Covid Diary Day 8 (Sat 28th March 2020)

A stream running through the fens near the Fen Causeway

An enjoyable day of rest. Walked to Grantchester, completed some house work, read ahead and finished Hebrews and caught up in Exodus, continued to make headway with other reading on the list (Crime and Punishment, Scruton and Lewis) and enjoyed both the finale to Stephen Fry in America and 1940s classic Whisky Galore!

CovidDiary Day 2 (Sun 22nd March)

I have begun to record my thoughts each day in a sort of virtual diary. The hope is to encourage and inspire reflection in the midst of the unsettling “time of the virus”.

A sunny walk along the path to Grantchester

Read Day 1’s Entry here.

It was a strange and unsettling feeling to wake up this morning and remember that churches across the nation are shut (in fact, a good number of churches are open for prayer–it is the services that aren’t happening). I honestly can sympathise with the sentiments of some who want these services to continue. Even for someone like me, who for now thinks that the sacrament is highly significant but not the sum total of Christian life and worship, I have to admit that I sorely missed taking communion with my brothers and sisters in person. And I can understand those who say that by cancelling services, the church look “no different” to the world around it.

On the other hand, if all major gatherings have been banned and we imagine a scenario where it was only church-goers that were meeting, we would be forgiven for thinking that this was irresponsible in the extreme. To flout governmental ruling in this way would appear damaging to the public witness of the church. Then there’s the fact that in keeping our distance physically, we are saving lives. As James KA Smith puts it, “How strange: this time in which we love our neighbours by keeping our distance”.

So it was that this morning, with some inner conflict, I followed the Church of England regulations (in turn following public health advice) and tuned in virtually for Sunday morning worship. The service, hosted by the Archbishop at Lambeth Palace, was on the whole uplifting and hopeful.

Today is of course Mothering Sunday. I appreciate deeply the love and care of my mother, the sacrifices she has made and the compassion and quiet inner strength she embodies to me.

For reasons I’ll come on to, I am conflicted, however, by the notion that mothers as a category of people, should be celebrated in church. (I feel the same way about father’s day as well, I hasten to add). Lest I be misunderstood and seem an ingrate, I want to celebrate my mother and father everyday of the year! I’m just not sure about the church being the context for that.

I therefore appreciated +Justin’s focus, in his sermon, on the ancient roots of Mothering Sunday.

Mothering Sunday is about place – about knowing where we are rooted, what gives us life, how we are related to others. It’s a place for starting from and returning to. In ancient tradition we return to the church where we were baptised, where we grew in faith.

This emphasis on the ecclesial mother makes more sense to me in a church context as it reminds us that our core identity is found in Christ. We are called to cherish and value tremendously our earthly families, mothers and fathers. At the same time, women are not somehow incomplete if they do not have children. Their core identity is found in Christ, rather than in biological motherhood. Sometimes this can get lost in the messaging of Mothers’ day even, or sometimes especially, in the Church.

I have just this evening read a brilliant article from an old colleague, Abbie Allison, at Theos who bravely and boldly shares her own concerns with the modern church and its view of the family, and of mothers–the oft-imagined paragon of womanhood in the church is the mother with children in her arms and at her side. But, as Abbie explores, what of those women whose mothers have died? What of those for whom the word mother conjures up memories of motherly failure or even betrayal? Or what of those who are unable to conceive children because of infertility? Abbie writes,

But there’s another side to the Church, which emphasises a different take on identity and family. A core Christian belief is that we are whole in Christ and Christ alone. This means that our fundamental identity is not found in being a biological mother, or in anything else, but in being a beloved child of God.

When churches move beyond preaching this message to modelling it through the way they talk about family, they can be a healing balm for the grief and identity crisis of infertility.

I’ve long wondered if we could remove fathers’ and mothers’ day as individual dates from the church (again, I’m speaking about the church) calendar and replace them with men’s and women’s days. Again, not out of spite for our dads and mums, but because all of us are, after all, men and women. This way, we could choose to celebrate the women and men in our lives in a more rounded and inclusive way. Incidentally, Russia, for instance, does this with Men’s day falling in February (initially for soldiers but now for all men) and Women’s Day falling on what is now our International Woman’s Day, 8th March. The realist in me tells me that we’ll never remove Mothering Sunday or Fathers’ Day completely from our church calendars. And so if we do end up doing fathers’/mothers’ day at church, there’s lots of scope for thinking how this might be done sensitively and creatively. Today’s service at Lambeth was a decent example of this, I thought.

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Throughout the whole day, I’ve been reflecting on a sentence I wrote in yesterday’s post: “In abnormal times, we find ourselves behaving differently”.

I began asking myself:

  1. Why do we behave differently in abnormal times? What specifically about this time and circumstance causes me to make conversation with the cashier I would normally ignore…even go so far as to ask her how her and her team were dealing with the stress of the moment? Or what about the present moment makes me think of an old friend or colleague who might be lonely or isolated when normally I would expend my efforts and energies elsewhere (usually, let’s be honest, on myself)?

Then I began to define my terms a bit more.

2. What do I mean by abnormal times? A moment of doubt followed: Are these, in fact, abnormal times? What specifically about these times makes them different from “ordinary”, “pre-Covid” life?

These are certainly unusual (if not unique) times. There’s social distancing and self-isolation, just to name two of the obvious changes (for those used to it, Mother’s Day without a family meal is very strange indeed). As I mentioned yesterday, this moment will be a (and perhaps it’s too early to say but perhaps the) defining moment of our generation.

But in my moment of doubt, the penny dropped.

3. What if our Covid-19 moment is, in some way, the “normal” time?

Of course these are unusual times. But when it comes to what really matters, is this time really different from any other?

Not to be too morbid, but think about death, for instance. CS Lewis, in reflecting upon the effect of the Second World War on death had the following to say:

What does war do to death? It certainly does not make it more frequent; 100 per cent of us die, and the percentage cannot be increased. It puts several deaths earlier; but I hardly suppose that that is what we fear. Certainly when the moment comes, it will make little difference how many years we have behind us. Does it increase our chance of a painful death? I doubt it. As far as I can find out, what we call natural death is usually preceded by suffering; and a battlefield is one of the very few places where one has a reasonable prospect of dying with no pain at all. Does it decrease our chances of dying at peace with God? I cannot believe it. If active service does not persuade a man to prepare for death, what conceivable concatenation of circumstance would? Yet war does do something to death. It forces us to remember it. The only reason why the cancer at sixty or the paralysis at seventy- five do not bother us is that we forget them. War makes death real to us: and that would have been regarded as one of its blessings by most of the great Christians of the past.

They thought it good for us to be always aware of our mortality. I am inclined to think they were right.

All the animal life in us, all schemes of happiness that centered in this world, were always doomed to a final frustration. In ordinary times only a wise man can realise it. Now the stupidest of us know. We see unmistakable the sort of universe in which we have all along been living, and must come to terms with it. 

Learning in War-Time (A Sermon preached at the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford, Autumn, 1939)

War, or plague or any kind of straitened circumstance does not in absolute terms increase our likelihood of death. That will always stand at 100%. Rather, these scenarios make death more real to us. They remind us more sharply of our mortality. War, or any “abnormal” circumstance “disillusions” us, in the sense that it removes the illusion of invulnerability that we might have held to in “peace time”. Lewis again: “The war [read Covid-19] creates no absolutely new situation: it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it”. This it seems to me, is an uncomfortable truth of which to be reminded. And, as with all uncomfortable truths, it is a gift and mercy to us.

Above all else, it might aid us, as the Psalmist puts it, to re-consider our days aright that we might gain a heart of wisdom. If the virus does not in absolute terms increase our likelihood of death, then what will we occupy our hours and days with? The question should not be, “how should I live differently in these strange times?” but “as in all times, how should I live before God so as to glorify him and love my neighbour?”

When asked by an imaginary interlocutor, “how are we to live in an atomic age?”, Lewis gave the following response:

I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.

“On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays

Will the habits we develop in the time of the virus stay with us in peace time? If they are habits, practices, liturgies, attitudes and inclinations of the heart worth forming, then they are for all times.

[EDIT 28/3/20: The lockdown now makes the kinds of activities Lewis mentioned impossible. But we can still learn to have our fears perfected, as Matt Lee Anderson argues here]

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In a lighter moment today, I read the following family’s rule, which I took to be pretty sound advice for keeping sanity.

The entire above post notwithstanding (!), I have tried to take this to heart and have had a pretty productive day walking to Grantchester, cleaning, doing laundry, shopping for food and seeing my Mum for Mothers’ day (from across the garden hedge for obvious reasons!) which was very special. I also tried out our new hoover which was a lot of fun.

Me and the Dyson V7 (it came with the house!)

…the final bit of laundry beckons.

CovidDiary Day 1 (Sat 21st March)

I wanted to begin to record some of my thoughts on the fly in the hope of offering some encouragement and reflection at this unsettling time. I don’t know how long it will last for or how consistent I will be but here goes…

Morning prayer an encouragement this am: Ps 31:27—be strong, take courage in your heart, all of you whose hope is in the Lord. Immediately I was taken back to the version of Church of Scotland minister/musician Ian White which my parents used to blast out of the tape player of the family’s Ford Mondeo. As kids, my brother and I used to chuckle at how repetitive the lyrics were. Funny how they are now lodged deep in my memory.

A friend told me today that this is the defining moment of our generation. Years from now people will ask us what it was like to have lived during the Coronavirus. Hopefully part of our answer will be that we lived well and formed good habits…much like my parents did in playing Ian White to my brother and I those many years ago. Be strong, take courage in your heart.

Enjoyed a sunny walk with Olga to Waterbeach in the afternoon which was a mercy. Savoured the sunshine rays, all the more given I’m not sure how much longer we’ll be able to do this.

Fen Ditton from the riverside

Seeing the chapel where CH Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, started his ministry was also a treat. I wonder what he would have made of Covid-19 and how we should respond.

In the afternoon I ventured to the nearby Sainsbury’s on Sidney St and spoke with an employee there at the self-check out. I was struck by how normally I would have completely ignored this lady but here I was, in these extraordinary times, asking her how she was doing and how the store was coping with the stress and strains of panic buying.

This got me thinking. Make no mistake about it: Covid-19 has revealed to us the fragility of our human existence. It is unsettling, devastating and tragic.

It is also an opportunity. In abnormal times, we find ourselves behaving differently. A conversation with a good friend an hour or so ago reminded me of this, as he spoke about reaching out to friends on their own with a phone call or visiting elderly colleagues who had no one to look after them with a container of soup. In his Times column today, Graham Tomlin wrote about how this period is an opportunity for us as a nation:

Self-isolation, with no sport to watch, no colleagues to chat to, nothing to fill the long hours, can mean we start phoning or writing to friends we haven’t spoken to for ages, learn to play an instrument, try out longer and deeper conversations with family or flatmates. It can give us urgency to find new ways to reach out to friends and neighbours. It could teach us habits of quiet prayer or mindfulness, gratitude for what we do have but temporarily miss, reflection on our lives and what really matters, appreciation for the simple things of life. After a few months it could even teach us a whole new way of life…

For many this will seem indulgent. What new habits are there to cultivate when my job is at risk? When I have to teach my three children following school closures on top of my day job and being a parent and spouse? When there is the stress of obtaining medication or arranging an appointment when the health service is already so stretched? When my elderly parent is ill with the virus?

I don’t presume to hold any answers here, except to say that in these circumstances, sometimes it is enough just to get through the day. And I feel keenly the need to help those in such circumstances. I still haven’t quite figured out how beyond offerings to food banks and looking out for my parents. I still wonder what I might do for my neighbour—the one I wouldn’t ordinarily seek out?

While it might seem indulgent, there is still an opportunity for deeper reflection in this “fallow period” (and yes, I realise fallow can seem privileged for those with the responsibilities I listed above—so how about a period with different rhythms and routines?). It’s a chance to think about our habits, our values, an opportunity to spend time with loved ones, have deeper conversations, grow closer to those from whom we might have grown distant. “We have gifts to give one another in this time”, as theologian James KA Smith reminds us.

We must be realistic. Of course this is and will be difficult. It will stretch us to the limit. But in uncertain times, there is an opportunity for growth and for new, life-giving habits and sacrificial ways of life to emerge.

Ten Resolutions for 2020

  1. Resolved to support my wife as she completes her doctorate and starts a new job in the first half of this year.
  2. Resolved to develop habits of prayer, worship and scriptural reflection through Common Worship (MP/EP) and the Lectionary (using Bruner’s Commentary on Matthew for Year A). Resolved to encounter the beauty and strangeness of scripture through reading in Greek and Hebrew as much as possible, and reading and singing Psalms in metre (resources like those from John Bell, Ian White, the Free Church Psalter and the KJV translation in the Book of Common Prayer). In terms of prayer, resolved to remember the nations of the world and the church universal (I’ll probably use resources from OpenDoors and Operation World). Resolved to continue to invest in the local church through attending services in which corporate confession, Word and Sacrament feature as well as participating in prayer and discussion groups.
  3. When it comes to current affairs, resolved to spend more time reading substantial news and comment pieces from major sources (Unherd and The Times) and to support these organisations in their endeavours. Conversely, resolved to spend less time on click bait and Twitter by using the latter for uploading blog posts and answering queries.
  4. Resolved to keep up my use of foreign languages through the use of a mobile application (Russian so as to communicate with family and Hebrew, Latin and Greek for study). I’ll probably use AnkiMobile.
  5. Resolved to read a good mix of fiction and non-fiction. On the former, prioritising British and Russian and for the latter, works relevant to this blog (particularly focussing this year on empire and national identity). I’ll be using GoodReads to track my reading habits.
  6. Resolved to blog at least every other week as far as is possible.
  7. Resolved to volunteer with a local organisation and so invest in local community.
  8. Resolved to endeavour to develop and grow friendships near and afar.
  9. Resolved to make every effort to publish my thesis.
  10. Resolved to support free debate and inquiry in society by attending events like those put on by the Cambridge Union.

Welcome to the Saeculum

Welcome to the Saeculum, a new blog that offers a refreshingly realistic take on Christianity and politics. I intend this post as a kind of orientation to the blog and an explanation of why I have decided to start it.

What is this blog about?

In very broad terms, I write about Christianity and politics. I look at how the Christian faith interacts with our common life in the twenty-first century (and more particularly, twenty-first Britain, where I live). I use the term common life since that is what politics (πολιτικά) at its root means—the affairs of a particular place (the πολις or city). I hope to show you that the Christian tradition, when engaged with critically, offers a rich resource for thinking through some of the knotty problems of our day. I also strive to probe the complex relationship between Christian identity and political commitments.

Why another blog about Christianity and politics?

Time is a valuable, finite resource! So why should you spend it reading my thoughts, especially when there are a number of other resources out there on the topic (more on these another time)?

There are four reasons why you should read my blog. Now, on their own, these four reasons might not amount to much. However, when taken cumulatively, I think they amount to a convincing case. So, without further ado, here are four reasons why you should read my blog:

  1. You’ll get an historical perspective on Christianity and politics. My aim is to engage critically with the history of Christian thought and action. Why does this matter? For starters, perspectives from the past (whether from the first century or the last) can break through the argumentative deadlocks we get ourselves into. These deadlocks often result from our preoccupation with the present. An historical perspective can realise that we do not hold all the answers. That the past can offer some way forward. We also find ourselves at an impasse because of the nature of our conversations, frequently held online and on social media. These discussions can often feel like the battle of assertions or preferences (“I believe this…” “well, I believe the opposite”). The undergirding assumptions for those preferences often receive little, if any, discussion. An historical perspective can expose us to some of the different ways that people have approached issues. As a result, we can firm up our own way of thinking about a particular matter without recourse to mere preference.
  2. You’ll get an informed perspective. I completed a doctorate in the history of early Christianity at the University of Edinburgh. I have worked as a researcher in politics and Christianity, both in higher education and at Theos, a Christian think tank. So I hope to let that use that training and thinking in the blog posts I produce. In addition to this background, I am naturally inquisitive. When I don’t know the answer to something, I’ll do my research to arrive at conclusions.
  3. You’ll get an honest perspective. I am not funded by anyone and so have editorial independence both in terms of the questions I ask and the conclusions I reach.
  4. You’ll get an engaged perspective. I will engage with your comments and thoughts with the goal of stirring up debate and mutual learning.

What do you mean by a “refreshingly realistic” take on Christianity and politics?

Thanks for reading the tagline! Let me explain. In this blog, I will try (and the emphasis is on the word try) to look at our political life realistically. When I use the term “realistic”, I mean looking at our common life with appropriate perspective.

Because, you see, we easily lose perspective. And we do so in one of two ways. First, we ride the wave of overweening and utopian optimism, investing all our hopes and expectations in a political leader, placing all our eggs in the basket of a particular manifesto. Til’, that is, the wave crashes down around us as the leader we followed with great expectation fails to bring about the revolution we had hoped for and the manifesto we poured our lives into fails to make the impact it had promised to.

Alternatively, we might look askance at our political world with a mixture of wry cynicism and hopeless despair. On this view, the world is heading to hell in a hand basket. What’s the use in getting involved?

Pessimism and optimism look, at face value, like stark opposites. In fact, they’re a lot closer than they first appear. We all find it quite easy to flit between optimism and pessimism. Consider the familiar scenario. A certain figure comes along. All appears lost. If only the leader of our choice would ascend to power, all would be well. Said leader comes along, fails to make an impact and we’re back at Pessimism Central.

So…if we’ve lost perspective on our political life, how might we go about re-gaining it?

There are, of course, many ways of answering this question. The way I want to approach it, however, involves asking two more. In asking, and hopefully answering these questions, we can begin to chart a yet more excellent way between the extremes of political pessimism and optimism.

These two questions are:

  1. Who are we?
  2. What time is it?

When I say “appropriate perspective”, I am referring to our perspective on these two questions—first, who are we as humans (the anthropological question)? And second, what time is it (the eschatological question)? I think the Christian tradition holds out rich and compelling answers to both of these questions which can offer absolutely vital anchoring points as we approach political life. A bold claim I realise, but hear me out! For more, check out John Dickson’s wonderful explanation of the Creed (between 17:53-25:13 in the link attached).

Who are we?

I am convinced that a robust answer to that first question (who are we?), must include awareness of (1) our createdness by God and (2) our brokenness as human beings.

Createdness. Central to the Christian story is the creation of the universe by a good God. Creation is the great gift of a good Father to his children. In Genesis, the first book of the Hebrew Scriptures inherited by Christians, the writers observe that God creates the human person “in his image”. The implications of this statement are massive and too immense for exploration here. But to be created in the image of God means to be endowed with dignity. Each person is of equally immeasurable value because they reflect To be created in the image of God also means that women and men are ambassadors of God in the world, bearing some of the creative power of the Creator. It also means that we are free to offend that Creator…

Brokenness. As the Genesis story continues, we come to the heart wrenching moment where human beings continue to enjoy the gifts of the Creator, while turning away from the giver of those gifts. In the Christian tradition, the word for this brokenness is “sin”. I realise that’s not a terribly fashionable word nowadays. But what the root of this word in the Greek (ἁμαρτία; hamartia) should conjure up in our imaginations is the vivid image of the archer missing the intended mark ahead of him. That there is a mark or target reminds us that we have a purpose as human beings—to be God’s image bearers. What this look at the etymology of the word sin also says is that sin isn’t just the sense that we have committed infractions…although it does include that, of course. More fundamentally, it gets at the uncomfortable fact that the moral arc of our lives is bent out of shape. Or, as the Prayer Book puts it, “there is no health in us”.

So what?

Lest you think I am being a misery guts, let me explain why this is important. A robust understanding of the createdness of each individual entails that we treat others with the dignity and respect God has endowed them with…particularly those we disagree with. A robust understanding of our fallenness entails an appropriate humility towards our own political action and thought.

What time is it?

The Christian tradition also has something to say to the question, What moment are we living in? The Christian story that is enacted throughout the Sundays of the year and told through the Scriptures reminds us that we live between the resurrection and ascension of Jesus and his second coming (I write this, appropriately, during the Season of Advent, when Christians recall the first coming of Christ and await his second coming as ruler of the cosmos). The Kingdom of God has emerged in the ministry of Jesus, but it has not reached its fulfilment; it has been inaugurated but not fully consummated. We are, in short, living in an in-between period. What kind of posture should this instil in us as we think and act politically?

So what?

The Canadian philosopher James KA Smith puts this beautifully in his lecture to Christians in Parliament, when he claims that Christian hope, rightly conceived, means “not living ahead of time”. Not living ahead of time. To refuse to live ahead of time means to reject all forms of utopianism and dystopianism. To not live ahead of time is to reject the despair that we can do nothing and the overweening optimism that our efforts will save the world. This doesn’t mean that we fritter away our time in passive quietism. And neither does it mean that we launch ourselves into a frenzy of activity that assumes we are moving towards an ever brighter horizon. Rather, realism—or more accurately, Christian realism—as Smith describes it, is “bold but circumspect, tempered but hopeful”.

So, in sum, to be realistic about what we can achieve in our common life is to be aware of who we are (fallen image-bearers) and what time we are living in (the in-between period).

Why the Saeculum?

This brings us to the title of this blog. The Saeculum. Another word for this “in-between period” which we have just been talking about is…you guessed it, the saeculum. The saeculum is the time we are living in right now. The great Christian theologian St Augustine (354-430 AD/CE) used the term saeculum to refer to the period between the fall and the Second Coming.

In reflecting on Augustine’s notion of the saeculum, the great scholar of Augustine Robert A. Markus puts it this way:

The saeculum for Augustine was the sphere of temporal realities in which the two ‘cities’ share an interest. In Augustine’s language, the saeculum is the whole stretch of time in which the two cities are ‘inextricably intertwined’; it is the sphere of human living, history, society and its institutions…

A quick word on the two cities here. In his magisterial work The City of God, explains that there are two cities—the city of God and the city of Man. The difference between the two isn’t merely drawn along the lines of a spiritual-material division with the city of man referring to an earthly and the city of God to a heavenly plane. Rather, the two cities denote two loves, two libidos: the city of man is driven by the love of self, of power and domination (Libido Dominandi), the city of God, by love for God and love of neighbour (City of God 14.28)

Augustine talks about the saeculum being the temporal reality in which these two cities share an interest. What does he mean? To tease out the implications, here is Markus again:

The citizen of the heavenly city was no more a stranger to the saeculum than was the citizen of the earthly city, for here and now the two cities between them are, quite simply, what the saeculum is. It is neither a third thing somewhere between, nor is it, except eschatologically, resolvable into its two constituents. For the citizen of the heavenly city, concern for the saeculum is the temporal dimension of his concern for the eternal city.

In other words, we all inhabit this time, this age, this saeculum. The saeculum is no “third thing”, separate from the City of God or the City of Man. In the saeculum, we all rub shoulders with one another

The saeculum is also the word from which we get the term “secular”. To be secular in the contemporary Western world is to have no connection to religion or spirituality. But in an interesting twist on things, Markus goes on to argue that Augustine is responsible for secularising the church. By this, Markus emphatically does not mean that Augustine made the church more atheistic. Rather, Augustine “secularises” the church by seeking to engage those aspects of creation that fall appropriately within the remit of both the Heavenly and Earthly cities. Augustine has in mind a church that refuses to retreat into an ecclesial enclave while at the same always remembering its ultimate allegiance to God.

On this reading, Augustine’s concept of the saeculum offers a realistic model for thinking about Christianity and politics.

I’m interested. Can you tell me more?

Sure. You can read more about the purpose of the blog, and more about me, here.

What can I expect?

I hope to publish postings roughly once a week.

Here’s a very brief sneak preview of what’s around the corner:

  1. A World of Nation States or A World of Empires? In this series of blogs, I will explore the return of the nation state in recent political philosophy and pose some questions about the role of empires in contemporary British and international politics. I even hope to sneak in a bit of reflection on the political context of Jesus and the first century church!
  2. Western Political Philosophy 101: Under the book reviews tab, I will review the great Western political philosophies (conservatism, liberalism, libertarianism, socialism, post-liberalism) with my own take on each. This is a longer term project which I am excited about developing. I’d like through time to move this series from the written to the spoken word. My hope here is to host at some point a series of conversations with Christians who subscribe to each of these schools of thought. I would love to drill down into why Christians adhere to certain political positions and how they relate this to their Christian faith.
  3. Oikaphilia and Exile (Exploring Identity on Earth and Citizenship in Heaven): I have some ideas brewing on the themes of local identity. In this post, I will investigate the theme of rootedness and love of a particular place and how these relate to (1) a global church and globalised world and (2) the Christian notion of citizenship in heaven.

These are just three ideas in the pipeline, to let you know what’s coming up. No doubt other unplanned reflections will appear.

So, thank you for reading.

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