PS is an email and web-based blog format issued regularly by Contemporary Christianity. The format provides an online space for writers toexplore issues relating to church, culture and life in Northern Ireland, seeking to understand the times through insights from Scripture, theology, reason and the observations that flow from lived experience.
PS will never claim to have all the answers, but we hope to prompt questions that leave our readers a little closer to the answer at the end of the piece than they were at the beginning.
Our writers range from well-known names in academia and full-time ministry, to professionals with particular subject matter expertise, to lay people with passion for a subject and a gift for writing.
You can get involved in conversations by posting comments in the threads below the blogs, and if you’re interested in writing for us, you can get in touch by emailing email@example.com.
On Sunday morning (9 April) lots of Christian people will get out of their beds early, and join with others for a happy and enthusiastic Easter morning celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grip of death and hell.
For Christians of a certain age there has been a noticeable change in the dynamics of faith in Northern Ireland. I grew up through an era where the differences between Protestants and Catholics were discussed, argued over and viewed as critical.
Samson and Goliath, the two gantry cranes that dominate large swathes of the Belfast skyline and can be seen from miles around.
“Reconciliation” is a word that political sources have pilfered from the vocabulary of scripture. However, without definition, it can easily degenerate into a term synonymous with peaceful apartheid or superficial agreement. As we approach the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday, agreement the need for some definition of reconciliation becomes more urgent.
The headlines on the BBC website were stark as the first results of the 2021 census in England and Wales were published at the end of November last. ‘Less than half of England and Wales Christian’ and ‘Wales no longer mostly Christian nation’. The trend towards secularisation was further confirmed – and whatever the figures here in Northern Ireland, it is hard to believe that the process of secularisation is lagging far behind that in the UK.
One of my earliest sporting memories, and one of my earliest TV memories, are – it so happens – one and the same thing. I can still vividly recall the setup of my parents living room, and my exact posture and place within it, as Gerry Armstrong fired past the sprawling Luis Arconada to give Northern Ireland a 1-0 lead over Spain in a 1982 World Cup match, the Spanish goalkeeper having palmed a Billy Hamilton cross straight into Armstrong’s path.
Equality was a value the early church espoused and practiced as part of the gospel. Declaring that ‘there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female’ (Gal 3:28) in a hierarchical and patriarchal society was counterintuitive within the culture of the time. Familiarity has blinded us to the radical and counter-cultural impact of promoting this value.
Earlier this summer I picked up a newly published novel by broadcaster and journalist Edel Coffey. What caught my eye about this book was neither its genre (I am not a great fiction reader), nor its author (this is her debut work). What drew me to this book was quite simply its title: Breaking Point.
There has been a lot of controversy in the past couple of years over statues of people in public places. One of the most striking examples was the toppling of Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol during the Black Lives Matter protests in June 2020.
It is going to be a good harvest of crab apples this year. I know because there was a lot of blossom on the tree in the spring.
They are everywhere… cafés; restaurants; Uber Eats deliveries; takeaways; fast food chains; coffee machines in the local supermarket and garage, and pop up coffee stations. They are there because hospitality is very big business with over 70,000 jobs dependent on it here.
I recently attended a moving service at St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, that included times of silence as part of the liturgy. It was arranged by Corrymeela and was entitled “Courage of Lament”.