In Margaret Thatcher’s era, the ‘poll tax’ triggered huge protests. It is not certain at what point large numbers of people will feel they have no share in the UK that this government, and the section of the ruling elite it serves, are seeking to create, notes Savi Hensman. But, sooner or later, the day will come. Cruelly unjust regimes, however mighty they may seem, are built on sand.
Christians need to re-envision the meaning of the Cross in history and in our culture, such that we are equipped to go and do the Gospel that shapes us in a confused, broken, unjust and often violent world, says Simon Barrow. This will help us see that it is not true that the only ‘weapons’ at the Church's disposal are not the coercive ones wielded by our opponents. Rather, God’s cross points to the resources of suffering love that only the God of life can offer, because they are ‘beyond our means’ humanly, but not beyond divine gifting.
Much has been written about the meaning of the cross, a subject on which Christians hold varying views, says Savitri Hensman. In Christ’s sacrifice, the true horror is exposed and the hope of a different way of life revealed. This can be difficult to comprehend, but it cannot be ignored or sidelined.
A change of heart, procedure, policy and resources is needed to make health for all a priority in Britain, says Savitri Hensman, looking at the lessons that need to be learned from Mid Staffs and beyond.
When Pope Francis first emerged into the blinking glare of global publicity, most people had little idea who he was, says Simon Barrow. The initial attempts to fill the media void with headlines, soundbites and images still leaves us bereft of deeper understanding. We need time to grow that, and to realise that it is the fruits of action rather than heated rhetoric that will get us closer to the complexity of truth.
In the run-up to a parliamentary debate on 5 February 2013, the thinktank ResPublica has published a paper opposing equal marriage. The authors, Roger Scruton and Phillip Blond, both well-known in Conservative circles, appear to argue that allowing same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples to marry undermines Western civilisation, says Ekklesia associate Savitri Hensman. The paper makes some interesting points, but its case is ultimately flawed and unreliable on practical, theological, historical and legal grounds.
This week (20 January 2013) the thinktank Demos (“ideas and action to promote the common good”) has published its report Faithful Providers, which argues that faith-based organisations should be used more as public service providers. Simon Barrow offers an initial response, highlighting some of the problematic assumptions and stances within the report, setting out the background to successive government's interest in co-opting faith providers, and pointing towards a more radical Christian stance which roots service in a tradition of modelling and advocating a different social order based on justice and equality.
When those in power disregard human rights and undermine the rule of law, the results can be horrific, observes Savitri Hensman, commenting on recent developments in Sri Lanka. It is to be hoped that, today, non-violent means of resistance will be used, as Sri Lankans and those who care about Sri Lanka seek to defend democracy and civil liberties.
While Christians should indeed examine social and cultural changes critically, the fearfulness of the Pope about shifting attitudes to gender and sexual orientation seems excessive, says Savitri Hensman. Christmas should be a time of celebration in response to God’s generous love, through which barriers are broken down and humanity’s potential fulfilled.
The contemporary Christmas - a fusion of more than one mythic truth - may so easily draw us into the trap of indulgence without festival, says Jill Segger. She suggests that we celebrate best when we do so with the needy.