Setting the Church of England free would be in its own interests, says Simon Barrow, as the disestablishment debate rears its head again following the General Synod debacle over women bishops. The Christian religion’s claim to truth and authority resides neither in state nor market, but in systems of belief and community which it should be capable of developing through bodies that are part of civic society.
Judging from the volumes of media coverage and online comment the goings on at this week's General Synod have generated, popular nerves have definitely been touched. But of what kind and to what effect? Simon Barrow explores the case for establishing the independence of church and state, in this article looking at the issue primarily in terms of societal pluralism, but noting the theological concerns which are actually central to the case Ekklesia wishes to make for disestablishment.
There is room for real, substantial reform to the EU budget and many other aspects of the functioning and policy of European institutions, says Simon Barrow. But to address these issues properly, Britain’s political leaders should abandon rather than feed the narrow Westminster mindset that the recent EU budget row exemplifies.
With 'the big three' parties all singing from the same austerity hymn sheet and promising cuts in social security that differ mainly in degree, says Simon Barrow, it is surely the most vulnerable in society who are set to be the biggest losers from the conference season political jamborees.
Now that the medals have long been awarded, the plaudits made and the ceremonies completed, the final Olympic and Paralympic contest is underway, notes Simon Barrow. Who will claim political gold in the much-publicized Games ‘legacy’ race?
In 2011, the International Panel on the State of the Oceans (IPSO), representing all marine science bodies, concluded that, “the world’s ocean is at high risk of entering a phase of extinction… unprecedented in human history.” Simon Barrow explores the issue of water from a biblical perspective.
As government becomes more technocratic and anonymous, and as recession and financial chaos makes people angry and suspicious towards the political class, the need to be seen to be “where people are” and to shape public mood through cultural activity large and small is here to stay, says Simon Barrow.
Last week, Jubilee Scotland organised a conversation on economic alternatives and motivating people for change at the 2012 Festival of Spirituality and Peace. Here Simon Barrow revisits an earlier article he wrote for The Guardian on the real meaning of "jubilee".
The final standoff between St George’s Tron and the Church of Scotland has been several years coming, says Simon Barrow. The way it is handled will also be a signal of how the Kirk sees its future, and how the debate on same-sex relations may resonate in more reluctant corners of the church when it returns to the General Assembly next year.
The rejection of the Anglican Covenant by the Scottish Episcopal Church is another serious body blow for a measure which proponents say is about proper ecclesiastical order, but which detractors argue will impose narrow conformity on a denomination historically based on self-governance within its provinces. Simon Barrow looks to the background, history and significance of the latest manoeuvres.