, et al.

Words and phrases people should stop using

January 23, 2013 § 9 Comments

…and what they should say instead.

Been away from the ether for a while. Time to ease back in with some light relief.

I used to be an English teacher, and I love playing with language. Words do change, but it saddens me when some get so over-used that they fail to mean anything anymore. I’m not really this bitter, and of course I don’t shout at the radio. But just writing them down makes me feel better. Shout back at me if you want. Or add your own. I’m sure there are more of these

Iconic. Just say ‘special’, or ‘distinctive’. But not ‘unique’ (see below)

(Steep) learning curve. Just say you ‘have a lot to learn’.

Going forward. Just say ‘the future’, or ‘from now on’.

Passionate (as in ‘I am passionate about providing customer service’). ‘Committed’ will do fine.

Overestimate/Underestimate. Or if you do, get it right. They aren’t interchangeable.

(At the beginning of an answer) So. Just don’t use it.

(At the beginning of an answer) I think. Of course you do. That’s why you are about to say what you are about to say.

Imply, when you mean infer. And infer when you mean imply.

Disconnect (as a noun). Don’t know why. It just annoys me.

Mercury (for temperature – a favourite in newspaper weather reporting). Just say ‘temperature’. By the way, why does cold always ‘snap’ and heat always ‘wave’?

Bellweather. Just say barometer. Or indicator. Or predictor.

Multitask. OK, you can do more than one thing at once. Don’t dignify it with jargon.

One hundred and ten percent. Just say ‘totally committed’. Or ‘completely’.

Absolutely. When you mean ‘yes’, or ‘I agree’.

Unique. When you mean ‘special’ or ‘distinctive’. Something isn’t ‘quite unique’.

Free, gratis and for nothing. What’s that about?

Community. When you mean ‘people who are’ or ‘people who like’


That is all. Come to think of it, that’s a phrase to stop using too. Oh dear.

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