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."
Parents and carers across the country are outraged by government-forced cuts in 'early intervention' services and Sure Start, says Simon Barrow. Rhetoric on family support is not being matched by funding decisions.
David Cameron's 'Big Society' idea is taking a huge battering as public spending cuts bite and the substance behind the rhetoric shows, says Simon Barrow. Equally, the 'shrinking government' agenda becomes ever clearer.
Christians and Muslims have been fasting for peace with justice in Egypt. But what on earth has giving up food got to do with changing the world? The answer, suggests Simon Barrow, is that it helps re-shape our desires as human beings, and therefore our political and spiritual orientation.
The aim of the recent Scotland Bill, says Simon Barrow, is to please the growing number of Scots who favour more powers for their own parliament, while simultaneously clawing back a large sum of money from the Westminster block grant and undermining already-waning support for the SNP ahead of the elections in May 2011.
The current ills of the Western church are more to be found in sickness within than in threats without, suggests Simon Barrow, echoing a recent landmark comment from the Pope. Likewise the way forward is through radical reformation not fearful reaction.
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.