Tuesday, February 20, 2007

body shape

I was listening earlier to a talkshow about body shape. One caller was a fitness instructor. When asked whether there was anything she would change about her body, she immediately started talking about breast implants. Apparently it wasn't a major issue for her, but y'know if she had the money....


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Gold and Diamonds

Yesterday, a bunch of the-usual-suspects made a nuisance of ourselves in Coventry City Centre. A very polite and low key nuisance, of course.

We were joining the CAFOD Unearth Justice campaign. Basically the deal is that gold mining is causing untold misery in many poor countries. In some it acts as a fuel for ongoing conflict in others the environmental effects of opencast mining are large and nasty. So we were lobbying jewellers, asking them to take notice of where their gold came from, and to ensure that both the environment and human rights were protected. In fairness to them, all the managers we spoke to were very cheery and accepted our gold paperchain petitions with good grace.

Many of the jewellry chains have already made positive noises about the campaign - which is a very good thing - so we look forward to hearing good news resulting from yesterday's actions.

On a not unrelated theme, on one of our unusual cinema visits, H and I went to see Blood Diamond the other day. Starring Leonardo Di Caprio in his most sensible role to date, the film is a bloody one - telling the story of a family and a nation blown apart by civil war and funded by the sale of diamonds. It is a grim ride.

Yet again we are reminded about our responsibility - albeit indirectly - for instability and conflict in the world. The hard question is whether we are prepared to make the changes to our own lifestyles to allow others life. The Roman Catholic Church and RC agencies have setup the Livesimply project this lent which is an effort to do that, and should be commended.

We will soon be remembering the abolition of historic slavery and the unholy modern counterparts, where people are bought and sold like pieces of coal, and lives are destroyed for the sake of someone else's profit margin. Oh God have mercy.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

new Anglican Primate

Bishop Mouneer elected President Bishop of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Dear Friends

I request your prayers for this extra responsibility God has laid on my shoulders. I do feel very inadaquate for this responsibility. I shall need very special grace to be able to fulfill this role from the beginning of May when Bishop Clive our President Bishop retires. I would like to record a word of appreciation and thanks to Bishop Clive for his leadership of the Province. It will not be easy to follow in his steps. He will hand over the Primacy to me on the Wednesday 18th April at a service in All Saints Cathedral, Cairo.

We rejoice to welcome Bishop Derek and Alice Eaton, from New Zealand, back into the Diocese. They have willing agreed to work with me and take some of the burden from my shoulders. Bishop Derek will be installed in All Saints' Cathedral on the 25th February at 6pm. Do remember Derek and Alice in your prayers.

We also rejoice that the Provincial Synod has agreed to start a new Episcopal Area in the Horn of Africa and we now have the mandate to consecrate Canon Andrew Proud, Rector of St. Matthews, Addis Ababa, on the 12th April in Addis Ababa. Pray for Canon Andrew and Janice as they begin this pioneering ministry in the Episcopal Church in Ethiopia.

Rt. Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis

Bishop of The Episcopal/Anglican Church in Egypt and North Africa with the Horn of Africa

Thursday, February 08, 2007

the bishop of rochester

The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali was speaking this afternoon on BBC Radio 5 Live.

I sent in this question, which was put to him:

Given that the most likely scenario following dismissal of either the North American or African provinces within the Anglican Communion is complete fragmentation into multiple 'daughter' denominations, what hope is there for any kind of future within struggling Anglican diocese such as the Diocese of Egypt, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa? Within England, where the fractures are likely to be most obvious on the ground, will Canterbury retain anything worth having - and which segment does the Bishop see himself as being within?
The Bishop replied that he did not accept that he was within any segment of the church, that there was not going to be fragmentation and that he had visited the Diocese of Egypt and it was not struggling.

Clearly the Bishop lives on some other planet to me. The finances of Egypt seem particularly fragile. Whilst it is true that there are many people, mostly these are penniless refugees who cannot hope to prop up the mostly egyptian and expat-free diocese.

This is from the person that also believes there is mileage in proclaiming that the UK is a 'christian' country.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Nelson Mandela:

"In a world driven by violence and strife, Gandhi's message of peace and non-violence holds the key to human survival in the 21st century. He rightly believed in the efficacy of pitting the sole force of the satyagraha against the brute force of the oppressor and in effect converting the oppressor to the right and moral point."

I once read a very interested interview with Mandela - by Bill Clinton of all people. Clinton asked Mandela if he had feelings of anger on release from prison. Take a moment to wipe from your memory all that you know of Mandela, his presidency of South Africa and all that has happened since.

Nelson Mandela:

"Yes, I was angry. And I was a little afraid. After all I've not been free in so long. But, when I felt that anger well up inside of me I realised that if I hated them after I got outside that gate then they would still have me. I wanted to be free so I let it go."
That was the measure of the man - he felt angry, and yet however much he was justified in his anger, he realised that freedom was worth more than retribution. An eye for an eye would have just made the whole of South Africa blind. And in that moment, Mandela moved from a cultural icon and freedom fighter to someone who lived the essence of Gandhiism - that whilst there is legally and morally nothing wrong with seeking justice when wrongfully accused, it is a far far greater thing to offer the hand of friendship and the gift of grace. That while violence may be the most natural tool to use to oppose tyranny, almost always the power of the tool of soul-force is far greater.

Oh for more like these. With a hundred, the world wouldn't stand a chance.

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christians in gaza

According to Open Doors USA (a source you may want to use with caution - this has not yet been reported in the mainstream media), the Gaza Baptist Church - which is the only evangelical church and one of few churches of any description in Gaza - has been commandeered by Fatah police in order to fire at Hamas gunmen.

The minister - Hanna Massad had apparently recently opened a new building for the church including a well stocked christian library. Here is the best information I can find about the Gazan Christian community as a whole.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

anglicanism in Egypt

Last week, I travelled to Egypt on business. For very random reasons, which are too complicated to explain here, I was staying in Cairo in a flat owned by the Anglican Diocese of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

All Saints Cathedral is a curious shaped building in a fairly upmarket part of town, on an island next to the Nile and a large Marriott hotel. It survives as a relic of post-colonialism, having been built by an expat community in the 1970s on land donated by the Egyptian government.

Today, this miniscule denomination within the minority christian community in Egypt is struggling to find purpose and meaning. The English congregation is vanishingly small, populated by a few English missionaries and upper-class Egyptian professors. However, amazingly, the Cathedral manages to punch above its weight. This is simply because it has been forced to serve the community that has become attached to it. There are a tremendous number of Sudanese refugees in Cairo, and under the auspices of Refuge Egypt, the diocese has been able to serve in different ways. There are job creation schemes, ante-natal clinics, a cafe, craft shop and other facilities. The church also regularly visits expats languishing in the city's overcrowed jails.

The Cathedral is often filled with impromptue African singing. At one worship service I attended, a little african lady beautifully whistled - presumably because she could not read the words on the page. English, Egyptian and African laity and clergy serve together under an Egyptian bishop in a country which couldn't care less.

It is a diocese in an anglican backwater, unlikely to ever reach the starry heights of a mention in Ruth Gledhill's blog or the other parts of the (largely pointless) Anglican press machine. Predictably finances are tight - the refugees simply don't have any money. Around £1000 a month are needed to keep things going. Which isn't an awful lot - compare to Winchester Cathedral (random choice) which costs £4,500 a day to maintain its crumbling ancient architecture.

Friday, February 02, 2007

in case you were wondering

Thursday, February 01, 2007


There was a fantastic photo in a mag I just received from FOR. It was a bit like this, only the caption read 'Who would Jesus Bomb? (trick question)'