The government is right to be concerned about education. When Blair came to power in 1997 he assured the country that Labour’s watchword would be ‘education, education, education’. The deeply entrenched problems in UK schools would be taken in hand, schools would be adequately funded, standards would rise, parents would at last be relieved of their anxieties.
A little over a decade later that optimism now sounds as hollow as other promises the Government made at the time. The reality is that a ‘virus’ has entered the education system whose effects for society as a whole are as serious as the current MRSA infestations for our hospitals. Bad reports keep coming - that children are being unduly pressured as a result of incessant testing; that many leave school with low standards of reading and writing, etc. Last year 110 child experts - teachers, psychologists, children’s authors and academics - took the unprecedented step of publishing an open letter calling on the Government to act ‘to prevent the death of childhood’.
Blair’s well-intentioned millions were in fact poured down the drain. Why? The virus in question passes far beyond the educational sphere. It is neither physical nor financial but spiritual and moral and is as evident in adult society as in schools. The crisis in the latter merely reflects the larger crisis.
Take family issues for example. A report last year showed Britain to be the worst place out of 21 European countries for a child to grow up in. This is partly because the UK divorce rate, single parent quotient, abortion numbers and STD statistics are amongst the highest in Europe. In this respect children of all ages are the tragic fallout of a grubby, celebrity-saturated society. What truly important, widely recognizable differences, for example, distinguish teenagers and adults today? If anything it seems as if adolescence, with its typical immaturity and irresponsibility, now serves as a template for contemporary adulthood: which may explain the popularity of BBC 2’s most successful programme, ‘Top Gear’, currently seen by 350 million viewers worldwide including men, women and children. “The presenters just muck about,” a news article says, “Their attitude to the real world is just ‘Oh, for God’s sake!’… Everyone wishes they could have that attitude...unlike any other show on British TV ‘Top Gear’ just doesn’t give a damn.” It typifies the current attitude: ‘You’re only here once so you may as well have a good time.’
Shouldn’t we be alarmed? A lethal virus has become endemic? Yet resignation and cynicism simply enlarge to fill the vacuum - “Oh for God’s sake.... we’ll all get used to the new situation in the end, as long as there are enough of us in it together and no one is stopping us - it’s the way life is.” True, only too true, and very ominous! But ominous most of all for the nation’s children whose common experience now reflects various combinations of betrayed relationships, broken families, sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, spiralling debt, alcohol/drug dependency, knifings, shootings, boredom, incoherence, futility and not infrequently depression.
Child care reflects the same malaise. Vast numbers of children may now be in child care largely due to an uncritical acceptance of consumerist values and motivations. Rather than ask the tough questions, “Why work so hard? How much money is enough and enough for what?”, children are ‘farmed out’ to day nurseries. The chimera of keeping up with the culture invades and robs them of genuine human richness.
And when at the close of every day the family reconvenes, hungry and emotionally weary, junk food is readily to hand (‘to make life simpler’) and junk culture endlessly and obligingly available via the box and video games (‘to keep us entertained’). No need for conversation: so old-fashioned. Meanwhile, all unseen but all too obvious as Marshall McLuhan predicted, ‘junk culture’ poisons the minds of those who, though children today, are about to shape the future. “…the medium creates an environment that is indelible and lethal…” Yet it serves our convenience. So with almost audible sighs of relief we allow it to keep our children quiet – even though increasingly dissatisfied and dysfunctional!
Frequently bereft of conversation and genuine guidance, cooped up in school buildings or commuted around the country from a young age, many enduring educational misery at failing schools, subliminally corrupted by trashy celebrity values as much in good schools as in bad, is it any wonder our children are the unhappiest in Europe?
What they long for, of course, is the warmth and security of a loving family and a sense of purpose and confidence about life’s meaning. Yet this is the very thing a god-less universe and those influenced by such a view cannot deliver. For if the universe has come by chance and human beings are at base just animals and if morals are just ‘memes’ etc. etc.- as Dr. Dawkins and his colleagues assiduously remind us - why give a damn!? Why not take up with the ‘Top Gear’ gang and lustily echo their ‘FOR GOD’S SAKE’ refrain?
But isn’t it interesting that cynicism finds it necessary to use the divine name at all. Why is this? Because God is inescapable, much as Christmas is. The festive season comes and goes each year and echoes repeatedly what this culture once believed, namely, that God really did come to earth as a human being. But why bother? Isn’t god an empty word and Christmas an empty symbol? Where then do we look to find the roots of our current educational malaise, to the children? No! The ultimate virus in western education is neither increased immigration nor inadequate funding, though these do play a part. It is the incoherence and cynicism which inevitably flow from a Christ-less, God-less universe.
Elaine Cooper and Ranald Macaulay
(Author: Elaine Cooper and Ranald Macaulay)
Why a Christian Perspective on History is Vital
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7 (Author: Peter Greyling)
Longing for 'Home' in The Hunger Games
November 2012 Article (Author: Angeline Liles)
In what sense does the Bible inform our understanding of ‘goodness’? (Author: Simon Aston)
'A Religion for Atheists?'
A critique of Alan De Botton's book, 'A Religion for Atheists' (Author: Jon Thompson)
Is our history being re-written as we speak? (Author: Kevin Moss)
Western Autumn After 'Arab Spring'?
A fascinating look at recent events in North Africa and the UK. From our annual newsletter, November 2011. (Author: Vishal Mangalwadi)
The End of the World?
It must be testimony to something that Harold Camping has, in so swift a time become a household name and face. The media have gleefully circulated images of this gentleman that entirely support everyone‘s mental picture of the archetypal fundamentalist. (Author: Kevin Moss)
The King James Bible and The Cambridge Connection
The year 1611 marked the authorisation by King James I of England to produce a new Bible in English. 2011 therefore marks the 400th anniversary of the commissioning. (Author: David Berkley)
The Pietistic Roots of Evangelicalism Today
Contemporary Evangelicalism needs to understand and deal with its pietist roots. January 2010 (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
‘By the open statement of the Truth’
Lausanne and the Polemical Imperative (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
The New Atheism
The term The New Atheism is one that Christians have had to get used to in the last few years, even if the ‘new’ connected to atheism seems something of a misnomer. (Author: Ian Cooper)
Francis Schaeffer: A Mind and Heart for God ed. Bruce Little
A book review of the latest book on Schaeffer. which is our book of the month for June. (Author: Rachel Thorpe)
Staying Young Beyond Our Time?
We have long since discarded Shakespeare’s “seven ages”. Instead, we live in a capitalist system which encourages children to grow up as quickly as possible, and then tells adults to stay young for as long as possible. (Author: Rachel Thorpe)
Voting links (Author: Annie Simmonds)
'I'm being taken over': Popular music and the fear of the impersonal
Popular contemporary song lyrics reveal "The Fear" that lies at the core of our culture. (Author: Rachel Thorpe)
'Why I am not a Christian' : a Christian critique
Considering the 'sacred text' of new atheism (Author: Kevin Moss)
Year Round 2008-2009
Recovering the Past, Challenging the Present, Shaping the Future - A review of the last year. (Author: Christopher Townsend)
Don't settle for cheap alternatives
Much has been said and debated recently about the newest craze to hit cyberspace, Twitter. For the uninitiated, (Author: Dom Vincent)
The Roman Return?
The wise keep their eyes on the merits and demerits of ideas for ideas have consequences (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
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People we would expect to be our cultured despisers turn out to be... (Author: Ian Cooper)
Christians and the Credit Crunch
Our TV screens are saturated with the latest reports of... (Author: Kevin Moss)
Belshazzar and the Crash
“Overwhelming pressures are being brought to bear on people who have no absolutes... (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Rescuing Darwin or Wrecking the Faith?
An article published in Evangelicals Now, November 2008 (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
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In a way Christian Heritage is all about stories, so as we near the end of a busy summer season let me share some of them, past and present, to bring you up to date. (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Agreeing and disagreeing with Dawkins Part 2
Ranald argues that nothing in all history surpasses the brutality of the social systems most consistently modelled upon Dawkins' own atheistic world-view – Nazism and Communism. (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Divinity and Dawkins - Debating Delusions
The Dawkins Letters and Agreeing and Disagreeing with Dawkins Part 1 (Author: Ian Cooper and Ranald Macaulay)
Dick Keyes on intuition, imagination and knowing God. (Author: Dick Keyes, Photo: karlrpet)
What Can We Learn from Francis Schaeffer?
Ranald Macaulay reflects on the legacy of Francis Schaeffer. (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Truth and Lies
words, truth, and morality (Author: Text: Ranald Macualay, Photo:A@lbi)
Democracy in Iraq?
“Democracy in Iraq? You must be joking!” says the common person today. (Author: Ranald Macaulay, Photo: Chris Christner)
As Implausible as Father Christmas?
Sola Scriptura and Expository Preaching Today (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Humans: Religious by Nature
This claim seems ridiculous to many today who have a sense of the modern secular triumph over superstition, mythology (Author: Dick Keyes)
The UK: Prosperous but Disfunctional?
We are ridiculously prosperous in the UK; (Author: Ian Cooper)
West is East and East is West
On Hinduism and Western Culture (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Wanted: Christian Satirists (GSOH Required)
On Recovering Christian Satire (Author: James Williams)
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The fact that we find ourselves living in Sodom should come as no surprise. (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Paradigms of Tolerance: Cartoons, Compassion and the Cross
Amid the oceans of ink and hours of air-time devoted to the recent ‘cartoons scandal’ (Author: Chris Watkin)
The Dangers of Thin Religion
Francis Schaeffer used to say that what was needed in our time was both revival and reformation. (Author: Dick Keyes)
Religion - A peripheral Issue?
Religion - A peripheral Issue? (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Heaven Knows How We'll Rekindle Our Religion
Heaven Knows How We'll Rekindle Our Religion (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
The Battle of Ideas
The Battle of Ideas (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
The Real Disaster
The Real Disaster (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
The Consequences of Ideas
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Constantine to Charlemagne
Constantine to Charlemagne (Author: Ian Barrs)
Dostoyevsky's 'The Idiot'
Dostoyevsky's 'The Idiot' (Author: Rob Ambler)
The Secular Context and the Christian Worldview
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Apologetic Communities (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Evil and Suffering
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Biblical and Cultural Hermeneutics - Christianity and Culture
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Epistemology - Philosophy of Knowledge
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Idolatry (Author: Jerram Barrs)
Horatio Nelson (Author: Ranald Macaulay)