Everyone brings things to a relationship. I bring a lot of books, gadgets and clutter. Amongst more books, clutter and other wonderful things, my wife brings a subscription to Third Way magazine.
It’s always a pleasure when I notice that a new edition has arrived through the post. And a bone of contention when I disappear off to a corner with the magazine before she can get to read the pristine copy first. A purloined copy is read so much more avidly than your own.
It’s essentially a magazine that gives a Christian perspective on culture, culture in its widest sense. It’s not tied to a single theological or denominational position, so it’s free to use a wide range of contributors and viewpoints. Refreshing to read.
This morning, I escaped downstairs with the April 2008 edition. The first since Third Way’s restyling the layout. The new fonts are gorgeous – using Mrs Eaves with its fancy squiggles (ligatures to those in the trade) is adventurous, unusual but very classy.
There’s an article by Alastair McIntosh which moving tells the story of his still born son Ossian, explaining how the experience injected hope into the book he was writing on climate change. (Hell and High Water: Climate change, hope and the human condition by Alastair McIntosh due out on June 23, published by Birlinn.)
Must say I’m slightly bemused by the advert from Autosave, with their “24 years experience supplying vehicles to churches and charities”.
There’s an interesting discussion between Theo Hobson and Joel Edwards around baptism, based on the tail end of Matthew’s gospel, 28:16-20. Theo’s thinking on baptism doesn’t resonate with me:
“The problem with baptism is that it says that real Christian identity is about membership of a certain institution.”
To me, it’s got nothing to do with membership of a particular church or denomination. It’s about God’s love, his Church (big ‘C’) as he defines it, not as I might constrain it.
Joel finishes with an interesting comment:
“We all want Christianity without walls but we can’t afford Christianity without borders.”
Four pages are devoted to the thoughts of Jim Wallis on the Democrat / Republican battle that we’re so fascinated in. Wallis’ book God's Politics accompanied me on jury service back in 2006 and is still sitting half finished (maybe half started?) on my bedside table.
But back to the article. Rather than focussing on the personalities and party battles, Wallis reckons that many in the US are ready for “better religion and better politics”, through “a better public engagement by faith communities”. He sees a “levelling of the praying field” with Democrats “rediscovering their own religious roots” alongside the traditional moralistic Republican party.
Wallis also notices that the agenda of faith community has at last broadened to “include issues such as poverty and pandemic diseases, environmental care and climate change, trafficking and human rights, genocide, the need for a more ethical response to the genuine threats of terrorism and a foreign policy more consistent with our [US] best moral values”. Sounds like Jesus? Bringing “good news to the poor” – who are most badly affected by the litany of doom listed above.
As well as an earlier comment piece on Ian Paisley’s imminent departure, local-man Mark McCleary offers a quick review of R F Foster’s new book Luck and the Irish: A brief history of change 1970-2000. After “political crises and corruption scandals ... Foreign investment, a low tax structure ... The European Union” the Irish population have a desire for change. At speed too. Bans on public smoking and plastic bags, switching to the Euro, revised moral codes (allowing Irish laws on homosexuality to become more liberal than the UK). The review ends with a warning:
“Every time there have been similar upheavals and rapid change in recent Irish history, they have swiftly been followed by disaster.”
There’s the odd piece of humour, forgivable poems, and lots of language that is accessible and not too academic. Did I mention the interview with Ben Elton? Update - 2 April - Media Guardian's just picked up on the Ben Elton interview and his comments about the BBC being "scared" to allow jokes about Islam. Also made it to the front page of BBC News online. No mention of Third Way's new fonts! The Church Times blog has commented, and linked to a blog post by the interviewer James Cary.
Third Way is well worth a read if you come across someone else’s copy on a kitchen table!