Media coverage of George Windsor's baptism gave the impression that baptism is about conformity. Baptism began in a far more radical way, before its domestication by the powerful. Since then, many people have rediscovered baptism's original subversive force, as a sign of dedication to the kingdom of God – and a rejection of the kingdoms of this world.
Baptism is much more than a comforting ritual, says Savi Hensman. It is to be marked with the sign of a condemned criminal, to refuse imprisoning and narrow identities, to face up to mortality, and to be immersed in a new world where justice and peace reign.
The Baptist Union of Great Britain has seen an increase in church attendance along with a decline in church membership. The figures are likely to fuel debate about the relationship between participation in a church and formal membership.
German Catholics and Mennonites gathered in September for a conference on the “Healing of memories”. Representative of the two Christian traditions are meeting again in Rome right now, and the agenda is once again peace and reconciliation.
The place of baptism in the Established Church, and consequently wider society, has changed greatly in the last century, a new book from the Church of England acknowledges. It offers assistance with developing the rite but does not explore post-Christendom in any depth.