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Research papers in the category Religion and Society.
The global media are largely interpreting the current fissures within the worldwide Anglican Communion as a struggle between ‘traditionalists’ and ‘revisionists’, ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’, ‘evangelicals’ and modernists’. In this thoughtful paper, Savitri Hensman shows that these are unhelpful caricatures, and that what is at stake is something far larger than an argument within one denomination. It is about the nature of Christianity in a fast-changing contemporary world, the dangers of simplistic readings of the Bible, the historic threat of authoritarianism, the challenge of human rights, and the tension between the establishment instincts of many Christians institutions and its radical, transformative roots in the life-changing story and flesh of Jesus. This reading of the situation within Anglicanism and in a broader context will assist commentators, researchers, journalists, concerned observers of many stances, and all who are interested in how the relationship between religion and society is changing after Christendom. The paper complements the author’s contributions to the new book Fear or Freedom? Why a warring church must change, edited by Simon Barrow (Shoving Leopard / Ekklesia, 2008) – available in the UK from Metanoia Book Service, and elsewhere via Amazon.
The full document is available as a *.PDF (Adobe Acrobat) file here:
As part of the 'listening process' in the Anglican Communion over the extensive disagreements about human sexuality, Ekklesia associate Savitri Hensman has prepared a paper on Learning, Listening, Scripture and Sexuality which seeks both to take the conversation forward and to affirm the role of lesbian and gay Christians as active and baptised members in the church, in accordance with a faithful and interpretatively sensitive reading of its the texts and tradition.
In a paper carefully analysing the popular use and misuse of biblical and doctrinal language about God and Church, Savitri Hensman shows that inflexible, one-sided, naïve or ideological conceptions of God in sections of the Christian tradition can reinforce domineering models and practices in the Church – which is in fact supposed to be a creative vehicle of Jesus’ broken body in the world, not a defensive fortress. God is not confined by rules set by humans and our institutions, she argues, however powerful they may be by earthly standards. In the biblical tradition, God is at work outside as well as within institutions, including those that claim to be about God’s business. Liberation, reformation and healing will continue to happen even if, at first, they are not acknowledged by the authorities (ecclesial and otherwise); and in time truth will break through our illusions. This paper is highly relevant to issues being discussed in and beyond Anglicanism, concerning its disputed future, and in other sections of the worldwide Church. It makes specific reference to the debate about an Anglican Covenant in the run-up to the Lambeth Conference 2008. It may also give those outside the Church a better understanding of how language and tradition is being applied and misapplied within very diverse Christian communities during a time of considerable upheaval and anxiety, both inside and outside the Church.
Though the role of religion in society has come back onto the agenda with a vengeance in recent years, the political, spiritual and intellectual resources at our disposal for handling the issues involved seem perilously thin on all sides in public life. This paper aims to reconstruct some key terms in the debate and to offer a positive case for a 'disestablished' form for religion within a plural social and political order. In particular it suggests that the alternative to hegemonic religion or attempts to exclude religion from public life lies in the rediscovery of an alternative form of politics rooted in practical 'goods' and 'virtues' derived from different communities and traditions, accompanied by the development of a 'civil state' framework.
Following the 2 October 2006 shooting that killed five Amish girls and wounded five others in the USA, three investigators (Dr Donald B. Kraybill, Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania, Dr Steven M. Nolt, Goshen College, Indiana, and Dr David Weaver-Zercher, Messiah College, Pennsylvania) explored why and how the Amish expressed forgiveness in the wake of the shooting. The research methods involved face-to-face interviews with Amish people to probe their practice of forgiveness. In addition the researchers pursued Amish writings on forgiveness as well as historical examples when Amish people forgave those who wronged them. The investigators also reviewed hundreds of media stories and editorials on Amish forgiveness at Nickel Mines. Finally, the investigation compared Amish practices of forgiveness with broader studies of forgiveness in American society. The research was conducted from 1 November 2006 through to 1 April 2007. The results are summarised below and have been released in the new book Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy (Jossey-Bass, 2007) - available from the Ekklesia online bookshop.
Fear or Freedom?: Why a Warring Church Must Change by Simon Barrow (Ed)
The Subversive Manifesto: Lifting the Lid on God's Political Agenda by Jonathan Bartley
Faith and Politics After Christendom: The Church as a Movement for Anarchy by Jonathan Bartley
Consuming Passion: Why the Killing of Jesus Really Matters by Simon Barrow and Jonathan Bartley (Eds)
Threatened with Resurrection: The Difficult Peace of Christ by Simon Barrow