Worldwide, the great religious traditions have failed to evolve to maintain their contemporary relevance for adherents. Old religious formulae and practices and moral stances have remained static and steadily lost their meaning, let alone constructive inspiration. Religious leaders are paralysed, or are leading their followers in resistance to modern realities. Only rare prophetic figures within religious traditions attempt to facilitate movement into contemporary human and social and cultural relevance. So within this general religious malaise what might it mean to be a Christian in our time?
Suppose someone saw the whole Biblical and Church tradition not as a matter of doctrines, but as stories pointing to a way of life in the here and now; calling upon us, with Isaiah, to practice compassion rather than empty rituals, or with Micah to ‘act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God’? Suppose someone lived that tradition as a teacher, scientist, mentor to young people, founder of ecumenical communities, pastoral counsellor to the psychiatrically afflicted, helper of refugees and lover of all the fine arts? Mightn’t their example make Christianity seem credible and, indeed, inspirational for our time? This is the story of such a person: a man called Mark O’Loughlin.