An unrepentant prodigal

Somewhere between Nathanial Hawthorne’s Hester Prynne (The Scarlet Letter) and the story of the Prodigal Son we meet Shamima Begum, a nineteen year old mother of three (two of her babies have died) and an ISIS bride, who now wants to come home to the UK. Two issues seem to dominate the discussion in regard to allowing her to return: The first, does she pose a threat, existential or physical, to the nation? The second, does she feel any regret for what she did when she was fifteen?

It seems that in both cases the answer is no. This is where it also seems that the good people of the UK, or at least the immigration services, the Home Office and the diplomatic service, have a problem. Her situation does not sit tidily within the ethical norms described in the two scenarios I have just mentioned. To many people’s way of thinking, if she is unrepentant she must pose a threat.

She is not quite a Hester Prynne figure: On the face of it, she is not the helpless victim of other people’s hypocrisy and perverted morality. She represents, after all, an entity of which we are all fearful. She is also, at present, unrepentant, so the story of the Prodigal Son does not fit her situation either. But perhaps we should look a little more closely at both these stories and at ourselves.

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Climate Strike and spiritual values

Today’s youthful Climate Strike shows the immense gap between what young people are concerned about and what governments are doing. It is as though governments – not just ours, but most of the ones most responsible – are simply failing to address the urgency of the situation as described by the world’s climate scientists.

This post asks about the role of spiritual values. There has been a great deal of Christian literature arguing that Christians should be concerned about the environment. But should Christian concern be any different from everybody else’s concern?

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Why do we make each other so ill by polluting the air?

Air pollution is ‘ the new tobacco', said the World Health Authority a short time ago: ‘the simple act of breathing is killing 7 million people a year and harming billions more’. It now affects over 90% of the world’s population.

Now the Guardian has just published an excellent article about the damage we are doing to children. A reporter attended a consultation at the Royal London Hospital. For the children there, air pollution is linked to heart disease, dementia, reduced cognitive ability and asthma deaths. A growing number of people are considering moving house, or school, or even country because of it. This post asks why we are doing it.

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