It is Christianity that created the West – and what China wants to copy

Let me begin with a striking passage from Niall Ferguson’s recent book, Civilisation. In it he tells of how the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences was given the task of discovering how the West, having lagged behind China for centuries, eventually overtook it and established itself in a position of world pre-eminence. At first, said the scholar, we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we concluded it was because you had the best political system. Then we realised it was your economic system. “But in the past 20 years, we have realised that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West has been so powerful. The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don’t have any doubt about this.” (found here)

David Cameron’s Christianity, or: why conservatives can support the Occupy movement

Much twittering about David Cameron’s speech, accusing him of hypocrisy – after all, how on earth can a Conservative be a Christian? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms? Well, no. It’s perfectly possible to be a Conservative and be committed to, inter alia, social justice; ‘conservative’ does not equate to ‘apologist for an abusive status quo’ – although, obviously, in some cases that is accurate.

To bring out what I am describing, ponder the Occupy movement. Some ‘conservatives’ might criticise it for being a petulant protest, an army seeking to destroy the goose which lays the golden egg of prosperity. That’s just shallow. On the other side, of course, there are elements in the protest which are indeed, childish and irresponsible (and gross). Yet it seems to me that the core of the protest is an assertion of moral values, most especially a rebellion against the idolatry of greed and an idea that justice must be done, that criminals should be punished, and that subsidising the wicked is no way to run an economy. Which seems exactly what a conservative would support – so long as the conservatism was thought through, and not simply tribal. I suspect that tribal criticisms from the left are not the best way to bring conservatives to such a realisation though…

Does the church need more cheese?

A question I started to ponder when I came across this video (via Facebook): This is a very attractive vision – people being accepted for who they are, and being celebrated for the same – which surely has something to do with what Jesus was wanting to show. Yes, I know, we need to talk about the reality of sin, and yes, we need to have a mind to only offering up to God the very best of which we are capable, and yes, we need to make sure that what we do is genuinely worshipful and centred on God and not just about celebrating the fluff found in our navels… but even so. I suspect that this is what (some) ‘happy clappy’ worship captures, and to that extent it is holy, and of God. A place of acceptance and peace which is in stark contradistinction to the surrounding culture; a sign of the Kingdom. I wonder whether the intellectual and sacramental has started to obscure the simply joyful, rather than being a servant of it. Which is a way of saying – our cynicism is a sin. Mea culpa.

Marianne Williamson’s text: You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

(by thecoffee4health)


Sometime in the last few weeks I went past 200k total hits on this blog. Which I suppose has some significance. Of more interest is the fact that I have over 150 committed and regular readers – and I am very grateful to you all.