This is about more than the death of a newspaper

I’m already completely bored of the way the BBC and print media pour over the minutiae of the News of the World scandal like scavengers around a corpse.  The media pack has almost picked dry the carcass of that once mighty beast.  Is this a deliberate attempt to reduce the impact of the scandal by boring us all to tears?  This Jon Stewart interview captures the true horror of what’s happened.  Stewart makes lots of sense and it’s very funny, though quite vulgar.  When he hears that Milly Dowler’s voice-mails were deleted to make room for more he says “I think I’ve just been a little sick into my mouth.”

The media’s morbid fascination with the every detail of the phone hacking scandal keeps the nation looking at the trees so I fear we are in danger of missing the woods.  The really big story or question is: is this is the death, or the beginning of the death, of secularism?

European rationalism grew in confidence and stature over 200 years. Human reason replaced the God of the bible as the authenticating voice in society in the 1960s.  We Europeans truly believed that we could live without God.  But the system is failing systemically. Like eastern communism before it, western secularism is about to die.  It has failed to prevent gross immorality, greed, corruption and evil at every level of society.

The setting up of an independent inquiry into the relationship between parliament, media and police assumes an a priori secular commitment to human reason and inquiry as the means to solve this problem.  David Cameron said in the Commons that we should learn from our mistakes to avoid future problems like this one.  But despite a seemingly ever increasing number of public enquiries, or calls for them, we continue to hurtle down the moral spiral into the mire we find ourselves in now.  How many independent inquiries to we need before we ask “is there something wrong with us as people?”  Is this the public scandal which eventually makes us question the secular assumption that human beings are essentially good?  We are clearly very, very flawed, when unrestrained we are capable of great evil.  It’s only one more step for us all to acknowledge that we are all sinful and accountable to God (Romans 3:23).

We need to stand back from the detail of recent events and survey the scene of the accident.  What does the wreck of the UK look like?  A once relatively happy and prosperous nation has been brought close to its knees by individual, corporate and state greed and short-sightedness.  We’re all guilty.  The symptoms of failure are numerous and well catalogued.  Yet, detailed analysis on 24-hour news channels of individual events fails to question the European thought system.  Why is no one asking, “has secularism failed?”  The whole system is creaking from the government, to banking, media and education.  All are interdependent but, it seems, no one wants to ask if what we believe about ourselves as human beings is right and true.

Secularism doesn’t work.  The institutions of state, media, police, education and finance are themselves morally neutral and are necessary for society to function.  But the thinking and practice, the people within them, is corrupt.  We’re discovering the hard way that the collective human mind is too small to make life work on a grand scale after all.

At the same time as secularism seems to be breathing its last breath, (of course my observation may be premature as we humans are more stupid, stubborn and determined to be autonomous than we give ourselves credit for), the church of Christ shows signs of rising from the ashes.  Secularism was such a powerful movement it nearly killed the church, infecting her theology and practice with the germs of the supremacy of human rationality.  But, as confidence wanes in our ability as humans to sort things out, the church is budding a new generation of careful thinkers, biblical theologians, teachers of God’s word, preachers, pastors and evangelists, disciples of Jesus Christ.

The social media reveals a growing and increasingly confident Christianity, the internet has given everyone a voice, even me!  Then there’s school.  Despite the best efforts of secularisers and atheists, Christian schools flourish.  What then about politicians?  At the next election we need more well thought-through Christian candidates.  The bud of the reviving church will burst into bloom as we collectively rediscover the glory, wisdom and grace of God in all the scriptures and in Jesus, the living word, who loves us as we are, died for all our sin and calls us to learn from him as we follow him to glory.  History is on God’s side.  God is on God’s side.

God tells us that when his people turn from him three or four generations suffer the consequences and effects.  Three generations have passed since our nation turned from God to idols of the human mind, the secular project and money.  That time must soon be over.  I am waiting with some degree of anticipation for what might happen next.

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  “You shall have no other gods before me.  “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,  but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:2-6 

About neilrobbie

I am a 6'6" formerly ginger Scot, in a cross cultural marriage to my lovely Londoner wife. We've lived in SE Asia and since 2005, I have served as an Anglican minister in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich.
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