The church is often damned for being out of touch, but when it makes an attempt to engage with contemporary questions there is no shortage of pundits eager to accuse it of forlornly chasing the coat tails of fashion. One minute it is mocked for being out of date, the next for not being out of date enough.
A fairly trivial case in point has been the reaction to the splendid beat- box nativity produced by the vicar of Uplyme- as improbable as it might seem he was an award winning beat-box performer before he ever contemplated ordination! More insidious is the habit of left wing commentators to applaud it only when the church seems to agree with them, and those on the right to behave in exactly the same way. The former salute only when a liberal cause is endorsed, the latter simply beg the church to turn all the poor respectable by excoriating the vicious from the pulpit every Sunday.
I am torn myself, in that I do think that the church needs to proclaim its key message, of the love of God and redemption wrought by Christ through his Incarnation, but must avoid the sort of defensiveness which turns it inwards. So that numbers and shoring up the doubts of its members, become its major concern; so that it becomes a bit like a kind of ex-pat community, comfortable in its own rituals with its back turned against those who don’t belong with their quaint alien ways of being and speaking. And when it does try to engage it finds that usually just speaking more loudly wont quite do.