Forms of religion and ideology which neatly categorize people as good or bad according to whether they were in ‘the right group’ or believe ‘the right things’ are dangerous, says Simon Barrow. They also contradict the basic trajectory of the Christian message.
Christians have moved from non-engagement to engagement in politics, says Simon Barrow, but often in domineering and selfish ways. To argue for church as alternative community is not to advocate either 'secularism' or 'religionism', but the recovery of authentic Christianity in a plural environment.
If watching football is a waste of time with redeeming moments, much the same could be said about prayer, says Simon Barrow. In a world over-attached to achievement, we lose sight of the fact that what is really 'worth it' is often not conventionally 'productive'.
Enter any public debate about the pros and cons of religion today, and it will not be long before someone raises the thorny issue of ‘texts of terror’ in the Bible, says Simon Barrow. Yet in the person of Christ our understanding of violence is turned upside-down.
Genuine hope is quite different from optimism or wishful thinking, says Simon Barrow. To understand it we need fresh eyes attuned to the artfulness of reality and the presence of love even in the midst of suffering.
“Reform so as to preserve” is still the mantra of the political elite in Britain. But civil society organisations, faith groups, politicians and ordinary people can help change the agenda, says Simon Barrow.
Public life demands ‘tough’ corporate attributes rather than what it labels ‘soft’ personal ones – like love and gratitude. Simon Barrow argues that the communal cultivation of loving relation is needed to help redirect the official anonymity of the social order.