Monday, August 03, 2009

Bruce Anderson: The great ethical questions that society chooses to ignore

Every so often, an article is so lucid and thought-provoking that it is worth reproducing and preserving in its entirety. This from Bruce Anderson in The Independent:

The level of moral debate in modern Britain is pathetically, contemptibly low.

Death is often messy. The same is now true of aspects of the law relating to death. To assist in a suicide – including one in which death would take place abroad – is a criminal offence punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Yet those who have had dealings with Dignitas in Switzerland have not been prosecuted. The authorities are as reluctant to charge them as juries would be to convict them. The law lords have now declared that this is unsatisfactory and that matters must be clarified; individuals are entitled to know where they stand.

It is easier to state that principle than to put it into practice. The debate on assisted suicide did not create the uncertainty. It merely highlighted it. When it comes to individual rights and behaviour, the law is adrift, for two basic reasons. First, there has been a breakdown in the relationship between our legal code and Christian morality. Second, it is not clear when, or why, the state is entitled to regulate the private behaviour of adults.

England was never a theocracy. But over the centuries, the criminal law reinforced theology, imposing pains and penalties on those who broke the Church's rules. Until the 1960s, the laws on abortion, divorce and homosexuality all reflected Christian doctrine. Then everything changed. Today, we have a largely post-Christian criminal code. Inasmuch as there are echoes of the Ten Commandments, as on murder and theft, these simply reflect the legal norms of any civilised society. Assisted suicide is one exception. Clearly, any Christian must regard suicide as a sin. It is a blasphemy for man to encroach on the prerogatives of his Creator. But how can a state prepared to tolerate almost 200,000 abortions a year possibly object to a handful of suicides, who were at least exercising their free choice?

As long as it was a free choice. Anyone but the most unleavened libertarian would agree that a civilised state has a duty to protect the vulnerable (though not, it seems, foetuses: the most vulnerable of all). Those who are considering suicide are likely to be vulnerable. If any change in the law is contemplated, there would need to be safeguards to ensure that those who wish to be helped to die are of sound mind and a settled disposition, which they have arrived at voluntarily and without being coerced in any way. So we might conclude that the state is entitled to protect the rights of the potential suicide, while ultimately conceding his right to decide his own departure date.

Set down in cold print – cold being the word – that proposition might arouse alarm. A lot of people, whose residual Christianity has declined to a trite superstition with no more intellectual content than the astrology column, will still feel unhappy. They might even reach for the word sacred. They are entitled to do so. If God did not create man, then man created God. Christian ethics – and Christian aesthetics – express mankind's noblest impulses, including the belief that life is sacred (and life needs all the help it can get). So a refrigerated review of the bureaucratic arrangements necessary to ensure that a suicide's papers were in order might strike many people as a sophisticated reversion to the ethics of the jungle.

Any such reaction is mere squeamishness, which would be more usefully deployed on the abortion figures. If you believe that the law of England should be based on Christian morality, you are entitled to argue that the current law should be enforced. But even if you had your way, you would find that squeamishness had changed sides, and that jurymen who found the general principle repugnant were still determined to act on it. Given the general temper of our laws and our society, there are no grounds for criminalising assisted suicide with safeguards – and even devout Christians should ask themselves a question. Whom would the Christ of the New Testament find it easier to forgive: Sir Edward and Lady Downes, or a doctor who kills foetuses in industrial quantities?

Apropos of questions, the suicide debate raises a basic one. If God does not own us, who does? There would appear to be two claimants: the state, and ourselves. Although the thought of being owned by the state might seem excessively Germanic, any effective modern state must have the right to regulate the behaviour of its citizens, and charge them a great deal for doing so. But where does this end? Are we the state's livestock? If not, why are governments entitled to prohibit certain drugs?

It is possible to construct a case for prohibition that might claim to navigate a middle passage between livestockism and libertarianism. Few of us wish to live an a society in which decadence is unrestrained. So why take the risk of legalising drugs, when there are enough social ills to cope with already? Reinforced by the political hazards of advocating change, that is a fair summary of many politicians' views on the matter. But even if it sounds realistic, it is not intellectually rigorous.

If we are worried about decadence, what about the cretinising effect of watching television for hours and hours, day after day? What about the many schools which, despite considerable receipts from the taxpayer, have given up the attempt to pass on values, culture or a knowledge of Britishness? Above all, what about the disintegration of the family? Could it be that the battle against drugs is only a displacement activity, especially as we seem to be losing it?

The arguments are finely balanced. But that brings us to another problem. There is no argument. The level of moral debate in modern Britain is pathetically, contemptibly low. That is another undeniable sign of decadence, and we should all be ashamed. This applies a fortiori to the churches, which should be taking the lead. Instead, they appear to be suffering from a collapse of intellectual and theological self-confidence. That is especially true of the Church of England, which has ceased to offer any coherent moral leadership.

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is said to be clever. The main evidence for this is his ability to dress up accessible thoughts in incomprehensible prose. Not many years ago, if a question such as attempted suicide had arisen, everyone would have wanted to know what the Archbishop thought. Now, no one is interested, and he is probably too busy anyway, writing another speech about homosexual clergy. He must be the most ineffective Archbishop of all time. Under his lack of leadership, his Church is giggling its way to oblivion.

Other sources of moral guidance must be found. The Roman Catholics have a difficulty: their version of the homosexual imbroglio is still causing difficulties and undermining their self-confidence. Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, is an impressive figure, though less good at publicising himself than his predecessor, Lord Jakobovits. If it had not been for a couple of millennia of disputes, Margaret Thatcher would have loved to make him Archbishop of Canterbury.

But even if the Anglicans were in better shape, the churchmen cannot do everything, while too many philosophers are solely concerned with the meaning of meaning. If one wants to find contemporary intellectuals who are capable of addressing the big ethical questions, the best source is the judiciary. We need a Royal Commission, chaired by the retiring senior law lord, Tom Bingham.


Anonymous Grumpy Old Man said...

My Lord Archbishop.
"Whom would the Christ of the New Testament find it easier to forgive: Sir Edward and Lady Downes, or a doctor who kills foetuses in industrial quantities?
Is not the question here not the infinite mercy of God, but the repentence of sinners? Surely Christ's forgiveness can only be given when sins are recognised and confessed. does not your own Communion service recognises this link. "Draw near in Faith, Ye who do truly repent of your sins".
Did not Christ lay this condition upon his forgiveness. "Go then and sin no more" ?

3 August 2009 at 09:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To forgive either the Downses' or the abortion-mill doctor is equally hard for Christ: to forgive either requires his death on the cross for them.

The more relevant question is to ask: which of the Downses' and the aborting doctor can more easily see themselves as sinners in need of forgiveness?

Parabolically yours,

John Foxe

3 August 2009 at 09:59  
Anonymous sobers said...

As someone brought up in an evengelical Christian environment (which disproves the Jesuit principle, as I never believed a word of it) I was always taught that sin is not scalable - that once you have sinned, in the eyes of God you are all equally culpable. The man who thinks of having sex with his neighbours wife is as much a sinner as a mass murderer.

I don't agree myself, but the Christian principle seems clear.

3 August 2009 at 10:42  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

There we have it – so starkly put. Once you remove God’s demands the question arises: ‘If God does not own us, who does? There would appear to be two claimants: the state, and ourselves.’

The state can decide anything and we can decide anything with the permission of the state.

And the philosophers? ‘…philosophers are solely concerned with the meaning of meaning…’ They too are stuck without an etrenal, personal, objective reference –point.

Kill God, kill man.

3 August 2009 at 10:51  
Blogger Demetrius said...

A basic reason why the process of dying it so bad for many people is that neither the NHS or official bodies have accepted that it is a necessary condition, and our lifestyles to not take account of finality. Generations past were familiar with "Holy Dying" by Jeremy Taylor and death's ever presence. We need as much, if not more, attention given to those who are about to leave us, as any other part of our community. If anything we need to make the nature of death as dignified and as decent as possible.

3 August 2009 at 10:53  
Anonymous Brian E. said...

We have seen how the abortion law has been stretched and abused. What started out as a law to deal with a few "hard cases", rape, seriously ill mothers or badly deformed children has been taken to include mental health (which no-one can prove until it happens), and minor defects such as a cleft palate. In effect abortion on demand.
The same will happen with suicide. How long before someone, charged with the murder of a rich aunt, will claim that he was merely helping her to commit suicide as was her wish!

3 August 2009 at 10:55  
Anonymous Nelson said...

An excellent post your Grace. It is certainly true that the law needs clarification, but one feels that this could be another means of 'squaring the circle', making the illegal legal by popular demand, with all the consequences & confusion that will follow & once a legal precedent is established it is too late to apply the brakes.
One can sympathise with people seeing loved ones suffering & the dying wishing to end it all but we should not neglect that even in this day & age, miracles still happen, even the terminally ill are sometimes healed & sufferers do change their minds, but having gone to the edge & looked over may feel it's too late to turn back & thus feel obliged to see the decision through.
Surely being an accessory is still counted as a crime? & there's a certain sinister feel about some of the advocates of euthanasia, plus the machine like mercenary death machine Dignistas has an air of Soylent Green about it, a robotic juggernaut swallowing people & regurgitating there personal belongings,Belsen by another name? Great care should be taken before laws are changed & that should include a strong voice from the Church as Gods appointed representatives, if this is not forthcoming then we the laity should be demanding leadership capable of doing the job.

3 August 2009 at 11:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comparing the Downes with an abortionist is not comparing like with like. The Downes compare with the Mother who feels she is in a desperate situation . The abotionist compares with the euthaniser. So the question is which is more forgivable the euthaniser or the abortionist. with both the woman and the Downes there cases both deserve to be shown compassion but there are other solutions to their problems rather than to allow a doctor to kill but our society wants state killing to be the answer. We prefer the state as God and the Christian God.


3 August 2009 at 11:40  
Blogger Jim Bartlet said...

We are in a mess. It is no longer helpful to shout sin, sin! Repent!

I can really identify with what has been said here and there seems to be no simple answers to any of it. The old Christian model which influenced the law of the land was by no means perfect, but it did provide social order, and a model to reflect back on.

But we have made such rapid and bounding strides of understanding with science and technology, which have highlighted the sillier aspects of Biblical scripture, it is now necessary to clarify what it is that we are trying to achieve. The God of the Old testament was a cruel tyrant who showed very little compassion, mercy, or forgiveness; as an authority figure He set a very shitty example of how to motivate and oder the conduct of human beings: look how we treat each other in His name. To sin against such bullshit is of little concern to the 21st century mind.

If Jesus Christ had not entered the stage when He did, then I have no doubts at all that the Jews would be of little consequence to anyone. Nobody, anywhere would have been remotely interested in adopting such a brutal and childish God. But where to go from here? I am not, by any means, an intellectual man, so it's not within my capacity to put forward an answer. However, I do have the ability to identify bullshit when I see it. If we want to be serious about fixing the mess we are in, then we are going to have to commission the best of minds to sit down and produce a New testament of common sense.

3 August 2009 at 11:49  
Anonymous Orwellian Prophet said...

Desensitised by decades of abortion and oblivious to the number of its victims, the majority who now seem to be in favour of legalising assisted suicide are not looking at where this is leading.

It is a small step from tolerating assisted suicide to legalising physician-assisted suicide, then moving on to euthanasia.

Spiralling downwards from euthanasia for terminally ill patients to euthanasia for those who are chronically ill; from euthanasia for physical illness to euthanasia for psychological disorders; and from voluntary euthanasia to involuntary euthanasia.

Then we reach the point of no return. Democracy irrevocably surrenders the 'right to life' to the State which determines the criteria for 'mercy killing'. People are merely a State owned resource, livestock on Animal Farm. Thus Democracy expires amidst a welter of doublethink, and newspeak, where 'Death is Life' for all who fail to conform to the norms of the Totalitarian Anti-God State.

3 August 2009 at 11:52  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

One archbishop dressing up accessible thoughts in incomprehensible prose and the other delivering accessible thoughts in an incomprehensible accent.

Meanwhile, Islam goes from strength to strength with the Dudley Mosque and Pakistani Village. The mosque will, apparently, be the largest in Western Europe. I like this comment on the project from Simon Darby, deputy leader of the BNP:

More calls from the Black Country over the weekend with regards the proposed Dudley Mosque and Pakistani village. If you remember the "deal" to force it through involved a promise from Dudley Muslim Association to open up the facility to all of the community. One wonders just what the chances are of me securing the Fatwah Suite sometime in the future in order to address the electorate. On reflection the limited choice in the Jihad Bar and menu consisting of ritually sacrificed livestock might hinder the turnout.

•Johnny Rottenborough’s August blog•

3 August 2009 at 12:11  
Blogger English Viking said...

@Jim Bartlett (11:49)

'I am not, by any means, an intellectual man, so it's not within my capacity to put forward an answer'.

Well, shut up then. Proverbs 17 v 28. Perhaps you could accept some advice from one whose mercies are new every morning, and are from everlasting to everlasting?

3 August 2009 at 12:17  
Blogger Jim Bartlet said...


The BNP are just a knee jerk reaction from people wandering lost in the wilderness of scientific enlightenment. When, and if we do eventually emerge from this adolescent condition, the BNP, as well as many others, will fade like pimples on a teenagers face.

3 August 2009 at 12:24  
Blogger Jim Bartlet said...

English Viking

This proving the Bible with the Bible is typical of someone who has very little to say except 'shut up'.

3 August 2009 at 12:25  
Anonymous Paul Weston said...

Your Grace

I am trying to send you an email regarding:

but am being rejected by Demon mailer.

Perhaps you could contact me with an email address.


Paul Weston

3 August 2009 at 12:59  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

@ Jim Bartlet whose life was saved by the indiscriminate act of a sheep,pray do tell how you think the New Testament should be recreated according to the gospel
of rednecks.

3 August 2009 at 13:08  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Paul Weston,

His Grace has just emailed himself to the address specified in his 'about' section ('email Cranmer' - and remove spam deterrent). He received it within minutes.

There is no discernible problem.

3 August 2009 at 13:19  
Blogger Edgar said...

"The level of moral debate in modern Britain is pathetically, contemptibly low." = No-one is listening to me.

And I am happy to continue not listening to him.

3 August 2009 at 13:47  
Blogger Jim Bartlet said...


'recreated'. Bah.

No, seriously, I do not know. I am not having a go at Christians. No one was a bigger pain in the ass than me with trying to prove God by quoting the Bible. I would not have it any other way. I would insult you, I would distract you, I would do anything that would stop you from telling me what I could not accept. So I really do sympathise, it's painful, scary and confusing. Nobody knows better than me, in my mind, how futile it is to argue.

I am definately not getting heated up and joining in some kind of slanging match exchanging vernacular expletives and insults. So have a nice day my friend and enjoy the sun.

3 August 2009 at 14:14  
Blogger Theo said...

Any debate on morality has been forestalled by the liberal left who have settled most moral conflicts by adopting positions which have now entered the culture as political correctness.

Attempting to debate morality now merely attracts expressions of abuse from the protaganists of politically correct positions. Accusations of homophobia, racism, climate change denial, anti-feminism etc unsatifactorily conclude any debate before it really starts.

It is a sad reflection that it has become unacceptable to voice any dissenting position without attracting contempt.

3 August 2009 at 14:19  
Anonymous Anabaptist said...

sobers said...
'As someone brought up in an evengelical Christian environment ... I was always taught that sin is not scalable - that once you have sinned, in the eyes of God you are all equally culpable ... I don't agree myself, but the Christian principle seems clear.'

This was a strange sort of Evangelicalism, that ignored the teaching of Jesus, and of the Bible.

Jesus said that it would be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the judgement than for Bethsaida and Chorazin, as the latter's rejection of him was against clearer and greater knowledge -- a greater 'sin'.

He said that Pilate's sin was not as great as that of those who had handed him over to the Romans: "You could have no power at all against me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered me to you has the greater sin."

And there are degrees of judgement, indicating greater culpability: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation."

So it's a good thing you have rejected the Evangelicalism of your upbringing, as it seems to have been fundamentally deficient.

3 August 2009 at 14:21  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3 August 2009 at 14:32  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ Jim Bartlet (12:24)—As you might expect, I take a rather different view of the BNP! I see it as the only party we currently have that is driven by a desire to defend Britain and her Christian way of life.

These articles—all somewhat lengthy but worth anyone’s time—make it clear that Britain, along with Europe, is in severe need of defending: Heirs to Fortuyn? by Bruce Bawer, It’s the Demography, Stupid by Mark Steyn, and The Future Belongs to Islam, also by Mark Steyn.

3 August 2009 at 14:36  
Blogger Jim Bartlet said...


It may come as some surprise to you to hear That I still have in my possession an up to date BNP membership card. But This post is about the bigger picture. I think you will find that if you ask Nick Griffin for an honest answer, he will tell you that the BNP it, at this moment in time, completely incapable of forming any useful government. It's a knee jerk reaction, and I am sadly part of it.

We have intelligent people in this country, somewhere, I wish they would find the courage to be honest with themselves and the rest of us. We are in a mess. We want democracy, but as the BNP demonstrates, even this model has a serious hypocritical side to it. People are voting BNP because they are angry and confused, and who can blame them!?

But the topic here is morality and modern societies hapless response to confront its degeneration. I see absolutely nothing in the BNP manifesto which addresses this in any progressive way.

Please do not turn this into a BNP debate. I will galdly discuss via email if you wish.

3 August 2009 at 15:05  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ Jim—It wasn’t my intention to sully the thread; in my first post, the contrast between the ineffectual Church and the confidence of Islam (as evidenced by the new mosque) was too striking not to mention.

You’re one up on me: I’m not a BNP member but my vote helped to elect Nick Griffin. I don’t see anything in any party’s manifesto that addresses the problems you mention; I support the BNP because it alone has the guts to stand up to Islam.

A couple of links for those who want to learn about Islam: The Religion of Peace and Criticism of Muhammad.

3 August 2009 at 17:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have seen the screen shots which visually demonstrate His Grace's 80,000 visitors, but it leaves me confused when all I ever see are the same twenty odd names in the comments section. I do not doubt for one second that He has many visitors, and it gets embarrassing seeing my own spamming avatar all the time. Why don't these people say something?

I would like to answer Mr Rottenborough up there, but I am painfully aware of the repellent nature of two BNP people debating such an important issue. I am fully aware of how such a platform is not deemed worthy of sharing, so, I withhold any political credentials in order for the debate to continue. I love to debate, and listen, and think, but where is everyone?

Surely it cannot be a simple case of political differences? I am big fan of Dan Hannan's blog, even though his arrogant and self assured face irritates me, but there is no question about the fact that he is an interesting bloke. My own prejudices are things formed in my own head, and are mere trifling indulgences which should never be made manifest in any outwardly prejudiced fashion if I am to care anything at all about progress for a world that is very much mine.

3 August 2009 at 18:11  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Anonymous 18:11,

All may read; most may comprehend; few can debate or constructively contribute.

3 August 2009 at 18:23  
Blogger indigomyth said...

//If God did not create man, then man created God. Christian ethics – and Christian aesthetics – express mankind's noblest impulses, including the belief that life is sacred (and life needs all the help it can get).//

If Allah did not create man, then man created Allah. Islamic ethics - and Islamic aesthetics - express mankind's noblest impulses, including the belief that woman are inferior to men, that is acceptable to kill apostates, and Jews are the scum of the Earth.

Curious that Anderson assumes that Christian ethics are mankind's noblest expression. Many would disagree, some violently.

3 August 2009 at 18:50  
Anonymous len said...

In The Rime of The Ancient Mariner Coleridge says, "Corpses man the ship; dead men pull the oars; dead men hoist the sails; dead men steer the vessel."
I believe this is what has happened to many of our churches,
" You have a reputation of being alive , but you are dead"

There is a tide of secular, anti- christian, thinking flooding our society and the church stands helpless and apathetic.

We need to get back to our Christian roots, upholding the faith and Gods moral law in the Power of the Holy Spirit.

3 August 2009 at 18:59  
Anonymous churchmouse said...

"But we have made such rapid and bounding strides of understanding with science and technology, which have highlighted the sillier aspects of Biblical scripture" ---

Well - Scripture can't help the literalist who won't consider the enlightenment offered by theologians and exegetes. And since our theologians are failing us-[probably because education is so messed up...]

Science is also failing us, and for similar reasons. So while Moderns can press buttons on phones, tvs, and computers of various degrees of technical complexity... Well, firstly those things aren't new; they've been around for a while. Secondly, I don't know many moderns who could have invented any of them, or who could have made the scientific discoveries that led to their invention.

Really I think it's 2 old things.
1. We need to understand that we stand on the shoulders of great predecessors if we are to retain and develop vision. 2 about the letter and spirit of the law - and that's why Len is right.

Bruce Anderson is too, by the look of it. But I'd like to know more about the solution he offers, and the reasons behind it.

3 August 2009 at 20:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When my Mother was dying in an NHS hospital, I was ushered into a nasty little room by a nasty little nurse, and I sat there festooned with tinsel (it was just after Christmas) while the sentence was pronounced on me. I swiftly learned that crying, and pleading for time, does not work.

Then when my Father was dying in an NHS hospital, I was ushered into an annexe and told in no uncertain terms that the staff would take me to court at the drop of a hat, if I tried to thwart their plans.

The only new aspect of this, is who gets to decide who gets killed off. I do not see that as moral or social progress.

If we absolutely have to allow assisted suicide, then those who stand to gain from the procedure should be barred from doing it, unless they legally relinquish their bequest.

If you truly love someone, you always believe you can save them, and make their life to be sweet again.

3 August 2009 at 20:54  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Well done mr Anderson , i would have preffered the deliberate opression of moral debate , but loss fits well enough for now .

It was Winston Churchill who i think outlined that the next wars would be in "empires of the mind".

Torture and blackmail have been long established methods of getting people to say or do what you want then to do , it comes down to choices and the power that you may or may not have over them . this is very much the sort of ending most socialist and marxist constructs end up being, a police state , a dumbed down lower class that drearley complies as they beleive that there political masters have all the moves covered .

Before protestant reformation christian Theocracy was behaving in this way also .

So what is Mr Anderson trying to elude to ?? The fact that most people cannot refer to the bible as there source of morality or that morality seems to no longer want to refer to it .

The lord forgive my reletivism here , but does the bible codify the Alpha and Omega of moraility ??

It is a sort of marxist fete de acomplie , they run a godless system of morality and never want anyone to discuss a god based one.
This stepping out of the churches (as some would say strangle hold) discernment of the bible , into how we are to live , perhaps echos with many who have forgotten ,how and why societies disintigrate.

It is interesting that the bible continually refers to the individual throwing off there sinful ways and desires if we are to find truth .

It does not say that voting this way or that secures you , but referes to your commitment as an indivdual , you have to take up your own cross.

some of the most extraordinary christians I have met , did not have positions of power , they just shone with somthing that could not be brought nor bartered , yet so precious.

it is also worth remembering that great people were created before , facebook or google .

perhaps Mr anderson is wondering , as am I , if the inspired mind is different to the programmed one.If it is Labour have taken us down a very dark dead end.

3 August 2009 at 21:50  
Blogger Jim Bartlet said...

In leviticus, God tells the 'chosen people' to stone their kids if they dishonour their parents. Why did they buy into this? I wonder how many kids actually got stoned by their parents, and was God pleased? I am not buying into it, and nailing himself to a wooden cross does not make up for it either. It basically sucks, and it is not something that any sane moral and ethical code should base its self upon. It's nuts, it's too much cheese at bedtime.

3 August 2009 at 22:22  
Blogger ZZMike said...

"Today, we have a largely post-Christian criminal code."

Someone wrote, about the Seven Deadly Sins, that it was convenient that there's one for each day of the week. He also noted that they've been removed from the category of sin to that of "character flaws", if that.

"... a civilised state has a duty to protect the vulnerable (though not, it seems, foetuses: the most vulnerable of all)."

By whittling away at one end, we make it ever so much easier to whittle away at the other.

"We need a Royal Commission ..."

That's certainly in keeping with Protestant philosophy. When in doubt, appoint a Task Force.

"If God does not own us, who does? There would appear to be two claimants: the state, and ourselves."

In earlier days, you were all the King's subjects (and very much subject to the royal whim (cf the earlier Cranmer, Sir Thomas More, &c., &c., &c)).

That could well happen one again, but this time instead of a King, you'd be owned by faceless commissions of black-umbrella men.

For what more does it mean "to be owned" than to be told what you may and may not do (or eat, or think), and the penalties appertaining thereto?

Jim Bartlett: "I am not, by any means, an intellectual man, so it's not within my capacity to put forward an answer."

That is the beginning of wisdom - regardless of what the English Viking said. Any fool can see that a watch is broken; it takes a watchmaker to fix it.

"The level of moral debate in modern Britain is pathetically, contemptibly low."

It's not easy to have a debate when the prevailing doctrine is that all morality is relative.

3 August 2009 at 22:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace, at Parish level the Church of England is surviving( just about) , it is the real lack of leadership at the top which makes us look like either loons or irrelevant. Liberals have taken over the Church management .That's the problem . Perhaps .

3 August 2009 at 23:25  
Anonymous len said...

Jim Bartlet,
" also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers,"( 1 Timothy 1:9)
Gods law was given to be a restraint on the sinful nature of man until Gods plan of redemption could be put into affect.
What we are seeing now is the true nature of unredeemed men being revealed once the restraint of the Gods laws are lifted.
Jesus Christs atonement for mans fallen nature cleared the way for Gods plan for mans redemption to be put into affect.

3 August 2009 at 23:39  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Jim Bartlet : do you believe in right and wrong ??

If so what is your foundation

4 August 2009 at 01:11  
Anonymous Laird said...

I would like Anonymous 20:54 to be more explicit about his claims against the NHS.Why did the hospital staff threaten you with court action?

4 August 2009 at 06:09  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

@Anonymous 18:11 A possible reason for more people not contributing to the discussion could be the word
verification box. Words like perv
sicko,twisted, traitor,weird,vulgar
might deter potential communicants from clicking the button which they
probably think is referring to what they have just written.

4 August 2009 at 06:22  
Anonymous Ben Noah said...


What one shouldn't immediately buy into is the idea that the punishments found in the Old Testament were ever taken literally by any majority. Unfortunately, it is too long of a subject to get into, but you may be fascinated by what you find in the fields that have studied how "literal" the 613 commandments were taken.

What come to mind are Roman accounts of the barbarity of the Celts in moral and ethical concerns. The contemporary passages describing a peoples who shouldn't be taken seriously because of these practices...until various modern fields began to study the culture, the Roman word was all we really had; and those accounts seem to be less than truthful. With what should be great irony to us; the people who would abort, who would abandon their "defective offspring," who celebrated blood sports, pan-sexual behaviors, all while (in many parts) recoiling from the aged; wrote these criticisms of Gaulish peoples, Jewish peoples, Germanic peoples with pollice verso.

And ultimately, that is what God-fearing man has to deal with today; a microwave culture of jeremiadic romans who immediately cast the religious off as a Celt, or a Jew, or a German. Good luck to the man or woman who learns how to combat (and reason with) a downward thumb.

4 August 2009 at 08:19  
Blogger Jim Bartlet said...

I would say that my foundation for believing in right and wrong is based upon all the mixed up crap that has been psychologically whipped into my mind. I just seem to have an in built idea that any written word that suggests stoning your kids is too much cheese at bedtime.

One standard I use is to think about how I would like to be treated. I have stated that I used to fight the biblical case. It seems strange to me that people can suggest that it would take too long to explain why God would have to suggest that stoning your kids is the way forward.

The idea that God would suggest punishments as ridiculous as this, and then people would suggest that they are not to be taken too literally because God gets a bit excited in the punishment department is too much cheese at bedtime.

Its not for me. I would like a modern code of ethics to be written that would be more humane and reasonable. There is no headway to be made by claiming that abortion is wrong because it offends the loony God in the Bible who stones kids, women, murders children to punish other people...etc etc. If you cannot see why people do not want to buy into this, then there is not much anyone can do really.

Lots of people take comfort from the basic message of the Gospel. I would not wish to take that away.

4 August 2009 at 08:47  
Anonymous philip walling said...

Dear Mr Bartlet
I don't know where to start with you!
The message in those stories is obedience to God's will, not ours.
God does not want us to 'stone our kids as a way forward' whatever that means. I think you have mixed up liberal notions of 'progress' and obedience to the Divine Will which is what we (unlike the rest of creation) have lost (at the Fall if you want an explanation in Christian myth).

4 August 2009 at 09:28  
Anonymous Willie said...

The lack of leadership in the C of E is the worst part of all. The role of the Church is to lead sinners to salvation. If they choose to ignore the lead that is a separate matter. What we have is the worst of all cases where a Liberal, hand wringingly wet, provides no leadership at all. For the majority it does not need to be more than a reminder of right and wrong as absolutes not shades of grey. Where can we find a suitable AB of C?

4 August 2009 at 10:25  
Anonymous Ben Noah said...

Mr. Bartlet,

"It seems strange to me that people can suggest that it would take too long to explain why God would have to suggest that stoning your kids is the way forward."

What worth would a concise and succinct command have when dealing with the breadth of human expression? Brevity is a vice in such cases; a repudiation of the free agency of man, and it could not account for the context and subtlety which we entreat all literature. I agree that new methods need to be developed, but not at the expense of truth or clarity. Too much hemming and hawing has occurred already, and to emasculate the message further would be a capitulation to the world- something the gospels (for one) strongly warn against.

4 August 2009 at 12:30  
Anonymous len said...

I think what Jim Bartlet is suggesting ( man rewriting the moral code)is the whole crux of the matter.
Who decides what is right and what is wrong?
One mans meat is another mans poison.
Gods law is a yardstick by which man measures himself, once that is thrown away anything goes, which is the direction we are heading!

Once a society has rejected God, or is ignorant of God and spiritual matters, a spiritual vacuum is formed and all sorts of forces rush in to fill the empty space.
This is why the Gospel of Jesus Christ needs to be preached!

The reason Gods law is seemingly harsh is because the tidal wave of corruption was threatening to engulf the world, and had to be held in check.
As the restraints are being withdrawn mans true nature is being revealed, don`t take my word for this, just look at whats happening in our society alone!

4 August 2009 at 13:45  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Shouldn't Mr. Bartlet also be considering the relationship between the OT and the NT? Surely Christ re-defined OT Law? I don't recall the He told anyone to stone children? Come to that, I don't recall that the 10 Commandments tell anyone to stone children... but I don't know that Christ repudiated that part of the Old Covenant, either.

Anyway - vis a vis the strand... we clearly have no new Christ in Britain. So until the Second Coming - and indeed to prepare ourselves for it - we need politicians and leaders who understand The Law (the New Covenant).

Conscience, I believe, is part of that process. What isn't acceptable is an individually and politically constructed 'moral compass' that directs us to the biggest iron hand.

4 August 2009 at 17:43  
Anonymous len said...

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.( Matthew 5:17-18)

The Law is a schoolmaster to lead the way to Christ.
The Law is no longer required for those IN Christ.

4 August 2009 at 18:43  
Blogger Jim Bartlet said...

I don't know about the relationship between the OT and the NT, but what I do know is that They are taking the Hobbits to Isengard!

4 August 2009 at 20:55  
Blogger prashant said...

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5 August 2009 at 06:53  
Blogger prashant said...

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5 August 2009 at 06:54  

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