Monday, 29 November 2010

Do you have faith?

Curiously, although there is an established Christian church and it is an integral part of our national institutions and government – so many people are reluctant to discuss this most fundamental matter.

Here, in this next interview in our series we talk with Paul Milbank, a missionary and verger in the St. Helier Town Church.

He is a young man starting out on a “career” in the church and has already decided to reject life in the Jersey Finance world.

Of course, the St. Helier Church sits close-by all the institutional buildings and offices of Jersey’s own government and administration and the courts of justice. It is where almost all “official” services take place and so many of the decisions and actions of those with power are blessed or sanctioned “in the name of God.”

But, do we really mean it? Do people generally wear their faith like an overcoat and take it off at work or when it feels uncomfortable?

We at the Voice want to explore such issues but we need your comments to ensure a dialogue. Or, are you in fear for some reason, about expressing your views here?

Submitted by Thomas Wellard.


TonyTheProf said...

Another interesting post. The Quaker's have a call that came up in the mid-1950s, to "speak truth to power" against injustices.

I know a Quaker lawyer who will not take on any cases he deems to be unethical, and will tell the clients who have come to him that he won't deal with that; it's not a case of legality but morality that is, for him, the deciding factor.

Before the war, the richer class in society, with many States members, tended to be farmers (it was profitable back then to be a farmer - hence the old granit farmhouses) and largely Methodists. This continued but lessoned in the post-war period - Iris Le Feuvre, Reg Jeune, Enid Quenault - to give a few notable examples from recent times. This meant there were effectively two establishments in Jersey - the CofE, and the Methodists. But the CofE influence was reduced when the Rectors came out of the States, and the Methodist church of today is a pale shadow of its former self. Moreoever, with a singular lack of Christian charity, the farming community completely ostracised Philip Le Feuvre for bringing in the Social Security system.

However, the Amos group of Christians together in Jersey, under the leadership of Ed Le Quesne, have revived the Christian emphasis on social justice (Amos was a prophet who spoke out against the social injustices of his day).

Anonymous said...

There is a demonstration in the Royal Square this coming Saturday 4th at Midday. The purpose is the call for social justice and resistance to the Budget proposals to increase tax and cut public services and jobs. Will the Christians be there living their faith? Does their belief embrace protest against poverty?

I see religious enthusiasm in the island as the conscience of the finance industry. One apocryphal story is that of a senior and wealthy (of course) accountant of an evangelical sect wishing to found his own, further reformed, Church. Egoism is not confined to making money, but to founding ones own Church, in the same way as a businessman would grow a Ltd into a Plc and seek a stock exchange listing.

Christians are strong in Jersey but they are conservative. This faith stuff is not going to improve the condition of people. Man does not live by faith alone.

These are a novel set of interviews exploring an untouched subject. I look forward to others.
I cannot see Jersey producing the revolutionary and militant Priests of Latin America. Bertrand Aristide, Haiti's US coup deposed former leader, was I believe a priest. He was ousted because he sought to empower the poor.

See you all on Saturday?

Anonymous said...

One might hope to see more Christians like Paul Milbank speaking out in Jersey. In the fellowship where I am active, members are perplexed by the absence of any detectable religious outrage on behalf of those who were abused in child care settings. We do not live there, but we have not heard a single thing from the Jersey pulpits. Did we miss something?

Anonymous said...

I have heard one person from a Jersey pulpit say "we now know that nothing like that happened" about Haute de La Garenne.

The sad fact is that most people, clergy included, take their information from the news and press releases (like the Warcup/Gradwell one) and just take that at face value.

Local clergy, in general, Tony Keogh excepted, are not particularly radical, for the more radical elements you'd probably have to look to the Neopagan communities who are much or critical.

Anonymous said...

We are confused. Did you mean that the clergy do not accept the abuse claims? There have been some recent National news reports of abusers receiving guilty verdicts. Does this not matter to Jersey's Christian communities?

David Rotherham said...

Christians need not fear expressing their faith; The Establishment is full of professed Christians, and the JEP and BBC remain overtly Christian organisations running regular Faith features. And the States insist on starting their sessions with Christian prayers. It is we silent majority of atheists, agnostics and humanists who are discouraged from speaking up against the dishonesty and hypocrisy of organised religions.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know how many churchgoers vote in Jersey elections.
Since there are evidently some (most?)of the powerful people in the establishment who attend church and claim to be Christians, this is probably the single most important voting group in the island.
We all know that the Methodists have been influencial for many years but if the whole religious lobby is so strong - why are the JDA and Time4Change wasting their efforts in trying to organise political groups at all?

Why not simply join the church and utilize the organisations that already exist to a better political purpose? Perhaps the Dean will lead this Saturday's public meeting?

Anonymous said...

Interesting to hear that they would wish to help the people in dire poverty - and I am sure that is true. However, I do know that anyone who is employed by the C of E in Jersey enjoys luxurious accommodation. Surely the money spent on upgrading buildings belonging to the C of E in Jersey would be better being put where their mouth is. Put it towards people in dire poverty and put up with just standard accommodation of the C of E

Anonymous said...

I would have thought that anyone employed by the General Synod would use Jesus Christ as an example how to live life.
I have not seen much of that in my experience of church going . My experience is that it has become very elitist and with so much social climbing it is becoming very un-Christian. I have come to the conclusion that one can be just as good a Christian staying at home on Sundays.
Who cares about who is sitting with who, how much this or that person is putting into the collection plate, who is on first name terms with who or who is having dinner with who.

Jesus Christ
• Lived a frugal life and put others before himself
• Treated everyone the same - rich or poor
• Disapproved of temples being used to make money
• Was totally involved in caring for people without wanting a pat on the back for doing so
In fact, how many so called Christians follow these rules?