The lily showed the sage
The scars of battles untold;
The yearnings of a heart alive,
Always hoping, never dead.

“Look and see,” she cried
“Behold, I have lived;
Know, that I have cried;
these marks do thus testify”

The sage then answered:
“My dear child:
It was always going to hurt,
and that’s what made love so worth it”

And with those words,
the tears of a thousand nights dried up.
And the one who sat in darkness
Was suddenly clothed in light.

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When Christianity doesn’t look like Christ

“When Christianity doesn’t look like Christ, it’s not good news. It’s just the same ol’ bad news… only now with Bible verses”
@JarrodMcKenna #Quote

Join the convo:

Twitter:  @John_Baw
FaceBook: JohnBaw

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Book Review: The Shadow of the Galilean


German Theologian and New Testament Scholar Gerd Theissen has written this very unusual but interesting work of historical fiction. As the subtitle suggests – The Quest of the Historical Jesus in Narrative Form – it is the humanity of Jesus that shines through in this work, with only hints of his deity, and that in passing.

Theissen grounds the work in history front and centre, and then develops the plots, characters and narrative around it. The ample footnotes provide much of the historical and scholarly evidence for the historicity of his book. It is a very readable introduction to Jesus Studies for the average reader.

Read my notes here:


Over to you now….Have any thoughts?  Comments? Reactions?
Shout at me:   Twitter: @john_baw  FaceBook:  John Baw

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The greatest man in history

Greatest man in history, named Jesus.
Had no servants, yet they called Him Master.
Had no degree, yet they called Him Teacher.
Had no medicines, yet they called Him Healer.
He had no army, yet kings feared Him.
He won no military battles, yet He conquered the world.
He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him.
He was buried in a tomb, yet He lives today.

– Unknown

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Why you should use Trello now!


Every now and then an app comes along that revolutionises the way you work or study. For me, Trello is one of them. I use it to create “Boards” of all my learning goals, and populate these with links or books that I want to read/watch in order to cover these topics.

I am a great believer in continual lifelong learning. We should always be learning, alway curious, always humble.

Many of my “Boards” are theology-related but you can create Boards for any topics that you like. For me, Trello has huge advantages:

  • It has an interface that is toally flexible.  It really feels as if you are pinning notes on a cork notice board.
  • It enjoys a seamless integration with my other apps: Google Docs, Dropbox which is where I increasingly keep more and more of my life.
  • I can organise all of my Boards in different “organisations” so I can keep my church Boards, personal study Boards and other material neatly separated.
  • I can collaborate with others if I use Trello for project management.

You should totally sign up. I get a free upgrade if you do 😉

Check out this link to learn more: https://trello.com/johnbaw/recommend

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My Socio-Political leanings

They way in which you see the world has a huge bearing on the decisions that you will take and commitments that you will make.  If you’re interested in my socio-political views, my political compass comes out like this:


That location on the socio-political spectrum was quite unexpected for me.  That puts me more or less in line with Gandhi!!!  I’m in good company I guess.  If you are interested in taking the test, head-over to https://www.politicalcompass.org/test/ and take the test.

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The Talmud – A Biography

I bought “The Talmud – A Biography: Banned, censored and burned. The book they couldn’t suppress” by Harry Freedman after hearing him deliver his talk as part of the Gibraltar Literary Festival 2014. This biography is a biography of a book. Not just any book but a book that is arguably the preeminent text for Judaism. To the uninitiated, this tome will help explain how this scripture came about, what it actually is, and how it has come to occupy such an esteemed place in Judaism after a long and often unhappy journey.

From the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70CE – which marked the point at which Judaism transitioned from being a temple-centred religion to being a text-centred one – the reader is taking on a very interesting ride which sees the birth of this opus in a very Islamic world, that of Babylon or modern-day Iraq – an Islamic world which helped significantly in giving this book its shape and style.

Freedman explains what this 2-million word ‘book’ is all about – how it came to light as part of rabbinic discussions and debates that were later codified in a multi-layered way, to include portions of the Mishnah (a codification of Oral Law – a tradition which sees Moses receiving 2 Torahs at Sinai, one textual and one oral) with added commentary from Babylon and subsequent commentaries. The author explains major characters and voices in the Talmud’s history, from the 11th-century rabbi known as Rashi, through the influence of Maimonides, that giant of Jewish philosophers, to the threat posed by Baruch Spinoza and his rationalistic school of thought.

I was greatly impressed by how much this text grew in and drew from its Islamic environment, largely unaffected by, and unconcerned with, other important movements in the world, particularly Christianity.

Another take-home point for me is how central this text is for Judaism. Coming from a Christian tradition that holds to the ‘sola-scriptura’ doctrine, and having always thought of Judaism in similar terms, I was taken aback by the assertion that many within Judaism will consider the Bible to be incomprehensible, apart from the teachings of the Talmud. Indeed, Mr. Freedman himself asserted during his talk in Gibraltar, that an Orthodox Jew will go to the Talmud often and to the Bible hardly ever. To my Protestant, sola-scriptura-affirming ears, this sounds close to the Roman Catholic view that sees the Bible as incomprehensible apart from apostolic tradition, considered by Roman Catholics to be a source of original authority alongside the Bible.

Thirdly, and quite worrying for me as a Christian, I was surprised to read how much more Jews have suffered historically at the hands of Christians than at the hands of Muslims. 21st-century watching of CNN paints for you a deceptively different picture.

All in all I highly recommend this book to all non-Jews as an interesting primer on how these writings came to be, survived, flourished, and were eventually cherished by this Abrahamic faith called Judaism.

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Haiku: The Breeze….

Common Dandelion; Seed head; Taraxacum officinale; macro; close up;

the breeze makes me smile
gentle reminder of grace
eternity calls

More info: Wikipedia article – Haiku in English

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Letter to the Gibraltar Chronicle: Time for a Gibraltar School of Languages?

Dear Sir,

The closure of the Instituto Cervantes has been celebrated by some and lamented by others. It seems to me that those who celebrate its demise reason from a political perspective whereas those who lament its closure do so on cultural and educational grounds.

Cultural institutions such as the Cervantes work as a conduit for the cultural diplomacy aims of the state in question. In Spain, the Instituto exists for the promotion of Spanish culture as a mechanism that helps Spain achieve its “soft power” goals internationally. This will certainly involve moving beyond the promotion of culture and language towards “nation branding”. At the end of the day, the Instituto is part and parcel of the “Marca España” project. Given Gibraltar’s political history, many are understandably wary of Spain’s projection of power, whether of the soft or not-so-soft variety.

Most of your readers, however, will also appreciate the richness of the Spanish language and culture. The gradual demise of the Spanish language within our society is not something that we should rush to celebrate.

Gibraltar’s multi-cultural society, and geographic location, means that we have an extremely rich mix of languages, or at least easy access to them. Is it time for Gibraltar to have its own school of languages? We are blessed with having English, Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew and Hindi already spoken within Gibraltar, and close to proximity to the Maghreb also means that we can add French to the mix.

Food for thought?

Yours faithfully,

John K. Baw.

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The power of the backstory

When I learn the background to a situation, I find that this helps me develop a keener sense of understanding. I have learnt the power of the backstory. Let’s take a look at a powerful backstory that really moves me ….

Learning from Wintley Phipps in the above video, that the spiritual song “Amazing Grace” was written by a former slave ship captain, and that, as many believe, the melody was an African sorrow chant, endows the song with a lot more meaning and power, in my mind.

Backstories matter. They will allow you to appreciate things, people and situations in a far richer and more meaningful way. If we take the time to sincerely learn a person’s backstory we will enhance our own sense of honest curiosity. This makes for a more genuine journey through life and a less conceited and judgemental attitude.

“Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes”

(Cherokee Tribe Proverb)

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