Sunday, February 12, 2006

Moral Climate Change

Tom Wright being a senior bishop in the established Church got to speak on the recent Religious Hatred Bill in the House of Lords (after the vote bizarely). His speech was top notch:

What we face, my Lords, is ‘moral climate change’, comparable to other forms of climate change and equally dangerous. The 1960s and 1970s swept away the old moral certainties, and anyone who tries to reassert them risks being mocked as an ignoramus or scorned as a hypocrite. But since then we’ve learned that you can’t run the world as a hippy commune. Getting rid of the old moralities hasn’t made us happier or a safer. We have discovered that we do indeed need some guidelines if chaos is not to come again. But once the foundations have been eroded, where will you find firm ground on which to build new moral fences? Can we, as a recent correspondent to the Times suggested, invent and agree upon two or three basic moral standards out of thin air?

This uncertainty, my Lords, has produced our current nightmare, the invention of new quasi-moralities out of bits and pieces of moral rhetoric: the increasingly shrill and polymorphous language of ‘rights’, the glorification of victimhood which enables anyone with hurt feelings to claim moral high ground, and the invention of various ‘identities’ which demand not only protection but immunity from critique.

It was this messy but potent combination of neo-moralities, my Lords, that generated the Religious Hatred legislation of which your Lordships, rightly in my opinion, took a dim view, and whose key elements were narrowly voted down in another place last week. It is the same combination which has produced a world in which it is thinkable for a University Christian Union to have its funds seized, and to be denied the right to meet, because it will not allow non-Christians equal membership. Many other examples could be given.

...Within the new world of civility for which we must work, we desperately need to take the religious dimension seriously and not wave it away as irrelevant. I quite see that some secular commentators are now dismayed to discover that neither Christianity nor the other great religions has withered on the vine as they had expected – indeed, as their ideology had demanded. But it is only these late-modern shibboleths, I believe, which are preventing us from realising that healthy religion and healthy public life do truly belong together and that the attempt to keep them apart leads to a dangerous vacuum which may well be filled by unhealthy styles of religion and by unhealthy forms of public life. All this is clearly visible in some parts of America as well as elsewhere....

Read the rest here.


At 10:53 pm, Blogger Ant said...

thanks for posting that Dave. That's really interesting.....

At 12:47 pm, Blogger Helen Louise said...

Hi Dave, sorry for abusing this comments box (although it does look interesting and I seem to agree with Tom Wright on a lot of things...) but I just want to thank you for your recent comments, and apologise if I've been unfair... I didn't want to intimidate you, really! It's very kind of you to go to all the effort of responding, especially as I am so very stubborn :)

I did think that maybe we should take this to e-mail. (My e-mail address is indigo harmony@yahoo because it's probably easier to follow than comments on random blogs :) I would quite like to meet up, actually, it'd be nice to put a face to the comments :D

At 5:56 pm, Blogger Daniel said...

Wright is awesome. It's exciting to see how God has placed him in such a position.

At 8:59 pm, Blogger Mark Laynesmith said...

He's a good guy isn't he? There's an unofficial fan site for him here:

Have you read any of his books? If you're passing Reading's Chaplaincy building any time we've got quite a few of his popular commentaries and several monographs you're free to borrow.

By the way, here are some quotes of his from a talk he gave in Australia a few weeks back:

“Where Jesus is, there God’s sovereign, saving action is doing new creation—right before your eyes!”

“Part of the point of the New Testament is that we don’t know what the word ‘God’ really means until we look hard and humbly at Jesus of Nazareth.”

“When Jesus wanted to tell his disciples what his death was all about, he didn’t give them a theory—he gave them a meal.”

They come from

At 6:57 pm, Blogger Dave K said...

Thanks for the comment Mark etc.

Yes Mark, I have read quite a number (inc his one on scripture and authority of God btw) and listened to a good deal of audio, and benefited a great deal from it. I have some significant problems though, although largely over what he doesn't like to talk about than what he does. He has been one of the most influential writers I have read, not least in my understanding of how NT writers interpreted the OT.

I would pop into the chaplincy were it not for the fact I live in York. A kind offer though. You may be disappointed ;) but my only contact with Reading has been through Dave Bish's blog.

At 9:01 pm, Blogger Mark Laynesmith said...

Hey Dave - what's the York conection? - I was there as undergrad and postgrad, was ordained in the Minster and then worked for three years down the road in Tadcaster as a curate.

Are you working with the CU at the Uni there? I have a good friend who is about to become the new Methodist Chaplain.

At 7:45 pm, Blogger Dave K said...

York is my home town, and I retreated back to the provinces (and my parents) after uni because I couldn't afford to live anywhere else.

Although I know a few students through church I have not really got involved in any way with the CU there.

Interesting that you spent time up here. You seem the sort of person who would have written for Christis, so I did a search and was a bit disappointed nothing turned up. Hmmm...

At 9:23 pm, Blogger Mark Laynesmith said...

Ah Christis... Well I did write some things back then. I went by a different name (and had less grace and humour!). But that was a long time ago...

Do you ever use the Minster library? For fairly cheap membership you can get good access to a wide range of books.


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