Are some people more trouble than they are worth?

HandcuffsSome of us cost a lot. The online journal article Childhood forecasting of a small segment of the population with large economic burden describes a recent study with results worth pondering. I spotted it through a summary in the Church Times , though this is behind a paywall.

Called the Dunedin Longitudinal Study, it plotted the lives of some children born in one hospital in 1972-73. Now that they have grown up, it turns out that 22% of them are responsible for 81% of their criminal convictions, 78% of their prescriptions for drugs, 77% of their fatherless children, 66% of their welfare claims, 57% of their hospital nights, 54% of the cigarettes smoked, 40% of their excess kilogrammes and 36% of their insurance claims.

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If you were an angel would you sing to a bunch of shepherds?

If anybody is to have a sneak preview of the saviour of the world, who should get it? According to Matthew, the preview was given to wise men from the East. According to Luke, it was given to a bunch of shepherds in fields just outside Bethlehem. Why choose them?

I take it that nobody saw it all happen and told Luke. Luke tells us he tried to get his facts right, but he still began by doing what biographers did in his day: using a story to illustrate the character of the person he was describing. The story is designed to explain who Jesus was and why he mattered. When he brings shepherds into the story he’s not just reporting what somebody told him; he’s making a point about Jesus. This post describes the point he’s making.

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Liberal theology and the Trinity

We at Modern Church sometimes get asked what our line is on a particular religious topic. Recently we have been asked about the Trinity.

We usually avoid having a line on specific religious doctrines. The whole point of liberal theology (at least, our version of it) is that we encourage people to think for themselves, and not accept a religious doctrine just because someone in authority tells us to.

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Genetic editing: what the debate tells us about ourselves

Robin Gill

Robin Gill

Robin Gill’s article in last Friday’s Church Times summarises the ethical debate about genetic editing. This post looks at the presuppositions behind the different positions.

Genetic editing is a new technique for altering DNA sequences in plants, animals and humans: Continue reading

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Zacchaeus and the sex worker

zacchaeus140This is about shame and reconciliation. It is an edited version of a sermon I gave last Sunday.

It draws on two stories. The main one is the biblical story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). By way of a modern comparison I describe a conversation I had with a sex worker.

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President Trump: some distheological causes

trumpcard140Syriza, Podemos, Le Pen, Brexit, now Trump. What’s happening? As long as the debates are conducted in black and white, each side too angry too understand the other, we will not find a satisfactory way forward.

This post describes some historical causes with theological significance.

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On Remembrance Sunday, what do we remember?

War Memorial, Denstone, StaffordshireThe 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month was when the Armistice was signed at the end of The Great War, the war to end all wars. So Remembrance Day was the day when work stopped at eleven o’clock. To remember the futility of war.

Between 1914 and 1918 soldiers dug themselves into trenches and emerged to battle it out on the field until one side was victorious among the dead bodies. Such was the scale of death that a new mood arose: it was inconceivable that nations would ever be so foolish as to repeat the tragedy. People wore red poppies to remember. Never again!

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Daniel Blake and the purpose of life

idanielblakeI went with some friends to see I, Daniel Blake last night. It’s many years since I last saw a film, and I was wondering whether I would be bored.

Bored I was, as we sat through all the prior adverts. My eyes closed. I was just nodding off when I was startled by some very familiar words.

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Time for death

coffinI have just witnessed a funeral as it should be: very different, I am sorry to say, from most funerals I conducted when I was still in post.

A family member in his early 60s was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died a month later. He was Congolese. His coffin, pictured here, was made of banana leaves.

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As a Christian I’m a citizen of the world

Prime Minister TheTheresa May, British Prime Ministerresa May’s statement reverberated around the UK:

If you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere.

My guess is that this vicar’s daughter is totally unaware of the role Christianity played in getting people to think of themselves as citizens of the world.

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