New Statesman and religion

This week's New Statesman magazine is focused on 'secularism, atheism and belief'.  It's not the first time the magazine has concentrated on this subject.  It's worth a read because this debate - about the role of faith in our society today and its place in the public square - matters.  Noting in its leader that there remains a deep 'religious longing' in our society, the NS makes the point that 'as much as they might like to, secularists can't wish such urges away'.


That reference to religious longing is from an interview in the magazine with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.  The Archbishop talks about the role the Christian faith still plays in our country, particularly via local churches, and contrasts this with the current interest in 'spirituality', which he sees as more individualistic.  Tantalisingly, the article refers to a forthcoming essay from Williams on the framework for economic life.  I have great respect for Rowan Williams.  He takes his constitutional role very seriously and really is a pastor to the nation.  Despite the way he is sometimes portrayed, he's usually on the ball with respect to current issues and debates and he has an ability to think deeply about how they will play out in the future.


I'm encouraged that the NS is continuing to take faith seriously.  We are still struggling to work out how faith and politics should fit together in Britain.  Probably, being Britain, we never will set down exactly how things should be but will work something out.  It does need people to act with sensitivity (to the here and now, and to our heritage), with intergrity, and wisdom.


Stephen Beer, 17/07/2010

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