The Guardian newspaper is not known for its religious sympathies, and a number of its columnists are noted and outspoken secular humanists.
It was surprising therefore to read in the 26 November edition a long article on theology. Written by a former Conservative Evangelical from the USA, it considered the apparent disappearance of Hell from Christian discourse, even in some evangelical circles. And it came to some rather surprising conclusions.
Once again Pope Francis is causing a stir. Speaking at a United Nations conference on nutrition on Thursday, he called for a more just distribution of the world’s bounty. He said that access to food is a basic human right and should not be subjected to market speculation and the search for profits:
‘We ask for dignity, not for charity… It is also painful to see that the struggle against hunger and malnutrition is hindered by “market priorities,” the “primacy of profit,” which have reduced foodstuffs to a commodity like any other, subject to speculation, also of a financial nature.’
Earlier this month Ed Miliband was castigated by the media for furtively handing a homeless person a coin – or was it a note? It seems the reporter was as unsure about what Miliband was doing, as he was himself.
Did he give because not to have done so would have made him look heartless? Or is he, just like the rest of us, embarrassed and just a little fearful when confroted by destitution? It seems that the priest and his two helpers, who were arrested in Florida earlier this month for feeding homeless people in the street, felt no such embarrassment or fear.
Is it acceptable to make innocent people suffer in order to uphold society’s moral norms about the sanctity of life?
Love or oppression?
In his Church Times article opposing assisted dying (Church Times, 1 November 2014) Nigel Biggar, a leading British ethicist, accepts that many of the terminally ill endure intense suffering, but argues that:
Lucinda Murphy’s recent post on this blog is timely. It raises more questions than it answers, but that is in the nature of the subject matter.
For the moment, it might be best to leave aside those awkward moral and psychological questions about 'Would you kill X to save Y?'
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