Welcome to p.s., an email and web discussion forum from Contemporary Christianity.

We issue p.s. every every month. In line with our aims, it seeks to "provide informed, credible and practical comment and analysis, rooted in biblical reflection and theological thought" on contemporary matters of broad public concern in Ireland.

We are aiming to engage Christian minds with issues in the public square, to inject new perspectives and provoke discussion.

Please note that the statements and views expressed in this articles are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Contemporary Christianity.

Click on any of the issues raised, think about what is said and leave any comments you wish.

The Other Side

Earlier this month shortly after his installation, the new Moderator of the Presbyterian Church was criticized for using the term “the other side” when referring to Sinn Fein in his first interview on Good Morning Ulster. I don’t want to add to the criticism, as I have never appeared on that programme without a script in front of me. But the phrase “the other side” cuts deep into the nature of politics in this province. and perhaps the fundamental form of politics that we have in modern western democracy. Continue reading

A little fame.

So ... another round of honours awards. Does it matter? There are those who would wish to reform and rename the UK honours system. They argue that giving top honours to business, military, diplomatic and civil service big-wigs and entertainment celebrities is an insult to the many ordinary people who have made great personal sacrifices to help uplift their local communities and support good causes. They have a point. Continue reading

Health and Poverty

Can you imagine having to dispose of an asset or investment simply to pay a medical bill? It might be a piece of land, or money that you have set aside to pay for your children’s next term at school. I am writing as one of the privileged few in the world to have the shelter and security of an entirely free (“at point of charge”) National Health Service – something that the vast majority of the world’s population can only dream of. Continue reading

Vive la revolution.

A reflection prompted by Matthew 5 – 7 and recent world news.

The stories of revolution in the Middle East cannot have failed to capture our attention in recent months. The world is changing before our eyes. Whilst we might worry about oil prices and al-Qaeda, most of us will have great sympathy with the people rising up against their oppressors. Continue reading

Assisted Suicide – Legislation with a stern face and a kind heart?

Rarely a week passes without media coverage of a high profile public figure expressing support for the introduction of assisted suicide (AS) legislation in the UK. Opinion polls are already reported to show a majority of the public in favour of such changes and a succession of tragic cases has appeared in the media to support and encourage this.  Thinking people need to understand the key issues and principles involved, whether from the perspective of Christian faith or not. A key issue is the moral, ethical and legal concept of ‘intention’. There is a world of difference between a medical act designed to end life, such as a lethal injection or medicine, and withdrawing a treatment which is ineffective or inappropriate. One is killing. The other is good practice. Continue reading

On being counted – or standing up to be counted

The workings of Government are very closely interwoven with the gospel story. Tax collectors and soldiers, courts and politics are all there. Did you ever think what the Christmas story would have been like if Caesar Augustus had not decided to hold a census? No journey to Bethlehem and no stable, for a start. In the wider Bible, censuses are regarded with some suspicion, as a symptom of people placing their trust in human strength rather than in God, and in more modern times, they are often regarded as intrusive prying by the state. They are, nonetheless, incredibly valuable tools for understanding society and hence for making sure that government plans bear some resemblance to the real world. Continue reading

Something is better than nothing …

For many years, I taught in the American Studies Program on Capitol Hill, an interdisciplinary semester of study focused on nurturing in undergraduates the vision and virtues required to take up vocations in the public square. Formed by a deeply wrought understanding of Christian responsibility, the curriculum centred upon an exploration of the themes of truth, justice, shalom, and hope, set amidst concrete, contemporary policy debates ranging from welfare reform to Middle East politics. Continue reading


For the last 10 years, I have been living in a tribal society in the Middle East. Family connections are strong and are used to secure jobs, licenses, benefits, healthcare, education, etc. The system works well for those who are part of it, but for those on the outside - foreign workers, refugees, people from lesser families, the poor - it can be difficult to get things done. Social mobility is often limited by surname, and there is a growing gap between the elite and the rest. I love living in this country, but as rich westerners, our money gives us a voice. I wouldn’t like to live here if I were poor. Continue reading

“We Didn’t Know”

In a recent interview with a national newspaper the Israeli writer and journalist Gideon Levy said that the reason he tries to tell the truth about how bad things are for those living in Palestine is to prevent a situation in which people in Israel could say “we didn’t know”. Too often “we didn’t know” becomes an excuse for a failure to speak up for the plight of others. Tom Paxton, the American folk singer, wrote a song about people in different situations who claimed not to have known . . . the burgomeister in World War 2 Germany who didn’t know about the concentration camp on the edge of town, the congregation in Southern USA, singing a hymn in a church of white: “. . . we didn’t see a thing, you can’t hold us to blame we didn’t know.” Continue reading

We are what we do…..or are we?

An understandable response to a loving God is to seek to do things which we think will demonstrate our gratitude for being included in His family. To be able to tick off achievements and successes on a list makes us feel good and comforts us that we are indeed children of God because such “transactions” re-assure us of our position in Christ. Continue reading