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[Before getting to the meat, perhaps it is worth reflecting on the effectiveness of the value network that one of the main characters, St Paul, mentioned below, created. Is it time to re-examine how he cultivated and facilitated it through his journeys and letters? Maybe it is also time for the Church of England or the Roman Catholic Church to discover their existing value networks and co-create a more effective model for communicating, both formally and informally. The structures will follow suit in their own time]

I reproduce views from two very senior figures who represent the tradition of religious faith in the UK. The first is a response given to the revelations of expense claims by UK Members of Parliament last May. The other is offered by senior figure on his installation in a new leadership role.

The question “What can I get away with without technically breaching the regulations?” is not a good basis for any professional behaviour that has real integrity, writes Rowan Williams, the Anglican Church of England Archbishop of Canterbury, in The Times:-

He writes further that integrity is about what we value in ourselves or our work for its own sake - what's worth making sacrifices for, what we're glad to have done simply for the kind of act it is.

If I do something just because I'm told to, or if I hold back from something simply because of fear that I shall be caught out, it's a very different business.

It (such a motive) has nothing to do with that sense of being glad to have done something. And without that sense, no one is really going to see public life as a vocation in the old-fashioned meaning of the word - a task you perform because you find yourself in the doing of it.

Further, Rowan Williams says of the installation of the new Archbishop of Westminster to lead Roman Catholics in England and Wales. “The Roman Catholic and Anglican communities in England and Wales have the God-given task… of making the Good News of Jesus compelling and attractive to a generation deeply in need of hope.”

For inspiration in his address to those assembled, the new Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster has turned to St Paul, who illustrates, he explains in a homily delivered from a stone pulpit bedded in lilies, the “true nature of belief in God.”

“Paul was open to the things of God, ready to recognise the touch of the divine in the unexpected.” “Faith in God,” he explains “is not a narrowing of the human mind” but “precisely the opposite.”

The Archbishop puts forth, in a few brief paragraphs, a blueprint for Faith’s place in the public square, drawing on St Paul’s attempts to evangelise the Greeks.

“Some today propose that faith and reason are crudely opposed, with the fervour of faith replacing good reason,” he says. Yet, at the “heart” of Paul’s attempts in the Areopagus was “an appeal to reason. He didn’t seek to impose his belief, nor to exploit anxiety or fear. Rather he had learned that his faith in Christ as compatible with the mind’s capacity for reasoned thought.”

Faith, he continues, is not a private “solitary” activity, but rather draws believers beyond the self and into a community that reaches out beyond the limits of ethnic or class division.

This theory, which the new Archbishop expounds at greater length in The Nation that Forgot God, is essentially that a “positivistic” theory of reason, in which only empirical evidence – that which can be seen, heard, felt or touched – is limited and no guide or basis for “moral reasoning”, the basis on which moral decisions are to be made.

A society limited to this understanding of reason, argues the new Archbishop in his essay, will be unable to “determine shared moral principles and values” and thus create a society lacking cohesion. He suggests that humans find their meaning in relationship rather than isolation.

We are not, he says, “plasticine figures to be moulded into shape at the hands of a political ideology or under economic demands.” Rather the self-giving love of Christ builds faith communities and inspires members to “reach out” and “build” a world that “reflects a little more closely the compassion, the justice, the tender mercy of God.” This he concludes is his “vision” for the Church in England and Wales.

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