In many churches today, hymns have been largely or wholly replaced by worship songs. Some of these are of high quality and accessible to a wider range of worshippers. However, says Savitri Hensman, perhaps there should be more discussion of how this trend may influence the ways in which Christians relate to the Bible and understand themselves, God and the world.
Some Christian MPs strongly support marriage equality while others are strongly against it. In the UK and beyond, parliamentary debates on celebrating same-sex partnerships have revealed that – whatever top clerics or elders say – opinion within the churches is divided, says Savitri Hensman, reporting and commenting on the religious and theological views being expressed in parliament.
In a statement opposing same-sex unions, the House of Bishops and Standing Committee of the Church in the Province of the West Indies tried to justify persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people, reports Savitri Hensman. Meanwhile human rights activists in the Caribbean and beyond continue to work for decriminalisation and protection from violence, causes that Anglicans worldwide should support.
In Margaret Thatcher’s era, the ‘poll tax’ triggered huge protests. It is not certain at what point large numbers of people will feel they have no share in the UK that this government, and the section of the ruling elite it serves, are seeking to create, notes Savi Hensman. But, sooner or later, the day will come. Cruelly unjust regimes, however mighty they may seem, are built on sand.
Much has been written about the meaning of the cross, a subject on which Christians hold varying views, says Savitri Hensman. In Christ’s sacrifice, the true horror is exposed and the hope of a different way of life revealed. This can be difficult to comprehend, but it cannot be ignored or sidelined.
A change of heart, procedure, policy and resources is needed to make health for all a priority in Britain, says Savitri Hensman, looking at the lessons that need to be learned from Mid Staffs and beyond.
In the run-up to a parliamentary debate on 5 February 2013, the thinktank ResPublica has published a paper opposing equal marriage. The authors, Roger Scruton and Phillip Blond, both well-known in Conservative circles, appear to argue that allowing same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples to marry undermines Western civilisation, says Ekklesia associate Savitri Hensman. The paper makes some interesting points, but its case is ultimately flawed and unreliable on practical, theological, historical and legal grounds.
When those in power disregard human rights and undermine the rule of law, the results can be horrific, observes Savitri Hensman, commenting on recent developments in Sri Lanka. It is to be hoped that, today, non-violent means of resistance will be used, as Sri Lankans and those who care about Sri Lanka seek to defend democracy and civil liberties.
While Christians should indeed examine social and cultural changes critically, the fearfulness of the Pope about shifting attitudes to gender and sexual orientation seems excessive, says Savitri Hensman. Christmas should be a time of celebration in response to God’s generous love, through which barriers are broken down and humanity’s potential fulfilled.
On the matter of marriage equality, the recent UK government announcement focused less on the loving hope of those who will gain, and more on others’ fears, in response to the negativity of some church leaders who oppose change, notes Savitri Hensman. The public image this projects is strongly discriminatory, and the churches are missing a huge opportunity to witness to the all-embracing love of God.