The ‘Big Society’ is becoming a fresh political battleground over the summer, says Simon Barrow. Shrinking the state by galvanising more money and resources from private citizens through volunteering, delegating and contracting is central to the Prime Minister’s approach – both to running the country and to keeping his own party together. But the strategy is beset with disagreement, and a huge 'reality gap'.
Where does the Church of Scotland – not the established church, but still a self-proclaimed ‘national’ one – now sit within a changing Scottish national settlement, following the formalities of its 2011 General Assembly? Simon Barrow looks at some of the issues.
Football is woven into the historical, cultural and social fabric of communities in Scotland and across Britain, but media attention to 'soccernomics' focuses heavily on the English Premier League, says Simon Barrow. There are some clear reasons for this, but we definitely need some fresh ideas about ‘football as if fans mattered’ which begin with the wider picture, rather than consigning the non-elite to our peripheral vision.
Will the five different polls that took place on 5 May 2011 prove to be a watershed for politics in Britain? It depends where you see the axis for change and the key tipping points, says Simon Barrow. There are at least two distinct ways of narrating differential outcomes.
Monarchy as an institution rooted in inherited wealth and pure eugenic privilege stands in contrast with, and contradiction to, the levelling Gospel of Jesus Christ, argues Simon Barrow. But a kind of mythology and ritualising in the popular imagination prevents both Christians and others from seeing what is really going on, and what is wrong with it.
Good Friday is behind us, Easter Sunday ahead. In the meantime, says Simon Barrow, we must inhabit the long, uncertain Saturday. Indeed, we Christians may need considerable help from others to be able do this truthfully, such is the tendency to be pulled back a day or pushed forward one. For Saturday is an indelible and crucial part of the Easter story. Without Saturday, Friday has no end and Sunday has no beginning.
How, we may ask on Good Friday, can wholeness, deliverance and healing possibly flow from a state execution resulting in the unjust violent death of a good person - one in whom his friends and followers felt they had met divine love at its most tangible and engaging? Simon Barrow explores the troubling mystery at the core of Christian belief, and looks at ways theology can address it intellectually, humanly and practically.
Good Friday and Easter Sunday we have some comprehension of (or so we think). But what on earth is Holy Thursday all about? Simon Barrow explores two actions in the story which embody, practically and theologically, both the awful tragedy and the true hope of Christianity in a world circumscribed by the use and absue of power.
The 2011 Budget offers useful cover for the central deceit of the government’s economic strategy, says Simon Barrow – which is that massive cuts in the public sector and in the local and national state are “unavoidable” and “necessary” to eliminate Britain’s massive deficit.
The arguments of the 'Christians are being discriminated against' lobby in the UK are confused about the law, equalities, rights, demography, theology and the distinction between Christianity and Christendom, says Simon Barrow. In the words of a recent High Court judgment, their claims are also "wrong as to the factual premises on which they are based and at best tendentious."