I’m on the train to London. I’m going to a meeting at the Shell Building. This is not an obvious place to go for someone who is trying to avoid cars. So I ought to explain.
The Church places a very high value on training. It’s six or seven years of training before a priest is let loose. Bishops are given a good programme.
I am in a group of six people from very different working backgrounds which meets every so often to explore common ideas and experiences. Three are from the business sector, two from the statutory realm, plus me. I have learnt a lot. I was particularly surprised to find that all of us gave a very high status to discussion of values.
Hence the Shell Building today. That’s where we are meeting.
But the conflict of morals is a common problem. When I cycled from Lands End to John O’Groats I raised £15k for an HIV/AIDS charity working in South Africa. A self-evidently good cause. But having signed up I found that one of the sponsors was an online gambling firm who, not unreasonably, had put their logo on our team shirts. I cycled.
The problem comes as moral decisions are never clear cut. There may be two or more competing “goods” or a “good” and a “bad” that you have to balance.
There are those who say we should disinvest church funds from big oil companies like Shell. I think there is a case for staying involved in order to have influence. However, I suppose I also feel that unless I give up the car, grow all my own food, and never turn on the heating then I will forever be morally compromised.
The important thing is to decide what is right first and then decide whether it us possible. The important thing is to continually ask questions of all that we do. That, for me, is a religious stance. It’s about being willing to struggle with difficult issues.