Open for worship

July 22, 2020

What new places will you visit?

You, like me, may have experienced a sense of adventure and curiosity as the country continues to open up after its forced hibernation – what places shall we go and visit? Being cooped up for so long we’re ready to explore.

I will be hitting the back roads of Wales this summer (with most of the country sounding like they’re off to Cornwall). Let us know what places you plan to visit.

Talking of Wales, this weekend the devolved government decided it would open its places of worship again for up to 30 people. The late Welsh revivalist, Robert Evans, would be happy! Who knows, maybe I will pop into a church or two.

Some would say that’s not a bad idea. Not just because faith in something beyond the physical has helped numerous people up and down this country get through lockdown (see our blog on this here) but because of its other benefits.

Other benefits?

I’m always a little sceptical on postulations that religious belief or regular worship have some almost magical benefit. The cynic makes me question who’s really benefitting? So I decided to check out what these benefits were and whether they are legitimate.

My discoveries increased the probability of that trip to the pews of some local Welsh church. Turns out that I might be happier for it. The well-known Pew Research Centre continues to find that people who are active in congregations (religious meetings) are happier for it. And it’s not just religious people who are doing the research.

With no bias, “recently, scholars have applied more scientific rigour to their research on religion, and many of the studies that have been published in the past 30 years have found that religious people tend to live longer, get sick less often and are better able to cope with stress.”[1]

So maybe as we exercise this new-found curiosity to visit places we’ve never been before, maybe it’s worth checking out that local church we always walk by. Or go with that friend who has given us that awkward invitation to their faith community.

Who knows, in the long run we might be happier for it.

Richard Fowler

Richard is editorial assistant at Because


The handwriting on the wall?

May 15, 2020

There seems to be an App for everything these days. By downloading one, we can play online games with family and friends, check our own health, identify plants and chart the stars. And now, hopefully, an App will help us beat the coronavirus.

Another App helps us decipher our own handwriting. Sometimes I’ve come across a scribbled note of my own from years ago and I can’t work out what I had written. But now, thanks to the wonders of technology, an App may help me work it out!

It brings to mind a painting by Rembrandt called Belshazzar’s Feast. It depicts a scene from the biblical book of Daniel. The king, Belshazzar, thinks that he has all the answers, but then the hand of God writes a mystery statement on the wall. What did it mean? The handwriting told the king that no, he doesn’t have all the answers at all: in fact, things were about to get worse.

Is there a parallel here for our society? We think we can sort everything out ourselves, but, actually, the writing on the wall is against us.

The message for Belshazzar was, whether things go well or go badly, turn to God.

You don’t need an App for that: just talk to him.

James Henderson

Come on in

September 20, 2019

Last weekend, a friend of mine told me he helps out at his local Men’s Shed.

If you’ve never heard of this organisation, as I hadn’t until last week, the Men’s Shed movement is huge. It started in Australia in the 1990s as a way for men to get together to “connect, converse and create” reducing social isolation and improving men’s physical and mental health. Today there are thousands of sheds and tens of thousands of ‘shedders’ worldwide.

It made me think about a similar movement that has been around for a lot longer: the Christian church. Like sheds, churches come in all shapes and sizes and are places where people come together to be uplifted and supported. Unlike sheds, churches are for men, women and children and promote not just mental and physical, but also spiritual health. Today there are churches on every corner in just about every country in the world and over two billion people inside them.

If you’ve never been to church or haven’t been for a while, come along. Whoever you are, you’ll be very welcome.

Peter Mill

Peter is editor-in-chief at Because

Because Magazine July 2018

June 29, 2018

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Because Magazine July 2018

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