St Cuthbert

What does it mean to call something special?

Last Sunday the main service at St Bride's Liverpool was on the topic of pilgrimage. Many people there had been on a pilgrimage to Lindisfarne. I hadn’t been myself but it was interesting to hear the stories and see the photos.

So we heard about acts of worship, meditations, the local church, the walk along St Cuthbert’s Way, watching the stars in the absence of street lighting. People kept affirming that such-and-such a thing, or event, or place, was special.

cartoon of puzzled dog

People who don’t believe in God can live good moral lives every bit as well as believers can. Most people accept this. It’s not controversial. Indeed they can live better lives than believers who are only ‘good’ to avoid divine punishment.

The more difficult question is: how to justify it? Can unbelievers explain, rationally and convincingly, why they think they should live moral lives, and which actions are moral, without falling back on some kind of supernatural authority?

map of Calais and Dover

How do we respond to the information about the refugees at Calais? About Prime Minister David Cameron’s description of migrants as a ‘ swarm ‘? What feelings does immigration evoke?

This post relates the question to the declining influence of Christian morality, especially the idea that all the world’s people are equally created and loved by the same god.

George Osborne, a leading contender for future leadership of the nation, wishes to see Britain’s relationship with Europe reduced to a matter of trade.

This is a solipsistic approach to a continent whose political and economic concerns we share, whether we like it or not.