Giving us life: The third week of Easter

This week in Giving us life, a devastating yet hope filled insight into the work of Christians Against Poverty, some polling results on how we see our mothers and views of whether Mother's Day is a 'proper' holiday

Thought for the week

We have learned a bit too late in the day that action springs not from thought but from a readiness for responsibility.

Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

Desolate households a report from Christians Against Poverty

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) estimate 8.3 million people in Great Britain are living with problem debt.

‘I was on a zero-hour contract and I was fearful. I hated not being able to provide for my family no matter how hard I worked.’

This sort of debt is a period of financial difficulty that doesn’t simply arise from overspending. It includes inability to afford household bills, keep up with repayments and meet the cost of servicing credit. Their report Desolate households is reading which might shape @acnbchurch work, especially in North Baddesley.

On average, CAP clients’ outstanding debt equates to 96% of annual household income when they seek help. This means that it would take an average client 22 years to repay all their debts without an alternative debt solution. On average clients have eleven debts, a third (33%) of which are owed to priority creditors. £11.5 million was repaid by CAP clients as part of their debt management plan organised by one of the 296 Debt Centres, and 2828 people became debt free, during 2017.

Running a debt centre is a substantial practical and financial commitment for a local church and for some small churches may be impossible. Yet the link between CAP volunteers and local churches often proves critical to helping a client engage with a debt solution through befriending, and meeting crisis needs. CAP also now runs a Money Course a Life Skills Course , Job clubs and some other projects which some local churches have found easier to engage with.

This report is substantially based management information CAP has aggregated on its work. As well as being a powerful statement about their work, it is a living breathing advertisement for collecting good impact data on programmes in every sort of voluntary work.

What do people think about Mothering Sunday?

Understanding how our communities think about holidays and special days can help @acnbchurch design activities and provide worship which encourage participation and helps people grow toward following God. Mother’s Day (which strictly might not be perceived as the same as ‘Mothering Sunday’) is a complex special occasion about which perceptions are changing in Britain.

Some poling work suggests that ‘Mother’s Day’ shows a large proportion of the public in Great Britain see it as an occasion they wouldn’t celebrate if it were not for commercial pressure (40%). Only 53% thought Mother’s day was ‘proper’ special day in its own right. This compares for example to 90% and 80% who thought Birthdays and Christmas were ‘proper’ special days of themselves (YOUGOV). The Church of England commissioned some work around what we think about mothers. The most illuminating answer was to the question ‘What is the most important thing your mother has ever done for you?’ 1/3 of the sample said ‘She was always there to support me when I needed her’ which is intriguing when compared with some of the other prompts in this question: She taught me to believe in myself (4%) and she had fun with me (2%). (COMRES)

Ugly sisters in a struggling world

Can we make a world where science and religion, those ugly sisters, both work to influence policy and help us all to flourish?

An article reviewing a day conference on Science and Religion by Mark West.

The Boyle Lectures on science and religion from the ISSR

Are the big biblical nature miracles hypernatural or supernatural in a more conventional sense. Mark Harris relates the several reversals of the standard theology and science conversation that are going on Scientist and theologians are re-examining the big miracle and catastrophe stories at the heart of the Bible, where God’s purposes are revealed in nature: apocalypses from the ancient world. Interestingly modern science, far from dismissing them as fantastic and primitive fairy tales, instead gives us new ways of hearing these ancient stories of revelation, new re-tellings, if you like: apocalypses now.

So I’m suggesting that the divide between scientists and biblical scholars over how to read the Bible’s apocalypses is parallel to the long-running debate on how to do an historical science like geology. In each debate, there are two schools of thought, both working with the same evidence, but applying radically-different methodologies to reconstruct the past, one emphasising the remarkable, and the other emphasising the mundane. Consequently, the two schools arrive at radically-different conclusions about that past. Which one is right? Either? Both? Neither?

Whether you’re a keen observer of the interaction of science and religion or simply awed by the beauty of the earth this is a lecture to catch up on. Mark Harris gave the Boyle lecture in a February 2018 in London as part of the work of the International Society for Science and Religion at st Mary-le-Bow church on 7 February 2018.

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