Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Paperback copies of Relinquishment now available

Friends who wanted to read this in paperback rather than on Kindle, that option is now available.

Here from Amazon UK and here from US Amazon.

Monday, 27 July 2020


About eighteen months ago I finished writing a book about the faith practice which is my passion — that I believe to be foundational to all progress in any spiritual path — the art of relinquishment.

Writing this book has been a labour of love, really important to me. It could not have been made available without the unstinting generosity of Tony Collins's editorial input and Jonathan Roberts's formatting expertise and wonderful talent in cover design. 

My heartfelt thanks also to Sr Elizabeth Rolfe-Thomas, Reverend Mother of the community of St John the Divine, and to the Revd Susan Creighton, Anchorite in the Diocese of Olympia, for their kindness in reading and commending my book. I am so grateful to them, and also to Sr Julia Bolton Holloway who read it and sent me her thoughtful and helpful comments.

It's finally ready and available as a Kindle book. It will also be coming out as a paperback, and I'll let you know when that's done.

This is the first book of our Humilis Hastings imprint. 

It is available here on US Amazon and here on Amazon UK.

I do so hope you find it useful to your own faith practice.

If you found my books In Celebration of Simplicity and The Road of Blessing helpful, I think you might enjoy Relinquishment, too. 

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Campfire ministry of the word today — on Cancel Culture

Today Buzzfloyd brought our ministry of the word, and our reading was the story of Zaccheus from Luke 19.

Saturday, 11 July 2020

The Clear Light of Day — the last part of the story

This instalment brings us to the end of our story.
If you have enjoyed it and you would like to have a copy to read on your own at home, it's "The Clear Light of Day", by Penelope Wilcock, published by David C Cook, and available as a Kindle title from Amazon.
There is much controversy these days about making the work of writers available online like this, so people can enjoy the story without having to pay for it. What will make publishers open to the idea, I think, is simply if they see it boosts their sales — if a proportion of people who enjoy the story buy the book. And that will mean those who simply don't have the money to spend will still get a chance to hear the stories as publishers relax enough to let writers read them to you, even if the publishers own the rights.

I wanted them to see that if you believe in life enough to give something away, you gain more than you lose, in the end.

God bless and prosper you.

Sunday, 5 July 2020

The Clear Light of Day — Part Twenty

The next part of our story.

The Peaceful Resistance of Jesus

The church has been established for hundreds of years, and its first creed was “Jesus is Lord”. 

Christianity was the religion of key colonising nations — Spain, France, England, Holland, among others.

And this fusion of political colonisation with Christian religion and a credo of “Jesus is Lord” has been a strikingly toxic mix. 

Christianity has, as a result, become a dominant and dominating religion. Our track record is hair-raising — burning, torturing, enslaving, subjugating, beheading and mutilating, we have rampaged through the world.

Hypocrisy has become second nature to us — so much so that church people no longer even know when they are lying. Led by paid clergy who must look as though they adhere to doctrines, dogma and credos they often do not believe, taught to profess and proclaim a faith that often is not authentically felt, keeping up appearances and establishing supremacy have become centre and front in the church. By this time Christians can say both “there is only one God” and “Our God is above all other gods” without even noticing anything odd about it. 

It has become an arrogant religion, ruthless in demonising and destroying opposition, driving out dissenters and showing no mercy to any who oppose its creeds — to make the point, “Jesus is Lord”.

So it can be hard for us in the Western powers to retrace our footsteps to a time when Jesus was a refugee, when he lived in an occupied nation, when his followers lived in the shadows, dodging persecution and under constant threat of death — as indeed is still the case in some parts of the modern world.

There’s a sense in which Jesus was always Lord: “Who is this,” asks Mark’s gospel”, “that even the wind and the waves obey him?” 

But, as Jesus himself explained to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

John, in his gospel, describes the feeding of the five thousand as a gathering of five thousand men without women and children. We’ve taken “without” to mean “not counting”, but in the circumstances it was probably a war band, intent upon insurrection.

Jesus would have none of that. When he went up to the festival and the people were ready to take him by force and make him their leader, he refused any such manipulation. In response, he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, a working man’s humble beast of burden, not the warhorse of a conquering hero.

His teaching ministry focused on re-directing the understanding of his disciples away from looking for a replica of David the warrior king, vanquishing enemies left and right, towards a new and repellent understanding that the Messiah came to seek and to save the lost, to suffer and to give his life in an agonising sacrifice. Not the sort of salvation they’d had in mind. But they learned to follow him, with a degree of reluctance; and most of them were violently put to death as a result.

But though he taught and accepted the redemptive power of suffering, unswervingly espousing absolute simplicity and humility, and requiring the same of his disciples, Jesus was in no sense a doormat.

Once we know what we’re looking for, we can discover in the gospels a manifesto for peaceful revolution. We should probably get acquainted with it, because I think we might need it again, as the political and economic status quo deconstructs around us.

The framework of Jesus’s kingdom is sketched out for us in his mother’s paean of praise — the Magnificat, the song of Mary, at the beginning of Luke’s gospel — and Jesus takes it up for himself in Luke 4 when he begins his public ministry of teaching and proclamation. Liberation, healing, the restitution of justice, and the establishment of social equality are at the heart of it.

He lived in a patriarchy in which the vested interest of religious leaders had an iron grip, and in a country where Roman invaders imposed political dominance brutally. His message was not going to be received with joy. He had to be somewhat subversive.

So what did he do?

I’m probably missing lots of things, but I want to pick up three.

Three principles of his kingdom, that we can also practice.

  1. The first was spiritual power
Jesus treated spiritual power as a real thing. He stepped into the power of what it means to be made in the image of God, to bring healing and liberation. He set people free who were invaded and crippled and tormented by evil. And he made people well who were suffering and diseased.

The Church has tended to suggest that we cannot do what Jesus did because he was by nature not the same as us, but this actually isn’t true ad isn’t what Jesus said. The Bible teaches that he was the first fruits of the harvest, the elder brother in a big family, and Jesus said those who followed him would do even greater things, unlikely though that seems to us. And we see them starting out on it in the book of Acts: “I haven’t got any money,” Peter says to the lame man: “But you’re welcome to what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ; get up and walk.”

I think what Jesus did was to absolutely align himself in the flow of grace, the will of God. I think when someone does that, things click into place — they can see the path, the choice, that the light shines on. They can hear the still, small voice of the Spirit. And nature, creation, recognises in them the power of the making, the wellspring of life — for which they become an open conduit — and organises up around that person in healing and wellbeing.

This is about truth that you know not as a fact but as a person — integrity, authenticity, transparency, righteousness — not correctness. That’s where miracles begin. 

2) The second principle is refusing oppressive norms
Jesus touched the leper. He talked with women. He used his wits to shield someone about to be stoned for adultery. He healed the païs (that’s the male lover) of a Roman soldier. He defended Mary of Bethany in choosing — in an intensely segregated society — to come and sit with the men and study theology instead of accepting the duty of making their supper in the kitchen where women were told they belonged. He sent the Gadarene demoniac he healed back to his family who had thrown him out. He healed the woman with persistent bleeding that made her permanently ritually unclean. He sat and chatted with the Samaritan woman and accepted a drink from her hands — humbly asked her for it. We haven’t got all day, but you can see the thread; Jesus systematically used everything he had — intelligence, spiritual power and where he chose to put himself (who he touched, who he sat with), to refuse oppressive norms in peaceful resistance.

You can see this in the passage Grace read to us [Matthew 5.38-42]. A Roman soldier could by law pick on anyone and force them to carry his pack for a mile. But only a mile. So if you carried it for two, you’d get him into trouble with the same authorities that said he could oppress you in the first place.

Similarly, the Jewish Law laid down that you couldn’t take a poor man’s coat in payment for the debt he owed you, because it was all he had to wrap himself in at night — you had to give it back to him. So if someone sued you for your shirt and you gave him your coat as well, you put the man who used the law against you in the awkward position of now being himself a lawbreaker.

And turning the other cheek to the man who slapped your right cheek, with the backhanded slap with which he would strike a slave, meant if he wanted to hit you again it had to be the open slap with which he’d hit an equal.

In both his teaching and his practice, Jesus steadily resisted and refused oppressive norms and established a principle of equality.

He challenged the status quo so consistently and effectively that he was crucified for it. But he did it without hurting anyone, without the use of force.

3) And the third principle I wanted to draw to your attention is that Jesus realised — that is to say, he both understand and practiced, made manifest — the power of poverty and simplicity to create freedom. 

Problems arise where things accumulate. The less you own, the less status you have, the less plant — the more flexible and free and unencumbered you can be, and the less of a handle anyone else can have on you.

There was nothing to follow Jesus for except his core self, who he was. You wouldn’t get anything else out of it except possibly trouble with the authorities.

People came to him for healing, peace and truth; because he didn’t have anything else to give.

The less you have, the less important you are, the more free you become. And this operates both internally and externally. The less you complicate and cling to — in your relationships, your possessions, your status and self-importance, your role, the commitments in your schedule — the less of an interface you leave for people to manipulate, track and control you, you leave nowhere for them to channel their agenda through you; and at the same time, the more you free up your inner storage capacity, creating in your spirit flexibility and possibility and opportunity — more than you can ever imagine if you haven’t tried it.

Another facet of this is that he taught us to avoid debt — as St Paul put it, “Owe to no one anything but the debt of love.”

Jesus taught his followers to pray “Forgive us our debts as we forgive those who are indebted to us.” Debt enslaves. Jubilee redeems. This is a Gospel of liberation and it applies to money as well as sin. Of course it does. Don’t lend: give. As far as you practically can do it, de-monetise your life.

So: if you want to be like Jesus, live the simplest and humblest life you can manage and step that up all the time; own as little as possible; strategise to refuse the norms of oppression; and embrace and utilise your spiritual power by aligning yourself with the flow of grace, which you do by living with integrity, authenticity and transparency.

Friday, 3 July 2020

The Clear Light of Day — Part Eighteen

The Boys Brigade Vesper is in this. 

You can find it here on Youtube.

Great God who knowest all our needs
Bless Thou our watch and guard our sleep;
Forgive our sins of thought and deed,
And in Thy peace Thy servants keep.

We thank Thee for the day that’s done
We trust Thee for the days to be;
Thy love we learn in Christ Thy Son,
O may we all His glory see!

Wednesday, 1 July 2020