Health: what are we trying to achieve?

This is about the nature of health. In a recent post I argued that health services should take priority because everything we do depends on having enough health. Here I ask what we think good health is.

This is about attitudes we usually presuppose without thinking about them. Some presuppositions work better than others. It makes a difference what kinds of gods, if any, we believe in. I draw on the distinctions between polytheism, monotheism and atheism that I analysed in my Why Progressives Need God.

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John Warboys and the meaning of justice

Nick Boles explodes. The British Government isn’t addressing the crises in housing and health, says this Conservative Member of Parliament. But, as the Guardian describes his mood, ‘the Worboys decision was the final straw’. The Parole Board has decided that John Warboys, a 60-year-old taxi driver jailed in 2009 for assaults on 12 women, should be released. The Government could have challenged the decision but has decided not to. Grr.

What would justice for Warboys be? This post leaves aside the personal details, like the likelihood of him reoffending, and asks about the nature of justice.

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What do we expect from the National Health Service?

Prime Minister Theresa May, in her New Year live interview on Sunday, got quite a grilling from Andrew Marr. The Independent provides a video and report.

Marr described the case of Leah Butler-Smith whose mother waited five hours to be seen after a stroke this week. Ms Butler-Smith had posted a video of a queue of ambulances outside a hospital in Chelmsford, Essex, explaining that her mother had had a stroke, but was at the time tenth in a queue to get into hospital.

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How far would you follow a star?

Even as a child, I was puzzled. How could a star lead the Magi to a specific house without coming so close that Planet Earth would burn into a pile of ashes?

Matthew didn’t expect his readers to take it literally. He had a bigger agenda. He was comparing Jesus with Augustus, the first Roman Emperor and, at the time of Jesus’ birth, the most powerful man in the world. Augustus had a virgin birth. Jesus had one too. Augustus was revered across his empire, from Spain to Syria. Jesus was revered from even further, from Persia where magi studied the stars.

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Trump’s Christian supporters – are they Christians?

Congratulations to Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool, for speaking out in public about the misuse of the terms ‘Christian’ and ‘Evangelical’ for people who oppose what Jesus stood for.

He did so in an interview with the Guardian at the launch of a new charity, the Ozanne Foundation, to work with religious organisations on LGBTI, sexuality and gender issues. This itself remains controversial in church circles, where opposition to same-sex partnerships remains strong; but the Guardian highlighted the implications for American Evangelicals who support Donald Trump. Can people who support his policies really call themselves Evangelicals, or Christians?

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