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In a time of increasing polarisation, how can the churches respond and help us build the common good? The third in a series of debates on State, Society and the Common Good. 14/03/2019
We live in a time of rapid change. It is often argued that our society is fracturing around us; that there is a crisis of belonging and meaning; that the old order is collapsing and that, across the West, the liberal and technocratic elites are on the defensive; and we see establishment politics changing before our eyes. Brexit is just one of many expressions of deeper upheavals underway.
What lies behind these changes, and what should the future hold? How can the churches respond?
In the UK, are we witnessing the death of the old order before the beginning of the new? If so, then the forging of a renewed settlement is the great task of our time – and it is the responsibility not only of politicians, but of all of us.
But to what extent are we willing to build the Common Good and live a common life with people whose backgrounds and opinions differ from our own – are our differences irreconcilable?
There is a challenge before the Christian traditions here. Although many people across the churches, as well as others of goodwill, are strengthening community through social action, there is a great deal more that can be done if we work together.
There is a vital contribution for all of us to make. And each of us – as individuals, as churches, religious groups, civil society, and local and central government – should ask ourselves where we are called to take responsibility.
And there is a need now for people of faith to contribute, just as they have done over the centuries, to infuse the public conversation with a distinctive vision about what it means to be human, our relationship to place, and our mutual obligations to each other: it is necessary to restore social solidarity.
This debate will make a contribution to that conversation and illuminate how faith can strengthen the moral economy by being an engine of civic virtue that rehumanises systems that have lost their soul.
The debate will take place at St Mary’s Church in Putney, home of the 1647 Putney Debates on the nature of democracy in England, which formulated the first doctrine of suffrage in Britain.
This is the final in a series of three public debates, State, Society and the Common Good, which bring people together to talk about the proper role of the state in generating a good society. The series is held in partnership between Theos, the Benedict XVI Centre at St Mary’s University, Twickenham and Together for the Common Good. It is sponsored by CCLA, one of the UK’s largest ethical fund managers for charities, religious organisations and the public sector.
Mike Royal is Co Chief Executive of Cinnamon Network UK which helps churches with their community engagement. He is the national pioneer of Transforming Lives For Good TLG, having set up a network of Alternative Education Provision schools in partnership with churches. He has an academic background in urban planning & black theology and lives in Birmingham with strong policy formulation experience. He has 25 years of pastoral ministry and was consecrated a Pentecostal Bishop in 2016.
John Milbank is an Anglican theologian, philosopher, poet and political theorist. Professor Milbank has taught at the universities of Nottingham, Virginia, Cambridge and Lancaster. Among his most influential books is the recently co–authored The Politics of Virtue: Post–liberalism and the Human Future. He is the founder of the movement known as Radical Orthodoxy which began in the 1990s.
Jenny Sinclair is founder director of Together for the Common Good, a charity dedicated to bringing the principles and practice of the Common Good alive. Ecumenical and non partisan, their work includes capacity building resources, training, and public conversations for people across the churches. Daughter of the late Bishop David Sheppard, she converted to Catholicism in 1988.
Maurice Glasman is a political theorist and Labour life peer in the House of Lords. Lord Glasman is Director of the Common Good Foundation, and is the founder of Blue Labour, a term he coined in 2009. Author of Unnecessary Suffering, he has a longstanding involvement in community organising which included ten years on the Living Wage campaign.
Elizabeth Oldfield is Theos’ Director. She appears regularly in the media, including BBC One, Sky News, and the World Service, writing in The Financial Times and delivering Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. She is a regular conference speaker and chair. Before joining Theos in August 2011, Elizabeth worked for BBC TV and radio. She has an MA in Theology from King’s College London. Elizabeth will be chairing the event.
Doors open at 7pm, with the event starting at 7.15pm. Refreshments follow the event.
Entry to the church is via the ‘Putney Pantry’ (church cafe). The venue is fully accessible. Please use public transport to get to the venue (train station Putney and underground station Putney Bridge are close by, along with many bus links).
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Theos researches and investigates the intersection of religion, politics and society in the contemporary world.