LETTER TO IRISH TIMES


www.ireland.com

PUBLISHED ON 27th SEPTEMBER 2003

THE CHURCH OF TOMORROW

Madam, - Perhaps the next time a survey is done on the Catholic Church, or on any other church in Ireland, an attempt could be made to find out the real reasons why an increasing number of people feel alienated from church life. Is it because the day of dogma has ended and authoritarian institutions are rightly being rejected? Is it because the liturgies create an atmosphere of unreality for people living in 21st Century with an outdated vision of an interventionist protector God and metaphors such as "the Lamb of God" that come from an ancient and now alien culture? To my mind, people interested in spirituality are searching for contemporary symbols and metaphors to express our new awareness of what it means to seek to live out human lives in a global village that is battered and wounded, deeply divided between the privileged and the marginalised, but still worth struggling to transform for the sake of millions who suffer today, for the cause of inter-generational justice, and because our dependence on an incredible eco-system is so precarious. I sought to address some of these issues in my book, Tried for Heresy A 21st Century Journey of Faith which I believe raises matters that need debate and discussion. The church of tomorrow, if there is one, needs to be much more open, to my mind, to people 's individual journeys and faith development, able to share advances in theology and debate contentious issues without fear, and accepting of the dignity of difference in a spirit that welcomes pluralism and provisionality as people with varying experiences continue to enable the Christian tradition to evolve in new and unexpected ways. ANDREW FURLONG

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