We are living through a three-decade long period of regression in our national life, a regressive movement found in other countries. I observe regression taking place in the social, political and religious realms. Fewer people speak with an independent mind, rooted in the wisdom that comes from commitment to truth-telling, integrity, and a deeply embedded set of values, whether they are grounded in Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Moslem, Hindu, philosophical, agnostic or atheist traditions. The regressive era we are living through needs an infusion of Wisdom teachers and practitioners. Without them, we lack the people capable of teaching us about ourselves, our behaviour patterns, insecurities and anxieties and addictions.
described as “a claim, direct and personal and yet meticulously argued, that the only credible God was one for whom sacrificial love was the supreme value: a ringing statement of an incarnational and eucharistic faith.” John Austin Baker wrote that “perhaps the best news our day has to offer is the collapse of Judaistic Christianity under the pressures of history; for this affords Christians the best chance they have ever had to regain the perspective of the original Gospel. The encouraging signs John saw nearly half-a-century ago proved to be a false dawn. The thorough-going reconstruction of the basics of faith, structure and teaching involving a change of perspective was not taken seriously. The wisdom of those writing in the 60s, 70s and 80s, wisdom that so excited me then and still excites me today, has virtually disappeared from today’s conversation in the Church of England.
I’ve been lamenting for a number of years the loss of quality of life in the Church of England compared with my experience in the 1960s and early 1970s. They were adventurous, exciting, imaginative, creative times. I was introduced to the work of theologians, prophets and mystics that continues to nourish my faith. Where has that energy and risk-taking exploration of faith gone? Because gone it certainly has. The centre of energy is shifting away from the orthodox, traditional patterns of church life and faith. I have a core of friends who are really living, living into God and the future, energised and inspired. I have no doubt they are being inspired by the same teacher and energised by the same Spirit and loved, intensely, gloriously, tenderly, unconditionally loved by the same God.
Twenty-eight years ago in God’s Truth: Essays to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Honest to God, published in 1988 and edited by Eric James, John Bowden wrote “There is need for vision not only inside the churches but outside them. Vision and a concern actually to make some differences where there is a crying need for change. Honesty is quite manifestly not enough; more people are going to have to do some fighting.” The same concerns haunt me today.