Soothing 'Christmas messages' have become practically unavoidable, says Simon Barrow. But most of them are bland beyond belief. In truth the birth of Christ confronts us with something much more demanding - a choice between two ways of living in a world dominated by empire.
Theologian John Milbank's endorsement of British Prime Minister David Cameron's 'Big Society' project, and his attempt to baptise it with pro-Christendom rhetoric has more to do with timid conformity than 'Radical Orthodoxy, suggests fellow academic Steven Shakespeare - one of the founders of the Common Wealth network of Christians for economic and social justice.
"Sex and violence" is a hot-button phrase that if often used without thinking. But what do sex and violence really have to do with one another? Christians should be untangling the connection between them, but instead we seem to be contributing to the confusion.
For some Christians, coalition cuts and the "Big Society" are an opportunity for churches to extend their influence by taking over services run by the state. But the Gospel is not about increasing our own influence. In seeking to love our neighbours as ourselves, we need to be ready to stand up and resist a vicious assault on the welfare state.
The problem for Christians today is not primarily 'aggressive secularism', but the confusion of Christianity with power, says Simon Barrow. That and the the distortion of public debate about religiosity and secularity into a false dichotomy between dominating belief or privatised belief. A better way is needed - based on living by example, not the lust for control.
Many progressive Christians found themselves experiencing profoundly mixed feelings both about Pope Benedict’s visit and about the protests against it, says Simon Barrow. This is perhaps because neither imperial religion nor rejectionist forms of secularism are adequate to the task of remaking public life and public faith.
If you've ever campaigned for political change you've probably had someone tell you to “live in the real world”. But witnessing to the truth that Jesus taught involves acting in accordance with the realities our society denies.
The programme of the Greenbelt Christian festival this weekend declares that disagreement is “essential to discovery”. This is an inspiring sentiment to hear in Christian circles, all the more so when it appears to be said with sincerity.