Literary Livingstonia

A century ago the Livingstonia Mission Press was busy introducing literature to communities in northern Malawi that were hungry for education. This was much in my mind on Friday when my new book Mission as God’s Spiral of Renewalwas launched by the University of Livingstonia. The old mission station high on the plateau above Lake Malawi is revitalised today by the University campus and its 1,700 students.

Every author loves to see their book launched and for me it was a very happy day to see the book being well received by an academic community including many of my old friends and colleagues. But what made it even better was that the University was using the occasion as an opportunity to encourage research and publication from faculty members. They are on the cusp of launching their own University Press and part of the idea of the book launch was that it might be the first of many.

The book explores the meaning of Christian mission today. It does so from a particular perspective. I am unashamed that I stand with one foot in Malawi and the other foot in Scotland and look out on the world and ask questions about mission. So for a book that is global in its range there is no doubt that Malawi and Scotland feature disproportionately.

One thing we have learned from postmodernity is that it is illusory to imagine that you can position yourself outside your historical conditioning. Your perspective is shaped by the life you have led and the experiences you have had – better be honest about it! So my book offers the perspective of a mission-minded Scot who has spent a lot of time in Malawi and tries to think globally.

This being the case, there could not be a more appropriate spot to launch the book than Livingstonia mission station. Here Malawians and Scots have interacted over generations. They have done so with a broad vision, driven by a mission imperative and open to the whole wide world. I enjoyed the sense of standing on the shoulders of giants.

Mission as God’s Spiral of Renewal is available from the African Books Collective –

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