Linda Woodhead’s recent article The government’s changes to faith schools sides with hardline religion draws attention to the fact that public attitudes to religion favour dogmatic extremists at the expense of more liberal and accommodating faith traditions.
Latin has a way of sticking to you, if you learned it at school. Far from being a dead language, at least in the minds of those who have particularly unhappy associations with the context in which they were taught, it is very much alive.
For one thing, it has shaped a good deal of the English which we still speak, as well as the more classical Latinate languages like Spanish and Italian. Bits of it can also remain lodged in our consciousness in their original form.
I’ve been reading Dominic Erdozain’s excellent The Soul of Doubt: The religious roots of unbelief from Luther to Marx. At last, a book that sets the record right.
The way I was taught Christian history, and the way far too many church history books still tell it, works on the ‘orthodoxy’ model. The Church carries on, with its doctrines. True church members accept them, heretics debate them, unbelievers reject them.
The future Church
We often ask ourselves: ‘Does the church have a future?’ The trouble with that question is that it is rooted in the baggage of the existing institution and hence it is a philosophically conservative question. Perhaps the liberal paradigm might cause us to ask a far more exciting one: ‘Does the future have a church?’