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.

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

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