dripNext Friday Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill is to be debated in the House of Lords.

Today’s Daily Mail has a long article describing George Carey’s change of mind. The former archbishop, who retired in 2002, has a record of public interventions on topical issues. Unusually, this time he is on the side of public opinion: he now supports a change in the law.

Dostoevsky, by Vasily Perov

This is part argument, part request for information. I’m researching theodicy. Why does a good God allow suffering?

One of the classic texts is Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. Ivan describes a five-year-old girl being deliberately tortured by her parents. It is an emotional description which makes no attempt to spare the reader’s feelings. Then he says:

Do you understand why this infamy must be and is permitted? Without it, I am told, man could not have existed on earth, for he could not have known good and evil. Why should he know that diabolical good and evil when it costs so much? Why, the whole world of knowledge is not worth that child’s prayer to ‘dear, kind God’!

Cartoon: Oh no, not evangelism

On 6 June 2014 the Church Times published an article by Canon Chris Russell, the Archbishops’ adviser on evangelism, arguing that too many churches appeared to regard evangelism as an optional extra. 

On 20 June they published a response from myself and some other trustees, as well as two other letters from Modern Church members.  This post is an expansion of that response.

Homeless woman takes hot drink from passer by

A Labour Party thinktank is proposing closer links between welfare benefits and contributions, through altering the system for national insurance contributions. The inevitable political quote goes:

Senior figures believe that Labour must counter the impression that it supports a “something for nothing” benefits system by looking at radical change.

In the current political mood it is understandable. The voting public, by and large, have been persuaded to feel resentment that anyone is getting ‘something for nothing’ while they themselves, as the television advertisements keep reminding them, ‘deserve’ at least as much as they are getting, whatever that is.

Illustration of a tree containing symbols of world faiths

This is the last of three posts on ‘religion’. Why are there different religions?

Christianity is one, Hinduism is another, all the religions are different from each other, only one of them at most can be true, so you can’t belong to two at once. This arrangement is not self-evident. It is another product of modern European conflicts.

It is well known that neither Confucius nor Buddha nor Jesus intended to set up a new religion. John’s gospel has a lot of harsh words for ‘the Jews’, but the word he uses means the people of the province called Judaea. An up to date translation might be ‘the Israelis’.