Saturday, 7 February 2009

What lies beneath


The molehill is a visual reminder of something ordinarily unseen and unremarked. Most of the time the activity of the mole lies beneath the surface of our everyday perception. The telltale eruptions of earth are an unmistakable signature of its presence. Like a neolithic stone circle whose original purpose is lost to us forever, the mounds in the photograph intrude into the  landscape as though from another world, whose subterranean darkness is as equally mystifying and alien to our contemporary culture as Stonehenge.

Perhaps the molehills are a metaphor for where churches find themselves today. Are we seen as odd eruptions on the surface of the twenty first century; signifiers of another world now strange and lost to meaning and understanding in the harsh daylight of post-Enlightenment and post-modern life?

What lies beneath? Surely that is the question which the both the molehills and our church buildings pose? What is going on under the surface which causes these things to intrude into our neat, rational landscape? The fact that we can't see the mole in the photograph doesn't mean that it isn't there. The evidence for its existence is blatantly obvious. The piles of earth are a pretty big clue to what lies beneath our feet. Our church buildings too are testimony to activity which is often hidden from view, beneath the surface of how things appear to be. There God is at work. The Spirit is active in the darkness of human despair, suffering and conflict. The earth of experience is dug out and made plain for all to see.

Our churches are the visible evidence of a hidden world of alternative meanings and values; they signify a subterranean and subversive activity of God which is always present. When such loves breaks through into the light and the evidence piles up before our eyes, we would do well to pay attention to what lies beneath our feet.


  1. Dave...this put me in mind of a splendidly irreverent cartoon, which I thought I had posted on my blog ...but after rising 5 years of writing I can't find it. I'd love to send it to you for a Saturday giggle if you're happy to let me have your email address
    Mine is revmyname at g**glemail dot com

  2. Very thought provoking post... and this is a whole thought stream ignored by these very prominent atheists we hear so much about... if we removed Christianity and indeed religion from society the whole fabric would crumble. So much of what we do is hidden, especially (and so often underestimated) the caring networks of people which spread out from local churches working away in the darkest of places...

    And I rather suspect that the people (all retired) who make up the pastoral care team in my church would be delighted to hear you describe their caring activities as "subterranean" and "subversive".

    Too often people look at a struggling church like mine and write it off as a lot of old people in a crumbling building instead of seeing them as visible evidence of God at work in the world.

    You have probably gathered by the length of this comment that I needed to hear these sentiments today... and I will pass them on...