The Parish of Sandal Magna

Real religion 


Britain is trying to become the first society to function without religious belief at its core, according to the former director of the British Museum. In his new BBC Radio 4 series, Living With The Gods, Neil MacGregor traces “40,000 years of believing and belonging”. In an interview he says: “We are trying to live without an agreed narrative of our communal place in the cosmos and in time.”

At its best religion knits people together with a shared identity. In our country there are many ways in which religions help build community life, but what is unusual is the increasing number of people who do not profess any faith. This lack of belief can be accompanied by an increased problem of loneliness. In his letter, the apostle James wrote; “Real religion is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”
Of course there are many good organisations that help to fill the gap, and there are many events that create a sense of belonging, whether pop or literary festivals or more seasonal occasions such as May Day or Halloween.

One of the problems is that the narrative people hear most often is situations where religion is used to perpetrate violence or to persecute others, such as the conflict in Myanmar or the Middle East. The good ways in which religion works are rarely heard, partly because good religion doesn’t promote itself, but quietly gets on with the job of loving people and serving those in need. It is the accumulation of such self-effacing actions that create a culture of selflessness and generosity towards others, and that culture is sustained by regular gatherings to worship God, who helps to put our lives into a bigger perspective.

Rupert Martin Published in The Wakefield Express 27th October




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