Monday, 28 March 2011


I have been reading a biography of Richard Branson the man who built up the Virgin business empire. I love reading the stories of tycoons; their energy and the inventiveness I find very alluring. At the time of writing his auto-biography Branson was 60, the same age as me. I have no business empire and in fact struggle to stay afloat often. It is only by God’s good grace I am was not put in the poor house long ago!

Branson is a brilliant business man and old fashioned showman. He breaks all the rules; he has no real core business but sets up new and diverse companies all the time. He makes blunders but has the brutal honesty to see what these are and learn from them. He can see himself in a detached way and take criticism and advice. He is creative in business. I once flew Virgin to the States and found a pair of socks in my passenger’s kit to ward off the draught under the seats. Great attention to detail.

The book however is cloyingly self congratulatory and the other rich and successful he quotes as being his ‘good buddies.’ The rich always have ‘friends’ while they remain rich.

However, what is the net result of all his activity? Without judging the man the line in Ecclesiastes seems apposite. As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil, which he may carry away in his hand. The Christian, however, stores his treasure his in Heaven where no thief can break in and steal it or insects destroy.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The Perfect Crime

Last night I watched Woody Allen’s film, Crimes and Misdemeanours. A rich Jewish professional man has an affair with woman. The woman threatens to confront the man’s wife unless he leaves her. His rabbi suggests making a clean breast of it to his wife whereas the man's brother offers to use his criminal contacts to make the problem disappear. The man opts for the latter but is then overcome by remorse and remembers his religious upbringing when he was told that the eyes of God are everywhere. The police only make cursory enquiries and the man hides behind his professional respectability. The police believe his innocence. He literally gets away with murder.

Woody Allen presents us with a bitter irony which is a constant theme in the Psalms. The wicked often go unpunished.

Although the Jewish religion is probably most akin to the Christian religion we see in this instance in the film Judaism’s limitations. It offers a moral framework but not a solution to those who sidestep this framework.

In Christ however is the solution. The guilt is taken on His shoulders. The crime does not go unpunished but the solution is beyond our understanding- an innocent man is punished instead of the criminal. As the thief on the cross observes, the wicked deserve their punishment. Only the killing of the unblemished lamb of Christ brings complete atonement.

The man does not turn himself in. He has too much to lose in the sumptuous life he clings to. He manages to find a way to live with himself.