Sunday, 29 November 2009

The Supreme Court

During the week our new 'Supreme Court' incurred the wrath of consumer groups by ruling in favour of the banks about overdraft charges. The court ruled that the Office of Fair Trading didn't have the power to investigate banks charging for unauthorised overdrafts. That means that they can go on charging - and won't have to pay back the £billions they've made from it. Personally that doesn't seem unreasonable to me. I don't quite see why savers should subsidise spenders. (I was going to say spendthrifts; but that wouldn't be fair on many who go into the red.)

Meanwhile Gary McKinnon's hope not to be extradited to the US for hacking into the Pentagon's computer in his hunt for UFOs has been disappointed with the Home Secretary's refusal to block the extradition. It may be that the extradition treaty is a bit unequal, but I don't believe he has less prospect of a fair trial over there than here. I hope that the judges listened to the Chief Rabbi's thought for the day on Friday ( 'In the long run a system must be fair if it is to survive' was how he ended. He was talking about justice. He said there's only one verse in the Hebrew Bible which tells us the reason for which God chose Abraham, from whom Judaism, Christianity and Islam all trace their belief in one God - which is Genesis 18.19 'For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment'. He said that the word judgment ('mishpat') means legal justice, but the word 'sedaqa' translated in the AV as 'justice' in fact has no exact English equivalent. It combines both justice AND charity. Another translation says 'righteousness', but that sounds a bit religious to me. It reminds me of Portia's speech in The Merchant of Venice,which I've mentioned before: 'The quality of mercy is not strained...It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice.' I hope that his Asperger's Syndrome is taken into account whereever his trial takes place, that justice is tempered with mercy.

Today is Advent Sunday. Part of the collect (prayer) for today goes: 'that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal'. That must be the ultimate Supreme Court. It's good news that 'he' is Jesus Christ, who perfectly combines sedaqa and mishpat. The best thing one can do is to throw oneself on His mercy, I reckon.

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