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All articles in category Cultural and Ethical

July 2014
Articles > Cultural and Ethical

Personal View: The Christian and fantasy fiction (1)

      How should a Christian think of fantasy fiction? Opinions seem to range from extreme caution to enthusiastic promotion. Of course, when this range of opinions is regarded as a mere matter of taste, very little need be said about it. But sometimes deeper issues either are, or are said to be, at stake. Sometimes, Christians who enjoy fantasy fiction can regard it as more than mere relaxation. Parts of it are promoted, in addition, to the category of edification. This is especially the case, of course, with authors either Christian or perceived to be Christian, most notably C. S. Lewis (The chronicles...

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March 2014
Articles > Cultural and Ethical

Abortion on demand

Abortion is back in the headlines. According to a recent front page in the Daily Telegraph, ‘women wanting abortions will not have to see a doctor’ (16 January 2014). The Telegraph’s article confirms that almost 190,000 babies a year are aborted in England and Wales, under the 1967 Act. Around 96,000 women are signed off by doctors to have an abortion without even being seen to discuss the reason for it. What is now being proposed in draft guidance from the state is a further fundamental shift that will ‘erode mother and child protection’, according to Dr Peter Saunders, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship....

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March 2014
Articles > Cultural and Ethical

The importance of Christian schooling

The Bible commands parents to train their children in accordance with God’s Word. In particular, it places the responsibility on fathers: ‘Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:4). This training is to be ongoing: ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. ‘These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when...

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March 2014
Articles > Cultural and Ethical

The Rhondda today

Life-long Rhondda resident Mike Hansen reflects, post-Christmas, on the huge changes that have taken place in the Welsh Valleys. In a rapidly changing Wales and Britain, another Christmas has come and gone. Christmas is a familiar tradition whose cheerfully commercial paganism is as much a part of our way of life as, say, Easter’s cheerfully commercial paganism. It is a time of welcome respite from the usual tedium of life and work, with recourse to the merriments of family unions, banquets and festivity, and much giving of gifts, all enforced by the conventions of the season. It is a season that nowadays seems to start...

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November 2013
Articles > Cultural and Ethical

Reading C. S. Lewis

Back in my salad days when I was green in judgement, some 20 or more years ago, I remember telling a congregation, by way of application, not to bother to read anything by C. S. Lewis. I did not say he was of the devil or not a Christian, as some would maintain, but I thought there were better things to read. I remember a young man challenging this statement, which I defended then but would now want to nuance quite a bit.       Like all generalisations, including this one, it was inaccurate. But what prompted such a swingeing generalisation?       I had read some...

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Is God watching?
November 2013
Articles > Cultural and Ethical

Is God watching?

From time to time, I’m told that people’s behaviour is no worse than it was 50 years ago, but, according to the University of Essex, people are gradually becoming more dishonest. The results of a recent study, undertaken by researchers at the University of Essex (‘Study shows “decline in integrity”’, MSN news, 25 January 2012; http://news.uk.msn.com), suggest otherwise.    Based on a survey of 2000 adults, they concluded: only 50 per cent now believe that having an extra-marital affair is never justified, compared with 70 per cent a decade ago; only 20 per cent now consider keeping money found in the street is never justified, compared...

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October 2013
Articles > Cultural and Ethical

The Christian and fantasy fiction

How should a Christian think of fantasy fiction?  Opinions seem to range from extreme caution to enthusiastic promotion.  Of course, when this range of opinions is regarded as a mere matter of taste very little need be said about it.  But sometimes deeper issues either are, or are said to be, at stake. Sometimes, Christians who enjoy fantasy fiction can regard it as more than mere relaxation.  Parts of it are promoted, in addition, to the category of edification.  This is especially the case, of course, with authors either Christian or perceived to be Christian, most notably C. S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia) and...

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September 2013
Articles > Cultural and Ethical

The Amish tragedy

In 1985 the Harrison Ford film The Witness went on general release and brought images of the Amish to cinema and TV screens around the world. This furthered a fascination with a quiet and reserved people, which began a century earlier and has never gone away. Today, parts of Pennsylvania first settled by the Amish in the early eighteenth century, have become a tourist destination and media interest abounds. Beards, bonnets, buggies and barn raisings have become instantly recognisable Amish icons and British TV has done its fair share to bring the Amish to our attention.       Channel 4 screened The World’s Squarest Teenagers, which...

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July 2013
Articles > Cultural and Ethical

Reflections on the debate over the same sex marriage bill in the House of Lords

From an anonymous observer: I was present in the House of Lords on Monday 3rd and Tuesday 4th June. Predictably, to listen to the whole debate on the same-sex marriage Bill gave a very different picture to that presented by the media afterwards. A long series of devastating criticisms were made of the Bill: including the principle of the Bill; the process by which it has been pushed through Parliament so far; and the many unintended consequences that might follow. There were some stunning speeches. The highlight, for me, was hearing Lord Dannatt, former Chief of the General Staff of the British Army, arguing that...

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July 2013
Articles > Cultural and Ethical

House of Lords backs gay marriage

Disregarding nationwide protests, the House of Lords voted for the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill on 4 June. The Lords’ majority decision (390 to 148) was preceded by a Commons majority in favour (366 to 161), on 21 May.       During the Lords’ two-day debate, the Bill came in for harsh cross-party criticism. Lord Dear, who has led the campaign against, said, ‘An ill-considered Bill seeks to overturn centuries of tradition, heedless of public opinion and the views of religious leaders, and blind to the laws of unintended consequences.       ‘It seeks to alter totally the concept of marriage as we have always known it; it...

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June 2013
Articles > Cultural and Ethical

Global conflict over marriage

Global conflict Britain and the US are just two of many battlegrounds in today’s silent world war that surrounds the institution of marriage. It is a conflict that has engulfed the developed world since 2001.      A few weeks ago, New Zealand became the latest country to vote in favour of amending its definition of marriage, allowing homosexual couples the same marital status as same-sex couples. Nations The Antipodean country’s move to alter the definition did not receive the same level of media interest as France’s, which happened only a few weeks earlier. France’s conflict ended in massive street protests, as hundreds of thousands of people...

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May 2013
Articles > Cultural and Ethical

Personal view: What are the church’s priorities?

Tim Montgomerie’s piece in The Times (1 April 2013),‘Christians must put families first, not politics’ got me thinking (you need to be a subscriber to view the article). He takes issue with Lord Carey’s recently expressed concerns about Christians being persecuted by Tories. Montgomerie makes a valid point that church leaders are much more likely to complain about the redefinition of marriage than speak out on the sobering fact that 200,000 abortions are performed in the UK each year.  Spending cuts He also questions whether church groupings should be attacking the Government’s programme of welfare cuts, since at least some of the cuts are at...

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