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Reclaiming the Common Good 

For Christians who want their faith to shape their politics and view of the world, this thought provoking and challenging collection of essays is a must read

Reclaiming the Common GoodReclaiming the Common Good
Compiled and edited by Virginia Moffatt
Darton, Longman & Todd
ISBN: 9780 232-533156
Reviewed by: Moira Kleissner

Last year's theme of Greenbelt was, “The Common Good.” This volume has been published at an apposite time, continuing that discussion. For Christians who want their faith to shape their politics and view of the world, this book is a must read. It is not too wordy nor technical, but tackles issues that are crucial for those Christians living on earth in the 21st century who want to relate to others and the world around them.

“Reclaiming the Common Good” is a compendium of 14 essays initiated by the think tank Ekklesia. The writers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and Christian traditions, including Dr Simon Duffy, Virginia Moffatt, Dr Patrick Riordan, the Revd Dr Simon Woodman, Simon Barrow, the Revd Vaughan Jones, Savitri Hensman, Susan Clarkson, and Bernadette Meaden among others.

I found this collection thought provoking and challenging, as it analyses and suggests possible solutions for the complex problems that the world faces today. These are no glib and over-spiritualised responses but a realistic examination of the living conditions and the political realities that we face and engage with as Christians, trying to make sense and a difference in our society and world at this moment in time.

The collection is divided into four parts:

  • examining the development of the idea of common good from the philosophy of Aristotle, the first philosopher who is credited with linking politics with the common good, through Thomas Hobbes and John Rawls to Roman Catholic social thought today;
  • the world we find ourselves in today, the development of the welfare state through time, austerity, market forces, state intervention in the lives of people, migration, all influencing the lives of people for the common good or not in the UK;
  • the third section explorers people and the planet examining how the common good can be influenced by decisions made, with reference to migration, war and peace, biodiversity and the threat of Anthropocene (the man made geologic era we are now in);
  • finally the book looks to a new way forward with a vision for the common good from a Christian basis using the book of Revelation to explore a possible way forward.

The questions at the end of each essay help to focus thoughts, and reflection, and could be used for group discussion in a study group or Fresh Expression group. There are extensive notes and a list of titles for further reading provided at the end of the volume, which is extremely useful.

Anyone interested in the state of our country and world today and how we should respond as Christians would be well advised to obtain a copy of this collection of excellent essays, read, cogitate and engage with it. 

Moira Kleissner is a member of Christchurch United Church, Llanederyn, Cardiff

Baptist Times, 04/04/2018
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