"When many people simultaneously run in the same direction, two questions need to be asked: what are they running after and what are they running from" T.H. Marshall (Quoted in Liquid Modernity, Bauman, p81).
Given the dispersed geographical nature of the church we are perhaps aware of the two's and three's who leave the church we are part of, but cannot easily observe the bigger picture.
The last Scottish Church Census was done in 2002, in his report Peter Brierley notes, "congregations are getting smaller....huge numbers of young people (under 30) have dropped out of church in the last 20 years in Scotland, as in England and other Western countries".
Marshall's question above is therefore a pertinent one for the church, as the huge numbers Brierley's research has counted constitutes many people simultaneously running in the same direction.
"the society which enters the twenty-first century is no less 'modern' than the society which entered the twentieth; the most one can say is that it is modern in a different way" - Zygmunt Bauman
I've had conversations with a number of people about how 'post-modern' Scotland is and to what extent modernity still has a grip of us.
To help give me some tools to think about this I bought Bauman's Liquid Modernity. It's a hard read, but I think his hypothesis is simple - modernity is alive and well, albeit it in a chaotic form in which individualization has brought about the "disintegration of citizenship" and thus how we relate with each other and society as a whole has been irrevocably changed.
I like and have found both encouragement and challenge in the following words from David Burrell;
"we [must] take the sort of steps which are on a scale modest enough to be incorporated into our own story ...if we begin to alter the pattern of our lives, however, we will have to explain those actions to ourselves and those close to us".
You've just enjoyed a fresh cup of fair trade coffee and to pass the time read Chapter 2 of Richard Dawkins, "The God Delusion". The Chapter opens with the following statement;
"The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthristy ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully".
Fortunately there's a dictionary near by so you can check what all the words mean! You've just put the dictionary down when someone askes if you mind sharing the table. It's Dawkins himself! What do you say to him?