Blake's Job

People have always asked why God allows evil and suffering. It is such a common question that it has a special name, ‘theodicy’. Couldn’t God have created a better world?

I am doing a series of three Sundays at St Brides Liverpool on this topic. The first was last Sunday. The parish administrator played with technology so you can hear it on YouTube.

This one focuses on one of the best known texts on the question, the biblical book of Job. Why do the innocent suffer?

While browsing for an image of refugees to use for this post, I have just stumbled on one of those American websites which thinks it has permission to say anything, as long as what it says justifies both its fear and its hatred of all who are perceived as alien, specifically Muslims, and Muslim refugees in particular.

In its paranoia, the site claims that Texas will soon have to submit to Sharia law, that term being understood in its most pejorative, narrow and repressive sense.

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

I never expected this. I have been studying official Church of England publications for many years. In every case I was at best critical of a number of claims, often totally opposed. I never expected to see something so good that it would positively excite me.

It has come. It is called ‘Who is my neighbour?’ In the introduction it describes itself as

a letter from the House of Bishops to the people and parishes of the Church of England for the General Election 2015.

There are some moments when a remarkable number of events come together and point to the possibility of prophecy.

The House of Bishops’ statement on the current state of UK politics has coincided with some other events which should provoke us to much thought at the beginning of Lent. Within the Church itself, there is debate about Baptism liturgies and what we mean by the Devil and Evil. On the wider cultural scene, we have witnessed the beginning of the serialisation of J K Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy and a rather edgy Channel 4 drama on the possibilities of life under a future UKIP government, both of which highlight the very matters with which the Bishops are concerned.

Gold coin of Croesus

This post is about economic justice. What makes some distributions of money just, and others unjust? Given the disagreements, and the huge practical implications, how do we decide?

I ended my last post , about Greece’s debts, arguing that if anyone is at fault, it is the creditors rather than the Greeks. I now feel this was too strong a claim to be left without more justification. This is what I am attempting here.

Our society has two conflicting accounts of economic justice. One is based on need, the other on contract. In politics the difference often works out as our familiar left-right split; but not always, and in any case our political culture of superficial debating points does more to hide than to reveal the substantive issues at stake.