Editorial: God's Jazz


Anthony Woollard
from Signs of the Times No. 73 - April 2019

 

In our last edition, I made reference to the proposals for upgrading and updating this newsletter.  By the time you read this, they should have been further confirmed by our residential Council meeting in Leeds, which this year was unfortunately too late for a report in the April edition (something to look forward to in July!)  But this may be an opportunity for looking back as well as forwards.

The Church of England and other denominations, and Modern Church itself, have seen some momentous developments over the past few years, both in their own lives and, with some particular dramas (I need only mention Trump and Brexit), in the wider life of society.  Signs of the Times has sought to reflect these, but - as first responses to our questionnaire in the last issue are confirming - we need more contributors on such topical matters who will help us to think on their implications for Christians and others.  However, the big issue for Modern Church - the fault-line between a liberal faith and its more conservative manifestations - has not gone away, and these pages have mainly been a series of reflections on that.

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Non Realist Christian Theology: an introduction

David Simon
from Signs of the Times No. 73 - April 2019

It is now 30 years since the debate about non-realist Christianity was prominent in the media.  It was widely and popularly communicated through the BBC Television series where Don Cupitt put forward his arguments in an accessible and appealing way.  In the intervening period there have been substantial developments in science, particularly cosmology and evolutionary biology, and a relatively strong reactionary movement in theology, notably in the developments following the logic of advanced by John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock.

In an attempt to reintroduce or revive the debate about non-realist theology, this essay will suggest that religious language does not need to satisfy both the correspondence and the coherence concepts of truth to enable an individual beneficially, satisfyingly and logically to adopt a confession of Christian faith.  It suggests that the word ‘god’ is used by Christians to encompass the arguments which attempt to explain why there is something rather than nothing, and the terms ‘salvation’ and ‘life after death’ to encompass the arguments underlying the hope that there is some purpose for self-conscious individual existence, and the term ‘eternal life’ to indicate the experience of a quality of life in which individuals find themselves satisfyingly unaware of the passage of time.

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As we forgive

Lorraine Cavanagh
from Signs of the Times No. 73 - April 2019

 I am tempted to give Lent a miss this year, partly out of laziness and partly because the whole business of giving up, or not giving up, sets me off on a downward spiral of guilt and thence to guilt induced depression. At the same time, I know that guilt is the great imposter when it comes to the meaning and purpose of Lent.

Lent is a season of purgation, or ‘refinement’, of lightness of being. It is a time for laying bare what is hidden, so that we can be truer to ourselves and thereby more truthful to God. It is a time of unmasking, of getting rid of the distracting clutter which impedes our ability to love better and more truthfully. I am not sure whether giving up alcohol or chocolate really makes any difference in this regard. So what is the work we are really being called to do?

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Review: Peter Shaw, The Mindful Leader

Trevor Pitt
from Signs of the Times No. 73 - April 2019

Despite its title, this short book has little to offer from fashionable mindfulness techniques - instead, it seeks to draw out a range of themes from the heart of the Christian gospel in terms of their relevance for leaders, managers and those who work in teams. In recent decades, the Church has placed huge emphasis on developing practical skills of leadership, especially in relation to its senior personnel, but also in the formation of its future clergy, which has become a significantly more managerial and less theological process. But this book has a wider focus beyond leadership roles within the church - indeed, 'the church' is hardly mentioned.

The author is a widely published executive mentor/leadership coach who worked for many years at a high Government level in the Civil Service. His emphasis is on ways in which the development of personal Christian character and values can both affect and guide the direction of our individual working lives in all public, private and voluntary business organizations. The aim is to bring out the best of individual people in the workplace (though I missed examples from the shop-floor or the Trade Unions).

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Review: David Runcorn, The Language of Tears

by Peter Varney
from Signs of the Times No. 73 - April 2019

This book offers something for everyone, and especially those who need encouragement on their journey through life and those who support them. David Runcorn has taught at Trinity Bristol and St John’s Nottingham but has moved to a more open theological approach. In this review some of Runcorn’s own words are included; they address an eclectic range of situations and make helpful suggestions for working with them.

Runcorn’s approach to counselling and psychotherapy has at its heart a Jungian model which attempts to bring the conscious and unconscious to the light and help the individual person towards a more balanced whole. There is a careful explanation of the cognitive theory of emotions that the response to a situation involves mind, will and actions. This may be, he suggests, “how God feels in the fullness of his being”.

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