Who it’s by and what it’s about


I’m Alistair Brown, and welcome to the blog Occasionally wise. My deepest hope is that you find the pages here encouraging and useful. If you do, I’d love you to subscribe and tell others to give the blog a try too.

There’s some info here about me, and what this blog is about. Enjoy!


I’ve had four career roles; crashed four motorbikes; owned four dogs; have four children; and, happily, have just one wife.

Born on the outskirts of St Andrews, Scotland, resulting in a lifelong empathy for golf. Not always matched with skill. Left home age 16 for the big city of Edinburgh, and trained and worked as a journalist with The Scotsman. Still love writing. Studied at Edinburgh University for many years earning three degrees. (Another came later.) Then a church minister in Livingston and later in Aberdeen, before moving far south to near Oxford to head up the oldest mission society in the world. That work took the number of countries I’ve visited past 40, some of which offered me hair-raising but wonderful experiences. Surprised everyone (including me) by then becoming the President of a seminary in the suburbs of Chicago, USA.

Along the way six books by me have been published. I’ve contributed to others, and written too-many-to-count journal and magazine articles. Now living just outside Oxford in the south of England, my time is spent with my endlessly-patient wife Alison and family, plus speaking, writing, studying, playing golf and walking two lively dogs.

For your amusement, here are the titles which have appeared before my name, but not all at the same time, thankfully! Mr – Rev – Dr – Rev Dr – General Director – Professor – President. I’d prefer you just call me Alistair.

Occasionally wise

Everyone has wisdom. Not all the time. Not about all things. But we can all be occasionally wise, and I hope what’s in this blog is at least that. Find what helps you, amuses you, or you could share with someone else. And feel no guilt at forgetting the rest.

There’s no single subject here. The dominant themes are these:

Leadership – from being a patrol leader in the Boy Scouts through virtually all my professional life, I’ve been in roles of inspiring, directing, correcting, and maximising the skills of others. It’s a scary but privileged responsibility.

Philosophy – because it makes me think. It doesn’t provide all the answers, but it does ask many of the important questions. When I first enrolled at Edinburgh University, my tutor advisor told me he couldn’t enrol me for the Moral Philosophy class in year 1. I argued back that I’d been a journalist with Scotland’s premier newspaper for several years. “Hmm…” he said, “I suppose you’ve done some rudimentary thinking then.” A bit of a put down, but he enrolled me. I loved the course and did well with my rudimentary thinking. I’m still thinking, and in 2022 gained an MA degree in Philosophy.

Christian faith and life – my faith is fundamental to who I am, how I think, what I do. Journalism was great work – I loved it – but I left in my early 20s because I sensed another calling. Most of my professional life has focused on the Christian faith and life.

Surviving – ‘Surviving’ sounds like advice on ‘how to escape from a shark-infested pool’. My leadership was never in a ‘shark-infested pool’, but staying positive is always a challenge. I’ve known too many who didn’t ‘survive’. Surviving leadership and depression are the subjects leaders have, more than any other, thanked me for addressing at conferences.

Oddities of life – in other words, anything else that amuses me and seems to offer a new perspective. I take life seriously, but have succeeded spectacularly at finding the quirky or funny side of most things.

So, there’s a miscellany of subjects in the writing here. That’s deliberate. Life offers a miscellany of experiences. Perhaps some areas interest you and others don’t. Don’t hesitate to pick and choose; read what grabs you and move on from what doesn’t. You’re in charge of what you read!

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