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.

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For many years Bill Clinton's dictum ‘it’s the economy stupid’ was superseded in local politics by ‘it’s the constitution stupid’.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

Non accidental deaths of children: observations on damaged perspectives.

In discussions of emotive issues the first casualty is often perspective. There are few more emotive issues than the death of children at the hands of their parents or carers. If headlines in the media were to be regarded as proxies for truth then we might think that children were being abused and murdered at an ever increasing rate. Thankfully this is not the case. Child deaths in general have decreased dramatically in developed societies in line with social and economic developments. One effect of the decrease in child mortality rates has, however, been to draw attention to the circumstances leading to deaths in particular groups of children.  Since the 1970s, much of the effort within developed nations has been concerned with research and intervention to decrease mortality in certain sub-populations eg campaigns to lower child death rates in car accidents by the introduction of seat belt laws. There has also been progress in understanding the antecedents of abuse and neglect leading to non accidental deaths with the result that the child protection system has had some success in this difficult area. In England and Wales, between 1974 and 2006, the annual number of such deaths fell by 38%. Continue reading

Honesty

Last year there was a news report about a taxi driver in La Plata Argentina who had spent 3 days searching for an elderly couple who had left $25,000 in his taxi. When his eventually successful search and return of the money came to the attention of the Argentinian public through a website set up in his honour by some business acquaintances, hundreds of people sent in messages of appreciation and donations of money amounting to $15,000. People said in their messages that they wished there were more people like him. For those used to corruption at all levels of society this was clearly an extraordinary story. Dishonesty is endemic in all societies and sadly we are all prone to it - from the proverbial "man in the street" to investment bankers and to politicians. We feel indignation when we see it in others and guilt when we face up to it in ourselves. In contrast honesty is both refreshing and attractive. It is like a light shining in darkness and it rarely gets the publicity which the taxi driver's action so deservedly received. Continue reading

Sharing in the Past

In the approach to Remembrance Day, Many people in the north of Ireland begin to think about all those men and women who died in two world wars and in subsequent conflicts. One of the most dramatic of all locations for solemn remembrance in the whole of Northern Ireland is the recently restored monument on the heights of Knockagh, where the war-dead of County Antrim are honoured each November, overlooking the waters of Belfast Lough and my home town of Carrickfergus. Continue reading

Harmonious living

‘Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another, be sympathetic, love as brothers and sisters, be compassionate and humble.’ 1 Peter 3:8 (NIV) Peter urges the readers of his first letter to ‘live in harmony with…’ What does ‘harmonious living’ look like? Harmonious living is partly explained by Peter’s next phrases - being sympathetic, loving, compassionate and humble - but is Eugene Peterson’s ‘Be agreeable’ sufficient? Continue reading

How the local church is contributing to dealing with the horror of Aids?

I've travelled across much of sub-Saharan Africa for the purpose of meeting families and communities, described as living in "absolute poverty". Each time I expect to be confronted with images of despair and hopelessness I could not be more wrong. Children giggle uncontrollably at "the westerner" trying to say hello in their local dialect, and women living with HIV radiate hope and faith for a better tomorrow. Continue reading

God’s Story and Earth’s Story

All good stories have a beginning, middle and an end. The Earth’s story is no different. The bible begins with God’s creation of the heavens and the Earth, in Genesis, and ends with the new creation, in Revelation – a new heavens and a new Earth. This is part of God’s story – which is what the bible is all about – who God is and what he is doing. Our story is intimately involved in both God’s story and the Earth’s story – we are living in the middle of the Earth’s story. We are part of God’s creation (Genesis 1) but because of the fall (Genesis 3) we know that the Earth is not all God intended it to be. To a large extent that is because we have not looked after our planet very well. Continue reading