Thursday, May 29, 2008


Bishop Michael Nazir Ali - who is all over the media this morning - seems to have become spokesperson-in-chief for a Christendom vision of society. His main article appears in a new monthly called Standpoint. I fear that it is an essentially backward looking approach, and will succeed mainly in alienating more people from Christianity, ironically. There's an overview here, and I have made my own brief comment on behalf of Ekklesia, as follows: "It is misguided to try to defend the myth of a ‘Christian nation’ rather than looking at how Christianity has often historically lost its way by becoming a cosy part of a withering social, political and cultural order.

“There are indeed serious issues about moral cohesion in modern, plural societies. But diversity and disagreement cannot be wished away, and a vision of social justice and responsibility will not be created by lecturing people, seeking to restore Christian privilege, portraying Islam as the new threat, or bemoaning the loss of a monoculture."

"The churches need to be seen as small-scale communities of positive hope, not wounded dinosaurs complaining that people do not take them seriously any more and that the country is going to the dogs.”

When I worked for Churches Together in Britain and Ireland I sat alongside Bishop Michael on a theological commission for a couple of years. I also interviewed him not long after he came here from Pakistan to take up the general secretaryship of CMS. I've always had high personal regard for him, but I confess that I'm surprised and disappointed by how far he seems to have lurched to the right in recent months and years. His views always used to be on the conservative side, but thoughtfully so. Since the Canterbury debacle, however, he appears to have been increasingly marooned, and the outcome is not a happy one, unless you share a rather paranoid Daily Mail view of the world.

I have written more about this for The Guardian's Comment-is-Free. My piece should appear between 9-10am tomorrow.

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