In my research and writing at the moment I am looking at the troubling alliance between the church and what might be termed the ‘spirit of empire’, that is, the felt need to dominate and control others. While the church may convince herself that this is purely for altruistic purposes—to save the lost or ameliorate society and so forth—the basic problem is that ‘empire’ is fundamentally contrary to the way of the self-denying Christ. Christ did not manipulate, coerce, or dominate: he loved others and sacrificed his life on their behalf just as, as I write, many Ukrainians are preparing to do for the sake of their children and grandchildren. As I argue in my forthcoming book, if ‘sin’ is essentially self-centredness then empire is self-centredness amplified.
Like you, I am deeply troubled by the war in Ukraine and, in light of the above premise, some thoughts come to mind that, I hope, may help you to process your own thoughts. Continue reading “Light in the darkness”
In response to my last blog—Is the Gospel Good News?—I was asked a very fundamental question:
What are the consequences of our deliberate evil deeds? Can we do whatever we like and will God forgive us anyway?
I decided to post my response here hoping that it may help others.
To be honest, a book is needed to answer this question! I probably won’t write one, though, because others have done a much better job than I could ever do—especially David Bentley Hart whose book (That All Shall Be Saved) I came across after writing my last blog. I write quickly, so my thoughts are not as organised as I’d like them to be! Continue reading “The Good News—some follow-up thoughts”
An Advent walk through mediaeval Prague
It was a crisp, cold November evening yesterday as we walked with our Czech guide through the dark windswept streets of Prague. Most sensible people were passive-smoking in the warm, crowded bars; we headed for the Old Town, then across Charles Bridge. On the parapet of the almost deserted medieval bridge we found our first cross: bronze, and set into the stone of the parapet. ‘Place your hand on it,’ I was told, ‘any wish you make will come true.’ The location was where, in 1393, the tortured body of Jan Nepomucký (John of Nepomuk), confessor to the Queen, was thrown into the river on the orders of a suspicious Wenceslas IV for failing to divulge the confession of his wife. I placed my hand on the baroque cross with two horizontal bars: it was worn smooth by centuries of touch. I made a wish which will remain secret. Continue reading “Prague and the Cross”
The recent rioting and looting on the streets of England have triggered an avalanche of comment from politicians of all persuasions, peppered with phrases such as ‘social deprivation’, ‘the breakdown of family values’, ‘no stake in society’, and so on. Deep conversations try to fathom why, within certain localities, there is an inbuilt desire for self-destruction — the social equivalent of a disturbed teenager slashing her wrists with a kitchen knife. Some have even tried to paint a Dickensian picture of social stratification, equating today’s looters with those that, until not so long ago, were hung for stealing a loaf of bread. The solution — according to this analysis — is simply to pump more money into deprived housing estates, presumably so the kids can go out and buy their own designer clothes without the trouble of stealing them. Continue reading “Healing society—the ethics of desire”