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Unclean! Unclean!

I’ll never forget when Mark told me he was HIV positive.  We were in a cafe in London and had just ordered all day breakfasts.  Many of us had tried to help him off the streets and off the drugs but he’d finally succumbed to a dirty needle. He had quite a few scabs on […]


We don’t like hearing about “scapegoating”.  It sounds like bullying.  A group picks on a weakling, identifies all its maladies with this one individual and punishes the scapegoat for the sins of the community. That’s horrible. But it’s horrible because of the power relationship.  The strong sacrifice the weak. The original scapegoat was modelling something […]

Peace offering

When we think of a “peace offering” we think of guilty husbands hastily purchasing flowers.  Or meek penitents bringing gifts to their fuming friends.  The one giving the peace offering is feeling dreadful.  The one to whom the offering is made is tapping their foot saying “This better be good.”  And maybe, just maybe, they […]


Can the young girl atone for her mistake? Can the sportsman atone for his blunder?  Can the husband atone for his callous remark? If we answer ‘yes’ it’s usually an answer about the guilty party’s need to make amends.  But the bible has a fresh angle on the atonement question. In fact the bible gave […]

High Priest

Federico Fellini has been called the High Priest of Italian Cinema.  Bill Hicks the High Priest of Stand-up Comedy.  And Prince, the High Priest of Funk, Soul and Rock n Roll. It’s the idea of being an authority.  One who mediates the genre out into the world.  They are the go-to person when it comes […]


“Describe yourself” says the interviewer with a glint in their eyes. Yikes.  You really want the job.  How to sound humble but also omni-competent?  What to reveal about myself? Probably the less the better. “Why is he asking?” you wonder.  Doesn’t my track record speak for itself?  Won’t he see pretty quickly who I really […]

Face to face

Children love “staring competitions” with their parents.  But we all know the “competition” is a front.  We know what the child wants, we know what the parent wants.  Face to face. Or think of the long-distance relationship.  Lovers who are sick of letters and phone-calls.  They want face to face. Or the misunderstandings of work […]


If a ploughman’s ox refuses to turn the way he wants, he calls the obstinate beast “stiff-necked.”  And nine times in the bible, that’s what the LORD calls His people.  The first occasion is in Exodus 32: “I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that […]

Golden Calf

How long does it take a nation to fall away from its spiritual heritage? Well in Exodus 32 it’s been 50 days since the Israelites had arrived at the foot of Mount Sinai.  They had been redeemed from slavery, brought through the Red Sea and carried by the Angel of God on eagle’s wings. He […]

Eye for eye, tooth for tooth

“An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind” said Gandhi. Not quite.  “Two eyes for an eye” might do it.  Or “an eye for an eye for an eye” might.  But “an eye for an eye” was an upper limit of retribution set down in law explicitly forbidding the escalation of violence. […]