We arrived back safely from the sixth form ski trip on Saturday, after a long coach journey from Austria. It was a successful trip, despite very heavy snow and some quite difficult conditions.
I have been catching up with the news today, and am struck that there have been two major contributions on a similar theme to what I wrote about the role of faith and religion in public life in the last posting. Baroness Warsi, the first female Muslim government minister, has spoken about how important it is to remember and recognise the Christian foundations of our society. She said: “you cannot and should not erase Christian foundations from the evolution of our nations any more than you can erase spires from our landscapes.”
And the Queen, in an event at Lambeth Palace to initiate the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, paid tribute to what she called “the particular mission of Christianity and the general of faith in this country”.
The original meaning of the word ‘religion’ is something like ‘linking together’. Formal public religion and a shared awareness of our Christian heritage can certainly do this, and can, as I said in the last posting, help people, whether they would call themselves ‘believers’ or not, to experience a sense of belonging to something greater than themselves. Obviously, for many, this kind of religion is only a starting point on a deeper spiritual journey. But that does not rob it of its value. Who could fail to be moved, for example, by the scene in the film Atonement where, during the Dunkirk evacuations, the soldiers at a moment of grave danger and threat spontaneously sing together the great hymn Dear Lord and Father of mankind?