The post-service social gathering was at the local pub on the canal bank in Oxford. It was great to meet with Jess and Nick’s friends again, the majority of whom they’ve met either at university or in the city or through church, several of them holding key jobs in law, commerce, aviation, education and healthcare.
As I journeyed home the question in my mind was who had influenced this delightful set of young people as they made that bridge from school to the workplace. Who were their educators at university?
The Pope had spoken about the rise of secular atheism and I believe that it remains one of the greatest challenges to us as Christians in a post Christendom society. People are wary of religion, Christianity is becoming a taboo subject and all the while the growth and influence of secular atheism, popularised by people like Richard Dawkins and his book The God Delusion goes unchallenged. My thoughts about this continue and develop over a meal conversation with our friends Nick and Ruth. Nick is Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey (my preferred place to stay when in London. The location is amazing but in the grounds of the Abbey and looking out onto the Houses of Parliament, the only problem being a clock that goes off every 15 minutes!) We were both commenting how Rowan Williams is a great gift to the church and society and whilst the media seeks to rubbish the church and Christianity often on the grounds that no serious thinking person would take the claim of Christianity seriously, in Rowan there is somebody who is a man of great and deep faith but also of profound intellect. Very few, although Nick could probably be counted among the few, are able to enter the discourse between faith and reason intelligently, Christianity and secularism. There is a sense in which we are all called to wake up to the challenges that we face as believers in a changing world. It had to be a task of our Community’s calling in asking how do we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? Addressing the question of how then shall we live? To seek wisdom and a way for living that doesn’t hive off into Christian escapism but enters the debate and engages with culture. It is possibly because I’m in my 50’s I have become a grumpy old man, but I can’t stand trite, twee and sentimental worship, writings and a great deal of contemporary Christian music. Trite and individualistic, what on earth does it have to say about the kingdom of God and the world in which we live?
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