Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Uneasy vision

In the midst of all the excitement and challenge of pastoring a great church with a great heritage in one of the world's great cities, I occasionally find the time to be uneasy. This occasional unease has been a feature of my ministry right from my first days as an assistant pastor.

The state of Britain and Europe has been the source of my unease. It used to be the slide into secularism which seemed to gnaw away at me. Things might have been going well in the particular church I was serving at the time, but deep down there was and is this disturbing feeling that we're losing ground in our communities and market places.

Uneasiness flared up again just recently.

This article alleging that Islamic radicals had infiltrated the Labour Party and Channel 4's Dispatches were unwelcome reminders of the battle going on for the soul of our nation, a battle that many, especially politicians, are afraid to acknowledge is going on.

Islamisation is happening in parts of the UK. And in part it is because society has turned its back on Christianity. This coverage of an interview with the retiring Archbishop of Prague has too loud a ring of truth for comfort; there is a religious vacuum in Europe and Islam is well placed to fill it.

I didn't want to come back after a lengthy absence from the blogosphere with something that might seem discouraging. But this is part of the reality we face as we witness for Christ in 21st century Britain and Europe.

Nor do I intend to leave it there. I plan to post later in the week or at the beginning of next week some things we can do to rise to one of the challenges of our era. And I hope that your comments will help me to tackle my unease.

You can find out more about the Islamic Forum Europe at their website


Jon said...

Hi James,

Just catching up on your blog. Hope all is going well in the North!

Sad to say I agree with your observations regarding the Islamic Republic of Britain, and the soon-to-be Union of Islamic European States. Though the impression I always got back in the UK (even when working for an Islamic company, run by Iranians) was that Islam may well become the most powerful religion in the country (in terms of money, politics, laws etc.) but in terms of believers, I am not so sure it will really absorb the British populace. I would speculate that, as a nation as a whole, we are simply uninterested in any religion, since we don't want to be told what to do. So even though large mosques are springing up everywhere and we don't see so many adverts for pork on tv, I feel that most "native" British people consider religion, and in particular Islam, far too incompatible with the "free" lives they lead.

As an interesting aside, as you are probably aware, Christianity is spreading like wildfire through South Korea. And I have only seen one mosque in the entire country, and that is in Seoul. I remember when I arrived here how refreshing it was to see churches everywhere but no mosques or Hindu temples that used to be churches. I am used to it now, so am always surprised by the abundance of alternative places of worship in the UK. Still, the upside is there is always a Halal meat shop next door, and they really sell tasty samosas...

Jon said...

Incidentally, it is a sad lament on our society that I almost instinctively felt we were being controversial by commenting on the rise of Islam in our country... when did it become unacceptable to be openly concerned about such things? Truly we have been conquered without a war...

James said...

Thanks Jon. All well thanks. This is such a difficult issue to write about as it opens one to the criticism of being racist or Islamophobic. I think it is a sad reflection on western society when critical reflection on particular social phenomena - and after all, in one respect the rise of Islam in the west is a social phenomenon - has to be undertaken in such a guarded manner. You do wonder to what extent we are a free society when discussion of major devlopments within the complexion of our society can be so easily stifled. Anyway, thanks for your comments. Trust you and Elly are well. Good to hear a view from Asia on these matters. James