Tuesday, July 31, 2007

the unloved lovechild

Raymond Miller and his brother Richard Miller are identical twins. This fact has a very important bearing on the custody battle they are both engaged in, see here.

One can only hope that the child is unaware of the battle that is going on around her.

This nugget of news was found in my current copy of Gilbert, which is the periodical from the American Chesterton Society. Sometimes it is complete garbage, but occasionally it is gold-dust. Chesterton was a great theologian as well as being funny. It is hard to imagine any of our modern truthsayers following his lead.

Also, I wish I could write like he did - it seems that every word he said is a useful and quotable quote.

Labels: ,

Monday, July 30, 2007

fighting apartheid

Last night, I was watching the movie Catch a Fire. This is the story of a Black South African oil worker in the early 1980's.

Framed and fixed up by the White South African police, Patrick is tortured and his wife brutalised, until finally he joins the ANC to become the terrorist that he never was. In one poignant schene, Patrick is taken from the interrogation cell to eat at the table of the brutal police Colonel's family home and then made to see his children from the policecar playing outside their rundown shack in a township, before chosing the life of resistance which leads to the loss of all the things he holds precious.

The major themes include how a white policeman can be a loving father and on the other hand a sadistic murdering bastard whose only aim is to destroy terrorists. Another is how someone who only wants to keep his head down is forced by circumstance to become politically radicalised.

I have said before that Israel/Palestine is not South Africa and the experiences are not the same as apartheid. I am now not sure - there seem to me to be dramatic similarities.

The Israelis hold all the power, are engaged in legalised murder and torture. The Palestinians are radicalised and engaged in acts of awful violence. The Israelis want to project themselves as modern, westernised and under attack from terrorists and those who hate them. The Palestinians want to be seen as freedom fighters aiming for a better world for their children.

Like South Africa, however, violence is not going to resolve the issues. We need a politician with the stature of Mandela to lead his people to freedom.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

3 things

1. If you have a spare 45 minutes, watch this:

2. If you have a spare 15 minutes, read this.

3. If you have 5 minutes, read this

Are these examples of unreported news?



Can you think of any good reason why the classic Monkees song 'I'm a believer' should be used as a praise song in church? No, I didn't think so.

If you can think of any other great songs which (although technically possible to slightly change to become vaguely religious) should never be sung by an off-key 'worship' band, please list them below.

It is one thing to destroy a rather average Matt Redman song or a decidely below average Kendrick number (can anyone actually sing any of his songs all the way through? Am I the only one who finds it impossible to reach the notes?) or even an evil Hillsongs song. All of these are fair game.

But to destroy one of the classics of twentieth century pop? Sacrilige of the highest order.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

St Peter's Episcopal Church is a tiny congregation (less than 21) in an inner city part of Detroit. A service of remembrance was recently held for Ruby, a member of the congregation.

Ruby was a street woman. A bag lady.

As the minister, Bill, remembered in his homily:

Ruby and Keith were arrested in Royal Oak, essentially for being visibly homeless. She was released, but Keith was held for “resisting arrest” and outstanding warrants. This left her on her own, and more vulnerable. She was struck by a car and killed when crossing the street alone in the snow at night March 11th.

Now Ruby has shed her earthly cloak. We commend her with love and care into the arms of God. When we invoke the communion of saints and join our voices with them in saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy...” among them will rise the noisy, raspy and brassy voice of Ruby, irrepressible and full of life. Amen.

So how do we measure the effectiveness of this remarkable congregation? By the fact that it only has a miniscule congregation - or by the fact that they are friends of the homeless?


church structure

I've been thinking about church structures recently, and so was rather disturbed to see Tom's posts about burn-out amongst Anglican priests.

Partly, I think this is due to the Anglican structure - where the Priest is considered to be Top-Dog rather than someone with a particular ministry and particular role within the church, both locally and nationally.

[Of course, there are other problems with other forms of church structures, which I have experienced before. I'm focussing on Anglicanism because that is where I am at the moment.]

Mostly, however, this is due to the widespread acceptance of dodgy theology within the laity. As I have indicated elsewhere on this blog, I do not accept that church is the be-all-and-end-all. Counter to the generally accepted street-theology, we are here to serve the world and all its hurts, not for it to bolster and prop-up our crumbling church structures. We can be the most fantastic church, with the most lively and inspiring service BUT unless we have love for our neighbour, we are nothing. And often we don't give a monkeys about our neighbour unless they are paying for a wedding or buying a cake at the church fete.

Meanwhile the clergy run around propping up everyone else's faith, doing all the jobs that nobody else wants to take on (not to mention attending far too many meetings) being the professional christians because we cannot actually be bothered to take up our own cross and carry it. I don't believe there are a lot of meglomaniacs in the Anglican church (although they may well exist). I don't believe that the structures are designed to hinder the spiritual development of everyone under it, but unfortunately that is the result. But everyone is far too busy talking about sex to notice that the concrete is cracking beneath our feet.

We have to make a choice - do we want to be salt and light in this dark world, or do we want to spend all our time and effort on and in our churches? Because frankly, I'm not sure we can do both.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

a place for silence

The other day, I had some time spare in Coventry city centre, and so thought I'd spend it in prayer and reflection.

Image from laalessi's flickr page.

My first stop was Coventry Cathedral, and in particular the Gethsemane chapel shown here. After a few moments of quiet, I was interrupted by loud chattering and soon after that the organist practicing for later services.

So, I moved to the Cathedral ruins next door. I really like the ruins, in some ways far more than the modern cathedral with its' overpowering architecture. However, on that day the ruins were filled with local school children on a trip learning about local religious buildings.

Photo from Mr Radio's flickr page.

So, in the end I went into Holy Trinity church and spent some time in the tiny Lady chapel there.

There is no point to this story.

Labels: ,

Monday, July 16, 2007

holy cow batman!

It appears that the way to get away with breaking the law is to make it a religious obligation.

Fair enough. Cigarette smoking is now a religious obligation in the Church of England. Expect congregations to expand exponentially.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, July 15, 2007

perspectives on the academic boycott

In a very intelligent post, Rabbi David Forman from the Rabbis for Human Rights argues that use of an academic boycott and terms such as 'apartheid' in the context of Israel/Palestine are not helpful.

However, with rare humility he also says

And yet, we know in our hearts of hearts that while such boycotts are not justified on the universal plain of comparisons, there are more than a few elements of truth in what these hypocrites claim.... Israel’s present situation is still not politically analogous to South Africa’s history of discrimination; and so, we confidently argue that “apartheid” is not an appropriate term to apply to what we are doing in the West Bank. But what term would one choose to define a privileged protectionism for a few thousand Jews in the West Bank over a separate and unequal existence for over two million Palestinians?

The fact that compared to other countries we are a paragon of moral virtue does not obviate another fact: We have shamed ourselves as a Jewish state..

And as Howard Jacobson in yesterday's Independent points out, opposing an academic boycott is not necessarily to imply support of the occupation.

Labels: ,

Friday, July 13, 2007

middle eastern christians

I found this website interesting, particularly due to the fact that the adverts appear to link christians with alcohol!


Monday, July 09, 2007

DESO - count your chickens

As I reported in a previous blog, we've been campaigning for the closure of DESO, the government defence industry promotion agency.

Today we can celebrate. According to this it appears that the government has agreed to shut it.

Yet another victory for the campaigners. Whoever said older ladies cannot change anything?

Labels: , ,

Friday, July 06, 2007


Today is Dress-like-a-pirate day at the school.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Prime Minister's Questions are the weekly political bearpit in the British Parliament.

Today was Gordon 'Gordo' Brown's first attempt. He was rubbish.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


According to my MP, he is going to send my recent communication to the Minister of State for the Middle East. Which seems a bit of a strange way of referring to Kim Howells, given that his responsibilities are not only the Middle East.

Kim appears to be one of the few unshuffled ministers. Still, in his ministerial team at the FCO, he has the awful Meg Munn who I met at the Co-op Congress 2006 and the unelected and unaccountable Mark Malloch Brown, who is as yet not even a member of the House of Lords.

Let us see if we get any more sense out of this crowd than we did from the last.

Labels: , ,