Here are some previous thoughts on the subject of Current Affairs. When you have finished on this page, click Back to look at other topics.

I woke up this morning looking forward to the day but I can’t help wondering how young Rosie and George Fry will be. As they surface from sleep, it will suddenly come back to them with a terrible sinking feeling that their parents are no longer with them. This was an awful tragedy, this drowning in the Algarve of the parents trying to save their children, and it’s impossible for us to begin to imagine what it must be like for them and for the other children involved. We just want to send to them, in that powerful yet mysterious way that many people call prayer, all the love and comfort and reassurance we possibly can.

For the Dinsmore’s children, Lydia and Alexander, it won’t just be the loss that will be so difficult to come to terms with. They apparently watched from the beach as their mother was swept away and that picture will always remain with them. In fact there’s so much that these young minds will have to deal with in the months and years ahead. For Rosie and George, an inevitable feeling of guilt – they’ll blame themselves yet they’re not the ones who died - and that their parents died trying to save them. They’ll need all the love and understanding they can get and I think we need to pray too for those in their families and others who’ll be caring for them, and for the whole community in their home village of Wootton Bassett.

One of the things people bereaved like this often have to deal with is how to assuage their feeling of guilt. It’s an issue that can affect many of us. Maybe we’re conscious – and feel slightly guilty - that we’re alive while someone we were close to is dead. Maybe our parents or others made great sacrifices for us and we feel we’re not repaying them in the way they would have wanted. Many of us carry burdens like this.

But in the majority of cases, it’s pressure we put on ourselves. The others involved wouldn’t want us to feel guilty or repay them in a particular way. They’re glad if we simply make the very best of the lives we’ve been given. We all hope that in the years to come, Rosie and George, Lydia and Alexander, will grow into well-balanced and happy adults, made stronger by the way they have dealt with this tragedy. That I’m sure is what their brave but lost parents would have wished for.

On a web site,, you can give your reaction to 23 statements about issues in the General Election. They range from "The UK was right to go to Iraq" to "Foxhunting should be made legal again". Each opinion is given a score depending on how closely the views match that of a party and the party that gets the highest score is apparently yours. In its first three days last week, the site attracted 102,500 people.

The method is designed to help voters to work out where to put their cross. It might also help us look deeper and discover some of the basic principles by which we are living. That's what motivates the many decisions we make each day, often without thinking.

Some people come at it from the other end. Towards the end of his life, Moses challenged those he had led through the wilderness to make a choice. “I have set before you life and death…choose life” (Deuteronomy 30.19). For Moses, choosing life meant loving and obeying God. This was his starting point, not a check list helping him decide which commandments he agreed with and which he didn’t.

Whichever way we approach at it, being in touch with our deepest convictions will help us today to make the right decisions. They won't necessarily be obvious - we might wish we could join the 102,500 people who thought they’d found an easy way to make up their mind. But if we’re aware of our fundamental principles and aims in life, we are better equipped to make the choices which will give us life.

Since he took up the 300-year-old post of Poet Laureate in 1999, Andrew Motion has written about many royal events. His latest work records the weekend’s wedding. For an annual salary of £500 and 500 bottles of sherry, he is expected to extol each occasion and as ‘a reforming royalist’ he doesn’t find that difficult. Other poets are not so flattering. Pam Ayers’ poem about the nuptials is as follows:

My mother said 'Say nothing if you can't say something nice'
So from my poem you can see I'm taking her advice.

The press have relentlessly followed the courtship of Charles and Camilla and their preparations for the wedding. In discussions up and down the land, disapproval has mingled with sympathy, apathy with enthusiasm, and dislike of the couple with delight that they’re finally together. Their plight is no different from that of many people whose behaviour and decisions get them in a mess and then find that, as if sorting all that out isn’t enough, events beyond their control work against them too. Such ‘ordinary’ people too are gossiped about and criticised.

Jesus suggested that we will be judged with the same severity as we judge others (Matthew 7.1). Not a happy thought considering how easy it is to get caught up in disparaging conversations about other people. Few of us lead lives which a Poet Laureate could unreservedly extol so perhaps our best course is to follow Pam Ayres’ mother’s advice. Understanding and encouragement are what we can most fruitfully offer each other as we all share the task of making the best we can of our lives.

The authorities in Turkey have refused a request to attend today’s funeral from the gunman whose assassination attempt seriously wounded the Pope in 1981. The Pope forgave Mehmet Ali Agca for shooting him in St. Peter's Square and met him in his Italian prison cell in 1983. Pope John Paul received relatives of the gunman several times over the years, meeting Agca's mother, Muzeyyen, in 1987 and Adnan Agca in 1997. "They had declared brotherhood when the Pope visited him in prison," said a member of the Agca family. "He was Agca's brother. Would not you be sad if you had lost your brother?"

It’s better to die having dealt with feelings of anger, bitterness or animosity than to carry them to the grave. Jesus wanted to offer forgiveness to his assassins before he died (Luke 23.34). It takes a particular kind of person to turn an enemy into a brother but the ability to feel and offer forgiveness, though often achieved only after a struggle, is in every human being.

Pope John Paul did not wait till his deathbed to forgive Mehmet Ali Agca. It’s not sufficient for us to wait for ours. There may be people today from whom we are estranged but with whom there is the possibility of reconciliation. Death is sweeter if we can approach it without rancour; life even more so.

Local lads broke into the parish church, ripped from the wall the box for donations, threw it to the ground and took the contents. This box was a work of art, with expertly created joints and inlaid design, and it had been painstakingly and lovingly made by an elderly worshipper at the church. He was distraught. The vicar, who had a pretty shrewd idea which lads had done it, couldn’t find proof; but drawing on some good will he had built up with them in the past, he suggested they might help put the box together again.

As the boys reassembled the various bits of the damaged box, they expressed their amazement at the artistry of the inlay and how beautifully the joints fitted. They saw how much time and skill had gone into its creation and with what care it had all been put together. When they asked about who had made it and heard the box’s story, they one by one admitted their part in its destruction. They were glad, they said, to have been involved in its re-construction, saw its value and had a new respect for the original craftsman’s handiwork.

As Iraq is put together again by those who have wreaked so much destruction there, our prayers are that respect for the country, its history and its people may grow, that the value of its culture will be recognised and that the skill of the Creator, who must have wept over what has been happening, will be echoed in the new beginnings that will be made.