Saturday, June 14, 2008


I spoke at this year's annual council of the Fellowship of Reconciliation back in April, and an abbreviated version of that talk, 'Peacemaking After Christendom', appears in the June-September 2008 FoR England newsletter Peacelinks. A version will go up on Ekklesia in due course. It looks at the way in which the changing place of institutional religion in society, principally the loosening of its past cultural privilege, is opening up new, creative possibilities for Christians who see justice and peace as central fruits of the Gospel, both within the church and in its engagement and encounter with wider society.

Back in January '08 I also spoke to the Oxford Secular Society, based at the University, on the theme of 'Does religion have to be the enemy?' (to which the answer is 'no'). They are a very open and engaging bunch, by no means exclusively non-religious, and Peter Hughes has done an interview with me for their publication, too.

One of the questions was about what the hot church-state issue might be in the coming years. I responded: "The really big issues are going to be over faith-based organisations involved with publicly funded services... If churches are going to be involved in service delivery (and this is a ‘functionalist’ approach to social engagement which I am sceptical of on other grounds), then it needs to be on the basis of a comprehensive equalities agenda, not on ‘cherry picking’ who they will assist. [This is a case to be made through] Christian arguments, not just secular ones." At that stage, I didn't imagine the Von Hugel research would create such big waves.

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