I am currently on my first (and last) sabbatical leave. A week in Sudan was followed by just over two weeks in Jena (Germany) and a week in Basel (Switzerland). I then flew to Washington DC and came to the School of Theology at University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, USA (via Roanoke VA, then Abingdon VA to preach).

I have a book being published in the summer by SPCK for Advent this year. Called Freedom is Coming, it is based on Isaiah 40-55 and explores the experience of exile, understanding God in the present, and the hope of a future which will then bring its own challenges.

My intention on sabbatical was to sleep, rest, read and start thinking about (or even writing) another book. This one is more elusive. Given the world we currently inhabit, with some of its darker movements reflecting history we thought had been learned from, how do we read this world in the light of the Bible – and how do we read the Bible in the light of this world. I am now reading the 28th book of my sabbatical, but am taken by one line from Terry Eagleton in his marvellous Hope Without Optimism – a line (p.78) that underpins much of what I am trying to think about:

If God knows the world then he must know it as it is, in its freedom, autonomy and contingency.