While on retreat I’ve been reading Stephen Covey’s The 8th Habit – from Effectiveness to Greatness. In it he quotes “seven things that, according to Gandhi’s teaching, will destroy us.” Here’s the list. I think it’s a bit too close for comfort in today’s U.K., particularly the last four.
- Wealth without work
- Pleasure without conscience
- Knowledge without character
- Commerce without morality
- Science without humanity
- Worship without sacrifice
- Politics without principle
My walk to the shops to stock up with paracetomol this afternoon was barred by a fallen tree in the Martingate shopping centre, Corsham, which had been cordoned off by the police. About 30 feet tall, the tree had been growing in a paved area and had fallen onto the edge of the roof of two shops.
By the time I arrived it had been largely chopped up. There were a lot of people there to deal with it. All three council wagons were present (to block pedestrians or possibly to remove the tree). There were three or more tree surgeons with chainsaws. There was a Fire Engine with it’s own private area cordoned off with pretty blue flashing lights on the ground. I’m not sure whether they were there in case of fire or a building collapse, or in case everyone else was not strong enough to move the pieces of tree trunk. It has been wet and windy here today, however this was a surprise.
I never got to the pharmacy, but I can feel a song coming on… “On the tenth day of Christmas…”
I picked up a copy of Positive News that someone gave me on Thursday, and the front page was splashed with the headline: “Change money, change the world.” Some innovative young economists, led by Ben Dyson, see that the problems of the current debt crisis flow from the way money is created (in England) not only by the Bank of England but also in an uncontrolled way by banks every time they lend.
Eight percent of bank lending is productive, “whereas the remaining 92% goes on property and financial speculation.” For more info, see the article in Positive News, or go to the Positive Money web site.
If this is the answer, we need it!
Surely it’s too early to judge whether David Cameron was right to veto the new EC treaty. As time goes on, I think I’m admiring his bravery. On a matter of principle he said “no” while other leaders said “yes” which is really “maybe” as they need to take the issue to their parliaments. Will David Cameron turn out to be a sole voice, or a leader of a movement?
Of course, as the papers are saying, the publicity of this obscures the absence in the plans presented of a solution to the problems of the Euro – and do we really believe more central control is the answer to everything in the 21st Century?
All this leads me to the best comment I’ve seen (in this week’s The Week) from Terry Smith CEO of Tullett Prebon (on BBC Radio 4 Today Programme 9th December 2011), “Britain is as isolated as somebody who refused to join the Titanic just before it sailed.” I like that!
I recently read an account on BBC News of David Cameron’s speech yesterday at Christ Church Cathredral, Oxford, on the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible.
It’s good to see him speaking of his own faith and how he sees Christianity benefitting people in the UK generally, and not just those who see themselves as Christians.
In particular, he said, “Moral neutrality or passive tolerance just isn’t going to cut it any more… Let me be clear: I am not in any way saying that to have another faith – or
no faith – is somehow wrong… I am also incredibly proud that Britain is home to many different faith communities, who do so much to make our country stronger… But what I am saying is that the Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today… it is easier for people to believe and practise other
faiths when Britain has confidence in its Christian identity… Many people tell me it is much easier to be Jewish or Muslim here in Britain than it is in a secular country like France… because the tolerance that Christianity demands of our society provides
greater space for other religious faiths too. And because many of the values of a Christian country are shared by people of all faiths and indeed by people of no faith at all.”
Well done, David!
Full text of speech from 10 Downing Street web site.
Proportionately, levels of British debt are not as high as they have been in some past times, writes Paul Krugman. Are we wrong to make such a fuss?
It may be that on previous occasions we could see how we could repay that debt through increased economic activity, but that this is not so clear just now, hence the anxiety.
Last Sunday – Remembrance Sunday – the padre preaching in our church in Corsham spoke as only a soldier with experience in Afghanistan could, and gave two stories of soldiers in their twenties who were blown up there and died. He may have meant to paint a picture of heroism, however I only found myself wondering why we still send so many there for involuntary multiple amputations and death. As often, Paul Vallely's words do better than mine to ask that question. I saw his article first in November's Third Way magazine http://www.paulvallely.com/?p=4557
As St Paul’s Cathedral becomes the epicentre for people (being named Occupy) who want space to speak out about their powerlessness in the current “financial situation”, and the church is faced with ethical dilemmas which result in Giles Fraser, the Chancellor of the cathedral, resigning, here are three clippings that have caught my attention.
Paul Vallely. Newsthump. BBC
It seems to me a wholly appropriate that the Church, and to St Paul’s Cathedral in particular sited as it is in the financial centre of London, is challenged to consider how it relates to unrest about financial leadership in society.
Sometimes I find myself reading about how Christians have a hard time in Britain or elsewhere, or about how militant Islam is not always kind to other faiths.
Here’s some interesting balance to the arguments. A recent study shows that it’s not easy being religious in the UK – that the UK is not top of the list of those countries who allow freedom of religion.
Church Times article.
Link to full report.
My thoughts and prayers are with those who have been affected by the recent riots in the UK.
Here’s a couple of interesting videos as an alternative to those of the events themselves.
Hackney woman slams rioters.
24th April 2010 Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, predicts further riots if the Conservatives get in to power.
And some analysis from the Daily Telegraph, and here.
(“We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a… net. Our constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.”
This quote comes from the reader comments under The Telegraph article, and is of John Adams commenting on the American constitution. It seems to me it applies just as well to our British situation just now. I’ve heard political scientists speak of how a people need to be mature enough for a mature political system such as democracy. I’ve often commented that as technology advances ethics need to advance alongside it – so as political systems advance, morality needs to advance alongside it.)
- Banksy’s comment on the riots?