Why does God allow the innocent to suffer?

Blake's JobPeople 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 3 Sundays at St Brides Liverpool on this topic. The first was last Sunday. Warren played with technology so you can hear it on YouTube .

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Vote for policies

Roman denarius showing voting

Ancient Roman denarius, 63 BC, showing someone voting

Vote for Policies is up and running for the 2015 UK General Election. As in 2010, it gives you a list of policies on each of ten policy areas, you say which one you like best, and at the end it tells you which parties you voted for. It’s a good way to decide how to vote.

In support of this principle, what follows is my own take on voting.

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Who is my neighbour? A commentary

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

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

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Debt, Greece and Europe

Monument at Marathon

Monument at Marathon commemorating the Greek victory there

Even the very idea of Europe is Greek. If you look down on Earth from a spaceship, you will see the blue oceans and the clearly separated land masses – Africa, North and South America, Antarctica. But Europe is not one of them. Europe is just the tail end of Asia.

The reason why it is called a separate continent is that the border is as far as the ancient Persian empire got. At Marathon in 490 BCE, and at Salamis and Plataea ten years later, Greeks defended their freedom against the world’s biggest empire.

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Is justice about need or contract?

Gold coin

Gold coin of Croesus, Lydian, around 550 BC. Source: Wikimedia Commons

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.

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Merkel and Greece: forgiveness or justice?

eurosEvery seventh year you shall grant a remission of debts.

So decrees a biblical text, Deuteronomy 15:1. It was a standardisation of a known practice. Newly crowned Mesopotamian kings often cancelled debts and liberated people who had sold themselves into slavery because of debt. Cancellation would have been a popular move as there would have been more debtors than creditors – then as now.

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Mental health and the value of life

Jean Vanier

Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche

People with mental health problems and learning difficulties are the subject of two articles in this week’s Church Times.

The two articles were printed alongside each other, and between them they told both a negative and a positive story.

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‘Burnley bishops’ will be different

Fresco of TheclaWidespread horror has greeted the news of the bizarre arrangements for consecrating the new bishop of Burnley.

On Wednesday I put up a post describing the arrangements agreed between the candidate, Philip North, who opposes the ordination of women, and the Archbishop of York. Normal procedure is to be abandoned so that the key actions, laying hands on the candidate and presiding at the Communion Service, will only be performed by bishops who also reject the ordination of women.

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A woman’s touch and spiritual danger

MitreIt gets more and more bizarre. Now that women can be bishops in the Church of England, opponents of women priests – who have existed for 20 years – are finding new hurdles to throw in their way.

The Revd Philip North, a member of Forward in Faith, is to be the next Bishop of Burnley. In principle this is not unexpected, as the negotiations included assurances that senior positions should still be available to opponents.

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Rock or sand, economy or people

John Sentamu, Archbishop of York

John Sentamu, Archbishop of York

Boom! Even before it is published, the Archbishop of York John Sentamu’s new book On Rock or Sand? is causing a stir.

According to the Independent it says

the Christian values of solidarity and selflessness have been discarded in favour of “every person for themselves” with “rampant consumerism and individualism” dominating politics since the 1980s.

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