Congratulations to Thinking Faith, the online journal of the Jesuits in Britain, which celebrates its tenth anniversary tomorrow. Since 2008, Thinking Faith has been publishing articles that offer a faith-based perspective on contemporary issues and resources about the Catholic tradition.
In January 2008 Pope Benedict XVI was the head of the Catholic Church; Gordon Brown led a Labour government; Donald J Trump was a registered Democrat; and a teenager called Adele released her first album. Frances Murphy, who started work with Thinking Faith's founder Fr Peter Scally SJ in 2008 as Deputy Editor, observes: "If you consider the different positions in which each of those people now finds themselves you realise what a rollercoaster of a decade it has been- ecclesiastically, politically, economically, culturally. It has been our task at Thinking Faith to chronicle the changes that we have witnessed in Britain and internationally."
For Frances the highlight of the decade was the publication of an interview with Pope Francis six months after his election, in collaboration with other Jesuit cultural reviews. "Unsurprisingly," she recalls, "the days following the publication of the interview were the busiest days that Thinking Faith has ever had in terms of traffic to our website. In the interview, which was reported on the BBC News at Ten and in national newspapers, the Pope discussed his vision for the Church and put forward ideas that have become hallmarks of his papacy, such as the way he considers the Church to be like a field hospital after battle. 'It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else.'"
Other highlights from the decade include the 2010 visit of Pope Benedict XVI, which offered the chance to look closely at the situation of the Church in Britain. Frances explains "Some of our most exciting content has come about through our taking creative approaches to a familiar text or set of ideas, such as Matthew's genealogy of Jesus or the Seven Deadly Sins. A series that explored how we might use films to help children to think about the meaning of the Beatitudes is another example of this approach. The archive of articles that we have built up on Pope Francis and on scripture, in particular, are perennially well-read, but a visit to thinkingfaith.org will not just reward you with articles about typically 'churchy' subjects - you'll also find us tackling poetry and Harry Potter, economics and education, and plenty more besides!"
Some words from Thinking Faith readers sum up its importance and unique role: 'there are very few UK sites which are stimulating intellectually and dealing with contemporary culture from a Christian, let alone Catholic, perspective.' Here's to the next ten years!
Visit Thinking Faith here: www.thinkingfaith.org