Wednesday, October 23, 2013

UK Snapshot: post-christian christenings, faith-based politics, changing churches.

1. The BBC has a piece on '10 ways christenings have changed', in advance of Prince Georges baptism later today. The last 2 of the 10 are an improvement, but I'm not sure about the rest! One thing is certain, we've moved on a long way from the original idea of godparents as potential surrogate parents who would step in if a childs birth parents were martyred for their faith.

update: one of the trends - increasing numbers of godparents - is followed religiously (if that's the right word) by Prince George, who has 7. That makes for an interesting precedent: the most I've ever agreed to is 6 (bartered down from an original 16!), and I encourage people to aim for 2-4. 

2. Labour MP Stephen Timms highlights a recent Demos report (free download) which argues that faith groups are more likely to be sympathetic to left-wing perspectives than those of the right, and that "faith is a very good starting point for politics, and for progressive politics in particular, because faith inspires, on a large scale, exactly the values that can make politics work: responsibility, solidarity, patience, compassion and truthfulness."

3. Christian Today has an interview with Phil Potter, new national head of Fresh Expressions for the Anglican church. "my vision is to see the culture of the church itself change. That change would see it becoming a culture which welcomes and embraces an ongoing cycle of transformation and renewal for the sake of the Gospel." You might almost suspect he's been talking to his boss. The CofE has tended to change in nausea-inducing lurches, we don't seem to be able to celebrate anything good without erecting a Grade 1 listed monument over it. 

To review, decide, plan and change on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual cycle is a good spiritual discipline both for the church, and for individual Christians. The irony is, we have the resources in our tradition to do this: from the Catholic side, Ignatian prayer (with the practice of a daily 'examen of conscience', a spiritual review), and from the Protestant side the idea of 'semper reformanda' (such fun we still cit it in Latin) - 'constant reformation' as the guiding principle of the church. But it's our attitude to those same traditions, our idolisation of them, that makes change such hard work. 

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