We are off to Iona this morning with Bishop Kevin and Elspeth for the 1450th Anniversary of the arrival of St Columba. Iona is one of my favourite places and I am fascinated by the reaction of people when it is mentioned. George MacLeod’s comment that it is a ‘thin place’ is obviously well understood – meaning, I think, a place where the veil which separates earth and heaven is particularly thin.
Which leads me to the article I read this week in the Alban Institute material about the SBNR group – Spiritual but not Religious. That’s very much of our [post-modern] times – people do not ‘do’ religion but they perceive themselves as being spiritual and interested in spirituality. That shapes into a challenge – which is how ‘organised and institutional’ religion can engage with such people. I think that much of Casting the Net is actually about that – the Mark of Mission which is ‘worship which renews and inspires’ is about the aspiration to produce worship which has a helpful ‘thinness’ about it.
And I can’t help make a comment about current thinking on Hospital Chaplaincy in the NHS – certainly in the unhelpfully radical form in which we experience it here. There seems to be spiritual care – which can be delivered by almost anybody – and there is religious care which is perceived as being what churches do. When I suggest that what churches do – and what my own long experience in hospital chaplaincy was about – is spiritual care for SBNR people with an absolute minimum of formal/organised/institutional content, there doesn’t seem to be an answer.