Gathering Up the Fragments
Individuals and institutions have a habit of becoming enmeshed in their own apologias, unwilling or even unable to escape from their presuppositions for fear of encountering that which may prove an unpleasant shock to the reasons for their existence. Nevertheless, it is only by an exercise of a faith which is prepared to confront hostility and difference that religious traditions can be stimulated to entertain new ideas, new methods of presenting their message, and alternatives to familiar ways of working. Unless this task is undertaken in every generation, the Churches will endlessly repeat to a diminishing clientele a static faith which, although once delivered to the saints, has lost its imaginative and creative faculties. There is the ever-present temptation for churches to concentrate on producing relevant user-friendly products which instead of bringing about change and insight act as a narcotic producing a delusion of security. Image, message and product cease to be a relevant or powerful element within the wider culture, and because of their blandness create a vicious circle in which a sense of tiredness and boredom affects those who inhabit the institution. Ludwig Wittgenstein, at the beginning of the twentieth century, perceptively described how this captivity affected the very language we use about ourselves: ‘A picture held us captive.
KeywordsNineteenth Century Christian Tradition Christian Doctrine Creative Faculty Anglican Idealism
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