Would you fancy crossing the Channel in one of those boats?

Seize the migrant boats in Calais, screams the Mail on Sunday in block capitals that fill most of the front page, after telling us that Britain’s Armed Forces ‘stand ready’ to stop migrants from crossing the English Channel.

As I write this, most newspapers have had plenty to say about Members of Parliament wanting the Royal Navy to prevent migrants reaching the UK.

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'Tis the season...

Like a lot of clergy (and others) up and down the land and around the world, I will spend some part of the next few days trying to think of something fresh to say about Christmas. Or, if not fresh, at least saying the same things in a fresh way.

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The meaning of the Magnificat

The Magnificat has been set to so much beautiful music that it’s easy to ignore what it says.

It’s part Luke’s story of the birth of Jesus. We love its gooey sentimentalism. We imagine it happening exactly as he described. This post is about what Luke meant, the point he was making. The Magnificat was his way of saying ‘This is what Jesus was about. This is what Christianity is about’. This post defends the Christian record in these terms.

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70 years on, do we still believe in human rights?

This Monday is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was a great achievement. Nobody publicly disapproves of human rights. They are too important.

But as soon as we ask what these things are, we get into trouble. Nobody has seen them. Do they really exist? Or are they, as Jeremy Bentham argued, ‘nonsense on stilts’? Positive rights are easily recognised: buy a bus ticket, have a right to ride on the bus. The right is granted by a known authority. Human rights, on the other hand, are a type of natural rights, and appeal beyond all human authorities. To what?

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Why worship?

A short while ago I was asked to explain the point of worship to my local Philosophy in Pubs group, many of whom are atheists and don’t see the point.

Reflecting on it made me realise why I’m uncomfortable with some of what goes on in churches today.

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