Sunday 25 September 2011

Dave Andrews in the UK

*events in bold are public events, events in feint print are not.

Mon 10 Oct
Tonbridge Baptist Church teaching event (evening event)

Tues 11 Oct
CUF training day (1-5pm)
Booking and information: Contact
Wed 12 Oct
Tearfund staff reflections (10am-12pm)

Thurs 13 Oct
Be the Change: Christian community involvement day event (11-3:30pm)
Booking and information:

Fri 14 Oct
Community Development for drugs and alcohol work at Matthew Project(day event)

Community Development for agencies working for change in Norwich(evening event)
Booking and information : Contact Julian Bryant

Sat 15 Oct
Servants to Asia’s Urban Poor enquirers day (day event)
Booking: Contact Helen Sidebotham on

Mon 17 Oct
All Nations Family Focus (day event)

Be the Change: Christian community involvement event (6:30-8:30pm)
Booking and information:

Wed 19 Oct
Love thy Neighbourhood- Livability 2.5 day residential
Hothorpe Hall, Leicestershire, £195 single room, £165 shared room
Booking and online payment:

Thurs 20 Oct
Love thy Neighbourhood- Livability 2.5 day residential
See above

Fri 21 Oct
Love thy Neighbourhood- Livability 2.5 day residential
See above

Sat 22 Oct
Oasis event (day event)

Monday 19 September 2011

Turbulent Priest

I visited an interesting bloke last week. An Anglican Priest, nearly 90, living in a middle-sized English village.

So far so good.

Of course he's not allowed to preach or preside at his local church and has been warned off by both Bishop and congregation for his unseemly outburst. Or as John Papworth himself puts it "I'm a an annoying old bastard, you see."

So what's so annoying about John? It could be his engagement in local politics. He organises a bread-making guild, maintains some common areas, and edits a village magazine among other things. It could be his engagement in global politics. John has written and campaigned extensively against the menace of 'Giantism' in all things and argues for a renewed localism in public life.

"Anything that can be done locally the national government should stop interfering with." John believes that the future is small and that small is powerful. And power needs wresting back from the powers.

Welcome to the village of Purton. Oh, and welcome to Purton University.

Thursday 15 September 2011

Moved to action

Sunday 25th September
Moved to action
Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32

We know we are supposed to take care of the environment (reduce, reuse, recycle) and we do our bit, but in our hearts all but the most ardent environmentalist knows that how we presently live is doing is more harm than good: too little, and a bit too late. Talk of the earth being God's creation, our responsibility to care for the environment, or how we are only looking after it for the next generation are more likely to produce guilt than motivation to change our habits.

So we carry on with a nod to environmental responsibilities when necessary, but with the same corporate inertia. If we're all so scared about what will happen to the planet – and what is already happening – then why don't we act? Why do we just talk about action? Our politicians are no better: international conferences like Kyoto and Copenhagen have sometimes done more harm than good and the recent promise that 'vote blue and go green' seems to have been unrealised as business continues as usual in the corridors and washrooms of power.

But what's causing this mismatch between what we know to be right and what we do? One of the problems is we receive mixed messages: even if we read newspapers with articles that urge us to act, the same paper will have far bigger more attractive adverts urging us to buy a big car and go skiing. Over £15bn pounds was spent in the UK last year telling us to buy more stuff – when was the last time your favourite TV programme was interrupted to remind you to knit your own hemp sweater? We can't rely on education to save the environment because the loudest voices have a vested interest in its degradation. And we can't rely on politicians to save the environment because every time they try vested interests trip them up.

What we can do is create virtuous circles of action and reflection instead of the inertia of feeling guilty because we said we would act but knew deep down that we wouldn't.

Jesus said, “A man had two sons.” It's a really simple parable that speaks to the heart of so many issues. Both children wanted to please the parent but only one actually did something. Only one of them put boots on, picked up a sickle, slapped on the factor twenty five, and went out into the vineyard to work. The only way to beat our complacency is to get outside and begin: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And like any pilgrimage it's easier with company. We are stronger and more resilient if we walk this road together.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Steven Woods, Christian anarchist

Richard Perry Esq. gets a huge applause when it is mentioned how many people were killed on his watch as governor of Texas. Richard Perry Esq. wants to be president of the United States of America, and as we all know, that is a position in which one can and will kill many people more - innocent or not.
Frankly I am lost for words about Steven Woods, whom I heard about a few years ago and attached to as attachments went on Myspace. And then Myspace went out of style and yes, I forgot about him.

As far as I know this Christian anarchist who has claimed innocence all along will be killed today, September 13th, because Richard Perry Esq. will want to prove that he is tough on crime.
One of the sites dedicated to Steven Woods' case.

update 14 September 0.30 British Summer Time
Steven's corpse has been released for his family to touch it "while it is still warm".

Wednesday 7 September 2011

God's Commonwealth: each according to need

Sunday 18th September

God's Commonwealth: each according to need

Matthew 20:1-16 

No doubt the householder was a wealthy landowner: vineyards don't run at a profit until thy have been tended for many years and so represent a considerable investment for a luxury cash-crop probably for an international market. The presence of a steward – probably one of many – is another clue to the economic status of the householder or more literally “house-despot”.
We tend to assume that powerful figures in parables represent God even if, as in this case, they profit from the poorly-paid, sun-beaten and exploited day-labourers.

So let's throw aside the complicated allegorical readings of the parable, so loved by theologians-past and do two important things that may turn this story from a bit of Christian whimsy into something that actually matters. First let's take it at face value; this is a story about a God's values in relation to land and labour, second let's begin not with the most powerful figure but with the powerless.
The day labourers aren't quite the poorest of the poor but they aren't far off. Perhaps they once owned a little land; handed down from generations, but a few bad harvests and a couple of weddings later and they found themselves in debt and having to sell their livestock, land, and finally even their home to the big farming companies who turned the whole area over to cash crops and started hiring by-the-day.

Such labourers are still around today so it doesn't take too much imagination: we have our eastern European seasonal workers on illegally poor wages in English mega-farms, we have our Chinese cockle-pickers risking their lives in our unforgiving seas, we have our agency workers in warehouse offices able to be dismissed at a moment’s notice. And we have pension funds, supermarkets, the Queen, insurance companies, and the Church of England – owning or buying up greater amounts of land from family farmers and squeezing every penny of profit from the soil to devastating effect on wildlife and on communities.

So let's picture the scene that Jesus paints for us. A group of landless men and women gather at dawn at the town gate. All of them are desperate to work, all of them are a few meals away from starvation. Naturally the youngest and fittest will be chosen first because they will be the best value for money. The least able and the elderly will be left standing through the heat of the day waiting for landowners to get desperate enough to give them work. It's these folk who are at the very bottom of the spiral of poverty: the weaker they get the less they earn, the less they earn the weaker they get. This is a meritocracy: each is given according to his or her ability. It's fair and just in a secular logic: if you work you earn if you don't work you don't earn.

But Jesus' story has a twist in the telling. Because in Jesus' economy things are different: there are no undeserving poor. There are only needs and the loving desire to meet them. It is the rich who are undeserving in Jesus' economy because they take more than they need and merit is no excuse for greed while others starve in the kingdom of God.

What Jesus was suggesting in this parable: that God wants to give us all we need rather than just what we deserve was nothing short of scandalous, even blasphemy. But is it so different today?

There are at least two challenges in this parable. First, the challenge to see needs and meet them regardless of merit or reward. The second, to begin to ask the questions about how these people came to be in such a vulnerable position in the first place and who benefits from keeping working people vulnerable to poverty and exploitation.

The seventeenth century visionary and theologian Gerard Winstanley called the earth a “common treasury” belonging to God and gifted to us all. He recognised the profound link between economy, ecology, and theology. Drawing on that other visionary who described for us in the Old Testament 'the jubilee' he reminds us that we give it all back to God or we imperil first our worth and then our very lives.
The Kingdom of God is like.... What is it like? What sort of world does Jesus describe and how can we proclaim it for our land and our county. 

Friday 2 September 2011

Religious anarchism - the paperback

The paperback edition is out now!

Table of contents (and authors):
- Preface
- Introduction by Peter Marshall
Part I: Christian Anarchist Pioneers
Chapter One: The Pelagian Mentality: Radical Political Thought in Fifth Century Christianity by Richard Fitch
Chapter Two: A Theology of Revolutions: Abiezer Coppe and the Uses of Tradition by Peter Pick
Chapter Three: Religious Dissenters and Anarchists in Turn of the Century Hungary by Bojan Aleksov
Chapter Four: A Dead Seed Bearing Much Fruit: The Dutch Christian Anarchist Movement of the International Fraternity by André de Raaij
Part II: Christian Anarchist Reflections
Chapter Five: Love, Hate, and Kierkegaard’s Christian Politics of Indifference by Richard A. Davis
w Chapter Six: Responding to the State: Christian Anarchists on Romans 13, Rendering to Caesar, and Civil Disobedience by Alexandre J. M. E. Christoyannopoulos [Available here.]
Chapter Seven: Building a Dalit World in the Shell of the Old: Conversations between Dalit Indigenous Practice and Western Anarchist Thought by Keith Hebden
Chapter Eight: The Church as Resistance to Racism and Nation: A Christian, Anarchist Perspective by Nekeisha Alexis-Baker
Part III: Buddhist, Daoist, and Muslim Anarchism
Chapter Nine: Anarchism or Nihilism: The Buddhist-Influenced Thought of Wu Nengzi by John A. Rapp
Chapter Ten: Kenneth Rexroth’s Integrative Vision: Anarchism, Poetry, and the Religious Experience in Post-World War II San Francisco by Michael T. Van Dyke
Chapter Eleven: To Be Condemned to a Clinic: The Birth of the Anarca-Islamic Clinic by Mohamed Jean Veneuse
Chapter Twelve: Imagining an Islamic Anarchism: A New Field of Study Is Ploughed by Anthony T. Fiscella

The introduction by Peter Demand the impossible Marshall is a good review of "the field" and the author identifies with religious (transcendental) anarchism himself. It can be read here. [pdf]