The Simon Barrow Column

Reflecting on how Christian political imagination can help change society's agenda. Follow Simon on Twitter here: www.twitter.com/simonbarrow

  • 31 Aug 2013

    Within hours of publication, the Obama administration's documentation on Syria has been criticised for its lack of verifiable detail.

  • 27 Aug 2013

    According to the US state department, a strike on Syria could come "within days" as military assets are "ready to go". Simon Barrow looks at what underlies both the accusations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and the current US-driven fervour for another military intervention in the troubled region.

  • 21 Aug 2013

    If there had been a poll at the conversation on 'A Good Society' in Edinburgh recently, there is no doubt that notions such as equality, justice, hospitality, empathy, sharing and neighbourliness would have been at the heart of people's answers. Simon Barrow listens in on a passionate exchange between people of faith and practical concern.

  • 19 Aug 2013

    The issue of what constitutes 'the good', in persons, in relationships and in society is an interesting one. It is far less straightforward than many assume, says Simon Barrow. He highlights the importance of theology, and the Christian doctrine of God in particular, for appreciating how we arrive at 'goodness', and how we develop an ethic based on communal virtue in the church and beyond.

  • 10 Aug 2013

    For the enrichment and development of plural public education on the one hand, and healthy faith communities on the other, it is necessary that the distinction between the two - as well as their need to converse and cooperate - is understood and put into operation, says Simon Barrow. That is why community schooling for all is so important.

  • 9 Aug 2013

    What is the relationship between arts in the broadest sense, and change in the broadest sense (social, personal, cultural, political and economic)? Simon Barrow reports on a transformative conversation between practitioners and participants.

  • 7 Aug 2013

    It has often been said that there ought to be no such thing as an 'illegal' human being. Yet this language is used frequently and potently in relation to migration. Simon Barrow previews a film that looks at the issue from a human and historical point of view.

  • 5 Aug 2013

    Twenty years ago, many public commentators believed that religion was dead, or at least 'on the way out'. How wrong that proved. Simon Barrow looks at how the conversation about faith is deepening and broadening in the face of growing religious and non-religious diversity.

  • 6 Jun 2013

    As a Christian think-tank concerned to promote a theological vision of equality in partnership with those of other beliefs and life-stances, Ekklesia is pleased to be part of the new Fair Admissions Campaign (FAC) for publicly funded schools. The initiative seeks to bring equity to a system that should be a beacon of justice and inclusion, yet is mired in discrimination. Simon Barrow explains why he believes that this issue should matter to all of us, both people of faith and people of good faith but not religious belief. Here he looks at it from a specifically Christian viewpoint.

  • 31 May 2013

    Two rural congreagtions say they will vote to leave the Church of Scotland over possible further ordinations of lesbian and gay ministers. In truth, the landscape is changing, says Simon Barrow. Larger numbers may well stay or join the Kirk if it ends its rejection of same-sex relationships, than will leave for the same reason. The refuseniks are looking back, not forward.

  • 25 May 2013

    The Church of Scotland has agreed to maintain a status quo precluding further ordinations of gay and lesbian clergy, while permitting local congregations to do exactly the opposite – if a suitably crafted church law can be agreed next year. That’s a big ‘if’, says Simon Barrow. As a statement of theological principle, this settlement risks looking a mess. In worldly terms it is classic coalition government. But it raises the key question as to whether the coalition can hold.

  • 21 May 2013

    The Church of Scotland vote to allow civil partnered gay and lesbian ministers, despite no change in the official teaching on sexuality, shows that the drift towards accepting gay people in the Kirk is continuing, says Simon Barrow. Indeed, while seeking pastoral sensitivity towards their opponents, the advocates of change believe that full inclusion is now inevitable.

  • 12 Apr 2013

    There are many important issues in public life right now, but for a large number of people in Scotland the future of football, the national game, is no small matter, says Simon Barrow. It is not just about sport, it is also about people, communities, hopes and dreams, culture and values. Put bluntly, who does (and who should) own a sport loved by hundreds of thousands? Whose interests are being served by the way it is presently being run?

  • 29 Mar 2013

    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.

  • 16 Mar 2013

    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.