Radical roots and broad shoulders

2014-04-11_16.19.33.jpgI’ve an admission to make. I’m not at work this afternoon. I was, but I’m not now. Andy has gone down to Spring Harvest and I’m supposed to be manning the office, keeping the ship on an even keel and all that.

But I’m not there.

Oh, I forwarded the phone and email to my mobile. So I’m virtually there. But in reality, I’m sat in the pub. It’s a lovely old-fashioned pub with photographs of music hall performers on the walls, a working polyphon in the corner and even a photo of the Queen mum pulling a pint behind that very bar. I would bet that, barring the odd flat screen tv, the place has changed very little in 50 or 60 years.

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What we owe each other

Drawer3.jpgI call it the Man Case. If you’re a father or husband of a particular age, you probably have one too. Some guys have a Designated Drawer or Bespoke Basket. You know what I mean: the one place in the house that is exclusively yours, the place where you keep all your assorted bumf that is either useful for recurring man-tasks (bleeding radiators), sentimental (that ticket stub from the cup semi-final a couple of years back) or apocalypse-averting (your replica Swiss Army Knife with the built-in horse shoe stone-remover).

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Are we returning to a world of 'A Christmas Carol'?

  • Marley in his pigtail, usual waistcoat, tights, and boots; the tassels on the latter bristling, like his pigtail, and his coat-skirts, and the hair upon his head. The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel.    -   A Christmas Carol
I am a bit of a geek when it comes to Charles Dickens'A Christmas Carol. I have taught/lectured on it from both the English Literature and the Popular Culture 'angles'. I collect different editions of the book  and interesting ornaments/memorabilia. I have blogged on it and written political parodies on it. So when my latest acquisition - Marley's Ghost - arrived today, I was pretty excited.

As always, when reading/teaching 19thC literature, it is 
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Welfare and poverty: why are church leaders out of step with their flocks?

leadership.jpgIn recent weeks Church leaders of many different denominations have raised their voices about the rise of food banks and the poverty and destitution inflicted on the most vulnerable through the government’s welfare reform as reported by Church Action on Poverty's Niall Cooper and in the Church Times. 

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21st Century Matthew 25:31-46

Then, the King said “I was hungry and you told me that it was my own fault for being lazy and believing that I was entitled to help from hard working families and that I’d probably spent all of my money on alcohol, cigarettes and drugs anyway.

I was thirsty and you assumed that I was desperate for gin or vodka, rather than water.

Matthew_25_40.pngI was naked and you said that I would have more chance of a job if I took more care of my personal appearance, even though I wore all I could afford.

I was poor and you told me I was a scrounger who just wanted to sponge off the state and put stories about me on the tv and newspapers, despite knowing nothing about my circumstances.

I was sick and you denied me any help, told me to go back to work and assumed I was faking illness in order to scrounge.

I was in prison and you demanded that the key was thrown away and that I was kept away from all respectable, law-abiding members of society because I was a bad person who could never change.

I was a stranger and you ran, scared of me, told me to go home, that your country was full and that I was only there to steal your money, possessions and jobs.

For I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it to me."

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The Ultimate Act Of Solidarity

eappi1.jpgSolidarity. It’s not a fashionable word these days, but in the Labour movement, it’s one of our most cherished values. However much the big corporations want us to believe otherwise and however much they spend on elaborate advertising campaigns at Christmas, there are unbreakable ties that bind us together. We’re not individual units of consumption, in splendid isolation. We’re interdependent, and nowhere is this more evident than in the church, at its best.

 

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Benefit sanctions - ineffective and immoral

jobcentreplusFood banks and job clubs, run by churches and community organisations around the country are reporting increased numbers of destitute people asking for emergency help, who come to them with the story “I’ve been sanctioned”. Greg Smith, a member of Christians on the Left, explores just what that means in a blog that first appeared on church action on poverty's website. 

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History of our movement

logoblend.pngAt the start of a new chapter, we thought it fitting to publish the history of our movement. We're proud of our past and proud of the future we're creating.

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Making banks work for Britain

Britain’s banks are not pulling their weight. Trapped in the shadow of the financial crisis, the rest of the country is sucked dry by government cuts and a sluggish economy while banks and financial organisations continue on as normal. Barely touched by the bank levy, bonuses are still paid and tax payers still wait to have their bailouts returned to the public purse. The financial industry (the most profitable industry in the world) rests under-taxed and seemingly ignores the responsibility it has for this crisis in the first place.

Ed Miliband’s commitment to responsible capitalism is the firm foundation that a fair banking sector needs. But this pledge needs real implication in policy. 
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Walter Brueggemann writes

bruegg.jpgThe brilliant Walter Brueggemann writes here on the theology of the economic crisis of the last few years.

If you're not familiar with the work of Brueggemann, then this is a great place to start!

Read the article here

 

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