Tuesday 29 July 2008

Review: Christ and Empire, Jorg Rieger

Rieger does ambivalence and Christological surplus

Since 1998 Joerg Rieger’s has written prolifically in the field of liberation theology and Church history. His most recent book, ‘Christ and Empire’ has been most widely welcomed as an accessible work of thorough scholarship. Methodist elder and ministerial tutor Rieger writes lucidly for a western audience within an ear to the majority world and an eye to the encroaching principalities and powers that dominate and shape our culture and politics.

Like Colin Ward, Rieger finds “seedlings of resistance and alternative living growing in the very soil of empire” (12). Riger traces some of the small shoots of religious revolt through a selective history of how the Church has got to grips with the question ‘Who is Christ’ – Christology!

Rieger begins obviously enough with the ancient ecumenical councils and the contentious role of Emperor Constantine in guiding Christology. Then, perhaps by way of contrast he develops a critique of Anselm of Canterbury (Chapter 3) and Barolom√© de las Casas (Chapter 4). The author sees both resistance and capitulation to empire in the Christology of both. Rieger develops a Las Casas as the original spokesperson for the the “softly softly” approach to neo-colonialism of some free-traders and Big NGOs.

By the time Rieger engages with the ‘Father of Modern theology’ Friedrich Schleiermacher he is getting into a greater depth of original criticism. The “softer” exclusivism of Schleiermacher reflecting a more coercive and subtle colonisation. However, as Rieger persists in looking for “Christological surplus” in his subjects the reader may be left with the feeling that the author likes to flog dead horses just to give his arm the exercise.

Throughout the author is drawn to the ever-present “ambivalence” of the Cosmic Christ of faith to resistance to the empire.

Rieger has hit on two vital factors in the development of Christology. First, if religion is a human project then the project directors are often agents of empire. Second : “The resisting Christ of the cosmos looks different than the cosmic Christ of evolution, especially evolution is understood in a social-Darwinist manner” (303). Christ is not fully human competitor fully imperious divinity. But who, then, do we say he is? Rieger introduces an understanding of Christ that goes beyond the Cosmic and tries to avoid projecting statist values onto him. But in the end, even Rieger’s Christ shows evidence of some “ambivalence.”

Other books by Joerg Rieger:
Theology from the belly of the Whale
Methodist and Radical
Liberating the Future

Monday 28 July 2008

Alex's paper at last years ASN

If you haven't read Alex's excellent paper on Christian anarchism at last years 'Anarchists Studies Network' eventI recommend it. It is available here as a .pdf.

The first conference will be at Loughborough university this September. Alex is facilitating a whole panel of faith anarchists for this conference.

Wednesday 23 July 2008

Liz Jones Artwork

I love these two pieces of artwork by Liz. Her work will be on display over the summer and it will be well worth the visit. The T-shirt is inspired by a picture from a cake-box at the empire cafe. A place where many a weary and smelly peace activist has stopped for tea, toast, and a sneaky shower when the proprieter isn't looking. If you're ever in Newbury it's a friendly cafe who will happily tell you all about the role their pies have played in the struggle for peace to overcome fear.

Tuesday 15 July 2008

Feedback from new reader

I got a couple of encouraging letters today - one with a cheque from a couple who've always been very encouraging and another with an encouraging letter. He writes:

Dear Keith Hebden,

Thank you! I have just received a copy of 'A Pinch of Salt' (No. 17 July 2008) and I was stimulated , encouraged and delighted! I was, I have to admit, expecting a rather low-grade magazine, but it was very well put together and the writing was of a very good calibre!

Since delving into anarchy and Christianity, I have felt rather alone (My university, St Andrews, is not exactly a hotbed of leftist Christians!) and it was greatly encouraging to realise both that there were many other people of a similar frame of mind and that there was such a vibrant community in the UK. I fouind the article of the Bruderhof (P. 7-9) particularly fascinating as this is something I am deeply interested in.

I plan on attending some of the conference etc. and meeting more 'Christian-Anarchists' and putting all the stuff I've read (Adin Ballou, Jacques Ellul, Tolstoy, not to mention the Bible!) together as it were, adn forming a good idea of what 'Christi-anarchy' is and where it will lead me.

Than you once more, and good luck with the magazine (I hope to contribute at some point too!).

Yours sincerely,

Calum (Killearn)

Swamp Rabbit Press

Last week I was contacted by a guy who lives in China with his family. They are Catholic anarchists and he is an artist. The artwork looks great and I'm hoping he'll write an essay on faith-based veganism that will compliment Annie's earlier contribution and that he'll also contribute some artwork and personal reflections.

Saturday 12 July 2008

No longer on bail

As of yesterday Keith and Les are no longer on bail for their development work at AWE Aldermaston. Building an animal sanctuary and permaculture area are still being considered.

The arresting officer was thanked for his participation in the event and we hope to see him again in the future for further brainstorming on how AWE Aldermaston can be transformed into a place of hope and prosperity.

Friday 11 July 2008

Bail and some comments on the law, with thanks.

(from Blackstone’s Custody Officer Manual by Huw Smart 2006)

Conditional bail

Legislative provisions

S.3A(5) Bail Act 1976

Where a constable grants bail to a person no conditions shall be imposed under subsections (4), (5), (6) or (7) of s.3 of this Act unless it appears to the constable that it is necessary to do so for the purpose of preventing that person from –

(a) failing to surrender to custody, or

(b) committing an offence while on bail, or

(c) interfering with witnesses or otherwise obstructing the course of justice, whether in relation to himself or any other person.

Section 3A Bail Act 1976

1. S 3 of this Act applies, in relation to bail granted by a custody officer under part IV of PACE 1984 in cases where the normal powers to impose conditions of bail are available to him, subject to the following modifications.

2. Subsection (6) does not authorise the imposition of a requirement to reside in a bail hostel or any requirement under para. (d) or (e)

Section 47(1A) PACE

The normal powers to impose conditions of bail shall be available to him where a custody officer releases a person on bail under s.37(7)(a) above or s.38(1) above (including that subsection as applied by s.40(10) above) but not in any other cases. In this subsection “the normal powers to impose bail” has the meaning given in s.3(6) of the Bail Act 1976

Section 3A(4) Bail Act 1976

Where a custody officer has granted bail in criminal proceedings he or another custody officer serving at the same police station may, at the rquest of the person to whom it was granted, vary the conditions of bail and in doing so he may impose conditions or more onerous conditions.

Section 7(3)(b) Bail Act 1976

A person who has been released on bail in criminal proceedings and is under a duty to surrender into the custody of a court may be arrested without warrant by a constable –if the constable has reasonable grounds for believing that that person is likely to break any of the conditions of his bail or has reasonable grounds for suspecting that that person has broken any of those conditions.

Page 425

“…but it is clear that imposing bail conditions should be viewed as an alternative to authorising detention after charge. When a court issues bail conditions, it must consider the same requirements as in s.3A(5) above (s3(6) of the Bail Act 1976) …”

“… Provided the custody officer or the court can justify a particular condition, there is no actual limit as to the kind of condition that may be imposed”…

Since conditional bail is an alternative to continued detention I looked at what Huw Smart has to say about remand in custody:

Section 38(1) PACE

Where a person arrested for an offence otherwise than under a warrant endorsed for bail is charged with an offence, the custody officer shall (subject to s.25 of the CJPOA 1994 [making bail virtually impossible for various very serious offences]), order his release from police detention, either on bail or without bail, unless-

(i) name or address cannot be ascertained…..

(ii) the custody officer has reasonable grounds for believing that the person arrested will fail to appear in court to answer to bail;

(iii) in the case of a person arrested for an imprisonable offence, the custody officer has reasonable grounds for believing that the detention of the person arrested in necessary to prevent him from committing an offence;

(iv) in the case of a person arrested for an offence which is not an imprisonable offence, the custody officer has reasonable grounds for believing that the detention of the person arrested is necessary to prevent him from causing physical injury to any other person or from causing loss of or damage to property;

(v) the custody officer has reasonable grounds for believing that the detention of the person arrested is necessary to prevent him from interfering with

(vi) the admin. of justice or with the investigation of offences or of a particular offence; or

(vii) the custody officer has reasonable grounds for believing that the detention of the person arrested is necessary for his own protection.

From all this I gather our bail conditions were unlawful. He should have gone through these steps:

Unconditional release is the norm

Conditions can only be imposed if he is thinking he must remand in custody

Non imprisonable offence (which I was told very specifically is the case with byelaws, hence no fingerprinting etc) – only reasons = to prevent him causing physical injury to another person; or loss/damage to property; or interfering with admin. justice or investigation; or for own protection.

Since none of these conditions apply then he has no power to impose bail conditions.


When detention is necessary to prevent a further offence

"Evidence to detain a person under ss.(iii) above may also be provided by the PNC. The custody officer will need to examine the detainee's previous offending history to decide whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that if s/he were to be released on bail, further offences may be committed. The custody officer should take into account the offence for which the detainee has been charged on this occasion. For example, if the detainee only has previous convictions for shoplifting, and has been arrested and detained for a burglary, it would be difficult to justify further detention to prevent him/her from committing further burglaries. However, each case has to be taken on its merits. It should be noted that this section only applies to imprisonable offences committed by the detainee.

When detention is necessary to prevent injury, loss or damage

Where the custody officer believes that the detainee must be prevented from causing physical injury to any other person or from causing loss of or damage to property, statements from the investigating officer and witnesses may provide the necessary grounds. It should be noted that this section applies to non-imprisonable offences committed by the detainee

Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
5A. — (1) Section 5 of this Act applies, in relation to bail granted by a custody officer under Part IV of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 in cases where the normal powers to impose conditions of bail are available to him, subject to the following modifications.
(2) For subsection (3) substitute the following—

"(3) Where a custody officer, in relation to any person,—

(a) imposes conditions in granting bail in criminal proceedings, or

(b) varies any conditions of bail or imposes conditions in respect of bail in criminal proceedings,

the custody officer shall, with a view to enabling that person to consider requesting him or another custody officer, or making an application to a magistrates' court, to vary the conditions, give reasons for imposing or varying the conditions."

(3) For subsection (4) substitute the following—

"(4) A custody officer who is by virtue of subsection (3) above required to give reasons for his decision shall include a note of those reasons in the custody record and shall give a copy of that note to the person in relation to whom the decision was taken."

Judicial studies board website http://www.jsboard.co.uk/magistrates/hrtraining/mf_04.htm

5a Bail Act Applications
Both the Bail Act 1976 and the Convention state that a defendant has the right to bail.

The Bail Act 1976 provides conditions which must be complied with before a person is either remanded in custody or released on conditional bail. In a similar way Article 5 ensures that everyone has the Right to liberty. This Right can only be withheld in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law such as the Bail Act 1976.

For example, in one particular case (Matznetter v Austria 1969) the Court of Human Rights ruled on a remand in custody based on the fear of further offending. The Court of Human Rights stated that this could not be justified if the previous convictions were not comparable, either in nature or seriousness, with the charges preferred against the accused. Magistrates correctly applying the 1976 Bail Act would have come to the same conclusion as the Court of Human Rights. This case shows how much of our legislation is in tune with the Convention.

Archbold Part II – (Bail Act 1976, Schedule 1)

defendants accused or convicted of Non-imprisonable offences

Defendants to whom Part II applies:

1. where the offence or every offence of which the defendant is accused or convicted in proceedings is one which is not punishable with imprisonment the following provisions of the part of this Schedule apply

Exceptions to right to bail

2. The defendant need not be granted bail if-

(a) it appears to the court that, having been previously granted bail in criminal proceedings, he has failed to surrender to custody in accordance with his obligations under the grant of bail; and

(b) the court believes, in view of that failure, that the defendant, if released on bail (whether subject to conditions or not) would fail to surrender to custody.

3. The Defendant need not be granted bail if he is in custody in pursuance of the sentence of a court or of any authority acting under any of the Service Acts.

4. The defendant need not be granted bail if:-

(a) having been released on bail in or in connection with the proceedings for the offence, he has been arrested under s.7 of this Act; and

(b) the court is satisfied that there are substantial grounds for believing that the defendant, if released on bail (whether subject to conditions or not) would fail to surrender to custody, commit an offence on bail or interfere with witnesses or otherwise obstruct the course of justice (whether in relation to himself or any other person)

Bail Act 1976

s.5.5 – must give reasons for imposing conditions via ss.3(4),(5),(6)

s.7 arrest for breach of bail conditions

PACE 1984

s.37(7)(a) – shall be released without charge and on bail for the purpose of enabling the DPP to make a decision under s.37B

s.37B re DPP charging or not, caution or conditional caution

s.37C breach of bail following release under s.37(7)(a) re failure to surrender

s.47 – bail after arrest.

Monday 7 July 2008

Fellowship of Confessing Anarchists

I'm thinking of changing the tag-line to "Fellowship of Confessing Anarchists" in passing ironic homage to the GAFCON movement. This could also be an opportunity to broaden participation in the magazine to other faith groups.

Wednesday 2 July 2008

Issue 17 mailed out

Issue seventeen has now been mailed out. It costs about £10 for the full mailing list. Half the cost is for a few overseas issues.

There are now 128 copies that go out on the mailing list and the few that are left (I printed 150) fly out at Queen's college events.

The account is looking bare so I might add a note in next time to look for a few more contributions. It costs £200 each issue or there abouts.

The quality and publishing is slowly improving but I desperately need some decently publishing software. Contributions have been great and a mix of genders but very "white".