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In a post-Christian world, preaching is a political act

Cuttle Fish, Clones & Cluster Bombs: preaching, politics & ecology

Darton, Longman & Todd, 2010

RRP $34.95

Reviewed by Peter Harvey Rural Ministry Associate, Presbytery of WA.

Michael Northcott is Professor of Ethics at the University of Edinburgh. He has written extensively on economic ethics, biotechnology, and apocalyptic religion and violence.

He is the author of more than 60 peer-reviewed papers and eight books including The Environment and Christian Ethics (Cambridge University Press 1996) and A Moral Climate: The Ethics of Global Warming (Orbis Books, 2007).

In Cuttlefish, Clones and Cluster Bombs Professor Northcott presents us with a collection of his own sermons. Following Barth, Northcott maintains that preaching is both a public act, aimed at both the church and the world, and a political act.

Preaching should remind secular society of its Christian roots, with the preacher as an exilic prophet in a post-Christendom world. Such preaching is a form of public theology and that is what this collection of sermons represents. Northcott links politics, war, economics and ecology together in his series of tightly woven sermons.

Peace and justice, fossil fuels, the arms trade, man-made climate change, the downside of globalisation, and the abuse of developing countries by the western world are but five of the difficult areas on which he focuses.

Northcott's point of view is uncompromisingly that of a committed Christian, not that of the politician. He stands shoulder to shoulder with the poor and the weak without a trace of sentimentality.