Previous month:
April 2016
Next month:
June 2016

May 2016


Gladys TPCI

For 20 years I have watched, and wrestled pastorally and missionally, with what I have seen as the spiritual landscape of Ireland changed out of all recognition. There is a generation under 40 who are no longer there in institutional Church worship on a Sunday morning. 

What happened? Where have they gone? Has anything taken the place of the Church? What is the future of the Church on the island?

This is a book for the day that the Irish Church is in. It is essential reading for anyone involved in Christian Church leadership in Ireland in 2016. 

For days like these, Gladys Ganiel is a gift to the Irish Church. From Maine in the USA she has made her home in Belfast. Having worked at Irish School Of Ecumenics, during which time this book was researched, she has moved to Queens University’s the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation & Social Justice.

Gladys has a keen sociological eye on Irish Church life. She has a wonderful grasp of the Irish Church; it’s breadth and depth (or lack of depth). She is interested in new emerging forms of Christianity. In all of this her passion for reconciliation weaves through. 

In Transforming Post Catholic Ireland, Ganiel brings together her knowledge of the institutional Church, the thoroughness of academic research skills and her ability to make sense of it all. She does so at a vital moment in Irish ecclesiology. 

It does not take any kind of robust research to be aware of the decline in in institutional Churches in Ireland, north and south. Whether the Catholic Church’s influence in the Republic or the declining numbers and power of the mainline Protestant Churches in Northern Ireland, something significant has happened in these last 40 years.

What might not have been so well documented is the increase in what Ganiel terms extra-institutional groups. These groups suggests an individualising of religion. However in Ireland for whatever reasons these groups still have links with the institutional church. These links might vary in weakness and strength but they are still there. 

Ganiel with her fellow researchers have looked for, found and spent time with a variety of such extra-institutional groups. From Catholic Parish Councils, to Churches Forums, to charismatic groups, to African centred Churches to Monastic Brothers there are detailed interviews and analysis of what is going on across Ireland in Christian terms. I guess apart from the title, which never convinced me described the book, my only critique would be that I would have loved a study of a new extra-institutional Belfast group like Redeemer Central or The Village.

Ganiel asks if these groups might just be the transformers of the old institutions but also asks if they are the most potent spaces for reconciliation to take place. These new groups are more dynamic and might be more energetic in every way from spiritual formation to social transformation.

She writes: “… on the island of Ireland, the practice of extra-institutional religion has the potential to contribute to reconciliation, more so than any other expressions of religion such as the traditional denominations. The traditional institutional Churches are more often than not tainted by the island’s religiously divided and sectarian past, the Churches perceived failure to act during the Troubles, and the failure to deal within religious institutions. Extra-institutional expressions of religion are not burdened with that baggage, have more freedom to critique religious institutions, and have more flexibility to form networks with like-minded religious and secular groups to respond quickly to pressing issues and needs.

Though she doesn’t declare it in these terms I wonder if this is an investigation of what the Holy Spirit might be doing to bypass the inertia of big bulky institutions that the Millenniums (18-35 year olds), as they are called, have long become suspicious of.

I was particularly pleased to note that she is suggesting Fitzroy as an extra-institutional group! 

Gladys Ganiel will speak about the book on Sunday June 5th 2016 at 7pm in Fitzroy. ALL WELCOME!


Inside Clonard

It is a privilege that I have been invited to be one of the guest speakers at this year's Clonard Novena. The Novena runs from June 15th.

There are ten Masses per day on weekdays and nine on Saturday and Sunday. Around 10,000 people a day, from all over the country, cram in to the beautiful Church. There is sign language at the 4.30pm Mass and 10.30pm is a Taize one by candlelight.

Monday June 20th has guest speakers from other Christian Churches. I will be speaking at the 4.30pm, 9.00pm and 10.30pm ones.

The theme for the Novena this year is Mercy. For our Catholic brothers and sisters, Pope Francis has made this year A Year of Mercy. Our theme for June 20th is Crossing The Threshold Of Mercy. The readings are Acts of the Apostles 10:24-34 and 44-48 together with John 10:7-15. I am loving spending time in those passages of Scripture and am looking forward to unpacking the Scriptural text into the particular context of a Presbyterian minister born in Ballymena speaking at a Catholic Novena on the Falls Road. 

I imagine I will be asking what thresholds we need to cross to find the mercy of God in our lives, that life in all its fulness that is the 10:10 (John 10v10) motto of Fitzroy and then what threshold we need to cross to share mercy with neighbours and enemies, as Peter had to do with Cornelius.

Am I excited to be sharing God's word across a traditional Belfast threshold? You better believe it!

If you attend the Novenas it would be lovely if you pencilled in one of mine. A familiar face is always an encouragement of grace. If you have never been and it seems a Catholic Threshold too far for you, use me as an excuse! Choose mercy!



MASQUERADE - SAM HILL (co written by Hill, Mitchell and Stockman) - For JANICE


This is a video of a song that I wrote with Sam Hill. It was the title track of a wonderful EP he released in 1993 produced by Richard G Mitchell, composer of soundtracks for film and TV. Sam sang it with the help of Iain Archer, Helen Killick and a Derryvolgie Student Choir as Janice came up the aisle at our wedding.

Sam Hill started using lyrics of mine from not long after we first met. We had walked into a tent at Greenbelt to watch Peter Case. we were standing at the back watching the support act and were very impressed. Strong voice, fabulous guitar playing, crafted songs. Janice then asked who it was. She seemed to recognise him. Now Janice having a better knowledge of singers than me is not a common occurrence. 

There was no name on the programme so I asked the guy beside me. 

  • Who is this?
  • Sam Hill. 
  • Some guy called Sam Hill.
  • Sam Hill!!! Sam Hill!!!! I thought that! He went to my Church in Preston

So we met Sam afterwards and over the next few years we got to know each other well. Sam started to dabble with some of my rhymes. After a trip to Amsterdam where Sam was guest on a TV show we tried to write a song about the red light district of that city. Amsterdam became a track on an EP called Masquerade which was based around this poem that I had written about Janice.

If you listen to the song and read the lyrics below you will see what Sam did with them. He added the Masquerade line that became the title. The poem was based on Janice’s flat in Earlsfield, west London and was filled with images of the pictures on the walls and what I had watched Janice do, in welcoming friends who stayed with her when they were in London.

The making food couplet was based on a morning after Greenbelt 1992 when she fed Chris Fry, Iain Archer, Jonny Quinn and I the biggest Ulster Fry we’d ever seen while we hatched plans for rock stardom. Iain and Jonny with their Ivor Novellos, Platinum Discs and Grammy nominations fulfilled that morning’s dreams I guess.

My favourite part of the song is:


“Where the arms of love are open

Hearts wider than the sky

Touching those who need a touch

Without ever asking why”


The changes in the poem and the song are that Janice's is just about to head off to South Africa for nine months. It was a sojourn I found hard at the time but led to a connection with Africa for the rest of our lives. The song is therefore a farewell to that wee flat and a reflection on all the visits when I was blessed by Janice’s hospitality. She inherited that from her mother, a powerful gift of the Spirit as Paul mentions in Romans 12. A conduit of God’s grace for sure... that I am still enjoying!



Where there's mist upon the lake

And painted African faces

Romantics in a field of poppies

And badgers on a thousand places

Smell the sweetness of her laughter

Of flowers on the window sill

Homemade cooking in the kitchen

Always much more than your fill

In the midst of all these changes

Memories time cannot erode

My heart discovered love right here

73A Penwith Road.


“Where the arms of love are open

Hearts wider than the sky

Touching those who need a touch

Without ever asking why”

Here the dance of her laughter

See the radiant sunshine smile

If you're pounded by the weary world

Sit down and rest a while

Feel the strength of gentleness

Come take your heavy load

I fly with freedom in my soul

73A Penrith Road.


Sam and I later made an entire album Grace Notes under the name Stevenson and Samuel, with Phil Baggaley producing. I got to gig at Greenbelt, support Martyn Joseph at the Errigle Inn among other gigs. Glory Days! Time for another few songs my friend…


Guthrie Cycling

Onialeku Primary School is on the outskirts of Arua, West Nile, Uganda. It is the school that Fitzroy funded through Fields Of Life. I have blogged here about how vital education is in Uganda and how it is a matter of choice and dedication not assumed or obligatory as it is is here - story of Onialeku and the Ugandan Education CLICK here

It needs a Perimeter fence. It needs this to gain the government certificate for finding. This is the next step in our school’s development. There are security issues in Uganda and children have been known to be taken and even sacrificed to appease the witch doctor. To raise money for the fence there are a few things happening.


Michael Cycling


On the first weekend of June Michael Fitch and the UHY Hacker Young Fitch cycle team will take on the 110 mile (8000ft) Gran Fondo Giro D'Italia Mourne Cycle - EVENT INFO HERE. To donate to the Onialeku Perimeter Fence and other school equipment CLICK HERE


Then... Richard Guthrie is cycling the Wild Atlantic Way Addax 2016 - INFO HERE.  It is along the west coast of Ireland from Kindle to Derry. From June 17 - to June 24 he will ride  his bike 2100km in 7 days. To donate CLICK HERE...


Finally, on June 19th, at 12.30, after the morning service at Fitzroy there will be a SALE OF CRAFTS. These will not be just any old crafts but will be crafts made by Fitzroy peeps from African cloth purchased in Arua, West Nile, Uganda last August. You don't even have to come to Church. Drop in after the service at 12.30 and have a cuppa and buy a cushion or tea cozy or tablet cover or... all carefully crafted in Ugandan style!

It is a very exciting and inspirational thing to see Ugandan children enjoying an education. It is our desire in Fitzroy that they would have the best buildings, resources and teachers to maximise this privilege. Please make even the smallest contribution.


Alice and Onialeku children

Parenting is a tricky thing. Usually you end up looking back at all the ways you got it wrong. Poet Philip Larkin expresses the negative parental impact with an expletive; not for a minister’s blog!

I have always sensed that what my daughters will take away from their time with me is not the things I intentionally pointed out to them but those things we did without thinking. That is a frightening thought! One such habit might just have inspired our holiday destination this year!

We had targeted this summer a “big” holiday. We don’t have a big holiday budget but with Caitlin about to leave for University we thought we’d go a distance and make it a holiday to remember. We have a house set up in Vancouver where we spent a wonderful three month sabbatical in 2005. 

Then… the children. Jasmine says, “and how would change the world in Vancouver?” A fine question. Where did she learn to think such things? Darn it! We have been taking the girls to Africa since they were very tiny. Jasmine was only 20 months old on her first walk around a South African township. It had come back to bite us!

So, this summer the Stockmans are holidaying in a Primary School in Uganda. While other families will lie on beaches and go to the water parks, we will be teaching the wonderful children of Onialeku Primary School.

For those who know us and follow Soul Surmise you will be aware that Fitzroy tithed their building fund and funded a school in Arua, in West Nile,  Uganda. We were there with a youth team last summer. My girls have two sponsor children there. That is where their hearts are.

When I am not thinking that I could do with a rest, a relaxing coffee in Kitsilano, an evening walk on Jericho Beach or a cycle around Stanley Park I am proud of this impact on my daughters’ lives. I am thrilled at their love for Africa. Janice's parents were Irish Directors for Africa Evangelical Fellowship. I remember her mum saying how they prayed Janice would love Africa. That prayer was answered with extras as the son-in-law got the bug too. Now that has crossed another generation and the grandchildren are now won over!

My great uncle Tommy Stockman had a love Africa. he never left Ballymena but missionary Helen Roseveare once told him that during an illness he had he wa the most prayed for man in the Congo. I believe that he prayed for me too. It is not lost on me that Onialeku Primary School is less than 10 miles from the Congo border.

In the end when I came to terms with a "holiday" in Uganda I have come to see the benefits. Had we gone to Vancouver it is likely that we would have spent a lot of time with our heads in books, each of us watching different things on our smart phones and tablets. In Uganda we will be in the same space for hour upon hour as we travel. We will be out of wifi connection a lot of the time and we will be working together as we teach and play in the school. This is a family together trip... and we make a difference as well! Sweet!

It will allow Janice and I to do some useful things. It will give us time to build relationships at the school. We will get a chance to plan the Fitzroy Team for 2017. We will be able to take a look at other Fields Of Life schools and get a feel for the country and mission in its context.

Panic not. We will get a couple of nights in a National Park and Fitzroy have given us extra holiday time to recover and rest in Ballycastle after we return home. Sabbatical is vital. Thank you Fitzroy for sharing the vision, responding to my children's crazy demands and supporting us in so many ways. 

These are the benefits of one of our parenting influences that went right!

If you want to support the work at Onialeku Primary School then a couple of mad cyclists and some craft makers are giving you these opportunities... FOR INFO CLICK HERE




Enough 2

We have lost the meaning of the word enough. We live in a world where actually it is hard to see a driving force in our society that acknowledges the value of enough. Everyone who is getting more wants even more and everyone selling them more wants to sell more. Enough is almost a bad word in our western unrestrained consumerist culture. 

The problem of course is that when we reach our level of enough and pass it with the regularity and distance that we do then the balances of world shalom are so tilted that other human beings have to live in abject poverty for our dissatisfaction with enough.

The Bible makes a couple of strong pointers to God’s ideal of enough. In the wilderness when God supplied the Children Of Israel with food, they were sent out to collect enough for one day and were not allowed to gather anymore than was enough for that one day. In the New Testament Jesus teaches us to pray in The Lord’s Prayer that we would have daily bread in the same kind of way; no more, no less, just enough!

One Sunday morning in Fitzroy, awhile back,  I was comparing and contrasting Jesus encounters with the Rich Young Ruler and Blind Bartimaeus and how difficult the rich find it to follow Jesus and perhaps how the poor might indeed be blessed but we should never stop campaigning for the eradication of poverty either. 

Before I preached, one of our congregation, one of our elders, Desi Alexander used Proverbs 30 v 7-9 in his prayer of intercession. I had never taken those verses in before but in the context of Mark 10 and these two very different encounters with Jesus it instantly became definitive verses on our modern dilemma of poverty and wealth –

7 "Two things I ask of you, O LORD;
   do not refuse me before I die:

 8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
   give me neither poverty nor riches,
   but give me only my daily bread.

 9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
   and say, 'Who is the LORD ?'
   Or I may become poor and steal,
   and so dishonor the name of my God.

The book of Proverbs is indeed wisdom and here is prophetic wisdom for this generation. From a world that could never have imagined the extent of wealth that we enjoy, millennia later, the understanding of the temptations of poverty and wealth are spot on. I have lived at both sides of the balance. 

In 2005 I lived for a few months on the west side of Vancouver and witnessed a class of community who had so much money that they really had no need for God anymore; in fact God would have been a real hindrance to the lavish lifestyle they enjoyed. It was actually a poverty of soul caused by riches. 

Over various years I have spent many months engaging with various township communities on South Africa’s Western Cape. In these places I was a witness to an environment of poverty that caused crime to be rife not because those folk were any less human than my friends in West Van but because the tragic consequences of their wretched poverty drove them to it.

The prayer in Proverbs to have neither poverty or wealth suggests that we need to come to terms with the word enough and live our lives so that everyone has enough and settle for its blessing!



Today, friends started posting photos of Delorean cars on social media. What gives? Well, it appears that it is the 35th Anniversary of the making of the iconic car and many owners have traveled across the world to celebrate in the city where it was built; Belfast.

When I was a first year at Queen’s University I took the train past the Delorean factory every Friday night and Monday morning. The train track went right past the Dunmurry factory and we always stopped reading the NME to gaze out the windows at these futuristic cars. 

As an nineteen year old from up the country I think I was unaware at the incongruity of this familiar scene. This was the Belfast of bombs and guns and I started University just a month after the last Republican Hunger Striker starved to death. It is really only in my fifties that I have finally come to terms with the abnormal world that I grew up in. The inhumanity that humans showed humans in our Troubles is almost inexpressible. 

That an American maverick entrepreneur would decide to build a factory on the outskirts of Belfast at such a time was more ridiculous than I thought in my wee mind. We did still enjoy the view as we passed for those short number of months before it all went pear shaped - the flighty fickle car salesman that was Dolerean, the iron lady Prime Minister and a world recession all coming down on it at once!

It was the recent novel by Glenn Patterson that opened me up to the story of Delorean, West Belfast, hunger strikes and Margaret Thatcher. I love Patterson’s work which always opens me up to the social, and I would say spiritual world, of my home city. In Gull, named after the shape of the Delorean, he gives us these events through two ordinary people caught up from different sides of the story.

Edmund Randall is Delorean’s puppet, fixer on the ground and Liz is one of the work force. She is an ordinary if tough woman from west Belfast who finds a lifeline of hope in this new factory on her doorstep.

The novel, as Patterson always does, gives this fascinating part of our history and automobile history that was also tied up in movie history, when a car built in Dunmurry became Michael J Fox’s way Back to the Future. Imagine that. Our wee city!

I was particularly drawn to the fact that the Hunger Strikes were happening at the same time. I was interested that people from Republican Twinbrook and Loyalist Seymour Hill worked together but used different gates. I was also amused that Patterson exposed Margaret Thatcher iron will not against the Republican Hunger Strikers but against Delorean, in not funding the factory when the finances went down the plug.

Patterson says that the book is fiction “apart from the bits you couldn’t make up”. I have to say it left me looking for a real history of the Delorean years. If the workers that Liz represents in Gull could write a Memoir that would be one fascinating read and helpful contribution to our recent history.

In the meantime, Patterson has given us another wonderful novel… but I’d love to know what the bits were that he couldn’t make up!

Gull by Glenn Patterson is available in No Alibis Bookshop on Botanic Avenue - NOW!


Hold Back The River quote

“We live in a state of constant semi attention to the sound of voices, music, traffic, or the generalized noise of the happenings around us.”

- Thomas Merton

It is one of my earliest remembered mantras. My mum would say very regularly, “Don’t wish your life away.” We do though. We fly through our lives waiting for that holiday or the next landmark moment. So much wishing that we miss our lives. I see my 18 year old daughter and wonder where those years went!

Corrine Bailey Rae hits this subject on her new record. Bailey Rae’s last record The Sea was a cathartic work about getting over the loss of her young husband. This new album, The Heart Speaks In Whispers, is a much more optimistic work. She explains the song Stop Where You Are“I was just trying to write a song about being optimistic, really, about grabbing opportunity where it falls.”


Tender is the light that shines on you

Gentle is the morning made anew

Delicate, the grace we’ve come into

My love

Wonder why you wish your life away

Waiting for the perfect boat to take

Waiting for the perfect wind to sail away


Life’s shining around you

Don’t miss a day

If you’re caught up in the chase

You hold your happiness away from you


Stop where you are

Under fading stars

This is the world we’ve made

There is no better place, it’s true

Light a fire where you are


As much as my mother’s mantra has always lingered, though I wonder how well I have listened, I have been thinking of this “stop where you are” idea for a few weeks. 

Two things led me to surmise even before Corrine Bailey Rae’s song. Iain Archer was doing a gig in The Empire and did his version of Hold Back The River that he co-wrote with James Bay. In his introduction he explained how they were chatting in the studio about the speed that life passes us by and the song came : -


Hold back the river, let me look in your eyes

Hold back the river, so I

Can stop for a minute and be by your side

Hold back the river, hold


Lonely water, lonely water, won't you let us wander

Let us hold each other

Lonely water, lonely water, won't you let us wander

Let us hold each other


Then on a flight to America I was reading my friend David Dark’s fascinating new book Life’s Too Short To Pretend You’re Not Religious. David was sharing an epiphany that Thomas Merton had on a street in Louisville, Kentucky where he gets so involved in the moment that he can start to not only notice BUT actually love the strangers who walk past him in the street. Something of Christ’s command to love our neighbour took on a more intense experience. 

Jesus lived in such moments. As the second person of the Trinity he had all of history before and after his 33 year earthly sojourn to surmise BUT he was so able to stop where he was that he could give time to fishermen, prostitutes, Samaritans, Romans, tax collectors and a thief on the cross. 

Love in all its fulness exudes from a life in all its fulness (John 10:10). If we are to live and thus love to the maximum then we must get caught up in each moment we are given. 


There is no better place, it’s true

Light a fire where you are.

BOB DYLAN - WHAT GOOD AM I; Song For A Healthy Soul

Bob Dylan 75

“What good am I if I say foolish things

And I laugh in the face of what sorrow brings

And I just turn my back while you silently die

What good am I?”

It is not often I get to Bob Dylan via sixties’ Welsh pop hip swinger Tom Jones. Jones has a great voice but he had never before moved me and certainly never touched my spiritual life. 

Then, a few years ago, on the BBC television show Later With Jules he did just that. He covered Bob Dylan’s What Good Am I? which is on Jones’ album Praise and Blame. It is originally from one of my favourite Dylan albums, the Daniel Lanois produced Oh Mercy

To be fair it was another cover version of the song that had first caught my ear and soul. English songwriter and guitarist Dan Wheeler had woken me up to the spiritual power of this song. I was hosting a songwriter’s show at Greenbelt and had asked the singers to sing a song that they had felt changed something. 

Dan explained that he had been asked to do a gig on the night of Live 8 and that he had sung What Good Am I? as his statement on that day. When Dan had told me which song he was doing before the show I was a little unimpressed, thinking I knew the song, but in this context he opened the song up and I was left reassessing the prophetic power of the song and where it sits on my list of favourite Dylan songs.

On What Good Am I? Dylan cuts deep. This is provocative self critique that touches on the personal as well as the global. His response to the world’s marginalised sits alongside his response to the loved one closest to him. He is asking questions of his own cultural awareness as well as critiquing the reasons for his own inability to act on what he should clearly see needs acted upon. 

The entire Oh Mercy album is a lovely blend of the objective or political work of Dylan’s earlier years and the more subjective and introspective work he came to later on. In many ways this found its pinnacle in the Christian albums (Slow Train Coming, Saved and Shot Of Love) where Dylan dealt with his own redemption but prophetically judged the sin of the society around him. 

It is funny how his older fans who loved his early revolutionary songs for freedom were repelled by his scathing attack on the injustices Dylan now saw in the world; freedom was great as long as it didn’t impinge on their own self indulgences! What Good Am I? is a man questioning his own desire for righteousness within as well as righteousness in all his dealings with the world around him.

This is sign that Dylan’s spiritual journey did not end after his so called Christian phase. Dylan certainly out grew the narrow questions and answers of that particular brand of evangelical ChristianityThe Vineyard Fellowship so central to those few years in Dylan’s development has since grown wider in its concerns too – and the Hal Lindsay apocalyptic vision of the end times, so trendy at that time. 

Being Bob Dylan, and intentionally enigmatic about himself from the very start of his public life, it is hard to read his spiritual creed almost four decades years after his Christian conversion but God and faith have never been too long absent from his work both in the studio and on the stage. 

On Oh Mercy we find him name checking the Old Testament Jewish Shema from Deuteronomy 6“Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one...” on Ring Them Bells. The New Testament’s central manifesto the Sermon On the Mount which take up Matthew chapters 5 to 7 also gets a nod in Shooting Star

Between such crucial Biblical passages What Good Am I? is a prayer that seeks the ultimate goodness that Dylan sees as connected to the spiritual; to again quote Shooting Star, “all good people are praying.”

On that Tom Jones album, there seemed to be a lot of old Spirituals at its core – hence the Praise side of the title. In the light of that, this might not be the Dylan song that most springs to mind to sit in such company but I believe it to be perfectly placed. 

It is related to the Spirituals but in the end is like a Confessional of the Blame side of the title. It is a song that could be used to help meditation on that verse at the end of Psalm 139, “Search me God and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Then tell me God, What Good Am I?

MUMFORD & SONS - BABEL; Song For A Healthy Soul


“'Cause I'll know my weakness, know my voice

And I believe in grace and choice

And I know perhaps my heart is fast,

But I’ll be born without a mask”

-         From Babel by Mumford & Sons

I love these lines from the title track of Mumford & Son’s new record. The Old Testament  title of song and album give away the Biblical themes that again lie deep in the lyrics of Marcus Mumford. Babel is a rich metaphor for the pilgrimage that Mumford is on. In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, it speaks of a people attempting to reach God and God throwing them into confusion. 

Genesis is the Biblical book that lets us know what went wrong with humanity, suggesting that our dissatisfaction with being creatures caused us to dare attempt to reach to be same as our Creator. As we reached to be more than we were, we ended up less than we were. The architects of Babel ended up confused and divided. 

Babel is also another word for Babylon introduced into the language of rock by Bob Marley. As the Rastas saw Babylon as a place where faith was compromised, a place at odds with the holiness of soul. Mumford takes the spirit of Marley’s Caribbean Rasta belief into anglophile Christian.  In the city that nurtured my greed and my pride” Mumford is seeking for the walls to be torn down.  

Whichever idea inspired Mumford, like a Psalmist his songs are littered with an honesty of faith, honest about his own spiritual condition and honest in his questions before God. He never shirks the anomalies or seeming contradictions. He never leaves out the weaknesses of his spiritual pilgrimage  and yet always there at the end of every doubt or failing there is belief.

I was fascinated a while back when my good friend Alain Emerson was preaching on Pentecost Sunday night at Sacred Heart Parish. Alain drew an obvious connection with the Babel story in Genesis and the New Testament writer Luke's account of the birth of the Church in Acts chapter 2. In this moment in God's story the disciples start speaking in all the different languages of the crowd gathered in jerusalem, suggesting that the Babel curse if redeemed in Pentecost blessing. 

It would be far too far fetched and contrived to think that Marcus Mumford was considering this when he wrote Babel. However, as we find him in this song acknowledge his weakness we also see him aware of his contribution and gifts. He believes that grace is an overriding energy in the Universe as God loves unconditionally but he is tossed around in the choices he has to make before the world and under the Divine. In the end rebirth is hoped for and it is a resurrection that unveils everything, no more delusions or lies. His voice will at last be untainted and fulfilled.