Welcome to p.s., an email and web discussion forum from Contemporary Christianity.

We issue p.s. every every month. In line with our aims, it seeks to "provide informed, credible and practical comment and analysis, rooted in biblical reflection and theological thought" on contemporary matters of broad public concern in Ireland.

We are aiming to engage Christian minds with issues in the public square, to inject new perspectives and provoke discussion.

Please note that the statements and views expressed in this articles are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Contemporary Christianity.

Click on any of the issues raised, think about what is said and leave any comments you wish.

Making the Reconciliation Journey.

Reconciliation is a gift and a task, a process and a destination, an experience and a hope. Already there is the sense that this is something big. In Northern Ireland we face the challenge of reconciliation in a society where the old divisions still threaten and where other divisions surface and take form in anger, dispute and disenchantment. As a process we have begun, some say well and others say not, but there is still far to go – the lack of any structured and coherent shared future debate or strategy is evidence of this at the highest levels. Continue reading

The ‘Twelfth’ 2012

In the days after the Twelfth this year a perusal of the different media gave a variety of different perspectives on how it had been. Unionist-leaning websites gave evidence of a happy family day out, in the sun, at Keady, Ballymena and elsewhere. More nationalist-inspired media made much of an ugly incident outside a Catholic church in Belfast. Above all, of course, there were those horrible scenes of mayhem, that could have included murder, at the Ardoyne shops. Continue reading


Old ideas are endlessly recycled, as the author of Ecclesiastes observes: ‘Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time’. In our ceaseless search for the novel we may merely invent new clothes to dress up old knowledge. In so doing we may bury more antique strata of wisdom, which if unearthed might again find utility in explaining what we think of as more modern phenomena. Continue reading

No More Them and Us

The following p.s. is issued as part of Community Relations Week 2012, which takes place from May 14 to May 20, organised by the Community Relations Council, with the theme ‘No More Them and Us?’ Over 150 events will take place across all local council areas making this the biggest event in the community relations calendar. A full listing of Community Relations Week events can be found at www.nicrc.org.uk and printed programmes can be obtained from local libraries. Click here for details of our 'In Conversation With Ian Bothwell' on Tuesday 15 May. I have snapshots in my head of mindless hatred by one tribe against another in various parts of this Province. At first sight it appears to be excused by saying that those involved are unthinking and therefore not really to blame – they are merely acting out of ignorance, but it is more complicated than that. Even a cursory reading of European history shows the revulsion displayed by all classes of society towards those they consider the enemy.  Hitler’s abhorrence of the Poles and Polish Jews in particular allowed an official policy of human destruction that aimed to reduce the population of Warsaw by 400,000 people and decimate the population of the entire country by over 10%. Continue reading

The Redundant Church?

The church's services as chaplain to this democracy are no longer required. You've been given your P45; your severance pay is in the mail.

This is roughly what Walter Brueggemann said to a Presbyterian audience in America.* It is perhaps how the church in the UK feels when we hear, for example, that it is unlawful for prayers to be included on the agenda of council meetings. Continue reading

1912: Covenant or Contract

Being convinced in our consciences that Home Rule would be disastrous to the material well-being of Ulster as well as of the whole of Ireland, subversive of our civil and religious freedom, destructive of our citizenship, and perilous to the unity of the Empire, we whose names are underwritten, men of Ulster, loyal subjects of His Gracious Majesty King George V., humbly relying on the God whom our fathers in days of stress and trial confidently trusted, do hereby pledge ourselves in solemn Covenant, throughout this our time of threatened calamity, to stand by one another in defending, for ourselves and our children, our cherished position of equal citizenship in the United Kingdom, and in using all means, which may be found necessary to defeat the present conspiracy to set up a Home Rule Parliament in Ireland.

Ulster Covenant

In his book ‘Covenant and Conversation’, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks makes three points about Covenant within the Old Testament and particularly the Sinai Covenant. Continue reading

Community Transformation

It was the evening of the 6th August 2011 when the London riots erupted. Two days before, the death of Mark Duggan had created significant anger which finally exploded into widespread civil unrest, rioting, arson and looting.  Other towns and cities were affected as the unrest spread. There were injuries to both the public and the police. Five people lost their lives. As of 15th August, 3100 people had been arrested and more than 1000 were charged. 3443 crimes in London were linked to the disorder with £200 million worth of damage done to property. In the subsequent analysis of the causes, suggested contributory factors were; poor relationships with the police, social exclusion, family breakdown, government cuts, unemployment,  gang culture, failure of the penal system and criminal opportunism. Continue reading

Lads’ Mags: the New Topsy&Tim?

In the light of a recent study conducted by the Universities of Surrey and Middlesex which found a disgustingly close resemblance between the material produced by lads’ mags and direct quotes from convicted rapists it is important to consider the implications of the publication of lads’ mags on all aspects of society. The  ‘aspect’ I’d like to focus on in this post is children. Continue reading

Watch Your Language!

It has been noted that economics is an ‘imperialist beast, claiming the relevance of its general approach ... to a very wide range of human activities’.1 Thus economic models and language have come to predominate in institutions previously organised in different ways. The current policy of introducing market forces into the health service is an example of this. Changing the ethos of an organisation like the health service by the imposition of economic models raises concerns that something will be lost. Yet economics often wins out, simply because it has been seen to be effective in so many different contexts. Continue reading