Personal Apologetic Musings

With Os Guinness

It’s been my privilege to spend this week attending a Summer School hosted by The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics.

I’ve been interested in apologetics since my early 20’s when I first recalibrated my faith in response to many big questions. As with many, CS Lewis was a huge part of this for me, but not solely.

The speakers here include Ravi Zacharias, Alistair McGrath, John Lennox and Os Guinness among a group of a younger guard including Amy Orr-Ewing and Vince Vitale.

Dr Lennox has led the morning bible studies exploring implications for the dignity of humanity from the Genesis narrative, and weaving through current scientific debates on consciousness.

But I’ve been most looking forward to hearing Dr Os Guinness, whom I have long admired for this cultural analysis and insight into personal morality and civic life. His lectures on western civilisation, its future direction, and the public square have been outstanding.

And those always asking for recommendations of excellent female speakers should check out Amy Orr-Ewing.

But for all the pages of notes and stimulating conversation, it’s been a curious week, where I’ve spent quite a lot of time reflecting alone personally. Quiet time away is rare, and being an introvert I treasure it.

But from time to time, in varying circumstances, I feel a  form of melancholy. I don’t mean a deep clinical depression suffered by many and requiring professional support; but rather what I imagine is a normal periodic melancholy, in response to a full busy life.

As quite a driven person, it can sometimes be a little disturbing when it arrives. But then I remember what’s happening, resist the urge to find a distraction, and sit with it.

When distractions are few, and a pen, paper, sleep and books are about the only things ‘to do’, I’ve found the invitation of these times is to take the time, be still and embrace the lack of stimulus or interruption, feel the feelings, and talk with God.

I often feel drawn to read portions of the Bible, just wandering through, allowing the narrative sweep to flow. Today I read Romans through, wondering yet again why I don’t do this everyday. 

Then, after a while I found myself praying again, and a bit later found myself quietly singing a tune by a good friend, Chris Moerman, called Song of Moses.

I’m sure everyone feels a similar thing, feeling low yet peaceful. Almost like the body pulling you into some reflection, rather than the mind. It’s good for the soul.

That was all this afternoon, and then I went for a long walk – especially pleasant here in Oxford – and, passing a net cafe, have popped in here to write this.

Also been reading a bio I found of the soon-to-retire Archbishop Rowan Williams, Rowan’s Rule, and its extremely interesting. Putting the Anglican politics aside, the portrayal of this quite brilliant, introverted, man with poetic phrasing and deep spiritual insight, has been absorbing and fascinating.

Lastly, while on Rowan and apologetics, some may not yet have seen his fascinating conversation with Richard Dawkins a few months back, which is also available as a free iTunes download: