Faith in a Big Society

Faith that we're going somewhere

The Big Society as defined by David Cameron and the new Right puts the wider community ahead of narrow self-interest. Without faith this won’t work.

Faith tells us:

  • That when we flick a switch there will be electricity
  • That paying into a mortgage is an investment in the future
  • That this is not all there is
  • That tomorrow will arrive as usual
  • That the future will be better than the past
  • That it is worth helping our neighbour
  • That we are not just the sum of our chemical components
  • That Society (Big or otherwise) has a future

We negotiate life hoping that the future will bear fruit. Without faith, family planning would be a family gamble. Without faith, we wouldn’t sacrifice for the future – the present would be a cynical, nihlistic pig’s trough of satiated appetites. Nothing to hold onto – or for.

The opposite of faith is worthlessness, helplessness and hopelessness. Or put it another way – despair.

Human Beings need faith

How God changes your brain (2009) / Born to Believe (2006) – Andrew Newberg MD and Mark Robert Waldman

These very astute Psychologists have produced research to show how human beings are wired for a belief in and an antenna for God. Humans need to believe in something. Time spent meditating improves memory and slows down neurological damage caused by growing old. They show that energy spent dwelling on negative thoughts for any longer than 20 seconds starts to damage the physiology of the brain. At Powerchange we call this the 19 seconds theory. Spend any longer than that on bad stuff and it will take ten times as long to repair the damage. Newberg and Waldman argue that we have a God neuron in the brain that expands the more we contemplate spiritual matters. The more we tune in, the better the reception.

Maybe that’s why, for many, God is more of a feeling than an idea. God came to earth because he was lonely and missed us and was prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to get us back. Logically, this seems absurd. Delusional. But there is a wellspring of desire in our hearts that wants it to be true. Faith and hope speak to our hearts more than to our heads.

People with faith tend to live longer, live happier lives, have longer marriages, divorce less and have less illness. Oh yes, and they have fewer heart attacks..

Even atheists think faith is a good idea.

Matthew Parris – ‘As an Atheist I truly believe that Africa needs God’ published in The Sunday Times Dec 28th 2008

“Christianity .. offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.”

Joan McGregor, Professor of philosophy and bioethics at Arizona State University, contends that the mind can influence the body, citing the power of prayer, meditation and social groups.

“We waste a lot of money on drugs and invasive therapies when we could go in another direction,” she says, “We ought to be studying this and harnessing the power of the mind.”

Professor Tor Wager, Professor of Psychology at Columbia University has researched the role of placebo in the human brain:

“The human brain is not like a machine, but like a river with a lot of ongoing processes,” said Wager. “What you do when you give someone a drug is you nudge that and produce all sorts of ripple effects.”

Wager has shown how the neurochemistry of the placebo effect can relieve pain in humans. He found that the placebo effect caused the brains of test volunteers to release more of a natural painkiller.

The placebo effect is an improvement in a medical condition caused by a patient’s belief as opposed to actual treatment.

The human being naturally generates faith in the process of healing. Healing results even when no actual chemical or clinical intervention is made. Our psychology needs faith wired into it. Take it away and illness, darkness and death result.

Why do We Need Faith?

Because jumping over the ledge into the unknown is better than certain death in the burning building.

Even if God were a placebo, we would still keep a packet of him on our person. What Dawkins and the selfish mob fail to realise is that the human race is better off believing in the idea of God.

Take that away and you take away hope.

Songs for a Wedding


Maria Callas in 1957


  1. Maria Callas – L’amour est un Oiseau Rebelle (Habanera Act 1) Bizet/Carmen
  2. Gloria Gaynor – Can’t take my eyes off you
  3. Elvis Presley – Can’t help falling in love
  4. Earth Wind & Fire – Fantasy
  5. Billy Idol – White Wedding
  6. Barry White – You’re my first, my last, my everything
  7. Andrew Bocelli – Madam Butterfly / Puccini
  8. Andrea Bocelli – Con Te Partiro
  9. Abba – I do, I do, I do
  10. Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli – Time to say goodbye

Did Maria Callas expect to end up on a list of the greatest Wedding songs of all time? Probably not. However, in this post you will find Abba nuzzling next to opera, the imperial Callas emoting in royal fashion with the human sneer, Billy Idol – along with the Pelvis, Gloria Gaynor, Earth, Wind and Fire and the mighty love porpoise, Barry White. It’s a great day for a white wedding..

Yeah, it’s happened to everyone who has anything more than a rudimentary knowledge of music. Someone asks ‘What are your all-time wedding songs’? There’s a smirk implied in the question.  However, it set me thinking..

There are posts and sites all over the web giving you advice and anything up to a hundred songs to give your bandleader or DJ. But on this day of all days you want more than a tired old cheese-machine love jukebox.


Gay Richardson - 'What's wrong with a red wedding?'


Earlier in the year I was asked to source ten songs for a Wedding Fashion Show for White Tie Events – a mix of classical and modern(ish) being required. Gay Richardson, my friend from the excellent personal style and wardrobe website Style Me Confident was the Producer/stylist and wanted a particular feel for the catwalk which required a subtle blend of up-market classical and some very well known popular songs.


Lewis Black (Renaissance Brighton) and Alice Parsons


The ten songs assembled here were the final playlist. They range from opera to Abba, with a little spike of danger in the lip-curling form of Billy Idol. As an act of pure self-indulgence there is an Italian and English reading of the same song ‘Con te Partiro’ – Andrea Bocelli on his own and then an English duet with Sarah Brightman.

It worked. If you are heading for the Big Day yourself or have been asked for music to soundtrack a wedding, here it is. There’s even a song to wave goodbye to go on honeymoon thanks to Sarah and Andrea.

Have a great day.

Grab the music here: