Soothing 'Christmas messages' have become practically unavoidable, says Simon Barrow. But most of them are bland beyond belief. In truth the birth of Christ confronts us with something much more demanding - a choice between two ways of living in a world dominated by empire.
Across the world today, countless millions of people are persecuted. But churchgoers in Britain are not among them, says Simon Barrow. Instead of developing a misplaced 'persecution complex', which dishonours those who truly suffer, Christians in the UK have the opportunity to develop an alternative vocation of multiplying hope, rather than spreading fear.
What does the liquid insurgency of the Tea Party movement in the United States mean for political processes on both sides of the Atlantic? Simon Barrow compares and contrasts government, opposition and voter disaffiliation in the UK and the USA.
The problem for Christians today is not primarily 'aggressive secularism', but the confusion of Christianity with power, says Simon Barrow. That and the the distortion of public debate about religiosity and secularity into a false dichotomy between dominating belief or privatised belief. A better way is needed - based on living by example, not the lust for control.
Many progressive Christians found themselves experiencing profoundly mixed feelings both about Pope Benedict’s visit and about the protests against it, says Simon Barrow. This is perhaps because neither imperial religion nor rejectionist forms of secularism are adequate to the task of remaking public life and public faith.
Party conferences, at least for the 'big three', have become an elaborate ritual for the faithful, says Simon Barrow. But their well-spun manoeuvres have little to do with the 'new politics', let alone the harsh word of the Comprehensive Spending Review.
The received wisdom perpetuated by the government is that deep and immediate public spending cuts are necessary and beneficial, says Simon Barrow. But there are strong economic arguments that point towards investment in long-term sustainability rather than hitting the most vulnerable to reduce the deficit.
Neither fundamentalism nor functionalism offer a way forward for the churches today in terms of their public witness and political engagement, says Simon Barrow. The different stances taken by church bodies in the 2010 general election suggest important lessons for the future.
The government has retained support despite promises of swingeing cuts, the Lib Dems have gained little credit for their coalescing, and Labour has been on the up despite being leaderless and rudderless. Simon Barrow looks at the unreal politics of the parliamentary recess.
Investing in tradition-based pluralism rather than feeding monopoly needs to be the future of both religion and media, says Simon Barrow. And not just in the interactions between the two overlapping realms.