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.
How 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?
It was Rebecca’s birthday. Rebecca was our second child, and Marguerite was baking a cake. At the time were were living in Denstone, which was in many ways a traditional English village. It had one shop, and the shopkeeper was Rose Edge. The picture is of Rose outside it.
Marguerite realised that we had no candles for the cake. She sent our youngest, Stephen, to the shop to buy a packet.
It was partly a sense of a hole needing to be filled that first drew me into Modern Church.
I confess to having spent much of my youth as an enthusiastic but short-term campaigner. So many social issues grabbed my attention that I threw myself into one after another, totally committed until the next one came along.
Clement Attlee & Margaret Thatcher
I first voted in a general election in 1970. Some have been closely fought, others were more predictable. As far as I can remember, every one has been proclaimed as the most important for a generation.
This one, though, does feel different. The growth of smaller parties represents disillusionment with the two big ones.
A few years ago in a local wine bar I found myself in unfamiliar company, sitting at a table next to a medium and opposite a committed member of the British Humanist Association.
I had not met either before, but this was the weekly local meeting of Philosophy in Pubs. The regulars knew each other’s views. Whenever religion got mentioned – almost always disparagingly – they would turn to the retired vicar in their midst to see how I would respond. These meetings remind me how marginal, or even absurd, Christianity and its institutions seem to many people. I often find myself the only one arguing that it is rational to believe in a spiritual being; but on this occasion it seemed important to set limits to the number I believed in.
The economy is getting rather too uppity.
I have written a number of blog posts on the economy, and I plan more over the next few weeks. This is a lot for someone with only limited training in economics. My excuse is that I approach it from a theological perspective, which offers different insights.
I’ve just posted here the text of the talk I gave at St Brides Liverpool on 23rd March. It’s over 4,000 words long, so I haven’t included it as a blog post.
It’s an argument for believing in God as a moral authority, derived from the fact that modern western society is completely failing to solve its biggest problems. We are destroying the environment, the rich are getting richer as the poor get poorer, and fears of terrorism drive militarisation. Why can’t we do better?
So it’s moral philosophy with a focus on God as moral authority. Read the article or listen to it here.