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First published
Pevensey Bay Journal
Edition 22: Saturday 27 October 2018
Now available in local newsagents, priced forty pence
Bay Life and Times for the Digital Age

Today, Tuesday 6 November, is the day the Church commemorates William Temple!
Revd. Danny Pegg St Luke’s Parish in Stone Cross

New curate to St Luke’s Church and Parish in Stone Cross, the Revd., Danny Pegg, joins the Pevensey Bay Journal as our Saturday night essayist. In his first essay, he begins with the words of William Temple, the radical bishop who published a book in 1942 about social order that set out a vision for what would constitute a just post-war society. The book sold 140,000 copies.

I’d like to introduce you to Archbishop William Temple (1881 – 1944). He was the 98th Archbishop of Canterbury, covering the last three years of the Second World War.

He is mainly known for his Christian socialist work (most famously Christianity and the Social Order, 1942). He also spoke passionately about the need for urgent aid in the face of the atrocities being committed by Nazi Germany.

He was certain that Christians had to work to serve the common good and speak out in the face of injustice.
He was not interested in forming some sort of ‘Christian party’ that had an agenda, but rather he thought that the faithful could and should “permeate all parties” because their values could be of critical use in the running of a country.

I think Temple helps make a very important point that we could all take note of when it comes to community at all levels: local, national and international.

In Christianity and the Social Order, he says; “all things should be done in the Christian spirit and in accordance with Christian principles. ‘Then, say those who want reform, produce your Christian solution for unemployment.

“But there neither is nor could be such a thing. The Christian faith does not by itself enable its members to see how a vast number of people within an intricate economic system will be affected by a particular… political idea. In that case, say those who want to uphold the status quo, keep off the turf! By your own confession you are out of place here.

“Here the Church must reply”, he said, ‘“No! I cannot tell you what is the remedy. But I can tell you that a society with chronic unemployment is a diseased society.”

Temple claimed that we must name the diseases in our society, even if we alone cannot solve them. We cannot be silenced in the face of those who tell us that it is not our place to comment on issues. This goes beyond faith and creed.

There are Christian reasons for doubting the enlightenment goal of individual liberty above all else.
Look where it has got us. The focus on ‘me’ above all else fuels so much of our profit-hungry, inconsiderate-of-others, cut-throat society.

Our scriptures tell us that when one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers with it. But there are plenty of secular reasons to value community in the face of our contemporary situation. The current criticisms facing the Universal Credit benefit scheme; the need for foodbanks the growing partisan nature of politics here and abroad (we shan’t dwell on Trump, but here he is) are all signs to me that the common good gets sacrificed far too often and that we are all in this together, whether we like it or not.

This common good is not just a fairytale for religious people. Everything is connected and I would hope that it would not be a controversial statement to suggest that we all would like things to be better for each other.
Temple also said that “political issues are often concerned with people as they are, not with people as they ought to be.” Again, I think, a motivator for us all that reaches above our partisan walls. There is a base level of human dignity, isn’t there?

I would suggest that it is no bad thing for us to simply decide that we are in this together; that these things matter; that we care. I think this is a good first step.

Temple had privilege and power to enact change. We do not, in the same way. But to paraphrase that great utilitarian John Stuart Mill: all it takes for evil to win, is for good folk to do nothing.

What we each can actually do will vary hugely, I know. But at very least, shouldn’t we want to do something?

Rattle Road, Stone Cross
01323 767020
Pevensey Bay Journal: St Luke’s Parish church now features on our four page eventboard insert.