R. D. Harries, Faith in Politics? Rediscoverin.g the Christian Roots of
our Political Values, 2nd edn. London: Darton, Longman and Todd,
2014. Pp. viii, 168. Pb. Â£12.99. ISBN 978-0-232-53181-7.
When the first edition of Richard Harriesâ€™s book appeared in 2010, the
sense of political crisis in the UK was profound. The MPsâ€™ expenses
scandal had wrecked the credibility of politicians, a messy election had
led to the defeat of the New Labour project and the arrival of a coalition
government threatened tough medicine for severe economic problems
caused by malpractice in the financial world â€“ a good time, then, for a
book that took a step back from the specifics of any of those problems
and asked about the system as a whole: was it redeemable and what do
we actually want to change?
This new edition is equally timely. The banks are no more popular now
than they were then, journalism has been dragged over the coals, sex
abuse scandals have wreaked havoc on public institutions, and politicians
are not trusted. There has been some real political change, though. UKIP
has shaken the political parties in England that have failed to inspire for
some time. North of the Scottish border, 85% of the population voted in
a referendum (45% of them to leave the UK).
Harriesâ€™s book is entitled Faith in Politics, but in truth, the scope is
significantly broader. It is really looking at the whole state of the UK
â€“ politics, law, economics and society. It begins by making its case for
Christianity to speak at all on these issues in an increasingly secular public
square, and establishes two fundamental building-blocks upon which the
rest is based: that law must be tied to a conception of public morality and
the common good, and that democracy is the political system that best
values the innate dignity of all people.
The second half of the book advances Harriesâ€™s own vision for politics.
He is effusive in his support for the human rights movement and rightly
notes that Christian concern as to whether rights undermine the need
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