The 2018 Lumen conference examined the identity and marginalisation of the Christian voice today. The 2021 Conferral looks at what has been lost in pushing the Christian search for Truth and community to the margins (corroborated by Miroslav Volf’s book, Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World, Yale University Press, 2017), leaving declining liberal democracy, globalisation and free market economy at the core. Jonathan Sacks in his book, Morality (Hodder and Stoughton, 2020) claims that the levers of power (states and governments) and capitalism (wealth) have eclipsed and displaced the search for Truth, which, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, is the search for meaning, theological understanding, spiritual life, and the foundation of morality.
To this disintegration Sacks further attributes deterioration of families and marriages, the global growth in loneliness, depression and anxiety, drug addiction, and suicidality; the loss of social, communication and concentration skills; and an overall disintegration of society that arises from individualistic thinking of 'I' not 'we' ironically in pursuit of rights and freedom. 'An individualistic universe may be free but it is fraught with loneliness, isolation, vulnerability and nihilism, a prevailing sense of the ultimate meaninglessness of life' (Sacks, 2020, p. 85). Whilst the origins of individualism may stem from the Enlightenment, Sacks suggests that the current surge of individualism emerged with the 'liberation' of the 1960s, and abandonment of morals and religion, identified by Alasdair MacIntyre in his seminal moral theory study, After Virtue (University of Notre Dame Press, 1981), which is now epitomised by the iGen (or Generation Z, born after 1995, who have spent their entire life with smartphone technology).
What does Christian Truth and community have to offer society in the age of dangerous post-truth or 'alternative facts' (Lee McIntyre, MIT Press, 2018), unstable and inequitable liberal democracies, re-emerging totalitarian states, environmental irresponsibility, 'social' media that fosters isolation and insecurity, to people isolated and socially handicapped by technology, to a world that idolises wealth and power at the cost of equality, creating an ever-widening gap between affluence and poverty, a gulf between authoritarianism and justice? Is the search for Truth and spirituality truly obsolete? If not, how can we redeem the core values of Christian teaching and enrich society?