Friday, 22 June 2012


'Say one for me, Vicar, will ya?' That often repeated shout from the local milkman as I walked to church each morning to pray the morning office was a great ecnouragement. Looking back I wish I'd told him so. Similar encouragement came also from the small band of people who at different times joined me in the saying of those prayers. Add to that those who asked for prayer or others who commented on the reassurance they drew from hearing the church bell, and the saying of the office was far from a solitary affair. The theological point that prayer is always a 'joining-in' rather than an isolated action, was made real in those things.
Is there any way that such encouragment can be emulated in the rythmns and demands of a so called sector post. I've been toying with what social media may offer here. I've been tweeting a thought from one of the portions of the daily continuous reading of scripture in the hope of prompting some others. Nothing grandly theological - just something to help me think on the passage during the day, as well as being something to slow down my solitary saying of the office. I've called it cLectio - a little thought from the lectio continua of the day. At the moment the Church of England lectionary points me to Judges. Any chance we might cLectio together? Tweet @theosoc.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Bible illiteracy

The Bible has dropped out of common cultural currency. Even principle biblical characters and stories are no longer widely known.  So runs the argument about biblical literacy, and its wrong says Dr Katie Edwards. In fact, says Edwards, biblical motifs are everwhere in advertising. Indeed biblical images are particularly prominent in adverts directed at younger people which suggests that their designers believe such images readily connect with the young. Far from being biblically illiterate the 'old, old story' still has an impact on the young. Those who bemoan the silencing of the Bible in contemporary culture have got it wrong, according to Edwards. The cultural pessmists have got it wrong because they are looking in the wrong places and don't give sufficient regard or value to popular culture. The biblical illiteracy argument is one produced out of a certain cultural elitism that doesn't take anything 'pop' seriously.

Dr Edwards made her  case strongly at a presentation at the College of Preachers national conference on 18 June. A quick Google search seems to support her contention that biblical images are everythere in adverts. This one came up with just a couple of clicks. Adam and Eve, Mary, Jesus, and other references do abound. And yes, they often do seem to be directed towards people of 30 and under, so someone somewhere knows that they connect. Certainly it is too easy to dismiss the power of some biblical motifs, and the church is reticent about putting those motifs 'out there' in ways that readily connect. Respectful hesitance is perhaps a a screen for cultural elitism. I'm not sure, however, that the prevalence of a relatively few biblical motifs, however frequently repeated, necessarily overturns the observation that the cultural memory of the Bible is fading fast in contemporary Western society. I need to know more and look forward to learning more of Dr Edwards' analysis. What a great event the College of Preachers conference is.