Journalist Madeleine Bunting discusses the decline of Christianity in this country and with it the loss of such concepts as sin.
Journalist Madeleine Bunting with a series of Essays on the gaps left behind by the decline of religion.
How does a faith decline? What have we lost and what have we gained? Do the central beliefs and ideas of that faith just disappear, continue in a half life, or migrate into new forms? Matthew Arnold, in his poem 'Dover Beach', wrote of 'the melancholy long, withdrawing roar' of the loss of God in this country, and now journalist Madeleine Bunting takes it as a starting point.
Today: Sin. No other idea, it could be argued, has so pre-occupied Christian thinkers and believers than the sinful state of human nature. And they have tended to focus on sin and sexuality rather than on sin and structures: 'The preoccupation with sin was a deeply manipulative and highly effective form of social control. Sin was made personal and individual. Much less attention was given to structural sin, the belief that there is a collective responsibility for social and economic systems which exploit or oppress people'.
So that's gone. But today, in the wake of the decline of Christianity, we seem as persuaded as ever about our fallen state: 'not thin, rich, or beautiful enough, caught in a spiral of self-judgment'. And with no recourse to a meaningful redemption or salvation.