Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Get a Grip

And another thing ...

I am sort of sorry, but I feel another bout of invective coming on. Please don't think that I am a terminally bad mood because I'm not; I am just jaw-slack watching the world.

Some of you will be aware that a nice little West-Country town took the momentous step, not to stop flogging the under-5s or putting pensioners up their chimneys, but to stop saying a prayer before its council meetings. The responses to this immense event ranged from "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" to "Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani" - or in other words, the sublime to the ridicuous. Some of the Dawkinsites (I still deny the existence of Richard Dawkins, and believe his followers to be deluded) hailed this as the death of religion. Some of the Christians of our fine nation hailed it as, well, the death of religion. 

I say get a grip.

This Careyesque persecution complex that we are currently enjoying in Britain today is as daft as it is needless. Even Baroness Warsi says we should get a grip and it is not often that I find my socialist heart being projected by the words of a Tory Peer (and a Muslim one too, telling Christians to get a grip). 

I think that we like to be defeated, and I don't know why. We believe in the God of the Universe and All Creation, the author of the stars and moons, of love and puppies. We believe in a Good News so overwhelming that it conquers even death - but not, it seems, the secularist hearts of Devonshire folk. We, the British people of the Book, in our thousands of churches who can pop and and out when we choose, if only we chose to do so, have no right to claim a persecution on the one hand, or that we are under siege from secularists on the other. If we were in danger of being shot in the face by an AK47-wielding sniper when we attend a service on Sunday, then we may have a case. 

Sadly, in many ways, we are giving the secularists and that man Dawkins all the 'ammunition' he needs. We fight among ourselves, we go to church when we don't have a golf game to play, we cannot communicate even within the sphere of our synods and governing structures, we would sooner stop going to a church of the wrong flavour than go and be glad of the chance, our national church website's guide to prayer will tell you only how to use your fingers and we self-flagilate with a whip of our own creation. 

We need to stand up and be counted. We need not whine and self-pity, but be strong in our faith and in the sure belief that we have in the Good News of Christ. We must bust our buns embodying the example of Jesus Christ who never once whined and complained, and do the job we have been mandated to do, and make disciples. To do that, we must make our beautiful wonderful altogether human church seem the slightest bit like a body that people would regard as Good News incarnate, not as a snivelling brood of sulkers as we are in danger of appearing. 

As I said a few days ago: the mission of God does not need a place on the Agenda of a council meeting. It is the reason why the council meeting can happen in the first place.


  1. Let them have their monment of glory - it's a long time since anyone knew or cared what happens in Bideford (apart from Bidefordonions - and I doubt they care much either)

    Don't forget, they don't have to stop having prayers, they just can't have them on the agenda. Nothing has changed apart from 7 characters in Times New Roman on a bit of otherwise unremarkable paper.

    Nope - I still don't feel persecuted!

    Dawkins who?

  2. I agree with you completely. The likes of the Daily Mail whinge about Christianity being under threat but (as you say) there are thousands of churches open every week.

    Active churchgoers ARE a minority in this country and we do get unpleasantly stereotyped. That's very true. But each time somebody tells me Christianity is evil, it gives me the opportunity to present my side of the story.

    The present situation with churchgoing in England should be encouraging the healthy debate that will carry Christianity into the future. If everyone went to church and agreed with Christianity, we would stagnate.

  3. Just wondering how we get people into church, without a whip to scourge them along the way (that's an idea though?).

    We don't encourage them to come and see by whining about persecution, rather by perhaps what I've hear described as 'muscular Christianity'. Being robust, but gentle in public life. By putting the Gospel in front of people in ways that they can't ignore, by writing columns and letters in main stream media, using such things as the Guardian's 'Comment is Free' column.

    It needs people, who write and express themselves as well as you do, to be out there. Giles Frazer seems to be getting an audience, in a good way. His resignation on principle seems to have hit a note with people, who might not normally even read something written by him.

    The Arch Bishops and Diocesan Bishops need to be on the news with Good news, not belatedly catching up with some bit of bad news concerning the church.

    Before all of this, we need to get the divisive things out of the way - deal with gender and sexuality issues, once and for all, get on the front foot, not always on the back foot all of the time.

    I hear all of the time that the Priest is the Public Face of the church in our communities, perhaps we need to do some media training for all clergy, so that when someone shoves a microphone in front of them, they are not tongue tied (mind you I don't know any tongue tied priests :)) or intimidated, but are able to clearly get the message out there, that Christianity is alive, well, thriving and offers a narrative, which allows all to share the love of God.

  4. I'm thinking this ought to be a pulpit series for every church, every denomination (or non). To quote Pogo of comic strip fame: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."



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