Posts

Should the Church condemn 'institutional racism'?

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  “There is no doubt when we look at our own Church that we are still deeply institutionally racist. Let’s just be clear about that.”  It is no small thing for an Archbishop of Canterbury to accuse his own Church in such strong terms. I imagine that the exact nature of accusation remains mysterious to many Anglicans. When asked to define ‘institutional’ or ‘systemic’ racism, one typically receives an answer along the lines of ‘it’s racism built into the system’ , which is hardly illuminating.  A document just published by the Church of England’s ‘Anti-Racist Task Force’ does offer a definition, which it borrows from the much earlier MacPherson report on racism in the Metropolitan Police:   “The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtle

Unsafe spaces

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  When we first heard of ‘safe spaces’ on university campuses, my friends and I had a good chuckle. What could be more ridiculous than self-styled ‘activists’ for social justice demanding to be shielded from views which they personally find offensive? Throwing huge tantrums when controversial speakers were invited to give talks? We laughed out loud while watching clips of Jordan Peterson calmly facing the incoherent screeches of protesters, and dozens of other instances of progressive buffoonery. ‘Trigger-warnings’ and goofy pronouns were objects of countless jokes.  That was back in 2015. Now in 2021, we don’t laugh about these things. Not that campus antics are history – to the contrary, the ‘ coddling of the American Mind ’ has successfully made its way across the Atlantic, and now seems more deeply entrenched in our academic and cultural institutions than it ever was. The safe spaces haven’t been laughed out of house; rather, universities throughout the Anglosphere are now offici

Now is the Time for Churches to Make a Stand

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In these critical and uncertain times let us make an impassioned plea for church leaders of all and any denominations to speak out for our freedoms before it is too late. Bishops this is your moment.  The Church finds itself as one of the last institutions that can successfully speak out against creeping authoritarianism.  Instigated by my good friend and co-host to Irreverend, Rev Dr Jamie Franklin, a letter was published this week to the Prime Minister from over 1200 church leaders. I was very proud to sign that letter. (Indeed beyond the authors on the list I am its first.)   https://vaccinepassportletter.wordpress.com/    which has also appeared in the online Spectator Magazine in  https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/an-open-letter-from-christian-leaders-concerning-vaccine-passports .  Scroll down the list and you will find clergy of all denominations but no official "heavyweights." It wasn't without trying. I will leave it at that.  Perhaps this works best anyway fro

How to (really) decolonise the curriculum

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African Catholicism is known for its profound social conservatism. Cardinal Sarah has written books sharply criticising Western modernity. Do the self-styled 'decolonisers' care what he thinks?   In my last article, I explained how the ‘decolonise the curriculum’ campaign is a sham. Indeed, it promises to ‘diversify’ higher education by challenging dominant Western moral and philosophical ideas and exposing students to a wider variety of perspectives. In fact, it does the very opposite of this : ‘decolonising’ higher education here really means making it subservient to a particular school of thought rooted in postmodernism. This successor ideology , as it is sometimes called, interprets all aspects of human culture – including art, religion, philosophy and even science – as means by which identity-groups (races, nations, genders etc.) exert power over other identity-groups. A ‘decolonised’ humanities curriculum, then, is one which requires students to approach their chosen fie

Recolonising the curriculum

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    ‘I’m tired of reading about dead white men’ Have you heard this before? If you haven’t, you probably don’t work in the Arts & Humanities faculty of an Anglo-American university. And, having read these words, you identify them as the disgruntled moans of long-haired teenagers, not the serious opinions of tenured professors and campus administrators.  You aren’t entirely wrong – the latter prefer the phrase ‘decolonise higher education’, which sounds fancier. Universities are presently rolling out sweeping reforms ostensibly designed to promote ‘diversity & inclusion’, and recurringly present these initiatives as acts of ‘decolonisation’. As a finishing philosophy PhD student and teacher at a large UK university, I regularly receive emails announcing conferences, workshops and Zoom meetings about how to go about decolonising academia, the humanities, research, and yes, the curriculum.  The frustratingly vague and verbose explanations often given for these projects by their ad

Will the Church draw a line on masks?

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             A scene from Hayao Miyazaki's classic Spirited Away . 'No-Face' was my favourite character. When protective face coverings went from being common to encouraged and finally mandated in shops, schools, universities and churches around the world, many of us had mixed feelings. Some of us expressed scepticism about the efficacy of such measures, and about the trustworthiness of the institutions that advocate them, such as the World Health Organisation. I for one felt that these objections missed their mark somewhat. For even supposing that masking significantly reduces one’s chances of catching a virus or spreading it to others, this does not mean that any questions about the costs of the practise are illegitimate. To compare, an absolute ban on kisses and hugs would likely do much to increase hygiene, but it obviously doesn’t follow that such a ban is morally justified, nevermind necessary. Both benefits and costs need to be considered.   ‘But a mask is just

Annunciation: God's Invasion Begins

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  This time last year I did an impassioned Annunciation Day sermon that received a lot of views on Facebook.  So, one year later, little having changed it seems worth repeating.  I threw my toy soldiers at the camera. I have bags of them. As a kid I would spend hours laying them out in pretend battles on my bedroom floor. These became stories that I penned down or wrote as little graphic novels. (The 70s was a great time to be a kid!)    St Luke is often presented by scholars as the nicey nicey Gospel when in fact militant in his worldview. We view the Nativity mostly through his text and in modern speak translate it into a gooey baby story where shepherds wear tea towels and an in keeper is slightly mean.  The Gospel truth is that this is an invasion.  Starting on the edge of Empire and working its way in.  The Enemy didn’t stand a chance.  The kingdom being brought down was not only Rome but also any system that would oppose God, even the little kingdoms that reign in ourselves. They