What’s wrong with the Church of England?

Linda Woodhead

Linda Woodhead

– and can anything be done?

At last night’s lively talk at St Brides’ Liverpool, and the equally lively discussion afterwards, Linda Woodhead presented an alternative vision of the Church of England.

Continue reading

Posted in Churches | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Pope and the environment

Pope Francis' coat of armsLaudato Si is the papal encyclical about the environment published on 18th June 2015. The subtitle is ‘On care for our common home’. At 40,000 words it is a substantial document. I hope this post serves as a useful summary and commentary, and perhaps encouragement to read the whole thing.

On the whole I think it is excellent but I expect criticisms, mainly on two points.

Continue reading

Posted in Churches, Ethics, Politics, Society, Theology | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

God and your mind

Picture of headHow can you trust your mind? You make mistakes. You dream. How do you know when you are getting it right? If you ever do? This is a brief history of the rise and fall of the human mind, arguing that the best account depends on creation by God.

As far back as history takes us, societies accepted that they did not understand how the world works. It was too complicated. They believed it was being run by gods who knew more than they did.

Continue reading

Posted in God, Theology | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cancelling debts is a Christian principle

Greek Parliament building

The Parliament building in Athens

Will Greece default on its debts?

Will it leave the Eurozone?

Will it leave the European Union?

Will it matter? To whom?

Continue reading

Posted in Bible, Economics, Ethics | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Cancelling debts is a Christian principle

God’s genitalia

God the Geometer

God as Architect/Builder/Geometer/Craftsman, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN, USA.

A controversial article in the Daily Telegraph tells us that churches are increasingly referring to God as ‘she’ rather than ‘he’.

Does it matter? If so, why?

The article responds to the latest of the Westminster Faith Debates, last Wednesday’s impressive discussion of the likely impact of women bishops .
Continue reading

Posted in Churches, Gender, God, Theology | Tagged , | Comments Off on God’s genitalia

Aspiration and absurdity

JigsawExistentialist angst: life is absurd. We fill our days doing things we consider necessary or important, but when we stop and think about it, nothing matters. According to Sartre, we choose our own values but our choice is itself groundless, unjustified. According to Camus there is only one serious philosophical problem, namely suicide: whether life is worth living. We long for life to have a meaning, but there is none. Once we accept that we are just accidental products of godless atoms obeying laws of nature then nothing has any importance at all. Our aspirations are our own inventions, absurdly imposed on ourselves without any justifying reasons.

While attending to some such Existentialist writings, I couldn’t help noticing that the British Labour Party, reflecting on its disappointment in the General Election, is wondering whether it didn’t appeal enough to aspirational people. Potential leaders have been saying the party talked too much about compassion, not enough about aspiration.

Continue reading

Posted in Ethics, God, Politics, Society | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Lying, governing and colluding

Malcolm Bruce‘If you are suggesting every MP who has never quite told the truth or even told a brazen lie [should quit Parliament], including cabinet ministers, including prime ministers, we would clear out the House of Commons very fast’, said Sir Malcolm Bruce, former Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Bruce was defending the action of Alistair Carmichael, who before the General Election had authorised his special adviser to leak a memo about a private conversation in which Nicola Sturgeon, Leader of the Scottish National Party, was supposed to have said she would prefer David Cameron to remain as Prime Minister.

Continue reading

Posted in Ethics, Politics | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Lying, governing and colluding

The Church of England, the Labour Party and the Ghost of Ivan Illich

Ivan Illich

Ivan Illich

At the moment the Labour Party is sounding very much like the Church of England. Failure, disappointment. What have we been doing wrong? How can we turn the tables and grow again? Leading figures say Miliband was too left wing or not left wing enough: in other words, he isn’t a clone of whoever is speaking.

The Church of England’s leadership has been saying this kind of thing pretty consistently for fifty years. In order to stop the decline in the numbers of churchgoers we need to accept the changing moral standards without being judgemental, or uphold Christian principles against this degenerate age. We need more of the old hymns, or more of the new ones. We need to stop all this change for change’s sake, or give up those boring old services.

Continue reading

Posted in Churches, Politics | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Repairing democracy

Headline in the Liverpool EchoHow did the polls get it so wrong? ask the journalists. For months the polls were consistent: Labour and the Tories were neck and neck. Within the standard 3% margin of error they all agreed. It was as though we had all near enough made up our minds around the end of February.

The exit polls told a completely different story, and even they underestimated how wrong the previous polls had been. How could those polls, so consistent with each other, using well tried procedures, have all been not only way out but way out in the same way?

Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Society | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Christianity and moral vision

Paul Bayes, Bishop of LiverpoolIt is good to hear church leaders making public statements about why their faith matters. Recent ones have been On Rock or Sand? and Who is My Neighbour? Now here’s another, the Bishop of Liverpool’s Voting For a New Moral Vision . Bishop Paul Bayes suggests asking three questions:
Continue reading

Posted in Churches, Economics, Ethics, God, Politics, Theology | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Christianity and moral vision