Sunday, December 28, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
(Apologies about the lack of Sunday Song for a few weeks) Of Course I believe in Santa...because Santa's a true man of the people. That's right '
too many pies, not enough exercise, that's why he's one of us' Santa's a Scotsman! Take care Y'All John
Thursday, December 18, 2008
J.Humphries: Is it wise for a cleric to advise the economists? R.Williams: It's suicidally silly I think because I'm not an economist by any stretch of the imagination but I want to ask where these moral questions are in the economic discourse..."Rowan Williams, current Archbishop of Canterbury, raised serous questions he felt were being unanswered about the cause, impact and solutions to the current financial crisis. In a wide ranging interview, broadcast live on BBC Radio 4's Today program, he questioned, and was questioned on, a wide variety of economic questions and the nature of his answers illustrated a clear moral, rather than economic mindset.
J. Humphries:The problem with your position is that if you are one of the Woolworths workers with no job just before Christmas they are going to disagree with you? R.Williams: I wonder, I think the thing a woolworths worker will want overall is job security and knowledge that their savings are safe... J.Humpries (interrupting)...they want a job.... R.Williams..yes they want a job and, the economy has to be orientated, as I said earlier, to making things to production and making things that allow people to have that securityThe Archbishops answers were a fascinating mix of economics and theology. What became clear was his compassion for the individual, yet at the same time his passion for community. His underlying analysis appears to be that the nation has destroyed local communities while trying to build an economy built on false credit. Once our false economy begins to crumble everyone needs to examine the way the economy is being r
R.Williams: My fundamental concern is what makes a society wealthy, in terms of taking everyone's welfare seriously built and what principles this new growth is based upon.Throughout the interview the Archbishop was at pains to illustrate he was not trying to be an economist. He was more forthright about his views on disestablishment (no different from what he said before), the Iraq War (it was wrong) and the need to put international pressure on to remove Mugabe. Reaction to the interview has been mixed. The morning press briefing at Downing Street issued a cautious response which clearly distanced the government from the Archbishop's statements without outright condemning the man, instead choosing to say the Archbishop 'chooses his own words' while the government gets on with doing what it thinks is right. My personal view is that the Archbishop is right. We cannot get out of debt by getting into more debt. We cannot also continue on a purely service based economy that doesn't include providing for this country the basics. We cannot continue to look to the same old solutions -we need to be looking for new solutions to the current problem. A wide range of NGOs are currently calling for Gordon Brown to 'call time on Global Greed' and to listen to the people, not the Bankers. While the economic establishment has a key role in providing answers, as well as being accountable for previous actions, the fundamental cracks appearing in the economic system mean we have a chance to listen to those currently excluded and build a new inclusive economic system. If we don't we have wasted the opportunity of a lifetime. [Note: If you wish to read an 'outraged from tonbridge wells' reaction to the interview then, as ever, head over to the Methodist Preacher blog for David's latest thoughts]
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Hello First, welcome if you are a new reader! The added fame of being contained in the Methodist Recorder (thank you Olive) has topped off a marvelous day all round. Click here to see the full post referred to in the Methodist Recorder Here are other musings I had on the Credit Crunch, the final (tidied up version) was published in 'The Friend' (The weekly Quaker journal) -- - - - -- - Today I would like to set you a challenge. See if you can find one form of media that doesn't comment on the growing credit crunch. It is fairly difficult. The reality is to continue such intense coverage the media needs a wide range of voices. One voice heard was that of the Church of England as the Archbishops of Canterbury and York got involved in the debate. This is nothing new, Christianity has always had something to say about money. Jesus turned over the tables against money lenders in the temple, Judas Escariet selling out Jesus for his pieces of silver, multiple leaders campaigning against slavery not forgetting the multitude of (mainly Victorian) philanthropists who went one step ahead (such as Bourneville creating his 'model village for workers') due to their religious values. More recently a Christian undertone has inspired multiple organizations that engage the population in examining their use of money. The 'Made of Money' work undertaken by Quaker Social Action is one example. It has been raising levels of financial literacy among some of the poorest communities in east London. By raising levels of financial literacy the individuals are able to take control of their own life and dignity. Yet for all these 'headline' acts the more inspirational stories, and true reflection of Gods love for all, can be shown through the actions of ourselves. As a nation we have enjoyed prosperity and education based upon high levels of credit. Now debts are called back we all find ourselves in tighter spots. How should we respond? Start by looking in Advices and Queries – delve into the collective knowledge contained in 23 'Social Justice' because the reality is religious leaders can never speak for all the members. A clerical word or two in the media won't solve any problems. Instead, they can exploit their positions to put forward the beginnings of an alternative viewpoint. One which states we should look for the value in the individual over the value they have in the bank. Ultimately we can only be a reflection of Gods love for all, when we start with ourselves and take responsibility for our own actions – even in these harsh times. -- - - - - - - - - Take Care y'All John [Note: This post was edited on 17th December 2008 to reflect the true nature of 'The Friend]
Friday, November 07, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
.... while I digest the latest Methodist Council meeting (and apologies for not blogging before about it - job interviews got in the way) I thought you would appreciate the beginnings of my reflections Take Care Y'All John
I have always wanted to be a Blue Peter presenter. If I saw a job advert for it tommorow I would sign up. For many years I was addicted to the show and one of the hardest moments was donating my colleciton of Blue Peter annuals to the Oxfam shop last summer. This was a serious collection that covered almost the entire period they were originally published. Anyway happy birthday blue peter I wish I could come work for you Take Care Yall John
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
The crunch of the credit crunch has pre-occupied a wide variety of media outlets. Everyone from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Secretary of External Relations for the Methodist Church have had a say... but I thought rather than comment on any of that I would highlight some wise words from Wesley.
3. We are. Thirdly, to gain all we can without hurting our neighbour. But this we may not, cannot do, if we love our neighbour as ourselves. We cannot, if we love everyone as ourselves, hurt anyone in his substance. We cannot devour the increase of his lands, and perhaps the lands and houses themselves, by gaming, by overgrown bills (whether on account of physic, or law, or anything else,) or by requiring or taking such interest as even the laws of our country forbid. Hereby all pawn-broking is excluded: Seeing, whatever good we might do thereby, all unprejudiced men see with grief to be abundantly overbalanced by the evil. And if it were otherwise, yet we are not allowed to "do evil that good may come." We cannot, consistent with brotherly love, sell our goods below the market price; we cannot study to ruin our neighbour's trade, in order to advance our own; much less can we entice away or receive any of his servants or workmen whom he has need of. None can gain by swallowing up his neighbour's substance, without gaining the damnation of hell!Taken from John Wesley's 'On the Use of Money' (Sermon 50) What amazes me about this particular sermon is it is, in the main, still true and just as cutting a critique on the materialistic 21st century as it was on the world around him when he first delivered the sermon. If you would like a more modern view on the economic crisis then I would heavily recommend This fine analysis from the Guardian which looks at cause, effect and future political moves and Methodism's very own Methodist Preacher has delivered a very fine series of Blog posts on the economic collapse including: i) A call not to rush towards de-nationalisation b) A (bearded) flashback to the 1970s and then forwards to today c) A challenge that 'Thatcherism has failed' d) A reflection as a 'reluctant capitalist' - mainly looking at demutalisation OUtside of all this the remarkable Richard Hall manages to find time to visit a favourite haunt of mine, now called 'Now Tea Vicar' and which does a remarkably good baguette....anyway take a good run and read his thoughts here Take Care Y'All John
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Action must not be overshadowed by fear of turmoil on financial markets The Methodist Church in Britain has responded to the report of the Committee on Climate Change by calling for concrete action and a commitment to long-term change. The Church has welcomed the Committee’s proposal of an 80% target for the reduction of carbon emissions by 2050. This will require a greater investment in energy efficiency and rapid ‘decarbonisation’ of the power and transport sectors. The Church has expressed concern over an apparent lack of direction from the government as to how this is to be achieved. Christine Elliott, Team Secretary for External Relationships, said:
‘This is a huge challenge. We cannot let the fear of turmoil on the financial markets paralyse us. In the Britain of the future the use of fossil fuels must become the exception rather than the rule.’The Methodist Church has raised particular concerns over the use of carbon offsetting by industrialised nations. In submissions to Parliament the Church called for the use of carbon credits to be very limited (offsetting no more than 10% of the UK carbon reduction effort). The Government has argued for industry to have the flexibility to use carbon credits to buy out 50% of the carbon reduction effort required by the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS). ‘
It would be unethical to dodge our responsibility to cut emissions in the UK by purchasing carbon offsets’,said Steve Hucklesby, Policy Advisor.
'Investment in clean development projects overseas is vital but cannot be a substitute for reducing carbon emissions in the UK. We are looking to the Government to provide strong leadership in mapping out the path to a low carbon economy’. (From the Methodist Church Newswire)
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
It is true - the Tories have no policy. 1) Go to www.google.co.uk 2) Type in 'Conservative Party' 3) Click on the 'our policy' option that appears underneath the top google option of 'The Conservative Party' and behold the following appears Take Care Y'all John
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Today's Sunday Song is more biblical in nature. Some consider 'The Psalms' to be folk songs, created by local shepherds. What we have today is a West Wing Psalm. Except this is no song of joy, it is a song of deep pain and emotion. The question is, for all the frivolity and joy of a Sunday how often do we allow our Sunday worship to reflect our real feelings? Jeb Bartlett had to shut down the national cathedral to have his few minutes. What would you do? Take Care Y'All John
Monday, August 11, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
This week's Sunday Song is a classic bit of Greenwashing. The advertising industry has successful purchased/been granted the rights to assign a song one would more align with environmentalism and, infact, used it to promote a car. Disgraceful. Luckily for us there are people out there willing to go beyond the corperate spin, make a real challenge to society and ensure changes for the better are brought in. So, after a week of reports about the Climate Camp 2008 a few links to provide further engagement in Environmental Issues Student Christian Movement - This year have been examining the theme of 'Small World' and have produced some fantastic morning and evening Prayer resources. Christian Ecology Link - A quality central resource. Eco-Congregation - A fantastic (free) course to convert your church (building and congregathttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifion) into taking the issue of environmentalism seriously. - A must read! What Does the Bible Say About Climate Change? - A group study booklet, produced by the Methodist Relief and Development Fund, which challenges the reader to read, reflect and take action. Operation Noah - A Christian Coalition created to highlight the specific need for a Christian response to climate change and what that response might entail. Take Care Y'All John
Friday, August 08, 2008
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Sunday, August 03, 2008
"We miss the presence of our fellow bishops who are not here, whether through illness or the difficulties of travel or other reasons or pressures. We also deeply regret the absence of those who, out of conviction, did not feel able to accept the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury to our gathering. We miss their presence, their fellowship and their wisdom and assure them of our continuing love and prayers. We are very aware that some of our fellow bishops who met in Jerusalem last month have not been present at the Lambeth Conference. We have been diminished by their absence. We shall seek ways in which they may be drawn into our deliberations and held in communion. Our concern now is to rebuild bridges, to look for opportunities to share with them the experience we have had in Canterbury and to find ways of moving forward together in our witness to the Lord Jesus Chhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifrist"(From Draft 4 of the document created by the Indaba Process) The Indaba process, used throughout the Lambeth conference, appears to be creating some system through which different views and opinions are able to be shared, listened to and learnt from. This has been used with the aim of moving participants forward in their journey of learning and sharing. The the various stories leaking, blogging and shared showed a system by which a form of discussion may just be creating rays of hope amongst a dark background of religious back-biting, bigotory and just plane rudeness. So this weeks song is dedicated to every Bishop attending the Lambeth Conference. May they all realize the joys of each other, the richness of their traditions and the ultimate interdependence on each other and the communities they serve. (For a copy of the 'official' Bishop's Photograph see hereaditions , and then here for additional commentary It is also dedicated to Bishop Alan, Thinking Anglicans, Dave Walker and the many other bloggers dedicated to posting reflections throughout the event. Take Care Y'All John
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
The Lambeth Conference, currently underway, has a variety of Blogging Clerics and Cartoonists at it. One of the more prolific bloggers is Bishop Alan. With his DAILY updates it manages to provide a fine insight into some of what is going on, in a way far more meaningful than the usual gossip dribbling out. Please keep checking his blog. Take Care Y'All John
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Since Methodist Conference is over one wonders is there still holiday possible? Of course so get out and enjoy yourselves, the sun is shining and the world is waiting to be explored! (With apologies to the thought and taste police. Just seemed rather apt!) Take Care Y'All John
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
After a tearful farewell message (and a new blog) from the outgoing Methodist President and Vice-President all went quiet. OK, all went quiet on the blogging front. The new President and Vice President were busy being inducted, attending breakout and trying MRDF's Apple Fly. Luckily for us all they are now a bloggin and so year two of Presidential and Vice-Presidential Blogging shall begin. Of course, Stephen Poxon is off at the Lambeth Conference this week and so check out his blog for (hopefully) some word from that event! What good times! Go on, head over and great our new leaders. Take Care Y'All John
Sunday, July 06, 2008
The Blogosphere has exploded over GAFCON,Lambeth and the General Synod... Some highlights so far have included...
Gay sex started it all. And the more the headlines rolled in, the more the cracks widened.(Giles Fraser) Giles Fraser is back at his best. This time examining the global (theological) challenge to the Anglican Church.
the liberal English, whatever divine hypothesis they favour, should not allow Williams to fight alone. If we don't want bigots running our liberal church, we'd better show it more support. One step might be to turn up for the odd service.Will Hutton making the case for Liberal Anglicanism
I am hearing the most incredible sermon from the Archbishop of Canterbury. I am going to blog it live, right away. Maybe this is overstating it, but it feels from my seat in the north transept, with my fellow 'sinners' of the press close by, as though he's just saved the Church of England.Ruth Gledhill getting all bleary eyed and (for once) not pushing for schism within the C of E Bishop Alan continues to look on in shock and awe, and provides a history of the discussion (in his own un-beatable way) Graham Martin reflects upon thoughts from all sides Revd Hall, down Swansea way, sighs at his continued reading of the Anglican Methodist Covenant.. To finish; does ASBO Jesus turn our attention to weighter matters?
This week's song is from the stalwart of bizzare, amusing and remarkably 'in'dated (and yet in a strangeway outdated) humour Monty Python. If they won't play a song like that on the radio then we'd all better hope the new President and Vice President of Conference keep their addresses clean as you can watch and listen to all the proceedings this year! Take Care Y'All John
Sunday, June 29, 2008
This one is another Karine Polwart classic, which she wrote after attending the Shetland Folk Festival. I dedicate this to all our Clerical friends (and family)as they prepare to close one period of ministry and move to a new location. Take Care Y'All John
Monday, June 23, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
"True integration almost never happens, hence the many references to 'worship wars', which is a shorthand way of saying that no-one truly feels at home". from 'After McDonaldization' by John DraneI am Currently reading 'After McDonaldization (Mission, Ministry and Christian Discipleship in an Age of Uncertainty') by John Drane. It is a follow up to his original bestseller "The McDonaldization of the Church' and picks up on themes also included in 'Do Christians Know How to be Spiritual'. Next week I'll post a full review of the book. For now some words to consider : Consumer Culture, Community, Individualistic, Tradition and Change And no, the thinking isn't as obvious as that list may originally appear! Take Care Y'All John
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Saturday, June 14, 2008
U.S. Finally Gets Around To Closing Last WWII Internment Camp Guantanamo Bay is still open and operating. It has no set closure date. Lawyers have to fight hard to guarantee what we would even begin to consider as basic human rights. In short, it is a barbaric travesty against humanity. A flashback to the middle ages in the 21st century. It is done in the name of the 'war on terror' Our government supports the war on terror We are, in part, responsible for this atrocity. We must ensure the people held are not forgotten. Shut down Guantanimo Bay.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Mr Trump responded by saying: "No-one has ever told me I don't know how to buy property before. I appreciate that." (BBC News)Up in Scotland Donald Trump is somehow living out the story of 'Local Hero'. His plan, for a $1billion development (including housing and gold course) was thrown out by the local planning authority. But, he has flashed his cash (and fame) and forced the matter I just hope Alex Salmond doesn't give in to the lure of big bucks and fame. This story really is a battle between beauty, nature and big bucks. For a full timeline, including the evoloution of the SNP government's (techincaly legitamate) involvement, read this. For more on the potential for environmental disaster read this comment. Take Care Y'All John
When I am born, I am black When I grow up, I am black When I am sick, I am black When I am out in the sun, When I am cold, I am black When I die, I am black BUT YOU?!?! When you are born, you're pink When you grow up, you're white When you're sick, you are green When you go out in the sun, you are red When you're cold, you go blue When you die, you're purple And you have the nerve to call me coloured?! (Anon)Nothing more to add... Take Care Y'All John
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Lord, you asked for my hands that you might use them for your purpose. I gave them for a moment then withdrew them for the work was hard. You asked for my mouth to speak out against injustice. I gave you a whisper that I might not be accused. You asked for my eyes to see the pain of poverty. I closed them for I did not want to see. You asked for my life that you might work through me. I gave a small part that I might not get too involved. Lord, forgive my calculated efforts to serve you Only when it is convenient for me to do so, Only in those places where it is safe to do so, And only with those who make it easy to do so. Father, forgive me, renew me Send me out as a usable instrument That I might take seriously the meaning of your cross.A prayer released by the Anglican Bishops of Central Africa.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Read a full report of the Archbishop's words last night on the Ekklesia newswire. The service it'self was very much a 'traditional' Anglican service served up with a few Iona tunes within - I must admit it made me pine for Africa yet all the same remind me why concepts of world church have alot of growing up to do! Take Care Y'All John [EDIT: For photos of the event see these supplied by Zimbabwe Vigil
One hundred cm's make a meter One hundred years makes a century, One hundred minutes and you've read the entire bible One hundred pounds could buy someone real freedom One hundred deaths has solved what? Yesterday the hundredth soldier was killed in Afghanistan. There doesn't look to be any end to the occupation It still isn't in my name.
I met Desmond Tutu last night. I clutched a copy of one of his books and he signed it. I sang a wonderfully random mix of hymns that reminded me of Africa. Last night was special. More on the evening later... Take Care Y'All John
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Recently, I was introduced to the wonderful singer/songwriter Dave Rovics. If you haven't heard of him imagine the political comment of Billy Bragg mixed with the musical talent of Ralph McTell. In short he is fantastic. If you want more then visit his website, else for more audio fun visit his myspace page or visit his soundclick page. I was pleased to see that he was influenced by that stalwart of English Folk 'Atilla the Stockbrocker' who I had the pleasure of seeing perform a few years ago. Oh go on, since it's the weekend here's a video of a gig he gave in Edinburgh... Take Care Y'All John
Friday, June 06, 2008
Thursday, June 05, 2008
We do not own the world, and its riches are not ours to dispose of at will. Show a loving consideration for all creatures, and seek to maintain the beauty and variety of the world. Work to ensure that our increasing power over nature is used responsibly, with reverence for life. Rejoice in the splendour of God's continuing creation.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Sunday, June 01, 2008
On Saturday I went to the Sussex countryside, so I could re-align and rejuvenate myself. On the way we stumbled across a lovely church. On the door was a sign, pictured above, which served to remind me (once again) how swiftly language evolves and main meaning can either alter or change. Have yourselves a gay old time today. Take Care Y'All John
Saturday, May 31, 2008
I am not that great a fan of TV at the moment. The majority is such shallow pap it is sad really. That said a few highlights... a) The Mary Whitehouse docudrama 'Filth' - see Central Hall, Westminster feature as Birmingham town hall and rather a fruity grope moment happen on the main stage! b)Chanel 4 news - now avaliable in (almost) full online continues to go from strength to strenght. c) Somehow Peep show manages to be stupidly funny (possibly even both!) and somehow almost becoming unmissable... Take Care Y'All John
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Gordon Brown has taken quite a battering of late. Yet I am always impressed by the man. I took the time, this morning, to read his speech to the Church of Scotland Assembly. It is a passionate invocation of the need for a church to be outward looking, to forge and create links throughout the world and (ultimately) create a vision of justice and peace for all. One bit that caught my attention was the following:
Let us go back for a moment to the world of those pioneers of globalisation, the early Church of Scotland missionaries. Once we relied on just a lone missionary finding common ground with a few local people in an isolated community. Today modern means of communication like the internet enable millions of us to link up, debate and organise across frontiers - summoning the moral sense of communities to shape the way we run our world. Until a few years ago we would say to each other - 'if only people could speak to each other, could communicate across borders and boundaries, if only we could connect people would discover how much they had in common'. Now we are in a new world divided - yes - by vast distances of space but united by instant ties of cyberspace. A world without walls, borders, barriers and frontiers where we are neighbours not because we are on the same street but because we are on the same networks; meeting on Facebook if not face to face; sharing in the online world - the one continent that everyone can inhabit. So contrary to received wisdom, the greatest arsenal of power today is not nuclear or biological or chemical but people --- the discovery of our capacity to come together across borders and oceans and to stand together as one. And what I want to argue is that the joining of these two forces - the information revolution and the human urge to co-operate for justice - makes possible for the first time in history something we have only dreamt about: the creation of a truly global society. A global society where people anywhere and everywhere can discover their shared values, communicate with each other and do not need to meet or live next door to each other to join together with people in other countries in a single moral universe to bring about change.There are some deeply questionable bits in there (e.g single moral universe - dear gracious is this Colonialism 2.0?!!) but there is a deeper yearning that I find quiet appealing. Anyway, take a read of Brown, then read Thatcher's sermon on the mound then finish off with the original sermon on the mount. Take Care Y'All john
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
The Tories are back, and this time they are picking on Young People. Read this story outlining their plan for getting young people off the dole. Certainly I would suggest watching the film, then read the full speech. As expected, once you scrutinise the policy it becomes same old, same old policies, just presented with a different face. Take Care Y'All John
Monday, May 26, 2008
Hello Technology is an exciting thing and can provide a good way to communicate information. Through the explosion of methods to share news it can be difficult to know where to look and what to do. I have been playing about with one or two things and have managed to formalise a variety of techologies to ensure you remain updated with the work of Methodist Council in a way that is accessable, interesting and of use! So, a few different things a) Twitter. For those who like Twitter Updates, this will be used for a more 'blow by blow' account of what is going on, mixed with trivia and general thinking. b) Blog posts. This will be used for greater exploration and c) Email updates. This will be a monthly digest on what is going on. It will provide links to posts that have been blogged, and alongside that key links to 'official' publications and updates. Between all three there will be some duplication but, ultimatly, a much smoother way to keep you all updated. To avoid a 'Terminal 5' style situation then I hope to do a trial run during Methodist Conference 2008. Therefore I need some willing volunteers! Simply pop your email into the box on the right and you'll be signed up for email updates*, add me on twitter and keep checking this blog! Take Care Y'All John *Email addresses will not be shared. They are safely stored and will only be used to send you the email you have signed upto!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
The Shetland Folk Festival, 2008, has been and gone. As ever it has featured the usual ecclectic mix of local and international talent blended to create what could be only termed a tubthumping time for all concerned. I wasn't there this year but thanks to the BBC Island Blogging network I was able to read about some of the acts who played. The star find has to be Henrik Jansberg, a rising star from Denmark, who seems to sympathetically combine the general Northern/Celtic fiddle style with a back rhythm that lifts the roof without intruding or appearing out of character at all. As a result of seeing the above clip I purchased his album 'Signature' and would highly recommend it to all. Featuring Henrik and his band it covers a wide range of material that is all melody based. It plays about with rhythms and style yet still keeps central to it a deeply traditional and rootsey feel. Warning, this may not be an album to listen to when in public as you may just find yourself letting out an unexpected whoop or two! Take Care Y'All John (Hattip to Solijay for their excellent review of the Festival)
Friday, May 23, 2008
Evening all. Anyone watch Have I Got News For You tonight? It was good, but also most amusing... A bizzare joke meant Methodism got name checked twice! The joke was that Ian Hislop spent his spare time chasing Methodists, and an appropriate picture (showing what must have been a Wesleyan Minister (the chap was wearing preaching bands) was shown. To view the clip - click here and go forward to 3.50mins in. Any leads, drop me a line. Take Care Y'All John
Pete Rollins has posted a cracking wee post. He asks if church attendance nothing more than a fetish. A good question really. As someone so often rallying against the church and the system I do ponder it deeply. I suppose that is why my worship life is more akin to the 'Salad Bowl' analagy of American Life than anything else. My worship life includes use of Anglican, Quaker, Catholic, Non-Denominational and of course Methodist. Yet the challenge is still there - why the need for so much variety and change - am I really plugging gaps and holes? Anyway I'm off to find some duck tape... Take Care Y'All John
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Today, in the Guardian, is possibly one of the best reasons to support a youth participation scheme
"I would ask Berlins to look at our council's proposals for the spending of its budget of £101,000:these include 50 new books for every school, thousands of pounds worth of sports equipment for state schools, and a teacher to help disadvantaged primary-school children with reading. Moreover, one suggestion made by the adult council officers was that the budget would be better spent on publicity such as youth council wrist bands and one-off awareness events that only cater for a maximum of 200 people, a tiny fraction of the young population of Camden. Such an event was hosted last year, and the bill came to £25,000."This is part of a full article, by Camden Youth Councilor Conrad Landin, written in response to the latest outpouring from Marcel Berlins. His attitude, that of disregarding someones opinion as useless due to age, has always annoyed me. That is why it is so exciting that the Methodist Church is looking to commit £4million to a nationwide participation scheme. But what makes the scheme, like the vision outlined by Conrad, so important? Participation never has the structure as the endpoint. Instead it is about creating a scheme through which the voice of young people can be heard and something done about it. Participation is only part of the outcome, it is an active group of young people changing the lives of young people (and more) around them. I have been involved in various youth participation schemes for almost a decade now and I firmly believe in their power to be the best method to deliver the voice of young people. That said, they must always remember at best they represent the voice of those involved - and there will always be more people uninvolved - the challange is to ensure that the system does not discriminate. Take Care Y'All John
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Today I'll be in Birmingham. I'll be joining thousands of others in celebrating a decade of awakening and action. A decade demanding jubilee for countries around the world. The idea of a jubilee stems from Levitacus 25 and celebrated the concept of financial release and rebirth. In the UK the mass action in Birmingham was a result of years of (mainly Global South led) campaigning to raise awareness about debt. With the debt crisis hitting the UK now it is right to remeber our duty to other countries. If people in our own country can't afford to pay their bills or can't afford to feed their families because of the rising cost of food and an increased debt burden imagine condemming a country to that. We allowed the country, often, to get that way because we thought we knew what was the best economic or political solution for their poverty. Imagine condemning a country to it simply by not taking action. It is disgusting. What is worse is the government is about to do it again. This time it is the environment that provides the problem. The government is involved in the establishment of a global fund to support countries affected by global warming. Yet with the poorest in the world suffering the highest from the effects of global warming (see Famine in Kenya as an example) why do we offer them a lifeline then ask them to pay back tenfold for doing so. Are we not asking them to Traffik their future? Take Care Y'All John
Saturday, May 17, 2008
""Just one thing," he said. "You're not writing a weepy book full of poems and pictures of rainbows, are you?" "No", I said. I wasn't sure what kind of book he was talking about, but it didn't sound like mine. "It's not that sort of book", I said."P53 Ways to Live Forever is the debut novel of Sally Nichols. It is written from the perspective of Sam, a child on the bridge between childhood and his teenage years. Unlike many children in that period he looks ahead knowing only one thing, that he is likely to die. Sam has Leukemia. Sam also has a best friend, Felix and a love of lists. He has a helpful teacher and a supportive doctor (Dr Bill). He has a mum and dad and a sister. Sam starts out considering writing a book. He wants to do this because, he finds, people avoid talking about death or dying and so he wants to utilise his love of lists to create a piece of research into death. This covers religious, practical, historical and mythological reactions and thoughts about death. He creates a special list, beside the questions about death, and this provides some central structure to the book. He decides to list 8 things that he wants to do and we follow his attempts at them. This isn’t against a large ticking clock of doom, instead a focused attempt to explore and engage Sam. It enables us, as readers, to take joy in his success and failures as you would with anyone. At times I would forget he had Leukemia, instead just enjoy the wide-eyed exploration of a world through the eyes of a child. The book is almost like a journal or scrapbook. Utilising an abrupt writing style (very similar to 'A curious incident of the dog in the nightime')it manages to convey Sam's emotions combined with medical detail, emotional reflection and great sense of fun! This could be classed as a quick, easy read as a result. Don't let this fool you though. The ease of read isn't completely true. Although the chapters are short, and the events inconsequential, you begin to get a sense of forbodding, that possibly we may not have a 'happily ever after' ending. But, the reader has a guide with the character of Felix. Felix manages to stay remarkably resolute, positive and egging onward until the very end. His presence adds a nice balance. The majority of characters are adult and so his character evens the ages up slightly. For what could appear a dismal set of subjects (death, loss, grief, misunderstanding and pain) the author manages something very different. By approaching it from the perspective of Sam we (the reader) are not bombarded but instead follow this journey of discovery as he discovers more about his disease and we share in that. The subject of a child dying is not one to be taken lightly. It is a desperate time for all involved, no matter how respectful the pastoral care or how good the medical support, and this book manages to cover this so well. Obviously only those who have really experienced, through work or by loosing a child themselves, can truly know what it must feel like. Yet I felt the book managed to convey a deeper truth, that almost brought validity within that. Upon reaching the end of the novel I urge you all to go a few pages further. For, like a film and it's outakes, there is a hidden gem after it. The bibliography and aknowledgements show the real message of the book, the deeper human story. From consulting the fine Children's unit in Bristol, to the range of fiction and non fiction the author was living out what Sam did. Looking at a situation and researching and exploring to try and explain it. Almost that the author approached this with the same wide-eyed fascination so clearly shown through the character of Sam. The constant drip of fact, emotion and joy means each page (almost) turns it'self and leads you onto the next. This book may be Sally's first, but I hope it isn't the last. Take Care Y'All John
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Social responsibility FAITH AND ACTION 23.01 Remember your responsibility as citizens for the government of your town and country, and do not shirk the effort and time this may demand. Do not be content to accept things as they are, but keep an alert and questioning mind. Seek to discover the causes of social unrest, injustice and fear; try to discern the new growing-points in social and economic life. Work for an order of society which will allow men and women to develop their capacities and will foster their desire to serve. Advices, 1964Taken from Faith and Practice, browsable here
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Have just opened my private email inbox and suddenly it has no messages. No messages at all. Somehow it has managed to loose over four years worth of emails. Alot was junk Some had a large amount of significance Others were notes keeping in touch with friends. Suddenly all gone. B*gg*r John
Every Wednesday is a special day. At 6.15 a group of people gather, in central London, to worship God. This is no 'ordinary' worship. Instead, it's a gathering of friends, a gathering of the Westminster Meeting. That is right, I attend the weekly Quaker Meeting. I have come across Quakerism before. In the heady days leading up-to, and after, the commencement of the war in Iraq the group I was part of utilised the Edinburgh (Quaker) Meeting House for our meetings and it was a welcome event. At Greenbelt I attend the open meeting of the local Quaker Group each year and always enjoyed it. Westminster meeting is one populated by all ages but definatly on the 'young professional' side. The 45 mins has no set structure, bar closing with a handshake, no leaders or set liturgy. Some weeks no one speaks (ministers) and in others many speak. Each ministry can either follow on from a previous or be on a different subject. Whether quiet or noisy it is a great time for personal meditation and reflection. Anyway I shall post more about it at some point in the future. Take Care Y'All John
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
This year's ascension day service on Radio 4, I noted, was both engaging and invigorating. Mixing medieval music and Revd Giles Fraser was always going to be a heady mix. His sermon was a healthy challenge, on one of the most high profile days of the year. Reproduced beneath, in full, is the sermon he delivered: ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Writing in The Times the other day, the Marxist columnist Mick Hume described public fascination with the Shannon Matthews case – and specifically the prurient media interest in the lifestyles of many on her estate - as a sort of pornography of poverty. There is, he argued, something really rather unpleasant about a society that takes such obvious delight in sneering and leering at the economically disadvantaged. He went on: “Two hundred years ago the respectable classes paid a penny to enjoy the sexual and violent antics of the insane at Bedlam. Today people make do with mocking a Dewsbury estate.” According to this analysis, we have almost come to regard the poor as the moral villains of society rather than its victims. Contrast this, then, with the message of St Luke: ‘Blessed are you who are poor’. Not, I hasten to add the considerably more anaemic ‘Blessed are the poor in heart’ from St Matthew’s Gospel. No, Luke gives it to us straight. So, for example, where Matthew’s version of the Christmas story has the baby Jesus greeted by wise men with expensive presents, Luke has the child met by agricultural labourers. It sets the tone for his entire story: ‘Blessed are the poor’. What he does not mean, of course, is that poverty is any sort of good thing in itself. I know that sounds like an observation from the school of the incredibly obvious, but there have been way too many Christians - and particularly those who have misunderstood monasticism – that have regarded poverty as a training in humility and therefore a moral virtue. No: the poor are not blessed because they lead lives of designer simplicity or moral superiority. It’s not a lifestyle choice. Poverty is about malnutrition, infant mortality, living in a disgusting favela or freezing to death in a cardboard box. These are not the ways of moral edification. ‘Blessed are you who are poor’ does not mean that poverty is virtuous: it means that God is to be found amongst the poor; that God is on their side. And what follows from this is that, for Christians, sneering at the poor, dismissing people as chavs or hoodies, is actually a form of blasphemy. It’s quite remarkable to me that anybody might think this even the slightest bit theologically controversial, given that the Bible contains literally thousands of references to economic injustice. It’s actually the second most prominent theme in the whole of Scripture - the first being idolatry, which is itself often linked with the love of money. The great crescendos of the Biblical narrative insist again and again on the central significance of this theme. Mary speaks of God as bringing down the mighty from their thrones and lifting up the lowly, of filling the hungry with good things and sending the rich away with nothing. Jesus continues where his mother left off: “I come to bring good news to the poor, freedom to the captive, sight to the blind.” Whatever happened to the church that preached these values? Back in the mid twentieth century, following the ground breaking Second Vatican council, the buzz in the Roman Catholic Church was all about liberation theology. It was especially prominent in South America, with priests and theologians arguing that the church ought to adopt a preferential option for the poor. Salvation, they said, was as much a practical thing, a liberation from the bondage of slavery and debt, with Jesus as the new Moses leading the oppressed out of the captivity of poverty and into the promised land of freedom and prosperity. But the official church never really warmed to this sort of preaching, suspecting its motives of being too political, more Marx than Moses. John Paul II’s deep hatred of Communism gave him a moral blind spot that led him to overlook the fact that liberation theology was a way of living out a clear Biblical imperative as expressed in St Luke’s very practical Christ. But the Pope was completely right that Communism isn’t the same thing as the Gospel. Moreover, the idea that poverty is simply a left wing issue is dangerously unhelpful. For with the collapse of international socialism those at the bottom of the heap are in desperate need of new ideas, new friends, and new hope. Yet it’s hard to see these new friends emerging, even within the church. In Latin America, liberation theology has been shouldered aside by those who prefer their religion more otherworldly, more churchy or more charismatic. And in this country many Christians have been giving up on the material dimension of God’s purpose for humanity. We are increasingly thinking of religion as though it were some sort of self-help therapy, all about one’s mental and spiritual well being or some strange esoteric knowledge. Thus we end up with an introverted piety that spends its time gazing up into heaven and a practical indifference to the material conditions of those who live next door. This may be why I have a bit of a problem with the way some people understand the Feast Day of the Ascension. There is something faintly comic about a whole bunch of people, gazing up into the clouds, imagining a final fleeting glimpse of the soles of Jesus’ feet. More problematically: the Ascension can represent an over-fascination with the ethereal aspects of faith to the neglect and detriment of the physical. It must be remembered then that Christianity is arguably the most materialistic of the world’s religions faiths. For with Christianity, God is imagined not as a cloud, nor as a book, but as a human being, born in a shed, and at one with the physical reality of human life. With Christianity, God is to be found in the dirt and not in the sky. That’s why the Ascension can be so misleading. But there is, of course, a quite different way of understanding the Ascension that is fully consistent with a more earthy theology. The book of Acts describes two angels present at the scene. “Men of Galilee” they say with more than a hint of mockery, “why do you stand staring into heaven?” It’s a great question. For not only does it puncture that misleading religious cliché that up somehow equals holy, it also invites the disciples to bring their gaze down to earth and confront the measure of the task now before them. A heartbeat after Jesus’ departure comes the terrifying question: what on earth are we to do now? How are we to accomplish what we pray for – to create the kingdom of God, on earth as it is in heaven? This remarkable church of St Martin in the Fields gives us a clue. Under our feet, deep within the earth, wonderful new facilities for London’s poorest people have been dug out in a feat of the most extraordinary engineering. If you want to find God round here, follow the advice of the angels and cease gazing up into the sky. For God lives downstairs, alongside the homeless, the outcast and the refuge. Any church worthy of the name must be built right on top of a concern for the vulnerable, just as this church is quite literally. One more thing. The theological emphasis on practical Christianity has the added advantage of being something uniting within society. In an age where religion is so often the source of division, a preferential option for the poor can bring together atheists and agnostics and fundamentalists and liberals, uniting people of all faiths and of none. This does not make it any less authentically Christian. Jesus himself put it pretty clearly: “in so much as you did it to the least of these my brother and sisters, you did it also to me.” ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- If you like what you read then don't forget you can often find Giles either a) In the Church Times b) In the Guardian Newspaper c) As team rector at the Parish Church of Putney St Mary and All Saints Take Care Y'All John
"Who will love a little Sparrow? Who's traveled far and cries for rest? "Not I," said the Oak Tree, "I won't share my branches with no sparrow's nest, And my blanket of leaves won't warm her cold breast." Who will love a little Sparrow And who will speak a kindly word? "Not I," said the Swan, "The entire idea is utterly absurd, I'd be laughed at and scorned if the other Swans heard." Who will take pity in his heart, And who will feed a starving sparrow? "Not I," said the Golden Wheat, "I would if I could but I cannot I know, I need all my grain to prosper and grow." Who will love a little Sparrow? Will no one write her eulogy? "I will," said the Earth, "For all I've created returns unto me, From dust were ye made and dust ye shall be."Sparrow, performed by Simon and Garfunkle.
- Who is the sparrow in the world today - working hard and needing somewhere to slow down, seek shelter and rest?
- Who acts like the Oak tree - Selfish with their resources and deciding their resources won't help?
- Who acts like the Swan - Scoffing, dismissive and thinking more about what other people think than the needs of the person crying out for help?
- Who acts like the Wheat - Full of excuses and ultimatly acting in a selfish way to only better their own needs?
- Who opens themselves up and acts like the earth?
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Each month is like Christmas at the moment and the best thing is that it's free! Karine Polwart, one of Scotland's newest and best folk singer/songwriters is releasing a free MP3 for download each month. Born in Stirlingshire Karine has done it all. From teaching to advocacy she has been and seen the world, as well as getting a BA and MA under her belt as well. She burst onto the folk scene in 2003 with her debut album 'Faultlines'. Since then she has released three more albums (including 'This Earthly Spell' earlier this year) and toured extensively both as solo artist and member of a variety of groups. This month's entry is called '1,2,3,4,5' and was written at the Burnsong Songhouse 2006. The Songhouse is an annual gathering of sings and songerwriters who spend some time together writing and creating. She is back out and touring at the moment and some of the songs from that creative period are included on this tour. So go on, sign up then download. You know it makes sense. Take Care Y'All John
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
I'm back and blogging. *Phew* Wasn't that an exciting moment, and a few minutes early as well. As with all relaunches most of you will have already looked at the page and seen most of the redesign. Some more tweaking will go on over the next few weeks. I have others things in my life beside blogging but hope to update around twice or three times a week. Take Care Y'All John
" I like being part of a church where, after the Tsunami, the Archbishop (of Cantebury) says not, "I can see God's hand in this" but rather, "A lot of you might think that this proves it's all rubbish" - and then he goes to the next stage and tells you that his faith is still there, and gives you some reasons why, and some examples, and then you begin to go with him"Ian Hislop (Atheist With Doubts : Why I am Still an Anglican) Thousands have died, over a million have been made homeless. Regardless of the politics of the Government those within the country who survived face an increase in the price of food, building materials. They also have to contend with polluted drinking water and poor sanitation. This is a disaster on a scale unseen for years. The only thing to do is respond, dig deep and donate. Methodist Relief and Development Fund have launched an appeal. Christian Aid have launched an appeal. Disasters Emergency Committee have launched an appeal. All three are trusted sources. The need is so great. Take Care Y'All John
Monday, May 05, 2008
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Ascension Day came and went last Thursday. It's the day in the mainstream Christian calender where Jesus's ascension into Heaven is celebrated. Ascension day is exciting. Why? Because it leaves the ball firmly in our court. Jesus has come, lived out the Good News and now he has left. Humanity no longer has a guide. Instead we must reflect, look within ourselves and look out to the world around us. What is it telling us? What should we be doing? Radio 4 broadcast a cracking service. Coming live from St Martin in the Field's, it featured a heady (yet strangely well shaped) mix of liberation theology and medieval music. Preaching was Revd Giles Fraser and his sermon got to the heart of the message of ascension - what is our responsibility? I would heavily suggest you all click here and listen (warning: this is a time limited link, if you want to listen after the 7 day limit is over let me know) Methodism's very own Turbulent Cleric has stepped up to the challenge of ascension day and delivered a most invigorating sermon about the subject. Take Care Y'All John
Tuesday is listed as the big re-launch day for the Blog. Some of you have already come back and read/commented, thank you very much. Two requests for any humble travelers passing through, either because you know me or you did a google search for something on the blog; 1) I would appreciate comments etc upon the general layout and design as it currently is - I have some tweaks I would like to do but think it is ready for public comment. 2) Anyone reading via a feed-reader, please let me know if you have had 'old' posts appear recently in your feed. 3) Any other comments gratefully accepted! Take Care Y'All John
Saturday, May 03, 2008
London is a diverse vibrant city. It has a large migrant population, and it is often 'sold' as an example of teh 'salad bowl effect' of living. I have often berated how the very size of it makes segregation inevitable. Segregation caused either by race or by income. While it may happen in all cities and towns, the size and scale of London makes the segregation clearer and, in some respects, does away from what being multicultural is truly about. For me, multi-culturalism is a wonderful thing. To be able to walk down a street to find a church or a mosque or a temple is cracking. Jewish Bakers sat close to Jamaican Pattie shops would be marvelous. London doesn't quiet manage that. Instead, like all communities, you get stuck within a particular expression of almost multiculturalism. This is a result of economic profiling by default - ie housing prices. For all this, the vast mix of population has something going for it. Something that means 'London wouldn't be London' without it. It can provide an example to the rest of Britain of how many cultures enhance and embrace each other. About how difference isn't something to be hidden, instead it is to be celebrated and understood and ultimately shared. We are many people in one city. We all have something unique to bring. That is why the BNP are bad news. Beneath are just some of their policies, as promoted by their member who will now sit on the Greater London Assembly (It would be usual at this point to hyperlink to the source but I shall not provide direct links to the BNP website - but do a quick google and you would find all of these policies - as written beneath. My responses are in italics)
Crack down on street gangs. It is accepted and acknowledged that immigration has contributed to the increase in gang crime. The police must be instructed to drop their political correctness and crack down on members of street gangs.I'm sorry but when I've been around London it doesn't matter where you are from, it is what income you have that dictates if you resort to crime. I have lived in, and seen, enough of London to know that "it's the economy stupid" and economics affects us all - regardless of race. Poverty is colourblind
Find, arrest and deport illegals and overstayers. Illegal immigrants and overstayers are a burden on society and police must target them for arrest and removal.People who have come to London do so for a reason. If they have failed to meet whatever requirements are set then they will be removed (sounds horrible, is horrible) yet the system can make mistakes. Who can forget this government deciding that they should send people back to Zimbabwe a few years ago?
Ban the veil from public buildings and transport. The Islamic face veil makes recognition impossible and is a threat to our security. We would ban this from all public buildings in London and from London Transport.Ok if we are going along those lines then we should ban hats and sun glasses, facial hair and multi-colored contact lenses. This is nothing short of religious discrimination hidden behind concerns over security. Let us not forget that those who have committed acts of terror, the 7th July suicide bombers, were easily identifiable on video footage - as was shown this week in court
Housing • Stop anti-white discrimination. Housing allocation is unfair to white Londoners. We would make length of residency in an area a main criterion for housing allocation, and would oppose all housing associations which favour migrants and ethnic minorities.I have yet to hear of anywhere that does discriminate against 'whites'. Instead the system is set to provide accommodation to those who need it most. Shockingly that is often people who have come to this country, from another, and have nowhere to live.
Council Tax • Less waste – lower council taxes. We would scrap all the politically correct waste encouraged by Red Ken and the likes of Lee Jasper. We would reduce the Mayor’s GLA precept on council taxes and encourage boroughs to reduce their council tax too.Hmmm what position did Lee Jasper hold? Well he advised Ken Livingstone on issues of race and equality. He also aided the distribution of grants to a variety of charities and communities across London. How vile, funding community building and inter-racial relations.
• Offer the Olympics to Greece. The BNP opposed the Olympic bid four years ago. We said it would be inordinately expensive and a logistical nightmare and we have been proved right, as usual. Furthermore, the BNP is the party of heritage and tradition – not only for Britain but for all countries. The Olympics are part of Greece’s heritage and we therefore believe they should be held there permanently. We will therefore offer the 2012 Olympics to Athens.Ok this is an absolute non-brainer. For starters half of east London (for better or worse) has been dug up or concreted over. There has been too much work put in to stop now. Outside of that there is the entire logic. The modern olympic movement, as it now is, is a global expression of unity and challenge. It is the only time we can ever see countries exert pride and fight it out without resorting to violence*.
Culture • No new mosques. Britain is a Christian country, not an Islamic one. There are more than enough mosques in London already and we would therefore prevent any new mosques from being developed.To finish an absolutely shocking one really. What right does anyone have to limit the places of worship that people have? Yes, by all means engage with what is being preached within but (unless for decent reasons) to prevent someone becoming a place of worship is a fragrant disregard for other people's right to freedom of religion. To suggest we have 'more than enough mosques' in London is shocking - Muslims make up 8.5% of the London population (2001) and they have as much right to practice their religion as the many thousands of Christians who are active in London. I'm sorry to unleash all this on you but sometimes the real nature of vileness needs to be pointed out. It is great that over 2 million people turned out to vote. It is sad that over 5% of them don't feel represented enough by the generic parties that they have to turn to an extremist party that is often seen as portraying 'their' views. The reality often is a poor economic situation which is exasperated by (what is seen as) a changing and growing migrant population. I need some sleep. Take Care Y'All John *Note: This is not to say that the Olympic ideal hasn't been hi-jacked by politicians, such as Ken Livingstone, or violent regimes such as China or Nazi Germany to provide a way to profile their work. I would much rather it acted as a unifier similar to the 1994 Rugby World Cup in Zimbabwe then the current shocking display about China
Boris is Mayor The British National Party have a member on the GLA. This is no longer just a London issue. The fact the BNP have won seats where they haven't before is an issue affecting the whole of the UK. The Church has a good record on beginning to challenge the rise of well dressed fascists in modern day politics but the need for action has risen. I look forward to what must be a swift bit of moving from the public issues team and hope that not only will the staff of public issues, but also the District Chairs covering London, Rotherham, Thurrock, Nuneaton, Halifax, Hawarden and Three Rivers, will take come together to take a lead in showing modern day Christians can tackle racism and show it why it has no place in modern day Britian. I may love democracy but sometimes the end result can make me feel sick. Take Care Y'All John
Friday, May 02, 2008
Boris Johnson is the new Mayor of London. No one won on the first round of votes. The majority of 2nd preference votes went to Boris. Ken Livingstone is out. I hope you will watch Ken's concession speech and Boris's victory speech. Having seen both I know that we (in london) have lost a statesman in Ken and gained a fool in Boris. A sad day for London. I wonder what Stephen Lawrence's mum will have to say? All I know is I voted for Sian Berry then for Ken Livingstone. As they say at the end of Crimewatch "Don't have nightmares". Hmmm. Take Care Y'All John