RELIGION & SECULARISM – a reflection

The Rt Rev'd Dr. Keerthisiri Fernando writes: There is an impression today that in Britain many sociologists studying religion are preoccupied with debates on secularisation, modernism and postmodernism theories, to prove or disprove the significance of religion in modern British society. This has been happening in the context of some conflict between religion and secularisation. For example, highlighting the tension between Islam and secularisation Casanova has said, “... it also constitutes a struggle between a secularism that is considered as “normal”, “progressive” and “enlightened” and the religious which is seen as “backward” and “reactionary” A typical example for this secularisation issue is the debate of Stark and Bruce in their detailed and eloquent articles “Secularization, R.I.P. -Rest in Peace” and “Christianity in Britain, R.I.P.”. But in their arguments both of them have dealt only marginally with the issue of immigrants’ religious faiths. ...

REVIEW: Anthony Swindell, Going to Extremes in Biblical Rewritings: Radical Literary Retellings of Biblical Tropes

Jonathan Clatworthy writes in his review: This book illustrates the literary reception of the Bible. The ‘extremes’ are the freedom which many writers bring to rewriting biblical stories. Some rewritings are antagonistic to the biblical text, the ‘hypotext’. Some use it as a departure point for a quite different development. Some amplify the hypotext, some condense it. There are prequels and sequels. Some change the tone, making it tragic or comic. Some give greater emphasis to minor biblical characters, or introduce new characters. Sometimes the viewpoint of the narration changes. For example The Dream of the Rood moves the viewpoint of the Crucifixion from that of an onlooker to that of the cross. ...

The frog in the pan – reflections on the ‘culture of church’

Bishop Robert Paterson writes: “Increasingly, the culture of ‘church’, particularly in those churches that are old and hard of hearing, is alien to most people. Most people do not customarily gather on Sunday mornings to sing in chorus with others, handling books (let alone several of them), sitting on wooden benches in cool buildings, sometimes being ignored as if by a supermarket checkout-assistant chatting to a colleague or alternatively being pestered as if by an over-enthusiastic sales-assistant, not knowing whether to sit down or stand up, often being glared at, and so on. These cultural norms make for a difficult or even impossible transition for a disciple of Jesus from a fresh expression of Church to what has often in the past been thought of as normal, and must force the older tradition to examine how it expresses what happens when the impact of Jesus draws people together. A major difficulty is that people who have been immersed in a particular style of church worship for many years find it difficult to assess what is of the essence and what can, and sometimes must, be left behind. ... There is much more work to be done on helping older churches to see themselves as others see them. ...

Editorial: The next forty years and the end of mainstream Christianity?

The Editor, the Rev'd Dr. Nicholas Henderson writes: According to an article recently published in the U.K. Church Times an analysis of R-number modelling, as used during the Covid crisis, which calculates the growth or contraction rates of events and institutions, has given the Church of England a “reproduction potential” R number of 0.9. In short this means that at current rate of decline the Church will cease to exist in 2062. The C of E isn’t alone in this, the Church in Wales the Methodist Church and the Roman Catholics are also heading for oblivion. Only Baptist churches, Pentecostalist and other Evangelical churches are apparently bucking the trend … to a degree. All over the Western World a similar analysis can be applied to what might be called traditional churches. For example, the Episcopal Church in the United States, along with other major denominations, is currently having a crisis of candidates for ordination. Of course, the so-called developing nations have an entirely different growth narrative as the gravitational centre of the Christian Faith shifts south. ... Nevertheless, it might be worthwhile looking ahead to the next forty years or so to speculate what might be the ongoing challenges to us and the next two generations? This is about as far into the future as it is realistic to contemplate without writing dystopian science fiction. ...

REVIEW: The Precarious Church – Redeeming the Body of Christ by Martyn Percy

Sebastian Satkurunath writes: I wanted to like this book; I really did. The stated premise, that church is at its best when it is outward focused and trusting in God to provide rather than prioritising its own security in the form of financial resources and numerical growth, is a compelling and appealing one, and thoroughly in the spirit of the sermon of the mount (Mt 6.25-34). What’s more, there are clearly many ways in which the Church of England fails to meet this ideal, and I am quite sure that there is a valuable and interesting book to be written about how those failures play out and how we can, as an institution, repent of them, and learn to become more truly the body of Christ on earth. ...The book is a collection of essays, most of which have been previously published elsewhere, organised into seven sections, each of which concludes with a brief reflection and some discussion questions. ...

REVIEW: God Interrogated – Reinterpreting the Divine by Lynne Renoir

In this Review Rosalind Lund writes: Lynne Renoir grew up in a deeply conservative Christian home and spent the first fifty years of her life deeply committed to the Christian Faith. However, despite believing that Christianity is true, she did not experience any sort of transformation, which she feels the scriptures describe as normative for the believer. Eventually, she came to feel that either her attempts to reach God, or allow God to reach her, were in some way defective. Lacking the sort of transformation which she sees as the necessary confirmation of belief, she now feels she must question the whole idea of an all-powerful God. In keeping with her desire to question the existence of God, Lynne Renoir embarked on postgraduate degrees in psychology and philosophy and research into quantum theory. Her conclusions cover God and Philosophy, God and Science, and finally God and Belief. ...

2023-04-27T20:19:14+00:00By |Tags: |

Dear Heart-broken, Dear Confused: Agony Aunts and Problem Pages as Implicit Religion

The Very Rev'd Professor Martyn Percy writes: Such is the extent of secularization in modern Britain, it will now come as a surprise to quite a number of folk that modern hospitals have religious foundations – St. Thomas or St. Bartholomew come to mind. Also, Halloween seems to have morphed into a secular celebration of light-hearted horror-genres, replete with pumpkins. For most, the remembrance of all souls has become quite detached. The religious origins of Oxbridge Colleges and other educational establishments are perhaps easier to grasp. Though I do recall interviewing a student for entry into Cambridge some decades ago, who had declined Jesus, Christ’s, Trinity and other colleges because of their religious names but had chosen Emmanuel. I truly wish this were an urban myth, but it isn’t. ...

Christian dogma and free enquiry

Guest Editorial - The Rev'd Jonathan Clatworthy - Mid Lent 2021

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