Stepping Stones Two: Social Disparity and Christian Involvement: The Second Handbook

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October 2017 marks the publication of this second handbook and here is a summary of its contents. It is intended both to inform and urge involvement with the issues it raises. Among its features are outlines of the roles of various ‘think tanks’ specifically so that Christians seeking a social role can identify reliable sources of advice and information.

Chapter 1 deals with education and raises such matters as our international standing, religious education and the State, British values, life enhancement and the work ethic.

Chapter 2 explores saving and indebtedness and the extent to which individuals cannot manage their money through both lack of financial education and subsequent life-time guidance. This conditions the extent to which they are prey to those who would exploit them. A view is also taken of banking ethos and the malign effects of tax havens.

Chapter 3 Is a detailed account of the Cadbury philanthropic social experiment in Bournville and is intended as an informed contrast to the characteristics of so much modern capitalism.

Chapter 4 relates the story of Revd. Jack Burton, a Methodist Minister who, for much of his time, combined this with being a bus driver in Norwich. Part of the interest for any Christian is how he related to each other these different parts of his life.

Chapter 5 details the work of three Methodist charities, namely, All We Can(overseas aid), Methodist Homes and Action for Children.

Chapter 6 explores ‘loneliness – the silent epidemic’ and what practical steps are open to both individuals and churches. ‘Dischurching’ is invoked as a way of scrutinising our responses to the problem.

Chapter 7 deals with slavery in modern Britain. Of particular interest is the role of Pentecostal churches in being alert to their members or acquaintances exploited in this way. Details are given of how the Independent Commissioner, his staff and advisors are expected to function.

Chapter 8 is concerned with prisoners and prisoners – in that order. Does prison work and if not why not? How are ex-prisoners to be rehabilitated into society and what means are available to discourage re-offending?

Chapter 9 examines the tragedy of Grenfell Tower and goes on to draw wider conclusions about how members of society should regard each other and the social and professional obligations they owe. How much do standards matter to Christians?

Chapter 10 is concerned with homelessness, its causes and possible remedies. Organisations which have a role in this problem are identified as are their particular aims and priorities.

Chapter 11 takes an entirely different approach and is an exploration of a famous contribution by Henry Drummond, a Scottish 19th century cleric on ‘The City’. What is of particular interest is if it is relevant to the present century and, if so, how.

Chapter 12, the concluding one, is a reflection on Christian freedom historically and in a present day context. In particular, how shall we find new solutions rather than, unthinkingly, reiterate old ones? Is Christian freedom possible devoid of, occasionally, ‘spiritual vertigo?

The book is fully referenced and indexed.