April 2018 - Paradigm Shift

Paradigm Shift


Let me tell you a common vicar experience. It is visiting elderly, isolated and mobility-restricted parishioners who live in fear of the outside world. They fear the economy, the immigrants, their neighbours, change, the future, government and many other things that lie beyond the borders of their garden.

These gentle folk become anxious of the world around them because of the narrative they hold on to. If your principle source of regular news is the Daily Mail, then it can be quite difficult to take on board that the national statistics for crime show 'the likelihood of being a victim of crime has fallen considerably over time; around 14 in 100 adults were victims in the latest survey year [2017] compared with around 24 in 100 adults a decade ago'.

It is indeed a free country, and I would always encourage people to read widely and to check news from multiple sources, but the effect of a diet of what can, in reality, be wilful deception on the part of a publisher, is anxiety and worry. As a comedian once put it: “The Daily Mail leads with the headline 'Everything is fine: fear it, fear it'.”.

Newspapers in general are not proficient at reporting good news – there appears to be no money in it! We collectively abhorred the hounding of Princess Diana by the press, and yet the nation lapped up the stories when the newspapers came out. What kind of cognitive dissonance is that? It can be argued that she died as a result of a national prurient interest – the press simply delivering what we desired.

The world paradigm sold to us on paper can be a wilfully distorted one – it's not a true story. Our response to this, if we are not careful, is a clouded, if not corrupt perception of our existence. Fear predominates, anger is incipient, and our neighbours become a source of concern rather than comfort. However, a paradigm shift is possible when we listen to a different story; when we search for truth rather than salacious indignation; light rather than darkness.

And then there is the great paradigm shift that the church calls Easter. Deep in the traditions of our nation lie – not fear, grief and anger – resurrection! This is the foundational transformation from death, fear and oppression, to life, love and liberation. The stone moved, the world changed, and we read a different story.

Happy Easter

Nick Bird


This letter from Revd Nick Bird appeared in the April 2018 issue of The Grapevine