Editorial by Anthony Woollard
from Signs of the Times No. 56 - Jan 2015

A rather short editorial this time!  Not because I have nothing to say (regular readers know me better than that), but because so many others in Modern Church have so much to say. This is as it should be.

Carla Grosch-Miller, in her workshop at last July’s Annual Conference on re-imagining the Psalms (see Mary Roe’s book review below), spoke of the importance of ‘finding our voice’ as Christians, and not being simply constrained by the voices of others (such as the Psalmists and their translators), however much those other voices may provide a springboard for our own meditations.

This issue, like the last, includes the odd new voice as well as many familiar ones.  Book reviews feature particularly largely, and some authors (and two reviewers) are new to these pages though not to Modern Church.  It is especially welcome to have reviews of books both by Carla and by Emma Percy, two impressive contributors to the Conference.

Many of our members are clergy, Readers or academics. They have a public voice, from pulpit or lecture-desk, and often in print also. I do not envy the struggle which many of them must face in reconciling ‘speaking what they feel’ with ‘what they ought to say’ (King Lear). We have no doubt all heard preachers or lecturers who appear constrained by what they think their parishioners or their superiors will tolerate - and maybe, conversely, others who are a bit self-indulgent!  But at least they do have a voice. For the rest of us, some will feel the freedom to find their voice in the context of their churches, perhaps in their PCC or in home groups; some will certainly not. For all of us, this newsletter can be a valuable outlet, where we can find a voice with a degree of confidence that we will neither threaten nor be threatened.  That is what Modern Church has stood for from the beginning.

I hope that members will spread the word that this way of finding a voice, in a liberal Christian context, is wide open.  We continue to acknowledge the voice of our older members, including those who have gone before us – and it is fitting that this edition should include an obituary by Rosalind Lund of her mother, because she and her husband did so much to keep the flame of Modern Church alive, and so they, being dead, yet speak to us.

We have not, so far, been as successful as we might in giving a voice to younger students and academics. Signs of the Times may well be more accessible to younger writers, as well as readers, than Modern Believing, despite our attempts, has so far proved to be. We gained one new young voice in the last edition (and she is now one of the growing register of contributors to the blog on our new website), and there are surely many others, in our colleges and faculties of theology as well as in parishes and elsewhere, who would be enabled to grow in faith, and possibly be led to commit to Modern Church membership, through such an opportunity. Spread the word!