Sweetman, Robert. "Will This Church Have Children?" Paper presented at the ICS Worldview Conference "Another Brick in the Wall", Oakville, Ontario, September 27, 2008.
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The church like any other institution or group of institutions straddles the line dividing the age of ideology and its characteristic institutional habits from our emerging post-ideological world. As a result the church too must think about the character of its institutional manifestations. And that means thinking about the pattern of social and cultural change. There are revolutionary, conservative and reformist postures available. This essay recommends a reformist model and imagines such a model by reference to premodern patterns of political change, in the first place, and the ways in which the meaning of shared cultural symbols change within ancient, medieval and modern contexts, on the second place. The suggestion is made that such change can be effective if it occurs within the context of a core continuity--that about a given tradition of institutional life that its present members find most precious and worthy. The point is to hang on to that positive core and to search widely for ways of deepening and building from that core from the resources to be found outside of the tradition, especially within emerging practices that seem most attuned to the tenor of the "new world." The essay ends by identifying a post-ideological sensibility that feeds secularization and so impedes the church's generational shift from a present leadership formed to the requirements of the age of ideology to ecclesiastical youth whose world is wholly post-ideological.
This is the second of two addresses by Bob Sweetman given at the ICS Worldview Conference titled "Another Brick in the Wall" on September 27, 2008 in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.