Page 9, 16th June 2000

16th June 2000
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Page 9, 16th June 2000 — Christian England engine of injustice?
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Christian England engine of injustice?

From Mr Sean M O'Conaill Sir, Mary Kenny complains that the Church of England has failed to keep England Christian. Could she explain to this puzzled reader in what sense England, as distinct from a tiny saintly minority within it, was ever Christian?

As someone who taught history for thirty years I found the history of England to be broadly similar to that of every other upwardly mobile European country — a tale of human vanity in which the selfregard of those with power allowed them to ignore and often exploit the powerlessness of manyothers including their own rural and urban poor.

Christianity, owned in the west since the fourth century by the landed classes, was interpreted by most of these in a manner that reduced the compassion of Jesus to an obsession with making sure that the sexual morals of the poor were superior to those of their betters.

Mary Kenny's affinity with this distortion had been revealed just a few weeks back by her assertion that Christianity was not centrally concerned with justice, so that, for example, Charles Dickens's insistence that there had to be such a connection, was mistaken.

Maybe, since she's also into evangelisation, she could try to explain why anyone should be in the least interested in this Good News, as propounded by her which seems to be that an even more unjust England than now exists should be resurrected.

Presumably the fact that there was less cohabiting would in itself fulfil Mary's grand vision of what a Christian country, would look like: all churches would be full, all government monopolised by the tweedy classes,and snobbery would again be triumphant.

Has she never considered the possibility that the Church of England — and the Christian cause it professed is in difficulty precisely because of its long identification with those tweedy classes, rather than with the cause of social justice?

1 prefer to believe that Jesus was not a sexually-obsessed snob, was fundamentally driven by compassion, and is therefore odiously misrepresented by this sort of cosh. The problem for all Christians in these islands is not to idealise a golden age, of Christendom that is pure fantasy, but to build, from below for the first time a society in which every person is equally valued in honour of a God who identifies especially with society's victims.

Yours faithfully SEAN O'CONAILL Coleraine, N. Ireland




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