ADVERTISING
 
Monday, April 23   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Easter
What we read in the Gospels about the life, death and ressurrection of Jesus Christ is...





SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Catriona Murray
 

Afraid of the Light

Being secular, or humanist, or atheist, seems to mean saying that you are tolerant or inclusive, when all you actually want to do is erase any trace of Christianity from our midst.

SOLAS MAGAZINE AUTHOR Catriona Murray 17 OCTOBER 2017 14:40 h GMT+1
Photo: Caroline Hernandez. Unsplash.

When I was eight years old, my much-loved granny died. The funeral was held in the sitting room of our house, as was still customary then.



When the service was over, my immediate family disappeared – the men assembling into an orderly procession for the cemetery, as was usual on such occasions, and the women gathering to witness the beginning of this final journey.



I was tearful, disoriented and upset. And then, an elderly neighbour bent down beside me and, pressing 50 pence into my hand, whispered, “you pray to God every day and you’ll see your granny again”.



A year or so later, my mother and I were visiting a lady that she worked with. When we got up to leave, she fetched a book for me to take home and keep. It was a nightly devotional for children and it made a big impression on me. So much so, in fact, that, persuaded by its exhortations, I finally knelt in prayer and asked Jesus into my heart.



This was not my conversion and I would never pretend that it was, but I do believe that it was significant on my faith journey. I often drifted away from thoughts of God over the years that followed, but every time He pulled me back, this remembrance was never far from my mind.



Why am I sharing this? Well, because I’m dismayed by the way that, on my island home of Lewis right now (and, I’m sure, across Scotland, the UK, and many parts of Europe) this kind of formative experience is being criticised by people who just don’t get it.



Being secular, or humanist, or atheist, seems to mean saying that you are tolerant or inclusive, when all you actually want to do is erase any trace of Christianity from our midst.



Grown men and women have been protesting that their children are ‘exposed’ to the Bible in school, that their little ones have come home in tears because someone was talking to them about Hell.



They want to opt their children out of religious studies and worship, but don’t understand why this means no involvement in the school nativity play either. It’s not enough to take Christ out of schools, but He ought also to be removed from Christmas, in case He spoils it for the kids.



Reading their indignant diatribes on social media, it is hard to figure out how they can reconcile this total eradication with their claims that little Tommy or Emily will “make up their own minds when they’re older”. Will they? Based on what – you’ve removed any information about the Christian faith from their environment.



All you are doing is creating people who are much more dogmatic than any Calvinist minister ever was; children who will be just as narrow-minded as their parents are proving themselves to be, but with no real idea why. And still, there will be that God-shaped hole at the core of their being because no matter how loudly you sing, “la-la-la, He’s not real” … He is real.



It makes me sad. These two gentle, Christian ladies of my childhood acted out of love, of warmth and of community. I am so grateful that I belonged to a time when these things were understood. Old women and old men could show true concern for your soul without accusations of brainwashing being flung at them.



As a child, I was taught to respect my elders and what they had to say, and this created true, strong inter-generational bonds. You could take or leave what they had said, but you listened politely to them and you respected them for it.



In Jane Austen’s novel, Emma, the eponymous heroine is chided for speaking rudely to an older woman and reminded that, when Emma was a child, the other woman’s notice of her would have been an honour. I remember that feeling and I think we need to get it back.



After graduating, I worked as a community development officer in Ness, the northern part of Lewis. The building where I was based was also a community hall, which sometimes played host to a small church. I often worked very late there and it was an eerie building in a fairly lonely and somewhat creepy setting.



One morning, an elder from the church had come in to set out the chairs for their service, and we got chatting. In the course of the conversation, he casually remarked: “We often pray for you, here on your own in the dark.” It was one of the loveliest, most humbling moments of my time there.



When I left that job, they gifted me a Bible and 12 years later, were among the first to send condolences on the death of my husband. Prayer, after all, creates bonds which cannot be broken.



My late father was a Christian and one of the loveliest people I’ve ever known. He was a gentleman, though possessed of a wicked sense of humour, with a particular gift for giving nicknames. Our relationship was always good – we were close, and I often think back fondly to our many conversations on all kinds of topics.



But, if this was therapy, I’d break down now and sob that he never told me he loved me. Nor did he; at least, not using those words. Nonetheless, I never doubted it. I know that he prayed for me and I heard “God bless” from his lips many times. In Lewis, when I was growing up, that was love.



Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost that understanding of one another’s best motives. Now, it seems that children must be told not just about ‘stranger danger’, but also counselled in the risks inherent in allowing a teacher to read them the words of Psalm 23.



The message seems to be, “watch out, because if someone tells you about Jesus, you may just believe what you hear”. If the churches in Lewis were as good at brainwashing as the secularists seem to believe, I can’t help feeling that the pews might be a bit less empty.



But it’s obvious to anyone that they are, of course, lashing out like frightened children, afraid of what they don’t comprehend. Maybe if they shut their eyes tightly enough, they won’t have to see it and it won’t see them.



I think it’s time for someone to pat them on the shoulder, and simply say, “it’s all right, we’re praying for you, here on your own in the dark”.



Catriona Murray is a researcher at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland. She blogs at posttenebrasluxweb.com



This article was published with permission of Solas magazine. Solas is published quarterly in the U.K. Click here to learn more or subscribe.

 


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Afraid of the Light
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Christians in politics? Christians in politics?

What is the role of Christians serving in politics? An interview with Auke Minnema, the new General Director of the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM).

 
Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies

RZIM International Director Michael Ramsden responds to questions about the secularisation of Europe, the role of Christians in public leadership and the new ‘culture of victimism’.

 
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

 
Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

 
Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

 
Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission

“We want to see the youth not just being equipped, but also being multipliers”, Evi Rodemann director of Mission-Net. The European Congress took place in Germany from December 28 to January 2.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Coexistence in the church - a model for society Coexistence in the church - a model for society

“Gospel, identity and coexistence” were the themes of the General Assembly of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance. Two days in Palma de Mallorca to reflect about the role of evangelical churches in society.

 
'Ungi kulimi changana' 'Ungi kulimi changana'

Educator and journalist Jordi Torrents shares images of the Sekeleka social centre in Mozambique. About 50 children live there, many with some kind of disability. All photos were taken with permission.

 
The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve

For the first time, the President of Portugal attended a worship service in an evangelical church. It was in Sintra, on Christmas Eve.

 
I am not on sale I am not on sale

Young Christians gathered at Madrid’s central square Sol to denounce human trafficking. A flashmob highlighted the work of three evangelical NGOs which support women who escape sexual slavery in Spain.

 
Stamps to commemorate the Reformation Stamps to commemorate the Reformation

Poland, Lithuania, Namibia and Brazil are some of the countries that have issued special stamps on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

 
VIDEO Video
 
Why are Christian leaders particularly vulnerable to sexual temptation? Why are Christian leaders particularly vulnerable to sexual temptation?

“The reasons why somebody might have sex with a prostitute are very different from the reasons why somebody might want to have an affair with a member of their congregation”. An analysis by John Stevens, National Director of FIEC (UK).

 
Be safe on social media Be safe on social media

A video about the way traffickers target teenage girls online, produced by anti-slavery gorup Abolishion.

 
In Mission In Mission

A 360º lyric video about how all followers of Jesus Christ are called to serve God. Duo in Spanish (Alex Sampedro) and Portuguese (Marcos Martins).

 
Heart Heart

A short animation film by Swiss cartoonist Alain Auderset tells the message of the Bible in four minutes.

 
Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

 
An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.