COI Gazette – 23rd February 2018

Saturday Night Live

23 Feb

In December 2015, Down and Dromore launched ‘Saturday Night Live’ (SNL) – a bi- monthly youth event that brings together groups from across the diocese for worship, Bible teaching, prayer, food and a lot of fun.

“Travelling round the diocese listening to clergy and youth leaders, we saw a need for youth groups of all sizes to network and encourage one another. SNL sprang from that,” says Diocesan Youth Officer Tim Burns.

Two years down the line, it has grown steadily as word has spread and more parishes get on board. Attendances have climbed from an initial average of 70/80 to 100/120 in 2017-18.




One of the more disturbing features of the last two decades has been the rise of fundamentalism, in every part of the globe and in all areas of life. As life and the world become increasingly complex there is always a desire for safety and certainty, especially if we feel something precious to us is being eroded or threatened.

Who are the fundamentalists? The answer to that question is easy – it is never us, never me. It is always someone else, the other person, the one who disagrees with me. Professor Alister McGrath, in an interview with the Gazette (pages 8 & 9), describes fundamentalism in these terms. It is “a tendency within religions (and, it has to be said, the New Atheism as well) to give slick and simplistic answers to life’s deepest questions, and to demonise those who disagree with them”.

‘Argument weak, thump pulpit’ is an old saying that captures a vivid picture. It conjures up the image of a preacher in the pulpit who is unsure of his argument or the attention of his congregation. One sees in that picture the response to discomfort as being to turn up the volume, as though that will mysteriously sort something. The picture somehow captures Alister McGrath’s description of fundamentalism.

If we think of fundamentalism as the temptation to give slick and simplistic answers to life’s deepest questions and to demonise those who disagree with them, several things become apparent. The first is that fundamentalism is not just a religious phenomenon. In the battle of ideas, whether religious, political or ethical, there is a temptation to fundamentalism – to
package our convictions with slick easy answers. If these get disagreed with, then the temptation is to ‘turn up the volume’ by demonising those who dare to hold a contrary view. We have seen much of that in this past week, as the Stormont talks broke down.

The second thing that becomes apparent is that fundamentalism is not the preserve of the political left or right, of one brand of theological outlook or another, or indeed of one side of an ethical argument or the other. The temptation to fundamentalism is just as big for any side, in any argument. When it comes to identifying the fundamentalists, it is never us, never me. It is always someone else, the other person, the one who disagrees with me.

In a world that is becoming more and more complex, where there is a battle of ideas in every realm, what is the alternative to fundamentalism? Is it to suggest that no view should ever be taken on any issue? Is it to say that it isn’t possible to rigorously, or indeed vigorously, argue for a point of view? This cannot be the alternative to fundamentalism and doesn’t make sense.

Alister McGrath argues that the world is becoming a place where: “people are beginning to ask again what the most satisfying belief system might be. In our postmodern world, it’s just as important for Christians to show that their faith works as to show that it makes sense.” He suggests that: “the future of Christianity lies in a gracious and generous orthodoxy”.

Or, as John Maxwell chooses to put it: “People may hear your words but they feel your attitude.”


Home News

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  • Methodist President hears praise for ovens in the Amazon
  • Presbyterian Church elects next Moderator
  • Lay readers gather in Church of Ireland Theological Institute for day conference
  • Youth Update – Summer Madness 2018 – Can’t wait? … Don’t wait!  By John Kee
  • Commissioning of director of Irish Church Missions
  • The Very Revd Alistair Grimason, Diocesan Communications Officer for Tuam, Killala and Achonry, contributes this month’s Diocesan Focus article



In Perspective – Do all the good you can …

Insight – Learning disability and the Church – one person’s journey By Karen Ryan


The Gazette Interview

Finding faith in an uncertain world – Alister McGrath responds to Gazette questions about his latest book, The Landscape of Faith.


Book Reviews




Letter to the Editor

Abortion referendum

INCLUDING YOUR editorial and two-page spread (9th February), millions of words will be written about abortion prior to the referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

In my opinion the fundamentals of abortion are:

A. Two human beings, one in serious trouble: solution – kill the other one.

B. Two human beings, one in need of special care: solution – kill the sick child.
There has to be a better way.

Anselm Lovett Snr
Oldtown Cavan


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