by David Fairhurst
from Signs of the Times No. 18 - Jul 2005

I live in the land that lies somewhere between religious belief and non-belief; or to be more presice, my mind quite frequently alternates between these two positions.

I have not always lived in this land. As a boy and young man I attended a Presbyterian chapel where I was taught about the Christian faith in general and where I heard the stories of Jesus. As a result of this I became not so much certain in my belief but rather I accepted what I was taught without question.

by Mark Rees
from Signs of the Times No. 18 - Jul 2005

Last summer the Church Times published a letter I had written, 'Reproaching opponents of the Gender Recognition Act'. The MCU secretary, Jonathan Clatworthy, immediately invited me to submit a piece for Signs of the Times, which appeared in the October issue under the heading, A Cause for Shame?

A few days after Jonathan's letter arrived, I received one from another reader of the Church Times. Linda had been outraged by the attitude of certain Christians towards transgender people. Her anger was undoubtedly exacerbated by the fact that her sister was transgender. Although formerly a church-going Christian, Linda had been so distressed by the opposition to the Gender Recognition Act from some bishops and other more vociferous and condemnatory religious people, that she felt unable to 'go to church...  any church at present'. Referring to my very tentative idea for a church service for transgender people, Linda urged me to go ahead with this, adding, 'I think that until I attend such a service I will not be able to set foot in a church again.'

by Donald Barnes
from Signs of the Times No. 18 - Jul 2005

It was my 20th General Election. I was too young to remember the disaster of 1931 but old enough for the triumph of 1945 though at 19 considered too immature to vote but not to fight.

So I approached the 1950 Election with excitement and exciting it was. Labour was expected to win again with its 150 majority somewhat reduced (shades of 2005). It would gladly have accepted the 66 of 2005 but was squeezed to a miserable 6. But one record it had and retained. The turnout was an amazing 84%! In those days people thought it mattered and believed it could make a difference.

by Mary Roe
from Signs of the Times No. 18 - Jul 2005

I am no expert on the doctrines which relate to the place of Mary in the Christian tradition (despite having wrestled with the implications of Theotokos during my studies) nor in the various devotions associated with her name, particularly in the Roman Catholic church. What follows is not a 'gut reaction' to the ARCIC statement such as may be expected from either end of the Catholic/Protestant scale, but the 'off the top of my head' response of a concerned Anglican.

Some paragraphs of the Statement should not prove very contentious: 'Asking Mary to pray for us is akin to asking our brothers and sisters on earth to pray for us. The prayers are offered through Christ and do not compete with his unique mediation.'(68f)

by William Frend
from Signs of the Times No. 18 - Jul 2005

Which is it to be? Will the Anglican Communion remain anchored on scripture, or will it accept as its foundation the Christian Neo-Platonism of Cyril of Alexandria, and his key doctrine of Mary as Theotokos, which was to inspire the Monophysite Churches down the Nile Valley, in Syria and in Armenia, but not in the West?

The Gospels give us a different picture of Mary. Joseph's family were in all likelihood immigrants from Judaea to Galilee, and they held senior positions in Nazareth. The invitation to Mary and Jesus to the marriage feast at Cana, north of Nazareth, is witness to the fact. There is nothing to suggest that Mary enjoyed anything but a normal childhood and girlhood, and was surprised at the angel's visitation and salutation.