Re-placing Christianity After Lockdown

“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near.” – Mark 1:15

“ We will not save a place we do not love. We cannot love a place we do not know.” – Baba Dioum (Senegalese Environmentalist) Ched Myers’ writing on Watershed Discipleship advocates for a Christianity that recognises we are in a watershed moment of interlocking crises of climate, consumption and ecological degradation. He calls for a refocussing of radical Christian discipleship on a bioregional basis of environmental …

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The end of Catholic Ireland? @ESRCFestivalNI

The end of Catholic Ireland?  by Allan LEONARD 6 November 2018 In what Alan Meban described the event as a symposium (“but don’t say it was in a bar” [The Dark Horse Inn]), Dr Gladys Ganiel, a sociologist of religion from Queen’s University Belfast, laid out quantitative and qualitative findings about the apparent secularisation process in Ireland. This was discussed by fellow panellists Pádraig Ó Tuama (poet, theologian and leader of Corrymeela) and Professor Margaret O’Callaghan (historian, Queen’s University Belfast). …

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Presbyterians, Salvation, and God

We cremated my friend James on the freakishly warm Friday before St Patrick’s Day, between the two bouts of even freakier snow. We did this after a celebration of the Supper of the Lord Jesus Christ who was his Saviour and the anchor of his life. The daffodils bobbed in the sunshine as we took his coffin through the traffic from the church in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral to the crematorium in East Finchley, his terminus ad quem …

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What can Evangelicals learn from #repealthe8th

It was the closing celebration at New Wine in Sligo last summer, one of Ireland’s largest gatherings of Evangelical Christians. If you’re familiar with these events, the final evening is a vibrant celebration with bible teaching and vibrant praise and worship, with the aim of sending the masses out affirmed and emboldened in their faith. Arriving slightly late for the final event I walked past a table laden with hundreds of anti-abortion books. These were to be given free to …

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Letter From America: The Love Affair with the Ten Commandments…

 One thing that I see a lot of in America is signs. Advertising billboards are everywhere, a lot more than in Europe. Drive for any distance in a populated area in the US and you’ll see hundreds. However, there’s one particular type of sign that I see a lot of in my area and it’s not (technically, anyway) an advertisement. It’s the Ten Commandments. They’re all the same design and are available from a website (which is also advertised on …

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Are the Christian Churches key to beating voter apathy?

Has the time finally come for the Christian Churches in Ireland to fully engage with the political process? And if they did get organised, what impact could they make on society? In the recent Stormont poll, only some 54 per cent of voters turned out. A key question which political parties and churches alike must pose is – how many of the 46 per cent which didn’t vote are church-attending folk? Long gone are the days when the DUP was …

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How Christians Can ‘Learn the Language’ of Islam

Over the past 30 years or so, I’ve done a lot of travelling in Africa, the Middle East, and all around Europe. Needless to say, this necessitated navigating my way through language barriers. One of my personal habits when I was travelling was to begin by learning how to say one phrase: ‘I don’t speak (insert language).’ Over the years I learned how to say it in French, Polish, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Arabic, Hebrew, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, German, Spanish, and Catalan. …

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Gay Life in NI if the Conscience Clause Were Enacted

It was a summer Friday in 2008, and we were in a provincial town West of the Bann. Jordin Sparks was Number 1 and Ian Paisley’s tenure as leader of Our Wee Country had ended a few weeks before. We’d planned a day trip, but we’d ended up exploring a bit further than expected. It was chilly for June, but the showers from earlier had cleared into that gorgeous, soft, summer evening light that is the thing I miss most …

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Two Ceasefires and a Coming Out: A Memoir

I’ve been thinking about coming out. There have been a few horror stories doing the rounds recently: Vicky Beeching’s harrowing life and those of Lyra McKee’s friends. It’s made me think about how it was for me, all those years ago. If I’m honest, it was a banal tale set against a bizarre backdrop. Maybe it’s just because I’m home, for the first significant amount of time since Chris died, sleeping in the room where I came out to my …

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Presbyterian Church Punishes Ford for Marriage Equality Vote

The News Letter and the Antrim Guardian have both reported that Justice Minister David Ford has ‘agreed’ to step down from his duties as an elder at Second Donegore Presbyterian Church in County Antrim, as a result of his vote in favour of civil marriage equality. This seems to have been the result of what has clearly been quite serious pressure in what the News Letter describes as “months of private meetings” at the sub-regional body to which Second Donegore …

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Copernicus’ “Google Doodle” and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Sunday past was the 413th anniversary of the execution of Giordano Bruno (burned at the stake for heresies such as proposing that the Sun is a star and that the other stars in the sky are also Suns, probably accompanied by planets very much like ours). Today, more auspiciously, is the 460th anniversary of the birth of Nicolaus Copernicus. He managed to postulate that the solar system revolved around the Sun, rather than the Earth, while remaining a Chapter Canon …

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