Sam Radford

January 21, 2022

The end of religious obligation

I read ‘Christianity After Religion’ by Diana Butler Bass this week. Written in 2012, it’s a fascinating look at the state of Christianity, and an exploration of what it might take if it is to have any ongoing relevance to the future. This paragraph captures perfectly the scale of the challenge facing Christianity, and indeed religion ...
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January 19, 2022

No time to read

I wrote last week about the reading frenzy I’ve started 2022 with. Inevitably, when I share about my reading habits, I’m always asked how I find the time to read. Before sharing a few thoughts, I will say that there are some exceptions to what I say. When I had young kids, I hardly did any reading. Also, I know plenty of friends who wh...
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January 17, 2022

The futility of worry

In his latest book, ‘Four Thousand Weeks’, Oliver Burkeman addresses the role of worry, writing: “Worry, at its core, is the repetitious experience of a mind attempting to generate a feeling of security about the future, failing, then trying again and again and again - as if the very effort of worrying might somehow help forestall disa...
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January 14, 2022

Men, marriage, depression, and friendship

I’ve been reading Friends by Robin Dunbar this week. It’s an engrossing read, full of science-based insight on the role of friends in our lives. There’s a ton of things I could write about—and I may well write on this subject more in the future—but one thing that jumped out to me was a passage on the impact on men of a marriage breakin...
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January 12, 2022

See what happens

It was Richard Rohr who said the following: “We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.” If we wait for our thinking to change, we’ll be left waiting. We have to make a lifestyle choice and trust that our thinking will catch up with our new way of living. Similarly, Mark Manson wrote...
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January 10, 2022

A reading frenzy

It’s fair to say I’ve started 2022 with a reading frenzy. I’ve finished six books already! I’m well on the way through another two books too. My new Kindle Paperwhite is a factor in this. I bought it with Christmas money having long resisted. I felt that the combination of my iPhone and iPad, along with still buying plenty of physical ...
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January 7, 2022

More and less

Happy New Year! I’ve given up on wishing people a year that’s better than the last. There’s never any guarantees. And, let’s be honest, it’s already off to a rocky start. I do wish you all a year that’s filled with peace and joy though. Peace that transcends whatever circumstances come your way. And joy that upholds you no matter the c...
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December 20, 2021

Merry Christmas!

As we approach Christmas, I’ve decided to have a brief pause with my writing. I find regular breaks helpful for freshening things up and discovering new motivation for writing. Not only that, the way Christmas breaks up so many usual rhythms means it’s challenging to write on any kind of schedule. I’ll be back in the New Year. I want t...
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December 10, 2021

The uninterrupted life

Long-time readers will be aware of my propensity to share liberally from Oliver Burkeman’s newsletter. If you’re not yet a subscriber, I recommend you becoming one. You rarely come away without something meaningful and thought-provoking. His latest post explores the trend towards looking to pursue ‘deep work’ with our working lives and...
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December 8, 2021

Don’t commodify it

My friend Ryan sent me an article from The Atlantic yesterday titled, ‘How to Care Less About Work’. It’s a great read. This paragraph, talking about activities unrelated to work, in particular stood out to me: “Whatever your thing might be—and maybe there are many things—the most important component should be aiming to make it as unli...
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December 3, 2021

A healthy dose of not a lot

I didn’t use as much annual leave as expected earlier this year. It’s left me with five days I need to use before the year-end. Sadly, family responsibilities meant travelling somewhere exciting wasn’t an option. So I’ve decided to work four-day weeks for the rest of the year. Today is my second Friday off. And today is the second Frid...
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December 1, 2021

Adapt or die

I continue to enjoy Will Smith’s memoir, ‘Will’. This quote, though lengthy, is worth sharing in full: “There’s a Buddhist parable that has guided me through many a perilous transition: A man is standing on the banks of a treacherous, raging river. It’s rainy season – if he can’t get to the other side, he’s done. He quickly builds a ra...
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November 29, 2021

Don't just be an ideas person

There’s something in our wiring as humans that causes us to get caught up with the idea of something over the reality of it. We have this incredible notion for a new business or product, but never get around to creating anything. We want to get fit, but we never take the exercise class or go to the gym. We want to become a reader, yet ...
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November 24, 2021

When what we think is hard is actually easy

Much of life is about perception. We put off that task because, in our head, it feels huge. Eventually, when we can put if off no longer, we embrace the task. Thirty minutes later, it’s done. And we’re left wondering why we ever thought it was a big deal. In his latest newsletter, Oliver Burkeman tackles this issue. Reflecting on how h...
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November 22, 2021

Thoughts on ‘Maid’

A friend of mine suggested I watch the Netflix show ‘Maid’ recently. I get a lot of TV show recommendations though, and many end up forgotten. Or on a list that I already have no chance of ever getting through. But I dived straight into this one. And I’m glad I did. What an incredible, moving, devastating-yet-heart-warming, depressing-...
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November 19, 2021

Can you learn while you’re talking?

“I never learned anything while I was talking. —Larry King” I came across the quote above earlier in the daily email I get from The Economist. It makes a lot of sense. If you’re not listening, how are you learning? And if you’re busy talking, how can you be listening? But then I thought about the times when ideas have crystallised for ...
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November 17, 2021

Blindfolding ourselves

I’m continuing to enjoy Will by Will Smith. Here’s another line that’s stayed with me: “Sometimes we'd rather blindfold ourselves than take a cold, hard look at the world exactly as it is.” Denial, it seems, is part of human nature. Put another way, we have a tendency as humans to put a narrative over painful truths to stop us facing u...
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November 15, 2021

Reading about writing

Once or twice a year, I pick up a book about writing. It’s not always a new book – On Writing Well is one book I go back to again and again – but I like to take time on a regular basis to think about my written words. This last week, I’ve been reading a book that is new to me. It’s called Several short sentences about writing, written ...
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November 12, 2021

Book Notes – ‘The Beekeeper of Aleppo’ by Christy Lefteri

I don’t listen to lots of audiobooks. I tend to save them for when I know I have long drive coming up. With a visit down to London and then back up to Buxton a few weeks back, I decided to listen to The Beekeeper of Aleppo. The fact Audible were offering it for free may or may not have influenced my choice... Either way, I’m glad I pic...
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November 10, 2021

Improving on silence

I started reading Will, the new memoir from Will Smith last night. Only a chapter in, but enjoying it and gaining wisdom and insight already. Though this is a complete aside from the point of the opening chapter, I loved his description of his mother, in sharp contrast, he writes, to his father: “Mom-Mom is quiet and reserved; not beca...
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November 8, 2021

The loveliness is everywhere

I finished Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul by John Philip Newell over the weekend. In short: it’s wonderful! An incredible book. But, I’ll save my book notes for another post. Today I want to share this delightful poem, shared in the last chapter of Newell’s book, by Kenneth White: “the loveliness is everywhere even in the ugliest and most h...
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November 3, 2021

Prompts to get me to begin noticing

Kat Cuthbert wrote a blog post recently about her rediscovery of journalling. I was grateful for her insights on the value of ‘journal prompts’. These are questions that can help trigger meaningful self-reflection. Before sharing her ‘journal prompts for uncertain times’ though, I want to share a couple of paragraphs from her post: “Fr...
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November 1, 2021

Always present (smartphone lessons from Will Ferrell)

I appreciated this segment from from The Hollywood Reporter’s recent profile of Will Ferrell. They capture this insight from Paul Rudd, his co-star in the upcoming Apple TV+ series The Shrink Next Door: “Rudd, who’d worked with Ferrell on the Anchorman films, says he was struck at how committed his co-star was: “Normally, when you’re d...
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October 29, 2021

The superficial self-awareness movement

What is your biggest weakness? I was thinking about this classic interview question today. And we all know the kinds of responses it generates: ““Sometimes I’m too committed for my own good.”” ““I’m a perfectionist.”” ““I work too hard.”” But have you noticed how no one says: ““I’m insecure and claim other team member’s ideas as my own...
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October 27, 2021

Does religion still have a place today?

What is the point of religion? Does it (still) have a role in a rational society? Is it something we should have grown out of by now? Or is their a place – a need, even – for it? And, if there is, what is that place, that point, that purpose? The word ‘religion’ is undeniably a tainted word. And no two people are thinking of the same t...
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October 25, 2021

Enjoying my girls at every age and stage

“I always become suspicious when other parents tell me to enjoy every second of having a baby, to make the most of these years, since their enthusiasm never seems to extend to whatever age their children are now. Finn won’t disappoint me by being eight years old, or fourteen, or thirty-six. He won’t hurt my feelings by growing up. —Not...
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October 21, 2021

Book Notes: ‘Spook Street’ by Mick Herron

I finished reading book four of Mick Heron’s Slough House spy series of novels yesterday. The fact I’ve read four of them tells it’s own story. I love them. I’ve actually listened to the last two novels. Seán Barrett’s narration is pitch perfect; he captures the characters completely. There’s something delightfully gritty about these L...
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October 20, 2021

Killing the moment by controlling our experience

My friend Ryan sent me this powerful quote from the American Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön earlier: “We think that if we just meditated enough or jogged enough or ate perfect food, everything would be perfect. But from the point of view of someone who's awake, that's death. Seeking security or perfection, rejoicing in feeling confirmed and...
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October 19, 2021

Don’t resist life’s seasons

Life is full of seasons. Here in England, we’re deep into the transition away from summer and into autumn. But our individual lives have seasons too. Nothing stays the same for long. When our daughters were young, my wife and I had a mantra for the various (trying) stages kids go through. ‘It’s just a season,’ or ‘it’s only a stage,’ w...
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October 18, 2021

When the belief bubble bursts

“The nature of illusion is that it’s designed to make you feel good. About yourself, about your country, about where you’re going – in that sense it functions like a drug. Those who question that illusion are challenged not so much for the veracity of what they say, but for puncturing those feelings. —Chris Hedges, Journalist” This quo...
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