19 May 2021

The 21st Century Intro

This blog is about what it means to be a Christian in the 21st century.

I want to explore the ideas of who God is looking through the lens of modern life, and I want to explore modern life looking through the lens of a Christian faith.
I have to confess that much of my thought processes are born out of frustration. I feel that the Church too often fails to engage with where society is now and it stubbornly refuses to leave the 20th century. It too often fails to meet the needs of its congregations, let alone the wider world. The Church has become weak and has lost the influence it once had on society. Consider the popular image of the Church and compare it with the Early Church of the book of Acts. Those outside the Church have many criticisms of the Church and many reasons why they remain outside, and I find many of their issues justified. And unsurprisingly they judge God by what they see in us.

And finally just a word about why I decided to remain anonymous. The Church’s many divisions have lead us to a place where we too often pre-judge the worth of people’s words based on what we know of their background and theological viewpoint. By not declaring my own position I hope to reach a wider readership. I hope to be able to dispense with the religious jargon we surround ourselves with and write in plain English in order to make myself understood by as broader spectrum of people as possible.



The images that appear on the site are not my own. If you hold the copyright to any of the images and object to its use, please message me and I will remove it.

19 Mar 2013

And so, the end is near...

I think the time has come for me to officially draw this project to a close.

You may have noticed that I haven't posted here for some time. My intention was to keep writing for this blog, but my personal circumstances have changed somewhat and I simply don't have time any more. So reluctantly I have to let go. The articles written here will remain - and the url renewal has only just been paid for, so it will remain here for another year, and then will probably revert back to it's blogger address ( the21cc.blogspot.com ) unless I forget to cancel the payment. The twitter account will be shut down and the facebook page removed sometime over the next few weeks.

But it has been - for me - a positive experience. One of my main aims for writing this blog was that I felt isolated in my faith, I felt that my opinions and experiences in faith cut me off from other Christians, but through writing this blog I discovered other Christians who think like me and who struggle as I do with the mainstream Church and society. I know I am not alone and I thank all my regular readers for encouraging me and I only hope I reciprocated that and you also know that you're not alone.

Thank you for reading. God bless.


the21cc

22 May 2012

Call of Duty


It's been a while... Sorry. there's no particular reason I haven't written except for lack of time.


I've been thinking lately about 'Calling' and what it means. I think the reason for that is that I'm asking questions about my role within my own Church and whether I'm fulfilling  all I should be. I may write more about that another time.

21 Jan 2012

Putting the fun into...

I've tried to not get into too much theological debate thus far on my blog. There are plenty of other blogs you can read if you want that kind of thing, and I wanted my blog to be more about lifestyle, and maybe more practical and everyday than deep theological debate. But this post will engage more with theology than I have done up to present. Maybe that will be a welcome diversion and maybe it won't. Let me know.

26 Dec 2011

Boxing day 2011

Merry Christmas everybody.



This year has been a bit of an odd one. despite the shops starting to sell Christmas goods in September, it seems to have crept up on people and almost taken them by surprise. the number of people who have said - even on Christmas Eve - that it just doesn't feel Christmassy. Contrast that with a seemingly higher than usual number of Christians whinging about Christmas is being highjacked by the commercial element and how 'Happy Holidays' offends them - all the time forgetting just how much of the Christmas festival we have appropriated from other mid-winter festivals that pre-date ours.

15 Nov 2011

My Dogma ran over your Karma

I think my favourite bit about blog writing is fast becoming think up crappy titles for my posts! And yes I know it's the wrong way round - it makes more sense like that for this blog (not that it makes much sense).




So here's a true story - names changed to protect the innocent and all that, but if you recognise yourself in this story I might apologise depending on which character you are!

A good few years ago I was living in a different city to where I live now and I attended my local Church, but I was also 'freelancing' by working on a few different 'projects' with other Churches as was my habit. In one such Church I met and worked with a lady who was about my age. We worked together on a couple of projects and got on quite well with each other. She was engaged and very excitedly planning her wedding, which she told me all about on several occasions. A couple of months before the big day I got a phone call from her. She was in floods of tears as she told me that her Fiancé had run off with another woman,

16 Oct 2011

Top of the pops (the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth).

Snappy title hey!

I just want to clarify something. I have written in a few blog entries about our need to be popular and complained that quite a lot of what we do damages our popularity. I think I'd better just explain what I mean by that so that those people who say, "Christianity isn't a popularity contest," can no longer say, "Christianity isn't a popularity contest, we're called to say what's true not what's popular." People who say that kind of thing may be surprised to find out that I agree with them - we are called to speak the truth (within the confines of what we see understand as truth - see my earlier blog).

19 Aug 2011

Reach out (I'll be there)

If I admit that I remember 1990 does that make me sound terribly old? Because I do remember 1990. I remember slightly before it too.


In 1988 and 1989 sections of the Church became very excited about the 1990s and declared them 'The Decade of Evangelism.' What actually happened around where I lived was that in 1990 there was lots of shuffling of feet and it was declared, 'Ah! actually officially the 1990s don't start until 1991,' and the subject was quickly dropped before 1991 happened, so there was no discernible difference in the Evangelistic efforts for this pre-millennial push to save the world.

9 Aug 2011

The morning after the night before.

I'm sitting writing this on a Tuesday morning. The day after London's 3rd night of riots and the first night that trouble has spread to other cities. I feel I need to out my thoughts down on cyber-paper, but I don't pretend that I know the answers to the current situation.
What I can do straight from the outset is add my voice to all those who have already condemned the actions of the rioters. There is no excuse for the wanton  destruction and fire raising that we've seen on the news over the last 3 nights. There is no excuse to go looting retail outlets and people's homes - it is not a legitimate form of protest, it simply turns you into a thug and a thief.

13 Jul 2011

SURPRISE!!

I got inspired to write this new blog article and started planning it (yes I do do some preparation for these writings) when I realised I'd already sort of written about what I was planning but I decided to press ahead anyway and expand on my previous thoughts as I think it's a really important point. So before you wade further into this article you may want to go and read 'God the Unknowable'. I'll just wait here for you to return.






20 Jun 2011

He who has ears to hear, let him hear - Part 2

I'm going to tell you a story, then tell you why I'm telling you a story, then I might rant for a bit.
I can't claim ownership of the story, I heard it years and years ago and I can't remember who told me it. I don't think they wrote the story either.


An Anglican Church gets a new vicar. Everyone is very excited about this and on his first Sunday the Church is packed. He preaches an excellent sermon and after the service he stands at the back of the Church and shakes peoples hands as they leave. "Great sermon, Vicar." "Fantastic stuff, Vicar." etc etc.


The next Sunday The Church is again pretty packed and the vicar leads the service. When it gets to the sermon it seems vaguely familiar... yes...it is...he preached this sermon last week. "Oh well," think the congregation, 'He's probably just got confused the the mess and stress of moving parish. Let's enjoy it again; it is a good sermon."


Week 3. Same sermon again. A few of the braver members of the congregation subtly comment to the vicar as they shake his hand and leave, "That's still a great sermon vicar!"


Week 4 hints not taken - same sermon.


Week 5 and people are starting to get a bit concerned. Some stay at home. Same sermon again.

15 Jun 2011

Choosing to die - a response.

**This isn't going to be an easy read, but it's not an easy subject**

This is a departure from my normal type of writing, but I thought I should make a response to the documentary recently shown on TV.



A couple of nights ago the BBC showed a program about assisted suicide. The Author Terry Pratchett presented the program which included footage of Mr Pratchett accompanying a man - Peter Smedley -  to the Dignitas centre in Switzerland and filming him as he drunk the poison and ended his life. Inevitably the program has proven to be controversial and many different opinions on both the program and the issue of assisted suicide are currently being offered, and I thought I would add my own thoughts to the debate.

I did watch the program. It wasn't easy viewing, but it was never going to be. I found it moving and would recommend people watch it - it can be found here on the BBC iplayer until 20 June.

14 Jun 2011

The Kingdom of 'Nice'

"... And Lo! Jesus stood on a mound and made announcement to the gathered crowd.
" Be nice to one another," he said. "Be nice to your neighbour as you would expect him to be nice to you."
St Paul agreed. "Being nice to each other," he wrote to the church in Rome, "Is the fulfilment of the law."

What? You've not found that bit in the Bible? You know what, neither have I, but if you look around the Church it would appear that lots of people have. All around the church it weakened by people insisting that  being nice to each other is demonstrating the gospel.

Let me clarify what I mean by 'nice'. Nice (the italics is important) is a word that has come to mean average, mediocre, safe and dull. It means going out of your way to avoid offending people - to the point of lying to them. It's the Ned Flanders way of being a Christian (I know there are those who think Ned is a positive role model for Christians, but that's not the way his character is intended). It means a wet-dishcloth approach to dealing with people and a massive compromise, if not to Faith then to the public image of the Faith. I'm not talking about showing good manners or treating people well, just this phoney nice way of dealing with people.

29 May 2011

This very morning...

Not me.
And so comes a time when I have to reveal a bit about myself in order for this article to make sense. I would have thought it would come as no surprise by now when I tell you that I am a preacher, officially recognised by my Church tradition to lead Worship and, by my words, help people draw closer in their walks with God - or at least that's how I interpret my calling. My being a preacher is another reason I hope to maintain my anonymity as by doing so I can critique my own Faith tradition without the diplomacy necessary in the pulpit and without fear of being called to task by the Church Authorities for not 'towing the party line' as I have seen happen to others.

22 May 2011

Engage your brains people!

I'm taking a risk. I'm writing this on Friday 20th May 2011 and I'm going to schedule it to publish on Sunday 22nd May 2011. This is a risk because the Rapture has been predicted for the 21st. No-one may ever read this article if it happens.

I'm confidently going to predict that this entry to my blog will get read by as many people as have entries thus far. I'm going to predict that the Rapture will not happen tomorrow. I'm also going to predict that the parties responsible for predicting it will not apologise for their errors.

19 May 2011

Confession.

Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It's been 3 weeks since I last wrote for my blog.

The reasons for this are varied. Partly because I've been too busy, and partly because I just haven't been to Church, so had nothing to moan about!

Last Sunday I did go to Church, and it's the first time in a couple of months that I've been to my own Church. It reminded me both of why I hate Church and why I love it. The service itself was dull - I have no idea what the preacher said. But I was reminded of why I persist in going (if you can call once in 2 months persistence) - the warmth of welcome I received was brilliant.

28 Apr 2011

Easter Sunday(ish) 2011

the21cc settles down to do some research for the blog.
So finally here is my Easter blog.

I said I want to write something positive and celebratory for Easter Sunday, but my current thought processes make that difficult. Not because I want to have a moan about things, but because I see Easter as a massive challenge to the 21st century Christian.

22 Apr 2011

Good Friday 2011

Ok, so it's currently Good Friday morning 2011. I'm sitting in bed having just had a coffee and I'm contemplating the weekend ahead. I've been to church events on Wednesday and Thursday evenings (neither at my own Church incidentally) and I think I'm done with Church for this Easter as I found both evenings frustrating rather than inspirational.

I intended to write an article for Easter which was uplifting and positive, rather than my usual moan about what we're doing wrong, but after the last couple of nights I feel compelled to once again express my disgruntlement at Christian practice. I hope that later in the weekend I will have time to write the celebration of Easter, I'll certainly do it as soon as I can so you can see that I'm not just a grumpy old moaner.

5 Apr 2011

Single-issue Christianity

This weekend the news has been full of stories of riots in Afghanistan and protests across the middle East caused by a Christian Pastor burning a copy of the Qur'an. There has been much unrest and innocent Westerners - who almost certainly wouldn't have endorsed the actions of this Pastor - have lost their lives. Here we have a demonstration of Religion at it's worst - the thing that keeps people away from God. One of the biggest arguments for Atheism is the amount of damage Religion has done and the number of wars it has caused. Pastors Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp Will no doubt be convinced that their actions were right - righteous even - but they have received condemnation from various Christian leaders along with other leading members of the international community.

28 Mar 2011

The power of prayer

At the time of writing there is a lot happening in the world. We see the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan and their difficulties making the Fukushima nuclear power plant safe; we have the unrest in Libya and the international coalition bombing raids imposing the no-fly zone there; we have the unrest in other countries in that region - Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria; New Zealand's earthquake seems to have slipped down the front-page pecking order somewhat, but they are still facing severe difficulties after the earthquake there. Coupled with these we have the long term areas of conflict, famine and oppression that seem to always be there.

14 Mar 2011

The Culture Section - Part 1





The Bible says (somewhere!) that we should be in the world but not of it. I think that in our effort to decide what that means we have become neither.

Amongst my non-Christian friends and collegues one of the biggest turn-offs to Church is the culture we have wrapped ourselves up in. I find that too, despite being a Christian for many years and a committed Churchgoer there are times when Church doesn't appeal to my tastes and I want to put as much distance between myself and Church as possible because of the culture that we put over. Even the Church to which I belong does it. I've been a Christian for more years than I care to admit to as I like to pretend I'm younger than I am, and I have grown accustomed to the way my brand of Church does things. Church does work for me, but it's largely down to the many great friends I've made there rather than what happens on a Sunday morning. If Sunday mornings work it's mainly down to familiarity; it's like a worn out shoe; it's warm and comfortable, but you know it's not necessarily doing you any good and you'd maybe think twice about wearing it in public.


4 Mar 2011

The 'L' word

Most of the posts I've written so far have been setting out the playing field - establishing a base that we can move forward from  - and this is ( I think) the last of those posts. I've saved this one until last as it's the most important point. It's also something we all think we've heard before. I'm not going to go into great detail as I will no doubt come back to it time and time again, but that shouldn't undermine it's importance.

The 'L' word.


25 Feb 2011

On the nature of belief

I've stated pretty blatantly here that I am a Christian. I'm writing here for other Christians (although there will over time hopefully be challenging and/or enjoyable bits for people of other faiths or no faith) and I'm taking it as read that the vast majority of my readership would categorise themselves as such.


So at no point in my blog am I going to get into the whole 'Does God exist' argument.
This may seem to some people to be a bit of a cop-out, and it may annoy the internet trolls who like nothing more than deliberately posting inflammatory comments on forums and the like, but I reach that decision for the following reason - it's pointless.

20 Feb 2011

A long road ahead

So this is some of what I see our problem is. We have a very poor public image.The links and videos posted in this blog are examples of how we are perceived by the people we come into contact with in our everyday lives. Most of us would acknowledge that The Church is seen in a poor light by society, but I'm not sure we realise the extent of the problem. Well here's evidence of the mountain we have to climb to get back into people's good books.

*WARNING* If you are easily offended you probably shouldn't look at these items. There is a lot of bad language and material that may be considered hostile.

15 Feb 2011

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

We as the Church are very good at listening on behalf of other people. But we should avoid thinking of it as an act of generosity.

I had a conversation with a lay preacher recently who told me that he’d not long ago preached in a Church which is going through a difficult time and the congregation is split into 2 sides. The lectionary readings for the day meant that his sermon addressed some of the issues the Church is split over. After the service people from both sides of the divide came to him to thank him profusely for the service and said to him, “Let’s hope they take notice of what you said.”

Need I say more!

13 Feb 2011

God the unknowable

Your God is too small.
I think that is a fair summary of what I mean. As Christians we’re too keen to present our faith as a completed picture. On the one hand we profess belief in an infinite God – the omniscient, omnipotent almighty, and on the other we practice a belief in a God we understand entirely. We close the door on the possibility of being wrong about who God is by our mistaken belief that he has fully revealed himself to us. How can he have done? If God is omniscient, omnipotent, almighty and infinite how can he have fully revealed himself to us who are trapped in a tiny piece of real estate in  a moment of time in a universe that God created and therefore stands outside of? To me it seems arrogant to presume that we even have a chance of knowing more than a fraction of God. It is an arrogant faith that professes to know the mind of God and closes itself off to being surprised. Far from complete, it has said, “Enough,” and chooses to cut itself off from the beating heart of the journey of Faith.
The point of it all is to know that we know nothing and to remain staring in childlike wonder at the vastness of God. To revel in the fact that we will never know anything but carry on searching and learning anyway. To remain open to the possibilities God presents us with and to be ready for what He teaches. Just to clarify, I'm not advocating a blind faith here - quite the opposite. We shouldn't believe whatever we're told as to do so can leads us into all sorts of trouble. We should question everything, regardless of who tells us, to make sure it fits in with our general image of God. But always remaining open minded and open hearted searching for and finding God throughout our everyday lives.