I’M THE VICAR (Anglican Parish Priest) of Bramhall – a large, welcoming and energising parish in the suburbs of Stockport, Cheshire, UK. I love family, friends, poetry, silence and theology, reading and writing generally, and discourse on pretty much any subject under the sun. Open to people, open to learning something new every day, I find my life as a priest as challenging, absorbing and life-enhancing after 30 years as I did when I set out on this adventure with God and I’m especially keen to encourage any and all to “apply their minds” to matters of faith. We no longer live in a “three tier universe” – heaven above us, earth in the middle, hell below. Approaches to biblical understanding and appreciation have irrevocably changed the way we read the Scriptures. There are tumultuous consequences for such a huge sea change at the early years of the twenty-first century. I’m amongst those who find the era of necessary change we’re all living through both madly frustrating at times, and also hugely exciting.
I love (and sometimes hate) the Church and have been privileged to serve as parish priest in 5 very different parishes, and in the 1980s as Chaplain to an extraordinarily creative Diocesan Bishop – Roy Williamson. A lover of words, I’m also a great believer in the healing power of contemplation, “de-cluttering”, care-full liturgy, recollection, silence, stillness and sacred space. A great deal of my time is happily involved with Church life but I spend a healthy proportion of my life in the “wider world”, too, breathing God’s good fresh air, absorbed in photography, love of good coffee and food, love of people generally, and family and friends particularly, and I stand in awe and wonder before the majesty of God’s creation.
In Church-speak I’m a Liberal Catholic – most at home in inclusive and open-minded environments, most alienated and uncomfortable in the (especially religious) places of dogmatic “certainty”. I am in no doubt whatsoever that all the world’s faith traditions can and should learn from one another – and all must aspire to live alongside each other in mutual respect and peace.
Life is absurd sometimes! I never feel better than when I’ve been caught on the hop, as it were, by a hugely funny joke or happening. To have cried laughing is to have known something of the fullness of life. The same applies to having been moved to tears by sorrow or greatness. Theology and the arts help me to celebrate, every day, the open-armed and open-hearted generosity of God. And maybe that’s because I’m possessed, too, of a great many of the usual human frailties. My life is littered with contradictions and questions, doubts and assurances, regrets and delights. A life lived “uphill and down dale”. My wife Jilly and I share interest in family, friends, home, garden, canoeing and holidays – in the English Lake District, France and Spain.