on Saturday, 10 December 2016 at 11.00 am by Peter Owen
categorised as Opinion
Andrew Lightbown Renewal, Reform and the ‘resource church’
Sarah Schofield What matters most is how I read my own parish
Richard Peers Advent 2 Sermon: Renewal & Reform, Philip North and Beechgrove
Philip North Church Times Heeding the voices of the popular revolution
The Guardian view on Christianity in Britain: neither here nor there
Philip North articulates persuasively where the church needs to focus during these unsettling times. Brexit and Trump happened because of dissatisfaction with the prevailing narrative and, instead of expressing derision, the church needs to listen and as North suggests “allowing the agenda to be set by the voices of the poor and dispossessed and forgotten”. No one in the church should be about “power” but about “connection”. Family no longer means only what it traditionally did but, whatever configuration, it is where we learn about love and life.
As ever, Philip North is interesting and thoughtful. And I like much of what he has to say, including his suggestion that the church needs to concentrate its resources and its best leaders on the disenfranchised. I’m less enchanted by the idea that doing so means embracing patriotism and militarism, and I find it interesting that Bishop Philip thinks that flag-waving and military chaplaincy are part of what it means to be an Established Church. What, I wonder, does it then mean to be a Catholic Church? What role is there for nationalism and militarism in a church that perceives… Read more »
I’m not sure that North is implying militarism as such, rjb. Certainly, patriotism i.e. vigorous support for one’s country, doesn’t necessarily mean armed combat. I don’t think there’s any room for militarism in a church. Church is about showing the abundance of life. Also, when the church engages with ‘ordinary people’ (which is everyone) critiquing their values shouldn’t be on the agenda so much as being role models and true friends.
Many people from impoverished working class communities have found security, confidence and solidarity through joining the armed forces. The fact that governments have used them as pawns in futile and tragic wars doesn’t destroy this, and in fact makes them more defensive of their role. The church has got to be sympathetic to this while not colluding with warmongers and imperialists. Not something we’ve ever got right in the past and we need a good dose of wisdom and humility to preach the gospel in such communities. It’s like when generations of missionaries instilled homophobic attitudes among African (and other)… Read more »