• Giants, Gods and Goods: Toward a 'new Beveridge'

      Graham, Elaine; University of Chester (Hymns Ancient and Modern, 2022-06-29)
      Eighty years ago, on December 1 1942, the Beveridge Report, widely seen as the founding document of the post-1945 welfare state in the UK, was published. In grandiloquent terms, the report called for an attack on ‘Five Giant Evils’ – Disease, Idleness, Ignorance, Squalor and Want -- that needed to be combatted as Britain prepared for peace and post-war reconstruction. Beveridge’s recommendations captured the public mood perfectly. Having made so many sacrifices for a common cause of defeating Nazism, armed forces and civilians alike shared a determination that the peace which followed should be built for the benefit of all. That mood found expression in the post-war Labour government’s pledges to achieve full employment, universal education and a welfare state, free of the privations and anxieties of poverty, low pay or old age. Like the 1939-45 war, the global COVID-19 pandemic has exposed fundamental inadequacies in the economy, the National Health Service and social care provision. As society moves out of the worst of the pandemic, it may be time to contemplate, as did Beveridge and his contemporaries (including William Temple), what kind of future provision may be required for the future: both in redressing the longer-term stresses and shortcomings of the existing system and in ‘building back better’. Certainly, the political historian Peter Hennessey believes the ‘never again’ impulse that sprung from the 1939-45 conflict has resurfaced today, and may be harnessed to build consensus around new priorities (Hennessey). Even so, this will entail more than simple reform of the existing welfare system, for two key reasons. First, the political, economic, cultural and demographic landscape of the twenty-first century has changed. Second, any revision of welfare requires a rethinking not only of its fiscal and operational dimensions, but of the very values that underpin a ‘welfare society’ that is fit for purpose. What principles might inform any kind of reform? And in the midst of that, what is the role of faith-based social action? In this article I will approach this question by beginning with the ‘Five Giants’ of Beveridge’s report, before asking what might form the basis of a ‘new Beveridge’ for the twenty-first century. Sam Wells’ recent survey of church-related provision argues that reforms of welfare should proceed not from a ‘deficit’ model but from one of ‘assets’ and social goods. It is in their ability to articulate and embody social capital, motivated by religious and moral values, that faith-based organisations demonstrate a distinctive and decisive contribution to civil society. This calls for a renewed focus on the significance of the voluntary sector in a revitalised ‘welfare society’, alongside the State and the market, and a consideration of five new social ‘goods’ to inform policy and inspire change.
    • Review of McClure, B. (2019). Emotions: Problems and Promise for Human Flourishing. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press.

      Graham, Elaine; University of Chester
      McClure undertakes an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural investigation into the role of human emotion in history, arguing that emotions are central to what makes us human. What unites all these perspectives is the way in which they set the measure of emotion against a set of value-judgements on the basis of emotions’ contribution to human virtue and well-being.
    • Review of Shortt, R. (2019) Outgrowing Dawkins: God for Grown-Ups. London: SPCK.

      Graham, Elaine; University of Chester
      This book is a direct response to Richard Dawkins’ book Outgrowing God: a beginner’s guide (Bantam Press, 2019) and continues Shortt’s long-standing engagement with New Atheism in such works as God Is No Thing (2015) and Does Religion Do More Harm than Good (2019). The substance of Shortt’s defence of religion is not that it does not have its destructive and dark sides, or even that atheism and religious doubt may not be legitimate intellectual positions. Rather, Shortt takes issue with charges that religious belief is illogical and intellectually specious, that religious commitment is deluded and infantile and religious institutions inherently barbaric and authoritarian.
    • Temple, Sex, Gender and Society

      Graham, Elaine; University of Chester (Sage Publications, 2022-07-04)
      This article gives an overview of the main economic, legal and cultural changes around the role of women, debates about gender identity and patterns of marriage and the family that have taken place over the past 80 years since Christianity and Social Order was first published.