No other democratic nation today imprisons people on such a scale or for as long as the US, Martin E. Marty is reminded. Visiting prisoners is a central test of devotion to the Jesus of the gospels. We are also called to a vision of restoration and release.
Talmudic study opens the door to an understanding of obedience that does not crush the enquiring mind, says Giles Fraser. The text of Scripture, rightly understood, both questions us and affirms our questioning.
Try to imagine a world in which only things acceptable to pure reason are deemed legitimate, suggests Giles Fraser. It would be to imagine the most desperately impoverished cultural and emotional (let alone spiritual) desert.
Cynicism about politicians and political institutions runs very deep, says Terry Waite. But the current crisis is also an opportunity for change, for reinvesting politics with hope and the participation of people from outside 'the party system'.
The Church of England has for too long been slow to take its own ethnic diversity to its heart, says Vasantha Gnanadoss. If it now also claims that Christianity is superior to others it could be unwittingly supporting white nationalism and undermining action against the BNP and others.
When people hear the word 'health' they think immediately of medical matters, says Juan Michel. But health is also an issue of clean drinking water, nutritious food, a safe work environment and essential care accessible at the community level - not least in a time of flu panics.
Few words are bandied about with such casual abandon as “liberal”, says Giles Fraser. It can stand for the liberality and generosity vital to any outlook, but it can also mean an exulting of individualism and a damaging denial of inherited wisdom.
Many who have committed their lives to working for change and justice in the world simply dismiss Jesus' teachings about nonviolence as impractical idealism, says Walter Wink. This is because they have not understood their true subversive nature and context.
Joseph Stalin once asked an advisor rather perfunctorily, “How many divisions does the Pope have?” Dr Harry Hagopian, Middle East commentator and Ekklesia associate reminds us. Christians are part of the Middle East and North Africa region and their strength need not lie in their physical might alone, he suggests, surveying the implications of some recent interventions.
There is much talk from some quarters about “reconciliation” after the Scottish independence referendum, and the need for politicians to move the country forward, says Dr Michael Marten. But the way this is framed misses several important points about participatory democracy, very the real divide between the powerful and the disenfranchised, and differences between governors and governed.