Every year I hand out a homework task to the new first year groups. I ask them to find a news paper article that has something to do with religion. I give them a week to do it! It forms part of a lesson where we consider why we study religion in school, and one of the reasons why is because it forms a part of every day life for some people. “It is often in the news” is this throwaway comment in one of the workbooks!
I have always been confident that it is do-able. I am convinced that there are newspaper articles out there – but I have to admit that these days I am not so sure of myself! We have a blue recycling box at home which hasn’t been emptied for a while, so there is a good supply of papers. I spent a few minutes flicking through a couple.
The first paper contained nothing at all. I learnt more than I wanted to know about some of the celebrities and their cellulite problems, I learnt a bit about the best fashion accessories for the season, about which “animals” were locked up for committing which crimes – but nothing religious occurred! Then, in the second papaper, I found it! It couldn’t have been much more than two sentences, lodged in a side panel next to a much more sensational piece!
Apparently a priest in Holland was being taken to court for ringing the bells in his church too loudly! That was the single noteworthy comment about the religious and spiritual state of the nation! Not even our own nation!
I am trying to tell a new generation that religion is important, that it has an impact on the world around us – and all I can show for that statement is a guy in Holland being told off for ringing bells too loud!
In the New Testament, the comment made about the early church and the apostles was that they “turned the world upside down”. Where are the world-turners today? Maybe the church turns the world but because it is good news, as opposed to bad news, no one wants to know! Maybe the church turns the world turns but no one thinks it is that special so it doesn’t get reported. Or maybe it’s the politicians and not the church that turns the world now.
See my previous blog. Maybe it is not just me as an individual Christian who is struggling with the abdication of my responsibilities!
(The Scotsman and the Herald saved the day! I popped into a newsagent this morning to pick up a couple of papers. They both came up with the goods – the Muslim community doing a Live-Aid-like concert to raise money for charities and a prominent church leader withdrawing support from Amnesty International because of their change of view about abortion.)