Alexei Navalny’s slow work

I was so shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Alexei Navalny. I thought, Mandela-like, he was going to survive prison and see the regime he opposed collapse around him. Not to be. But how brave, how slow, how peace-loving it was to return to Russia when he didn’t need to, and take his stand with determination and wit, retaining a sense of fun even if all around him was grim. This is the powerless frightening the life out of the powerful; President Putin could not evidently bring himself to utter his name.

It was quite something to discover that this Russia hero had a Christian faith. I’m grateful to blogger Diane Butler-Bass for this slightly redacted version of his testimony. (You can find more of her here, and I enjoy her weekly writing)

In prison, apparently, he used to pretend he was on a spaceflight–hence the discomfort–towards a new Russia, one that was Europe-like in its democracy and rule of law, but Russia-like in its history and greatness. He didn’t see it yet. Instead the call from his Lord was: ‘This day you will be with me in paradise’.

The fact is that I am a believer, which, in general, rather serves as an example of constant ridicule in the Anti-Corruption Foundation, because mostly people are atheists, I myself was quite militant.

But now I am a believer, and this helps me a lot in my work, because everything becomes much, much simpler. I think less, there are fewer dilemmas in my life — because there is a book (editorial note: the Bible) in which, in general, it is more or less clearly written what needs to be done in each situation. It’s not always easy, of course, to follow this book, but in general I try.

And therefore, as I already said, it is easier for me, probably than many others, to get involved in politics.

A person recently wrote to me: “Navalny, what is everyone writing to you: ‘Hold on, don’t give up, be patient, grit your teeth? Why do you have to endure it?’ I think you said in an interview that you believe in God. And it is said: ‘Blessed are those who thirst and hunger for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.’ Well, that’s great for you, then!”

And I thought — wow, this person understands me so well!

It’s not that I’m great, but I’ve always perceived this specific commandment as more or less an instruction for action. And so, of course, not really enjoying the place where I am, nevertheless, I do not have any regrets about coming back, about what I do. Because I did everything right. On the contrary, I feel such satisfaction or something. Because at some difficult moment I did as expected according to the instructions, and did not betray the commandment…

For a modern person this whole commandment — “blessed, thirsty, hungering for righteousness, for they will be satisfied” — sounds very pompous. People who say things like that are supposed to be, quite frankly, crazy. Crazy strange people are sitting there with disheveled hair in their cell and, therefore, trying to cheer themselves up with something. Although, of course, they are lonely, they are loners, no one needs them. And this is the most important thing. Our power, the system is trying to tell such people: “You are lonely, you are a loner.”

It is important to intimidate first, and then show that you are alone. Well, because what normal, adequate people adhere to some kind of commandment. The thing about loneliness is very important. It is very important as a goal of power. Excellent, by the way, one of the wonderful philosophers named Luna Lovegood said about this. Remember this was in Harry Potter? And talking to Harry Potter during some difficult times, she told him: “It’s important not to feel lonely, because, of course, if I were Voldemort, I would really like you to feel lonely.” Of course, of course, our Voldemort in the palace wants this too….

I don’t feel alone at all. And I’ll explain why. Because this construction — “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” — it seems somehow exotic, strange, but in fact this is the main political idea that now exists in Russia…

This is very important, despite the fact that our country now, of course, is built on injustice, and we are constantly faced with injustice. We see the worst kind of injustice — armed injustice. Nevertheless, we see that at the same time millions of people, tens of millions of people, want the truth. They want to achieve the truth, and sooner or later they will achieve it. They will be satisfied.

This is the truth, and you can’t argue against it. And sooner or later these people who want the truth will achieve their goal, they will be satisfied.

And the important thing that I want to tell you, and in your person, you, the prosecutor, in general, all the authorities and all the people, is that it is important not to be afraid of these people. And do not be afraid of those who seek the truth.

Alexei Navalny

The quiet revolution in the churches (part 2)

Photo by Bikash Guragai on Unsplash

This is something fascinating going on in Britain (and, I suspect, in the rest of Europe and the Western world):

  • Society is relying more on the social contribution of churches
  • Church attendance is declining
  • Churches are discovering that social action, church growth and discipleship belong inextricably together, and together open the way forward for a season of fresh growth, relevance and impact for the Church.

It is a quiet, slow-burn, patient revolution, my favourite type. It is not centrally organized, but spontaneously has arisen all over the nation. It developed through a decade of austerity and was shocked into further action by the pandemic. I think in a career of observing church trends in the UK, it is the most encouraging thing I have ever seen. It builds on and with other trends in the UK that have moved the needle: the rise of beautiful worship; the flourishing of the alpha course; the development of church-planting churches, networks and movements. There is probably a bunch of dying that the Church still needs to do, but perhaps for the first time in a generation, or longer, there are railway tracks heading into a bright future, and the Church is riding on them.

Here’s a quote from a report produced by the Theos thinktank in 2020, just as the worst of the pandemic was being felt:

Over the past decade, the contribution that the Church of England makes to society through its social action has increased, reflecting an increase in the demand and expectation for it. At the same time, church attendance in the country has continued to decline; by most key metrics, attendance at Church of England services fell between 15% and 20% from 2009-2019. This is the paradox facing the Church of England in 2020: the national church of a nation which is increasingly reliant on its social action and yet less and less spiritually connected to it. 1

The report noted that ‘the Church grows in number and depth when it is present in and connected to its local area, which may be manifested through its social action.’ Its longevity and presence make it well placed. Hospitality and generosity are significant. And ‘participation in social action can also offer a practical route into faith for people who weren’t previously part of the church community.’2

Exciting stuff. And it doesn’t involve massaging church statistics until something positive is squeezed out. It’s everywhere. I see it in the Christmas letters I receive from friends. I see it in my own church which, in other ways, is not exactly a picture of glowing health. I see it elsewhere in Cambridge. And I read it in reports like this one.

Four marks of revival

Photo by Paul Bulai on Unsplash

Four qualities of spiritual revival have recurred throught the centuries. Revivals are:

  1. Popular and populist
  2. Transformative, calling for conversions
  3. Reforming institutions
  4. Devotional – calling forth relationships of love

I’m grateful to Christian History magazine (episode 149) to codify these things and helping us to see that revival in those terms popped up not just among Protestants but at many points in medieval Christianity. It is, of course, exactly what we need today. And (see the two previous posts in this optimistic Advent season), perhaps it is happening.

For those not feeling Christmassy

I couldn’t resist passing on this quote from Nadia Bolz-Weber, who hangs out on Substack, which platform I’m exploring these days.

She’s mouthy, sweary, tattooed, controversial and generally terrifying to me, but she knows a lot about grace, and she can write. I thank God, and her, for between them making the world a better place.

I quote:

…a gentle reminder that Christ will be born on Christmas with or without us “feeling” Christmas-y. Because this pattern of time, this story, these rituals and practices and songs have gone on long before us and will continue long after us. Sometimes we are floating in that river of faith, just swimming in it and feeling the transcendent warmth of the season. And other times we seem to be standing in just a half inch of the stuff; not even enough to cover our feet. But the power of the river, its source and its destination changes not at all. And both things: submerged in and barely having our feet in are the same. There’s no ranking system at work here. One is not “better” than the other. One does not “count more”. That’s just not how this thing works. Thank God

Nadia Bolz-Weber

The power of the small

I wrote some years ago about fractals, objects that are similar whether viewed on large scale or a small scale. For example, the way trees branch is the same whether you look at a whole tree or just a small portion of the branch. They are ‘self-similar across scales’, which is to say, fractal.

photo of bare tree under clear blue sky
Mathematically and theologically significant. Photo by Chris F on Pexels.com

Everything is infinitely small compared to God so (to God) the pattern presumably matters more than the size.

So it isn’t surprising that fractal behaviour crops up whenever we consider God at work. Parables–picturing God at work–are self-similar across scales. Is the parable of the sower about the history of nations? Or of a single small tribe? Or of a single human heart? It’s self-similar across scales, so it applies equally to all of them.

The pattern matters more than the size

Faithfulness is fractal. If you are faithful in a little thing, you will be entrusted with much. One who is faithful in small things will be understood to be faithful in big things too. The pattern is the thing; the size doesn’t much matter in the eyes of God.

This is a stunning fact when you hold it up against our desires for prestige or respect or generally just to be associated with big stuff. Two things stand out to me, one of them relevant to this advent season.

  1. The young woman caring for the infant Jesus, wiping his bum, burping him, rocking him to sleep, was supplying exactly the faithfulness needed at that moment; enough faithfulness to save a whole Universe.
  2. Our smallest faithful actions shine out in God’s eyes like stars– a secret of a life of patient revolution.

Living in a God-soaked world

Photo by Rich Smith on Unsplash

Yesterday in our church our preacher tried to explain the word ‘providence’, an old-fashioned word that, like the groat or the florin, has or had considerable value, but has passed out of common currency.

And it still has value, perhaps especially when we look at the yoke that Christ has laid upon our lives and ask, is this yoke, as promised by Jesus, truly light, truly easy? (See Matthew 11:30.)

She—our preacher—explained that ‘providence’ referred first to God sustaining the Universe, upholding its natural laws; and then secondly, to God arranging things in life so that they turned out well and for our good. Exactly how the second meaning of providence squares with the first is a paradox, I think, but just because I can’t understand it, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

Just suppose providence is a thing. It leads to several thoughts.

  1. I’ve seen blogs recently about people writing letters to their ten-year-old selves. Mine would be very simple: life so far has turned out better than ten-year-old me was capable of imagining. Half-formed ten-year-old dreams and desires turned into milestones upon which I can look now back on, half a century later. There was pain along the way, but it was not to be compared with the flowering or fruiting of those desires that accompanied them. Either I got lucky, or there was the hand of providence somewhere.
  2. That which starts by tasting bitter often ends up being sweet. It’s possible that an eye for providence may help us with that thought.
  3. We keep walking into drippings of God-soakedness, like colliding with spiders’ webs, which in the season I’m writing this, early autumn, are everywhere. I know that coincidences are mathematically inevitable, but that does not stop them also being the hand of providence. Several years ago I quoted the theologian Frederich Buechner, and it’s worth unearthing again:

“I think of a person I haven’t seen or thought of for years, and ten minutes later I see her crossing the street. I turn on the radio to hear a voice reading the biblical story of Jael, which is the story that I have spent the morning writing about. A car passes me on the road, and its license plate consists of my wife’s and my initials side by side. When you tell people stories like that, their usual reaction is to laugh. One wonders why.

I believe that people laugh at coincidence as a way of relegating it to the realm of the absurd and of therefore not having to take seriously the possibility that there is a lot more going on in our lives than we either know or care to know. Who can say what it is that’s going on? But I suspect that part of it, anyway, is that every once and so often we hear a whisper from the wings that goes something like this: “You’ve turned up in the right place at the right time. You’re doing fine. Don’t ever think that you’ve been forgotten.” ― Frederick Buechner

The (alleged) fraying of the social fabric, and the way back

(Generated with AI)

Beware middle age. You become aware the world has changed around you, you are no longer at the cultural centre of things, and you attach moral weight to the change. You haven’t just grown old–blithely ploughing your land into a deep rut while the world stayed fertile and flexible–you think it’s got worse. The country is going to the dogs.

I don’t entirely believe this. I rather prefer Dickens’ formula, that the good old days, like now, were the best of times … the worst of times.

But surely some things get worse, even as other things get better, as the erratic lighthouse-beam of the world’s attention lights stuff up?

One of the things that may have got worse is the fraying of the social fabric. Commentator and cultural critic (or, OK, journalist on a deadline) David Brooks wrote a fascinating article for The Atlantic 1 in which he tried to answer a couple of questions:

  1. Why have Americans become so sad? – he points out a few statistics, rising rates of depression and loneliness, increasing lack of friends, and ‘persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.’
  2. Why have Americans become so mean? He cites restauranteurs and medical staff, for example, facing never-before-seen levels of rudeness, cruelty, and abuse from the general public. Himself a recent, adult convert to Christ, he says, ‘we’re enmeshed in some sort of emotional, relational and spiritual crisis.’

Many reasons have been offered (as he points out): the rise of social media; the decline of community organizations; the toppling of the pyramid that had male, white, hetrosexuals at the apex; and the high levels of poverty and insecurity after we baby boomers bought all the houses, snaffled all the good pensions and left the national finances neck-deep in the red.

Brooks doesn’t dispute any of these, but he points to a deeper cause. ‘We inhabit a society in which people are no longer trained in how to treat others with kindness and consideration … We live in a society that’s terrible at moral formation.’ His solution, if I’m reading him right, is education.

He may be right. But (even accepting his diagnosis) I’m not so sure. My problem is that I’m not sure that ‘moral education’ actually works. I rather think (and maybe I have the apostle Paul on my side here) that any amount of moral instruction only makes us more creatively sneaky at finding outlets for our evil hearts. Paul himself knew all kinds of law, he had moral instruction from his nose to his toes, but his true nature still leaked out as pride, hypocrisy, cold-heartedness, snobbishness and self-righteousness. My reading of the gospels is that Jesus found the Pharisees, moral crusaders whether you asked them or not, much harder to bear with than the ordinary sinners who drank too much or slept around. The Pharisees’ collective A+ in moral education played to their low cunning and monstrous smugness.

But if it’s not education, what? I think the answer is love. I would argue that loving behaviour, like many other things, travels down human networks. The kind or courteous person in the workplace changes the workplace. The generous act spawns further generous acts. Human goodness spreads. It’s not so much ‘education’ as lived-out loving decency that exerts a soft pressure on those who receive it.

I have heard that one of William Wilberforce’s aims in life was ‘to make goodness fashionable’, and I think it is true the one person’s behaviour can eventually, via a long and winding road, change the culture. There are many examples of this. For example, I have worked with legal professionals and judges for more than 20 years. I have never seen even the faintest suggestion of a bribe. I remember the horror at my son’s school when word got out that a parent (not from a British culture) had offered a teacher money to smooth the path for a child. It was a scandal roughly on a scale of someone exposing themselves in the playground. That is not to claim my own culture is especially good, just that in the matter of bribery in those two instances, it was unthinkable and inconsciable. That’s culture. Integrity (in this narrow area in these isolated cultural examples) has become fashionable.

Or take sport. In Rugby Union, the only person who can question a referee’s decision is the team captain, and they can only make a polite enquiry. In soccer, players surround the referee and harangue them. There are two different cultures. Maybe one day soccer players will be as polite to match officials as rugby players are today; or maybe one day rugby players will be as rude as soccer players are today. I suspect whichever way any of this changes, it will be because some influential people did it first and in some mysterious way their behaviour became fashionable and normalized within the culture.

The Christian church changed the brutal Roman culture; it became unappealing to watch people being eaten by lions. The @metoo movement addressed and changed the laddish culture of the ‘noughties. What was done then is no longer accepted now. I don’t think it was education that did this; somehow it was social pressure tied up with love.

Interesting. Reminds me of Paul’s description of the Philippians, whom he instructed to ‘become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.’ (Philippians 2:15)

An update on the New Atheists

Times move on

The New Atheist movement, headed by its ‘four horseman’ of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennet and Sam Harris, so influential in the early 2000s, has, I read, ‘fractured and lost its spirit’. 1

The author of that quote, Sebastian Milbank, a critic and editor and (I think) Blue Labour sympathizer, notes that part of the reason is that the political left has shifted. Back in the day of Peak New Atheist, the left (in Milbank’s telling) were happy to stand on science and observable facts and what worked rather than the religion-inspired dogmas of the right-wing. So New Atheism with its talk of reason and evidence, was a natural fit (regardless of the politics of the Four Horsemen themselves): a powerful alchemy: the trendy centre-left fused with a newly articulated atheism.

But as well as New Atheism splintering internally, the political left has headed towards (again in Milbank’s telling) ‘an ideology of “care”; ‘the lived experiences of victims’; ‘indigenous ways of knowing.’ Cruelly, it might be said to have headed for the touchy-feely and the subjectively felt instead of the proven, and may indeed have come to view science and rationality as a power-grab rather than a bipartisan quest for common truth and common good. This is bad news for New Atheists, who don’t have anything else to offer, don’t do touchy-feely at all, and who have been left becalmed by the fickle winds of the zeitgeist.

Then look at what the ever-thoughtful Peter Dray writes.2 He works for the Christian student movement UCCF and is a keen observer of changing trends in student life. He quotes the ‘Russian born satirist, author and political commentator Konstantin Kisin’:

The reason new atheism has lost is mojo is that it has no answers to the lack of meaning and purpose that our post-Christian societies are suffering from. What will fill that void? Religious people have their answer. Do the rest of us?

Dray goes on:

It’s this kind of existential questioning that characterises many students today. If there is no God and no purpose, and the universe is wholly indifferent to our lives, then what’s the point? How can we make sense of our apparently innate sense of justice? Where can we turn when we feel overwhelmed by life’s anxieties? Are we really happy to reduce love to an unfortunate side-effect of our evolutionary psychology?

He argues the key challenge (for those seeking to present the Christian gospel to students) is now ‘demonstrating the uniqueness of Jesus in a world of therapies.’ And he says, We should surely celebrate that today’s students are asking deep existential and personal questions that only Jesus can truly answer. To those with eyes to see, Jesus is clearly about to offer a weightier, more substantial hope – one which addresses us not just at an emotional level but which calls us to repentance and faith, and to life with the living God.

All fascinating stuff. A challenge for me personally, because the realm of science, logic, evidence and the common good is home ground for me. I would be quite happy to dialogue there with New Atheists. Jesus, I would argue with them, is the piece of rogue data you can’t ignore. If he rose from the dead, that upsets everything, even the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which is everything.

But what is revealed by the new zeitgeist, if accurately observed in today’s students (which of course must only be patchily true), is surely the shortage, and the centrality, of love, and the golden shackles that bind together love and meaning in the human frame. These things are beyond reason and science and therefore beyond New Atheism and its parallel, Christian apologetic.

Jesus is the way and the truth and the life and God is love. All else falls before the grandeur of this.

The powers that be (2)

More about the teaching of Walter Wink, as mentioned last week, in his book The powers that be, which was a later summary of earlier work.

Wink teaches that every institution possesses an ‘outer, physical manifestation’ and ‘an inner spirituality, corporate culture or collective personality’ (p24) and combined they correspond to what the New Testament called ‘powers’, which were a tangible part of life back in New Testament times. Materialism has slanted our impression of them, but perhaps they have not gone away.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him (Colossians 1:12).

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39).

Are these ‘powers’ good or bad? It is customary in my part of the church to think of them (or at least the spiritual components) as ‘bad’, spiritual remnants perhaps of an original fall that led to the fall of some spirits into evil; the same worldview as can be found in the Bible and which John Milton used in Paradise Lost. And it is true that Jesus is never recorded as coming across an evil being that he wished to redeem. He apparently wished to expel all of them from his good creation.

In Wink’s view, however, the powers are:

  • Good
  • Fallen
  • Needing redemption.

He argues that:

These three statements must be held together, for each by itself is not only untrue but downright mischievous. We cannot affirm governments or universities or businesses as good unless we recognize at the same time that they are fallen. We cannot face their oppressiveness unless we remember that they are also a part of God’s good creation. And reflection on their creation and fall will seem to legitimate these Powers and blast any hope for change unless we assert, at the same time, that these Powers can and must be redeemed. But focus on their redemption will lead to utopian disillusionment unless we recognize that their transformation takes place within the limits of the fall.

Wink, op. cit., p 32

Whether or not the Powers can be redeemed (or merely expelled), the material, earthly institutions certainly are created, fallen, and can be redeemed. At the moment this is within the limits prescribed by our current fallen world; in the future it will be fully so, as part of New Creation.

This is eye-opening stuff:

  1. Institutions have a spiritual character as well as a material form.
  2. Institutions are good, fallen, and capable of a degree of redemption.
  3. They will be fully redeemed at the so-called eschaton, the full arrival of the New Creation.

How can the Powers be opposed? How can institutions be redeemed, or at least cleaned up a bit, capturing more of their divine vocation?

I have to skip over a large and brilliant part of his analysis here but the central understanding is that violent overthrow won’t do it. All violent overthrow does is replace one system of spirit-fueled domination with another. A revolution is rightly named: it’s just the turning of the same wheel. What do ‘work’ (and again I am oversimplifying) are the things Jesus taught so directly. Turn the other cheek. Hand over all your clothes if someone takes your cloak. Love your enemies. Do good to those who hurt you. Feed and water your enemies. You want to lead? Be a servant. You want to line up with God’s rule? Be a child. Jesus himself entered Jerusalem on a donkey, not a charger. He won the day by going to his death like a lamb to the slaughter.

The aim is not conquest, but relationship: humanizing the oppressor, so that oppressors are themselves liberated from being oppressed by their own oppressive behaviour: ‘today, salvation has come to this house.’ These same acts also restore dignity and agency to the victim.

That’s how we ‘win’. And the winning may not be seen in this life, or certainly only partly seen, but it is putting a foothold in eternity, it is filling up our storerooms in heaven, it is investing in the future.

The Powers that Be (1)

In his striking and unusual book, the late theologian Walter Wink writes this:

This book is unashamedly about things spiritual. It assumes that spiritual reality is at the heart of everything, from photons to supernovas, from a Little League baseball team to Boeing Aircraft. It sees spirit– the capacity to be aware of and responsive to God –at the core of every institution, every city, every nation, every corporation, every place of worship … [It] celebrates a divine reality that pervades every part of our existence.

Walter Wink, The powers that be, 1998, Galilee Doubleday, p 13

Wink points out that ‘Latin American liberation theology made one of the first efforts to reinterpret the “principalities and powers” — which occur naturally in New Testament writing — ‘not as disembodied spirits inhabiting the air, but as institutions, structures and systems … Powers such as a lumberyard or a city government possess an outer, physical manifestation (buildings, personnel, trucks, fax machines) and an inner spirituality, corporate culture or collective personality. The Powers are simultaneously an outer, visible structure and an innner, spiritual reality’ (p24).

This is striking and unusual stuff. As Wink goes on to point out, when it comes to ‘Powers and principalities’, ‘fundamentalists treat the Powers as actual beings in the air … and secularists deny that this spiritual dimension even exists’ (p26).

The elegance of this outlook is that it roots the New Testament worldview into everyday structures of injustice and unrighteousness (or indeed structures of justice and righteouness). So by doing battle against, say, injustice, you are actually resisting spiritual powers, for which the gospel offers weapons and tools.

For example, Ephesians 6 says:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:10-12 NIVUK

This scripture makes a lot of sense in contexts where spiritual forces are rife and obvious, where local industry manufactures charms and amulets, and where you can buy services like spells, curses, protection from the evil eye and love potions. I have worked with many missionaries who have spent time in those contexts and found New Testament-type solutions beneficial and fruitful.

It’s a lot harder though, in secular and materialist contexts, to know quite what to do with all these scriptures.

Wink offers a further insight. These powers, he claims, become fallen and demonic when they pursue ‘a vocation other than the one for which God created’ them (p29). So, calling an institution to be just and and upright and to fulfill the purpose God intends for it, is not just a matter of (for example) campaigning but is also a spiritual conflict requiring the kind of spiritual weaponry that the gospel offers. This is because the institution involved has a spiritual face as well as a material one.

This makes a lot of sense.

  • Ir explains why in the book of Revelation, letters are written to ‘the angel’ of each of the seven Asia Minor churches — not to the pastor, or the leadership team, or the congregation, but to the spiritual reality, the culture, that they together contribute to and embody.
  • It explains why in the same book, earthly realities are described withthe imaginative imagery of dragons, beasts and whores, a spiritual view of human institutions.
  • It helps make sense of the Beatitudes, which sees human attitudes and behaviours as having potency as spiritual weapons: Are you spiritually bankrupt? You’re blessed: yours is the reign of heaven (Matthew 5:3, my paraphrase).

Here’s his summary:

Evil is not just personal but structural and spiritual. It is not simply the result of human actions, but the consequences of huge systems over which no individual has full control. Only by confronting the spirituality of an institution and its physical manifestation can the total structure be transformed.

Wink, op.cit., p 31

There’s more to come.