Tour de force
Sam Wells’ Eric Abbott Memorial Lecture in Westminster Abbey and Keble College, Oxford, last week was a tour de force. The Abbey’s crackling sound system made it difficult to hear what he was saying at times but the text of his lecture was on sale after wards and is still available from the Abbey. Wells, the Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields with 25 years’ experience of a pastor, built on the work of Nicholas Wolterstorff and John Rawls to argue we need to go beyond the concepts of justice they have so carefully described. After outlining justice as freedom and justice rights, he suggested there was something beyond justice that involved reconciliation, friendship, love. “Life is about more than getting one’s due and living free from harm. Life is about restored relationships, about flowering talents, about passionate friendships. about costly forgiveness, about the release of hidden joys.” Referring to the work of Jean Vanier and L’Arche, he said that beyond justice there is transformation. He also described an event that takes place ever y Sunday afternoon at St Martin-in-the-Fields when 30 to 40 people come for a hot curr y, someone to talk to, help with problems, a shower and space to recover their dignity. Beyond justice there is church.