Posts Categorized: None of the Above

Fly-fornication Richardson and his Puritan Friends


When we were naming our second child we settled on Isla, partly because it sounds nice (eye-la, not iz-la), partly because I have some Celtic roots (the ginger beard is a clue), and partly because my wife promised me a bottle of Islay on each of Isla’s birthdays.* We were not in any way drawn to the meaning, ‘island’, as the reason for choosing the name. And we only subsequently heard that it means ‘devoted to God’ in Spanish (and only then after the pronunciation has been altered).

In contrast, John Bunyan came up with some pretty cracking names heavy-laden with meaning in Pilgrim’s Progress. Among the more ordinary are Christian and Prudence, but we also have Mr Ready-to-Halt, Valiant-for-Truth, and Mr Feeble-Mind.

Apparently, these kinds of names were common in Puritan England at the time John Bunyan was growing up, and reflect the spread of puritanism among the artisan class. John Adair tells us:

A Sussex jury list, for example, includes Be-courteous Cole, Safety-on-High Snat, Search-the-Scriptures Moreton, Increase Weeks, Kill-sin Pemple, Fly-debate Smart, Fly-fornication Richardson, Seek-wisdom Wood, Much-mercy Cryer, Fight-the-good-fight-of-faith White, and The-peace-of-God Knight. Hertfordshire could field Lamentation Candle, Mephibosheth Lamprey and Humiliation Scratcher.

So while we roll our eyes at the current celebrity fashion for outdoing one another with weird baby names, perhaps we ought to revisit and resurrect some of these beauties?

*The name Isla is derived from Islay, the home of some pretty darn good whiskies.

How to write a bestselling Christian book

[This is an attempt to parody a lot of what flies of the shelves of Christian bookshops. I hope it doesn’t sound like tough cheese.]

You are just a few steps from writing a bestselling Christian book. How do you do it? The first thing you must do is begin your book with a sensational claim. People want to believe that when they read your book their life is going to change forever. You are giving them the keys, the steps, to their best life. You are giving them insights they cannot find anywhere else.

There are a few more keys I want to share with you. Perhaps the most important is to include lots of stuff Jesus said, but make sure it’s completely unrecognisable. After all, that’s what he told us to do when he said, “Seriously guys, you need to get with the program.”

The single sentence paragraph shows profound depth.

Here and there you’re going to need to litter your pages with insightful diagrams that really capture the essence of what you’re about. They’re memorable. They’re repetitive. They’re repetitive. And most importantly, people won’t forget them.Important Diagram

It’s so. Important. To master. The sentence. That’s broken. By full-stops. That’s how. You make. Your point.

And never, ever neglect headings

If you write in long, impenetrable paragraphs, people are going to think you’re trying too hard. They’re going to think you’re into theology. And the truth is, you’re not. As Karl Barth once put it, “Theology is not a private subject for theologians only. Nor is it a private subject for professors. Fortunately, there have always been pastors who have understood more about theology than most professors. Nor is theology a private subject of study for pastors. Fortunately, there have repeatedly been congregation members, and often whole congregations, who have pursued theology energetically while their pastors were theological infants or barbarians. Theology is a matter for the Church.” Clearly he was wrong.

And when you’re getting




of the



you’re going to spread the words out so that you don’t have to write too much. Writing is hard work.

As the rabbis used say, “If you quote us, you’re definitely going to be a bestseller.”

Now. Do. It.

Happy Birthday Seth Gregory and Gregory Paul


Yesterday our boy, Seth Gregory, turned one. Today his grandfather, Gregory Paul, turns 61. I have no idea what mum is doing with that glue.

Seth came within 30 mins of being born on the same day as his grandfather, but Sie pushed hard. Grandad still claims it’s the same birthday if you go by Jewish reckoning of days (“And there was evening, and there was morning…”).

Nobody told me just how much I would love my little boy, and I now understand a little more of the why behind all that love and devotion my dad showed to me and my brothers. Thank you dad. And happy birthday to you both.