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Hi ho, hi ho, it’s back to work we go… July 24, 2012

Posted by Phil Groom in Life.
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THIS WEEK sees me returning to work at last after a long absence following my close encounter with a piece of cardboard back in April, just as the weather seems to be changing for the better (although after two days of sunshine I can already hear the water company doom-mongers psyching themselves up to declare a state of drought).

Rediscover your local Christian bookshop...It’s been an interesting time, mostly spent updating and developing UKCBD, the UK Christian Bookshops Directory, alongside catching up and keeping up with friends on facebook; if you’re curious, you’ll find most of the UKCBD updates on the UKCBD blog under Latest Updates. There’s plenty left to do, including adding a whole raft of new entries for shops I’ve discovered that weren’t already listed: despite the economic gloom and the challenges of digitisation/online sales, the Christian book trade is alive and kicking. Whilst some Christian bookshops have gone to the wall, booksellers are fighting back, embracing the challenges and changing with the times, engaging with their customers on facebook and twitter and exploring other routes to market.

I’ve particularly enjoyed and been encouraged by watching Richard Greatrex’s fightback via Aslan Books. Facing redundancy once is bad enough; but to face it twice — first with the SPCK debacle then courtesy of Wesley Owen — and still come back fighting is nothing short of phenomenal: Richard, I salute you. If you, gentle reader, happen to live in the Bath/Bristol area, please make a point of supporting Richard’s enterprises:

Back to work for me, however: it’s a phased return over a six week period initially, working short stints and gradually building back up to full time or a revised contract as the case may be. The emphasis throughout my absence has been on getting me fit for work: there’s been no undue pressure for me to return until I was ready to do so; and in the return to work process, again, it’s all about getting it right for me. I couldn’t have asked for a more helpful attitude from my colleagues and employers.

As for getting to and from work: Bradley Wiggins, look out! Yes, I’ve got my bike out. My ankle isn’t ready for walking to and fro as I always used to, but cycling is another story: in my last physio session, the physiotherapist put me through my paces on an exercise bike and it’s clear that I’m okay for that.

Last but not least, a massive thank you to everyone who has enquired about how I’m doing, to everyone who has sent cards and messages to cheer me along the road to recovery: see you out there, people!!

Beyond Postmodernity: are we post-Church? February 12, 2012

Posted by Phil Groom in Christianity, Church.
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ARE WE POST-CHURCH? That’s one of the questions posed by my bookselling friend Richard Greatrex as he reflects further on his recent blog post, The Word: Written on the heart or wiped from the screen?, in which he explores some of the social implications of the rise of the ebook alongside questions of Christian orthodoxy:

But finally, in concentrating on post-modernity I may well have missed a crucial question, which it seems still remains unanswered – are we post-Church? Could it be that the work of the Church is done? That its role in God’s unfolding plan has come to an end? That where the Church has become a monolith, a global brand with a corporate hymn sheet, it has negated its own usefulness? Could it be that post-modernity is not one of the tools for the destruction of a broad-sweep Christian orthodoxy but a hammer to break open the institutionalisation of the Gospel? Might it not be, that in a world which seems dominated by both globalization and individualization in equal measure, Christianity will not survive in unwieldy ecclesiastical vessels but in millions and millions of tiny virtual and physical base communities each refracting the Faith through the prism of their special interests? If this is in any way the case then the role of the internet and all other forms of mass globalized communication will be very interesting. It could be that the internet will give each and every expression of faith the space to become a competing voice in a never-ending babble. Or it might be that it will draw all these many disparate elements together, stitching them into the web of a composite new over-arching orthodoxy.

What do you think? Has Richard hit the nail on the head with these questions? Given the church’s seeming reluctance to take issues of equality on board in the ongoing resistance of some to women bishops and the refusal of the House of Bishops to recognise gay relationships as a valid expression of human sexuality, has the time come to call it a day for the institutionalised church and start afresh?

Comments here are welcome, but I’d love to see the conversation continue over at Richard’s place too — so head on over there today, read the full post, and join in…

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