Saturday, 24 May 2008

Post-GAFCON meeting in London - note the evening for PCC members

Update: Live (ish) here 1st July.

Global Anglicanism & English Orthodoxy?

1st July 2008 10.30am–4.30pm

All Soul’s Church, Langham Place, London

A briefing for Incumbents and local Church Leaders

You are invited to a gathering of incumbents and local church leaders (eg. staff, church wardens, lay readers ) to hear first hand from some of those involved and to stand with some of our gospel partners who have struggled to uphold orthodox Anglicanism.


  • Henry Orombi (Archbishop of Uganda): Orthodoxy and Effective Mission
  • Greg Venables (Archbishop of the Southern Cone): Orthodoxy and Wider Connections
  • Jim Packer (St John’s Shaughnessy, Canada): Orthodoxy and Personal Experience
  • Peter Jensen (Archbishop of Sydney): Orthodoxy and True Anglicans


£10 to include refreshments but please bring your own lunch

For a ticket please send a cheque for £10 payable to “All Souls Church” to Miranda Lewis, All Souls Church Langham Place, 2 All Souls Place, London W1B 3DA together with your name and address, name of church and email address.


There will be an evening meeting for PCC members at All Souls Church Langham Place from 7-9pm (tickets £5 payable on the door).

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Daily Telegraph: Earth would be very happy without humans

[...] Perhaps from an asteroid, perhaps from human incompetence, short-sightedness, or malice, chances are that our species will die out or evolve into something we wouldn't recognise. That's what happens to other animals, and we're not that special. I find this prospect unexpectedly relaxing. Numerous anthropocentric religions would have us believe that mankind is the apotheosis of all creation - that the whole point of the universe is us. That without people there is no reason for all those pinpoints in the night sky. This teleology is not simply dubious and myopically self-serving, but depressing.

I'd hate for the purpose of the universe to hinge on my shuffle for the morning paper and my putter about the kitchen stirring up an omelette. I wouldn't even want the purpose of the universe to hinge on the Statue of Liberty and the Sistine Chapel. I like people, or some of them. Why, some of my best friends are people.

Nevertheless, the vision at the end of the documentary of burgeoning forests bounding with bears is strangely uplifting. If we want to stick around, we'll have to keep from defecating where we eat. But if we make a mess of matters and disappear, another form of life will take our place - creatures beautiful, not so self-destructive, or simply weird. That's cheerful news, really. For iPhones, quad bike parks, Gordon Ramsay, and Jacqui Smith not necessarily to represent the pinnacle of all creation comes as a relief. Read more
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It's a fine life No.2: Fine threatened over posters of missing moggy

(" If the ruler is wise, he will govern better by a natural sense of justice than by laws. If he is not wise, he will foster nothing but evil through legislation, since he will not know what use to make of the laws nor how to adapt them to the case at hand. Therefore, in civil affairs more stress should be laid on putting good and wise men in office than on making laws; for such men will themselves be the very best of laws, and will judge every variety of case with a lively sense of equity." Martin Luther. And see my own blog here.)

A woman was threatened with a fine by her local council for putting posters on lampposts to find the owners of a lost cat. Public-spirited Joy Tracey wanted to reunite Copper the ginger tom with his owners after he was found whimpering in a garden.

The grandmother-of-three traipsed around animal shelters, vets and pet shops in a bid to help the cat. She also put adverts in her local paper and called the RSPCA, but drew a blank.

So after two weeks, and desperate to help the homesick pet, the former secretary printed 12 laminated, A5-sized posters. Tracey tied them to lampposts near her home in Denton, Greater Manchester, advertising her telephone number and asking for help for the lost animal. A day later uniformed council patrollers spotted the offending ads.

Tracey had fallen foul of the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992, Clauses A, B and F, and Tameside council was determined to enforce the rules. She was telephoned from the council offices and ordered to remove the posters. Read more
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Gene Robinson: 'Contradictory' Anglicanism perfect for 'gay Christianity'

(Ed: Ironically, my guess is that the church in Putney would be that of Revd Giles Fraser, who teaches philosophy.)

The Anglican Church is the perfect vehicle for creating a new “gay” Christianity by virtue of the fact that it is the only church that accepts the logical contradiction of asserting both the sanctity of human life and the existence of a right to abortion.

Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson, whose ordination to the episcopate has precipitated the ongoing schism between traditionally Christian Anglicans and its ultra-liberal, secularized branches, is in London to talk about his vision for the homosexual future of the Anglican Church.

He was visiting and promoting his cause in preparation for the upcoming Lambeth Conference in July.

He told an admiring audience in Putney, in southwest London, that Anglicanism is uniquely suited to the establishment of the contradiction of homosexual Christianity.

“The Anglican tradition is uniquely capable of holding two seemingly contradictory ideas together. Its position on abortion, for example is that all human life is sacred. And, that no one has the right to tell a woman what to do with her body. Both are true,” he said. Read more

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Friday, 23 May 2008

Urgent from the Bishop of Natal

(Ed: Forwarded to me.)

Dear Friends

Bishop Rubin has asked to send the following message to you.

I am dictating this message from the Cato Manor police station, where there are hundreds of foreign nationals who were flushed out from their homes last evening and they sought refugee here at this police station. Many of them have been badly injured and I have arranged for them to receive treatment. All of them are scared about what might happen to them when they leave this place, so I am trying to get our Anglican parishes in Durban to provide them with shelter. Any parish that is willing to do this must please contact Tracy immediately. We will also be feeding them at lunch time and I am grateful to St Cyprian’s church for arranging the meals.

I am deeply disturbed by what I am seeing and I ask you to please remember these people, many children as well in your prayers. Also please pray for our country”,

With gratitude for your prayers and support

+ Rubin

P.S. I just had a conversation with the Minister for Safety and Security who has assured me that he will do everything in his power to ensure the safety of these people. Let us hope that it happens.

Bishop Rubin Phillip

Bishop of Natal


Postal: P O Box 47439, Greyville, 4023

Phone: 27 31 308 9302

Fax: 27 31 308 9316


Nehemiah 2:18
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Bishop of Chelmsford raises question of religious freedoms in Iran

From They Work for You.

The Bishop of Chelmsford (Bishop) | Hansard source

My Lords, the Minister may or may not be aware that we on these Benches have been mourning the death of Bishop Dehqani-Tafti, a former bishop in Iran, whose son was murdered in the early years of the ayatollahs. Will he accept that in states where there is a strong and predominant religious and political tradition there is a particular duty to protect the liberties, beliefs and styles of life of those whose beliefs are in strong contrast? Will he also accept that the Government in Iran do not have a good record in these matters?

Lord Malloch-Brown (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office; Labour) | Hansard source

My Lords, the right reverend Prelate is correct. A draft penal code is being considered by the Iranian Parliament, which makes apostasy, heresy and witchcraft punishable by death. We are concerned about the impact that those provisions would have on religious minorities in Iran. On 1 April my colleague, Dr Howells, called in the Iranian ambassador to express our concerns.

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Cormac Murphy-O'Connor: The abortion debate is only just beginning

The politicians may have cast their votes on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, but is the conscience of the nation at ease with itself? Far from settling the issues until the next Bill comes along, this week's extraordinary debates have in fact woken us all up to the reality of what is being done in our name.

Abortion Rights group promote a Pro-choice campaign, maintaing the 24 week limit
Gordon Brown voted against any reduction after insisting there was no medical evidence to justify a change in the law

Many people are left deeply uneasy and perplexed, profoundly worried about the direction we are now taking.

And yet, for me it has been one of the most significant debates that the House of Commons has had in recent times, undertaken with a sober recognition that it was dealing with fundamental questions which transcend party politics. Although I would have much preferred other outcomes on all four of the debates, including the issue of fatherhood, I was glad at the sincerity and thoughtfulness of the discussion.

However, it would be wrong for us to think that the debate within society is over. A vote alone cannot and should not close the discussion. Underlying it are crucial questions. What is it to be a human being? What conditions do we need for our flourishing? In what sort of society can we put our faith and know that we are cherished and valued and above all enabled to grow in our search for what is right and true? It is in this context I want to make two practical suggestions. Read more
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The Times: Fortune-tellers targetted in new Consumer Protection Regulations

(Ed: My question: "Is a 'healing service' where a collection is taken included in this?" My prediction: "The EU is taking over your life.)

The fortune-tellers, at least, must have seen it coming. The biggest overhaul of consumer laws for 40 years takes effect on Monday, tightening controls on everything from door-to-door salesmen to children’s advertising.

Fortune-tellers and astrologists will be bracketed with double-glazing salesman under the new Consumer Protection Regulations. The changes, which implement an EU directive on unfair commercial practices, require businesses for the first time to act fairly towards consumers and will outlaw diresputable trading activities.

Fortune-tellers will have to tell customers that what they offer is “for entertainment only” and not “experimentally proven”. This means that a fortune-teller who sets up a tent at a funfair will have to put up a disclaimer on a board outside.

Similar disclaimers will need to be posted on the websites of faith healers, spiritualists or mediums where appropriate, as well as on invoices and at the top of any printed terms and conditions.

Andy Millmore, a partner at the law firm Harbottle & Lewis in London, said: “What is significant is the sweeping nature of the regulations. They will effectively criminalise actions that might in the past have escaped legal censure, even if they may perhaps have been covered by industry voluntary codes.

“Personalised services may also come under scrutiny. A tarot pack reader, for instance, cannot just pick one of several templates – it would have to be a proper reading designed for that person.”

Claims to secure good fortune, contact the dead or heal through the laying-on of hands are all services that will also have to carry disclaimers, other lawyers say. “You could argue that this is no different from promises given by the Church of Eternal Life, which people pay for, in the sense that they feel obliged to give to the collection,” one said. “It’s no more proven.” Read more
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BBC News: Home searched after Exeter blast

Police are searching a flat linked to a man arrested after an explosion in a restaurant in the centre of Exeter.

Armed officers raided the house in King Street, Plymouth, connected to 22-year-old Nicky Reilly, who is believed to have converted to Islam.

He was detained by Devon and Cornwall Police after a device detonated inside the Giraffe restaurant in Exeter.

Mr Reilly, who has mental health problems, is being treated in hospital for facial injuries.

Deputy Chief Constable Tony Melville said Mr Reilly, who is under police guard, appeared to be a "vulnerable" individual who had been "preyed upon" and "radicalised".

At a news conference yards from the restaurant, where the explosion happened just before 1300 BST on Thursday he said: "Our investigations so far indicate that Reilly, who has a history of mental illness, had adopted the Islamic faith.

"We believe that despite his weak and vulnerable state he was preyed upon, radicalised and taken advantage of." Read more
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Thursday, 22 May 2008

BBC News: 'Doing time didn't put me off crime'

[...] His first time in a secure unit was at 13. It was to become somewhere he got to know well.

Dale says at first he was nervous, he had no idea what to expect in custody, but the reality came as a relief.

He says: "I got in there and it was basically like Butlins, a little holiday for me," he says. "When I got out I thought it was the place to be, so I came out and I did exactly the same thing and had to go back."

Dale describes how, inside, he had use of his own TV and a games console. Life inside felt more regimented and secure than the outside. He just did not view it as punishment.

Appearing before courts, being arrested by the police, spending time locked up, none of it made any difference to him.

"I wasn't scared of it so it didn't stop me," he says. "I reckon it's just too easy really. If it had been harder for me I might not have gone back." Read more

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The Times: The Vicar of Baghdad: Through the valley of the shadow of death

(Ed: Someone once asked me if Canon White was sufficiently 'orthodox' to merit our support. My response was that if you could actually find someone orthodox willing to go and do his job, I'd happily support them instead.)

Canon Andrew White's family home is not exactly a rambling rectory, but with its peaceful village setting, immaculately tended garden and homely clutter, it is, by most people's definition, idyllic and utterly conventional.

The problem for Canon White is that he is not a conventional man.

When, as he is occasionally given to do, he opines to his wife, a former lawyer, that perhaps he should be a normal parish priest, her response is always the same. “They couldn't cope with you and you couldn't cope with them,” she tells him.

Canon White is the so-called Vicar of Baghdad. Though nominally he resides in rural Hampshire, his church, St George's, is situated 3,000 miles away, amid the razor wire and bombed-out buildings of Iraq's capital. He spends an average three days a month with his wife and two young sons in the UK; the rest of the time, he is at his home away from home, a Portakabin inside Baghdad's heavily fortified green zone - the six square miles that houses all foreign, military and diplomatic staff in what remains the world's most dangerous city.

This Sunday, an ITV documentary gives an extraordinary insight into Canon White's double life. Rageh Omaar, the veteran Iraq war correspondent, presents him as a charismatic and indisputably brave man. Read more
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BBC News: Churches unhappy over father figures

It is normally the emotive issue of abortion or the complexities of hybrid embryos that have raised the greatest passions in the debate over the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

But the Church of England has reserved its greatest ire for the decision of MPs to allow single women and lesbian couples to seek IVF treatment without having to consider the need for a father for their children.

Its verdict is stark.

"This vote sends a signal that fathers don't matter," it said.

"The Church holds that a child's right not to be deliberately deprived of having a father is greater than any 'right' to a child through IVF.

"We are extremely disappointed that the important role of fathers was not recognised in the bill, and that we now have a situation where the perceived 'right' to have a child trumps the right for a child to be given the best possible start in life." Read more
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Scotsman: Kirk calls for public cash to save churches from ruin

(Ed: Not directly an Anglican concern, but it is building costs that finish off congregations, and are the 'elephant in the room' where maintaining the Church of England's presence in rural areas is concerned. I am not aware, though that the Church of England receives any government 'grants' towards insurance as is alleged in the article - certainly not in our case!)

LACK of maintenance and under-insurance by Church members is increasing pressure on the Kirk to shed more of its properties, the General Assembly heard yesterday.
But Church members have claimed that spiralling insurance premiums were crippling their efforts to care for and protect their buildings, and called for the Scottish Government to step in and protect the nation's heritage.

The chairman of the Church of Scotland's General Trustees, Finlay Turner, told the assembly that congregations were neglecting their properties and in many cases seriously under-insuring them.

"The trustees have ongoing and mounting concern that the regulations for care of buildings in many cases are not being applied as well as they might, and major problems with buildings continue to arise from long-term neglects and a failure to attend to minor and routine maintenance as it arises," he said. Read more

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Western Australia News: First female bishop ‘may lead to gay priest’

An Anglican splinter group has warned that the consecration of Perth Archdeacon Kay Goldsworthy as Australia’s first woman bishop tonight will pave the way for the appointment of openly gay priests and further deepen the rift between Church factions.

Bishop Harry Entwistle, who heads the WA chapter of the breakaway conservative group the Traditional Anglican Communion, said the consecration would add weight to the call from liberal Church elements to accept gay priests and bishops.

He said openly gay clergy would follow female bishops “as night follows day”, as had been the case in some parts of the US and Canada.

“This has put the Church in a position where there is no way back so it is no use protesting any more,” he said. “And if (the appointment of gay priests) happens, when it happens, there is no doubt the division that is now under the surface will erupt.” Read more
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Kenya Daily Nation: Failing to attend the Lambeth Conference is cowardly

MEMBERS OF THE ANGLICAN Church in Kenya would like to know why our bishops are not attending the Lambeth 2008 Conference.

Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi is reported as reasoning thus: “Lambeth 2008 should have been about a return to God in view of these realities, yet it’s obvious that won’t be the case. Canterbury has sanctioned homosexuality. We cannot be going there to keep up with its theological gymnastics.”

Is this not missing the point of Lambeth? Isn’t this cowardly?

This conference is central in our church tradition as one of the four instruments of the Anglican Communion.

It is intended to, under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, express episcopal collegiality worldwide, and gather bishops for common counsel, consultation and encouragement, and serve as an instrument for guarding the faith and unity of the communion.

It is here that the bishops should stand to differ with their own peers on issues they feel are pertinent to the communion in terms of doctrine and spirituality, which is why they are bishops.

THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY’S emphasis in his Advent Letter (December 12, 2007) was that ‘‘acceptance of the invitation (to Lambeth Conference, 2008) must be taken as implying a willingness to work with those aspects of the Conference’s agenda that relate to implementing the recommendations of Windsor, including the development of a covenant”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s call has been taken positively by a number of those who had intended to boycott Lambeth, among them Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburg Diocese in the US, who said he believes it is important that the diocese be represented throughout the Lambeth Conference, if for no other reason than to provide an alternative perspective on the situation in the Episcopal Church.

“Those who accuse us of abandoning the Anglican Communion will certainly be present and vocal. It is important for us to be able to respond directly to their claims about the situation in the Episcopal Church and our place in the Communion,” he added. Read more
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Richard Wood: Not gone and not forgotten

It is now almost a year since Richard Wood, having been accepted for ordination by the Church of England’s advisory panel and completed his training, was refused ordination at the last minute by the Bishop of Chelmsford.

Richard had felt for a long while that he did not wish, in good conscience, to be ordained by a bishop who was patron of an organization, Changing Attitude, opposed to biblical teaching on homosexuality and campaigning to overthrow the Church’s teaching both here and abroad. The nature and extent of Changing Attitude’s commitment may be judged from their website and from their intention to have a major presence at the Lambeth Conference.

The Bishop had been advised of this difficulty well in advance by Richard’s training-incumbent-to-be and various solutions had been sought. All of these were refused, and in the end Richard decided, after a protracted personal struggle, that although he would take the oath of canonical obedience to the Bishop and accept ordination at his hands, he could not receive holy communion with him — a position held on much the same issue by a number of clergy in the same diocese. Having informed the Bishop’s chaplain of this decision at the ordination retreat, Richard was then told to go home.

Richard has, however, been employed to work in a pastoral capacity at Dagenham Parish Church, thanks to generous giving by a number of people. Indeed, it has been quite a good year for him. He has become engaged and is due to be married in November. Nevertheless, his actual ordination remains ‘on hold’, despite continuing efforts to overcome the impasse which have drawn attention from the highest levels in the Church.

Earlier this year, however, the Bishop of Chelmsford delegated the ordination of a deacon at another parish in the diocese, where similar difficulties had been raised, to the Bishop of Barking. That ordination took place on May 1st. This obviously indicates that a solution can be found, and there are signs that Richard’s long wait may be coming to an end.

Meanwhile, though, the Bishop’s personal commitments remain unaltered. At a recent Synod for all the clergy held in the Cathedral, the reader of the first lesson in the opening worship was the diocesan coordinator of Changing Attitude. In the language of Church politics, the lesson of the subtext was also clear to those with ears to hear.

Revd John P Richardson
22 May 2008

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Wednesday, 21 May 2008

The Telegraph: Dinosaur that died in "terrifying flood"

(Ed: Yeah, I know it couldn't be Noah's flood ... of course not.)

The most complete dinosaur skeleton ever found in Britain is about to go on display - evidence of a species unique to Britain that perished in a devastating flood. Read more

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The Times: ‘Big Brother’ database for phones and e-mails

A massive government database holding details of every phone call, e-mail and time spent on the internet by the public is being planned as part of the fight against crime and terrorism. Internet service providers (ISPs) and telecoms companies would hand over the records to the Home Office under plans put forward by officials.

The information would be held for at least 12 months and the police and security services would be able to access it if given permission from the courts. Read more

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Daily Telegraph: Abortion vote: A shameful night for MPs

So infanticide remains on the statute book, then. I’m sorry if that strikes you as offensive language, but I think it’s a perfectly reasonable description of the killing of babies that stand a chance of surviving outside the womb.

Last night’s House of Commons vote against any reduction in the upper time limit for abortions was really shameful. Over 300 MPs want the state to retain the right to kill 22-week-old foetuses, who can feel pain as they are gruesomely “terminated”.

Public opinion has shifted significantly on this question – but politicians, especially Labour ones, are not swayed by stories of babies who carry on living (albeit briefly) after botched abortions.

I’m not advancing a specifically Catholic argument here. I’m saying that the public recognises a commonsense distinction between abortion and infanticide, that the boundary between the two has clearly moved back beyond 24 weeks, and that the House of Commons made a gravely immoral decision by voting to keep the law as it stands. Read more

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The Dudley Outpouring - the next big thing?

I have no idea, but you can read about it here.

Thanks to Peter Kirk, here.

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Daily Mail: Teenager, 15, facing prosecution for holding a sign labelling Scientology 'a cult'

A 15-year-old facing prosecution for holding up a placard which branded Scientology a "cult" has appealed for help to fight possible charges.

The unnamed teenager was served the summons by City of London police after taking part in a peaceful demonstration opposite the Church's London headquarters, on May 10.

Demonstrators from the anti-Scientology group, Anonymous were outside the church's £23m headquarters near St Paul's cathedral when the boy was "strongly advised" by police to get rid of the sign which said: "Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult".

A 15-year-old boy is facing prosecution for holding a sign branding The Church of Scientology, a 'cult'

A policewoman later read him section five of the Public Order Act and "strongly advised" him to remove the sign.

The section prohibits signs which have representations or words which are threatening, abusive or insulting.

But the teenager refused, and a file is now being passed to the Crown Prosecution Service for possible legal action. Read more
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The Times: US religious fundamentalism has secured Britain an advantage in engineering new humans

(Ed: note the comment highlighted in bold. That, one suspects is what this 'embryology' business is actually all about. The headline here is based on The Times' front page, not the article headline.)

Parliament has given Britain an opportunity to become great in engineering once again. It is a small chance but one worth backing, and in the defeat yesterday of the opponents of embryonic stem-cell research, there is the possibility in coming decades of building a world-beating industry.

It means engineering better human beings, not bridges, but that is no matter, unless you are hysterical or ideologically orthodox.

Years ago, we in Europe voluntarily gave up a new technology of huge commercial and social benefit - GM foods. The research went to the United States because of our fear of the new and our sentimentality about the natural world.

Supporters of stem-cell research will be grateful that the animal cells used in hybrid admixed embryos come from cows, rather than more photogenic foxes or seal pups.

A combination of luck and American religious fundamentalism has secured for Britain a competitive advantage, attracting American scientists, notably Roger Pederson and Stephen Minger, who escaped to a more congenial intellectual climate. Read more
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BBC News: Youth crime drive has 'no impact'

A decade-long government drive to cut youth offending has had "no measurable impact", an independent study suggests.

Criminologists at King's College London said success in targeting youth crime was far more mixed and ambiguous than ministers liked to claim.

The team said youth crime spending was up a massive 45% on 2000 - but every reoffending target had been missed.

The Youth Justice Board said an official independent audit showed the reforms had delivered big improvements.

One of Labour's first major acts after coming to power was to reform the system for tackling youth crime with former prime minister Tony Blair pledging to be tough on the causes of crime. Read more
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Desmond Tutu criticised by Church of England cleric for his comments on Sri Lanka

A well-respected Church of England priest and a British citizen told Archbishop Desmond Tutu in a hard hitting letter that it was matter for utmost regret that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) described as the “the most evil terrorist organization in the world” was possible to secure the Archbishop’s apparent support to denigrate Sri Lanka.

Rev. Tony de Alwis of the Church of England Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham replying about Tutu’s alleged campaign against the re-election of Sri Lanka to the UN Human Rights Council of the UN told the Archbishop that his action has become “a matter of the utmost regret that such an organization has found it possible to secure Your Grace’s apparent support in its unrelenting propaganda campaign to denigrate Sri Lanka on the international stage.”
Rev. De Alwis, an avowed campaigner against terrorism all over the world said that it had been a significant coup for the terrorists to be enabled to proclaim support for their demented cause from someone of the Archbishop’s undoubted stature and moral authority in the world.
So, he wondered in his letter whether Archbishop Tutu received information from independent sources or his sole source is the “very active cabal of supporters of this criminal organization, the LTTE, in South Africa. He said the unbalanced and unfair nature of his purported comments point to the latter. “If that is the case,” Rev. Alwis said, “then I wonder whether Your Grace would be open to learning the truth about Sri Lanka’s terrorist problem from less biased sources.”

Rev. Alwis calling the Archbishop’s condemnation of Sri Lanka a “mistaken” one said he should “look beyond propaganda” to explore the truth about Sri Lanka.

The following is the full text of his letter: Read more

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Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Daily Telegraph: Asylum seekers should be renamed sanctuary seekers, report says

The word "asylum" should be phased out and replaced with "sanctuary" when used in relation to foreigners seeking shelter in Britain, a report said today.

The recommendation was made after a poll for the Independent Asylum Commission found that only 28 per cent of people viewed the word "asylum" positively while 33 per cent viewed it negatively.

In contrast, more than 81 per cent thought "sanctuary" had positive connotations.

For 31.3 per cent the word asylum was associated with a place for the mentally ill rather than a refuge for the persecuted. Read more
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Daily Telegraph: Two million Britons emigrate in 10 years

Two million British citizens have left the UK in a decade, the greatest exodus from this country in almost a century, new figures will show.
A departure sign at an airport terminal
Some historians say the departure of two million Britons in a decade is almost unparalleled in the country's history

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) will release figures showing that more than 200,000 Britons emigrated during 2006. That will take the total number who left the country between 1997 and 2006 to 1.97 million.

Another 1.58 million foreign nationals resident in Britain left during the same period.

However, 3.9 million foreigners arrived over the decade, including more than 500,000 in 2006.

The body will publish the raft of immigration figures on Tuesday, as MPs prepare to dismiss the national statisticians’ data as “not fit for purpose” and demand an overhaul of the way population movements are measured. Read more
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Monday, 19 May 2008

Saffron Walden Deanery Growth Task Group website

Linked here.
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Sunday, 18 May 2008

A critique of curacies in the Diocese of Chelmsford

(Ed: This is from Sam Norton's Elizaphanian blogspot.)

Last week I attended a training course at Pleshey (part 2 of 'how to look after your curate' although it wasn't officially called that). This post explains my disquiet about one aspect of the course - click 'full post' for text.

This part of the course was primarily about the art of supervisions, how to conduct the regular meetings between training incumbent and curate in such a way that the curacy 'succeeds'. There was a strong sense that the Diocese has been a little scarred by, some years back, a high number of curacies 'failing' - hence a renewed emphasis on the training of the incumbents who are due to receive a curate for training.

However, I was a little alarmed that in the opening session we ventured straight into various secular analyses of supervision which, however worthy, are not automatically entitled to be accepted within the church. I asked whether we were going to spend any time exploring the theology of supervisions and it seemed that apart from a minimal engagement with some passages from Mark's gospel, we weren't. This I see as a typical example of the way in which training as a whole in the Church of England is not just theologically lightweight but prone to being captured by secular philosophies travelling under the guise of 'professionalism'.

What I want to do in this post is sketch out the sort of theological framework that would need to be explored prior to engaging with the secular perspectives. I have no doubt that secular perspectives have much to contribute to the conversation, it's just that I believe we need to 'arm ourselves with the Word' before engaging with them, so that our minds are attuned to what is compatible with our faith and what is not. I don't have any especial expertise in this area so this is really a requested agenda in four parts, to be developed by those who are more qualified. Read more
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