Tuesday, September 16, 2003


Where to start this diverse collection of posts on subjects as diverse as politics, property, passion and preaching? With a declaration of conviction, I suppose. But given the state of the world, that is far from easy.

As faith-based extremism straddles the globe, religion is getting a dubious press, and understandably so. Arguments revolving around God cost lives, say the sceptics. They are right.

From Muslim-Christian violence in Nigeria to bombers in Bali, from the 'Lord's Resistance Army' in Uganda to 'promised land' settlers in occupied Palestine, from communal conflict in India to sectarianism in Ireland... misplaced faith is deadly.

If you're gay, love your partner, and have been nominated to be a bishop things are not quite as drastic, of course. But they are still hugely unpleasant.

When people disagree about the fundamentals of faith they can be deeply unattractive and wounding to each other and to those around them. Often without realising it.

For anyone who belongs to a religious community this is more than just "someone else's problem." It raises questions about the enterprise of faith per se.

So it is an extremely foolish person who embarks on the journey of 'reflecting theologically' about society at large without recognising just what a hugely destructive force religion can be. Any religion.

And yet, and yet... We all know that faith can also be a source of immense inspiration, redemption and exemplary humanity. Think of Desmond Tutu. Or Sojourner Truth. Or Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Or Hildegard of Bingen. Or a cloud of other witnesses.

What's more, and whatever the urban sophisticates may wish, religion is not going away. It is now a bigger player on the world scene today than anyone would have credited, prior to the terrible crash of those twin towers in New York on 9/11.

So where do we go from here?

[read on]

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