We would ascend the hill of God,(Philip Walker, 2007)
And we would seek his face;
But in his presence, he has said,
The sinner has no place.Let us ascend the hill of God,
Where mercy bids us come,
And look upon the thorn-crowned head
Of God's expiring Son.He did ascend that hill of God,
Though his own heart is pure:
It was to conquer sin he bled
And rose forevermore!We shall ascend the hill of God
With our triumphant King,
His glory round the world shall spread
And we his praises sing!
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Meritocrats who think they've succeeded because they're clever and hard-working tend to think those who don't are stupid, feckless or idle. … So what's happened to the vision of an open, mobile, classless Britain? That's our Moral Maze tonight.A part of Michael Buerk's opening to this week's Moral Maze on Radio Four. I thought I'd jot down a few thoughts; some of them stemming from comments on the programme, and some not.So there were three panellists: some guy who'd made his million selling clothes, some feminist-egalitarian academic and then a Catholic academic. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I found I had most in common with the Catholic, although even there, I felt his contribution wasn't stellar. It is a difficult subject, though.Our businessman clearly hadn't thought through the issues in the slightest; when presented by Steven Rose with an eminently sensible question, which was (paraphrasing freely) "so you say success is a matter of mindset; how does one go about getting this mindset?" he took exception to the wording twice and then simply said that his father and grandfather had done the same thing. He was confused about the relationship between privilege and merit, and we never did get to the bottom of whether his own father had helped him in his business (lending money etc.)The lefty feminist, now here was good fun. Not only did she have the idea that wage-capping as a tool of social redistribution was a sufficiently sensible idea to warrant public discussion, but she also produced a wonderful line about being incapable of seeing how anyone (in a corporate context, but the statement itself was left unqualified) could be worth a hundred other people. I wonder, how many students does she lecture at a time? Probably about a hundred, I'd guess. And assuming that she weren't to turn up to a lecture, that lecture wouldn't happen. But for students to stop a lecture happening, all of them would have not to turn up. I'd say she's probably worth about a hundred students in the lecture theatre.And then Steven Rose managed to misunderstand meritocracy in a wonderful way when questioning the Catholic chappy. Rose put it to him that to earn money and then leave some of it to his children was inherently un-meritocratic. But this simply isn't true. Meritocracy—proper meritocracy, not some milk-and-water version—insists that your social stock be able to go down as well as up. How do people go down, unless they start higher? Meritocracy, in short, doesn't insist that every one have the same starting point, nor the same ending point, but the same opportunities in between.Finally, something I thought of, related to Michael Buerk's opening comments I quoted above. Meritocracy can be thought of in our modern society as the best possible system; after all, shouldn't those who are able to do well, do well? Aren't there deserving rich? Well, perhaps. But there's a danger in meritocracy, too. That danger is a truly moral danger, because it is the danger of becoming self-confident and self-reliant. Those who succeed may not only look down own those who don't, but they may fail to look up in thankfulness to the God who gave them the opportunities, abilites and resources to do so. The concept of merit is dangerous, because we can attribute failure to deficiencies in others. The concept of merit is deadly, because we can fail to attribute success, like all good gifts around us, as being sent from heaven above. That failure is the truest failure of them all, and no amount of success could ever fill the hole.