Rowan Williams' archbishopric was and is far from perfect, says Simon Barrow. Of course. But if we too readily dismiss the attempts of humane, spiritual and thoughtful people like Dr Williams to point out that our difficulties are not just about someone else’s blockheadedness, we may be nearer the idiocratic realm and further from the hoped-for realm of God and of reason than we think.
The coalition can force its welfare changes through using procedural measures, minor concessions and ‘financial privilege’ to do so. But the long-term political fall-out from all of this could be immense, says Simon Barrow. The warfare over welfare has shown just how powerful citizens’ action and web-based crowd sourcing can be.
The Welfare Reform Bill debate has now given way to open warfare, says Simon Barrow. These latest battles are as much about the soul (or lack of it) of the coalition project as they are about money or the demographics of power. The government can command majorities in both Houses. But it is losing the argument, losing good will and storing up massive costs - financial and political - for the future.
The political ride in Britain, in Europe and more widely is set to get bumpier, sometimes alarming, and never less than fascinating, says Simon Barrow. But the key question remains: who does (and who should?) call the shots in shaping the capacity of our key institutions both to respond to popular pressures and to ride the economic tiger?
While attempts to 'Christianise' the Occupy movement from above are rightly being resisted within and without the protest outside St Paul's Cathedral, there are profound Christian lessons to be learned from 'the Church of Occupy', suggests Simon Barrow. The juxtaposition of movement and institution dramatises the questions and issues raised by the uneven transition from Christendom to post-Christendom.
As with the leadership of the Church of England, the main Westminster parties have struggled to know how to respond to the Occupy London Stock Exchange camp, says Simon Barrow. He questions and deconstructs the idea that the tent protests have been 'unconstructive' politically and 'disastrous' religiously. Quite the reverse, he suggests.
The Occupy protests, environmental movements and civic revolutions across the world are suggesting that there is a whole world of politics available outwith the narrow party perspectives that still dominate the electoral machinery of Western democracies, says Simon Barrow. Party posturing is looking increasingly irrelevant. A spirit of change is in the air.
The core to Archbishop Desmond Tutu's appeal, and to the opposition he has also elcited, lies in his sheer humanity as well as his fidelity to the core of the Christian message, says Simon Barrow. This is a pattern which holds out hope for the future of Christianity in dark times.
The debate on Scottish independence in advance of a mooted 2016 referendum is only just beginning, but Simon Barrow suggests that the contours of a fresh agenda on both sides is already emerging in surprising comments from representatives of the Westminster parties north of the border.
Theology is ‘wrestling with the unfathomable mystery of God’, but to enlighten rather than to obscure, says Simon Barrow, paying tribute to two Mennonite scholars and pastors, Alan and Eleanor Kreider, as part of a festschrift entitled 'Forming Christian Habits in Post-Christendom'.