‘All day, all night, angels watching over me, my Lord’…
One of the modules I’m teaching this trimester is Christianity and Culture – a wonderful opportunity to explore the various ways in which Christianity and culture relate, and what being ‘in the world, but not of it’ can mean in particular spheres of life for us here in Scotland.
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this module – well, I hope the same is true for the students! Learning to ‘read’ culture and to relate to its different expressions is such an important task for us as followers of Jesus. We are surrounded – and are part of! – various expressions of culture, and they require some kind of a response from us. Most of the time, our response is automatic or unconscious, which is why it is so important to stop and explore our reactions, whether positive or negative, in the light of the Good News of Jesus. Only then we can talk about living faithfully and bearing a witness to those around us.
And so in the student presentations, we are exploring a whole range of subjects – from football to food to café culture to fantasy fiction! We have also done some walking, such as in local shops, attempting to discern the needs, values, dreams and worldviews reflected in the cultural, social, economic and political context of today’s Paisley. And this past Tuesday, our explorations took us to the ancient heart of Glasgow, around the old Cathedral. St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art is currently holding an exhibition on ‘Heavenly Creatures: Angels in Faith History and Popular Culture.’ A session with a member of staff was an opportunity to think about the role of art in general, and also to look at what we ‘do’ with angels, and why, and to relate it (or not!) to different biblical narratives. We finished our morning with an hour on Glasgow’s High Street with Brian Muir (Hillhead Baptist church), a senior consultant in urban planning and development, for a fascinating session on ‘reading’ public spaces around us. This was much enjoyed, even in the rain!
It will be back to classroom next week, but the discussions we held in the museum, cafe or on pavement are a reminder that all our study here at the College has to do with our life ‘in the world’ –places of consuming, learning, relaxing, struggling and suffering, and wherever else God may send us. But God will send angels to watch over us!