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

  • 16 Jun 2012

    The final standoff between St George’s Tron and the Church of Scotland has been several years coming, says Simon Barrow. The way it is handled will also be a signal of how the Kirk sees its future, and how the debate on same-sex relations may resonate in more reluctant corners of the church when it returns to the General Assembly next year.

  • 9 Jun 2012

    The rejection of the Anglican Covenant by the Scottish Episcopal Church is another serious body blow for a measure which proponents say is about proper ecclesiastical order, but which detractors argue will impose narrow conformity on a denomination historically based on self-governance within its provinces. Simon Barrow looks to the background, history and significance of the latest manoeuvres.

  • 17 May 2012

    In the wake of the 2012 local elections and other recent developments, we can see that local democracy in England is in a perilous state. Voter apathy shows that. Simon Barrow looks at the issue in its wider context, and suggests that deep change is required that goes well beyond single-fix 'solutions'.

  • 30 Apr 2012

    Simon Barrow's speech on the need for an official government media inquiry, made to the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), meeting in Inverness from 23-25 April 2012. See notes and NUJ resolution below the text for further details.

  • 7 Apr 2012

    At present the symbolism of the Royal Maundy service in York ritualises economic inequality, the subservience of the Church to the Crown, and the sanctification of an unjust order, says Simon Barrow. Maybe a ritual re-ordering of it could help remind Christians, and the Established church, that we are called to oppose injustice and who who "act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus" (Acts 17.7)?

  • 19 Mar 2012

    Rowan Williams' archbishopric was and is far from perfect, says Simon Barrow. Of course. But if we too readily dismiss the attempts of humane, spiritual and thoughtful people like Dr Williams to point out that our difficulties are not just about someone else’s blockheadedness, we may be nearer the idiocratic realm and further from the hoped-for realm of God and of reason than we think.

  • 8 Feb 2012

    The coalition can force its welfare changes through using procedural measures, minor concessions and ‘financial privilege’ to do so. But the long-term political fall-out from all of this could be immense, says Simon Barrow. The warfare over welfare has shown just how powerful citizens’ action and web-based crowd sourcing can be.

  • 23 Jan 2012

    The Welfare Reform Bill debate has now given way to open warfare, says Simon Barrow. These latest battles are as much about the soul (or lack of it) of the coalition project as they are about money or the demographics of power. The government can command majorities in both Houses. But it is losing the argument, losing good will and storing up massive costs - financial and political - for the future.

  • 31 Dec 2011

    The political ride in Britain, in Europe and more widely is set to get bumpier, sometimes alarming, and never less than fascinating, says Simon Barrow. But the key question remains: who does (and who should?) call the shots in shaping the capacity of our key institutions both to respond to popular pressures and to ride the economic tiger?

  • 16 Nov 2011

    While attempts to 'Christianise' the Occupy movement from above are rightly being resisted within and without the protest outside St Paul's Cathedral, there are profound Christian lessons to be learned from 'the Church of Occupy', suggests Simon Barrow. The juxtaposition of movement and institution dramatises the questions and issues raised by the uneven transition from Christendom to post-Christendom.

  • 12 Nov 2011

    As with the leadership of the Church of England, the main Westminster parties have struggled to know how to respond to the Occupy London Stock Exchange camp, says Simon Barrow. He questions and deconstructs the idea that the tent protests have been 'unconstructive' politically and 'disastrous' religiously. Quite the reverse, he suggests.

  • 28 Oct 2011

    The Occupy protests, environmental movements and civic revolutions across the world are suggesting that there is a whole world of politics available outwith the narrow party perspectives that still dominate the electoral machinery of Western democracies, says Simon Barrow. Party posturing is looking increasingly irrelevant. A spirit of change is in the air.

  • 8 Oct 2011

    The core to Archbishop Desmond Tutu's appeal, and to the opposition he has also elcited, lies in his sheer humanity as well as his fidelity to the core of the Christian message, says Simon Barrow. This is a pattern which holds out hope for the future of Christianity in dark times.

  • 6 Sep 2011

    The debate on Scottish independence in advance of a mooted 2016 referendum is only just beginning, but Simon Barrow suggests that the contours of a fresh agenda on both sides is already emerging in surprising comments from representatives of the Westminster parties north of the border.

  • 18 Aug 2011

    Theology is ‘wrestling with the unfathomable mystery of God’, but to enlighten rather than to obscure, says Simon Barrow, paying tribute to two Mennonite scholars and pastors, Alan and Eleanor Kreider, as part of a festschrift entitled 'Forming Christian Habits in Post-Christendom'.