First, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, called the Conservative's Big Society 'aspirational waffle' in passages of his book Faith in the Public Square (this BBC article and Guardian article are helpful). Well, he said that often people interpret it as that, and it's lack of definition means that the 'increasingly threadbare' slogan probably won't have any impact. He criticises the government for not prioritising the needs of the vulnerable. Although I agree that the government should not be relying on volunteers to pick up the pieces, it is probably within a 'Big Society' framework (even if it is failing) that a church can make a massive and important impact, reclaiming its role as a people of a God that protects and loves the vulnerable and rejected.
The Archbishop also commented on western attitudes of materialism and our need for economic growth. This, he said, was at the detriment of future resources and that the nation is "investing in the wrong things".
This came at a time when Cameron announced to withold housing benifits from under-25s, in a climate of high unemployement for young people and amounting student debts. This article shows the impact of students, and Suzanne Moore writes about how "Young people are rubbish". These changes concern me. I have members of my youth group going to university and I genuinely worry about the prospect of the rest of them in this increasingly harsh climate.
|Quarr Abbey, Isle of Wight|
Not all teenagers go straight to university, however. Some of them decide to travel and to 'find themselves' on a gap year. A monastry on the Isle Wight are offering four places for gap year students (read here). Will Heaven suggests the peace and quiet at Quarr Abbey will be an attractive retreat in a noisy, hi-tech world. They will, however, be surprised by the hard graft and the early starts.
Keeping on the theme of young people, Norman Ivison gives us 8 ways to keep young adults out of your church. This was discovered with help from the guys at The Church Sofa Blog.
Speaking of the Church Sofa Blog, in response to the Independent's headline "Gay marriage 'one of the worst threats to the church in 500 years" they listed some alternative worst threats. Go and suggest some of your own.
*by internet I mean the three people who read my blog.