The Last Serious Politician

God and Caesar
by Shirley Williams
Continuum, 156pp, £12.99

To what political attitudes might Christian belief point? Can the decline of Christianity in rich western countries be reversed, and, if so, how? These are the main questions discussed in Shirley Williams’s arrestingly titled essay “God and Caesar”, based on lectures delivered at Notre Dame University in the United States in 2001. Currently the Liberal Democratic leader in the House of Lords, Shirley Williams is the most sympathetic figure in British politics today. She is also a practising Roman Catholic. But despite its grandiloquent title, God and Caesar is not about the relationship, historical or contemporary, between theology and politics. Rather it is the work of a career politician, who simply describes the origins of her own faith, tries to show how that faith has influenced her political beliefs, and asks us to consider what Christian belief might imply for political practice. Despite her attachment to Europe, she has also written a very English book. She looks at the world through English eyes, and ticks off its virtues and vices accordingly.

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