Sunday Trading Proposals - #oursunday

Why we need to protect Sunday.

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Assisted Dying

Assisted dying: retrogressive, not progressive; nihilism, not liberalism

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Knowing our history

Levellers-Pamphlets1.jpgAs a student of history, it often amazes me how Christianity has been viewed in the past and present.  It certainly does not have a past of roses and perfection, but in this day and age, is it just seen as dark and depressing?  Well if it is, then it really shouldn’t!  As a historian with a keen interest in the Early Modern Period, I would like to bring to your attention, the levellers, and the diggers in the 1640s.

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Just Mercy - by Bryan Stevenson

Along with creating a blog space, we have been asking members to contribute book reviews to help inspire and challenge each other. Terry Wynn one of our members, reviews 'Just Mercy' by Bryan Stevenson. 

justmercy.jpg"Bryan Stevenson is America's young Nelson Mandela----A brilliant lawyer fighting with courage and conviction to guarantee justice for all."
So says Desmond Tutu on the front cover of this riveting book. If you are a fan of John Grisham then this is a real life Grisham hero. In fact Grisham says this about him, "Not since Atticus Finch has a fearless and committed lawyer made such a difference in the American South. Though larger than life, Atticus exists only in fiction. Bryan Stevenson, however, is very much alive and doing God's work fighting for the poor, the oppressed, the voiceless, the vulnerable, the outcast, and those with no hope. JUST MERCY is his inspiring and powerful story." And so it is, as it gives us an incite into the injustices of the US Justice system, especially when it comes to death row cases and life without parole sentences where young teenagers are involved.

It's a book that will move you to scream at some of the judgements and the aftermath that Stevenson takes on. The USA has the biggest prison population in the world with over 2,000,000 behind bars. One in every fifteen people goes to prison and for black men this rises to one in
three. Just about his first case concerns a black man on death row who maintains his innocence. He repeatedly comes back to this case throughout the book until you eventually find out the final outcome, which I won't spoil by stating what it is here.

Segregation was part of his upbringing and he is determined to fight for those in the most desperate need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of the US criminal justice system. Once you've read this book, you won't forget it. It's a remarkable account of a man driven by his faith to see justice done, no matter how long it takes and no matter how lost the cause may seem to others."


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UK and Labour’s Future

labour_market_2020_7b2c0be0d6ef0ca56a1762125c02ce3b.jpgWe need a vision of what Britain and the world will be like in 5 years time and be ready for a mandate from a desperate country to implement policies that we believe in.

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Who is that boy? Faraway wars and Western media

CG5rR3MWQAA-12q.jpgVicky Walker writes a thought provoking piece objecting to advertising that co-opts images of children in war zones to sell contact lenses. A link to the reference can be found here.

Last Saturday I listened to Katie, who works with an NGO in war-ravaged countries, describe the mind-blowingly desperate situations in which people find themselves when their homes, communities, families, and societies are destroyed. 

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God's Heart for the Poor: Another Look at 1 John 3:17

agape.jpg"How does God's love abide in anyone who has this world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help" 1 John 3:17


Before looking into this verse specifically it is necessary to see and understand the wider context in which John is addressing. I will therefore be seeking to comment on 1 a John 3:11-18 and then look at the wider implications of the passage. 1 John is a magnificent letter, written by the apostle John who at the time of writing is an old man. It has been estimated his age is somewhere between 80 & 100 years.

John is also a very straight talker. What you see is what you get. His message could be considered as very simple and basic and yet is extremely profound and fundamentally radical. You could say that the centrality of his message is God's amazing love for us which as I will show later demands a response from us to love others

It is my belief that 1 John on love is probably one of the most intense passages on love in the entire bible, possibly even rivaling that of the famous passage in 1 Corinthians 13.

1 John 3:11-15

11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; 12 not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brothers were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

Here we have the tragic example of Cain.  John is saying in verse 14 that if we are to really know that we have experienced his salvation, that we have "passed from death to life' then the proof of that is that we will love each other. For John, the proof of our salvation, the tangible sign, the evidence that we are part of God's family is how we love others.

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Post Election Words

This article first appeared as an email to Christians on the Left members. Following the amount of feedback we received from it, we decided it should also appear on this website. 

I write this as I sit on a train. In the week after a Conservative general election victory I am ironically on my way to speak to people from all over the UK who run foodbanks at the national conference of the Trussell Trust. Will their work become even more vital in the next five years? I pray not. I fear perhaps yes. Many involved would rather be seeing systemic change, but don’t want to stop helping those in front of their faces who are in need.









As the dust from the election continues to settle, there will be many words written. Many will be knee-jerk reactions, many will be people vying for position, and some may even be wise, but I think it is good to take time to take stock. In our fast-paced 24hr news media world where our reactions tend to happen at the speed of Twitter, it is good to draw aside and draw on some deeper ancient wisdom.

One of the most profound images I saw last week was a cheeky Venn Diagram.




Whether it is fully accurate or not, it conveys something very important. Not everyone in the UK thinks the way we and our tribes think. Restricting ourselves to the echo chamber of social media confines us mostly to those we agree with, or unconstructive arguments with strangers. For a long time now at Christians on the Left we have been championing putting relationships back at the heart of politics, and I am proud to say that that is what I saw so many of our members doing as they campaigned. Meeting real people on real doorsteps, making their case with grace and truth. We must of course engage with social media, but not fool ourselves that it represents the total picture.

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what are we hoping for when we show up?

download_(1).jpgI’m supposed to write a roughly monthly column for Christians on the Left, but I’ve failed at that recently. Partly it’s because there’s so much noise at the moment, so much opinion, so little certainty, that I quite often think that the last thing anyone needs is me spouting off again. People talking about faith and politics seem so much more qualified, knowledgeable and eloquent than me, i’ve silenced myself. If only some other people thought like that occasionally. That said, recently I’ve been reading Andy Flannagan’s fantastic book “Those Who Show Up” and it has rocked me to the core in the space of two chapters, so here I am again, writing about something I know very little about.

Andy’s book is a call for a both-and kind of approach to faith and politics. We can bring the prophetic voice calling for change, development, justice and progress from the sidelines. Sometimes that is needed. Sometimes it is the only course of action available. At other times, I would say mainly in Andy’s thesis, the real effect can be made by those who offer themselves within the system or the process. Are we willing to suffer endless meetings, bureaucracy, red tape, hold ups and so on? Are we willing to commit to a group of people, to foster community in an area, to seek justice and quality of life for all, not just the people who are like us? Are we willing to be frustrated continually, and yet remain faithful to the vision that we have and are working out? It sounds a lot like the Church of England to me.

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Caution: what Iran wants is not clear

RTR4VXAH-1024x542.jpgFollowing on from his article 'the Iran threat: inconclusive evidence' which can be found here Bob Glaberson takes a look at the evolving talks, arguing that clarity of purpose and conviction based on an accurate reading of the record is necessary.

The ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program do not exist in a vacuum. They are shaped by and reflect the wider aims of both sides. What Iran wants, its aims and intentions on the international stage, provides the key to what it hopes to achieve in the talks. It is therefore essential that the 5+1 nations (France, Britain, the US, Russia, China and Germany) keep first principles in mind: what does Iran want and what sort of threat does it pose? The strength of will to create a strong agreement depends in the last analysis on the answers to these questions.

Unfortunately, many people today think that it is clear what Iran wants. Some believe the evidence shows that Iran has taken a turn toward moderation; others think that it still has a radical agenda. Iran’s actions have not been consistently moderate or extreme. It is best therefore to describe its behaviour as unpredictable. 

Many of Iran’s policies are fluctuating and inconsistent:

  • In its dealings with the US the fact that Iran is currently willing to be flexible, to cooperate with it in the war against ISIS and to negotiate over its nuclear program must be set against a background of ongoing hostility.
  • In 2013 President Rouhani sent a Rosh Hashanah greeting to Israel. On the other hand Iran remains committed to a policy of not recognising Israel’s right to exist.

 In addition, Iran’s various policies are often ambiguous:

  • In Iraq, the Islamic Republic has a need to prevent Sunni forces from posing a danger to Iran and its interests. This does not preclude the possibility that it may also have ideological reasons for extending its power and influence into Iraq.
  • Iran’s pursuit of regional supremacy may be designed to bolster its security and / or by an anti-American animus fuelled by extreme ideology.

So varied and ambiguous are Iran’s different policies and behaviours (including verbal behaviour) it is difficult to see what motives guide their actions. A willingness to adopt a wide range of behaviours has sometimes been described as ‘pragmatism’ e.g. adopting whichever policy ‘works.’ But even an ideological regime may find that it works to adopt enough moderate policies in the short term to better promote radical ones in the long term. The toning down of rhetoric and agreeing to cooperate may paradoxically be the best way to achieve radical goals.

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