P.S.

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.

“We Didn’t Know”

In a recent interview with a national newspaper the Israeli writer and journalist Gideon Levy said that the reason he tries to tell the truth about how bad things are for those living in Palestine is to prevent a situation in which people in Israel could say “we didn’t know”. Too often “we didn’t know” becomes an excuse for a failure to speak up for the plight of others. Tom Paxton, the American folk singer, wrote a song about people in different situations who claimed not to have known . . . the burgomeister in World War 2 Germany who didn’t know about the concentration camp on the edge of town, the congregation in Southern USA, singing a hymn in a church of white: “. . . we didn’t see a thing, you can’t hold us to blame we didn’t know.” Continue reading

We are what we do…..or are we?

An understandable response to a loving God is to seek to do things which we think will demonstrate our gratitude for being included in His family. To be able to tick off achievements and successes on a list makes us feel good and comforts us that we are indeed children of God because such “transactions” re-assure us of our position in Christ. Continue reading

How Much More Is Enough?

‘How much more is enough?’ was one of the many perceptive questions asked by Marva Dawn during the weekend she spent with CCCI in November 2006. The Bible gives us God’s perspective on life, the universe and everything. It begins and ends with big pictures about origins and endings. Genesis chapters 1 – 3 tell us about who we are, what our role is as image bearers of the Three-in-one, how we began to mess it up and the consequences. Continue reading

Slow Down, Speed Kills!

Ignoring the warning sign that speed kills, further down the motorway the carnage of a high speed crash was a shocking reminder to those caught up in the tragedy and to passing motorists. One Minute Bedtime Stories might appeal at first glance but when thought about is a tragic illustration of a time driven, relationally impoverished and reflectively devoid way for living that pervades so much of western consumer culture. Busyness characterises so much of contemporary life and sadly Christians and our church sub-cultures often reflect more the spirit of the age rather than the values of God’s kingdom. Consumerist values of speed, targets and key performance indicators contribute to driven, not led lifestyles where pace and pressure override peace and poise. In a culture where what we are seen to do or have is valued more than who we are, where noise drowns out silence we strain to hear Jesus’ words, Come unto me and rest. Continue reading

The Ancestors

There is a chilling novel entitled Disgrace, written by J.M. Coetzee (Coetzee JM, Disgrace, Penguin Books, 1999), which is set in post-apartheid South Africa. The book centres on David Lurie, a white one time professor of literature whose life has, for a variety of reasons, undergone significant disruption. He has gone to live with his daughter, who was living alone while running a small-holding in the country. In the story a group of black South Africans attacked both of them, seriously injuring him and raping her. In a subsequent conversation with her father, the daughter said the following Continue reading

A Christian Response to Homelessness

“Homelessness” simply put is to have no home and from this perspective is an economic term.  Behind the term in Northern Ireland are some 18,000 people presenting themselves to the Northern Housing Executive as homeless. Only half of them are resettled.  While this leaves many struggling economically they are also challenged by their social circumstances.  Breakdown in relationships in the family home, addictions, debt, intimidation, and mental health issues are just some of the social challenges making the homeless some of the most vulnerable members of our community.  All of these factors contribute to the on-going marginalisation of those experiencing homelessness. Continue reading

‘It’s the economy, so it is.’

For many years Bill Clinton's dictum ‘it’s the economy stupid’ was superseded in local politics by ‘it’s the constitution stupid’. The constitutional question in large part determined which party a voter chose. Thankfully that issue seems to have been settled, at least for the time being, and the economy is now assuming centre stage. While Labour and Conservative argue over whether British society is broken there is general agreement that the economy is broken. Signs are that it may be precariously balanced on the verge of recovery but we are warned there will be hard times ahead. Continue reading

You don’t have to be an Einstein to believe in moral absolutes

I think I have just discovered an alternative theory of relativity! Unlike its famous predecessor, which has baffled those of us for whom Physics is a foreign country to which we will never travel, this theory is so simple to be self evident. It runs like this. All questions relating to morality  are both relative and contextual. All are conditioned by time and social context and subject to church law and personal conscience. There are, therefore, no absolutes. Continue reading

The Beast In Our Midst

In 2004 I was one of the representatives of  the Presbyterian Church in Ireland at the 24th General Council of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in Accra, Ghana. The Council felt a new confession of faith was necessary in the context of what was described as “neo liberal markets.” The Accra confession “rejected the culture of rampant consumerism and the competitive greed and selfishness of the neoliberal global market system, or any other system, which claims there is no alternative.” (See: The Accra Confession) Continue reading