Political theologian Stephen Backhouse believes that the earliest Christians tended to see patriotism as a vice – a temptation to guard against. Now it seems most Christians assume it is a virtue. Many of us, for example, don’t think twice about asking God to Save the Queen or Bless America. So we ask Stephen whether the gospel is good news for our nations, what it means for a follower of Jesus to be a good citizen, whether we should be a blessing to our nation, or an unsettling presence, and how we should respond when loving our nation rubs up against our call to love our enemies.

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John Swinton is a Scottish theologian and founder of the University of Aberdeen’s Centre for Spirituality, Health and Disability. After years of work as a mental health nurse, John became an academic in order to process all that he’d learnt. And my word has he learnt a lot! His book Dementia: Living in the Memories of God, and Becoming Friends of Time are packed full of fascinating and vital insights about what we must learn from people with disabilities about what it means to be human and a disciple of Jesus.

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Malcolm Guite is a poet, priest and theologian. Years of inhabiting these roles has led him to the belief that we’re relying far too much on reason and thought in the formation of our faith, and are overlooking the significance of the ‘poetic imagination’.  He believes that we can find deep truth in the imagination and that poetry can bring our faith alive in a way that nothing else can. It’s a fascinating and hope-filled conversation!

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