I write here about a range of things; a loose collection of posts and reviews about things that I am passionate about. For the most part that means you’ll see lots of posts about my faith and about Jesus’ ministry through me here at St. Anselm’s, Hayes. You can also find any sermons or broadcasts I may have delivered (although I’m not entirely consistent in posting them).
It feels like an age since I last wrote a review on this blog about actual bike stuff… but I’ve been so impressed with a pair of boots that I have to sit and share why I think they’re so good.
I bought these TCX boots whilst my new Aprilia was having its first service. I was hanging out at the retail bit of On Yer Bike up past Aylesbury – always a dangerous exercise for my wallet – and after a summer of bouncing around the city with my good old Dainese boots (great for commuting, less good for short runs in heavy traffic) I wanted something that was a little more versatile and would look better with my new riding jeans.
To be honest I wasn’t expecting to find anything. I’m a size 12 (UK) and have big calves. The reason I was still using my nearly 20 year old Dainese boots (despite hole in the bottom) was because they were just about the only comfy boots I’ve ever found.
I wandered to the back of the shop and looked at all the very lovely shoes, boots, trainers and other quite stylish motorbike accessories and asked the chap if they had anything in a size 12. To my absolutely shock he said he thought he had pretty much everything in a 12, what did I like?
I spotted a pair of stunning brown boots with armour in the right places, a solid sole and laces (would they fit around my calves?) He nipped out the back and came back with a pair in less than a minute. I tried them on and fell in love.
Why the instant reaction? These boots are COMFY. They don’t feel like bike boots, they feel like high end street boots. They’re snug in all the right places, they sit beautifully on my heel and run up the back of my calf like they were custom made.
The laces allow a degree of flexibility, with tightness and space around the upper part of my foot, and the back has a little loop in exactly the right place to pull them up and over your foot when putting them on.
They’re stylish enough to pass for standard boots, so when I’m dashing into town wearing my bike jeans and jacket, I don’t look like I’ve just completed the Dakar. They’re light and breathe well and have been a fantastic pair of summer boots.
But what about the weather? What about winter?
I’ve worn these over a winter in London and through rain, wind, and icy temperatures.
Most recently I wore them on a run up to Walsingham (c150 miles, 3 hours ride) in temps of about 1c-5c. My feet were warm throughout (I suspect more down to the knee length walkers socks I was wearing) and only towards the end did I start to feel cold creeping in. The leather does a good job of keeping icy winds out allowing good socks to do their job of keeping your feet warm.
In rain my feet have remained dry on a 1 hour run, but I suspect they’d give in at some point – I’m not sure I’d wear them for a known wet run of over an hour – or without some sort of waterproof outer.
On the recent run up to Walsingham I used them as my only shoes throughout – wearing them everyday as walking boots and you wouldn’t have known they were actually motorbike boots. I walked several miles each day and my feet thanked me for them.
In short I can’t recommend these boots enough. This new range from TCX are not just pretty to look at, not just great motorbike boots, but are also fantastic boots full stop.
If you’re looking to buy a pair I recommend the great team up at On Yer Bike Clothing Store or get them direct from TCX.
As I watched my XT660 be taken away on the back of a trailer in 2016 I instantly knew I’d made a dreadful mistake.
I wasn’t riding like I had been – that was mainly because my son had been born at the end of 2012 and my time at home was suddenly far more precious. The bike was sitting there gathering far too much dust and so had to go.
Barley three years later I was coming home from central London on the tube and popped out at Stanmore. Catherine was due to pick me up in the car but was running late. I spent the time looking at some bikes outside a little garage under the arches and before I knew it I’d bought a fabulous little red Vespa.
I’ve been riding that all over the shop for the last three years and have been having a blast. My latest big run was up to the Priest and Deacons retreat in Walsingham, Norfolk. It was on that ride that I think I knew in my heart that it was time for another big bike.
I had a play with a few configurators on various websites but it wasn’t until I joined in with the 59 Club for their ride from the Ace Cafe down to Westminster Abbey for the annual blessing of bikes that I actually saw a bike that I utterly fell in love with.
As we rode into town I sat behind an Aprilia Tuareg 660 – the brand new mid weight adventure bike that is causing a storm in the adventure travel market.
It was solid on the road and was clearly happy in the traffic and the stop start avoidance of a large number of bikes on busy roads.
I got home and immediately googled the bike to discover dozens of reviews that confirmed my observations on the road and went further to say it was brilliant in the dirt and amazing in the twisty a-roads.
Speed forward two weeks and after much agonising (and negotiating) I’ve put a deposit on it. It’s due with me in the coming weeks. I had a test ride last Saturday and it produced the biggest smiles I think I’ve ever had on a bike.
I can’t wait for it to arrive and a new chapter in my biker life to begin.
by Father Sam McNally-Cross
- Thomas Merton: The Inner Experience, notes on Contemplation
- Contemplation in a world of action
- Spiritual Direction and Meditation & what is contemplation
- New seeds of Contemplation
Thomas Merton – Contemplation. What does it mean to be a contemplative in a world that prizes business and activity. Thomas Merton is a Trappist monk, prolific spiritual writer, and prophetic mystic – who peeled back the veil of monastic life in the 1960s leading to a blossoming of vocation. In this lecture we will be introduced to the wayward soul of Merton, who found faith and Catholicism in spite of himself and see what he can teach us.
Fr Sam McNally-Cross is the vicar of St Thomas, Kensal Town in the Diocese of London. He has completed a Masters degree in Christian Spirituality through Heythrop College, which focused on monastic spirituality and the subjective life of Thomas Merton being rooted in the objective life of the church. He was invited to present his thesis at the International Thomas Merton Conference held in Rome in 2018.In 2020 he began his Doctoral studies at Anglia Ruskin University researching the Promethean Theology of Thomas Mertonand applying it to those who are outside of the church and yet have some natural longing for the Divine. He is a published poet, the editor of the magazine of the Society of Mary and a sometime guest lecturer at St Mellitus College, London and Plymouth.
by The Reverend Dr. Stacey Rand
Edith Stein (Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) (1891-1942) was a German-Jewish philosopher, who later became a discalced Carmelite nun. She completed her doctoral thesis on the subject of empathy at the Universities of Göttingen and Freiburg. Her studies were briefly interrupted in 1915 by a period of voluntary service as nurse. Afterwards she worked for two years as an assistant to her doctoral supervisor, Edmund Husserl. Her attempts to establish herself in an academic career as a philosopher were not successful because she was a woman. While other avenues had started to open for women, academic philosophy was not one of them. Instead, she found other ways to pursue her philosophical work, alongside a teaching position at a Dominican school in Speyer (1923 to 1931). Her thought, writing and friendships led her to explore questions of faith. An important moment was when she read The Interior Castle, by the 16th Century Carmelite nun, Teresa of Avila, whilst visiting a friend. She was baptised in the Catholic Church on 1st January 1922. While she had hoped to become a Carmelite nun, her spiritual director advised her to wait. It was not until 1933 that she entered the Carmelite monastery in Cologne. This was after she had been forced to resign from her recently-appointed post as lecturer at the Institute for Scientific Pedagogy, Münster, due to legislation passed by the Nazis. She later transferred from Cologne, along with her sister Rosa Stein, who had become an extern sister, to a Carmelite monastery in Echt, the Netherlands. Edith and her sister were arrested on 2nd August 1942 along with over 200 other baptised Jews, in an act of retaliation for a statement issued by the Dutch Bishops against the Nazis. They were imprisoned before being deported to Auschwitz, where they were killed on 9th August 1942.
The Reverend Dr Stacey Rand is a senior research fellow at the University of Kent, where her research focuses on family care, community-based social care, and social care outcomes measurement. She has been an associate of the Third Order of Carmel since September 2012 and is part of the Carmelite Companions of the Way (CCTW), an ecumenical dispersed community. She is currently a MTh student at the Carmelite Institute of Britain and Ireland (cibi.ie)
Well. Here we are. At the end of my curacy and about to start the next chapter. The problem with new chapters is that they inevitably mean leaving behind the last. Sometimes, that’s easy. Sometimes the last chapter wasn’t grand and it’s a huge relief to turn the page. But often it’s very tough.
St. Mary’s welcomed us from Hereford after a rather tough time. Things hadn’t gone to plan and whilst the vast majority of people in Hereford became dear friends there were a small monitory of people who made life very difficult for us. We arrived broken and exhausted. But Fr. Edward swept us up, rescued us from that period and patched us up with his enthusiasm and deep love.
Within a very short period of time we were made to feel part of the family. We were embraced and loved; encouraged and lifted aloft on a wave of friendship, passion and a deep understanding of the message of Jesus Christ in practice.
Bishop Jonathan and Bishop Sarah made a place for us in The Diocese of London and we are are over the moon that we can now make a more permanent home here.
We are heartbroken to be leaving St. Mary’s and its wonderful people – it’s been so hard to do so without a party… something St. Mary’s does so well! We will be coming back to St. Mary’s later in the year when lockdown permits and we will have that party, tell stories, laugh and cry together.
Over the last few months St. Mary’s and St. Anselm’s have become close family and we pray that will continue after lockdown.
by Dr. Paula Gooder
Paul, sinner, saint, apostle, and writer, quoted at length, in and out of context. A character that provokes strong reactions from many. But, because of his letters taking up great swathes of the New Testament and his mission tot he gentiles for which we owe a great debt, and therefore a character that cannot be ignored, no matter the controvert that surround and follows him. In this lecture we will experience Paul, the man we cannot ignore, wether we like him or not.
Canon Dr Paula Gooder – is a prominent New Testament theologian, speaker and writer. Her research areas focus on the writings of St Paul the Apostle with a particular focus on 2 Corinthians and Paul’s understanding of the body. She is passionate about enthusing people to read the Bible by offering the best biblical scholarship possible in an engaging way. Paula began her working life teaching at Ripon College Cuddesdon and then the Queens Foundation in Birmingham. This was followed by 8 years as an itinerant speaker and writer in biblical studies, before taking a post with the Bible Society as their Theologian in Residence, followed by becoming the Director of Mission Learning and Development for the Diocese of Birmingham. In 2019 Paula was appointed as the Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, London. Paula is widely published, writing resources for Lent and Advent, contributing to The Pilgrim Course, New Testament scholarship and her most recent book, a historical fiction book entitled Phoebe: A story.
Wednesday 17th June, 7pm
by Fr. Peter Anthony
The Transfiguration, the story of Jesus’ remarkable display of Glory, described in the Synoptic Gospels. An often misunderstood and overlooked episode in the life of Jesus, but a staple of the Orthodox Church. This lecture touches on the teaching of both Origen and Tertullian. Origen of Alexandria was born around 184 and is a Church Father, Christian Scholar and ascetic who has written roughly 2,000 treatise in various and multiple branches of theology – he has been described as ‘The Greatest Genius the Early Church ever produced’ Tertullian was born around 155 in Carthage and was a prolific author – an early Christian Apologist and a polemicist against heresy, including Gnosticism. An important contribution was made to the development by Tertullian but despite this he was never formally declared a Saint by either East or Western Catholic tradition churches.
Fr Peter Anthony is the Vicar of the Parish of Kentish Town. He arrived here in the summer of 2013, having come from working in Oxford at St Stephen’s House and Merton College. He is originally from Bolton, but became an ordinand of the Diocese of London, after having worked as a pastoral assistant at St Paul’s, Tottenham. He was formed and trained for ordination at St Stephen’s House, Oxford, and served a curacy in Hendon. He is a Biblical Scholar of some note, teaches the Pastoral Assistants Scheme Theology Seminars, and is one of the Editors of the blog ‘All Things Lawful and Honest’
Wednesday 1st July, 7pm
by Fr. Thomas Plant
Ron Dreher’s Benedict Option has invited emulation and opprobrium in equal measure, with some Christians embracing his call to the cloister and others finding his vision isolationist, exclusive or worse. Is it possible to resist the relativist and consumerist ideology so inimical to a sacramental understanding of the world without complete withdrawal? Might Christians not find allies outside the fold? The 6th century writings of the monk who called himself Dionysius the Areopagite were inspired by S Paul’s mission in the marketplace of polytheistic Athens. They offer an ascetical, sacramental approach to the re-enchantment of the secularised world based on a metaphysical nondualism shared by the majority of the world’s ancient religious philosophies, leaving modern western secularism isolated in its dualistic tendencies. The method, means, metaphysics and influence of the Areopagite show a way for adherents of traditional philosophies to work together without conforming to the secular categorisation of mutually exclusive “religions,” relativised into discrete, commodified identities and lifestyle choices.
Priest, Platonist, Prayer Book provocateur, Fr Thomas Plant has served in parish ministry, school and cadet force chaplaincy, and as a university lecturer. A classicist-turned-theologian, he has studied at St Andrews, Bristol and Cambridge, where for his doctorate he compared the metaphysics and soteriology of Dionysius the Areopagite and the Japanese Buddhist Shinran Shonin. He is a frequent contributor to the Living Church: Covenant blog and publishes his own catechetical books on greatersilence.com. He moonlights as an Aikido instructor and writer of Lovecraftian horror fiction. Follow him on Twitter @thosplant.
Wednesday 24th June, 7pm
by John Millbank
Sergei Nikolaevich Bulgakov (1871-1944) was a Russian Orthodox theologian, priest, philosopher and economist who was elected to the Duma, a professor in Church Law and Theology, and helped to found l’Institut de Théologie Orthodoxe Saint-Serge in Paris. He is a complex character who lived during a particularly turbulent period of Russian history. He faced accusations of heresy for his teaching on sophiology, but his work on what has been called “a Christian theory of cultural activity” has been seen as anticipating Radical Orthodoxy’s postmodern, metacritical methodology as well as its objective to “out-narrate” the secular by showing how the Christian tradition corrects the nihilism present within the logic of modernity.
John Milbank founded the radical orthodoxy movement. His work crosses disciplinary boundaries, integrating subjects such as systematic theology, social theory, ethics, aesthetics, philosophy, political theory, and political theology. He first gained recognition after publishing Theology and Social Theory in 1990, which laid the theoretical foundations for the movement which later became known as radical orthodoxy. John Milbank has named the Russian sophiological tradition, particularly the work of Sergej Bulgakov, as an intellectual ally and his interest in Bulgakov has been developing since at least 2002.
The Way of Perfection
By The Rev’d Dr Ayla Lepine
In St Teresa of Avila’s The Way of Perfection, completed c.1566, she offers wisdom to Carmelite nuns on prayer, spirituality, and living in community. A Doctor of the Church, Teresa’s theological views are bold, clear, and uncompromising. She was a reformer, founding a vast number of religious houses for men and women in the sixteenth century, often under extreme pressure. Meanwhile, her inner life of prayer and her writing are consistently marked by her openness to change and her understanding of the need for constant calibration and adaptation. Her work was determined and strategic, not rigid or cynical. Flexibility was a primary component of what would become her movement’s consistency. This talk will explore Teresa’s approach to love, detachment, and change in The Way, connecting these themes with two artworks depicting Teresa’s most intensive encounters with God: Bernini’s St Teresa in Ecstasy (1647-52), and Rubens’ St Teresa of Avila’s Vision of the Holy Spirit (1612-14).
The Revd Dr Ayla Lepine’s research focuses on intersections across theology and the arts. Following her PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art, she was a post-doctoral fellow at Yale and the Courtauld, and Lecturer and Visiting Fellow in Art History at the University of Essex. While at theological college in Cambridge, she completed an MPhil in Anglican Studies on the Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament in the Church of England. Her publications include articles on monastic architecture, the Hereford Screen, and modern British art, and the book Architecture and Religious Communities: Building the Kingdom (Routledge, 2018). She is a contributor to the Visual Commentary on Scripture (www.thevcs.org) and a trustee of the charity Art and Christianity. She is Assistant Curate at Hampstead Parish Church in London.